What is the truth about American Muslims?

Over the past decade, an anti-Muslim movement in America has pushed for anti-sharia laws in some 23 states and helped … Continued

Over the past decade, an anti-Muslim movement in America has pushed for anti-sharia laws in some 23 states and helped generate anti-mosque protests in more than 50 communities.

Even more disturbing, poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric has contributed to an atmosphere of anger and hate that provokes acts of intimidation and violence – including the recent attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin where six people were murdered, apparently because the killer confused Sikhs with Muslims.

Groups involved in the “stop Islamization of America” campaign have spent more than $40 million attempting to convince the public that American Muslims practice an inherently violent and oppressive faith that seeks to subvert the Constitution, according to a 2011 study conducted by the Center for American Progress.

Enough is enough. It’s time for voices of reason to counter dangerous and often vicious propaganda with balanced and accurate information about American Muslims.

To that end, the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center and the Interfaith Alliance have just released “What is the truth about American Muslims? Questions and Answers.”

Endorsed by a coalition of 25 religious, civil liberties and human rights groups, the document addresses key questions raised by anti-Muslim groups about sharia (Islamic law), the role of mosques in the community, the views of American Muslim leaders on extremist violence and other questions about American Muslim beliefs and practices.

For example, the document discusses the actual role of sharia in the lives of American Muslims – and corrects false claims about “creeping sharia” in American courts, explaining that the First Amendment prohibits courts or other branches of government from substituting any religious laws for American law.

Concerning mosques, the document points out that a major study of American Muslims in 2008 found that involvement with the mosque actually increases civic engagement and support for American democratic values.

At a time when the world is threatened by extremists committing violence in the name of Islam, the American people have every reason to be worried about the dangers of terrorism at home and abroad. The vast majority of American Muslims share that concern. That’s why so many imams in the United States preach and work against extremism and why many American Muslims actively help law enforcement foil terrorist plots.

Over the past decade, 40 percent of domestic terrorism plots have been uncovered or deterred with assistance from American Muslims, according to a study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

Unnecessary and discriminatory anti-sharia laws, alarmist claims about mosques in the neighborhood, and ugly attempts to paint all Muslims with the terrorist brush, are all red herrings that divert Americans from our shared goal of fighting extremism (of all varieties) and securing our safety and freedom.

The anti-Muslim campaign in America may be the most significant threat to religious freedom in our country today. As we say in the document, “unless all Americans are assured of religious freedom, the freedom of all Americans is in question.”

The coalition behind “What is the truth about American Muslims?” doesn’t have a $40 million war chest with which to correct the record. But we can stand together and say with one voice:

Enough is enough. Here is the truth about American Muslims.


Charles C. Haynes 
 is senior scholar at the  
Freedom Forum First Amendment Center 
 and director of the
 Religious Freedom Education Project 
at the

Newseum 
 in Washington.

  • clearthinking1

    Dear Mr. Haney,

    I’m sure you are well-intentioned, but you will lose credibility with this report.
    On page 5:
    You wrote and agreed that American Muslims include “important business figures like Farooq Kathwari (CEO of Ethan Allen).

    FACT CHECK: Mr. Farooq Kathwari has been a supporter of Muslim terrorist groups based in Pakistan. They were supposed to be mainly doing terrorism in India in Kashmir & Mumbai, but they have killed Indians, Americans, and Israelis. Mr. Kathwari’s son was killed in an Islamic terrorist attack in India in 1992.

    Due diligence and fact checking is important for credibility.

  • clearthinking1

    Clarification of comment below:

    Dear Mr. [Charles Haynes],
    …Mr. Farooq Kathwari’s son, an American Muslim named Irfan Kathwari, was killed in India in Kashmiri in 1992. He had joined an Islamic Jihadist terrorist group in Pakistan. He was killed while he was attacking a target in Kashmir. Presumably, Mr. Farooq Kathwari knew of his son’s activities since Mr. Kathwari was a supporter of these groups in Pakistan.
    The cover story is that the son died in Afghanistan in 1992 fighting the Soviets. But the FACT is that the Soviets withdrew in Feb.1989. In 1992, the Islamic terrorist groups were focused intensely on Kashmir in India. Mr. Kathwari & his son are Indian of Kashmiri descent, hence the interest in joining the terrorist groups based in Pakistan. Mr. Kethwari was also Chairman of the Kashmir Study Group during the peak of Islamic terrorism and ethnic cleansing in the Kashmir Valley.

    Due dilligence Mr. Haynes: Follow the money trail and follow the blood trail and determine for yourself if these accusations are true.

  • clearthinking1

    So, Mr. Haynes and endorsers of this report, what IS the truth?

    The report reads like a self-righteous apology for a very serious issue in the world for the last 1,000 years. Religiously motivated conflict & violence is a serious matter. Trying to whitewash these issues like you try to do with “lesser & greater jihad” on page 7 would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.

    Do you really think that you can ignore a 1000+ year history of violent jihad? Do you really have the audacity to try to put the critics of religiously motivated violence on the defensive with this fluffy & amateurish “report” on the “truth”? Do you really have the audacity to label everyone an Islamophobe who asks the hard yet obvious questions?

    Is this report really the “truth” or an attempt to set a false narrative by blaming the millions of victims of Islamic violence against the infidel for the past 1000+ years? Is the shooting of the 14 year old girl in Pakistan really an aberration or consistent with a historic pattern?

    Denial is not just a river in Egypt it seems.

  • Kingofkings1

    Clearthinking,
    Your thinking on this topic seems fuzzy to say the least and illogical

  • clearthinking1

    Kingofkings1,
    Got any facts or are you just pontificating in a vague and fuzzy way?

    Do you know the history of Islam’s spread?
    Ask your favorite Sikh friend if there were any attempts to forcibly convert people by threatening and killing their children in front of their parents?
    The history of violence is extraordinary.

  • clearthinking1

    Oh the irony, Mr. Haynes.

    You wrote, “It’s time for voices of reason to counter dangerous and often vicious propaganda with balanced and accurate information.”

    This report is “balanced and accurate” the same way Fox News is “fair and balanced” when talking about global warning. Your subconscious has badly betrayed you by aping the Fox News’ slogan. This report is more blatant than Bill O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone”. The report mocks itself page after page – it’s blatant spin, spin, spin. Goebbels would be proud.

    As director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum, I’m certain your subconscious was doing somersaults as you wrote the above words, knowing that the report is blatant propaganda. But seriously, you and all the endorsers have lost significant credibility and damaged your reputations. Sometimes the only one fooled is oneself. You get an “A” for effort, and an “F” for honesty.

  • aby

    What is true about “American Muslims” is what is true about Islam. I suggest to those apologists for “Islam and Muslims” to take a moment and reflect about how non- Muslims faired under Muslim rule since the inception of their “religion” 1400 years ago.A good place to start is read the “Omar Pact” that institutionalized that treatment. Below is a link.

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/pact-umar.asp

  • aby

    halozcelz
    The Omar Pact was written 1400 years ago but forms the basis for the treatment of Christians and Jews living in Muslim majority societies till this day. Tearing down churches in present day Egypt, for example, has a sharia law behind it called Omar Pact. The Muslims do not believe it is a fabrication and that what counts for those affected.

  • clearthinking1

    Thank you, SursumCorda. That picture from the whitehouse website is worth a thousand words of propaganda.

    As I stated earlier after reading this article, the report, and the comment by kingofkings1, this is an embarrassingly amateurish attempt at pro-Islam propaganda. Mr. Haynes & the endorsers of the report probably live in a small world where everyone has to agree with them or is immediately labelled an Islamophobe or bigot.

    This “facts-be-damned” approach in the report is counterproductive. Doing propaganda in the name of countering propaganda is dishonest. Calling others intolerant bigots when you are supporting an intolerant and supremacist ideology is dishonest.
    The FACTS about Mr. Farooq Kathwari and his son should be stated unequivocally.
    The FACTS about violence & jihad today and during the past 1000+ years should be stated clearly.
    The FACTS about Sharia Law should be stated clearly.
    The FACTS about who funded the Ground Zero Mosque (Saudis) and their level of religious tolerance in their backyard should be stated clearly.

    Americans don’t need lectures about tolerance & freedom of religion from dishonest propagandists with an obvious agenda.

    Mr. Haney, there is a word inside the world of Islamic “interfaith” for people like you who have been successfully duped into becoming an apologist – “sucker”.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    clearthinking,
    it’s a sad reflection of how PC we are. and, it’s really not american muslims who worry me. they’ve seen freedom of religion and tolerance and secular society etc… and LIKE IT – since they stay here. i’d like to see these american muslims go overseas a la mormon missionaries. but instead of trying to convert infidels to islam, they’d be trying to convert barbaric 7th-century muslims to to peaceful islam. pollyanna of me, i know.

  • Kingofkings1

    In order to satisfy the islamophobic environment in US at present and to gather the maximal possible votes, Obama has been advised never to set foot in a US mosque until after the re-election

  • DRJJJ

    The millions of muslim terrorist around the globe are giving muslims a bad name! Time for muslim leaders everywhere to stand up denounce loudly any form or terrorism/muder in the name of their religion!

  • DRJJJ

    A pro death world view isn’t attractive!

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    “moderate muslims” have so disappointed me over the past 10 years. moderate muslims, where the heck are you?

  • Kingofkings1

    The author failed to mention that unless something is done to check the islamophobia in the US and the western european nations, the acceptance of the ‘final solution ” regarding muslims will probably be realized in our lifetime, much to the satisfaction of certain vested interests who are fueling the islamophobia

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    islamophobia is not the problem. the problem is islamic terrorism.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    kingofkings,
    how do you know this? and, what purpose would he have for going to a mosque anyway? he’s not muslim. he’s probably not gonna set foot in a jewish or hindu temple either.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    “…unless something is done to check the islamophobia in the US and the western european nations…”

    i’ve got it! islamic people can quit bombing civilian men, women and children. that would really quell islamophobia. you know what else would help? less “honor killings”. US and western european people really hate those. we think it’s barbaric. another great way to diminish islamophobia would be if islamic countries respected women and human rights in general. we love those things. that’s all we ask: no bombing of civliians, no honor killing, respect human rights. that should be easy, right?

  • clearthinking1

    Mr. Charles C. Haynes

    You wrote and agreed in the report that American Muslims include “important business figures like Farooq Kathwari (CEO of Ethan Allen).

    FACT CHECK: Mr. Farooq Kathwari has been a supporter of Muslim terrorist groups based in Pakistan. They were supposed to be mainly doing terrorism in India in Kashmir & Mumbai, but they have killed Indians, Americans, and Israelis.

    Mr. Farooq Kathwari’s son, an American Muslim named Irfan Kathwari, was killed in India in Kashmiri in 1992. He had joined an Islamic Jihadist terrorist group in Pakistan. He was killed while he was attacking a target in Kashmir. Presumably, Mr. Farooq Kathwari knew of his son’s activities since Mr. Kathwari was a supporter of these groups in Pakistan.
    The cover story is that the son died in Afghanistan in 1992 fighting the Soviets. But the FACT is that the Soviets had withdrawn by Feb.1989. In 1992, the Islamic terrorist groups were focused intensely on Kashmir in India. Mr. Kathwari & his son are Muslim Indian-Americans of Kashmiri descent, hence the interest in joining the terrorist groups based in Pakistan. Mr. Kethwari was also Chairman of the Kashmir Study Group during the peak of Islamic terrorism and ethnic cleansing in the Kashmir Valley.

    Due dilligence Mr. Haynes: Follow the money trail and follow the blood trail and determine for yourself if these allegations are true.

  • clearthinking1

    HYPOCRISY, Mr. Haynes, HYPOCRISY
    So concerned about freedom of religion.
    So concerned about propaganda.
    So concerned about “balanced and accurate” information.
    So concerned about the First Amendment and the freedom of speech.
    Do you really work at the “First Amendment Center”? LOL.

    Then why does the count show 37 comments for your article but only 2 are displayed. Why were the rest deleted.

    What about the First Amendment, Sir. Here’s a reminder below.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    PROPAGANDA, SPIN, and DECEPTION.
    Your censorship of the criticism of the report is unethical and immoral, and it is very revealing about the real agenda behind the report.

  • SODDI

    If people were stopping muslims from worshipping, or participating in an active life, THAT would be a threat to religious freedom. If muslims were prohibited from holding elected or appointed government positions by law, like atheists are in many states, that would be a clear violation of the Constitution’s freedom of religion text.

    But these ads and other material are not. These are words, opinions, that are clearly also protected by the Constitution. These are Americans who find the muslim religion distasteful and they are saying so. I find pretty much all religion distasteful and I say so all the time.

    If muslims or others are offended by these WORDS, I urge them to: a.) not read them; b.) combat them with words of their own; or c.) go live somewhere where there is not such a robust protection of both religion AND free speech, a robustness that almost insures that conflicts will occur.

  • SursumCorda

    “What is the truth about American Muslims?”

    isn’t it the same as the truth about muslims in sweden.. and france.. and thailand… and switzerland.. and australia.. and japan.. and even the entire continent of africa.. ??

    maybe the best way to answer this question is to ask –

    “globally – how are muslims fitting *into* cultures/countries not there own ??”

    : )

  • leibowde84

    Halozcel2 … why would it matter if there were muslims in the United States when the constitution was written. The text states that the government cannot hinder or promote the free exercise of any faith. Seems stupid to even ask the question.

  • leibowde84

    The problem is never offensive speech … it is unreasonable reaction to speech. We should never make excuses for people who react with violence and/or destruction to mere utterances. Grow up!

  • jljec

    “anti-Muslim rhetoric has contributed to an atmosphere of anger and hate that provokes acts of intimidation and violence”
    ————————————————————-
    It is telling that the article doesn’t mention the 13 killed at Ft Hood, ot the recruiter in Little Rock shot by a Muslims, or the first WTC bombing, or the acts of 9-11, or the USS Cole, or the endless parade of 20-something Muslim men who think they are setting off a car bomb only to be arrested by the FBI.

    Perhasp the thing that troubles me the most is that the “moderate Muslims” seem more intent on rehabilitating the reputation of their religion than rebuking the crazies who inflict this terror.

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.