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Saturday, May 7, 2011

American Muslims Need A Spokesperson Or A Public Relations Firm

Are Muslims the reason we don't understand Islam?
Islam has been one of the fastest growing religions in the world over the last two decades. Most of the growth has occurred in Asia, the Pacific Rim, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. Europe and America are seeing a gradual rise of Muslims within their communities. At this point, I think American Muslims need a spokesperson or a public relations firm.

Not everyone forms their opinions based on facts. Imagination and the resultant perceptions are what cause most people to believe one thing or another. In America, Islam is still foreign to most of us. We don't understand the religion, its rituals and its teachings. Most of our thoughts about Islam have been shaped by the more radical side of Islam.

We know that the 9/11 assaults on our soil were perpetrated by Muslims. We know that various bombers and plotters have been captured here in the U.S. that were Muslims. We see Muslim suicide bombers killing more Muslims on the other side of the globe. We have terror alerts here, and they are because of terror threats by Muslims. None of these statements paint a good picture of Islam, it's practices and its followers.

I think its time the Muslim community named a national spokesperson for Islam or hired a public relations firm. Our media has such a powerful influence on our thoughts these days. One misspoken word on the campaign trail can be replayed over and over. It becomes a joke on late night TV and the next thing you know, you're a punchline instead of a potential politician - Sarah Palin comes to mind.

A problem with someone coming to the foreground in the name of Islam is the way that Muslims organize and proliferate throughout this country and around the world. A Mosque is built, but it is run independently. There is no Vatican for Islam. No Southern Baptist Council or other group that oversees the operations and teachings within each Mosque. Hence, no singular voice can be found.

Celebrated journalist, Juan Williams, was fired from NPR for stating that Middle Eastern people on a plane make him feel uncomfortable. Based on the images we are fed through the news, I can see why he said that. Unfortunately, everyone becomes a suspect and profiling - openly or surreptitiously - is quite common.

When the towers fell in New York, the plane hit the Pentagon and the plane went down in Pennsylvania, there should have been a Muslim spokesman front and center relentlessly condemning these actions. But all we got was silence and a few peripheral comments.

In my opinion, Islamic radicals have hijacked Islam and are a disgrace to the religion. That message should be out there every day, or at least every time a horrific event occurs in the "name of Islam".

Supposedly, the Koran says that believers should wage jihad against non-believers. That is a violent image. Is that really what Muslims think? Or does their silence confirm our fears?

After nearly 10 years, the most ruthless Muslim on the planet, Osama bin Laden, was killed last Sunday. We heard our leaders and leaders from around the world speak about the impact this will have on the fight against terrorism. What did we hear from the Muslim community? Did anyone say, "bin Laden was a fraud to Islam. He corrupted the teachings of the Koran and used them to justify his evil plots." No. We heard nothing. We'll hear more of a backlash on Al Jazeera about the devils in America. Unfortunately for the peaceful, practicing Muslims, this will be another black eye on their image.

As Sharia Law spreads in Europe and Britain, we are seeing more images of women in Burkas walking among the general population. Right now, Sharia Law is viewed as repressive to women. It is degrading and is not acceptable. Yet in Britain, they allowed it to be accepted. Is America next?

In America, we put up with a lot of things. Our population consists of every nationality in the world. Multiple languages are spoken in communities around our country. Ethnic traditions are celebrated freely across the country. However, Islam is scary to us, and the Muslim communities lack of a voice in the mass media is the cause of that.

Maybe the mass media won't give Muslims the time of day, let alone a shot on camera. Maybe the mass media is shaping public opinion, the way they always do in elections and politics.

For now, I think most people either have a bad opinion about Muslims or are confused as to what to think. Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace, prayer, service to the poor and respect for others. That is why American Muslims need a spokesperson or a public relations firm.  Once they do that, we might all rest and live easier - in peace.

Related links:
Report on International Growth of Islam
Sharia Law
Sharia Law - A Brief Introduction

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