News / Middle East

Muslims Wearied, Offended, by Islamic Center Controversy

Multimedia

Audio

The opposition to a proposed Islamic Center near the site of the 2001 terror attacks in New York has offended many Muslims both in America and abroad.  Some people are truly tired of having Islam equated with terrorism.

Nine years after the attacks on the World Trade Center, and a massive effort by clergy and secular groups to promote interfaith dialogue, some observers find the demonization of Islam has not diminished.

Said Sadek is a professor of politics at the American University in Cairo.  He says he is shocked by what he sees as the racism unleashed by discussion over the Islamic Center.

"As if 9/11 was committed by Islam in the name of Islam by the representatives of Islam: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahari," he said. "Ayman al Zawahari, Osama bin Laden and al Qaida are not Islam.  You cannot blame 1.5 billion Muslims and try to insult them by refusing an Islamic cultural center nearby, saying that 'we cannot tolerate seeing that.'"

Some in the Egyptian capital are more sanguine about the issue, resigned to what they see as the ignorance of others.  Hossam, a 29 year old telecommunications worker, points out that certain stereotypes about Muslims actually cross religious boundaries, to include conservative Christians and Jews.

"When you see a man with a big beard, people are saying, 'he's a terrorist.' On the other hand, this girl with the hijab [headcovering], she could be a nun. This guy with a big beard, he also could be a priest.  It's just people are jumping to conclusions because they have this prefixed picture of Muslims and how they look like.   Maybe that's because Osama bin Laden has a big beard and so they tend to see all people with big beards [that way].  I'm Egyptian and I don't have that beard.  I'm okay," he said.  

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is leading the project to build the Islamic center, and whose beard, incidentally, is neatly trimmed, is one of those who has spent years promoting interfaith understanding.  He is currently in the Middle East, carrying the message of moderation at the behest of the U.S. government.  

During a speech in Bahrain this week, Rauf once again tried to drive home the point that Islam is a religion of peace.

"This principle which defined terrorism is strictly forbidden in Islam,"  he said. "It falls under the category of what Muslim jurists have called "Herabah" because "Herabah" destroys the structures, the binding structures of human society.   Our faith is a religion not only of spirituality, of ethics and of morality, but also a religion of law and the rule of law."

Rauf was tapped as a moderate face of Islam by the previous U.S. administration of George W. Bush.   Professor Sadek notes that President Barack Obama has himself reached out to Muslims, most famously in a speech in Cairo last year.  But Sadek says he should have spent more time dealing with the image of Muslims in America.

"Summarizing the whole controversy into whether this Imam is moderate or not moderate is again escaping from the real issue," he said. "The real issue is do we accept Islam as part of American culture or not?"

Back on the streets of Cairo, restaurant worker Mohammad is one of many who hopes, eventually, there will be room for more understanding.

Mohammad says the Islamic center is a beautiful thing.  It's for everybody, he says.   He notes that everyone has a religion dear to them.  He says Muslims are proud of their faith and he hopes it spreads throughout the world.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid