By Nihad Awad
This Fourth of July weekend, friends and families around the country will gather together to celebrate the freedoms we cherish as Americans, those for which countless generations have struggled and sacrificed so much.
We celebrate our freedom from oppression, freedom to practice our religion, representation in our government, and self-determination.
Yet as recent events targeting African-Americans have made abundantly clear, we still have a long way to go to achieve full equality under the flag we will fly high this weekend.
The terror attack on an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the abuse of African-American teens by a police officer in McKinney, Texas, and police-involved shootings and mistreatment of men, women, and children of color across our nation point to the lingering structural racism in our society. These troubling incidents must be honestly addressed before we can truly be the nation President Abraham Lincoln described as "conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
While much was accomplished through the Civil Rights Movement during the 50s and 60s, much still remains to be done.
No less corrosive to the American values on which our country was founded is the pervasive hate to which American Muslims have increasingly found themselves subjected.
Recent, and largely unreported, incidents of anti-Muslim hate include a Texas road rage shooting in which the alleged gunman reportedly shouted "Go back to Islam" before firing at and killing the victim, the "execution-style" killings of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C., hate vandalism and threats targeting mosques and Islamic schools nationwide, a planned religiously-motivated attack on a Muslim community in New York, and the murder of a Muslim teen in Kansas city who was run down by a vehicle painted with anti-Islam slurs.
In one much-publicized incident, armed anti-Islam protesters recently harassed worshipers at an Arizona mosque; several of those present at the rally displayed Nazi-themed symbols.
Racism and Islamophobia are branches of the same poisonous tree: both rely on stereotypes and misinformation for their creation and continuation; both harm not only those targeted by bigotry, but also the society that allows hate to fester and pits one group against another.
Despite these terrible incidents, there are some clear signs of hope and optimism, particularly in the outpouring of love for the victims of the deadly shooting in Charleston and in the subsequent almost-universal repudiation of the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism and oppression, one to which CAIR added its voice.
We saw a similar outpouring of support for worshipers at the Arizona mosque assaulted by hate-speech, and even witnessed a neighborhood "love-in" for an Iowa Muslim-American whose house was painted with Islamophobic and threatening graffiti.
The American Muslim community will continue to stand with our fellow Americans of all beliefs and backgrounds as we together struggle to achieve true freedom and equality.
As Dr. Martin Luther King said in his 1965 Independence Day sermon delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., "Never before in the history of the world have so many racial groups and so many national backgrounds assembled together in one nation. And somehow if we can't solve the problem in America the world can't solve the problem, because America is the world in miniature and the world is America writ large."
He added: "We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream."
Amen to that.
By Nihad Awad
Word Count: 618
In one of his most famous statements, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
On the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, it is time to reflect on Dr. King's words and examine where we stand as a nation on the issues of justice and mutual understanding.
Dr. King's struggle for justice must be carried on by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds, because that is what he taught and demonstrated through his life's work.
By Nihad Awad
Word Count: 810
There is a growing attempt by some commentators to label the recent bombings in Boston as "jihad" and to blame the deadly blasts on a non-existent concept they call "radical Islam."
I call "radical Islam" non-existent because radicalism or extremism is not permissible in Islam. Islam prohibits extremism and an essential part of the faith is moderation. A more accurate term might be "Al-Qaeda ideology."
Muslims have interacted with the Roman Catholic Church and its leaders -- sometimes negatively and sometimes positively -- for hundreds of years. These interactions have included negative periods of needless and counterproductive conflict, as well as positive cooperation on issues of importance to families of all faiths.
By Gadeir Abbas and Adam Soltani
Published in The Oklahoman on February 13, 2013.
Years ago, Saadiq Long — an American citizen born in Oklahoma — served in our Air Force with distinction. For a time, he even provided technical support to military aircraft destined for combat. Who could have guessed that such a man would be deemed too dangerous to board commercial aircraft?
Nihad Awad: American Muslims Are Indebted to Dr. King
By Nihad Awad
In my position as the leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest American Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, I am eternally grateful for the vision, struggle and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He did not struggle only to free his own generation, and his work will continue to bless many generations to come in America and around the world.
ISLAM-OPED: Dr. King's Legacy Mandates Respect for Due Process, End to Drone Killings and Warrantless Surveillance
By: Dawud Walid
Word count: 626
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day symbolizes many important moral and ethical principles, including the citizenry's responsibility to end the federal government's abuses of civil and human rights, both at home and abroad.
By: Ibrahim Hooper
WORD COUNT: 489
As many people make promises to themselves to improve their lives or their societies in the coming year, here is a suggested New Year's resolution for media outlets in America and worldwide: Drop the term "Islamist."
By Ibrahim Hooper
Word Count: 520
During the Christmas season, Christian families seek to maintain a focus on Jesus and his legacy.
Many of our Christian brothers and sisters may be surprised to know that Muslims love and revere Jesus as one of God's greatest messengers to mankind, just as we love and revere the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon them both.
American Muslims May Decide Who Becomes President
By: Nihad Awad
Word Count: 686
In this close election, it is a small voting bloc that will decide the outcome. On November 6, American Muslims are in a position to determine which presidential candidate will win in key swing states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
By Nihad Awad
WORD COUNT: 611
During our nation's current economic downturn, and in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, many of our fellow Americans are suffering.
That is why it is so important this Thanksgiving to show thanks for all the blessings we have by reaching out to those in need.