Saturday, September 02, 2006

Muslims must come forward

M. Osman Siddique wrote in Washington Times My proudest day as an American Muslim came in 1999 when I was sworn in at the State Department to be this nation's ambassador to Fiji and its Pacific island neighbors Tonga, Tuvalu and Nauru. Almost 30 years earlier I had come to the United States as a student from my native Bangladesh. Now, I was the first Muslim U.S. ambassador to serve as chief of mission. I swore to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution with my hand on a copy of the Koran. My pride in faith and country remain rock solid. But my real life American dream often feels more like a nightmare these days. Renegade members of my faith are committing horrendous acts of global terrorism, and I am left embarrassed and angry. I am embarrassed when I read the names of the terrorists in the newspaper. What must non-Muslims think when some criminal claiming to act in the name of Islam and bearing the same name as the Prophet Muhammad is arrested? I am also embarrassed that not all American Muslims do all they can to expose those in our community who would commit mayhem or would give succor in any way to those who would cause harm.

I agree they should.
Too many American Muslims hold back from publicly speaking out against extremist ideologies that threaten us all because they fear being stigmatized by their coreligionists for cooperating with security agencies. Why is this?
Because their coreligionists are planning Jihad.
In part it is because some Muslim immigrants are relatively recent arrivals from nations in which security forces were corrupt and could not be trusted. Some shy from cooperation because of their immigration status or the status of those around them. Still others hold back because they disagree strongly with American foreign policy. They truly believe that the current administration is fighting a war against Islam under the guise of fighting terrorism.
That is because the Jihadists tell them that an attack on them is an attack on Islam.
Regrettably, this sentiment is widespread among Muslims, more so abroad but to a substantial degree in America as well. Our government may act incompetently and unwisely. But I'm confident that it holds no animosity toward Muslims simply because they are Muslims. Sadly, it is Muslims who perpetrate most of the worst terrorist attacks today. As we approach the fifth anniversary of September 11, this reality must be acknowledged by all Muslims.
From your lips, to God's ear.
American officials are beside themselves trying to prevent a reoccurrence of September 11. Profiling of Muslims at airports, however, is not the way to go about this.
I disagree. Young Muslim Men have committed almost all of the attacks, and therefore they should be the ones most carefully examined. Persuade them to stop the attacks, and the need for increased security will vanish.
I am a middle-aged man who travels with all the credentials of a former American ambassador. Yet because I possess dark skin and have a Muslim name even I am sometimes singled out for special attention by airport security. I understand why this happens, so I put up with it. But imagine how such treatment feels to Muslims less sophisticated than I am in the needs of government? Is it any wonder that law-abiding Muslims are offended and recoil from cooperating in any manner? Instead of profiling, airport security officials should concentrate on behavioral patterns. Does a passenger seem unduly tense? Is their body language awkward? Do they sweat in an air conditioned airport? Intelligence combined with technology would be more efficient.
They should do both.
Yes, American officials sometimes act as if they are going out of their way to upset ordinary Muslims just going about their business. However, that is no excuse for not fully cooperating with the authorities. If Muslims are to gain the full confidence of non-Muslim Americans they must come forward whenever they sense an extremist presence in their midst. If anything, we must go the extra mile in these suspicious times.
I agree

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