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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. Dee

    Honestly, prove that you are not an extremist Muslim by not wearing a headscarf. Muslim women dress normally in some countries. I'm personally inclined to believe that the culture enforcing the headscarves is also extreme. Amish people dress differently, but then again, they don't have a history of violence and oppression around the world.

    An employer might think a Muslim headscarf (whether the wearer is a friendly person or not), would probably turn off customers. Employers also shouldn't have to hire anyone who has 50 piercings, either, if they don't think it represents their business well. It challenges our American freedom to force the issue. If you insist on headscarves, then find an appropriate job where you are accepted. Since there are SO many Muslims in the US, I wouldn't think it would be a problem. Workers have to respect dress codes in offices, shops, restaurants – and everyone should comply if they wish to have a job in one of those places.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • nick2

      Based upon your theory, my chances of surviving a vacation in Turkey are pretty low – a country of millions of Muslims. Or perhaps you would advocate breathalyser testing every driver on a Federal highway at every toll – that would probably yield more over the limit drivers than any ostracism of Muslims would yield terrorists. But at what cost – and – statistically you probably would be insignificantly safer.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • John

      Dee, you really think someone wearing a headscarf makes them an extremist? Why? Because they are modest? Don't you know that up until the end of world war 2, most American women also wore a headscarf? Were they also extremists?

      Can't you people see how you cherrypick absurd arguments to justify your dislike of people who are merely different than you are?

      There will always be a blind segment of the population that purely follow their emotions, ignores logic and reason, surrenders to their fear of differences, and then tries to pressure others to change to suit their preferences. Well, that is not what America is all about, never has been, and thank goodness there are enlightened Americans to counter bigotry (starting with Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and other founding fathers up to the present).

      God bless America, and protect us from the unAmerican conservatives that undermine America's world famous values of open-mindedness, reason, justice, and tolerance.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • ssearthquake

      Nobody needs to prove anything to you. If you can stand seeing muslims, stick a needle in your eyes. My advice to muslims is to fight bigots and racists like you with all they got. Bigots are nothing but cowards.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • sick to my stomach

      Dee, you seem to be a foremost expert on religion and politics...please explain to the rest of us humble readers how forcing a woman to NOT dress conservatively after SHE made the choice is the american way. Why not have women parade around totally in the nude? All men, muslim and otherwise would love that dont you think? Get a brain, get a life, go back to your country.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Marcus

      Yes, all Catholic Nuns and Orthodox Jewish women are Terrorists because they wear the head scarf aka habit. Pathetic biggot Islamophobe as usual. So sad, this is why I am going to convert to Islam I decided today, even though my father is a Baptist Minister. Thank you all for making it so clear for me who the persecuted people of God are. You could not be more persecuted than Muslims these days.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  2. steve

    Every religion has its radicalists. I think Christians have been history's worst when compared to Muslims. Let them pray when they want, do not block their practicing ways. Sharia law does say how they should live their lives but it says nothing about killing in the name of Allah, or killing of infidels. Look what a few bad apples did to the whole bin.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • angered and annoyed by the biased press

      Actually all four schools of Shariah law call for the execution of people who leave Islam for other faiths. All interpretations are violence. Someone cannot believe in religious freedom if they also believe in killing ex-Muslims, but if you ask a Muslim this question many will rationalize it.

      March 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  3. kentwin

    While it makes no sense to blame ALL the Muslims for the acts of terrorism, its very obvious that in the current day and age, most of these acts are being committed by Muslims. Its only natural to suspect Muslims when a building is bombed or a car is detonated for the above reason. If you follow the news closely, a significant number of the Muslims that carried out such acts were educated, and unsuspecting until they carried out those attacks.
    For things to change for better, Muslims have to acknowledge these facts first and then work amongst their own community to alienate those terrorists to earn respect from everyone else. Can they do it? I strongly doubt it.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • bhudson571

      Do you remember Oklahoma? What about the Christian who shot all those children at the Amish school? People are to be blamed for the crazy acts they do, not their religion.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Atheism is truth, god isn't real

      Religion, and belief in a supernatural power that doesn't exist, IS crazy.

      Do you believe in Santa Clause too? No? why not? prove Santa Clause does/doesn't exist please.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  4. Larry Young

    What you're saying about Christians not being persecuted is nowhere near true. If a pedophile is a Sunday School teacher, it's the first thing they mention, or if he's a priest.... In a previous job, I was told that I couldn't have my Bible at my workspace. Christians get persecuted all the time. It just doesn't usually make it to the media.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Gee S

      That's because we're not trying to force the entire population of our country to acknowledge and accept our Christianity. WE believe that if someone doesn't accept what we believe that's fine, because WE LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY! Hint, hint Muslims and others, you don't come to a country and try to force down their throat what you believe. You want to be a Muslim? FINE. BE one. Just don't try to convince/convert/force/threaten others if they don't believe what you do. You want jihad??? GO BACK HOME. There's no end of jihad opportunities there! There's other religions, secularists and atheists, and then went you run out of killing all of them, THEN there's the fellow Muslims that don't believe like you do!! And finally, there's all the other tribes that are not yours. WE DON'T WANT ANYONE IN OUR WESTERN COUNTRIES who's agenda is the death of others! If you're Muslim and don't believe in jihad, if you believe it's wrong and you're not secretly sending money to fund them, PLEASE SPEAK UP!! I would LOVE to have Muslim neighbors I can trust. But if you're practicing taqqiyah and kitman, GET THE BLANK OUT OF MY COUNTRY!!!

      March 27, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  5. Steve C

    Let's get something straight, it's NOT their own country, they left their own country behind to come to the USA, so now they must abide by our LAWS and the LAWS shouldn't be made with them in mind. Part of coming to the USA is leaving behind parts of your life that we don't do or agree with here in the USA, not for us to bend and shape our LAWS so they fit those that elect to come here. They are the ones that need to adapt to our LAWS and ways of life or LEAVE!!! That's the way it's been for over 200yrs and they're not any more special than anyone else that ever come here are they??? What's next, making killing a family member legal for them too, because their religion says they can! They say their religion says that they can kill a family member for disgracing the family, but then try to stand there and tell us what peaceful people they are, YEA F__N RIGHT!!!

    March 27, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Mike in SA

      Steve, come on, think of your own family...aren't there some you'd like to put down? If so, join the Muslims! Fun, loving to a fault, and respectful of all...all other Muslims who think like them, that is. Now, if you're a Muslim who thinks differently (or a person of ANHY other faith), like the Sunni's and Shia's, think how much fun you all can have at each others funerals, weddings, stores, markets, etc. with your bombs.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • bhudson571

      You're an idiot for believing whatever the right wing press has told you about Muslims. I have been married to a Muslim for 12 years and met hundreds of other Muslims in that time. Not once has any conversation been about how we should rise up and take over the country. You know what we talk about? Same thing every body else talks about, our children, our parents, and yes even Charlie Sheen. Don't convict everybody who is Muslim for the radicals that pervert the faith for their own agenda. History shows that this has been happening for centuries to all religions. Remember, Christianity was thought to be some radical faith before it was formed into what it is today.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Atheism is truth, god isn't real

      And yet, in the 21st century, all of the terrorist acts are being performed by:
      All the suicide bombers in countries around the world state they follow allah and are:
      Is it really that hard for you to do the math and realize the religion is violent and primitive? (like most others)

      March 27, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Gee S

      Steve, I'm in total agreement to everything you've just posted.
      bhudson: when the Muslims in the west begin condemning the killing of the extremists THEN the people of America will believe the everyday Muslim is just like them. If you don't speak up, how do the rest of us know you're standing against them?? I take ever opportunity to condemn the actions of Westboro Baptist church BECAUSE as a Christian, I don't want ANYONE to EVER think I believe like they do! Start standing up and voicing you're protests against extremists if you guys don't believe like them! Otherwise, those of us who ARE informed about the inner workings of sharia law, just think you're practicing taqqiyah and kitman!

      March 27, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  6. Amber

    I'm not so sympathetic to the case of the Muslims. If they actually practiced their religion in peace as they purport, we might be convinced that they are not out to kill us. Trouble is, we can't tell a good Muslim from a jihadist Muslim. What do they expect? Their quoran dictates that they convert or kill. What part of this and the sharia law that goes along with it don't the American Muslims get? I understand that the woman "identify" with their burkas. Maybe it's time they go back to their homelands and identify there. We should give them a free ticket to get the hell out of here and never come back. I understand there is no easy or "politically correct" answer. But, when a group of people who hold dearly to their hearts the idea of conquering the west and pushing oppression on our people....ESPECIALLY WOMEN, the western civilized people will stand up and fight.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Gee S

      EXCELLENT points Amber, every single one of them. What you've just posted IS the reason that so many people are upset with Muslims as a whole. If you don't like our country/society/values/religion, whatever, GO HOME!!! What OTHER immigrant group since the establishment of our country came here and decided that they could FORCE what THEY want on the people already living here??? (for those of you who don't read the entire posting, we're not talking about the countries that came here to try to take over – we're talking about AFTER the founding of our country!)

      March 27, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Reb

      Well said Amber! If anyone wants to see how brutal these fanatics can get, watch "The Stoning of Soraya M." This movie is based on a TRUE STORY OF A WOMAN WHO WAS STONED TO DEATH! Sharia Law approves of this punishment! Warning: The movie mentioned above will LITERALLY MAKE YOU SICK TO YOU STOMACH, IT'S THAT BRUTAL. There is a woman in Iran who has been the subject of controversy as she was condemned to death by stoning for "adultery". Ms. Ashtiani has been held in Iranian prison and subjected to severe beatings while her son and lawyer fight for her life. Call your congressman and demand that Sharia Law is banned, now and forever.

      March 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  7. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Another article of Agenda from CNN. CNN invite hate, promote hate & make capital out of it.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  8. Kelly

    So many people criticize Muslims because they say the Koran has violent instructions in it. The Bible has violent instructions in it too, but most Christians I know are peaceful. There will always be a few crazy followers of ANY religion, but don't hate a majority of it's followers for the views of the crazy few.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Gee S

      All the fellow christians I know would instantly speak up and say that any christian killing others for not believing is wrong. When the local mosques here begin to speak out and say that fellow muslims that kill unbelievers are doing wrong is when that argument would stand. Instead we have multiiple videos all over the place with muslims in our country stating that there's nothing wrong with killing Jews or other unbelievers. When the moderate muslims (if they even exist, look up taqquiyah and kitman) actually start standing up and saying killing unbelievers is wrong, is when the everyday American will respect them and back them up.

      March 27, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Gee S

      I believe FIRMLY in freedom of religion and freedom of no religion, it's the teaching and preaching that it's okay to murder and bomb unbelievers (whether it's general infidels or just the Jews) that I am TOTALLY, COMPLETELY, and FIRMLY against, and I believe that EVERY SINGLE religious leader of ANY religion or ideology who is preaching death needs to be arrested, and if they're an immigrant, they need to be deported. I feel the same way about any social leader who is preaching death to America, or death to any of our leaders. Freedom also requires responsibility.

      March 27, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  9. Jiri

    Muslims should heed this – Be an American FIRST and then Muslim. This Sharia law crap is just that – CRAP!
    If you don't like the way we live then go back to your 8th century life in whatever backward country you came from.

    It was Muslims what attacked 911 and it is Muslims who are trying to build a Mosque at the site. Why, when you know
    America does not want the Mosque do you continue with trying to build it. That's the basic problem with you Muslims
    you want to control peoples lives – the Mosque will only bring more hate against Islam don't you understand that???

    March 27, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • bhudson571

      And it was a Christian radical who blew up the Oklahoma building. How soon we forget. A nut is a nut no matter what religion they pretend they are representing.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • Gee S

      bhudson, WHERE did McVeigh EVER present himself as a christian and said that's why he blew up the Murray building???

      March 27, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Oh the stupidity

      McVeigh did not bomb in the name of Christ, Christianity, or any Christian teaching. In fact, even if he self-identified as a "Christian", I bet he didn't attend Church but once a year if that.

      Muslims do their bombing while shouting "Allahu Akbhar" (Our God is Great!) and are encouraged to do so by many of their "scholars" using Quranic verses that would be hard to interpret any other way.

      Islam is pure evil. Keep the people, but give Islam the boot!!

      March 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • angered and annoyed by the biased press

      Bhudson – One crazy religious person unconnected to any group is perhaps forgivable. But Timothy McVeigh was not even a Christian – he was a self-described agnostic. And he acted alone.

      In contrast every Muslim terrorist attack has been done in coordination with other Muslim organizations. The man who shot up people at Ford Hood while yelling Allah Ahkbar mad met with a radical cleric born in the United States, now working with Al Qaeda. Even the so-called moderate Muslim preachers are extreme because their legal system separates people by religion. For example, Zakir Naik is widely regarded as a moderate preacher in Mumbai, India. He is on record saying "If Osama Bin Laden is against the enemies of Islam, than I am with him." And this man is still invited to give speeches in the West about uniting different religions.

      Muslims enable terrorism in a way that other religions do not tolerate. Those who compare Christians to the Westboro Baptist Church forget that the extremists are swamped and shouted down by the Christians who oppose WB's hateful message. To this date I have never seen a protest of Muslims in the United State against the discrimination of non-Muslims in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc. ALWAYS these Muslims are more concerned about their image or perceived disrespect against Islam than real discrimination.

      March 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  10. sanych

    This is a very complex subject, which this puff peace on CNN website cannot adequately address. That's why King's hearing is impoortant - to bring out all aspects of this issue.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • sick to my stomach

      It's spelled piece...perchance king can help with improving the spelling of my fellow americans...

      March 27, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Gee S

      Wow sick, going for the spelling criticism. You must not be winning in the 'on topic points' category.

      March 27, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  11. sick to my stomach

    The majority of these comments make me sick to my stomach! Who are you people that are brain washed and brain washing the world against muslims? what is your agenda? Have you met our talked to your muslim neighbors or do you only get your knowledge from radicalized news? Open up your eyes and hearts...talk to a muslim, read the quran, read or listen to the vast majority of muslims instead ofbeing pig headed racists. If you were in europe and denounced the holocaust, you'd go to jail. how would it feel to go to jail in the usa for your islamaphobia? Get a life and you go back to your countries....

    March 27, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • LK

      We are only brainwashed by the 9/11, Lockerbie, London, Madrid and many other bombings. It is up to the muslimes to prove their intentions to the world, they were given many chances but still have not done so.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • MuslimsareEv!l

      'go to jail...for being anti-Muslim'?

      EXACTLY! Thanks for making our point. Muslims are evil (anti-Christ), and you want to send anti-muslims to jail because it's only okay to be anti-Christ?

      Wake up and smell the agenda being fed to you by the media. It's about being RIGHT, not making everyone happy. We're not supposed to take all the religions of the world and put them together into a single religion that doesn't offend anyone, yet that is what someone with your position expects.

      BTW, hating islam is not the same as hating the people who are islam. They can convert to Christianity and repent and be saved, but make no mistake: dying as a muslim guarantees eternity in Hell.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • hankers

      LK, the list of anti-muslim atrocities is equally long, you just don't see it that way. How long will our memories prevent us from reconciliation? 100 years? 1000 years?

      March 27, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Jason

      Im atheist but to those talking about how Muslim is an Illness , then So are other religions . Look at the mass murder in the bible and all sorts of stuff. look at my earlier post about it . im tired ot repeating the same thing. Look at Hitler, look at lady who drowned her 5 kids? parents who starved kids to death! THey ALL said it was in the Name of god! What about all the killers on death row? Are u saying there are no Christians on there ? Its funny that People call other religions CULTS. Cults have nothing to do with death. Its about strange supersitions or practices. So in YOUR CULT, you belive your right! in YOUR CULT when u sin u say u were tempted by some invisible dude. YOU belive in a talking snake, U BELIVE that the Sun rotates aroudn the earth.
      Yo dont even go there LK. please cut it out. Respect other religions. I respect Christians even as an atheist and Muslims. But to say ur religion is better? HOw about this, look ALL religions including yours from a non – believers standpoint. its not that different. When you talk like this, u sound brain washed. Heres some more Homework for ya,. Here are a good list of bible murders. http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm . Come back and tell me what the moral is ok? 🙂

      March 27, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Gee S

      Dear sick: Have YOU read the Qu'uran from cover to cover?? Do you KNOW that taqqiyah and kitman are not only advised in the Qu'uran and Mosques but those that practise them are promised TONS more blessings in paradise?? Do you KNOW that taqqiyah is 'lying to all non-muslims' and kitman 'is not telling the non-muslims the whole truth'???

      March 27, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Gee S

      Jason and hankers:
      Please look at what all the religions are doing NOW, not centuries ago. Islam is the ONLY religion that is CURRENTLY practicing wholescale genocide of ANYONE not believing as they believe, including various different muslim sects. (we're not talking about govts here, there's a number of them still doing genocide) It's also the ONLY religion that is currently trying to force the world to believe as they do. btw? The crusades?? Reaction to Islamic genocide. What a surprise.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Wah?

      Crazy liberals are going to be the downfall of America....so "open-minded" that their brains leak out..."open-minded" that is until it comes to conservative views.

      When will liberals wake up and realize that it is they who are the uneducated and ignorant group of racists? Let's see...they are the ones who bring busloads of uneducated people and homeless people with psychological problems to vote in presidential races. It is liberals who are the "party of the working people" (i.e., blue collar workers with less education than their well-educated conservative counterparts).

      I doubt the liberals who spout off about how wonderful Islam is have ever cracked a Quran open and actually read it, as I have, from cover to cover. They are even less likely to know about or have read the Ahaddith and Sunnah. And they certainly have not attempted to learn Arabic and read those works in their original languages. And being relatively uneducated blue collar workers and homeless people, they certainly have not traveled to middle east countries to discover for themselves what countries under Islam look like.

      Get you some edu-ma-cation before spouting off in ignorance about the alleged deficiencies of conservatives.

      People who consider themselves Muslim may or may not be "good" people, but their religion has so many evil teachings it should be banned.

      Are you yawning?? You better stop! What you're doing is of Satan! –Yep, you guess it. Another fine Islamic teaching.

      March 27, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  12. Chinada

    The House of Saud funded the Madrasahs to keep the Wahhabi tribes from destroying the King and his Kingdom. The Madrasah were allowed to preach hatred (and maybe some are still today even in the west) un-checked until radicalism and martyrdom became the norm. Wahhabism seeks the end of all other religions and infidels for the sake of Allah, Islam, and Shari law for all. When a false like Muslim Saddam took over Kuwait out of just plan human greed, the House of Saud allowed foreign troops (or infidels) into the holy land and all hell has broken loose. Now it became okay for a group of Muslim extremist to fly planes into buildings all for the sake a of a peaceful religion. A religion who's original leader is on record for beheading about 800 people one sunny day. When the Moderates speak up they should be talking to their Muslim radicals and not bringing up excuses from the past about other religions and tragedies..

    March 27, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Gee S

      I am in TOTAL agreement with you.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  13. Mike in SA

    Perhaps the gentleman referenced in pictures number 8 above (car packed with explosives) was just taking a page from his Muslim brothers? Could be...

    March 27, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  14. Grog

    Go to YouTube and look up Dearborne Muslim rally. They harassed and bullied Christians handing out pamphlets. It seems these poor innocents bring on their own troubles.
    Islam is a mental illness. It is a dangerous cult and should be banned in the west, much like the Nazis in Germany. The mentally ill have always had a feeling of isolation in this country.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Atheism is truth, god isn't real

      Actually, religion is the mental illness, any/all religions.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  15. Wake Up

    @MARCUS.....Your a fool that has spent all morning trying to make everyone believe they are wrong and you are right,sounds like you work for CAIR or some other sympathizing organization that turns a blind eye to the daily atrocities carried out in the name of allah.

    Seeing that im open to other peoples side of the story, i actually checked out the liberal propoganda website that you suggested for me. There definetly were some factual things and the Afghan killings i personally condemn, but for the most part what i saw was devoted to making sure Muslims could feel like victims without being victimized....feeling uncomfortable isnt the same as being burned alive or beheaded. The site points out noted anti-Jihadists such as Pam Gellar and Robert Spencer as if their out making things up about Muslims when thats complete b.s when ive never seen anything they've written turn out to be false,, im forced to double check so many of the stories about Islamic atrocities due to the horrific nature of the crimes against Christians and anyone else not adhering to their 'kill the infidel' agenda. I would tell you to check out http://www.jihadwatch.org/ but you're probably a regular there anyway trying to find out how to put your own spin on these factual yet horrific daily stories of Muslims persecuting everyone else for when you enter debates like these.

    And for the record Marc, im an African-American man who has blood brothers who happen to be Muslims themselves. I did my best to not over-react to the constant stories of violence by Muslims worldwide but became increasingly agitated by media outlets such as CNN turning a blind eye to these atrocities yet informing everyone what Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen ate for breakfast. Aint no Nazism goin on here boy,, just real talk with real facts by a real American who isnt about to sit quietly and watch Sharia living become a part of this free landscape. Anyone who wants Sharia needs to stay in whatever armpit of a country their parents escaped from to begin with,, situation solved for all.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  16. Srgt Richardson

    n a country with a state religion, freedom of religion is generally considered to mean that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers in other faiths. ....I am a Native American /African American christian in the Armed forces .No man have the right to tell anyone how to serve God. If you will, remember this,.....freedom of ____ . is the reason why this Country is such a great nation...If it was up to the simple uneducated minds that post comments on CNN, we the USA would be no more....WE ARE THE NUCLEAR BOMB THAT WILL DESTROY OUR NATION!!! UNITY will be the bomb that save us.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  17. Right wing NAZIs--lol

    THE NAZI'S WERE NOT RIGHT WING YOU NUMBSKULLS. THEY WERE LEFT WING RADICALS. IF YOU WANT TO USE THE WORD NAZI, USE IT IN THE PROPER CONTEXT.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • Elsa

      The Nazi's were fascists. Fascism is right-wing extremism. They had a police-state and hated left-wing ideologies.
      This is a well-known FACT. Why don't you look it up?
      Nazi's were mostly Catholic and Protestant Christians on a fanatical rampage centered around their nation of Germany and the "Aryan" race myths.
      Fascism worked very well for them until they lost. The fact that their whole system resembled the modern state of Israel is ironic beyond belief.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Elsa

      I mean ironic beyond my ability to express fully. Oops!

      March 27, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Nonya

      Actually, Fascism has lost most meaning today due to its mis use. Mussolini created Fascism. It was based on a socialist view, and the soviet union used the word Fascist against them to confuse the issue and show their socialism was better then his, Both ended in disaster. Both are fundamentally Left views. Fascism, is related to Nazism, but not the same. As for the Nazi's being Catholic??? Try Darwinist. Hitlers deep faith in darwinism led to his creation of the Nazi religion. Not founded in Christian views. His view was that Humans had broken the rule of "survival of the fittest" and had created inferior races.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Elsa

      Fascism –
      A system of government that flourished in Europe from the 1920s to the end of World War II. Germany under Adolf Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and Spain under Franco were all fascist states.
      As a rule, fascist governments are dominated by a dictator, who usually possesses a magnetic personality, wears a showy uniform, and rallies his followers by mass parades; appeals to strident nationalism; and promotes susp-icion or hatred of both foreigners and “impure” people within his own nation, such as the Jews in Germany.

      Although both communism and fascism are forms of totalitarianism, fascism does not demand state ownership of the means of production, nor is fascism committed to the achievement of economic equality.
      In theory, communism opposes the identification of government with a single charismatic leader (the “cult of personality”), which is the cornerstone of fascism. Whereas communists are considered left-wing, fascists are usually described as right-wing.

      Fascism -–noun
      1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
      2.(sometimes initial capital letter) the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
      3.(initial capital letter) a fascist movement, especially the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43.

      You cannot deny that Hitler died a full Catholic, and that Germany was mostly Catholic and Protestant. Their fascism worked very well thanks to their religious beliefs.
      The Vatican supported Hitler during the whole war and assisted thousands of the worst Nazis in escaping justice.
      Fascism is right-wing extremism in my book.
      Blindly believing what others say is insane.

      March 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  18. timothyn

    Some of the kindest down to earth people i have met are Muslims. Some of the most stuck-up/racist people I have met are Evangelical Christians.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • chuckmartel

      I have no use for evangelicals or any other religous types. However, how many people have the bible bangers blown up? Learn to read and count moron.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • Dee

      Huh. I've had the opposite experience. Can't imagine what made you think that. Travel the world a bit and you'll see.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • jay

      That is just a facade. Get beneath the skin to see the real intentions and biased opinions. Don't get fooled!

      March 27, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Joe

      Yo Chuck, have you ever heard of the Crusades? Idiot!

      March 27, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Mike in SA

      Yo, Joe, learn some history about the Crusades. Once you realize that the Muslims started them approx 700 earlier against the Christians (Catholic Church), perhaps you could come back with a more current and relevent statement.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Mike in SA

      Sorry, Joe, that was 700 years earlier...

      March 27, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • chuckmartel

      Crusades occurred 1000 yars ago following centuries of genocidal muslim expansion idiot. Everyone was fighting everyone else back then including muslims. The crusades also went after Byzantium and other christains in France. Don't you think citing examples from 1000 yrs ago is in general is stupid?

      March 27, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • Lying to Infidels

      Yasser Arafat was infamous for saying nice, conciliatory things in English for gullible, uneducated English speakers, then he would turn right around and encourage more bombing of Israel in Arabic. Plenty of other Islamic leaders practice the same thing because it is ok to lie to "infidels".

      Only gullible, uneducated, liberal fools believe such a fascade. I can't believe CNN and other people stand up for a religion like Islam. I'm sure there are a handful of half-decent people who call themselves Muslim, but they know about as much about the religion they grew up in and their own holy texts as do many Christians...not much. Ask a Muslim fundamentalist or "scholar" whether the people CNN or liberals consider to be "good Muslims" are just heathen in disguise or true Muslims understanding and following the fundamentals of Islamic faith.

      Oh, and to Joe... I am so sick of people who don't know any history spouting off about the Crusades. Add a little depth to your lacking knowledge and find out why the Crusades happened at all. Hmm...maybe because of Muslims spreading their evil religion westward by the sword???

      March 27, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  19. chuckmartel

    You just don't get it muslims Excluding the braindead PC, secular non muslims don't take dark age style religous ways literally or even seriously in most cases. This country already has more than its share of GD religion. The last thing this country needs is a bunch of rag headed religous fundamentalists who have to whip out rugs and pray 5 times a day, censor US cartoonists under threat of death, and blow someone up every day. Every day these creatures are blowing up muslims in the muslim world. They are also responsible for more terrrorist attacks and incidents throughout the world than all non muslim nuts combined. At least the bible bangers are not running around exploding and you generally can't tell when they pray. Muslims, you don't belong here

    March 27, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Joe

      Wow! You're an idiot. You represent the most poisonous thinking in this country.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • chuckmartel

      Not too big on facts, data etc huh joey. Facts joey, facts.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • hankers

      "dark age style religous ways "... have you been to a Catholic Mass lateley? Right from the middle ages I think.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • PaulMc1981

      It's nice to be able to allow your prejudices and hatred to run free behind the relative anonymity of the internet, isn't it? Sad.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • chuckmartel

      Anyone who thinks that practicing catholics are comparable to practicing muslims is beneath retarded. You and joeboy should get a room together.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Gee S

      I don't think you guys actually read the entire paragraph that chuckmartel posted. Incidentally, the 'secular' muslims who DO ignore the dark ages commands in the Qu'uran are just as hated by the fundamentalist jihadists as we in the west are. They truly believe that unless you do EVERYTHING that Mohammed did and what is commanded in the Qu'uran, that you are a traitor and are to be killed first. Read the Qu'uran. It's very clear about all of this.

      March 27, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • angered and annoyed by the biased press

      Why is it poisonous Joe? 160 people died in protests after the Mohammad cartoons were published.

      March 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  20. danish

    bullies, rapist, pedophiles, islam...we dont need in the 21 century..

    March 27, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • timothyn

      Im guessing catholics would fall under pedophiles?

      March 27, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Jason

      Take time to read the bible and we can clearly see rapist incest , non sensible mass sacrifices , contradictions. baby killing, talking snake, talking donkeys etc. And don't Tell me the bible has a NEW testament. So did god change his mind he is a LITTLE nicer now? Tell that to some Jews who only follow the 1st testament. Funny thing its its all opinion and interpretations. There are 44000+ denominations in Christianity. So its all bunch of mixed up answers. Some Kill in the name of god also. So No need to blast Muslims. Just as not all Muslims are bad. not Christians either.
      I ONLY HOPE that some religious people don't do things literary . Like Kill in the name of their god. (I don't believe in a GOD or gods btw, im atheist, use to be a catholic), they should think for a moment to see how killing anyone at all is immoral. Regardless of ANY deity you worship.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Sol om Faal

      And governments would fall under bullies..?

      March 27, 2011 at 8:55 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.