In the United States, we enjoy freedom of religion. But that doesn’t mean things always work out for religious people. People of faith deal with a lot of issues. Trust me when I say we often feel ignored or marginalized by our government, society, or culture.
That’s why there are many groups aimed at protecting our religious rights. For Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and others, there are organizations that defend the values of their people. For every religion (or denomination) there is a group that represents their interests in society.
There are a variety of groups that represent Muslims in America. Their goals vary, from political to social to cultural. The overall goal—like other religious groups—is to ensure that Muslim-Americans’ rights are protected.
Perhaps the best-known group is CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Their goal is to help promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America. Over time they have focused on political advocacy for Muslims. They are quick to defend a Muslim-American whose rights might be jeopardized.
It makes sense that a group like this exists in the United States. Muslims make up only 0.9% of the population. As a minority religious group, there is always the possibility of being neglected or mistreated. This has been especially true since 9-11. CAIR works to make sure Muslims have the same rights as all Americans.
The fact remains that Muslims should have advocates in society. But, like all political groups, their motives and methods should be examined. Does protecting Muslim-Americans justify certain rhetoric? Being a minority group, do they get a pass when they say or do things that are questionable?
Conservatives love to call out double standards in our society. They feel the progress made to help women, gays, and minorities have created an uneven playing field.
There seems to be a trend in liberal politics that, if you’re not a white, Christian, straight male, you get preferential treatment. Oh, I’m sure some liberals will deny that. But it’s hard for conservatives not to see it that way.
Which is why some people were upset at the bombastic statements made by CAIR director Nihad Awad against Donald Trump.
Speaking outside the white house, the executive director and founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations argued that the President is “empowering” religiously-motivated extremism by Christians in his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem…
“He has been an embarrassment to our nation, an embarrassment to this White House and an embarrassment to our democracy…”
“We believe that Donald Trump is empowering Christian religious extremism in the United States and that has to be scorned. We believe also that we as a nation can work together as we have done for ages, for decades, to oppose injustice,” he added.
Awad reminded pro-Palestinian groups in the United States to “organize” against Trump to make sure he doesn’t put the interests of the pro-Israel lobby ahead of the American people. (Dangerous.com)
You can listen to his full comments here:
Now let’s break this down for a minute. Awad was upset about Trump’s announcement regarding Israel. Are we that surprised? No.
Awad and CAIR are entitled to their opinions about Israel. As Muslims, I’m not surprised they are siding with Palestine. Muslims and Jews don’t have a cozy history. The battle over Jerusalem and the region has been going on for decades.
What I would like to focus on is Awad’s accusation that Evangelicals are an “extremist” religious group. In his comments, he referenced Evangelicals several times. Doing so, he called us extremists. Really?
A man who defends Muslims should know how that word can incite fear, hate, and violence. Calling Christians extremists? Has he forgotten Muslim-Americans’ recent history? Since 9-11, Muslims as a group have suffered from being lumped in with terrorists. They have to fight to destroy this image, by proving they are not extremists.
Awad knows this full well. His organization deals with this every day. Yet he seems comfortable branding the largest religious group in America with the very same word.
It’s pretty easy to do when you’re surrounded by like-minded supporters. I wonder if Awad would use the same word if the group assembled were more diverse.
Keep in mind CAIR is helping the family of the failed New York City Port Authority bomber, Akayed Ullah. CAIR rightfully condemned the attacker. But they reached out to help his family. Why? Because they worried law enforcement would abuse their rights.
Albert Fox Cahn, the legal director for CAIR New York, read a short, prepared statement on behalf of the Ullah family saying, "We are heartbroken by the violence that was targeted at our city today, and by the allegations being made against a member of our family. But we are also outraged by the behavior of law enforcement officials who have held children as small as four years old out in the cold and who held a teenager out of high school classes to interrogate him without a lawyer, without his parents. These are not the sorts of actions that we expect from our justice system, and we have every confidence that our justice system will find the truth behind this attack and that we will, in the end, be able to learn what occurred today.” (ABC 7)
CAIR stepped in to make sure that the crimes of Akayed wouldn’t harm his family. That’s perfectly fine. You see what they did? They gave this Muslim family the benefit of the doubt. Some of them might have been aware of Akayed’s plan. We can’t assume that, though. CAIR wanted to make sure law enforcement didn’t violate Americans’ rights.
They understand that reckless commentary can damage religious groups and families. So why did Awad call a large portion of America “extremists”? Perhaps it’s because Christians make up the majority of religious people in America. As such, its considered okay for minorities to make irresponsible accusations toward them.
But it’s not okay, Mr. Awad. I don’t begrudge your opinion on Jerusalem. However, that does not give you the right to accuse millions of honest, hard-working Christians of being extremists. Especially when the most extreme thing any of them will do is share their faith with coworkers.
I want Muslims to enjoy the same liberties as every other American. But they need to play by the same rules. If it’s wrong to accuse all Muslims of being extremists, it’s wrong to say the same about Christians.
Fair’s fair, after all.