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Save Islam and Muslims

After alternating between fury and disbelief since January 20 with each new move by #dangerousbuffoon, I finally force myself to attempt unscrambling my roiling thoughts and emotions.

For the last few days, these thoughts and emotions have been coalescing mainly around the ban, e.i. refusing entry into the United States to people from seven countries, whether travelers with a visa or legitimate U.S. residents. As every directive or decision from this sick administration, there appears to be great confusion as to principle and application. And very little discussion about the whys and wherefores that led to this.man-praying

I write often enough, when it is warranted, about my lack of interest in faith, belief or religion. This indifference extends to Islam but not to today’s rampant Islamicism for which I have utter contempt. I cannot bring myself to show tolerance for headscarves (this couple-of-decades-old artificial construct adopted by women who don’t realize they are being manipulated), nor for the burka or its grotesque swimwear version, the burkini, or for any garb for men or women who honestly believe they are being pious and modest by hewing to deviant and un-Muslim rules edicted by radical Islamists. Nor do I condone the in-your-face nature of street or public prayers (in the streets of my dear Paris as elsewhere, most recently in U.S. airports). I find the action of perversely appropriating public space rude, inconsiderate and needlesly provocative. And, needless to say, I can’t help being furious when I hear of one more instance of Islamists insisting on seeing their rules and laws and way of life applied to their place of residence in the West, including neighborhoods with very different traditions. Instead of “you live any way you see fit and I’ll do the same,” it’s ‘’you live by my law or else.” But you can’t demand respect for your faith while not respecting others.

All this will seem extreme and offensive to my tolerant and respectful fellow Americans who believe or pretend to believe that wearing a headscarf or burka or organizing street prayers or making a huge deal of Ramadan et al are the normal trappings of a legitimate faith. As it will be to Muslims who follow these rules—granted, a fraction, though growing, of actual Muslims—unaware that they are pawns in the clever umma-expanding strategy being pursued by various entities including, yes, ISIS and others of its ilk.

No one would question that the majority of Muslims (not Islamists) are responsible citizens in their adopted countries and as decent and law-abiding as everyone else. That although many sincerely follow the basic principles of their religion, many drink alcohol and eat pork and have sex with their girlfriend/boyfriend and don’t set foot inside a mosque and don’t fast and believe that’s okay too, which it is. And that they are as horrified by acts of terror—with the added and unfair onus of seeing fingers directly pointed at them when they had nothing to do with one awful incident after another and are often victims themselves. And, of course, that acts of terror are not exclusively an Islamist bailywick, far from it.

What needs to be recognized is that the constant in-your-face provocation has made possible #dangerousbuffoon’s unconscionable and totally un-American ban on people from Muslim countries to enter or return to the U.S. The same has created a general push-back against Muslims in many Western countries. Post-Brexit Britain will usher in more of the same and if the National Front should come to power in France next spring, which it well might, Allah help Muslims and help us keep our tradition of openness and living alongside people of all origins and all faiths.

My point, in this long anguished diatribe, is that as Human Rights activists and lawyers warn the awful present administration that its ban will throw into the arms of extremists people who would never have dreamed of embracing them, Islamists may have gained in numbers but are causing legitimate Islam to be more detested by the day. Speaking as an unwavering Democrat, I believe that only Republicans can save the United States from the present administration which, unchecked, will put an end to our country as a unique experiment in human history. In the same way, I believe only Muslims can save Islam by rejecting all the grotesque and antagonizing invented “traditions” and regain respect and suppport, not only because people bask in their own ability to be tolerant and inclusive even when they have reservations but because they recognize a bona fide religion as deserving of respect and protection as all others.

 

 

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Categories: Daily life
  1. Burlie Brunson
    February 1, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Saideh,
    Thank you for your well written and carefully thought out message. We are surrounded by politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, who are blindly answering to their core constituencies without thinking through (or caring about) the vast majority of Americans who are tolerant of others and wish to live in peace and friendship with all who respect one another.

  2. February 1, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Indeed, Burlie, thanks for expressing this.

  3. February 1, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Saideh, I have no idea what hundreds of millions of Muslims are thinking. It does seem plausible that some will be driven toward the arms of Jihadists by the malicious and stupid actions of the current White House. But perhaps the massive outpouring of protest and support by people all over America and the rest of the world will have a countervailing effect.

    Consider this for instance:

    “The United States may be a divided nation but one remarkable and unexpected side-effect of Donald Trump’s divisive executive order banning refugees and travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the US has been to bring together the country’s Jews and Muslims.” http://j.mp/2jWhEne

    Or:

    “Jewish people in a small Texas city handed Muslim worshippers the keys to their synagogue after the town’s only mosque was destroyed in a fire.” http://j.mp/2kWu66g

  4. Jonathan Agronsky
    February 17, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Saideh,

    Thank you for keeping the national conversation sane and enlightened. I think your column is ready for “prime time” or at least print time, by running in mainstream press or alternative free weeklies that are generally friendlier toward articulate, humanistic, provocateurs.

    • February 18, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Thank you, Jonathan, for your always supportive comments.

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