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.
Why do Muslims pray five times daily?
"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.
So? Baptists want to kill all the gays and oppress women, and people in the South are just fine with it. Baptists are the worst cult of all.
@Robert: what does this have to do with the article. didn't you read it?
WOW, you're not exactly one to accuse others of being off-topic. By the way, did you read some American history and figure out that this nation was not "built on Christian principles" yet? If not, better get to it.
Start with the Treaty of Tripoli.
I'm not sure WOW can get through it. Maybe an graphic novel about it would be apropos.
@Tom: LOL... you live on CNN... oh yea forgot you are on the pay roll.
Poor little WOW. Is your azz still smarting? Must hurt!
@Tom: So what is your opinion on this article? I am VERY interested in hearing your view point.
What's yours, WOW? I haven't seen you post a cogent message yet. Why is that?
"Muhammad is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another." (Surah 48:29)
Is this tolerance???
If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. – Deuteronomy 13:7-12
Sorry to burst your bubble, but they are not even merciful to their own.
"Amniculi" = fairy tale professor. Got any more good fantasies ?
Amniculi......Deuteronomy was law. We don't live under the Law. Jesus Christ defeated death for sin. Read the whole book, not just one verse. The Koran doesn't even say they have to entice you to believe, just kill them because they refuse to believe. They still await their messiah. Until then it it kill, kill, kill, that is not the message of Jesus Christ.
The Bible is full of blood. Yet another instance of Christian cherry-picking.
@Amn: You just proved that you have no clue what it means to be a Christian. By your own statement you don't realize what you speak of. Do you know what it means to be a Muslim? If so let us know.
I'm tired of people picking and choosing verses from the Quran then complaining when people do the same to the bible. Read both books and try agian.
WOW, it must must be nice to live in your own fairy-tale dreamworld. I am not trying to prove anything but your hypocrisy. Mission accomplished.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
@Amn: You're right you were not trying to prove anything but you mistakenly proved that you do not understand Christianity and you still did not tell us what you know about Islamic Religion... Let's hear it???
"Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)
Cursed be he who does the Lords work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood. – Jeremiah 48:10
Thou shalt not kill.
I recently watched a program about this. It was obvious that it was designed to favor muslims. It showed a bunch of protesters at mosque going to hear a speaker. They were yelling at woman and children. It appeared that it was a bunch of low life's doing the protesting. However the speaker was a radical muslim. Why were they going to hear him?
There is not one country that uses Sharia law that is not in complete shambles. When Sharia law comes to town, people are thrust back to cave man ideology and usually end up without their head......
Sharia law has about as much chance of being adopted in america as the code of hammurabi. This is nothing more than a scare tactic.
Few 100% true Reasons why Islam is a terrible and evil religion...
1. "Prophet" Muhammed was an evil pédophilé who was an intolerant murder, destroyer and had many wives, incl. 9 year old!
2. Islam = submission. Allah tells Muslim to submit to hill will, otherwise he will torture and torment you in life for eternity.
3. Islam treat non-adherents worse than animals. If they are people of the books (Christians or Jewish), classify them as "dhimmis"
and make them pay a special tax (Jizya) to the Islamic government, or they should be enslave, rob, rápe, and lynch them as you please
unless they convert to Islam.
4. Islam kills those who leave Islam and/or convert to another religion.
It also says to kill gays, atheists and those who insult Islam.
5. Islam says "Men are better than women", "Men could have many wives", "Women are worth half a man", "Selling a wife is perfectly ok".
6. Unlike Christians, Muslims pray and serve Allah, rather than praying for themselves or someone else.
7. Islam is the most violent Religion by far. >> http://www.thereligionofpeace.com <<
8. Muslims frequently persecute and kill Christians unless they convert to their cult. Churches have either been convert into Mosque
or being burned down in Islamic countries.
9. Non-Muslims are forbidded visiting Mecca, and no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia.
10. Islam is spreading like rats in western countries (Europe & North America), and seek to spread their "Sharia Laws", as well as
trying to convert as many people to their "peaceful" religion and ev. taking over the nation.
11. It is the DUTY of every Muslim to expand Islam and strive for world domination.
12. Quran is nothing but hate and violence.
13. Islam says they believe in Jesus Christ, yet they deny his words and the Bible.
14. Many Muslims in western nations tries to act nice and tolerant like normal humans so people think that their religion is "peaceful" and ev.
people falling into converting to Islam and accepting them.
May our Lord save us from Islam and its disgusting people!
This is the most closed minded and bigotted thing I've read here so far. I honestly pity that you feel this way.
you are a liar, a hater, and spread nothing but hate, you are a disgusting human being.
A quote from the movie COMING TO AMERICA: I don't care who you are. You're in America now jack!" When you are here, you live by our laws. Try going to Saudi Arabia and getting drunk while passing out bibles. Your head would be gone in a week and they would not care that you are allowed to do that in your own country.
My fellow humans, however we want to sub classify ourselves (religous and otherwise), we are all humans. Each human is a fragile and unique individual.
Do you know anyone trying to implement Sharia Law in the US? I am Muslim. I know a ton of Muslims, but I don't know anyone who thinks the US is the place for Sharia Law. Why do these people spend so much time bashing Sharia Law when practically no one is even talking about implementing it in the US? Does this article serve any purpose other than to spread hate and division across the US?
This forum almost doesn't even merit a response. Do you people ever think that it's crap like this that caused 9/11 in the first place? I'm a Christian and one thing I've learned is that intolerance is stupidity, Islam is not evil. There are many parts of the Quran that preach peace and love like “God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact God loves the equitable.” Qur’an:60:8, for instance, or how about "Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden (paradise) whose width is that of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous – Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity or in adversity, who restrain (their) anger and pardon (all) men – for God loves those who do good." Chapter 3, Verses 133-134. If you take any text out of context it will sound evil, so please don't be so stupid and bigoted, and maybe the rest of the world won't hate us so much.
In 1954 the USA outlawed the "Communist Party of America". The US Code describes how a worldwide "communist" movement controls the CPoA with the goal of overthrowing and permanently changing America.
How are any Muslim groups in the US pushing for a Worldwide Caliphate & Sharia Law any different?
Obviously we can't oulaw Islam... but we certainly can treat any group pushing a Muslim politcal/legal system over the US political/legal system, the same as we treated the Communist Party of America in the 1950's.
Where in the bible does jesus say to terrorize people for not following him?
Jesus didn't, but check out the old testament.
Oh, but Christians don't follow ALL the Old Testament. They get to pick and choose which parts they like.
In Matthew 10:34-36, Jesus says "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35"For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household." ....My point is that if we take Biblical verses out of context, we can argue that they also preach terrorism.
@Amn: That shows how much you know about Christianity. This article is not about Christianity it is about Islamic beliefs.
Andy's comment was about Christianity.
Fact is these Muslims who don't speak out against the Muslim extremists are the real problem... By keeping quiet about the extremists, they are bringing hatred on themselves. I understand the ones who are living in the middle east having to stay quiet as ther fear for their lives... But the ones here in the U.S. that sit around complaining instead of speaking out against it in an aggressive way are the real problem. They should be speaking out against the violence, fundraising to combat it and fighting it on every front.
Those people you speak of are afraid to speak out for they will be punished as well by islamic radicals but if they don't they will be lumped in with them as well by not speaking out.
I agree, if they don't denounce violence, then it appears they are for it.
Finally CNN puts out an Islamic article out!!!! we as Americans should stand up before it is too late. We may fight amonst each other on topics of many sorts but this is one issue we must all stand together to defeat.
What rights have you ever lost because of Islam being present in the U.S.? There aren't any. Stop being ridiculous.
@Will: LOL... guess you don't get it do you???? If let go you will lose much freedoms.
What legitimate freedoms have you lost here in the U.S. Just name one.
Hey Will, ever heard of the US Patriot Act? That was in response to the (supposed) muslim attacks on 9-11.
1.6 BILLION people did not get together and plan the attacks of 9/11. It was the work of a small number of sociopaths that happen to be muslim. Do not confuse the two. I want no part of what Hitler did in the name of Christianity.
I simply want to know what sharia law has made its way to America and out legal system. Just one example.
we will be ever vigilant to ensure that no religion is allowed to corrupt our secular government.
Your secular government has dropped more bombs on other countries, without the help of religion, than any other country in history.
Our government was FOUNDED on Christian beliefs and it should stay that way!
Our government was explicitly not founded on any religious beliefs Christian or otherwise.
Would you prefer that the bombs were dropped in the name of God?
@Will: LOL... where are you form? You must not be able to read history!!!
"Our government was FOUNDED on Christian beliefs and it should stay that way!" – Most of the founding fathers were deist intellectuals. So, uh, no. It wasn't.
Born and raised in the U.S. I'm just educated. The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". The foundeing fathers went out of their way to say the didn't make the government from Christianity.
WOW – this country was founded by men of diverse religious beliefs that knew well the opression of dogmatic religious belief. they took great pains to keep religion from corrupting government.
Congres s shall make no law resp ecting an establ ishment of religion, or proh ibiting the free ex erci se thereof; or abrid ging the freed om of spee ch, or of the press; or the right of the people pe aceably to as semble, and to pet ition the Government for a redres s of grieva nces.
@Will: So now you have the FULL 1st amendment to read and if you read it you will find that it speaks of protecting the peoples rights to religion freedom not shielding the government from religion.
WOW, don't you get tired of being an ignoramus? This country was founded on principles and ethics that pre-date Christianity and are common to many other governments. Its laws are based on the Const itution, not the Bible. Nowhere in the Const itution is God mentioned. The first amendment does indeed keep religion out of government. There is indeed a separation of church and state.
Churches in most Islamic nations have been turned into mosques and statues have been destroye
Got any proof to back that up? As far as I know, this has only happened in area where extremists are in control. MOST Arab countries have equal protection for all religions.
Amniculi, when you can carry a Bible into Saudi Arabia, let me know.
I wouldn't carry a Bible anywhere, Sister.
There are over 1 million practicing roman Catholics in Saudi Arabia. I imagine one or two of them have a bible.
Amniculi, The Hagia Sophia would be the most famous one, such a beautiful religious buildings
Amniculi, it's never too late to start 🙂
Will: The Saudi Mutaween would disagree with you. Religious freedom is non-existant in Saudi Arabia.
I'm not arguing that it hasn't happened, but she said "most Islamic nations". Where's the proof?
Great!! one more group of people who will play the race card for the next 50 years!
Ted, Islam isn't a race.
"Jewish" isn't a race either, but that doesn't stop people from being racist against Jews.
Amniculi, how exactly is one racist against Jews?
Let me see...does THE HOLOCAUST ring a bell?
What race was involved?
Perplexed, you can be as obtuse as you like, but that doesn't change the fact that followers of Judaism are perceived by some bigots as belonging to a "Jewish" race and they are racially persecuted on the basis of that belief. It is no different for Muslims.
Amniculi, don't be such an apologist. Jews aren't a race and were not racially percecuted. Furthermore, Muslims aren't a race and certainly aren't being percecuted.
Israhell did 911. All the proof you need.
All you need for that is 40 dollar registration fee, you can create your own site and facts after that. The problem with Muslims is you don't want to admit that there is a problem.
Your an idiot
Anyone else find the irony in the comment, "your an idiot?"
@horvath – I LOL'd.
I hope this will make Muslims move back to their ratholes where Christians are being persecuted and churches being bombed
If I were a Christian bigot like you I wouldn't want to show my name either.
Sharia law has no right to be in US. Saying that, neither does Christian view of the world. We do have (at least de juro) separation of state and religion – any religion, not just Islam. We probably should remember that when we try to vilify one group of believers and disregard all others.
Islam & Muslums have NO place in this CHRISTIAN country !!!
Hate to break the news to ya, but this is a secular country and a country of immigrants. Take your bigotry and go home.
Aminiculli it is time you adapt secular law before you preach that this is a secular country. Just mouthing those words dont make you secular. The very fact that you consider non Muslims kafirs is discrimination. Islam is a cult. and we know all this secular vomit which is coming out of you will vanish when the population of Muslims reaches a critical mass.
The only lie told more often than "this is a Christian country" is "I have read and agree to the terms of service".
FYI, nonsense, er...ensense, I am an atheist. So there goes that theory.
@Huebert – I wish I could click like on your comment. So true.
fatal: it is not a christian country. if this bothers you, may i suggest the comfort of a speeding bus, or a tall building?
Let's build a Cathedral in Mecca to see how long it last. lol
Why dont you travel to the mideast to see that there are churches and synogogues in predominantly Muslim lands?
Mario...sounds like a Italian name and you prob are Catholic... Don't even go there...Your Catholic Church and its ideology has a long list of Human Rights Violations !!!!
Let's build a Hindu or Jewish Temple inside the Vatican, and see how long that last!
There is a synagogue right outside the vatican, just google it. With regards to the catholic church and human rights abuses, yes they did it but they are now reformed. show me any reform in islam since your prophet. We all know this is the strategy you guys take every time somebody points a finger at islam, you point back in time and relate it to the present.
There is a synagogue in Rome yes, but not within the walled enclave of the Vatican City itself, which is a sovereign city-state, big difference. Though I imagine they would build one if they could stock it with little boys!