When Malcolm X uttered the famous words, “by any means necessary,” it was in the midst of the Jim Crow era. He was making it known that Blacks were not going to take the systematic violence and oppression directed against them in a subservient manner. On the other side was Bull Connor, George Wallace, the Ku Klux Klan and organized racism which sought to uphold Jim Crow “by any crooked means.”
In the “fine” tradition of the Jim Crow-era racists, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and other leading anti-Muslim activists have declared war on Muslims by any and all crooked means. In doing so they project their own inadequacies and stealth motives onto Muslims and Islam. They create new definitions of theological concepts such as taqiya (dissimulation to protect oneself from violence and coercion), defining it as lying for the advancement of Islam. In fact, it is Spencer and Geller who are lying to aide their own cause and to line their own pocket books. They put on the mask of defenders of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, when it is they who are a part of the leading regressive force in the US undermining and challenging our liberties and freedoms.
This was on full display yesterday, April, 29 in Dearborn when they went ahead with an anti-Islam conference titled the “Jessica Mokdad Conference.” Jessica Mokdad was a young woman who was murdered by her step-father, a sick man who had been sexually abusing her.
Mokdad’s murder had nothing to do with Islam, but Geller spinned it into an honor killing.
Despite it not being an honor killing, despite the fact that Mokdad’s family requested her name be taken off the conference, (expressing how it pained them that Geller and co. could so thoughtlessly use Jessica’s memory to further hate of the religion she “loved”) the title was kept: “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference.”
Dearborn, Michigan is home to one of the largest concentrations of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. For this reason it has earned the scorn and undying resentment of the fanatical anti-Muslim movement.
According to these racists Dearborn has ceased to be a part of America because of the “camel jockeys” and “towel heads” who have invaded. In their mind the city has become “Dearbornistan,” and Michigan an “Islamic Republic.”
Such racist notions zeroing in on certain geographic locations isn’t new, it is a similar kind of racism that paints the US’s Southern border as “Third World” and “backward” because of the large percentage of Latinos.
In their nostalgic-looking-back-at-the-50′s-White-bred world when so-called true Americana existed, when America was a Christian (or Judeo-Christian) nation lies the heart of the anti-Muslim movement’s present malaise.
Like most fundamentalists, they hearken to a mythic, purer past, while selling the fear of an impending Armageddon, after which America will no longer be America.
To fight to keep America “pure,” to recreate its glory, the crowd is given the message: “you are the soldiers,” “this is a war,” “we are the soldiers. It’s up to us.” (via. USA Today reporter Niraj Warikoo):
Standing for Truth
Dearborn’s residents and Jessica Mokdad’s family decided not to protest the conference, instead they held a town hall titled, Rejecting Islamophobia. This is where the anti-Loons gathered, those opposed to bigotry and hate:
“We stand for America,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Dearborn-based Arab-American News, at a panel discussion held at a Detroit hotel. “And they (anti-Muslim activists) stand against America and against the American way of life.”
Siblani’s views were echoed by others who gathered for a conference organized by the Arab American Institute and supported by several other Arab-American groups to counter a conference held in Dearborn on Sunday by anti-Muslim activists called the “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on Honor Killings.”
Last year, Mokdad, 20, a Muslim was shot dead by her stepfather in Warren, Mich. Some anti-Islam activists said it was a honor killing because initial reports were that she was perceived as too independent, but Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo said Friday it was not an honor killing. The family of Mokdad opposed the anti-Islam conference and didn’t want Mokdad’s name on it, Cataldo said.
On Sunday, Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn — the biggest mosque in Michigan — said : “Honor killing has no religious roots in Islam.”
Geller, who blogs against Islam, said: “Our goal is to raise awareness about the phenomenon of Islamic honor killing in order to help bring a stop to it. These girls have rights, too, they’re human beings, and yet they’re completely forgotten in our politically correct culture.”
Qazwini said he believes Geller is motivated by money. He said she wants to make “Islam look like a monster to raise funds.”
Sunday’s anti-Muslim conference in Dearborn is the latest effort by anti-Islam activists to target Dearborn, which has the highest percentage of Arab-Americans in the U.S., according to Census figures. Earlier this month, Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones held a demonstration outside Qazwini’s mosque.
In addition, some Christian missionaries have increasingly targeted Muslims at the annual Arab festival in Dearborn; last year, some yelled at festival goers as they walked by.
James Zogby, who heads the Arab American Institute, said of Sunday’s anti-Muslim conference: “These people are bigots … they are sick.”
The Arab-American conference featured talks by U.S. House Reps. John Conyers and Hansen Clarke, both Democrats from Detroit. Daniel Kirchbaum, executive director of Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights, also spoke at the event, saying that many in Michigan want to make sure “Muslims are treated fairly and equally.”
Try as they may, to spit on the memory of Jessica Mokdad in the name of human rights, the anti-Muslim bigots will not be successful–as long as those who are vigilant speak out against their hatred, fear-mongering, false dichotomies, generalizations, misattributions and lies.
Please read Omar Baddar’s account of the “Reject Islamophobia” event: AAI Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative.