News / USA

    US Attitudes Toward Islam Explored

    Multimedia

    Audio

    The leader of a small U.S. Christian church says he has called off his plan to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday, but his original intention and the public outcry against the construction of an Islamic center in New York City underscore what some see as heightened animosity toward and fear of Muslims and Islam in the United States. Experts say so-called "Islamophobia" exists, but that it appears to be more on the fringes of U.S. society than in the mainstream.

    Correspondent Michael Bowman discusses whether Americans are "Islamophobic":

    Nine years after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, fear and distrust of Muslims live on in the United States.  Mosques have suffered vandalism, a Muslim cab driver was stabbed after acknowledging his faith, and Pastor Terry Jones insists he will burn the Quran.

    Many Muslim-Americans can give first-hand accounts of being targeted for their faith.

    Danette Zaghari-Mask says that in her hometown of Orlando, Florida, she was verbally abused by a stranger who said she dresses like a terrorist.  "And I was so shocked."  A mother of three, she said she worries more for her young children than for herself.

    "I am a big girl and I can put up with that kind of hostility, but it is really difficult to explain that to a young child who is developing their sense of self-esteem," said Zaghari-Mask.    "We do not want our Muslim-American children to look at the world as 'us' and 'them.'  We are all one human race."

    A random sampling of opinion in Washington reveals that some people bear animosity toward Muslims and Islam.

    Richard Pullen, visiting Washington from the West Coast state of Oregon, said, "To me, it is a cult. You saw what they did on 9/11 (11 Sep 2001).  To me, that was taking away our freedom, when we were trying to live here, work here and be peaceful.  And they come and attack us."

    Most people with whom VOA spoke, however, with had a different outlook.

    Maryland resident Todd Heffert said, "I think everybody should celebrate the diversity of America.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Scientology - it really does not matter."

    Washington, D.C., resident Shelly Han said, "Most people do not understand what the tenets of Islam are.  It is the culture that is associated with Islam that is scary to people.  We are definitely at a point where we need more reasonable voices."

    Indian immigrant Majit Singha said, "This country welcomes immigrants from all different faiths and countries.  There is nothing to fear of a belief or a practice from another culture that is different."

    Leading figures of all major faiths gathered here in Washington to defend religious freedom and plea for tolerance.

    Brent Walker heads the Baptist [Christian] Committee for Religious Liberty.  "We honor God and we honor country by loving our neighbors through seeking religious liberty for everyone," said Walker.

    Rabbi David Saperstein has a similar message.  "We know what it is like, when people have attacked us verbally, attacked us physically, and others have remained silent.  It cannot happen here in America in 2010."

    Muslim-Americans practice their faith and engage in prayer, Sep 2010
    Muslim-Americans practice their faith and engage in prayer, Sep 2010

    Meanwhile, prominent Muslim-Americans recognize the need to reach out and educate their fellow-citizens.

    Ingrid Matson, who directs the Islamic Society of North America, said "I understand that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about Islam and about Muslims in this country.  And I do not blame ordinary Americans, who are very busy and do not have a lot of information, for feeling confused and anxious.  It is our job to provide better information about what Muslims believe and what Islam is."

    At different times, practitioners of other faiths also have faced ridicule and suspicion in the United States, including Mormons, Catholics and Jews.  Some observers see the recent flare-up of Islamophobia as a highly-publicized, but temporary deviation from America's historic embrace of religious freedom and diversity.

    Head of the religious freedom project at Washington's Newseum, Charles Haynes, points out that the plan to burn the Quran is an isolated act, Sep 2010
    Head of the religious freedom project at Washington's Newseum, Charles Haynes, points out that the plan to burn the Quran is an isolated act, Sep 2010

    The head of the religious freedom project at Washington's Newseum, Charles Haynes, points out that the plan to burn the Quran is an isolated act.

    "This little church in Florida of 30 members does not represent the United States of America.  The United States of America is represented by hundreds, if not thousands, of mosques and Islamic centers in this country that are thriving.  Islamic schools where people are free to practice Islam, as almost nowhere else in the world.  That is America, and that is the future of America," said Haynes.

    A future without hostility toward Islam is one that cannot come soon enough for Muslim-American families.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.