September 5th, 2012
01:19 PM ET
Rising anti-Islamic sentiment in America troubles Muslims
By Moni Basu, CNN
On the program, called "The Threat in Our Backyard," is a lecture on Islam in public schools and a short film on Sharia finance.
It's a program organized by people who feel the American way of life is threatened by Islam - in particular, Sharia, or Islamic law.
Sharia would bring ruin to America, says Greg Johnson, vice president of the 9/12 Project Tennessee, a sponsor of the event that advocates for shifting government back to the intent of the Constitution's authors.
He says he has nothing against Muslims, but he takes issue with the tenets of Islam.
Sharia, he believes, would mean that practicing homosexuals would be put to death, women would not be educated and would be married off to men chosen by their fathers, and non-Muslims would become kafirs - nonbelievers - relegated to second-class citizenship.
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"And I don't want that coming to America," Johnson says.
He's not alone in his fears.
A tide of anti-Islam sentiment has been swelling across America in recent months, strong enough to prompt one imam to wish for the days immediately after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when President George W. Bush declared that Muslims were not our enemies; that the war on terror was against a select few who acted upon their hate for America.
"In the 11 years since, we have retreated," says Abdullah Antepli, the Muslim chaplain at Duke University who likes to call himself the Blue Devil Imam.
Muslims make up less than 1% of the U.S. population. Yet, say Muslim advocates, they are a community besieged.
Hate crimes against Muslims spiked 50% in 2010, the last year for which FBI statistics are available. That was in a year marked by Muslim-bashing speech over the Islamic center near ground zero in Manhattan and Florida Pastor Terry Jones' threats to burn Qurans.
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Antepli likens the current climate to McCarthyism. Left unchecked, he says, anti-Muslim fervor, like racism and anti-Semitism, has the potential to evolve into something dangerous.
This year's holy month of Ramadan, which ended August 19, was marred by a spate of violence at U.S. Islamic centers that included a fire, a homemade bomb and pig parts. The incidents were unprecedented in scale and scope, says the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
At least seven mosques and one cemetery were attacked in the United States during Ramadan, according to the council and other groups that track such incidents.
Particularly visible on the anti-Muslim radar has been the state of Tennessee, where a mosque opened during Ramadan after two years of controversy. The new Islamic center in Murfreesboro opened a few weeks ago after delays caused by legal wrangling, community protests and vandalism.
Also in Tennessee, incumbent congresswoman Diane Black found herself publicly opposing Sharia after her opponent Lou Ann Zelenik made it a campaign issue.
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State senatorial candidate Woody Degan's website also mentions Sharia:
"VOTE CONSERVATIVE! VOTE Anti-Sharia, VOTE Against Internet Taxes, Vote FOR Gun Carry Rights! VOTE for your PERSONAL RIGHTS!"
And Gov. Bill Haslam recently came under fire for hiring lawyer Samar Ali, a Muslim woman from Tennessee, to work in the international division of the state's economic development department.
Ali's critics called her Sharia-compliant and a website called Bill H(Islam) attacked the governor for pursuing "a policy that promotes the interest of Islamist (sic) and their radical ideology."
The website links to another that discusses, among other things, Islamic infiltration of public schools.
"I cannot stress enough the seriousness of their push to spread their religion to all non-Muslims throughout our country," says website author Cathy Hinners, another speaker at next Tuesday's 9/11 event in Franklin.
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"Why? Why are Muslims so adamant that we accept their religion? The answer is simple. The answer is in black and white. The answer is in the Muslim brotherhoods "Strategic Goal for North America." It's called a global caliphate. One religion, one government, one law... called Sharia."
In November 2010, more than 70% of voters in Oklahoma approved a ballot initiative to amend the state's constitution that banned courts from looking at "legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law."
The amendment died after a federal court ruled it discriminatory.
"That was very explicitly anti-Islamic," says Glenn Hendrix, an Atlanta lawyer who specializes in international law. "It specifically referenced Sharia."
This year, 33 anti-Sharia or international law bills were introduced in 20 states, making it a key issue. Six states - Louisiana, South Dakota, Kansas, Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee - adopted such laws prior to 2012.
Two Tennessee lawmakers attempted to pass a bill this year that would have made it a felony to practice Sharia, but it failed.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the anti-Sharia bills are based on draft legislation promoted by David Yerushalmi, an anti-Islamic lawyer from New York.
Yerushalmi founded the Society of Americans for National Existence, an organization devoted to promoting his theory that Islam is inherently seditious and Sharia is a "criminal conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.
"Ideally," says the center, "he would outlaw Islam and deport its adherents altogether."
Hendrix says anti-Sharia legislation is not necessary since U.S. courts ultimately are beholden to U.S. law.
But it sends a strong message to the Muslim community.
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The American Bar Association, which opposes federal or state laws that impose blanket prohibitions on foreign laws, says such legislative initiatives stigmatize an entire religious community and "are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence."
Valarie Kaur, a legal advocate and hate crimes specialist, says proponents of anti-Sharia bills are battling an imaginary threat.
"There is no push to install Sharia law in the U.S.," she says. "Anti-Sharia bills target the religious principles of Muslim Americans and fuel anti-Muslim rhetoric and bias. As a Sikh American whose community has too often become the target of hate, I believe it's time to stand against all forms of racism and religious bigotry."
An attack at a Wisconsin Sikh temple last month killed six people. Many believe the shooter mistook Sikhs for Muslims. A Sikh gas station attendant in Arizona was the first victim of reprisal after the 9/11 attacks.
Kaur blames tough economic times and an amplification of hateful speech for incidents like the temple shooting and the momentum behind the anti-Sharia campaign.
For Muslims, Sharia - which means "path to the watering hole" in Arabic - is the divine law revealed centuries ago in the Quran that governs all aspects of life. More often than not, it's the most sensational parts of Sharia - like cutting off a thief's hand - that garner the most publicity.
U.S. courts bump up against it in cases of divorces, inheritance, child custody, enforcement of money judgments and commercial disputes or tort actions.
A trial court in New Jersey, for instance, ruled that a husband, who was Muslim, lacked the criminal intent to commit sexual assault on his wife because Sharia permits a man to have sex with his wife whenever he wants.
That's the kind of ruling that fuels anti-Sharia activists.
Nashville health-care investor Andrew Miller says there's no room for democracy within Islamic ideology. All you have to do is look to any Islamic state, he says.
"If you wanted to pray to a large rock and that was your God, I could care less," he says. "But the minute you want to put a gun to my head and say you will pray to this large rock and your family will or you will pay the price, that's when I see a bully. I see an overbearing ideology that wants to force and coerce people.
Miller describes himself as a tolerant person but not when it comes to people dictating how others will live.
"That's antithetical to the freedoms that we value, the liberty we value," he says.
The message that Islam is evil has been repeated so many times - sometimes directly, sometimes in a more subtle fashion - that it has sunk in as reality in the hearts and minds of many Americans, says Antepli, the Duke chaplain.
Part of it is fear of the unknown, he says.
"I, too, would have a monstrous image of Islam if I did not know any better."
But another part of it is orchestrated, he says, referring to "well-organized and polished" anti-Islam websites that have sprouted in recent years. Marry that with ignorance and the end result is lethal, Antepli says.
The Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy organization, published a report last year that attributed the rise of Islamophobia to a "small, tightly-networked group of misinformation experts."
The report called "Fear, Inc." lists seven foundations that gave $42.6 million to think tanks to promote anti-Islamic thought.
It describes "deeply intertwined individuals and organizations" that "manufacture and exaggerate threats of 'creeping Sharia,' Islamic domination of the West, and purported obligatory calls to violence against all non-Muslims by the Quran."
The issue of Sharia, say some Muslims, has become a political hot potato in an election year.
GOP candidates Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann mentioned Sharia in their campaign speeches. This year's Republican Party platform makes mention of foreign laws:
"Subjecting American citizens to foreign laws is inimical to the spirit of the Constitution. It is one reason we oppose U.S. participation in the International Criminal Court. There must be no use of foreign law by U.S. courts in interpreting our Constitution and laws. Nor should foreign sources of law be used in State courts' adjudication of criminal or civil matters."
That's the message Miller hopes people will take away from next week's 9/11 meeting; that the tenets of Islam go against the constitution of the United States.
It's diametrically opposed to what people like Antepli and Kaur will be saying as America remembers the horror of terrorism. Hateful sentiment, they say, is not the answer.
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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.
u Americans are satan and will go to hell soon!!
Thank you...we like you too
Who gave you "this authority" to say this kind of things (sending people to hell)?? ..... God ... for sure NO ...
So says the brainwashed moslem.
Go mow the grass and come back after you've had a few more years of life experience.
I am also afraid of religious law. The USA is under seige by Fundamentalist Christians who are crusading, like they did in the middle ages, to subjugate everyone who does not agree with them. We need to defend ourselves from these seditious invaders!
Oops, I put "Fundamentalist Christians" in there instead of "Fanatical Muslims." My bad.
So many comments proving the point.
They're from morons.
9/11 was a zionist inside job. The twin towers both fell at free fall speed **********SIX SECONDS EACH!************ This was a controlled demonlision fall with no resistance. Melted metal that was consistent with explosion melting were found in all of the buildings' metal foundations after the collapses. The buildings were also hit by REMOTE-CONTROLLED airplanes from WTC 7. This is also why this building was brought down by controlled demolision. The pentagon was also hit by a drone or missile, and no airplane was found in the PA field. Muslims HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. PERIOD. It was the sub-humans who rule this country that did it. The zionists are worse than satan himself!! Hell is their final abode!
Copy, Paste, Copy, Paste, Copy, Paste, Copy, Paste, Copy, Paste, Copy, Paste,
No. Just..... no.
we knew it was muslim arabs because we found small p e ni s e s in the wreckage. One looked like a button on a fur coat on one body. the first thing the investigator said was...it's a muslim arab. they're scared of women and that's whay the oppress them
The same can be said about muslims
Uh oh... Osama Abdalluh... another racist, bigot selling hate and anti-semitism. Osalama... if you're not on HS watch list, you should be – you're just another terrorist wannabe... a muslim dog.
Behold, the face of your prophet, Muhaddamad: (_!_)
Are the Muslims printing Jesus is a monkey on churches like the Isrealis are? The muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet, he wasn't crucified for driving the money lenders out of the temple by muslims.
9/11 was a zionist inside job. The twin towers both fell at free fall speed SIX SECONDS EACH! This was a controlled demonlision fall with no resistance. Melted metal that was consistent with explosion melting were found in all of the buildings' metal foundations after the collapses. The buildings were also hit by REMOTE-CONTROLLED airplanes from WTC 7. This is also why this building was brought down by controlled demolision. The pentagon was also hit by a drone or missile, and no airplane was found in the PA field. Muslims HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. PERIOD. It was the sub-humans who rule this country that did it. The zionists are worse than satan himself!! Hell is their final abode.
Does the Imam know you're on the Cultural Center's computer ?
I love WillyWalnuts reply to you!! If you love islam that much, go back to whatever hell hole your family came from. Have a nice day.
"The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the anti-Sharia bills are based on draft legislation promoted by David Yerushalmi, an anti-Islamic lawyer from New York."
Hmmmm...a jewish lawyer establishing an organization that demonizes islam, tell me it aint so? Funny so many sheep follow without realizing they themselves are merely part of someone elses attack and smear campaign. Well, according to national test scores, they arent that smart down there in the south and the fact that they show themselves to be nothing more than a bunch of tools being used by someone in their racial war themselves...is sad and expected. The ignorant are always used by the powerful to achieve their ends and there are very few more hateful and ignorant than southerners.
maybe the low scores are because they got the brunt of the immigrants from further south of the border.
we'd hit you so hard moahammad would feel it
Jack 3: I thought you already had your last post ...... what should I call you now .... should anyone trust your "knowledge based comments" anymore?
Akim..I couldn't restist setting you guys staright. I am going home now, my wife awaits.
My last post is...showem the door.
How about FIFO (First In First .... ) baby
dare you to try that one
yeah, we'd hit you so hard moahammad would feel it
So that was not your last post ... came our of your "box" again .... your "box" must be soooooooo small and dark .. sorry baby..
hey Akim...learn to speak english.
The funny part is that much of this stupidity is from the Right. Many Christians who are to the far right sound just like the radical Muslims they hate so much.
You know, everyone must believe in Jesus, everyone must pray Christian prayers in school, and all the other examples of what I call Chrislam activists.
This lunacy just reminds me that Atheism is just fine.
Frank FYI – Muslims do believe in Jesus (PBUH) that he was the true messenger of God.
Its nothing more than the natural hypocrisy of religion. Judge, but dont judge; hate but dont hate; kill, but dont kill...as long as you can invoke the name of God in your actions, you can be as horrendous and terrible a human as you want to be. Look at all the southern christians that would rush back to stoning and crucifixion if they could manage to justifgy it under southern law.
Dont fool yourself into thinking that the south isnt full of backwoods, ill-educated, redneck zealots just waiting for their first chance to fire on a "notherner" and claim they have God on their side. Lol, I just wish they would get on with it already instead of being a bunch of posers and act like they actually give two squirts about this country rather than have a burning desire to see the south rise again.
The KKK is bigger now than almost any time in their history and the south is a big player in their enlistment...ask the FBI.
Dude tell them the truth that moslems think that Jesus was just a man, that he did not die on the cross or rose from death. Tell them that he was a moslem like all the other jewish prophets. That it was Ishamael instead of Isaac that God chose for a convenant. Tell them that you think the Bible is corrupt and your koran is perfect. Stop lying and tell them what you moslems really think of Christians. TELL THEM!
A lot of people, while still believing in God, don't follow it faithfully anymore. What these same people do NOT do is demand you believe in their "god" or die, consider you second class citizens, make women less than human, take away womens rights on and on and on. This is the problem Americans find abhorrent, didn't we fight for these rights already?? If you have a problem with our laws, go home and follow your laws in lands that allow them. have a nice day.
ideally, we would outlaw all religions and deport all their adherents. faithers are a blight on rational discourse and moral living.
Deport us to where, we were born here and are citizens.
9/11 was a zionist inside job. The twin towers both fell at free fall speed SIX SECONDS EACH! This was a controlled demonlision fall with no resistance. Melted metal that was consistent with explosion melting were found in all of the buildings' metal foundations after the collapses. The buildings were also hit by remote-controlled airplanes from WTC 7. This is also why this building was brought down by controlled demolision. The pentagon was also hit by a drone or missile, and no airplane was found in the PA field. Muslims HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. PERIOD. It was the sub-humans who rule this country that did it. The zionists are worse than satan himself!!
You are an al-Qaeda operative spreading nonsense.
Muslims are worse than satan, if there was a satan.
There is a satan and he's on this site. look for his user name. he loves muslims.
I am talking about the organized attack on the Christan religion, no more prayer in schools even if you prey at your lunch time, no more Christan religion meetings in private homes and that is just a start (people have been arrested). There is a on gong conflict at the DNC to allow the words God and Christ yet the Moslem's can prey anytime any where. Thats what I am talking about.
".... no prayers in schools ...." What Muslims have to do with ... isn't this the policy of the school districts .... there are thousands of school districts in the USA without a single Muslim living in that area ... Hello get real please and don't just blame for nothing ....
That is true...they are working to take christian rights but fighting for muslim rights. That's obama the muslim for you.
Terry, go get help; you're not living in the real world. Christians run this country and make its laws.
I was going to do a grammar check on you but "prey" (not "pray") might be the orrect word.
Willian: please read you post again carefully-each-and-every-word: "I was going to do a grammar check on you but "prey" (not "pray") might be the orrect word."
terry...when a person can't think of anything intelligent to say they try to pick apart your spelling and grammer to make them feel smart. That just shows you're winning the debate.
Lol...christian persecution, the white whale for the christian Ahab to pursue even when the entire supposition (and that's what it is...) is revealed to be hokum...bs...made up tripe meant to try to draw support for a group that runs the country and wants nothing more than to tell EVERYONE ELSE how to live.
hypocrite, mirror...mirror, hypocrite...
Jackie, you could have perfect grammar and syntax and you'd still be a pathetic idiot.
To the turds that are called "gatecrasher1" and "gager", 9/11 was a zionist inside job. The twin towers fell at at free fall speed SIX SECONDS EACH! This was a controlled demonlision fall. No resistance. The pentagon was hit by a drone or missile, and no airplane was found in the PA field. Muslims HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. PERIOD.
Oh, come on. There are plenty of stupid people here, but I doubt anyone in his right mind believes such nonsense.
Your claim has been thoroughly debunked. The towers fell do to the impact of the fully fueled airplanes.
I thought I'd heard everything but I guess i haven't. This shows how out of touch you are about Americans. You don't belong here.
That's like saying...are you going to believe me or your lying eyes. We saw the planes hit them.
9/11 was a zionist inside job. The twin towers both fell at free fall speed SIX SECONDS EACH! This was a controlled demonlision fall with no resistance. Melted metal that was consistent with explosion melting were found in all of the buildings' metal foundations after the collapses. The buildings were also hit by REMOTE-CONTROLLED airplanes from WTC 7. This is also why this building was brought down by controlled demolision. The pentagon was also hit by a drone or missile, and no airplane was found in the PA field. Muslims HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. PERIOD. It was the sub-humans who rule this country that did it. The zionists are worse than satan himself!! Hell is their final abode!
This article is false. It is not stating the correct facts. Only Muslims residing in GOP majority districts or where the toxic speech are more, is where you find Anti-Islamci sentiments.
I think you can find these anti-Islamic-extremists anywhere but the GOP states are perhaps more vocal about it and have resorted to criminal acts (which is so not American).
It's too bad we can't pick and choose some of the Sharia law tenets and work them into our current laws. Some aspects of
Sharia law make so much sense I wish they were enforced here in the States, rather than the wishy-washy, namby-pamby
nonsense some of the courts here dish out. However, many aspects of Sharia law are so out of touch, so stone-age silly, brutal, and downright ridiculous. If Muslims want to live in the past–so be it. But, don't try to shove your beliefs down my
throat, or you will have some problems, guaranteed! Muslims need to develop some sort of organized hierarchy and have
one leader, or council establish some sort of rules and regulations, like other organized religions. Like the Bible, the Koran
was written way to far back to be taken literally today. Someone needs to intrepret it's codecs and adapt them to modern
life. People have always had their own beliefs about religion, and squabbles (if not war) have been the result of their disagreement. I still have a hard time understanding this Shiite-Sunni squabble.
Not really, but all GOP are islamaphobic.
Get an education and you'd be too.
Actually we're idiotphobes and we fear your ignorance because it reflects on everyone.
You don't want to be an "American" and live by the laws of the United States...?
well, then... Love It or Leave It, haters
9/11 had nothing to do Islam. It was an inside job by the CIA to give Islam a bad name. Al Qaeda and its ilk are the creation of CIA and american neocons.
I doubt that, but even if you're correct, the CIA isn't the one calling for the death of people who draw sketches of some guy that died centuries ago.
Rudyard Kipling gave islam a bad name and so did Winston Churchill.
Didn't Osama bin Laden take credit for 911? Are you calling the emir a liar?
How brainless you are...we don't operate like that here. you're just used to your Islamic dictastors
Islam had a bad name before 9/11 and it hasn't improved at all since then... and rightfully so. All of the hijackers on 9/11 were Muslim. 15 of the 18 hijackers were Saudi Arabian (did the Saudi's get off easy ?). Al Qaeda, The Taliban, Aghanistan, Pakistan, death by stoning, beheadings, acid on schoolgirls,, etc. Not much to like or admire.
Judging by your name no wonder you post such an idiotic and dumb comment.
Islam is a human cancer.
All faith based religions are parasites infesting humanity, just Islam in its current evolutionary form is a particularly disgusting and foul parasite that stands out as even more dangerous than the others.
Look I know you camel jockeys have a High Holy Day next Tuesday, but face it, you brought this disgust upon yourselves. Look in the mirror for once and ask "Why does the West hate us? Why are Americans so intolerant of us being around and feel we aren't trustworthy?" I think there are about 3000 answers for that.