MA: Islamic Society's Turn to Get Answers


MA: ISLAMIC SOCIETY'S TURN TO GET ANSWERS

It seems that the normal rules of civility and legal tradition no longer apply to Muslims living in America. The mere mention of the words "Muslim" and "Saudi Arabia" in the same breath elicits accusations of "ties to terror" and charges of extremism in a complete reversal of innocent until proven guilty.

For example, in 2005, the Islamic Society of Boston was approved for a $1 million loan from the Islamic Development Bank, with headquarters in Saudi Arabia, to partially fund its ISB Cultural Center in Roxbury. According to the new logic of guilty-by-association, because the ISB is a Muslim organization and the Islamic Development Bank is in the Middle East, the public should be scared.

Yes, the ISB borrowed money from the Islamic Development Bank, which has ties to Islamic countries of all types. But the institution's members are Islamic countries that practice all sects and strains of Islam -- Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Wahhabii, Salafi. The bank finances projects jointly with the United Nations and the US government. The assertion that this enormous, multilateral bank with 20-year ties to the UN promotes a Wahhabi strain of Islam by means of its lending practices is absurd. This paranoid logic argues that if you are Muslim and have any contact with Saudi Arabia you must be a terrorist.

This game of guilt by association is a threat not only to Muslims, but to anyone who is unfortunate enough to be politically unpopular in this atmosphere of fear and insecurity. Such use of fear-mongering tactics against Muslims is the same mean-spiritedness that led to the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II.

Fifty years from now, people will look back on the stereotyping of Muslims with equal shame. As David Cole, law professor at Georgetown University, recently noted in the Washington Post, the administration launched a post- 9/11 campaign of profiling Muslims and those from Arab countries, "calling in 8,000 young men for FBI interviews and 80,000 more for registration, fingerprinting, and photographing by immigration authorities. Not one of those 88,000 has been convicted of terrorism." (MORE)

Jessica Masse is the interfaith coordinator of the Islamic Society of Boston

 


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