I had the great fortune of living in NYC my whole life. I have lived/worked/travelled in pretty much all the boroughs of this city. NYC is like many other modern-day metropolis, it has its problems as well as stuff that is just awesome. The City has changed a lot since the 70′s and 80′s when my parents moved here and I was born. I am not writing this post as a result of quaffing some aged wine of nostaligia. I would like to talk about briefly 9/11 and new initiative I was made aware of recently.
When 9/11 happened I was stuck on a train in Brooklyn on my way to my university. Over the next few days, I was witness to many kind acts and a solidarity between NY‘er that I never would have thought possible. I started to believe in this myth that America was a real melting pot, until I traveled on Greyhound on a voyage of a lifetime from NYC to Las Vegas and exposed to some potent dosage of racism in Denver – but that is a story for another day but on a side note – I see America more as a festive mosaic where ‘like’ parts are located at specific parts of a vast image.
Going back, these beautiful moments were punctuated by account of violence against Muslims and Arabs. I was talking to one of my friends at the gym and he said in response “It’s their turn”. Meaning that every minority group living in the US has a moment when they become a walking bullseye for discrimination and violence. Arab friend of mine was spit on in the street, another Arab woman had her headdress yanked off while being verbally assaulted.
One of the greatest things that remained in my mind of this time was how whatever anyone said that went against the status quo at the time was considered Anti-American. By mentioning how innocent people where being abused and harassed let the terrorist win in their campaign to divide and stir up trouble in American cities. Few mentioned how divided American cities were already. Other things I heard from my fellow American was that we were at war, and we had more pressing issues to attend to. Like renamed French Fries Freedom Fries because French President Jacques Chirac didn’t immediately support our going to war with Iraq.
I would say for all of you reading this, I am quite biased as a student of History in particular American History. So please take this with a grain of salt. I could be completely wrong in my understanding of American History and we really have a great track record with minorities and immigrants. Racial profiling, discrimination and acts are like global warming fictitious, no matter what people say. Then of course I remember, the degrading caricatures of the Irish who came to the US, the treatment of Mexicans, maybe to add some spice to the mix the Sacco and Venzetti case, but more recently Rais Bhuiyan, If you dont know who he is let me refresh your memory.
Days after the 9/11 terror attacks, 31-year old laborer Mark Stroman went on a shooting spree in the Dallas area. In a drug-fueled mission of revenge, he killed two South Asian immigrants and shot another — Rais Bhuiyan — in the face at close range, blinding him in one eye. Shortly after his arrest, Stroman boasted of his role as “Arab Slayer.”
Now, as Stroman faces imminent execution in Texas, an unlikely champion is fighting to save his life: Bhuiyan, who spent years recovering from the wounds
My fellow Americans, Taking the Pledge
It may come as a shock, but Muslims are human being and quite decent people who like all people have had a few rotten apples give them a bad name. I personally dont follow any religion, except the religion of love as all Sufis are incumbent to follow. I dont believe that the sharia and the Quran preach violence or Hatred against the West. I’ve always assert religion is a tool, some use it to grow closer to God, others, extremists use it to wield power over others and advance their own agenda.
Recently I was contacted by a representative of the Unity Foundation about the My Fellow Americans project who said quite nicely that: “The post-9/11 world the environment can be downright hostile. Recent mosque protests and congressional hearings on American Muslims are all unfortunate examples of a rising tide of fear. This climate of suspicion towards our fellow Americans compromises the great values that our country was founded upon.”
About My Fellow American
My Fellow American is an online film and social media project that calls upon concerned Americans to pledge and spread a message that Muslims are our fellow Americans. It asks people of other backgrounds to pledge, and share a real life story about a Muslim friend, neighbor, or colleague that they admire. Using the power of social media, My Fellow American seeks to change the narrative of Muslims as the other, to Muslims as our fellow Americans.
About the Project
Most Americans have never met an American Muslim. Many only know Muslims through the way they are portrayed in the media. American Muslims are so often vilified as “the other” that it is possible not to recognize that most were born in the U.S. Or that those who immigrated here came seeking the same freedoms and opportunities that have always attracted people to America.
Muslims are our fellow Americans, who today face threats to their civil rights and even their personal safety because of the fearful and often hateful rhetoric that would not be tolerated were it uttered about any other minority group.
What I like the most about the Website is this pledge button below, excuse the crappy quality.
It says: “Muslims are our Fellow Americans. They are part of the national fabric that holds our country together. They contribute to America in many ways, and deserve the same respect as any of us. I pledge to spread this message, and affirm our country’s principles of liberty and justice for all.”
So for the sake of all those who have suffered unjustly and to help curb the rise in hate crime please check it out the My Fellow Americans Project.
Other probable Sept. 11 linked hate backlash victims include:
Adel Karas, 48, a grocer from Egypt and a Coptic Christian, who was killed Sept. 15, 2001 in his San Gabriel, California store.
Another victim was Ali Almansoop, an American citizen and father of four. He was murdered six days later on Sept. 21, 2001 at his Detroit, Michigan home. Almansoop was a Yemen native. Prosecutors charged a Garden City man with first-degree murder in his shooting death. Allegedly, Almansoop was dating the ex-girlfriend of his killer, although the killer reportedly claimed he was glad he shot him because of Sept. 11.
Jawed Wassel of Queens, New York was an Afghani American (according to a friend of the family). Wassel had just finished producing a film about Iraq when he got into a dispute with one of his film’s investors. The investor was later charged with decapitating Wassel and chopping up his body in the days after Sept. 11.
The day before Abdo Ali Ahmed, 51, was murdered, he found a note on his car threatening to kill him and deriding his ethnicity. Ahmed, a Yemeni shopkeeper in Reedly, California, showed the note to friends and family but threw it away after concluding the threat was little more than typical post-Sept. 11 rage.
The next day, on Sept. 29, Ahmed was found murdered. Police have never charged a suspect in the case and they did not find the note he showed to his friends and family. Ahmed was a father of eight. The family lived in California for 35 years. The killing so frightened his surviving family members that they moved and till this day remain in hiding.
Abdullah Mohammed Nimer, 53, was a door-to-door salesman who lived and worked in Los Angeles, California. The motive in his Oct. 13, 2001 murder did not appear to be robbery. When his body was found, his car was unlocked and filled with valuable merchandise worth thousands of dollars. Police found several hundred dollars in cash with the victim that was also untouched.