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. Amnesia

    The ignorance of some of the comments in this article astound me. None of these people have ever actually spoken with (or realized they were speaking with) a Muslim person. The Bible is just as full of violent BS and outdated, useless laws as the Koran is. Both texts mandate murder as punishment for what is viewed as insignificant actions in America, both have horribly anti-feminine rules, both have parts that show COMPLETE intolerance for people who are different. The Bible is JUST as intolerant of people of other faiths in certain parts as the equivalent parts of the Koran. Both also have parts that emphasize tolerance, love, peace, and doing good for even those of different faiths.
    NOBODY in America lives strictly by the Bible, no matter how devout they are. It's actually impossible given that there are conflicting rules in the Bible. In just the same way, no Muslims in America live strictly by the Koran. Both religions have developed over time to become more socially acceptable, and Muslims living in America are often/usually here because they prefer it to the Middle East! Never mind that not all primarily Muslim nations are under strictly twisted religious law.

    Both religions have people who feel differently about it, too. In any given "sect" of Christianity there is serious debate about how to interpret parts of the Bible, and what parts are important. You're truly ignorant if you think all Muslims are the same and hold the same beliefs, and your lack of information on the subject deprives your opinion of any legitimacy. Go to a Mosque in America and even just find out what type of Muslim church it is. Do some research on that church and see what it's done for the local community. The horrible logic and hatred in these comments disgusts me, you uninformed bigots.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  2. WeirdMN

    Most religions are peaceful, but islam is not. I have zero sympathy for terrorists.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Madinah

      Islam is the religion of peace. There was no problem untill September 11th, when muslim was accused of something they did not do. Muslim's did not bomb the World Trade Center. Soon , Allah will let the truth come out then how shameful you will be. People are not perfect they strive only to be perfect and learn from the mistakes they make. They forgive themselves and don't make the same mistake twice.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Bethe123

      You are ignorant.

      March 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  3. Alan Wayland

    I really deplore the the lack of grace that some people have. They just need to hate something or someone and will find a reason to do so. There are several virtues one can use to unfold spiritually, they are: Tolerance/forgiveness, Discrimination (not racial or religious but personal action), contentment, humility, and detachment. I do not know of any religion that does not propound some form of these virtues.
    No I am not Muslim, but I do respect them, as I do all religions, and anyone that follows a faith.

    May I remind those that have written hateful comments, no matter the reason, that all actions are carried out by individuals not a whole religion. This includes the past, present and future of any religion. They all may have individuals that do very mean things to other beings for whatever reason they, individually, imagine. If you doubt what I say just delve into any history of any religion over the past couple of centuries. Even the new religions may contain people that are not as graceful as they believe they are or would like to be – including myself.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  4. gging

    I am a Christian (Atheist) Arab that was born in Dearborn, MI. If you look at the black neighborhoods outside the city of Dearborn you will sea burned down houses, drug homes, and gun toting gangsters. Dearborn, however, is a safe, prosperous, and cultural city. I have many muslim friends that are nothing like how the media usually portrays them, and I am extremely proud of what this city has come to be in recent years.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  5. mydoofy

    "Alienated in their own country" Since when has this country belonged to Muslims? As long as you are a citizen then this is OUR COUNTRY. There's no need to sensationalize and show bias right off the bat. This article has idiots on both sides and in no way represents the entire country. The writing here simply blows things out of proportion and makes the situation worse than it already is. The victim mentality has to stop and the leaders in CAIR need to stop turning the table to make things taboo in this country. Just because issues must be spoken about or discussed doesn't mean it's an attack. Being PC will see the end of the First Amendment. CAIR is exasperating the issue and playing on definitions in an attempt to score points and make others "appear" ignorant but their nonsense doesn't fly. They know very well what practices under Sharia are under fire. As for the real issue regarding vandalism and crime, as long as the police and FBI are fair and find and prosecute those responsible then there's no problem. Muslims have no more or less rights than myself and these rights will always be protected. CAIR saying that "...Muslims worshiping Allah" would be banned had me laughing. Get real, CAIR, you're full of it. Apprehension is natural but doesn't always translate to islamophobia, bigotry and/or racism.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Madinah

      I am a black american and I am a native, you see where that has got us. Allah is the owner.

      March 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  6. rodriga

    I have an idea. Rather than utilizing their first amendment rights to demonstrate against perceived mistreatment and propagating victimization, how about using the same rights to proactively break stereotypes? Muslim Americans would be better off speaking against religious regimes where there is little religious freedom, and the timing for it couldn’t be better. Some Muslims really must believe that all religions and world views are equal to theirs; shouldn’t they make a statement about that instead? I believe this victimization ideology is part of what has inspired people to become Islamist. Why reiterate that? Now, demonstrating for other people’s rights…what better way to break stereotypes?

    March 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • AliAliAckbar

      dood u hit the nail dead center. 1000% correct.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Madinah

      Muslims don't owe any explanations. Muslims don't owe anyone anything, the only thing muslims owe is to Allah.

      March 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  7. AliAliAckbar

    Hmm what a funny little article. The one, THE ONE thing that I cannot stand about this BS is that when that wail from the imam in the tower comes – and they are COMMANDED to kill the infidel – if they do not, then they themselves are to be killed. So put that in your hookah' and cry baby another day.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Madinah

      All muslims are not the same, you have different levels of understanding in Islam. In this religion you have 360 degrees of knowledge in Islam.

      March 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  8. 17an involved

    One thing to say on here what the hell is an amrican muslim ocording to english dictionarys there is no such thing it doesnt exsist yor a muslim or an amrican your not able to be both sorry to all you damn muslims that have decide to come try to ruin our place buttttt your not both an sry to all you fake amricans that like to pretend your something that your not.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  9. Muslim timeline

    Muslims are ok.ISLAM = evil. Any muslim that denounces islam is ok by me.
    FACT= Islam says death to infidels.Who are infidels? We are they do not believe in islam.Sounds like a hate group..
    FACT= Islam Does NOT give women equal rights.Si why do they worship a religion that treats them so bad.
    FACT= Mohammad married a 9 year old = PERVERT.And you worship a pervert. Aisha was six or seven years old when she was engaged to Muhammad and nine when the marriage took place.Aisha stayed in her parents' home for several years until she joined Muhammad and the marriage was consummated.she was nine years old at the time.
    FACT = Followers of Islam are animals.slaughtered American contractor Nick Berg. Sitting in a chair, Berg made the following statement: “My name is Nick Berg, my father’s name is Michael, my mother’s name is Susan,” the man said on the video. “I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in … Philadelphia.”The video then changes to a scene of masked men, with Berg sitting in front of them. After reading a statement, the masked men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” – “God is great.” They then held the head out before the camera.THIS IS THE REAL FACES OF ISLAM.barenakedislam.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/american-nick-bergs-beheading-warning-graphic-images/
    FACT= Muslims do not care about the life of the innocent.
    In this case, just as it has happened so many times before, it seems that the executioners used a dull knife again. These guys really left the man take the imminent death with all of its worst. The knife wielding masked man slowly cut through the neck of the victim as if to take in the joy of causing slow and painful death. He cut through man’s trachea and esophagus which detached victim’s mouth from the rest of the body, yet he’s still making desperate attempts to scream and all the noise is coming out of his neck. It’s brutal.
    As carotid arteries got cut, the blood started gushing out in volume you have never seen before. The massive blood loss along with horrific sound this beheaded man lets out make this easily the most brutal beheading video you will have ever seen. Also notice how just before the beheading starts, the camera focuses on victims bruised arms. That man was heavily beaten prior to his painful execution. He was given a choice to say his last words – it’s in a language I don’t understand (possibly a Middle Eastern tongue) but you can tell the man has already gone through hell on Earth and knows the worst is yet to come. He likely wished for a quick death so he’s done with it, unfortunately for him, he was not granted that wish. Brutal video.I don’t want to sound mundane with warnings, but WARNING on this one. Extremely brutal video. Very bloody. You have never seen this much blood ejected out of man’s body before. Knife executioners used to behead this man was likely really dull which you can tell by what it took to cut through the soft tissues of the neck. The video then jumps to the footage of decapitated head laying atop man’s dead body – which I’m assuming is because cutting through his spine took them forever, so they got rid of that so they’re not ridiculed for being complete amateurs. Once again – this video will hunt you for years, even if you’ve seen previous beheadings and took it like a champ. This one is worse. The sound is extremely painful and the amount of blood lost is beyond comprehension. You can’t even believe heart can pump so much blood with each beat. Watch at your on risk, you’ll have to deal with it yourself if you opt to go for it. I’m not kidding, it’s the worst beheading video ever!
    It appears as though the name of beheaded man was Jasus Musel. The beheading was carried out by MUSLIMS.See a pattern??
    Watch muslims in the name of islam.Not 100 years ago but in modern day.Islam is evil and everyone who follows it becomes evil.Let the videos speak. http://www.bestgore.com/beheading/worst-beheading-video-ever-horrific-sound-massive-blood-loss/
    The video, on an Islamist site, identified the hostage as Eugene Armstrong and showed a masked man sawing his head off with a knife.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Madinah

      Bethe 123

      We shall see who is ignorant when Allah put fire on your butt. That's the problem some people just can not take the truth.

      March 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  10. Jezmundberserker

    Let's get rid of all religions and problem solved.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Madinah

      There is only one true religion on this earth find out which one it is, then you can get rid of all the rest.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  11. Kaylynn

    iFirst off, I am a Muslim who hapens to be a5th or 6th generation American. I converted to Islam in Septmbe 2009. Despite ths time difference from 2001 I have been accusd of acts committed by oters, in years before I converted, o in placs I would not consider going or have eer been. A few pople in Des Moines, Iowa do not accept my stated brthplace in Omha, Nebraska as the same as a nonMuslim beng a native born citizen. In the years between 2001 and 2009 before I bcame Muslim I was not happy to hear of people being profiled just beause of race or religion and Ibegan to beleve that anyone coud be suspected of being "illegal" or having or will commit any crime–I feared even then I could lose my citizensip or arrested just for being out doing mundne things like riding buses or shopping. What is next?? Must I be prepared for deportation? do I no longer have the right to get a job just becauseI I choose to practce my religion which includes dressing MODESTLY??

    March 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  12. Jubril

    If there were no Muslims in America, Christians would fight themselves, there is so much division in Christianity that some Christians would not go to some other churches different from their own, a friend invited me a Muslim and another Christian (A catholic) to a church i think pentecostal, I had no problem going in but my catholic friend would not go into that same church

    March 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • SconnieGuz

      BS....America was doing just fine until we got invaded by illegal mexicans and the daily news of islam infestation.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Madinah

      If there was no muslims, Allah would have destroyed this alone time ago.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  13. Amgad

    I am en Egyptian Christian who happens to be living in Europe...I had enough of being discriminated in a community that does not give us a chance to live...so I moved to Europe. Now from one side, I am happy that Muslims in the US are going through what I had to go through for more than 30 years of my life (most probably like almost 8 million Christians in Egypt). from the other side, I sympathize with them because I know how it feels. Sorry to branch out to the political changes in Egypt, but I am sure that many of you heard that churches have been attacked and Christians been killed in a few occasions. I will now leave you with one question....do you think that killing innocent people in the church who are there to pray is right!

    March 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  14. akahn

    Looking at the comments I see many people are stuck in the mindless tunnel vision that all Muslims are bad violence prone people. Yet these same people don't Christianity as hate filled power hungry religion or pedophilac predators as their priests and ministers and religions corrupt and destroy so many lives.

    I'd be happier then hell to see many of those Christians cults get the hell out of America, from the Focus on the Falicy to the Westboro Church to all the rest of abusive groups. I fear those idiots a hell of a lot more then 99% of the Muslim population...

    March 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • RABBIT


      March 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  15. maga12

    It is incredible to read just a bunch of ignorant, fear driven comments on this page, your average muslim is as boring as every other person, only thing is that he keeps off alcohol which some people who are not muslim also do. It is just an irrational fear stoked by a misunderstanding of the religion.

    Most people here need a lesson in sociology and history to understand the society that the religion came from. Muhammed remains one of the world's greatest heroes and his followers were people who are devout to their God. Just over a century ago here, girls as young as 12 were getting married. Muhammed existed over a 1,400 years ago. Please people, put things into perspective. His very survival depended on fighting against people who threw him out of his home, so i understand he had to fight.

    On Sharia, there are harsh punishment for what are considered criminal offences (which historical society didn't) but the sharia encompasses a lot more than just criminal punishments and as far as i understand is only applicable to muslims in an islamic state. America is not an islamic state. Sharia has an economic system that would have made most of the financial instruments that caused the global meltdown illegal and is made up of mainly routine religious obligations, charity e.t.c.

    Extremism in any religion exists, and islam is no different, you cannot alienate fellow american who mean you no harm because they have a different religion. And for those who are learning about islam, go to a muslim site.. not one trying to vilify it. and before you quote the Quran read the verse before and the verse after to get the context.

    Thank you

    March 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  16. balance101

    Numbers don't lie and facts don't hide:

    Every single conflict in the world has ONE thing in common Islam/Muslims.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • CommonSense

      Balance101...It looks like you picked up history on FOX news....I could give you a lot of examples of conflicts that have nothing to do with muslims.....I could tell you what muslims truly think of the plurality of faiths and the cohabitation of races and cultures....I could explain a lot of things about human beings who are muslims to shed some light on your ignorance.....but then again, I don't want to deprive you of your reason to live.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Bethe123

      balance101 - An overgeneralization, but the point is well taken.

      When you hear of an act of terror, the first thing is you suspect it was a Muslim.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Madinah

      I thought it was the terrorist I wonder who that might be.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Madinah

      I thought it was the terriost I wonder who that might be.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  17. MM22

    sigmund: "Where have I heard that before? Oh yes, in the 1960s, when southern governors, senators, congressmen, sheriffs, mayors .... were claiming that the Civil Rights movement was a Communist plot. ... And where are all those people today? That's right, they've been welcomed into the Republican Party with open arms."

    Ah, yes, nothing like hearing words of wisdom from someone who knows nothing about history.

    The Republican party was one of the leading voices and proponents of civil rights for over a hundred years. From emancipating the slaves, to the Civil Rights Act of the 1870's, to the 19th amendment, to Eisenhower sending troops into Little Rock just so African-Americans could go to school.

    Not to mention Dirksen's valiant efforts in getting the '64 Civil Rights Act passed alongside the moderate Democrats.

    In fact, at the 1964 Democratic Convention wasn't it Johnson himself who didn't want to seat the Mississippi Freedom Democrat Party because he was afraid that allowing Blacks into the arena would lose him the Southern vote?

    "That's right, [racists have] been welcomed into the Republican Party with open arms.""

    Historical revisionism at its finest.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • MM22

      cj: "Yes, but the Republican party in the 19th C was nothing akin to todays, its another beast."

      Not really, they have quite a nice, continuous history for over a hundred years. See the original post.

      "And as for civil rights, aside from the odd enlightened leader forced to listen to progressives, most, I say most, republicans are indeed anti-minority and always will be."

      How so? Suppositions based on your own dogmatic beliefs aren't proof, sorry to say.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  18. Public Opinion

    This news just in Adolph Hitler is alive and well and posting on this forum !

    March 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  19. Paul

    The Ford Motor Company does not have a centuries old connection with Muslims in Michigan. It has a centuries old connection with Arab Christians who came to Michigan to escape Muslim oppression and came to work at Ford (or for other car manufacturers or their suppliers). I know this because my grandparents were some of those Arab Christians who worked at Ford. Do not confuse us with Muslims or try to make our story theirs. We don't want to be associated with them and we are disgusted about how they have destroyed Michigan and any other place where they immigrate.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Nadia

      That is Ridiculous, when are you going to stop? all over America there are Muslims everywhere, do not try to deny them their rights to practice their citizenship, their belonging to this country just because you are not accepting their faith, grow up America, grow up

      March 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bethe123

      Hey Nadia - How does one 'pracitce their citizenship', as you said? Pretty meaningless statement.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  20. Cgfx

    The issue in this country is that there is a Christian Majority in this country that has a lack of tolerance for other religions. This is not just a Muslim thing they may think that but it is not. It is a Lack of respect for other religions and thinking one is superior to another. Overall I am glad people have some type of religion rather than none. Religion is about Morality principles. Despite what one religion thinks of another has no criteria. We have the right to have freedom of religion and choice and we should not be pushed to convert to any religion. All Religions should have an open door for cross examination to understand one another. I have heard preachers on the Radio Claiming Yoga is Evil all kinds of crazy notions. And I am sure what ever religion you subscribe to has there own. – People We need to have tolerance and respect others of there faith. Be Kind and love your neighbors. Do not Group People on a whole by Race Creed Color Religion. People are individuals they all do not think a like. If you want respect you need to give respect.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Conquest1

      We have been following the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia and now Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria over the last couple of month.
      You can't miss the progression of the Islamic radical movements in these countries after the autocratic regimes came tumbling down.
      We all were very impressed by the call of liberty and democracy in a free and civil society.
      You have to dig deep in the news to find the actual on the ground aggressions that have started to pop on the surface in Egypt, burning a church and displacing 6000 Christian inhabitants and performing Islamic prayer in the church after burning the bibles and desecrating the christian relics.
      Two days ago a group of strict muslims captured a Muslim man and cut his ear as implementation of Sharia.
      Over the last week the minority Muslims in Ethiopia burnt over 50 churches.
      It is not Muslims that we are targeting...
      It is the rest of the community that is protecting itself from the expected prevalent aggression that is a symptom of religious Muslims.
      Lets call a spade a spade, we don't have any threats from American's that follow Shiva or Buddha but we are for sure targeted as a community by the followers of Allah.
      It is so pathetic that they are claiming that their is a movement to prohibit Sharia or implementation of the Sharia law, dam sure there is, you are extracting he Hijab as an example of the prohibition how about the stoning of the adulator...
      Enough deception, this is a civil society and your games and your cover up have been exposed, when we see a group of Buddhist running around screaming death to America and forcing 9 year old girls to accept marriage to a 50 year old then we will hold meetings to discuss their status as citizens of this civil and liberal society.
      When your prophet calls the Jews and Christians the sons of monkeys and pigs do you expect us to warm up to you...

      March 28, 2011 at 4:50 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.