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. Sal

    I am a Muslim American and also a doctor serving people from all walks of life. Majority of muslims are peace loving and love life and humanity. There are muslims in America who are doctors, engineers. lawyers, reserachers etc snd they are all working for the betterment of our country which is USA. So please dont blame every muslim for the radical activities of the "so-called muslims" who are responsible for the blood shed and killings of muslims and non-muslims in this world we live in.

    March 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  2. Bopper

    If we are going to ban Islam, can we ban christianity as well?? Please!! Pretty pretty please???

    March 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  3. Rich_royus

    100% of the Muslims are not terrorists, but 100% of the terrorists are Muslim. Muslims do not believe in country, for them religion comes above everything.

    March 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  4. Richard

    This is not "their own country." Their own countries are in the middle east andnorth Africa. The USA is our country for "ourselves and our posterity" aka. The founding people of USA their descendants and kinsmen. That does not include Middle Eastern muslims.


    March 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  5. Charles4truth

    How is it that Christians are told on a daily basis to keep their opinions and beliefs at home and every M u S l I m, and atheist are allowed to demand their belief be published on every street corner and in every school?

    March 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  6. hoofleau

    "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. "
    – Americans have to abide by the laws set forth by Federal, State, and local governments, period. There is no room for Islamic law as that should be considered null and void in America. And no one has told the Muslims they can't worship Allah. You just can't make your own set of rules. If you don't like it ...leave!

    March 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  7. JanLA

    Though it saddens and frustrates me to see American Muslims receiving so much hate from other Americans, I as a woman would like American Muslims to recognize their double standard with regard to women. I consider myself very liberal, and yet, I am in favor of anti-Sharia laws because of the long and ugly history (across the world and in America) of restricting and denying women equal rights with men, and because these same practices are reflected in Sharia. You may have rights as Americans, and you should fight for those rights from within the system, but realize that any restriction you support against the rights of others (women), either within or outside of your community, means you uphold a double standard – one for Muslim men and another for women.

    March 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  8. william

    Islam is incompatible with Western values and ideals. As an Atheist, I find all religions strange and hypocritical, particularly those that incite hatred and intolerance. If Islam is so wonderful, why are so many Muslims moving from their sacred lands? The only conceivable reason is to force assimilation and change on the vulnerable, weak-willed and generally poorly educated masses. Islam exploits Western laws by claiming discrimination in order to promote their agenda. There is no desire to become Western. Trust me, Christianity has it problems, but none quite so rooted in destruction.

    March 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  9. ian

    I'm not sure if the problem is but studies show that as the Muslim population in a country rises violence and hatred towards other religions increases dramatically. Their probably are some "good" people that are Muslim I'd even say the vast majority but the problem seems to be the extremist minoroty rules. The people that are peaceful are too scared to do anything and the extremists just get away with murder.

    I have a problem with any religion that views women as 2nd class citizens though.,

    March 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  10. mike kerns

    to live in a right wing world you must have enemies(real or percieved)

    March 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  11. Muslims dont worry

    did anyone watch "muslims unwanted" ? did anyone see the plantiffs attorney in the court proceeding?!..lol come on guys youve got to b kidding..all those hillbillies n one room its hard to get thru to a hillbilly..trust me thier ignorant as hell..i havnt see that much ignorance in one courtroom since courts were held indoors lol...did u guys hear the line of questioning from the towns lawyer..the lawyer said muslims could get 7 virgins lolo..

    March 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  12. saiga762

    Mooooslims should be shot.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Honestea

      Saiga...Ignorance can breed hatrid and hatrid can be the reason behind the killing of someone. I do not know you but as a Muslim, I would never say that to you, or about any one from a different religion. May God guide you and others who think like you to the path of truth. Amen

      March 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  13. Jeena

    Religion should not be the topic of discussions on these public sites. In-fact the reporter or CNN should be sued for reporting such dumb topic.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • curt

      Then where do we debate these issues? Why is it not right to discuss it here? Free speech.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Charles4truth

      Boy, You are ready for slavery...

      Mind numb drone.

      New flash!!!
      Your behavior comes from your beliefs, You cannot separate your actions from your philosophy.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  14. Sad news for the day.

    PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Islamist militants ambushed a convoy of Pakistani troops traveling close to the Afghan border on Monday, killing 11 of them in an unusually bloody attack, a government official said. Anyone want to denounce these killings from todays yahoo news headlines. You wonder why people fear? Because people in the name of Allah kill on a daily basis. It's not paranoia, it's called reality!

    March 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • sandy bean

      no, it's not called reality, it's called ignorance. did you miss the part where you wrote "islamic militants"? history is littered with the bloody bodies of the victims of "christian militants" (ever hear of the crusades), and it still goes on today.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Bethe123

      Sand Bean,

      Christianity has reformed, Islam has not, which is the problem.
      If you believe the Quran is literally the word of Allah, and is perfect (not all, but many Muslims believe this) then that is the battle you have to fight to reform Islam. Until that time, the Islamic militants can point to the Quran and the example of Mohammed to back up their acts.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Mike

      The Crusades were in response to Muslim terrorists persecuting Christians in the Holy Lands.

      March 31, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  15. toby123

    where did my comment go?

    March 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  16. fuyuko

    some religions are increasingly incompatible with modern living. if the belief system doesn't get an update, then sure. As far as alienating, everyone is alienated for one reason or another. Thats life.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  17. curt

    I don't really understand the muslims, islam or what they stand for but I can say that if they do believe that all other religions are wrong or women have no rights, then there is no place in the west for them. Especially if they are trying to change our country's way of life. We are all immigrantes but for the most of us, we don't want to see women pushed back, we don't want to see people rouse up feelings of fear. I believe they should be allowed to practice their religion but as soon as it starts coming into the society that we (the people that choose not to promote hatred among others just because the Karan says so) have worked so hard to achive, then we as a people have a right and an obligation to protect our country as a whole. i hope that we all will learn to except other peoples different ways and cultures but also, respect the country you have come to call home. we all love it here so lets leave the wars behind and behave like true westerners should. This western world is fairly new compared to the eastern world so lets all develope a new way of getting along instead of the old ways of learning to fight.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • H.KH.

      As a muslim woman I would like to tell you that women in islam have rights, and we are not forced to do anything that we don't want. We get to lear, work and even wearing hijab is something we believe that we want to wear. As a muslim woman I can have my own bank account. My money is for me I can do whatever I want to do with it. I have inheritance that I have all control over the way I want to spend it...and a lot of other rights. This is just to say that people here in the US really don't know anything about Muslims and our religion.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • H.KH.

      And one more thing, we don't think that all other religions are wrong. We believe that Islam is a religion that came after Jews and christianity...

      March 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Bethe123


      A few comments...so all those Muslim women who were genitally mutilated - a practice that while not strictly required in Islam - is prevalent in some Muslim communities - all those women volunteered to have the genitals mangled? Sure.

      And all the vicitims of honor killings? Same deal?

      I could go on....but your claim is not supported by the facts.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  18. John Geheran

    Mercifully, most Muslims are not extremists. However, even a casual read of the 1300 contiguous years of Islamic history, Islamic sacred writings and the edicts of the four recognized schools of Islamic jurisprudence clearly demonstrates that Islam is EXTREME. "Alienation".....ask why are there more than 700 "no-go zones" in France where police, fire fighters, etc., dare not go.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  19. Ben Franklin

    Why should we have to tolerate as much from Muslims as we already do? During a t.v. episode on Muslims in this country trying to put up a Cultural Center in Tenn. The Muslims made the following comments regarding how they were being treated, "why do they do this to us" "Why must they treat us like terrorist." Well here is your answer. When we (Christian Americans) turn on the news in the morning, we hear "Death to Americans" "Death to Israel." If this is taking place during a religious ceremony are we required to ignore your cultural and more importantly, religious beliefs? I can tell every muslim reading this post, that if it were a Cultural Center for Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism we or I would not care nor would I consider it a THREAT to me, my children and my country.

    The teachings of the Karan say to not trust Christians or Jews, not only does it say not to trust the mentioned religions but it says to kill us. Read: – Sura 2, verse 191

    There are many things that rulers of this country have done to tarnish the flag of our country but the same happens in your countries as well. I am an individual person who believes Christianity when I die, I will be judged. I shouldn't be threatened by another because of my beliefs

    If your a Muslim reading this, it is up to you to change your hatred for us.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • RMY

      So happy you believe EVERYTHING that you hear on Fox. Actually, not ALL Muslims or Israelis feel that way... open your eyes and more importantly your heart, if you do that and actually search for the truth and maybe turn OFF the T.V. for a moment, you'll understand that not ALL of those people feel that way. So settle down, tunnel vision.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Ben Franklin

      @ RMY: Open your eyes and READ what I wrote so you will better answer or debate. Read without bias, answer without anger. That will help you to write something I can use.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • sandy bean

      yes, ben franklin, i did indeed read your email. i read the part where you said you should not be persecuted for your beliefs. but as a christian, you all are always allowed to persecute others for their beliefs. do you take responsibility for christians who murder abortion doctors, home-grown terrorists who blow up buildings with day cares inside, and redneck christians who burn crosses stilll to this day, because they don't want black people living near them or dating their neighbors? no? then stop trying to force peace loving muslims to take responsibility for the fundamentalists who bomb and kill. a fundamentalist is a fundamentalist, no matter which "god" they profess to worship. oh, and one more thing, have you noticed yet, after all these thousands of years, that all this fear and hate and "us against them" is always rooted in religion? you don't see athiests trying to blow each other up.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • william

      First of all this is a country of many religions. That is what makes us strong! Muslim Americans have as much right to exercise their freedom of religion as you and I do. We have no RULERS in this country only elected officials. If you do not like thier policies please vote in the next election. It is interesting to refer to yourself as a Christian. Jesus taught us to love one another. You are defensive and feel threatened by a few people who have hijacked a religion. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Do not generalize, follow your advice and become more knowledgable of the issues that affect all of us.

      peace brother

      March 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • John Q. Adams

      @ Ben F, hatred is the result of ignorance. You, Benny, are just as ignorant as those Moslems who chant "Death To America". When people want to find the quick answer, rather than taking the time to read and understand the root of the cause, we go for the quick (google) fix: we google it! That is the problem. No one understand the other side. Most people take one piece of data and try to extrapolate EVERYTHING from that minute piece.
      Religion has a big part to blame. Some churches preach hatred (as in the case of the ones who don't want the Moslems next door), some mosques preach hatred, and some synagogues also preach hatred. They may not all do it direct, but they'll say things like "..it would be nice if we we were surrounded by others like us". They are ALL bigots. You're just like the rest of them.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Eric

      I totally agree with RMY, Sandy Bean and William. I'm glad to finally find some moderate and intelligent comments here.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Ben Franklin

      @ Sandy Bean: Your absolutely right, Christians have done many wrong things. But please understand that the word of our God doesnt encourage violence, as a matter of fact there is only one person to judge. No matter how many retarted redneck Christians protest funerals, or decide to bomb a doctors office. It is not taught by our god. Those people are individuals who make up there own rules. And they will be judged. But my concern is the teaching of the Qu'ran, we are considered infidels, and depending on the interpreter less then life. Dont knock me and my post, and try to put me in my place. Prove to me that I am wrong, and if you can I will except that.

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

      Ben Franklin, I did READ what you wrote. The moment you quote a T.V. Show or News Show, is the moment you lose all credibility. TV Shows need ratings and will feed into whatever the public needs, or fears, to get them. Again, maybe try to talking to a Muslim. Try stepping out of the box to find the truth. The box in your home is not going to give you the truth, especially when most of the stations are owned by people who take monetary gifts from those in charge and print or air what they are told too. Honestly, do MORE than watch T.V. It will greatly open your mind. Secondly, you're quoting the Koran, did you google that? Or did you read it? I'm positive that not ALL Christians follow every word in the Bible, everyone grows and evolves. And yes, I've read the Bible. I've read parts of the Koran. So don't take one sentence out of an entire book and use it against a group of people. I'm sure it wouldn't be fair to you if we took one sentence of something you said and used it against you. My step-father is Shiite Muslim and in no way, shape or form, does he feel that way about other religions nor about the American people. It was America that saved his life and gave him a home a dream. His story is quite different from those hate filled words that are shown on TV which again, show you what gets them the greatest ratings, not the most heartfelt stories. He was a POW, his grandfather was killed by Saddam's people in front of the family, and got shot three times as he had to escape from his OWN country. Seriously.. .what you're hearing is a PORTION of what's out there. I don't believe that the 'Bible' or the 'Koran' are the word of God as they were written via 'hearsay' and/or hundreds of years after the fact. They're great stories with great metaphors, but come on, we all know how the telephone game works. So needless to say, I heard you... please hear me.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Ben Franklin

      @ William: Your entire reply was just questionable??? Maybe you should do some research prior to comments and replies.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Kyler McGrath

      From Sura 2:

      62. Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve

      190. Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors.

      191. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

      192. But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • sandy bean

      ben franklin, i would have to disagree with you that the word of your god doesn't encourage violence. there are many instances where god supposedly gives permission to his people to surround and attack cities, and kill every living thing therein, including women, children and animals. the bible is full of violence, committed in the name of, and with the blessing (and even by order) of the god of the christians. king david even sent out on the front lines of battle, the husband of a woman with whom he was having an affair, so that the man would be killed, leaving David to his misconduct. the books of the bible are rife with unspeakable violence in the name of the lord.
      and yet, christians want to ignore the teachings of jesus where he says "do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you, but rather turn the other cheek". "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". "do not repay evil with evil". if christians cannot admit to the violence in their own sacred book (all the while criticizing the muslims for the same in theirs), and embrace the lessons that jesus taught over and over, then their "religion" is baseless and useless, and only a source of fear and bigotry. i call on you to practice what you preach. the actions of fundamentalist militants should not show up for you as a challenge to arms, but as an opportunity to live what you claim to be defending.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • ELLLES

      Ben Franklin: So you're saying that we should assume most muslims take the word of the quaran to be literal? Have you ever read the new testament or the torah? There is some messed up stuff in there. Do you see all Christians owing slaves and beating their wives? No.

      Yes their are extreme muslims and that is frightening but starting a witch hunt in this country only creates more extremism.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Chris

      It does indeed say that the Muslims should fight. However, if you read the prior verse (2,190) it says to fight back and specifically forbids starting the fight. 2,191 follows 190 on how the response should be if attacked.

      I think this is common sense: fight back if you are attacked. Do not start the fight.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  20. WeirdMN

    I can certainly see why Ford would embrace terrorists – Henry Ford was anti-semitic so his company would of course embrace any group who wants to eliminate all Jews (but Henry, they want to kill all Christians, too!)

    March 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • ELLLES

      As a jew I find this comment disgraceful. Also I think those hearing were mccarthyism for the 21st century. I support Israel, and the unrest saddens me but I will not hold that against an entire religion on people. You christians and even my fellow jews who do that are beyond hypocritical.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • ahetch

      The black man in that town was leading the march and he clearly sided with the white man that said "we don't hate them, we just don't want them here".
      Doesn't he realize that those same words were spoken in the 1960s against black folks?

      And yes, I will say the pledge of Allegiance just the way it is written "liberty and justice for all", not liberty and justice for all except Muslims.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • elizabeth

      Where are the women in this prayer photo?

      March 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Westluv

      This is not their country...muslims are not welcomed here!

      March 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Chuck

      I wonder if these men are in favor of Pakistan's blasphemy laws which call their God the only true God and will arrest you, sentence you and apply punishment for not adhering to this law? Pakistani politicians have been assassinated recently for trying to rid the country of these laws. Few government officials would dare go to the funerals knowing that they might be next in line for assassination.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • james

      It is not at all fair to say that Christianity isn't mentioned by the media when a Christian creates a crime. Unless it is a church burning, few of these crimes by so-called Christians are religious based and I don't ever remember hearing witnesses say that the perpetrator shouted "God is Great" just before they committed the crime.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Mrs. Jameson

      I don't think that there is any such thing as moderate Islam. Will they embrace my gay children and allow their lives to unfold naturally without intervention? No!

      March 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Mrs. Jameson

      Soledad Obrian really needs to learn to hide her facial subjectivity. At least make an effort to look objective if nothing else. I saw last nights segment of the Muslims next door and she was so pro-Muslim. I guess she doesn't have gay children.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Ted

      I think that we should all fear these highly patriarchal societies. It disturbs me that there are no women in this prayer hall. It disturbs me that a woman would never be able to lead these men in prayer. It disturbs me to know that they are covered from head to toe and that people would really believe that the women prefer it this way. They really don't have a choice. Shaming the father or the husband would be an act of aggression that the patriarch could never live down.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Chuck wrote: "I wonder if these men are in favor of Pakistan's blasphemy laws which call their God the only true God and will arrest you, sentence you and apply punishment for not adhering to this law? "

      There are places in the U.S. where similar outlooks will get you a lynching... or at least an attempted one... maybe, if the natives aren't too restless, just a burning cross in front of your house...

      March 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Westluv wrote: "This is not their country...muslims are not welcomed here!"

      Unless you're American-Indian, this isn't your country, either...

      March 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      elizabeth asks: "Where are the women in this prayer photo?"

      Perhaps you should ask some Orthodox Jews about prayer photos from their synagogues and why there would not be any women in the pictures...

      You need an education...

      March 28, 2011 at 5:58 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.