On Sunday October 6 2002, International Muslim Association at NSCU (IMAN) in collaboration with local media arranged a seminar on the topic of ” How America has Changed since September 11, 2001″. at Miniaci Performing Arts Center of Nova Southeastern University. The audience included the local leaders and journalists, noted faculty members of the NOVA Southerneastern University and general public.
The President of IMAN gave the opening statement in which he welcomed the audience and introduced the discussion panel. The panel includes Dr. Norma Goonen Dean of Farquhar Center of Undergraduate Studies and Dr.Gary Gershman Professor of Liberal Arts at NOVA Southeastern University, Mr. Howard Simon, Executive Director of ACLU, Miss Tanya Weinberg, Journalist for Sun Sentinel and Mr. Altaf Ali, Executive Director of CAIR-FL.
Dr. Norma Goonen in her remarks acknowledged the fact that terrorism is the crime against humanity. She insisted that we should concentrate on similarities rather than differences.
Dr. Greshman explained the impacts of terrorism on America. He believes that America is changing every day and only the time will tell the real impact of September 11 2001 attack. He described President Kennedy’s assassination as the incident that robbed the America of its innocence. The attack on Pearl Harbor and Oklahoma bombing are also a part of terrorism in America.
Mr. Howard Simon highlighted the violation of basic civil rights and liberties in the aftermath of September 11th. He reminded that the Blacks and other minorities have gone through these types of harassment long before the recent backlashes.
Mrs. Tanya Weinberg emphasizes on racial profiling and stereotyping of Muslims. Mr. Altaf Ali stated how America has changed since September 11th. He described many incidents of Muslims with Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), how they have been detained for unlimited period of time and then deported without due process.
In the end the president of IMAN, Mr. Mohsin Siddiqui invited the audience for questions and answers.
Since the founding of this great nation, more than 55 million immigrants from every continent had settled in the United States. In fact with the exception of the Native Americans, every one in this country is either an immigrant or the descendent of voluntary or un-volantary immigrants. Yet every wave of immigration has faced fear and hostility especially during the times of economic hardship, political turmoil or war.
In 1942, 120,000 Japanese-Americans had their homes and properties confiscated by the government and they were thrown in the concentration camps until the end of World War two. In 1950s, a government program targeted Mexicans, exclusively, for deportation.
The unprecedented nature of the September 11th terrorist attack and its enormity may explain the high level of anger felt by many people. However, Muslim groups have pointed out the failure of the Bush administration in maintaining the initial distinction it proposed between terrorists and people who practice their faith as a factor. Some of the hate speeches were delivered by public figures and was directed at Islam as a faith and at American Muslim as a people. For example, Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist Billy Graham, said during an NBC evening Newscast watched by millions of Americans “The God of Islam is not the same God. He is not the Son of God of the neither Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is very evil and Wicked religion.” Televangelist Pat Robertson said the following about Muslims on his television program, “They want to coexist until they can control, dominate and then if needs be destroy.”!
Since 9 /11 there has been many interrogations conducted based on religious, ethnic, and occupational profiles of Muslims and Arabs. Those interrogated included legal immigrants reported to the FBI by neighbors, teachers and CO-workers. In many cases FBI agents showed up at person’s work or home. Among those interrogated by Federal government personnel were individuals with pilot licenses, those in pilot training programs, or people working in areas classified as sensitive, such as trucking or hazardous material handling. Some of the victims of his type of profiling were legal immigrants; others were American citizens, including members of the military. Interrogators repeatedly asked about people about their views of what happened on September 11th, what was happening in Afghanistan and weather they sent money to their country of origin. They were also asked if they practiced. Islam and what they thought about various religious concepts (particula! rly Jihad). They were also questioned about the mosque they attended and the views of their Imams.
Miami-Dade County’s community Relations Board is criticizing the news media and Larkin community Hospital for their reaction to the detainment of three Muslim medical students on Alligator Alley last month. The incident took place on Sept 13 when authorities stopped three Muslim men on their way to medical training by Larkin in South Miami after a Georgia woman reported to police that she overheard the trio making threats. Investigators detained Ayman Gheith, 27, Kambiz Butt, 25 and Omer choudhary, 23, for more than 17 hours on the stretch of Interstate75 known as Alligator Alley. The students were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Larkin subsequently decided not to allow the students to conduct their clinical rotations at the hospital. Since the event media organizations have been criticized for jumping to conclusions in their coverage. At one point TV StationWSVN-FOX7reported that police had found explosives “triggers,” and that they were searching for a third car. Both reports were false.
Adora Obi Nweze, CRB Chair woman, expressed concern in written statement about the lengthy detention of the students due to an invalid report to law enforcement; the overly intense media coverage of the incident and the disruption of medical training. The large number of threats made to Larkin Hospital and reports of incident of unfair treatment of Muslims in the United States.
Another man Mohammad Amin was arrested on October 3rd on immigration charges at Holly wood train station as he ready to be boarded. According to the report of the director of the Holly wood Railroad campus who told FBI that he saw Amin and Atta Mohammad together at the Holly wood station in August 2001. So he must had links to Atta Mohammad.
On the other hand I believe that besides all these violations of the rights Americans now have better knowledge about Islam and Muslims ever before.