United Voices for America – Saudi Gazette by Tariq Al-Maeena

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This article is based on our press release, thanks to Tariq A. Al-Maeena and Saudi Gazette – Mike Ghouse
Last updated: Tuesday, July 07, 2015 5:04 PM
United Voices for America
Tariq A. Al-Maeena
The United States of America recently celebrated its 239th birthday on July 4.  What is not so well known is that Muslims have been an integral part of American heritage. With the declaration of American independence on July 4, 1776, two of the first three heads of states who recognized the sovereignty of the United States were Muslims.

Morocco, a Muslim country, was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States of America, signing the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, the first of its kind. Next came Friesland, one of the seven United Provinces of the Dutch Republic, followed by the Muslim king Tippu Sultan, the King of Mysore State now in India. Sultan’s congratulatory letter to America remains preserved in a French library. He celebrated America’s independence by bursting firecrackers in his home state of Srirangapatna.

So what does July 4th mean to Muslims?  Mike Ghouse a dynamic human rights activist committed to building cohesive societies and offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day through the NGO World Muslim Congress, says that “it means everything and the biggest thing is freedom. Islam is indeed about freedom of conscience, justice and liberty.”

He adds that the Pledge of Allegiance is one of the most cherished statements for Muslims: “One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” There are several verses in the Holy Qur’an that assert those values, so it’s like coming home for Muslims.

The concept of equality is etched and nurtured in the Muslim psyche in every ritual and spiritual practice of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered the following words in his last sermon: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” Muslims hold this declaration close to their hearts.

America’s founding fathers had a vision and laid the groundwork for a sustainable cohesive America for centuries to come: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

However, that has not always played well with some racist elements and opportunists.  As Mike reminds us, Donald Sterling, the basketball billionaire, and Don Imus, the popular American radio host, and several others faced severe retribution for racial slurs.

In recent years, American Muslims have become an easy target for abuse without any consequence. Some US presidential candidates top the list for bigotry, having said that they would not hire a Muslim in their cabinet.

Last week, Congressman Peter King (R-NY), whom I suspect to be a closet AIPAC card-carrying member, took to the airwaves to send a message to American-Muslims ahead of the 4th of July weekend.  His message is so offensive that if it was said to or about any other American minority group, there would have been an uproar. But because the targets of his bigotry were Muslims, there was not much of a reaction or waves of condemnation.  

In a radio interview Congressman King, who serves on the Homeland Security Committee, warned of an imminent attack by a terrorist from within the Muslim community during the Independence Day celebrations. Playing down the terrorist actions of Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine people in a church in Charleston, SC, King also disregarded new research by the think tank New America and the New York Times which found that white supremacists and non-Muslim homegrown extremists have killed far more Americans than Muslim radicals.

Why do Peter King and other lawmakers feel that it is acceptable to lie about and attack Muslim communities in the USA?  Because they think that American Muslims will not fight back, they think Muslims cannot hurt them on election day, and they think Muslims will just sit back and take it.

United Voices for America, another NGO operating in the US is dedicated to defeating political bigotry and the anti-Muslim movement. And they have taken an issue with this racial stereotyping by Peter King. They should be supported for their stance.

As Mike says: “America is one of the most beautiful things that has happened to Muslims. As American Muslims, we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in the US Constitution.”  And to do that, American Muslims should not continue to be slurred by racists such as Peter King and make their voices heard on election day.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena

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