Publications & Statements by Imam

06/13/06: Don't stereotype Muslims; strive for interfaith peace

Detroit news- June 13, 2006

Don't stereotype Muslims; strive for interfaith peace

There was not a single American Muslim involved with the September 11 tragedy. Muslim leaders condemn terrorism and have always cooperated for peace and security.

Yet some in the media started making stereotypical allegations against Muslims, creating an atmosphere of hate against our community. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other criminals are considered representative of Muslims, at least the way Steven Emerson, the Rev. Pat Robertson and other Islamophobic neoconservatives interpret the Quran.

Intimidation, vandalism, harassment, denial of civil rights, job discrimination and even bodily assault of Muslims has become a real concern.

Security officials, who recognized the importance of having American Muslims participate in their anti-terror team, encouraged bridge-building and communication. This was helpful, but not enough to protect Muslims' civil liberties.

In many cases, Muslims became the targets of the government's agencies. Innocent individuals became the victims of travel troubles, arrest and imprisonment without charges, secret surveillance, and deportation for minor visa or green card paper problems. Some even have been charged with "supporting terrorism" for feeding hungry orphans.

Federal prosecutors even got the dismissal of terror convictions in after saying the original prosecution was filled with mistakes. I ask the law enforcement officials to help stop this abuse of power.

Islam was not designed to fight . This religion existed 1,000 years before the establishment of this great republic and always promoted the message of love, peace and justice.

Shame on the so-called Muslims who let criminals hijack this beautiful faith, declaring others as unbelievers, blowing themselves up in weddings and funerals. Shame on those who shoot and bomb shrines, kill the homeless and hungry in , and behead people. They are not jihadists, but evil gangsters.

According to the Prophet Muhammad, a faithful person is not just one who prays but one who makes people feel safe from harm. We must create an interfaith covenant to work together with love for the One God and fight fanaticism in all its forms with the weapon of education.

I know that once in a while there is some discomfort between Jews and Muslims in regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It's clear that this is not a conflict between Islam and Judaism but justice and injustice.

While the American Muslim leadership urged the Palestinians to stop suicide operations against the Israelis, I wish American Jewish organizations would insist that the Israeli army end its nonstop crimes and assassination policy against the democratically elected Palestinian leaders and innocent women and kids.

Our real interfaith hopes lie with leaders like those 400 honorable rabbis who wrote to President Bush, urging a constructive engagement with the Palestinians. Don't cater to fanatic Zionists who can't tolerate any communication with Muslims.

May God save this nation from all evil and harm, so we won't wake up one day and say, "How did we let all these things happen?"

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights