Where is the so called civilized world? [Archives:2005/883/Opinion]

October 6 2005

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On a letter I sent to London Times on July 27, addressing the people of England in regards of the July 7 London bombing clearly conveyed the concerns I had for the people of England. That letter entitled “please do NOT make the same grave mistake my America made”, simply pleaded with the British people to restrain their government as governments have the tendency to overreach and condemn communities across the board and add insult to injury. I asked them to say NO to aggression and abuse toward their Muslim citizens and together find a way to heal their wounds and preserve the bond of their diverse community that makes their beautiful country. Of course, that letter was neither published nor allowed to witness the light of the day. However, my concerns still stand and are in fact more relevant today than they were in July 27.

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, American-Muslims were victimizing three times. They found themselves between rock and a hard place, as they have suffered and grieved as Americans; their noble religion of Islam was attacked by the perpetrators of these evil acts (terrorists) and they were victimized and betrayed by the same very government that supposed to protect them. There was a missed opportunity, when President Bush stood before America and the world in his State of the Union Address of September 20, 2001, and alleged that “They hate our freedoms: Our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other”. His simplistic remarks made us believe that we were attacked because of our values. I was very disappointed with my President's remarks, yet, I yearned for a peaceful solution.

Although, hundreds of Muslims were among the victims of New York and Washington, DC massacre, what ensued was constant violation toward the Muslim community. Muslim boys and men were herded like cattle, women were humiliated and Muslim homes and businesses were constantly occupied by the law enforcing groups. Muslim community's civil liberties were eroded, as American born and raised Muslim men were held incommunicado for years without due process. Women and children were constantly harassed and humiliated and ignorant parts of American public were unleashed to complete the assault. Despite the unrelenting abuse by our government and the silence of the mesmerized and the uninformed American public, we remained steadfast to America, the only country we knew, loved, and instead unleashed our own campaign to educate that reluctant America. It is slow process and a pain-staking course of action, but we are slowly but surely succeeding the educational campaign. However, I constantly ask myself, where is the so-called civilized world?

I am writing these words, not to relive the memories of September 11, but to plea with the people of England to refrain from alienating their Muslim citizens. The British police have stated that there is 6 folds increase on violence against Muslims in Britain. The Westerners are amazed of the uncivilized acts against their civilians as they should, yet they turn around and violate innocent Muslims around the world and constantly harass and humiliate their own citizens whose only crime is being Muslims, all along trampling their very own established norms and practices. Hence, where is the so-called civilized world?

One Muslim scholar in England named Dr. Zaki Badawi advised Muslim women in England to avoid wearing Muslim garments if believed their lives are endangered. Dr. Badawi has made the above statement because of the fear he has on the fate of the Muslims particularly the Muslim women who are more visible than the Muslim men are. His statement reminded me of advised I received that faithful September 11, 2001, as friend of mine suggested that I consider removing my scarf. Of course, my friend was simply feared for my life, but compromising such a dear value would have been a defeat of cherished principles. Thus, I once again ask, where is the so-called civilized world?

As I did my daily run on the BBC world service web site, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/uk/05/london_blasts/victims/default.stm, I came across the victims of the London bombing and noticed at least 3 of the 52 victims who turned out to be Muslims. Those victims among the innocent London bombing were Atique Sharifi refugee from Afghanistan, Ihab Slimane whose parents were Tunisian origin and Shahara Islam whose parents were Bangladeshi origin. As is apparent from the faith of these victims, it is clear that terrorism does not discriminate, and neither does the so-called western civilized world.