Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Islam in America: U.S. under Attack; Implications for Muslims Everywhere

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Islam in America: U.S. under Attack; Implications for Muslims Everywhere

Article excerpt

ISLAM IN AMERICA: U.S. Under Attack; Implications for Muslims Everywhere

Dr. Muqtedar Khan is assistant professor of political science at Adrian College in Michigan. A member of the boards of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, his articles are archived at

What happened Sept. 11 was catastrophic. It was bigger even than Pearl Harbor. Words cannot describe the magnitude of the human tragedy that has taken place. The consequences of this event will be far-reaching and will necessarily have a global as well as local impact on Muslims.

If the perpetrators of this extremely horrible, senseless and inhuman act are Muslims then it can safely be assumed that decades of work by scholars, organizations and activists to improve relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world, and their struggle to fight the negative image of Islam in the West, will be severely reversed.

The U.S. response to these terrible tragedies will have an impact on its role in world politics. It will affect U.S. immigration policy: chances for repealing such laws as the secret evidence act are now slim. In fact, one may expect the adoption of more such acts. Civil rights, individual and group freedoms will be in jeopardy.

Muslims in America will be at the mercy of the wisdom of U.S. leaders. We must encourage our government not to compromise American values of democracy. Doing so, would mean that the terrorists have succeeded in destroying the American way of life--and that would be their greatest victory.

Eventually, this tragedy will strengthen America, both internally and externally. More and more countries traditionally aligned against the U.S., such as India, Russia and China, will cooperate with Washington to fight international terrorism, global militancy from non-state actors and other forms of non-state violence. Ironically, the events of Sept. 11 may provide a rallying point around which the world may unite behind the U.S. to deal more aggressively with global conflicts and terrorism.

At the moment it is vital that Muslim governments--especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, Iran and Iraq--cooperate with U.S. authorities to the fullest extent possible. It was also crucial that American Muslim groups, organizations and individuals came out and unconditionally condemned this dastardly act in the strongest of terms. They also must put their contacts and resources, in both the U.S. and the Muslim world, at the disposal of American authorities to identify and apprehend the perpetrators and their supporters.

This is not the time for politics. It is instead the moment for unity. All Americans, regardless of their faith, politics and ethnicity, must unite behind the singular principle that an attack against one American is an attack against all.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, and Islam does not condone such inhuman acts. No one disputes that. This act threatens all things that are good about the U.S., and we must guard against it jealously. We must not under any circumstances allow the terrorists to alter our values and our sense of fairness and justice. Their actions violate all that Islam stands for and must be condemned without reservation. …

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