When Pakistani student Khurram Rauf learned federal immigration officials in California had begun cracking down on Middle Easterners suspected of violating their student visas, he wasn't surprised.
Like many Muslim students at the University of Maryland in College Park, he has been interviewed by FBI agents. In his case, agents showed up at his door wanting to know how he felt about the Sept. 11 attacks, how his parents felt about them and whether he knew any fellow students involved in suspicious activity.
He understands the rationale for singling out students from the Middle East and central Asian countries on the State Department's terrorism watch list, but, even so, it disturbs him. "There's got to be a more proper way," said
Rauf, 23, a mechanical engineering student. "You cannot generalize about all Pakistanis or Middle Eastern people. But it is related to the Muslim world…"
…Several Muslim students at College Park reported that FBI agents interviewed them following the Sept. 11 attacks. Rauf said FBI agents spent nearly an hour asking him a range of questions, including whether he could
identify any of the suspected hijackers.
"They showed up at my house at 10 a.m., without a warrant, and started asking questions. I don't want to make it seem like I'm hiding anything," he said. "I personally think that I'd be coming around myself asking questions, too, but you can't [just] barge into someone's house..."
It was bad enough that, to prosecute the war on terrorism, Ashcroft sought excessive powers that threaten to undermine precious civil liberties. Even worse, the attorney general has shown an alarming lack of understanding of the importance of debate and dissent to the preservation of Americans' freedoms.
Recent steps by the administration to authorize secret tribunals without judicial review, to allow the government to eavesdrop on confidential attorney-client conversations, and to blanket detain and interrogate Arab-Americans and Muslims have put long-established rights at risk.
At the very least, such actions invite public debate about whether the dangers that they pose are worth the aid they bring to the war on the terrorism. Yet, incredibly, in congressional testimony earlier this month, Ashcroft equated legitimate dissent over the government's actions with something unpatriotic and unAmerican -- even treasonous…
"Militant Islam is the enemy and we have just begun the fight against it."
CBN.com - In this new year, the Middle East will continue to remain at the center of concern in the war on terrorism. For new insights, Pat Robertson spoke with Dr. Daniel Pipes, an expert on the Islamic world, and Chris Mitchell, CBN News' Middle East Bureau Chief.
ROBERTSON: You have written that the United States government, with taxpayer dollars, has actually helped to spread Islam. Could you expand on that a little bit?
PIPES: You are putting it a little more strongly than me. I wrote an article recently showing that, if one takes the last 10 years, if one takes President Clinton, and to a certain extent President Bush, and their aids,
one finds a constant pattern of promoting Islam, saying that this is a wonderful religion and has nothing to do with terrorism, and Americans need to know more about it, and it's great that there are more Muslims. And this is a striking contrast to the approach of the American government toward other religions - in particular Christianity.
One finds over and over again that Islam is given special privileges. You may have followed that in New York and in Philadelphia; the school systems at the end of last year permitted Muslim students to use the schools as a place of prayer. I don't need to point out to your audience that that is not something that Christians get to avail themselves of. So there is this contrast, this special treatment of Islam that I think needs to be noted. And, you know, the government needs to be much more cautious about this…