Why Muslims hate America

REUTERS Scholars, sheikhs and notable Yemenis attend a conference for scientists in Sanaa on Sept. 19, 2012. As an American … Continued

REUTERS

Scholars, sheikhs and notable Yemenis attend a conference for scientists in Sanaa on Sept. 19, 2012.

As an American Muslim activist, I receive this question all too often: “America is about freedom, free speech, and democracy—why do Muslims hate us?” The question is not at all why they hate us, but why don’t we get it.

Many of age Americans remember Sept. 11, 2001—a day we justly cried out for freedom, free speech, and democracy. Fewer, however, remember Sept. 11, 1973 when America backed dictator Augusto Pinochet’s forces to overthrow and kill Chile’s democratically elected President Salvador Allende.

Many of age Americans remember March 20, 2003, the day America preemptively invaded and obliterated Iraq to unseat dictator Saddam Hussein—while killing 100,000 Iraqi civilians. Fewer, however, remember the December 1983 meeting between Donald Rumsfeld and Hussein, designed to emphasize America’s “close relationship” with Iraq as an ally. The regime America destroyed in 2003, American tax dollars built two decades prior.

Few Americans remember that America long supported Libya’s dictator Moammar Gaddafi before citing democracy to wash our hands clean. We championed Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak before demanding his arrest and conviction. We supported Pakistan’s dictator General Zia—who helped Talibanize Pakistan and was the brainchild of Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws that suffocate free speech. A mysterious plane crash ended Zia’s reign, robbing our State Department the opportunity to personally crucify him.

In viewing America through this foreign policy lens, freedom, free speech, and democracy suddenly seem blurry. So why do “they” hate us? It should be obvious by now. Opportunistic clerics find little difficulty pointing to this suspect American government foreign policy as examples of the American people worldview. Citizens of such nations view anti-Islam propaganda emerging from the United States as stemming from the US. government itself—not private citizens. Thus, the U.S. Embassy in Libya needed to actively disassociate from the vitriol spewed in Innocence of Muslims—not to apologize for free speech, but to clearly demonstrate that they did not endorse the message conveyed.

And this is not just about “thin-skinned” Muslims. Americans must recognize that our free speech model is unique—and not just unique from the Muslim world. European nations, for example, impose limitations that Americans would consider First Amendment violations. In Germany, publicly denying the Holocaust earns a prison sentence. The United Kingdom enforces anti-trolling laws, making it illegal to create a website for the sole purpose of mocking a living person. Citing cultural supremacy, France has banned Muslim women from wearing a veil in public—enforcing a government-mandated dress code. (Yet, France strangely applies a different standard to justify publishing vitriolic anti-Islam cartoons).

Our image in many Muslim majority nations is that of a people who support dictators when convenient for oil and economic gain and overthrow them when not—all the while preaching the free speech, democracy, and freedom that we don’t practice.

But lest we be guilty of speaking in generalities, “they” who hate us, still actually represent the vast minority of the Muslim world. Last June, several dozen Muslim leaders representing numerous different Islamic organizations convened at a Capitol Hill summit on Islam and world peace. His Holiness, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community delivered the keynote address, after which the House passed a bipartisan resolution commending him for promoting “individual and world peace, and individual and world justice.” Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia thanked Ahmad for “supporting a special envoy to advocate for religious minorities in Middle East.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi remarked, “You spoke out on violence and tolerance even among Muslims because calling for the destruction of churches and synagogues is a violation of human rights.” Likewise, Minn. Congressman Keith Ellison added, “We’re honored by your presence…under your leadership the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been a true blessing for us here in the U.S.”

Free speech is crucial to any society’s growth and maturation—but must be exercised responsibly. And since true freedom abhors enforced civility, Muslims must actively educate themselves. Ignorance to America’s free speech principles and anger at America’s unjust foreign policy are not excuses for Muslims to respond to mockery with violence. Islam categorically forbids such violence. Prophet Muhammad, accordingly, demonstrated a life of patience in the face of insults and persecution—even forgiving those who previously attempted to assassinate his person. Why then, should violence be the response to those who attempt to assassinate his character?

So please, enough of the questions. Muslims do not hate America. Muslims in the East, like non-Muslim Americans in the West, both hate injustice. Peace is possible despite free speech differences—but only by joining together against injustice.

Qasim Rashid is a leader for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. Follow him on Twitter @MuslimIQ or email at [email protected]

Qasim Rashid
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  • Kingofkings1

    The title of this article is enough to say “stay away”. The title implies all muslims hate America. My last objective reading of this topic showed a minority of muslims hate America, with the most common reason cited as its blind suipport of israel. On the other hand, there are several recent surveys which show a majority of “Americans” hate muslims. If you wish to see alternate figures, both sides will have to work to improve toward a better understanding and acceptance of the other

  • Muslimsforpeace

    very well written and thought provoking article.
    “Peace is possible despite free speech differences—but only by joining together against injustice.”

  • FactFinder

    Why do they hate us? Why should we care? Do we really want religious fanatics and other despots to love us? Why did Hitler hate the Jews and others? How come Ku Klux Klan hate blacks and other minorities? In Afghanistan and Iraq, Taliban and Saddam committed heinous crimes, and murder their own people. If you haven’t forgotten, the wars came after a
    deliberate attack on American soil that killed about 3,000 innocent people. These Muslim fanatics are jealous of progress and hate freedom, democracy, pluralism and civilization. They kill innocent people
    and are trying to force their will on others – all in the name of Allah and Muhammad. There is no doubt that freedom and democracy will win.

  • Haiku900

    Nice article….The US takes resources that belong to others and make a mess, and we wonder why were not liked. We preach peace and sell War.

  • Haiku900

    If the PO is going bankrupt why do we keep sending money to other countries? Like Israel? 10 B$ a year! all for war toys

  • aby

    “Prophet Muhammad, accordingly, demonstrated a life of patience in the face of insults and persecution—even forgiving those who previously attempted to assassinate his person.”
    Wrong! The Muslim prophet, for example, ordered the assassination of a very old man and a nursing woman for supposedly writing few verses criticising him.
    Furthermore the author of this piece belongs to a sect considered heretic by almost all other sects of Islam.

  • cs9243

    “Muslims hate america” This is a fact that even you admit. Your conclusion is that it is justified because there are enough reasons and that the US and the Western countries have no justice. if this is true why so many muslims still want to migrate to America and other western countries? They don’t like the “freedom of speech” and other issues in these countries but they seem to like money. In their own countries they have a double standard when it comes to other religions. Where is the freedom of religion in these islamic countries?

  • cs9243

    Violence cannot be part of any religion. Religion is not a political ideology.
    There is no place for violence in religion. If violence is preached in churches,temples and mosques, I would rather live witout any religion. May be we will have peace in this world only if there are no religions.

  • aby

    Muslims hate America as much as they envy it They look at it as the defender of the Wesstern Civilization which runs 180 degrees counter to their values and is a bulwark against their dreams of prosletysing the whole world.That is why Khomeini had publicly declared it as the BIg Satan and the other Muslim clerics presch that in their dens of incitement and treachery.

  • shadocat

    Free speech? Where’s the discussion about America’s unrepentent policy of torture? Remember those photos of Abu Ghraib? I’ll bet the Muslim world remembers them. And what about America’s policy of indefinite detention without trial, or even charges of criminal activity? I’m sure the Muslims noticed that this only applies to them. Let’s face it, Muslims have every reason to be pissed at us. We stopped being the good guys a long time ago.

  • Rongoklunk

    Really educated Muslims is a contradiction in terms. If you’re really educated you won’t believe in a God, or a supernatural dimension to reality, or Heaven or lifeafterdeath. Religion is not only totally irrational – based on ancient myths, it’s the most dangerous force out there. They love violence too much, and killing things, and blowing things up.

  • Rongoklunk

    Next time write a column on why Americans hate Islam; or why the rest of the world hates Muslims – especially the rabid ones screaming for blood. Their rantings and ravings do not endear them to us sober, civilized, modern people.

  • Daniel_Canales

    Mr. Rashid is propagating a blatantly false history in order to justify an opinion that is otherwise undefendable. Let’s take apart his comments. First, the USA didn’t support the overthrow of Allende in Chile by Pinochet, the Chileans are often quite offended by the idea that they didn’t do it themselves. In any case, by overthrowing Allende, Chile saved their country from a non-democratic and totalitarian future. Remember that it was Pinochet who finally restored democracy to Chile, a fact that is often overlooked. As for the idea that the US supported, much less created, the Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and Qaddafi (Libya) dictatorships is beyond absurd. This is one of those conspiracy theories that thrive among the uniformed. The US had nothing to do with the creation or sustainment of those leaders. The occasional interaction, which is a normal requirement if you are going to have any kind of foreign relations, hardly qualifies as “support”, and in any case was always minor. Mr. Rashid’s historical obfuscations are intended to distract from an issue which he cannot address in a way that is positive to the Muslim image.

  • ckw

    You may have seen this before, but now that the countdown is on until election day, the time is at hand…

    ONE MINUTE EACH NIGHT

    This is the scariest election we as Christians have ever faced, and from the looks of the polls, the Christians aren’t voting Christian values. We all need to be on our knees. Do you believe we can take God at His word? Call upon His name, then stand back and watch His wonders unfold.

    This scripture gives us, as Christians, ownership of this land and the ability to call upon God to heal it.

    I challenge you to do that. We have never been more desperate than now for God to heal our land.

    This election is the scariest I remember in my lifetime.

    2 Chronicles 7:14. ‘If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’

    During WWII, there was an advisor to Churchill, who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every night at a prescribed hour for one minute, to collectively pray for the safety of England , its people and peace. This had an amazing effect, as bombing stopped.

    There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America .

    The United States of America , and our citizens, need prayer more than ever!!!

    If you would like to participate, each evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific), stop whatever you’re doing, and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, for peace in the world, the upcoming election, that the Bible will remain the basis for the laws governing our land, and that Christianity will grow in the U.S.

    If you know anyone who would like to participate, please pass this along.
    Someone said if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.

    Please pa

  • edbyronadams

    “Fewer, however, remember Sept. 11, 1973 when America backed dictator Augusto Pinochet’s forces to overthrow and kill Chile’s democratically elected President Salvador Allende.”

    We were engaged in a global ideological war at that time and if you look at the numbers of murdered, there is no question which side was in the right. Furthermore, in the third world, poverty is the killer and Pinochet did more to alleviate poverty in Chile than just about anyone and he did it by voluntarily ceding power, first over the economy and then over politics. Finding anyone who cedes power is a rarity.

  • edbyronadams

    Faoud Ajami’s essay on why there is Muslim anger that was published in the Post was much more on point. Human beings are tribal and the Muslim tribes have seen five hundred years of eclipse and are sensitive about it.