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Muslim Americans on edge
March 27th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

In key American Muslim enclave, alienation is growing

Editor’s note: The original version of this story omitted the fact that the attorney for Roger Stockham, who was charged with making terrorist threats against a Dearborn mosque, says his client is a Muslim convert.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Madison Heights, Michigan (CNN) - Dawud Walid asked the worshipers for a show of hands: How many had heard about the Muslim radicalization hearings in Washington earlier that day?

About half of the 50 or so Muslims in the banquet hall-turned-mosque indicated that they had.

So Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter, briefed the other half about the hearing, calling it an “unfortunate first in American history.”

Then he went further, warning about what he said were a handful of growing threats to American Muslims.

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of September 11, we are seeing unprecedented acts of Islamophobia,” Walid told the worshipers at the American Islamic Community Center, 10 miles north of Detroit.

“After 9/11, it was coming from a few right-wingers,” he said. “But now, in 2011, we’re seeing it from Congress.”

Walid went on to tell the congregation that a dozen states - from Georgia to Missouri to New Mexico - are considering bans on Sharia, or Islamic law, and warned that such bans could lead to prohibitions on women wearing the hijab, or headscarf, and even on Muslims worshiping Allah.

“Praying five times a day is Sharia,” he said. “Do you go to jail for that?”

As one of the largest and oldest Muslim enclaves in the nation - and, with its century-old ties to Ford Motor Co., one that’s intimately bound up in the modern American story - the metro Detroit community is perhaps as close as one can get to the soul of American Islam.

At a time when the country is wrestling with its views on Islam, the faith causes relatively little friction in the largely Arab cocoon of southeast Michigan.

But narratives playing out in the national media, from the radicalization hearings spearheaded by New York Republican Rep. Peter King to the wave of proposed Sharia bans to anticipation of the September 11 anniversary, have left many Muslims here feeling ostracized in their own country.

The community is growing more defensive in the face of what many here say is a national climate of suspicion reminiscent of the period immediately after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In response to what he called “a spike in anti-Muslim bigotry,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is holding a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing Tuesday on “measures to protect the rights of American Muslims.”

Witnesses will include Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - the former archbishop of Washington - and the top civil rights officials from the administrations of Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

On this Thursday night, however, worshipers at the American Islamic Community Center echoed the embattled tone of the guest speaker from Center for American-Islamic Relations.

Hadir Ghazala, a 49-year-old Iraqi immigrant in a black-and-white polka-dot hijab, said she’d been turned down for jobs at local salons because she refused to remove her headscarf.

Mohammed Elzhemni, 39, bemoaned what he called a growing national stereotype of Muslims as terrorists.

“These people raise their families and work hard,” he said, gesturing to a cluster of small children chasing each other across the mosque’s faux marble floor. “I’m a manager at GM and work to make the country better. This is the true face of Islam.”

At a time when King and others are alleging that radical American Muslims pose an under-acknowledged threat to national security, a popular refrain among Detroit-area Muslims is that they’re the ones under attack.

The sentiment is especially acute at the Islamic Center of America, which calls itself the nation’s largest mosque.

This year, police said they thwarted an explosives attack on the house of worship in Dearborn, just west of Detroit city limits. In January, police arrested a man in the center’s parking lot in a car they said was packed with fireworks.

Police said the suspect, Roger Stockham, drove to Dearborn from California. He faces two felony charges carrying maximum sentences of up to 20 years.

The arrest provoked state and local law enforcement agencies to urge the 70,000-square-foot mosque to bolster security and develop a new emergency response plan.

“We’ve never had an incident like that, where we were targeted by someone who wanted to do us harm based on who we are,” said Kassem Allie, the center’s executive administrator.

To Allie, the incident is evidence that some Americans are being radicalized against Islam, turning the allegation of growing Muslim radicalization on its head.

“The suspect was apparently radicalized quite some time ago,” Allie said. “And there are other instances of radicalization that are of great concern to us.

“I have no problem addressing Islamic radicalization,” he said, monitoring the mosque's security cameras from a computer screen in his ground-floor office. “But there should be an acknowledgment that other communities have the same problem.”

Indeed, a common complaint around Dearborn, the epicenter of southeast Michigan’s Muslim community, is that the only time religion is mentioned in a crime story is when the suspect is Muslim.

“When Timothy McVeigh did his bombing, we didn’t investigate or blame Christianity,” said Al Machy, 32, referring to the 1995 attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City that left 168 dead.

Machy works behind the counter at the Golden Bakery on Warren Avenue, a miles-long Dearborn strip lined with halal butchers, hookah bars, Lebanese restaurants and locally owned groceries with names like Baghdad Market and Sahara West. Signs for most businesses are in Arabic.

“Every day, there are hundreds of rapes and murders, and they never put the words 'Christian' or 'Jewish' in the story,” said Machy, an Iraqi refugee who arrived in the U.S. after the Gulf War.

Unlike most such crimes, in which religion doesn’t appear to be an issue, recent instances of homegrown terrorism - such as 2009’s Fort Hood shooting and last year’s failed Times Square bomb plot - were allegedly carried out in the name of Islam.

But many Muslims around Dearborn say those cases garner inordinate news attention while recent attacks against Muslim Americans, including the defacing and burning of mosques, are largely neglected.

According to the Justice Department, there were 107 anti-Muslim hate-crime incidents in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available, compared with 28 such incidents in 2000.

After a sharp spike in 2001, when there were 481 anti-Muslim hate crime incidents, there have since been fewer than 200 such incidents annually, though there were generally fewer than 50 in the years before 2001.

Muslim advocacy groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, say they have seen a more recent uptick in anti-Muslim threats and violence.

Officials at the Islamic Center of America, which draws about 1,200 worshipers for Friday prayers, say local law enforcement encouraged them to take a low-key public stance on the January explosives arrest. Authorities wanted to avoid inspiring copycat attacks or reprisals, mosque officials said.

The mosque issued a news release after the suspect’s arrest but limited its interviews with the media. Chuck Alawan, 80, a founding board member of the mosque, has some regrets about the mosque keeping relatively quiet about the incident.

“You never hear about all the threats against mosques,” Alawan said in the thick Midwestern accent of a lifelong Michigan resident.

“I was born in this country, and I have never felt persecuted,” he said. “But it’s getting close to that.”

As Alawan spoke, a surveyor from the Michigan Department of Transportation was setting up equipment on the mosque’s lawn as part of a “vulnerability study” after the January incident.

Last week, the Islamic Center of America learned that the Florida pastor who triggered an international firestorm last year by threatening to burn the Quran would take part in an April protest at the mosque.

The protest against "Sharia and Jihad" is scheduled for Good Friday, two days before Easter.

"It is necessary that we set very clear lines for Muslims that are here in America,” Terry Jones, the Florida pastor, said in a statement Wednesday announcing his plans to protest at the Dearborn mosque. "If they desire to change our Constitution, in other words to institute Sharia, then these Muslims are no longer welcome in our country."

Officials at the Islamic Center of America are still deciding how to respond, though they are leaning toward a Good Friday counter-event that would bring together religious leaders of different backgrounds to encourage tolerance and interfaith dialogue.

"For us to try to fight fire with fire like in this case - to fight hate with hate - is really unproductive and actually destructive," said Allie, the mosque's executive administrator. "Under different circumstances, we'd welcome a dialogue with Terry Jones or other detractors, but it's got to be civilized."

Developments like the mosque protest have some local law enforcement officials sympathizing with growing Muslim anxiety.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad is among them. He estimates that he has received 10,000 anti-Muslim “hate e-mails,” some calling him a “Taliban police chief” or alleging that he’s persecuting Christians.

The senders assume he’s Muslim because of his last name, Haddad says, even though he’s a Christian of Lebanese descent.

Like Alawan and Haddad, many Arab-Americans in the area trace their local roots back generations. The first big wave of Middle Easterners arrived in southeast Michigan around 1910 to man Henry Ford’s automobile plants in Highland Park and Dearborn.

Those immigrants were mostly Christians from the area that is now Lebanon but was then part of the Ottoman Empire.

“Ford seemed to think that that this particular segment of the empire was industrious and productive and a good source of cheap labor,” said Saeed Khan, a lecturer in Islamic history, politics and culture at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Khan said Ford also favored immigrants from that region because, unlike some other groups, they tended to be light-skinned.

After the defeated Ottoman Empire was carved up at the end of World War I, Christians were given favored status in the newly created Lebanon, provoking more Muslims to exit the region. Some wound up in new Arab strongholds like metro Detroit.

“Especially after Henry Ford announced the $5 workday, (immigrants) would get off the train in Detroit looking for work, and police would pick them up and take them to Ford’s Rouge plant to apply,” Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly said, referring to a huge Dearborn manufacturing facility that opened in the 1920s.

Today, southeast Michigan’s Muslim population is estimated at nearly half a million, Khan said. Though there are larger Muslim populations in New York and Southern California, there are few places in the country with such a heavy concentration of Muslims.

“Once Henry Ford established that community, it had a pull effect and became an epicenter of Arab life,” Khan said. “It was influenced by employment opportunities and the availability of resources like mosques and schools.”

Though Dearborn retains its Lebanese flavor, the area’s Muslim community includes many immigrants from India, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, along with a growing Eastern European contingent and many African-Americans.

The historic Muslim presence here helps explain why local allegations of Islamophobia are pretty rare - and why Haddad, the police chief, suspects that most of his anti-Muslim e-mail is from outsiders.

Zeinab Dbouk-Chaayto, a recent immigrant from Lebanon, says that she was the only woman donning a hijab when she took classes recently at Madonna University, a Catholic school in Livonia, just west of Dearborn, but that no one gave her any trouble.

The school’s conservative culture jibed with her Muslim values. “There’s no partying and no alcohol,” she said, adding that administrators in a school office where she worked even threw her a baby shower and a birthday party.

Local law enforcement officials, for their part, say they strengthened ties to greater Detroit’s Muslim leadership after September 11, launching a program called Bridges to create an ongoing dialogue between those leaders and the FBI, state and local law enforcement, and other government agencies.

“Sometimes, there’s a relative who feels that someone in the family might be doing things that probably aren’t in the long-term best interest of the country, and they want to bring that forward,” said O’Reilly, the Dearborn mayor, explaining the program.

“But they don’t want to be responsible for throwing a family member in jail,” he said. “There’s a delicacy to that, so they have a dialogue about where people can bring this stuff forward.”

Haddad, the Dearborn police chief, said the Bridges program helped create a parents’ task force to combat gang activity in the city’s Yemeni community. That move contributed to an 11% drop in crime in the heavily Yemeni South End neighborhood last year, he said.

At the same time, many Muslims around Dearborn are convinced that they are under government surveillance, exacerbating feelings of alienation.

Sitting with friends at the Islamic Center of America, Alawan says, they often joke that law enforcement has the mosque’s phones tapped and its rooms bugged.

“The agencies will deny it,” he said. “But we know they’re doing it.”

The suspicion was given credence after FBI agents killed a Muslim cleric in an October 2009 raid in Dearborn.

The charges against the imam, Luqman Ameen Abdullah - which included mail fraud and the illegal possession and sale of firearms - were based on information from three confidential FBI informants who’d infiltrated Abdullah’s mosque.

The case raised the specter of government spies in other Dearborn area mosques and prompted a 2010 letter of protest from Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“People of all faiths should be free to worship without undue fear that the person in the next pew is a government agent,” Conyers wrote, invoking the FBI’s wiretapping of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a regrettable precedent for such surveillance.

Many Muslims around Dearborn find it ironic that what they see as a growing suspicion of Muslims in America comes at a time when much of the Arab world, from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, is rising up against despotic leaders and demanding more U.S.-style freedoms.

“While the Islamic world is rising up against dictatorship, dishonesty, deception and corruption … America should show solidarity with people who are looking for dignity and democracy,” Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi told hundreds of worshipers at recent Friday prayers at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, a mosque situated across the street from Henry Ford Community College.

“That’s not the right time to bring another wave of Islamophobia and ignorance,” he said, blasting the King hearings of the previous day. “It is so dangerous to provoke people who are ready to commit hate crimes with this kind of wrong information.”

Elahi wasn’t referring to the danger of inciting Muslim radicals to commit terrorism against the United States. The threat, in his eyes, is that Americans will be provoked to terrorize Muslims.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Michigan • Muslim

soundoff (3,082 Responses)
  1. d rosenfeld

    this is why people turn to Fox! It is completely understandable that a town would be concerned about a mosques. Mosques are behind 9/11, Madrid train bombing, Israeli suicide bombers, and Iraqi attacks. How CNN can wonder why a town would be concerned is simply their pandering to there PC and "lets just support the underdog" mentality.
    Bad Job and I'm not surprised that most of these responses say the same thing.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • hmmm.....

      Maybe this is why people shouldn't turn to fox. You realize that it's people, not mosques that are responsible for 9/11, and Further that most mosques in America are transparent and you or I are welcome to go into and PEACEFULLY observe what actually happens there? Just like waling into a Catholic Church in Boston.
      I do understand how people can be concerned about a mosque being built, and I am embarassed about it because the concern is based on ignorance.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  2. wtex23

    Yeah you can use all the stats for 100's of years, but how about stats for the last 25 years. What group has been responsiblefor more acts of terrorism against innocent women and children. Duh!! Muslims far and away are in the lead, does not matter what happened 100 years ago, what matters is what's happening now,and if the American muslim community were as outraged about the acts of terrorism committed in the name of allah, as they are about the govt rying to find home grown terrorists, mainstream America would be much more understanding. Their silence is deafening.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  3. Hmmm

    Could care less what religion my neighbors There are more important things to concern myself with.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  4. Curious in Pa

    I am watching the segment on CNN about the unwelcome muslims, i can see why they would like a place to practice their religion. When they showed the muslims praying, they could not all fit in the small center they have now, so some of them worhshiped on the sidewalk. So, I can see why they would like a bigger place. what i DONT understand is why do they need a seperate school? Where are the muslims kids going to school now? Are they going to a public school? MANY kids from different religious backgrounds go to school together. Why do muslims kids need their own school unless..... they are teaching something in the muslim school they do not teach in public schools? i can see why people would be upset, they muslims say they are like everyone else in America, but they want their own school? what would they be teaching in that school that they can not teach in public school?

    March 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Why do the Catholics have their own schools? Why do the religious Jews have their own schools??

      So that they can indoctrinate their kids according to their own fairy tales...

      March 27, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • GatorBait

      Curious PA,

      If thats the case then why have independent Christian and Jewish schools.......
      The reason people have these schools is so kids and families who chose to put their kids there can have both a religious and scholastic education rather than just a secular one. Its a personal preference. Just think of the proverbial catholic schools in Irish Catholic neighborhoods.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Justin

      You're an idiot. They want a school for the same reasons that the catholics want their own school. For the same reason there are Christian schools.

      Please tell me what the difference is....

      Should we be worried about what they are teaching at a Catholic school you moron?

      March 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • John

      Maybe they want a different school because religion is not allowed to be taught in public school. Have you never heard of a catholic school?

      March 27, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • AJ

      The reason they want a school is same as parents who want their kids to attend Christian schools. Many muslim kids attend public schools (including my nieces and nephews who are muslims) but some prefer their kids get religious teaching along with secular education. That simply means they are going to learn religious values, morals and practices. If you prefer a neighbor who is taught how to be honest, sincere, pray and humble themselves 5 times a day. How to dress modestly and Not get involved in drinking, gambling, or bad habits then thats whats going to be taught in these schools and thats all what Sharia law is Building the "moral character". You dont have to fear but fear itself. I would highly recommend and of the books about Islam from a neutral source such as the "dummies series" or "everything series".

      March 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Dearborner.

      There are a lot of Muslim's attending public schools, however public schools do not allow teachings about religion and such. its like asking why Christian's or Catholic's have their own schools. So why do Christian's and Catholics have their own schools? Hmm?

      March 27, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Diane

      Curious in Pa.....they would be teaching the children to have utmost tolerance and patience with those like-minded as you

      March 28, 2011 at 3:19 am |
  5. What?

    WHAT HAPPENS IN EUROPE WITH ISLAM WILL 100% HAPPEN HERE. STOP IT NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  6. Julie

    I've dated both Christian and Muslim men and I can tell you the Christians are way more nuts – at least in Kansas they are.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  7. hakal

    People forget or dont know the fact that about 60 Muslims were killed on 9/11 which is about 3 % of the total numberkilled( the same or more than their percentage in the US population)

    March 27, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • ulbpsu

      So does that mean that they finally got their virgins?

      March 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  8. Crown City Devil

    Wow- Joe Brandon Jr is a fashion train wreck!

    March 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  9. sofi

    May God peace be upon all of you,
    Dear Americans
    Before you judge Muslims please educate yourself about sharia law, Islam, Jihad True Islam
    The best source to get information on this is http://www.al-islam.org or http://www.MuslimsForPeace.org call 1-800-why-why-islam

    March 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  10. Jay

    America(n)s showing its true colors

    To Kevin: I wonder how he would feel if the neighbors came out and said they don't want any Blacks in their town .... ?

    The lawyer that was trying to stop the mosque was an idiot, especially with his comment about "experts opinions"

    The real estate woman is definitely a RACIST and BIGOT

    March 27, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Bethe123

      Islam is a religion, not a race. Have a dislike of a religion does not make you a racist.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • COUNTRYCOOK

      Blacks in the town are not causing TROUBLE all around the world.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  11. Chris

    I am sitting here looking at how we as americans can really show our ignorants or push the scary ways of not knowing about something and just listening to others on people. If there have been any relegion to be scared of for killing people in america it should be christainity. There has been more murders in the name of God here than any other relgion combined all because of ignorant of the next person. I understand what happened on 911. I have lived in Islamic countries and didn't see this much hatred toward any other religion. We say we have freedom of religion, but what I just saw didn't show it. Shame on us as americans to say we are a melting pot as long as you are not muslim.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I'm afraid this is nothing new... Just go back to when the Catholics started coming over here... Later the Jews... For the longest time, the only ones welcome here were white, anglo-saxon protestants... and slaves...

      March 27, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  12. Workingman

    1) False gods and false prophets:
    If a person speaks in the names of false gods, that person is a false prophet.
    Muhammad spoke in the names of false gods.
    Therefore, Muhammad was a false prophet.

    2) False revelations and false prophets:
    If a person delivers a revelation that doesn’t come from God, that person is a false prophet.
    Muhammad delivered a revelation that didn’t come from God.
    Therefore, Muhammad was a false prophet.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      All so-called "gods" are false... as in nonexistant... fictional...

      March 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Diane

      It never ceases to amuse me, when people can speak so factually on a subject they clearly know absolutely nothing about!

      March 28, 2011 at 3:11 am |
  13. Lamar

    Great Job CNN! Soledad you did a great job reporting this story and I hope that you all do a follow up. This story only uncovered the hidden hatred that is here in America.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  14. kyaw

    AGAIN, WHO PAY THE MONEY TO BUILT FOR MOSQUE. SHOULD THE US CITIZENS WHO LOST THEIR LOVE ONES SHOULD ALLOW USING THEIR TAX FOR THAT MOSQUE?

    March 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Who pays when a new church is built? Since you mention it, all palaces of brainwashing (synagogues, churches, mosques, etc.) should pay taxes like any other commercial enterprise...

      March 27, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • hmmm.....

      I pose this question back to you. Should the Americans who lost loved ones to the Dividian, Yahweh ben Yahweh, and the Klu Klux Klan every have to pay for Christian churches to be built? All these groups have been know to commit murder in the name of their distorted version of Christianity. Is it safe to say that (correct) Christianity is your standpoint?

      March 27, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      hmmm..... – I may not have made myself clear... I think all churches, synagogues, mosques, what have you, should be paying taxes and not be receiving any government (meaning, the citizens') money... They have collectively done much more harm than good.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  15. Diane

    WOW....such pure propaganda and CRAP being told about a religion that in it's name ISLAM means PEACE. I have been an American Muslim for over 30years and have both traveled and lived abroad and it is sad to see such ignorance and bigotry alive and well in USA. Practicing Muslims have the highest moral conscious with integrity and honesty that is becoming a rare quality in theses time. I would gladly welcome Muslim neighbors over violent, hateful locals anyday! Those preaching hatred are the most scary of all.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Garrick Harris

      This only purpose Islam has in America is to end Christianity and bring Shari Law to America. Tell me where in the world have you people not destroyed societies. We must stop Islam and close all Mosque' in America. Tell me where does Islam co-exist with Christianity? No where! Islam is the only evil in the world today. We as a Christian free society must no allow your lies.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • nico

      As I have repeatedly admitted, I am not a scholar of middle eastern culture and religion, but it appears to me that the problems that have arisen around Islam across the globe is usually sparked by the lack of mutual respect for human rights on the part of everyone else. Further the US ourselves have made some serious oopsies that have sparked conflict against and among Muslims in the middle east. What's the purpose of education?

      March 27, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Diane

      Garrick.....unfortunately, your lack of world knowledge is clear. Jewish history will tell you that they were most protected and free under the Ottoman rule. The Holocaust against the Jewish people was from the Christian Europeans not Muslims! In IRAN, you have a Christian minority living and thriving! (Christian Ammanpour of CNN is Iranian!) In Syria, there is a HUGE Christian population including churches and hospitals! The people do all levels of economic business together with mutual respect. Lebanon has been multi religious and with a French influence. Egypt has a Koptic Christian population that has been practicing for 1000 + years! In the Philippians, they have Muslim, Christian and Buddhist populations. I could go on, but I think the point has been made!

      March 28, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • Diane

      And Garrick......you might be surprised to know there is a thriving Jewish population existing in YEMEN! Go and do your research before spewing your bigoted, hatred. So, you asked where Muslims coexist with others.......(guess not in your town!)

      March 28, 2011 at 3:06 am |
  16. Aaron

    Uneducated, racist white americans....you all commit more acts of terrorism around the world on a daily basis than anyone else. It's no wonder the world hates the U.S. The only respect now out of fear...nothing more.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  17. LadyAcappella

    I am mortified and dismayed that American citizens would attempt to deny other American citizens their rights... YET AGAIN!!! ...and I especially do not understand how Black Americans could join such an absurd movement. We (Blacks) are still fighting for rights in so many aspects of American life. Why would we attempt to deny Muslims of THEIR rights?? Don't people realize that there are also Christian terrorists? It does not make Christianity a religion of terrorists. It only means that some people who call themselves Christians are not good people.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • ulbpsu

      Just go home. Leave America alone

      March 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • LadyAcappella

      If everyone went home and left America alone, the only people left would be Native Americans, and I'm sure it would not hurt their feelings one bit.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • nico

      ladyacapella, these are good points. don't you wish all americans took education as seriously as that young girl defending her rights to practice her own religion in this program does. honestly she was the most put together person in this entire special.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • LadyAcappella

      I agree with you 100% Nico. That young lady is beautiful inside and out. Too bad there are so many other Americans who do not have her poise and wisdom.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  18. agnostic

    Dawud Walid's comments and his angle of attack are very weak. Why do moslem men want Sharia law? Because it gives them all the power. The West is base don the concept of equality. Sharia is not so.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • hamza

      stop generalizing.tell me one musim name,one guy who you know for sure wants sharia.i am a muslim and i do NOT want any sharia.no muslims in america want sharia.you cannot blame us for what other muslims do.are you responsible for what serbian christians did in srebrenica massacre(8.000 men killed in 2 days)?the same way we are not guilty of what some jerks in afghanistan or pakistan do.by the way,only 3 out of 52 muslim counties practice sharia.do your homework before you accuse somebody.what you actually want is muslims to support g.w.bush's criminal wars and we don't.NO,we do not support those 2 wars.so you try to saddle us with sharia trash talk.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  19. Mahog

    Is it me or does the prosecutor on this program dress like a clown? I'm just saying.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • GatorBait

      Completely Agree...If I was the judge I would have asked him to leave and come back dressed like a lawyer...I mean the way he was dressed I felt really represented the craziness of what he was trying to represent (His racism was just as outlandish)

      March 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Claire Brainard

      I agree. The prosecutor needs to go on "What not to Wear."

      March 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  20. Merav

    Is that the best CNN could do? How one sided, how imbalanced journalism!
    The entire program concentrate on on small community in Tennessee.
    What happened to talking to wide range of people in the USA. I am a Jewish immigrant,. Even though I came here form the TErrorism-stricken Israel, I don't hate Muslims. WHat I resent about their majority peaceful population, is that they keep quite of what they know and don't tell to protect our country from enemies form within. In the USA , when you don't report a crime (such as a conspiracy to hurt innocent people in Time Sq. NYC) you are an accomplice.
    I truly believe most Muslims are law abiding resident of the USA, but hey keep quite and therefore help their fundamentalist continue their mission. You could do that anonymously, therefore, fear of being identified is not an excuse.
    And for those who think Islam is not against other religions, or as they call us all – Infidels – they obviously didn't read the Qur'an. I did.
    A very poor program by Soledad O'Brien and CNN. Huge disappointment.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • hamza

      i am a muslim and i do NOT know anybody who wants to attack usa.how can i help?did you denounce murdering of thousands of palestinians by israel?why?

      March 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • nico

      That's a good point. Would you agree that ALL groups of people across the world have individuals who are guilty of this? Especially groups that need to band together against oppression and persecution. In American history this has been true of every immgrant group except the first European settlers (this is because the Native Americans did not persecute them)

      March 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • steve

      Its a very good point about isolating the report to one community and the commentary did not focus enough on connecting islam to its radical connections. There should have been more scenes of what is happening in europe and england and other countries for allowing islam to practice its peaceful religion. Its connections become the seeds for the radicals to come in and slowly undermine the foundations of the countries political religious systems and its so insidious that many don't notice it. Of course one reason too is that islam is funded by radicals in many cases who literally buy politicians and business influence and once that is done they can secretly work their dissension.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • LadyAcappella

      I don't know why people say that Muslims don't denounce Muslim violence. I have seen Muslims MANY times denouncing Muslim violence on the news; sometimes very extensively. Please don't just repeat what you hear others say!

      March 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Claire Brainard

      I have also read the Qur'an, and it doesn't go against Jewdism or Christianity, it's just pointing out what Jews and Christians are doing wrong. Muslims are incuraged to embrace the People of the Book. I don't know what version of the Qur'an you read but I do know this: you didn't read the Qur'an with an open mind.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Diane

      Merav..... it could also be said in the Jewish religion that non-jews are considered goyem. And some might say that the Palestinians are terrorized with phosphorous bombs used on a local population by a legitimate Government. So sadly, this could easily be an endless debate going nowwhere. I disagree with you that the Muslims turn a blind eye to a wrongful act. It is a fact that the majority of tips of possible terrorism has come from the Muslim community to law enforcement. It is certainly politically correct to have Islam-a-phobia....but it is not morally correct to see your fellow humans this way.

      March 28, 2011 at 2:45 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.