By Kamran Memon
Since 9/11, America has wondered where American Muslims stand on issues relating to national security and whose side American Muslims are on in the “War on Terror.”
After all, tapes attributed to Al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. Citing Qur’anic verses and sayings of Prophet Muhammad, statements attributed to Al Qaeda have also called on Muslims to take up arms against Americans, and a small number of American Muslims have been convicted (rightly or wrongly) of assisting Al Qaeda. All this makes many Americans wonder about Islamic beliefs on issues like violence and loyalty to a non-Muslim, secular state like America. Surveys have shown that many Americans of other faiths (or no faith) are convinced that American Muslims in general pose a threat to America.
Doubts about the commitment of American Muslims to America’s safety and security are often expressed in the form of governmental scrutiny as well as discrimination, hate crimes, and suspicious stares. Many American Muslims fear a significant backlash in the event of another terrorist attack on American soil.
This rejection by other Americans further complicates matters for many American Muslims, who already feel unsure about their relationship with America. Although America has provided many American Muslims with freedom and opportunity and helped Muslims in various parts of the world, America has also invaded various Muslim countries resulting in the deaths of thousands of Muslim civilians, supported dictatorships in various Muslim countries, and supported people of other faiths over Muslims in various conflicts around the world. In addition, America has cracked down on various American Muslim organizations and individuals since 9/11. America’s mixed record towards Muslims has left many American Muslims feeling alienated and uneasy. There are also some American Muslims who feel alienated from America for theological reasons.
Put on the defensive, American Muslim leaders have largely responded to these tensions within American society and within the Muslim community by saying “Islam means peace” and by saying that American Muslims are committed to American security. There has, however, been little attempt to encourage open, sustained, grassroots discussion among American Muslims about these issues.
This report presents the findings of a recent survey of some American Muslims on their views regarding:
o their relationship with America
o the September 11, 2001 attacks and other attacks and alleged plots
o Al Qaeda and its motivations
o controversial law enforcement tactics
o post-9/11 government surveillance of the American Muslim community
o Iranian nuclear weapons
o the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan
o violence against various types of American targets