From 9/11 to January 25th

In this Feb. 4, 2011 file photo, anti-govermnent demonstrators pray in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill, File) A … Continued


In this Feb. 4, 2011 file photo, anti-govermnent demonstrators pray in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill, File)

A few years ago I did a cable television interview on the youth bulge in majority-Muslim countries. It’s a huge group, I told the anchor, and they have the potential to make a really positive contribution to the world.

The images played on the screen during my interview were of young people doing training exercises at a terrorist camp – images in total contradiction to my message. I was livid. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then everything I was saying was totally drowned out. When I brought it up with one of the staff he just shrugged and said it was likely just the B-roll most readily available.

That’s when it hit me. This isn’t just a problem with the type of B-roll cable television has handy, this is a problem with the B-roll most readily available in our minds. The images that come up in too many people’s heads when they hear the terms “Muslim” or “Muslim youth” or “the Muslim world” is of suicide bombers or planes flying into the World Trade Center.

Eighteen days in Egypt changed all that. The movement didn’t just overthrow a dictator, it gave the world a whole new psychological movie of the contributions of Muslim citizens to their nation. Protesters braving tear gas and police truncheons chanting ‘peacefully, peacefully’ as they marched through the streets into Tahrir Square. People holding up Qur’an’s next to crosses, chanting “Muslim, Christian we are all Egyptian.”

Makeshift medical clinics where doctors and nurses volunteered their time to bandage protesters wounded by thugs many said were sent by Mubarak’s regime. The interview with the young Google executive Wael Ghonim, just coming out of a week and a half where he was blindfolded and held in solitary confinement, saying that he was not done yet, that he was willing to die for his country (who was not reminded of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” when they saw that?)

I used to ask students when I lectured at colleges to tell me something that they admire about Islam or Muslims. I stopped doing it. The silence would last so long, it embarrassed both them and me.

There are very real consequences when entire populations are represented in the public imagination by their worst elements. Without a doubt, one of the reasons for the vociferous opposition to mosques in communities across America is some people think the suicide bomber from the evening news is coming to Friday prayers next to their grocery store. When they hear “Muslim” they think “Osama bin Laden.”

Well, no more.

9/11 is no longer the date that defines Islam for the world. January 25 gets that honor now.

About

  • IN_IT_WE_TRUST

    _IMPORTANT: Rich, Middle-class or Poor, If YE hath All these “Tetra-Needs“ then Ye hath No Worry’s on this [Nebula-Built] Holyi Planet, zero born in ANY biblical old [PRE-APOCALYPTIC] story’s on S.pace-S.hip EARTH, aka S.S. GAiA, S.S. GEOiD and the ancient name S.S. TELLUSng something! VOTE: “APOCALYPTIC GOVERNMENT” & GRIDARIAN-DEMOCRACY” “Something To Live For Not To Die For!” iMagine: A Better World To LOVE, LiVE & DANCE ON, Aye?█▀█░██░█▀█░█▀░██

  • abrahamhab1

    One of the demonstrators in Tahrir Square shouted, “I have a wife and three children. I earn $100 per month and pay $80 for rent.” This man is not alone. Forty percent of the Egyptian population lives on less than $2 per family per day. Some Egyptians are extremely wealthy. It is this disparity in wealth, especially if the impoverished are convinced that their situation is the result of corruption and injustice, that helplessness explodes into a rebellion. That was what happened with the French Revolution in the 18th Century and what had just happened in Egypt yesterday.

  • clearthinking1

    Instead of the constant attempts to promote positive propaganda for islam for the non-muslim audience, Eboo Patel should try to do some REAL WORK on creating a tolerant islamic society.Sitting here in America and writing platitudes isn’t the answer.THE FACTS are that once secular rulers are removed in muslim-majority nations, the fundamental violence and intolerance surfaces and takes control. For example, look at Iran, Pakistan, Gaza, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq.All these countries have drifted towards intolerance of the “other” AFTER the secular leaders left.So Eboo, Egypt is still a secular military dictatorship less than one week after Mubarak. You can do your spin and propaganda right now because the Muslim Brotherhood hasn’t instituted Sharia, Jiza tax, and the usual promotion of islam at the expense of the minority populations – YET.Any student of history knows what defines islam – violence, supremacism, and intolerance. Egypt hasn’t changed that, and neither will Eboo’s spin.

  • SarahMM

    first of all,i’m sorry but “CLEARTHINKING1″ and “IN_IT_WE_TRUST” u believe all the examples that says that Islam is violence and don’t believe those who prove that Islam is peace??

  • IN_IT_WE_TRUST

    S A R A H M M & UMMAH:Islam nor a-Muslim/Moslem is NOt the [THIS] World, aka Planet. And [THIS] World which is Nebula-Built, Not Allah Built [but built by "IT"], aka Space-Ship Earth is NOt all about “ISHLAMi’s nor ESAUi’s” or even Mr. Muhammad & Abraham or Moses or Jesus or Vyasa or Gautama et al! Recommendation: All Musloms/Moslems/Muzzlemem (Girls & Boys; Parents & IMAM’s too) Must Learn the “CHUMASH” (Yahudi//JU Book, aka JEW Koranlike) and Learn the “GEETA” (Hindu Habibi’s Koranlike Book) and Learn the “BIBLE” (aka Judeo-Christian Koranlike Books) and Learn the “KANGYUR” (aka Buddhist Koranlike Books). THENand only THEN will the entire ISLAM Ummah//Community//Sangha of Space-Ship Earth be LIBERATED; Both Mental & Spiritual! ELSENothing has nor will ever Change! Ye have Zero//NO RELIGION, forget Compassion!PS: i [WE] art EX-YAHUDI (JEWlike). So Become an “A-P-O-C-A-L-Y-P-T-A-R-i_A-N” like US [also Ex-Muslims, Ex-Buddhists, Ex-Hindus, Ex-Zoroastrians, Ex-Christians, Ex-Mormons et al]. Think; Apocalyptic Government & Gridarian Democracy.Save Your Future, Let Go of YE & YO PRE-APOCALYPTARIAN Thinking backed by APATHY (of & in Religion).Hint: YE DO NOT Have R-E-L-i-G-I-O-N! Yes, Ye & Yo’s maybe Hath or can boast MY”BELIEF//BELIEVE” and or MY”FAITH” But That is NOt “MY-RELIGION.” To Us Ye art considered INFERIOR, aka a HUMAN but not a HUUMATE (SUPERIOR).Only An Apocalyptarian knows and have/has genuine RELIGION; not “Faith”, Not “Belief”, those two Ye & Yo can Keep!The World Youth desperately needs a “MENTAL REVOLUTION” Not a POLITICAL REv0lution, as in Aegypt, Bahrain, Tunisia etc.! So, please Tell Ye & Yo Parents To Start STUDYING other peoples (KAFIR, GOYS, DALITH..) Faiths & Belief S-Y-S-T-E-M-S. Note: RELIGION is impossible to DREAM, nor To WRITE nor to READ about “IT”!Hint: “IT” is inside YOU & YOU Alone. And “IT” is NOt a “HE” nor a “SHE”. Soo, Please Go Spread the TRUTH (opposite MYTH). It’s about TIME!BEHOLD: The “RELIGION of everything, before the SCIENCE Of Everything” is finally [HERE]. Yes!The “HOlyi COsmic FEelers FAith”, a Belief, yet based on TRUTH(opposite MYTH), more than just RELIGION!”Something To Live For, NOt to Die For”Never Say [ISLAM] is “MY RELIGION” again.

  • IN_IT_WE_TRUST

    correction:”The World Youth desperately needs a “RELIGION REVOLUTION” Not a “POLITICAL REVOLUTION”, as in Aegypt, Bahrain, Tunisia etc.!

  • CarolCrumlish

    Thank you, Iboo Patel, for taking a shot at contextualizing the momentous events that have taken place in Egypt recently. You present one very positive slice of a history that has been and still is rife with complications. I have just finished reading Chinua Achebe’s “The Education of a British-Protected Child.” Of the many insights he presents regarding what it means to be a human being, here is my favorite: “A human is a human because of other humans.” He unpacks this Ibo proverb like this: “Our humanity is contingent on the humanity of our fellows. No person or group can be human alone. We rise above the animals together, or not at all. If we learned that lesson even this late in the day, we would have taken a truly millennial step forward.”I suggest that we all make an effort to understand each other’s historical experience, read each other’s religious texts and secular literature, listen to each other’s music, LISTEN TO THE KIDS, and celebrate those events that seem to move us closer to that time when, as Achebe says, “the rendezvous of separate histories will take place in a grand, harmonious concourse.” The realization of this possibility will “all depend on whether we have learned to recognize one another’s presence and are ready to accord human respect to every people.”So, let’s stop throwing mud at each other; stop the killing and raping (as happened in Tahrir Square to so many women). Let’s get on with the work of building a human community around the planet. If we don’t do this, who will?

  • asim881

    its a good thimk egyptians have tried to take control of their own destiny , but it was long over due and still they have a long way to go, i belive the precident was set by people of pakistan when they made president to go and made a indepenent judiciary.

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