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Vol. 6, No. 3, 2007
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from Cihan Kaan
I am a filmmaker with a forthcoming book being released in September entitled Halal Pork.(Upset Press)

I submit the following objections and clarifications to Phyllis Chesler’s Secular Islam on the Rise.

Allow me to illustrate the situation we have before us. Prior to 9/11, a person could not say the things he/she is saying now, without being socially challenged. You could not say before 9/11, for instance, that Islam was a religion of Terror without someone correcting you for generalizing. You also could not get away with, for instance, staring at a woman in a veil on the train as if she was an alien, without people looking at you like an alien for not getting it. Now things are different, voices call for nuking the Middle East on a daily basis. Doesn't matter what division of Islam – ‘nukem all.’ Voices in the Washington Post, the Daily News, on television are in a rerun loop that Islam is bad, Islam is horrible, Islam treats women like slaves, Islam is this, that. Left unchecked, these voices, mostly right-wing Christian zealots who never use their real names, have made a business out of bashing Islam. It is a known fact that the popular question America asks, "Where is the moderate Muslim voice?" is a rhetorical question. Moderates are all over, speaking up and trying to be heard, but the West will not listen because I think they have made themselves incapable. There is a responsibility in the reader/listener as well. The so-called Moderate Muslim character has not yet been inserted into American culture because of resistance from groups that NEED Islam marginalized. It is as if, the western mind either doesn't want to, cannot or will not understand this. Why has it taken me so long to write, or to formulate this hypothesis? I was saying the same on September 12th and people were accusing me of making anthrax and trying to kill me.

Why, as a moderate Muslim, is my view kept bottled up, and when I do speak or send letters, why are they either not printed and/or ignored? Why are there not opposing Op-Ed columns by an actual American Bred Muslims like myself to counter the regional and local weekly hate speech in newspapers and other media?

I propose a simple answer to the rhetoric;

If Islam were accepted, as are other religions, without being under the scrutiny of a Judeo-Christian lens, it would mean a change to our whole foreign policy -- in particular, the Palestinian-Israel situation. It would mean accepting 9/11 was carried out by a fringe group of "Political Terrorists," not Muslim Terrorists that used the Qu'ran and certain Islamic ideas to motivate themselves. However, the ideas they used to motivate themselves exist in every religion. All religions designate in the negative the non-believer. The idea of eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, is popular with the West and also with Islam. These ideas will undoubtedly motivate the future of domestic terrorists in America: we already have the Virginia Tech shootings, Waco and other massacres on our own shores.

I’m not defending the acts nor am I saying political terrorists are righteous, only that the lens of scrutiny can be applied to any religion and faults can be found along with the positives. Christians have a history of barbarism, unjustified hatred and massacre, so do Jews. During Islam's inception the Prophet guided many battles as did the Mongols, the Seljuk Turks, Ottomans throughout Islam history. It just depends on WHY you are looking at the particular religion with such scrutiny. They all have bloody histories, not just Islam.

There are many anti-Islam websites with their articles and naysayers professing they have proof that the Prophet was disingenuous or that they have incontrovertible evidence that the Qu'ran was a delusion. These people have actually sat down and thought of unlimited arguments against Islam; I think it's great that they applied so much thought to it. I believe properly grounded Muslims d know the answers to most of the accusations. Nothing I've seen or read -- and I've spent days perusing the information on these sites -- has even affected my view of Islam in the slightest. I cannot speak for the youth.

I always see the same pictures they show as evidence of Islam's treatment of women, for instance, which is a popular subject with Oprah. It's this picture from Yemen in 1944, of a woman in a ditch with this look on her face, one finds on every Internet site -- with no context. I laugh when I see them using it. Where's the new stuff, I wonder? Got any new Islamic adultery pics? What about Jed in the trailer park in Kansas and his wife, I want to see some pics of how he beat up his ball and chain. How about those jello bikini wrestling matches at spring break with fat hip-hop promoters wearing t-shirts down to their knees (can someone say burqa?) cheering on two basically naked girls as they wrestle? Or the famous footage of Palestinians "celebrating on 9/11;" hilarious stuff. It's from 1990 Eid celebration, a total media farce, and almost everyone I talk to uses that as their fodder for racist remarks. Here's a test you can try out in your own neighbourhood -- a Double Standard Ph test. Ask people how they feel about that famous footage of Palestinians celebrating. Note their answer. Than ask them what they think of celebrating hicks talking about nuking the Middle East. Tell them the hicks are nice but those Palestinians, damn refugees. My point is the double standard. An intelligent discussion on "tackling the Imam" cannot be had when the premise that is suggested in the headline is inherently racist.

It's as if this post-9/11 world NEEDS to believe that Islam is to blame for everything, that Muslims are generally hateful and that they (the Christians, Jews) are on the side right. During the republican party debates last week, Guiliani called it a "war between civilization and evil," then they show a pic of a "terrorist" wearing a kuffiya, a red scarf, holding a Qu'ran, with Arabic script to provoke a strong emotion. I laugh at that too. It's just playing into the hands of the political terrorists out there who need to be made scary and mysterious. Contrast these effects on the young Muslim and the results will inevitably be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The hatred spread in these last 7 years will undoubtedly create more individuals with conflicted beliefs and further the West's problems with its own home-grown American-Islam (i.e., recent planning of JFK bombings by Guyanese/Trinidadian Muslims were by in large motivated by the atmosphere they felt that they are terrorists).

I'll end here, since I normally do not participate in forums discussing Islam because of the overwhelming hatred against anything deemed as pro-Islam. A simple perusing of's web boards will reveal Islam haters posting a constant, unbearable stream of racism.

Thank you for listening and for your insightful articles. = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices
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