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'Muslim Americans responded well to overcome post 9/11 challenges'

Tuesday March 12, 2013 10:27:57 PM, IANS

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Hyderabad: Muslim Americans responded well to the post 9/11 challenges by engaging with the government and the society and countering the misinformation about Islam, said Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY) president Asim Rehman here Tuesday.

According to him, 9/11 not only posed a challenge to the Muslim community in the US as it faced discrimination but also provided an opportunity to establish itself through civic engagement and by countering the false propaganda that Islam is at odds with the modern society.

Rehman was delivering a lecture on "Civil rights and civic engagement: Muslim Americans post 9/11" organized here Tuesday by the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP) of Maulana Azad National Urdu University.

While noting that the anti-Muslim sentiments in the US rose during last one decade, he said the community tried to overcome civil right challenges by building relationship with law enforcement agencies, providing right information about Islam and through legal battle.

Terming Muslim Americans as the most diverse religious community, the lawyer explained how the US is witnessing an interesting phenomenon with Muslims, who constitute two percent of the US population, building their identity around the American culture.

He noted how the barriers of race and ethnicity disappear in the mosques with Muslims from different parts of the world stand with each other in prayers.

The lawyer of Pakistani origin said the Muslims learnt from other communities in the US who were under fire in the past like the Catholics, African Americans and Japanese Americans.

Quoting from Sacchar Committee report about how Muslims in India are seen with great degree of suspicion not only by certain sections of society but also by public institutions and the government, Asim said despite many differences between Muslim Americans and Indian Muslims, there were also many similarities.

The lawyer narrated what the Muslim Americans went through in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks. The community faced discrimination by both private individuals and public institutions. Even some senators and Congressmen also made anti-Muslim remarks.

"There was an increase in hate crime in anti-Muslim perspective. There were acts of vandalism, animal parts were thrown in the mosques, permission was not given to build new mosques and Muslims faced discrimination at workplaces and in recruitment for jobs," he said.

He said even the government started spying on the community by sending informants to mosques and some officials used national security policies to target a particular group.

"Muslims were either prevented from flying or were taken off the planes. They were asked questions that had nothing to with travel. In a school in New York a teacher asked children how they feel about their uncle. The teacher was referring to Osama Bin Laden."

Asim gave instances of how Muslims fought legal battle to fight discrimination, to get permission for building mosques and to restrain some states from bringing legislation to prevent courts from interpreting Sharia laws.





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