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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid