US Under Attack: Implications For Muslims

Published: Mon 17 Sep 2001 02:18 PM
US Under Attack: Implications For Muslims Everywhere
Dr. Muqtedar Khan
The attack on America is catastrophic. It is even bigger 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 global as well as local impact on Muslims.
If the perpetrators of this extremely horrible, senseless and inhuman act are Muslims; then it can be safely assumed that decades of hard work to improve relations between the US and the Muslim World and dispel the negative images of Islam in the West, will be severely reversed.
Muslims in America will be at the mercy of the wisdom of American leadership. The chances of laws like the secret evidence act being repealed are now slim. In fact one may expect more such acts. Civil rights, individual and group freedoms will be in jeopardy. We have to encourage the US govt. 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.
This event ironically will strengthen the US both internally and externally. Less friendly countries like India, Russia and China will enhance their cooperation with the US in its fight against terrorism and militancy from non-state actors.
It is now vital that Muslim governments especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, and Iran cooperate with US authorities to the fullest extent possible. It is even more crucial that American Muslims and their organizations come out and unconditionally condemn this dastardly act in the strongest of terms. Secondly they must put their contacts and resources, both in the US and the Muslim World, at the disposal of US authorities to identify and apprehend the perpetrators and their supporters.
This is not the time for politics. This is the moment for unity and 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.
This tragedy is not only a test of American resolve and power, but is also a test of the loyalties of American Muslims. American Muslims have to decide who they are and where their loyalties lie. Silly debates about whether they are American Muslims or Muslim Americans will have to be settled immediately. One cannot enjoy American hospitality and secretly applaud cowardly attacks against Americans.
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 US and we must guard against it jealously. We must not allow the terrorists under any circumstances to alter our values and our sense of fairness and justice. It violates all that Islam stands for and must be condemned without reservation.
Those who commit such acts are not only the enemies of Islam because, they give it a bad name by calling it jihad, but are also the enemies of humanity. They have confessed their complete lack of compassion for and solidarity with the human society. There is no need to feel defensive about Islam. Sometimes Muslims in their zeal to protect the image of Islam act injudiciously. Today they will have to trust American people and American leadership to make the right decisions.
Unfortunately if this is an act by Binladen or some other Muslim group, it will give most nations the freedom to act with impunity against Muslims; India in Kashmir, China in Xinjiang, Russia in Chechnia, Israel in Palestine and Muslim governments against their oppositions. They will use the slogan "fight against terrorism" as a cover to brutally subdue legitimate Muslim struggles. In the past the fear of the US forced these states to act with restrain. Now they may want to act with US support.
I hope that the US government will respond firmly and decisively but with due regard to humanitarian concerns. I hope that wisdom prevails and while recognizing the paramount need to maintain security, the US will not give up its moral struggles to promote democracy and freedom overseas.
If Muslims are responsible for the attack on America, then Muslims as never before will be in desperate need of American protection. Muslims in America will need the US to defend them from the rise in xenophobia and hatred that may arise. Muslims overseas will need to the US to protect them from their own authoritarian governments and from the nations that occupy them from Kashmir to Palestine who may wish to exploit this tragedy.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is the Director of International Studies at Adrian College in Michigan. His column has appeared in the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, San Francisco Chronicle, Duluth Tribune News, Newstime, Al-Mustaqbal, Washington Report, The Daily Telegram, The Globalist, Foreign Policy in Focus, Iviews, Free Republic, Belief net, Mirror International, Muslim Observer and many more media outlets.

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