January 12, 2010
watch list discriminates against Muslims
IMAM MOHAMMAD ALI ELAHI
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's alleged attempt to commit suicide on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit has created more questions than answers. President Barack Obama has taken an honorable approach by declaring "the buck stops with me." This sense of responsibility helps our nation continue to be a shining light of liberty, democracy and human rights for the world.
To connect the dots of intelligence failures, we need real solutions and not just a continuation of past policies. I have traveled through the Amsterdam airport a lot. It seems to be one of the best and most secure airports in the world.
During the past decade, millions of ordinary travelers including myself have navigated the maze of the Amsterdam airport's special security procedures. Yet suddenly this alleged terrorist, whose father had already alerted authorities about extremist associations, passed through security without special checking.
Flight 253 passengers Kurt Haskell and his wife have said Abdulmutallab was let on board without normal passport checking procedures because of the help of an individual who was well-dressed and appeared to be of Indian ethnicity. Americans deserve to be told the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
In response to the reported attempt by Nigerian Abdulmutallab to ignite explosives aboard the airplane, the Transportation Security Administration has decided to add to the watch list many innocent Americans and passengers from 13 Arab and Muslim countries plus Cuba. This is not the answer.
While it is an obligation for citizens to contribute to the security of our nation, our liberty must not be a scapegoat. That is the spirit of American Founding Father Patrick Henry.
To use Abdulmutallab's case to expand discrimination against Muslims is unfair and immoral. In the beginning, the Palestinians were labeled terrorists because they resisted occupation. This labeling has since spread to all Arabs, Muslims and now Islam itself.
Applying double standards and dividing political violence into good and bad hasn't helped in the past and won't in the future.
No one forces us to follow the faith of Islam, and we wouldn't choose this faith if it taught us extremism and violence. True Islam is peace.
Terrorism is a crime not only against the people and property but also against morality.
Detroit Muslim leaders, community members and the Muslim passengers of that aircraft sent a message to the world that there is no place in Islam or in any true faith tradition for terrorism and the destruction of human life. The Ten Commandments says "You shall not murder," and Prophet Mohammad said even in a serious battlefield the life of the enemy's women and children must be safe.
Religious extremism is a cancer in many countries and is not unique to Islam. It is caused by social, political, cultural and economic factors and should be treated with education, and social services. To win this struggle, we need to diagnose the diseases and have the determination to create peace and justice. I wish our president the best in dealing with this political and social challenge.
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights. Send letters to The News at 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226, (313) 496-5253 or firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com.