By Gadeir Abbas
Word count: 502
This year, the Muslim community of Murfreesboro, Tenn., will likely be able to open its doors in time to share Ramadan together in the mosque they built, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM).
Houses of worship are built and opened all the time, but this one has acquired special significance. In opening its doors in spite of unprecedented obstacles and opposition, the mosque serves as a lasting testament to America's abiding commitment to religious freedom.
The obstacles and opposition to ICM opening its doors were breathtaking. Shortly after ICM received permission to begin construction, a viciously anti-Muslim groundswell rose up to oppose it. The protests were ugly.
I hope that someday we will all look back in shame at how routinely the United States once barred traveling American Muslims from returning to their country. But while that day may be far off, Ali Ahmed serves as just the latest example of how the misguided and illegal use of the no-fly list imposes a strange form of extrajudicial exile on a growing number of Americans.
Ali, a 20-year-old American citizen studying journalism in San Diego, traveled abroad for his wedding, to visit family, and to make a religious pilgrimage to Mecca. He performed his pilgrimage without incident, but soon after, Ali got his first hint that the U.S. was going to obstruct his movement abroad.
When he attempted to enter Kenya to visit his father and for the wedding, Kenyan authorities did not let him in and instead sent Ali to Bahrain. The next day, distraught that his wedding had to be postponed and that he would not be able to see his father, Ali tried to return to his country of citizenship, the United States. At the airport, he was told that he would not be allowed to return because sometime after he left the United States his government had put him on its no-fly list. There was no explanation, no way to resolve the problem – just that he could not fly now or at any point in the future.
By Nihad Awad
Word count: 713
As we mark one of history's most triumphant acts of liberty, I want to share with you some of the many things America's Muslims are doing to preserve this fundamental principle of the American identity.
The revolution we honor each year on July 4th was in part sparked by unreasonable government intrusions into individual liberty. In 1761, Boston lawyer James Otis spoke against overly-broad warrants issued by the British government. These Writs of Assistance allowed the crown's agents to search any house or ship they wished, without any specific reason. John Adams -- signer of the Declaration of Independence and our nation''s second president -- said of Otis' speech, "Then and there, the child Independence was born."