Memo to Trump: American Muslims do assimilate
Last December President Obama praised Muslim sports heroes, and a clueless Donald Trump tweeted: “What sport is he talking about, and who?” Was Trump so much into his own head that he forgot about Muhammad Ali, a great American hero and also a Sufi, the most peaceful of all Islamic sects?
In addition to Ali, there are of course champion boxers such as Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, and Hasim Rahman.
Three of the top 10 scorers in NBA history are Muslims: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Other NBA Muslim stars are Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Hassan Adams, Larry Johnson, Nazr Mohammed, and Rasheed Wallace.
Pro football Muslims are Aqib Talib, Hamza Abdullah, Husain Abdullah, Oday Aboushi, Az-Zahir Hakim, Ryan Harris, Abdul Hodge, Ahmad Rashad, Ephraim Salaam, and Usama Young.
Once again Trump has put his small foot in his big mouth.
Much more so than their European counterparts, American Muslims have assimilated and have risen to the top of major professions. There are over 180 prominent American Muslims in politics, the military, business, the arts, comedy, film, music, TV, modeling, scholarship, science, and journalism. Sayed Raheel Farook, the brother of the San Bernardino shooter, is a decorated Navy veteran.
On the Palouse there are dozens of Muslim scholars and scientists who have become outstanding members of our community. Shaikh “Ghazi” Ghazanfar had a distinguished career in the UI economics department, and he won many awards both on campus and in the city. Assimilation par excellence!
In his incendiary speech after the Orlando massacre, Trump reiterated his plan to ban all Muslim immigration and added that American mosques should be “respectfully” surveilled. He also claimed that “the Muslim community does not report people like this.”
“To claim there is no cooperation is defamatory to the Muslim-American community,” responds terrorism expert Professor Charles Kurzman. The FBI states that it has a “productive relationship” with the Muslim community and 20 percent of its tips come from its members.
The mother of 17-year-old Ali Amin, on the advice of her imam, turned in her own son, who is now serving 11 years for supporting ISIS. In 2014 a woman in Minneapolis showed police messages from her brother Abdi Nur, and he has been charged with providing material support for ISIS.
Not all of this cooperation has been reciprocated. Although police departments generally assure their Muslim communities that they will be profiling behavior not Muslims per se, one imam reported that, after attending a police meeting, he was later interrogated a local airport.
Muslims in New York City are still smarting from a 10-year police surveillance program that targeted Muslims and their mosques in the way that Trump now suggests. Two suits were filed against the city and settlements are now in place.
Hina Shamsi, from the ACLU’s National Security Project, declared: “For the first time, this watershed settlement puts much needed constraints on law enforcement’s discriminatory and unjustified surveillance of Muslims.”
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations prefers to police its own. A spokesman explained: “We train our people to be very capable of identifying antisocial behavior and signs of radicalization. We have put into place a team of professionals to help people face that.”
Omar Mateen’s imam was a Pakistani born family physician whose sermons are devoid of any signs of jihadism, so people are convinced that Mateen was radicalized on the internet. One of his last Facebook posts was: “You kill innocent women and children by doing airstrikes. Now taste the Islamic State’s vengeance.”
Trump threatens to kill the families of terrorists and Ted Cruz wants to carpet bomb Syrian and Iraqi cities. Common sense dictates that this will further radicalize disaffected youth in America and Europe.
Nick Gier of Moscow taught philosophy and religion at the University of Idaho for 31 years.