Muslims in America are now battling for religious freedom and personal safety on two fronts: prejudice from without and extremism from within.
How well they - and we - address both challenges will shape the contours of freedom and security for all Americans in the difficult years ahead....
[C]onsider the story of Osama Al-Naijar, as reported by Reuters this month. According to a legal complaint filed by his family, Osama suffered years of harassment from teachers and students at his New York City school - apparently triggered by his name and religion.
Things got so bad that last summer, 15-year-old Osama attempted suicide. In December he legally changed his name to “Sammy,” hoping to avert more abuse.
Although the severity of Osama’s plight may be rare among Muslim students in America, it illustrates the dangers of rising Islamophobia - defined as a blanket condemnation of Islam that paints all Muslims as potential terrorists....
Whenever radicals use Islam to justify violence, all Muslim Americans are affected by the fallout. To cite the most recent example, last month’s arrest of six New Jersey men for allegedly plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix led to at least one attack on a Muslim woman, a bomb threat against the mosque where the men had prayed, and other incidents that spread fear in the local Muslim population.
This is a vicious cycle: Terrorist plots in the name of Islam fuel Islamophobia which, in turn, alienates young Muslims and makes them more susceptible to radical ideologies. [Link]
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