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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. Bobbb

    Islam is a religion, not a nationality or a culture as Hitler was determined to eradicate. As a group Islam (Muslim people) drove jumbo jets into our tallest office buildings full of innocent civilians and then Muslims laughed and celebrated it. Furthermore, now Muslims intent to covertly plan any action they can to annihilate every last single American in the world and all their friends (that’s a jihad) which as with Hitler is a culture and nationality target. During the Hitler regime there were few resistant Germans, but being German is a national consequence of where you live. Being Muslim is a religious choice. Destroying America and the American people and the American way of life is the Muslim goal and dream and they will die to the last man, woman and child to achieve that goal. They plan to accomplish this goal in a covert manner, so how do you know any Muslim is not going to kill you some day when you turn your back or let your guard down. You really don’t.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      looks like you really need muslims to do this don't you, little troll. your life would be utterly meaningless if you did not have an enemy to point fingers at. tut. tut. tut. how sad.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  2. Shawn

    I once was under the false impression that America was a place where everyone is accepted as long as they obey the law and are productive citizens. After reading many of these comments I now realize that the U.S. is a country where ignorance and hatred flourish. So much for us being the best country in the world.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  3. Check 1

    Just ask African Americans about the Good White Christians in the USA. Just ask African American Christian about the history of Murfreesboro. ...doesn't Murfreesboro have a history lynchings in it's recent past? I think I would be more worried about the bigots in Murfreesboro than the Muslims.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  4. Islam is evil

    I ask all muslims to take of that sweaty head rag,I encourage all muslim women to shave your pits,legs,mustaches.I encourage you to find the local strip club and but that ASSS to work.You may need to buy lube to get that cuka wet.But live a little.Get some of that big wang and go for it.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Check 1

      For some reason, you sound like a typical American Christian. lol

      March 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  5. Bill76

    I'm sure more of us in the states would welcome them (Muslims) more if they would publicly denounce the extremist of their faith that want to kill all of us in the states. If the Muslims aren't against them ( terrorists ) they must with them. So basic rational thought would be distance your self from threats and danger. Its ironic that main stream media feels more threatened by Christianity which preaches forgiveness, than Islam that wants to exterminate people that are Infidels or Jews.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • LKJ

      Muslims have publicly denounced terrorism and we have done so often. I'm a writer and I do it in my books. Some Islamic organizations have held press conferences. But these things aren't reported by the mainstream media.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Check 1

      Maybe "White Christian Bigots" in the USA and in Murfreesboro need to denounce the KKK, Nazis, and stop lying in their high school history books.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • OFIRONIT

      ya,if you take away the violent part of islam from the quran you have left with NOTHING!
      WHAT'S IN THIS "RELIGION"
      EVIL THAT IS THE ANSWER THATS WHAT IT PREACHES!I DID MY RESEARCH ENOGH
      THE REST IS POLITICS AND THAT IS REALLY SUCKS!!!

      March 27, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  6. catherine

    Unwelcome: muslims next door: I thought this was a great show and I applaud CNN for showing this story from a wide perspective, expressing both sides and exposing something, that I suppose some would think may have died off since 9/11 was a long time ago. Exposing hatred is one step toward its end. I love CNN shows and I thought this was one of the best ones I've seen. Very powerful, not from the shock value but because it's plain truth in your face. What's happening to the Muslims in that community is religious persecution, and its sad that what happened to us at 9/11 creates hatred toward those who some look at and want to point at and say, you remind us of them, and feel threatened so they feel the need to remove that fearsome thing from their area. It sets us back as a society..it's sad.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • OFIRONIT

      i think muslims people are not bad people but what their religion stand for is pure evil!
      now in society if they are smal community they are fine but once they build up huge community they become a threat
      to your lifestyle!and if they realy want to be american at heart they should live the american life and not some
      17 century lifestyle,i was surprise at the girl on the broadcast she was yonge and arrogant type muslim
      who needs someone like her here! what makes her american?

      March 27, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  7. roasted

    We certainly do have a lot of rednecks chiming in here. Here is some education for you. Islam worships the same God as Christianity, Yahweh. They believe in the same Old Testament and New Testament that Christians do, they just have a third book called the Koran. They believe in the same 10 commandments that Christians and Jew do. They view themselves as being part of the third phase of the same religion. Judaism was the first phase, Christianity the second. Islam has fundamentalists and extremists and moderates just like Judaism and Christianity. Face the facts, they are more like you than they are different from you.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • 26009

      And they will kill anybody who speaks out against or draws a picture of Mohammad. How's that for no hate and peace lovers.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Mark

      Don't start with that. No they don't and it's clear when you read the Bible and Koran.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  8. Mark

    It's clear that there are many in this country that do not want Muslims or Islam here. I am an American and a Christian. My family has been here in America for an unbroken 8 generations since 1640. This country was founded upon the Christian faith–the Bible. Like it or not that is a fact! There can be only one reason Muslims want to come here (even when there are plenty of countries that are "Muslim" around the world that they could live in) and that is to take over America and make it Muslim. I will fight and spill my blood before I see that happen.

    LISTEN GOOD PEOPLE OF OUR USA... So what then is my gripe? My gripe, and all speak for all of my family, is quite simple: they never asked us! We were told and not asked, and everyday we are told again and again how we are to be! And how are country is to be! Were told by “them” and we know who they are; their Americans too. They’re the class that has always set themselves apart; they’re the class that has always taken what they wanted for themselves. And now they are the class that is giving America away! They have never asked us and they never will. Will we allow them to sell our heritage? Or is it time for us to speak and act. We must refuse them the right to give away our only bountiful our only America that has nurtured us as a Mother and raised us as a Father.

    All Muslims are invaders and should LEAVE!

    March 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • GatorBait

      Mark I am pretty sure the Native Americans felt the EXACT same way about your family in 1640......in fact I bet you some even said "All Whites are invaders and should leave".....

      March 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • LKJ

      Umm, Mark, I was born here. My famiily hasn't been here nearly as long as yours but one of my grandfathers came through Ellis Island and the other was born here. I was raised as a Christian but I chose Islam when I was 23. My husband and I have raised our sons to be Muslims (though each has made his own choice to follow Islam) and they were also born here. I laugh when people tell me to 'go home.' Home for me is Missouri. I've never been a citizen of any other country so where should I go?

      March 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Jason

      ... and because native Americans didn't expel the white men, they (Native Americans) got wiped out. So you pretty much made his point for him. The natives who preached tolerance were wiped out along with those who fought. Maybe if they'd all fought, they'd have lasted longer.

      You don't have to think that Americans are righteous to understand that American culture and Muslim culture are incompatible. In the end, only one of them can really exist here. A country built on the principles of democracy and freedom cannot also embrace a culture of theocracy and oppression, whether it is Islam, Christianity, or any other religion.

      You don't have to think that a rabid dog is evil to understand that it must be put down. You can understand that the dog was merely bitten by another rabid animal, and might have been a very good animal before, and still know that you can never exist peacefully with it.

      All Islam becomes radical Islam when it is given enough room to grow.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Check 1

      No one really cares how long your family has been here in the USA, when everyone here came from somewhere else other than the Native Americans. Were those Christians that gave the Native Americans blankets infected with Small Pox? Didn't Hitler adopt his thinking(Eugenics, Sterilization, Racial Superiority) from the USA and the Catholic Church? It appears the White Christians in the USA have always killed and lynched other Christians. Oh yes, doesn't Murfreesboro have a history bigotry and lynchings against Black Christians? For some reason, I'm more afraid of the bigots in the USA and Murfreesboro than I am of the Muslims.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  9. Tony

    The question I have for Muslims who are not terrorists, work hard and are Americans is where was their public outrage as bombings around the world targeted Americans both civilian and military? What about the beheadings of Americans in Iraq?

    March 27, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • GatorBait

      Everytime someone murder someone with a gun, is the NRA and all its members expected to come out and apologize for that criminal? The fact is there are 1.5 billion muslims, and somewhere out there, there are some bad ones who are planning crimes...they are criminals who happened to be born in Muslim countries. Every time the Mafia commits a crime do we expect all Catholics to come out and denounce it.
      Some of these Criminals will say they do it in the name of Islam....This is akin to the KKK (or the racists in the 60's) saying the Bible told them that blacks are inferior (as did the governor of Alabama did during the riot when 5 black kids were escorted in to a white school)...does that mean all christians need to apologize for them.
      The fact is there are people who will use any tool, including religion to push their agenda...the rest of us should not be expected to apologize for their every action.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • 26009

      I asked the same question and all of a sudden the Muslims went quiet.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  10. Bethe123

    Saudi girl, 13, sentenced to 90 lashes after she took a mobile phone to school

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1244689/Saudi-girl-13–sentenced-90-lashes-took-mobile-phone-school.html#ixzz1Hr7k50AQ

    Nice, these Islamists.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      >> Nice these Islamists <<

      – these would be the ones from whom you buy TRILLIONS of barrels of oil
      – and then you ship them BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in weapon systems
      – and to top it off, you let them buy BILLIONS of DOLLARS of your land and real estate thereafter

      very nice! maybe YOU should be lashed 90 times as well!

      March 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Bethe123

      (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      Did you have an intelligent comment to make? Oil is a separate issue.

      Islam in its most basic form can been seen in Saudi Arabia...and it is clearly oppressive of human rights and especially women's rights.

      March 27, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  11. Nico

    You know, I must say that though I wholeheartedly disagree with the level of uneducated and unfound claims people bae their actions and opinions on, I am still proud to be American

    March 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  12. Islam is evil

    Islam is evil
    Ok all muslims it is time for family movie night.It is athriller.

    http://barenakedislam.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/american-nick-bergs-beheading-warning-graphic-images/

    March 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    March 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  13. Lear K

    I wish those ignorant Christians read the Bible from cover to cover and see for themselves how it is full of violence,incest,and treachery.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • RedRocks

      Ya, but this is modern times. It's Islam and its evil intentions being carried out, daily, we see everyday with our own eyes.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • 26009

      Instead that can read the Koran where they can learn to use the sword on nonblievers.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Jason

      The difference is that Christ and his disciples advocated non violence, and even passivity in the face of opposition. The message of Christianity is not one of forced conversion or death to non believers, it is one of inclusion and love for thy neighbor.

      Whether or not Christians actually follow this message is debatable, but that IS the message of that religion.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Yasir Hilal

      Lear,
      Let us not forget that Quran and Bible are both words of the same God. Let us respect it and comprehend it. We should not quote verses from it out of context. For you to believe in this book, you first have to believe in God and know who He is. These words that we translate based on modern day lexis is a total injustice. Let us spend time in reading them with a positive approach and you will see that Quran is an extension of the authetic Bible and you will agree with me that it is from the same Author. Lets be humans again... humans with reasoning.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  14. Valhalla

    I pay little attention to those who comment about Islam unless you've lived in one of their countries and been opressed by them. Ask our military members about those who have been assulted by the religous police of Saudi Arabia. I noticed none of you have mentioned those red light police cars driving around Saudi to enforce the Quran. Ask our American Women how many have been arrested and assulted because they refuse to wear head cover. Ask how many of our citizens have had religious crosses physically removed from their necks. Ask how many of our citizens are told by the State Department to forget it because they don't want to jeopardize relations with the countrys. Try to find a Christian Bible in any book store in Islamic countries. Try being any religion other Islam in the MidEast and see what happens to you

    March 27, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • GatorBait

      Valhalla....thats the very thing that makes this country great, is that it allows everyone to practice their religion. America should not compare itself to 3rd world dictatorships. Thats like a mature adult saying well if the 5 year old doesn't behave than neither do I – cmon man think..

      March 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Yasir Hilal

      Valhalla, I do not want to be disrespectful but for the little you know, the only thing I want to say is that Jesus is a prophet of islam and one is not a muslim if he does not believe in Jesus as the prophet of Allah. In addition, authentic bible is also the book of God and Quran is a newer version of it.. as simple as it is. Quran being in any place is as equal as saying authetic bible being there.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • LKJ

      I'm a Muslim but I don't support the Saudi monarchy. Many Muslims I know don't. They certainly didn't ask our permission. What the Saudis do is very extreme. Other countries, including those in the Middle East, are not that extreme. And did you know that the largest Muslim country is Indonesia?

      March 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • John

      On that note, have you lived in a muslim country, or do you have muslim friends. Have you taken the time to speak to a Muslim or have you based your observations solely on what you see on the news.

      At the end of the day, it's not religion that's the problem... it's people. I'm not religious but grew up with religious parents and love them dearly. Religion can be a good thing, but it is the people who twist religion to suit their own needs and the people who are less informed who follow blindly.. that is what leads to trouble.

      These discussions, as troubling as some are to read are important as long as we all have an open mind and listen to each other. We need to get to know what we don't know.. then we will be less fearful.

      Being a non muslim, I was disappointed that the muslim community didn't do more to distance itself from the extremists. Then again, when's the last time the church came out when Neo Nazi's or the KKK fringe groups do something. However, this may have created some distrust among americans who haven't had a chance to leave the US, travel or even get to know people of different faiths and life experiences.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  15. Joey

    You see how Muslim men treat each other, especially women, with disrespect, angst, and hatred.
    Why would Americans want that type of people in this country?

    March 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      Muslims actually treat their women very nicely. What the he ll are you talking about?? do you even know any muslims?? women are mothers and sisters and daughters in Islam. Dignified and Well looked after. Motherhood is the HIGHEST HONOR in Islam, ahead of even jihadist and scholarship.

      How do you treat your women? Like dirty laundry?? on full public display, use and dump. as soon as she gets pregnant, you move onto the next younger model? nice treatment!

      March 27, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • I teach

      Joey,

      Have you ever actually met a muslim? It really isn't fair to lump a large group of people into being something, based upon a few. How about all smart, white males being "lumped" with the likes of Ted Bundy? If you look at history, there has always been a group that get blamed for the acts of a few. When will it end... and when will people be judged by the content of their character?

      March 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Bethe123

      (B)iraq Hussein Osama
      - You are an uneducated moron...but I digress.
      Muslim women have to have reconstructive surgery because Muslim men are so backward as to require virgins.

      Female Genitial Mutilation...while not strictly required by Islam, is largely practiced by Muslims

      Islam...the evil next door.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  16. Frederica

    America is Christian. All others are guests protected by Judeo-Christian values.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Debasis

      You are as lunatic as terrorists. You need to be watched.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      your practicing of judeo christian values will come back to save you, when muslims spread in your lands and carry on the banner of the ONE TRUE GOD and His Porphets and His Moral Code. While your own people slowly get sucked into atheism and por nism and alcoholism and gamblism and weapons peddlingism. Good on you.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Jason

      No, Christians are only one step better that Muslims, and that's only because their religion preaches tolerance and love, even if that's not how many Christians seem to live their lives. At the end of the day, violent and intolerant Christians are acting against the words of their own supposed religion. Violent and intolerant Muslims are actually following theirs.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  17. Sohail Rizki

    I did not understand what those people were against, against Sharia law or the structure of the mosque, If they were against sharia law, I did not see any one was claiming to bring sharia law in the US, mosques in the US are existed for over 100 years and they never demended to bring sharia law, but what is shraia law any way? that people are afriaid off.
    It was a great slap on the faces of those who are against that mosque, I am so happy to see Muslims success in the US, cowards burned the insured construction equipments, why do they not come forward if they dare, anothe thing is that the equipment rental company must be very happy to get money from insurance company.
    Many thanks to you, CNN for this program,.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • OFIRONIT

      YOU NEED TO GET YOURSELF EDUCATED,IF YOU JUST SAY THAT ONE DAY YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU JUST WERE BLIND TO SEE THE MONSTER MOSQUE BRINGING IN LARGE HUGE NUMBER OF FOLLOWES THAT TURN YOUR CITY TO SOME ARAB LAND AND DIMENDING YOU TO BE PART OF THEM OR ELSE.PLEASE WATCH THAT VIDEO FROM START TO FINISH IT WILL OPEN YOUR EYES.CAN ISLAM BE REFORED???FIND OUT
      http://islamizationwatch.blogspot.com/2011/03/debate-can-islam-be-reformed-video.html?utm_source=BP_recent

      March 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  18. JM

    No sympathy for the islamist muslims here – at all

    March 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Debasis

      They are not asking for your sympathy.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • 26009

      Sure they are. They want us to feel sorry for them. To be on their side. To trust that they mean on harm to this country.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • OFIRONIT

      WELL THAT WAS THE MEDIA OLD TRICK AND WE ALREADY KNOW,I FELT NOTHING FOR THOSE WHO COME HERE TO TURN AMERICA TO ARAB STYLE COUNTRY STARTING WITH MOSQUE THEN DEMENDING RIGHTS THEN THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW YOU ARE BECOMING UNWELCOME WHERE THEY ARE AND THEY WANT EVERYONE
      BE LIKE THEM.IN ISLAM ONCE YOU SOLD THEM A LAND IT WILL NEVER BE NON MUSLIM LAND EVER!!!

      March 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  19. PD Branham

    Excellent reporting, Very balanced and allowed the viewers to draw conclusions.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  20. sara

    religions are the biggest hoax of the history. religion is harmful to society, so must be illiugall like drugs.religion is just as harmful and addictive as drugs and religious businesses do use evil commercialism to manipulate people into becoming addicted to religion. So why not outlaw religion which does just as much if not more harm to society as drug use?

    March 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      better religion than no religion. see Hitler, Stalin and Mao for examples of what happens when you let atheists run the planet. Soon there would be mass extermination camps all over the place where they would gas you to death because of your religion. It has happened already, folks. Say no to non-religious people. Before they EXTERMINATE YOU LIKE A PEST IN A FACTORY LIKE CAMP.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Bethe123

      (B)iraq Hussein Osama
      -What an idiot you are. Hitler was not an atheist.(LOL)

      March 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • OFIRONIT

      I think CNN did not islam idiology on their program at all !it was shallow and mondain.
      also that judge had no idea what islam is +he said he didn't aprove sharia but he aprove the mosque.
      THE OBVIOUS TRUTH IS ISLAM STAND FOR SHARIA AND THAT'S NOT GOING TO CHANGE.
      AND THAT WE AS CIVILAZATION HAVE TO CHOSE IF WE WANT FREEDOM OR ISLAM.
      ISLAM IS NOT BELONG IN AMERICA.
      too much

      March 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      – Hitler was as Godless as an Atheist!
      – Next thing you know the atheists will be claiming Stalin was a christian saint. watch this channel. just watch.
      – and Mao was a jehovah's witness, did you know that? honestly.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Bethe123

      (B)iraq Hussein Osama–

      You are an idiot.
      Hitler was not an atheist:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler's_religious_views

      March 27, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
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About this blog

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.