Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 26

Breaking Through Islamophobia:

Exploring True Islam to Exchange Trust

Fardusy Lucky
Senior Division
Historical Paper
Word Count: 2499

Where there is ignorance, there is a certainty for destruction. It is ironic that the topic of
Islam is causing a lot of this destruction in today's era, because Islam comes from the root word
salaam, meaning peace. Radical Islamist groups such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS have
oversimplified the message of Islam and are disgracefully distorting people's perceptions.
Through misrepresenting Islam, they have provoked Islamophobia and anti-Islam rhetoric to
storm through the global communities. An increasing atmosphere of prejudice and and bigotry
towards Islam has instigated a reign of fear for the vast majority of Muslims. These negative
1

encounters and bad sentiments caused by Islamophobia can be eradicated, a mission which
groups like the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut strive for. In order to achieve this, for
individuals to live cohesively and in a unified manner in America, non-Muslims and Muslims
must build trust with each other through educating themselves and exploring the differences
between true Islam and the Islam portrayed by radicals. Ignorance can be demolished.

Roots of Islamophobia
The conflicting relationship began earlier than the terrorist attack on American soil on
September 11, 2001. Broad public hostility against American Muslims developed during the
1973 Arab Israeli War. Gasoline prices skyrocketed after Saudi Arabia placed an oil embargo on
the U.S for supporting Israel. Muslim Arab Americans faced the wrath of those who waited for
hours in line for gas, only to abruptly have it stop pumping. The Persian Gulf War in 1991
between Iraq and alliances led by the U.S. aroused another round of discrimination and hate
crimes against anyone appearing to be Arab, such as individuals from Jordan, Lebanon, and Iran
(Valbrun and Davis). Arabs became easy targets of discrimination because of their Muslim
identity. Terrorist, Ramzi Yousef, further intensified hostility by directing the organization and
execution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to avenge the suffering Palestinians endured
at the hands of U.S.- aided Israel. He unreasonably tells the court the last thing every average
American-Muslim would want to be associated with, I am a terrorist and proud of it (CNN
Library). Having a beard, wearing a headscarf, or being seen praying in public, or worst of all
even having a common Muslim name like Ahmed, Muhammad, or Ali meant living in fear from
the second you step out of your home. Many Muslims were made to feel different and lived more
cautiously because of the concern for attracting harm or negative perceptions.

The most concerning tensions have been building ever since the United States
involvement in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The U.S. CIA took part in an engineering coup,
Operation Ajax, to overthrow Irans prime minister and reinstated Shah Reza into power
(History.com Staff). However, the Shahs rule ended with his dictatorial repression; Iranians
were discontent over living conditions, pay cuts, and the threat of unemployment fused with
the general disillusionment and anger with the regime. Fundamental clerics, who played a
major role in the revolution, were angry at the U.S for destroying Iranian secular democracy too,
while many others disapproved of the Shah changing Iranian culture. A participant in the
revolution says, American lifestyles had come to be imposed as ideal, the ultimate goal
American popular culture- books, magazines, film- had swept over our country like a flood...We
found ourselves wondering Is there any room for our own culture? (CrashCourse 2015).
Taking all problems into account, many Anti-Shah protests were as Anti-American, and were
often followed with government crackdown. Bitterness and chaos filled the streets. Americans
remember most the angry students who stormed the U.S. embassy on November 4, 1979 and
held more than 60 americans hostage for 444 days. It was a dramatic way for revolutionists to
declare a break with Irans past and an end to American interference in its affairs (History.com
Staff). This disturbing act angered and despaired American citizens, some lashed out on Iranians
and Arabs (mistaken to be the same). Back in Iran, Revolutionists felt disturbed and cheated by
the U.S coup, for subjecting them to a regime which Americans themselves would never tolerate,
all while America continued taking 40% of their oil (Norouzi). A wave of enmity spread among
Iranians for the way the U.S used its power to its advantage and the [new] regime inspired
Muslim radicals around the world, including in next door Afghanistan, where the Taliban came

to power and gave sanctuary to terrorists who carried out attacks including ones on September
11.

Context of September 11th.


Muslim-Americans joined all Americans to mourn at the devastating deaths of nearly
three thousand people on 9/11, but Muslims suffered more for having their faith communities
tied to the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history (Valbrun and Davis). Terrorism is the acts of
ignorant extremists- who make up only a minority of Muslim population. Yet, the the three
billion Muslims across the world are labeled as fanatics and the religion of Islam was painted
with terrorism. Many people knew little or nothing about Islam other than what they saw of
hostile Muslims on the news, during the thirteen year war with Afghanistan, a safe haven for AlQaeda members (FAQ About 9/11).
The media was very bias because it either reports people to be mentally ill, or if its a
terrorist- they are Muslims (Mansoor Interview). Continuous propaganda in the media and
stereotypes about Muslims portrayed Islam disgracefully and invoked discrimination. Even the
government was caught in discriminatory profiling and violating the fifth amendment when over
seven hundred non-citizens were detained for violation of minor immigration laws such as
surpassing the amount of time their visa allowed. They were detained and subjected to harsh
living conditions for two and sometimes more than eight months until completely cleared of any
terrorist activity by the FBI (not the normal consequence). The Center for Constitutional Rights
notes that detainees have been singled out on the basis of their racial and ethnic backgrounds
and religious convictions, rather than any specific wrongdoing. Department of Justice Office of
the Inspector General supports this charge and says while possibly guilty of violating federal

immigration law, [they] had no connection to terrorism (Torr). In simple words, the detainees
were suspected not for terrorizing, but for being Muslim or being from a Muslim populated
country. Other discrimination ranged from mosques being vandalized, to acid bombs being
thrown at worshippers, to Muslim graves being spray painted with anti-Islam hate graffiti, and
even familys home were set on fire (OReilly). An atmosphere of hysteria and fear broke more
recently after the Paris Attack done by members of ISIS, a violent Islamic State which misuses
the Quran to their own agenda. Just a few of the after effects were the following: a Muslim
woman wearing hijab in London was pushed into a train while another was stabbed sixteen
times, Qurans were ripped apart in Texas, Mosques were covered in feces and called with bomb
threats in Florida, and a Muslim taxi driver was shot for affirming that he was Muslim (Alam).
The problem is that when say someone white commits the crime, all white people do not have to
pay the price, but when a Muslim person commits the crime, all Muslims automatically know
they will face the dirty consequences. The most ironic discrimination was done by Donald
Trump, who called for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, surveillance
against mosques, and called to establish a database for all Muslims living in America (Diamond).
He is even considering that Muslims carry special identification cards to note their faith
(Obeidallah). It all sounds too similar to the Jews being demonized during Nazi Germany. Trump
encourages alienating Muslims and could be just another anti-Muslim bigot, but sadly he is
advocating alarming proposals as the frontrunner president of the U.S for a major political party.

The Solution
Educating people is the only way out. In 2010 a survey was taken about the public view
on Islam. Compared with other religions, 35% said Islam is more likely than others to encourage

violence, 42% say it does not encourage violence more than others, while 24% said they do not
know. It is concerning to think that 35 out of 100 people see Islam violent at all, while 24 do not
really know. Saying that I am a Muslim may make this bias or more reliable, but if I learned
anything about Islam in the past 16 years of my life, it is that Islam was sent down to reform the
immoral ways of society, and it solely advocates for justice and peace. If people only knew the
extent to which peace is integrated in the religion! Infact, after 9/11 there were increasing
conversions to Islam because people took the time to find out what it was really about, and found
that Islam provided them with theological satisfaction as well as spiritual fulfillment that gives
them peace of mind and a sense of tranquility (Esseissah). In the Quran God says, killing one
person is as if killing all of mankind and saving one person is as if saving all of mankind (Quran
5:32). This is why only 3% of the population in America are Muslim, but 10% of all physicians
in America are Muslim- Its a disproportionately large number (Mansoor Interview). Life and
respect is valued very preciously in Islam, whether Muslim or not. It was narrated that the
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who is believed to be the messenger of God in Islam, said if a nonMuslim feels protected by the smile or words of a Muslim, and the Muslim breaks that trust, then
the Muslim will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise (Alam). Yet, this is the same man who
is discriminated by Islamophobes. In the book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential
Persons in History by Michael H. Hart, Hart ranks the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as number
one! He (pbuh) changed the course of history not by the sword but through capturing hearts with
his ethics. So much so, that Muslims follow him from the way they dress, to the way they speak,
even to the point that they sleep on their right sides because everything he did had wisdom and
reasoning to it. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world not because it is violent but

because it is a religion of social structure and intellectual power (Hughes). There is so much
beauty about Islam that is neglected in the media.

MCCT
To really define who Muslims are, the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut was opened in
2004. It was opened when members of the mosque realized the need for speakers after the large
amounts of people of other faiths who called in askinging if someone can come in and talk about
Islam. Aida Mansoor, the president of the coalition says, The challenge really is for us to really
meet and know each other as human beings because what the media portrays is something
completely different (Mansoor Interview). To achieve this complete human connection, the two
main branches of the coalition are advocacy and outreach. It brushed ignorance away and built
much stronger relationships with other faith groups over the years. To promote peace and
understanding the public is invited to ask questions in events such as one called Honest
Conversations (Leavenworth). The questions here ranged from curiosity about Muslim womens
clothing, to the conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims, to what can be done about how media
portrays all Muslims. There was a welcoming atmosphere of curiosity and inclusion. As one of
the guests, I heard the speaker Dr. Reza Mansoor, tell a very important message, that there is no
dichotomy between being a faithful Muslim and a patriotic American (Leavenworth). Islam is a
global religion and Muslims are as American as anyone else. Their values are positively
integrated into American society in promoting the wellbeing of all Americans. Linda Miller,
another speaker, said, I try to live my religion, rather than preach it (Leavenworth). Similarly,
the coalition lives Islam through serving people. It is involved in a lot of charity work, shelter
services, habitat for humanity, and are involved with governmental departments to speak about

sensitivities and practices of Muslims. Their annual leadership banquet also encourages
excellence. The coalition works together with churches, synagogues, mosques, multifaith groups,
and with many other organizations. Aida Mansoor says,
And because we created these relationships there is a lot more positivity. [NonMuslims] ask about how they can support us or help us...We want to create those
relationships and maintain them. After San Bernadino, I got a text saying if there are any
women who are nervous to go shopping, if they want one of their congregation to come
with us for support. Those kind of things do not happen without keeping those
relationships (Mansoor Interview).
There is a lot of support from the police as well and even the Supreme Court of Connecticut,
who awarded the coalition for eminence in cultural competency. This is one of many
organizations which exemplifies how when we understand each other more, we hurt each other
less. Just one positive conversation or interaction can change a mind forever.
Aida Mansoor, says, Muslims have contributed a lot and the issue is that many people
do not know what Muslims have done (Mansoor Interview). She was referring to the Golden
Age of Islamic Civilization which was systematically written out of history. It was an intellectual
movement that has paved the way for the Renaissance (Hassani). The enlightening Muslim
Spain, Al- Andalus, was the very pinnacle of civilized life for nearly eight centuries and a
place of phenomenal innovation because it was driven by the pursuit of knowledge. An
Englishman described it to be the place of the wisest philosophers in the world (Hughes).
There were Muslim pioneers in chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, algebra, engineering,
architecture, art, agriculture, and manufacturing who so positively impacted our modern
civilization (Hassani). This is the enlightening Islam that not too many people are aware of. It

encouraged a rich society of inclusion and demonstrated how coming together leaves behind
legacies, proving that every individual has the potential of bringing on change. However,
Crusaders spread propaganda of Muslims being savage diabolic creatures and Muslims faced the
most shocking act of ethnic cleansing that Europe has ever witnessed. Within twenty years the
crusaders forcibly converted all Muslims to Catholicism or either expelled them despite being
native to the land.
Even centuries ago, the media shaped Muslims as the enemy. Today, Muslim blood has
again become cheap due to misrepresentation. Islamophobia has weakened relationships between
Muslims and non-Muslims and caused disunity. This obstacle can be overcome in pursuit of
knowledge. Ignorance about the message of Islam and who Muslims really are, can be destroyed
through interaction and learning. And through the power of trust, ALL Americans can unite and
truly be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Annotated Bibliography

Primary Sources
Excerpt from "Pakistani Areas of New York City, A Lingering Fear"
This excerpt provides information about the causes of the discrimination which Arab
Americans faced before September 11th and demonstrates how harassment and vandalism only
increased after September 11th. The conflicts which occurred in the 1900s, including the Iranian
Revolution, the hostage situation of Iran, the Persian Gulf War, and the 1993 Bombing at the
World Trade Center, has hard large influences on the negative impact following the attack of the
Twin Towers. It also includes facts of how little Americans knew about the teachings of Islam
and their opinions towards Muslims post September 11th. I plan to use this information to
support my focus on the discrimination against Muslims due to ignorance. The essential ideas
emphasizes how a change was needed.
"New York Pakistanis." Prejudice in the Modern World Reference Library. Vol. 4: Primary
Sources. Detroit: UXL, 2007. 13-25. World History in Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2015
Honest Conversations Panel in Manchester
There was an event at the St. Marys Episcopal Church in Manchester, CT where about
70 people gathered to ask honest questions- this includes Muslims and non-Muslims- that they
had about Islam and to clear misconceptions given by media-driven views. Everyone was
welcome at this free event. The audience wrote questions down which were read aloud and
answered by diverse, experienced Muslim leaders. The speakers consisted of Diana Hossain, a
Christian convert and MCC professor, Linda Miller, a registered nurse and eighth grade science
teacher, Dr. Reza Mansoor, a Hartford Hospital cardiologist and president of Islamic Association

10

of Greater Hartford, and Ramia Shaikh, a Sunday School Teacher. This source provides
information about the type of things discussed and how panels such as this were place of
inclusion where a message was spread, When we understand each other more we hurt each
other less (Interreligious Council).
Leavenworth, Jesse. "Panel In Manchester Answers Questions About Islam." Hartford Courant 8
June 2015: n. pag. Print.

Muslim Coalition of Connecticut


This non-profit organization was founded to rid the false stereotypes of Muslims
resulting from the actions of extremists. They promote an accurate portrayal of Islam through
social activism, they organize speaker's bureaus where numerous topics are addressed from
questions about Islam, they uphold ties with other faith communities, and develop service
programs as well. Their involvement has made huge differences in people's perception of Islam. I
believe the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut plays an important role in shaping the future of
America because change starts from home. The following are the organizations website.
"Muslim Coalition of Connecticut." Muslim Coalition of Connecticut. Muslim Coalition
of Connecticut, 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. <http://www.muslimcoalitionct.org/>.
The Holy Quran
Muslims are incomplete without the Holy Quran, a book which focuses on guidance and
the rulings to life. The Holy Quran remains unchanged for 1400 years and the same words are
memorized and critically analyzed by millions of Muslims worldwide. It is the verses which God
revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Quran serves as the supreme authority in Islam
and is the primary source of Islamic Law. Many people have misused it by taking verses out of
context and using them to spread evil and false ideas about Islam. These misconceptions brings
the question to mind of why 1.57 billion Muslims would read such a book if it really were about
spreading violence. Rather reading the Quran allows you to look at the world through different
lenses. Exploring the Quran leads to recognizing the character of true Muslims and the core
values of Islam. The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut aims to clarify what the Quran, the basis
of Islam, is about. (The following is an English translation of the Quran)
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, and Vah hiduddin KKhKanK. The Quran. New Delhi: Goodword, 2011.
Print.

11

The Increasing Conversion to Islam Since 9/11: A study of White American Muslim
Converts in Northwest Ohio
This is a thesis submitted by a student to the Graduate College of Bowling Green State
University. In his thesis he argues two main points; one is that the increasing conversions to
Islam after 9/11 reflect the dissatisfaction of some people towards America's social, cultural, and
religious practices and the other is how American-Muslim converts act as critics of immigrant
and non-practicing Muslims because converts understand the religion and then practice it
properly, versus non-practicing muslims, who are born into the religion and do not give the
religion value because they do not bother understand it. This source supports my idea of how
interacting with Muslims and learning about the religion of Islam will allow people to get along
with Muslims better and sometimes even have values exchanged, than people would have from
seeing how Islam is only portrayed in sources such as Fox News.
Esseissah, Khaled. The Increasing Conversion to Islam Since 9/11: A Study of White American
Muslim Converts in Northwest Ohio. Diss. Graduate College of Bowling Green State University,
2011.
Public Remains Conflicted Over Islam
This organization was very useful in gathering reliable statistics about public views on Islam. It
was a joint effort of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on
Religion & Public Life and provided statistics which provided information on the trends and
attitudes which shaped America's perception and thoughts on Islam related issues. I used it to
show that there is a large amount of people who believe Islam to be a violent religion which
proves that there are a lot of misconceptions that need to be cleared.
Public Remains Conflicted Over Islam. Pew Research Center's Religion Public Life Project
RSS. 23 Aug. 2010. Web. 12 Jan. 2016

Notes taken at UCONN Paris Attack Response Event


This was an event hosted by the MSA (Muslim Student Association) to discuss the Paris Attack
and how to respond to the tragic event. It was especially organized to support a Muslim student,
on whose dorm door name was written ...killed Paris by another student, the day after the Paris
12

Attack. I have attended the meeting and it was very enlightening because of the diversity at the
event and the message that was sent out. Misconceptions were cleared out out and I think many
people left the meeting feeling more united and aware of the world around us. It was an event for
bringing people together and made many become emotional. The speech and atmosphere at the
meeting highlights my topic of learning to break down barriers.
Alam, Khairul. Paris Attack Halaqa.University of Connecticut. Islamic Center of UCONN,
Storrs, CT. 04 November 2014. Lecture.
Secondary Sources
List of Discrimination during the Month of Ramadan
This lists 10 incidents of Anti-Muslim hate just in the first few weeks of Ramadan all
throughout the country. Ramadan is a holy month in Islam where Muslims devout themselves
more to their faith through prayer, charity, fasting, and reciting the Quran. Unfortunately, it was
not respected by some people who thought it better to discriminate in a Muslims most important
time of the year. They include incidents such as burning and shooting at mosque and spray
painting on graves. This list serves as one of the many ongoing incidents which date to even
today. I think it is important to cover this area because no American should have to live with fear
of being harmed by their own people in their own country.
"Ramadan Attacks" Gulf News [United Arab Emirates] 4 Feb. 2013. World History in Context.
Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael H. Hart
In this book Michael H. Hart ranks the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as number one out of
100 of the most influential persons in history because of his success on both the religious and
secular levels. It highlights the impact he left in changing the course of history. This book opens
a door to understanding the origin of Muslims and leaves you searching for more for why the
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the ideal role model in Islam. Through learning about the Prophet
Muhammad, people gain a better understanding of where Muslims stand. This is what the

13

Muslim Coalition of Connecticut is trying to do, spread a better understanding through living his
example (pbuh), and on a larger scale creating a better world.
Hart, Michael H. The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. New York: Hart
Pub., 1978. Print.

1001 Inventions: The enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization by Salim T. S. Al-Hassani


The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut is not the first contribution made by Muslims. This
fascinating book was published by National Geographic Society. It gives a vast historical
understanding of how people from various cultures have worked with Muslim Civilization to
make far-reaching scientific contributions all the way back during the Middle Ages. It
demonstrates the positive role which Muslims played in impacting modern society even
hundreds of years ago through inventions and discoveries. More importantly it demonstrates how
success came from people of different backgrounds learning from each other and coming
together to leave behind legacies.
Geographic, National. 1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization. Third ed.
Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2012. Print.
FAQ about 9/11
This website efficiently and neatly organized frequently asked questions about 9/11 and cleared a
lot of misunderstandings I had. It helped me to better understand why Al-Qaeda did what they
did and was useful in identifying the context of the attack of September 11, 2015.
"FAQ about 9/11." National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.
Documentary: When the Moors Ruled in Europe
This documentary by Bettany Hughes informed me about Islamic History that I never knew
about even as a Muslim. She talked about the forgotten history of how Muslim Civilization
flourished in Spain or Al-Andalus for more than seven hundred years. It was very interesting
to hear about how it was the pinnacle of civilized society and devastating to hear of the ethnic
cleansing done by the Crusaders. The video helped me to connect history from centuries ago to
the current events happening now with discrimination against Muslims.

14

When the Moors Ruled Europe. Timothy Copestake. Perf. Bettany Hughes, 2008. Documentary.

1993 World Trade Center Bombing Fast Facts


The information on this site was helpful since it was from a reliable news source. The
information helped to support the fact that there was tensions even before 9/11. I also used it to
get proper statistics and important information in discussing the roots and context of 9/11.
"1993 World Trade Center Bombing Fast Facts - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network. Web.
12 Jan. 2016
CIA-assisted Coup Overthrows Government of Iran
History.com Staff. CIA-assisted Coup Overthrows Government of Iran. History.com. A&E
Television Networks. 2010. Web. 12 Jan. 2016
Iran Hostage Crisis
History.com Staff. Iran Hostage Crisis. History.com. A&E Television Networks. 2010. Web. 12
Jan. 2016
These two articles on History.com helped me to understand the complications U.S. had with Iran
with overthrowing the Prime Minister and how it lead to about sixty Americans being held
hostage. The information helped me to dig deeper into the context of 9/11 and explained what
lead to the tensions between America and the Middle East region.
Irans Revolutions: Crash Course World History 226
This crash video helped be to better understand the politics behind the role of the U.S in the
Iranian Revolution, and what impact it made. The root of the Iranian Revolution helped me to
understand why something such as 9/11 occurred. The video was very thorough and the
illustrations and references helped me to explain the root of the topic in my essay.
"Iran's Revolutions: Crash Course World History 226."YouTube. YouTube. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.
Stephen Kinzer Interview

15

This was an Interview with the author Stephen Kinzer about his book All the Shahs Men: An
American Coup and Root of Middle East Terror. The Interview discusses his theory of how
September 11th happened as a result of America's interference with Irans affairs. It was very
interesting and helped me to connect the dots. The author made some very bold points and was
logical in what his theory. I used the Interview to build a better understanding of the roots of
9/11.
Norouzi, Arash. 9/11: The Terrorists Motivation. The Mossadegh Project. Web. 15 November
2011.
Donald Trump: Ban All Muslim Travel to The US
This article discussed Donald Trump's proposals for dealing with Terrorism. It is very similar to
Nazi Germany and the proposals which Hitler addressed. I thought I might use it in my essay
since the issue with Donald Trump is happening currently and a big debate over the media. This
is the frontrunner presidents way of dealing with terrorism and it seems that even he is a victim
of Islamophobia.
Donald Trump: Ban All Muslim Travel to U.S. - CNNPolitics.com." CNN. Cable News
Network. Web. 12 Jan. 2016
Discrimination Against Minorities and Immigrants
From this article I was able to learn that even the government got caught in discrimination and
even broke the 5th amendment while trying to find possible terrorists after 9/11. It was very
disappointing that individuals singled out only because of their faith or ethnicity tied to Islam. I
plan to use it to prove how terrorists should be judged based on specific crimes they have
committed, not based on the faith group they belong too.
Civil Liberties and the War on Terrorism. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2004.
57-69. Lucent Terrorism Library. U.S. History in Context. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

16

Interview With Aida Mansoor, President of Muslim Coalition of Connecticut


(Recording)
What kind of exchanges do you see being made between Islam and the Western world (Is
Islam making a difference)?
If you think about the contributions which Muslims have made around the world, theyre
quite a few. You know that we have a whole book called 1001 Inventions. So Muslims have
contributed a lot and the issue is that many people dont what Muslims have done. Thats
our issue. And thats one of the things that the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut is trying to do in
terms of their Speakers Bureau. [The Speakers Bureau] is what Islam is firstly because there is a
lot of misunderstanding about who Muslims are as well and what Islam is... Its not a difference
in the western world is here and Islam is [there] because Muslim come from all over the world.
So its not an eastern religion. We are a global religion...and we are suppose to in our faith
do the best that we can; in terms of ethics. Im doing a course now in Islamic financial ethics
where even if you loan a sum of money, you cant ask for any extra back. When you give money
to somebody, every loan, should be a charitable thing. And that is not even a concept in the
Western World (referring to interest). If people cant pay it back, we should give them extra time,
its all about How do we help the person in need? I think that is something that the West
can learn from.
How would you say the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims progressed or weakened
since 9/11? Or because of the recent events (Charlie Hebdo, ISIS, Paris attack, San Bernardino),
do you think we are back to square one?
If you go right back in time, to 1099 (common era), that was when the first crusade
happened. There is a story called the Son of Roland. It is a whole poem about how this guy
Roland was killed by the Muslims but when you look at the actual History, this guy Roland was
actually killed by the Basques in Spain, it was nothing about the Muslims. He was someone that
the Christians really admired and they rewrote the story and said Muslims killed him. And thats
an example I think as the first media spin. That stuff has been happening since 1099, right? So
things havent really improved *laughs* in terms of the news and how people see Muslims. The
challenge really is for us to really meet and know each other as human beings because what
the media portrays is something completely different. Before 9/11 there was a survey about
perceptions. It was a Yale study, where they asked people in the nation, Do they know any
Muslims personally? And if the answer was yes, they continued and asked what was to come to
mind when they hear the word Muslim. And a lot of it was of course violence and terror and
about oppression of women, that Muslims are foreign, that they dont speak english- a whole list
of all kinds of negative things. So the perception is such because of all of the media. So the
media is our issue. So really that is the thing that has an effect on the relationship between
Muslims and non-Muslims and we as Muslims have to encounter the Media. One of things we

17

should really do is encourage the youth to be journalists and to be in the media. But also do
things like the speakers Bureau where people meet. Because there is a human connection
and sometime Muslims tend to be seen not out there. We need to encourage Muslims to be out
there and that way we have people learn from us. They are not gonna learn from the media
and they are going to be misinformed a lot of the time by the media. So its upto us to talk
about what Muslims do, who we are, and say This is what we believe...... You should also be
aware of the organization Fear Ink. They have a document where they look at all the money that
is being spent by Islamophobes on creating a negative perception of Islam. There is a whole
group that does this and theyve amassed billions...Misinformation is very very dangerous,
because the people who dont know Muslims and 62% of people dont know Muslim
personally, will get the wrong perception. All the reason more we need to talk about Islam,
there are so many things that people dont realize we have in common.
What is your opinion on what is happening now (with Donald Trump and recent terrorist attacks
by Muslims)?
Alot is happening, a lot of negative things. When you hear anything happening like this,
the first thing all Muslims think is I hope its not Muslims!. Also the way its reported, its
either a person who is mentally or ill, or if its a terrorist- its a Muslim. The media is very
biased but all the more reason for us to increase our activity. In terms of being out there and
speaking to people about faiths. Its vital that we reach out to people of different faiths. We are
Muslim and being Muslims mean serving people and also conveying to people who we work
with that this is Islam and its not that. Allah gives us these challenges and in a way it makes us
more aware, if these things didnt happen maybe we would be more closed up and insular
and this is a way for us to learn that we need to be out there and not be embarrassed about
our faith. We have to be proud of being American and we have to be proud being
Muslim...Trump isnt really on anyone's good list.
What were some immediate reactions to the making and works of the coalition?
One of the main reasons why we started the coalition was after 9/11 happened. Its a
really negative thing that happened in our country, it made people ask the question, Who are
these Muslims? What is Islam? So the Mosques got a lot of calls asking for speaker. The
Hartford Seminary which is the center of Christian-Muslim relations also had a lot of calls to
them. They did not have enough speakers so they asked the different mosques and so we realized
there was a need for a speakers bureau and also a need to define who we are. The best way
we thought to do it was through community service. Those are the two branches, community
service/ outreach and the Speakers Bureau.
What long term impact do you suppose the coalition has made?
If we do anything we need to do it the best that we can. We need to be professional,
another thing that the Coalition has been trying to do. The Leadership Banquet is our best event,
the governor's been there, the senator's been there, we have a relationship with them and we try
18

to maintain that. The long term effects are occur when do things consistently- we shouldnt be
reactionary. We should just be doing good things, no matter what, and not do it [to show
yourself being Muslim]. We should be providing opportunities and because of that we have built
relationships with the churches synagogues, with multifaith groups as well. This has a really
good effect because when bad things happen, people can say No, we no Muslims. And they
are nothing like this. Or theyll know to ask us. Say we got this really bad email saying
Muslims want to kill everybody...or something like that. We can tell them well actually while
3% of the population in America are Muslim, but 10% of all physicians in America are
Muslim. Its a disproportionately large number. Those kinds of things, they are not aware of. We
want to create those relationship and maintain them. After San Bernadino, I got a text saying if
there are any women who are nervous to go shopping, if they want one of their
congregation to come with us for support. Those kind of things dont happen without keeping
those relationship. As Muslim we are to treat everybody with respect and be the best citizens we
can bet, and if you are nice to people theyll be nice to you.
What is the biggest change or accomplishment that the coalition has achieved? What can be
improved?
We are all volunteers apart from the office person who is one person. Thats really
tough because a lot of it takes a lot of time, and appointments and all those kinds of things. A lot
of people work around their 9 to 5 schedules. We would like to hire somebody who can
oversee the projects and can just focus 100% of their effort on this, that would be ideal. We
could also be proactive and ask if people would like us to go and speak instead of waiting for
them to ask us. And we need to get more speakers. We are training speakers in March about
Islam. The biggest accomplishment is a cultural competency course where we talk to people
about Islam. We also spoke to the jewdicial branch and they gave us a huge award, it was a
lorday award. It was a huge honor, they invited us to the Supreme Court of Connecticut. Weve
also been to governmental departments where we speak to for example the hospital staff about
the patients; what the sensitives are (socially, diet wise), the pillars, and how we live as American
Muslims.
How effective was it before and how effective is it now? (How has it grown?)
I think weve grown in terms of the different organizations that we work with. We work
with Food Share, Mercy Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Islamic Relief, and with the different
Mosques such as the Bosnian American Islamic Cultural Center, Muhammad Islamic center in
Hartford, Farmington Valley, and Berlin Mosque. We would like to expand because we are
mainly in the Greater Hartford area. We also work with CAIR on advocacy. At the moment we
are working together with them on the refugee crisis. We had a huge meeting where we invited
churches to come as well as Muslims. We talked about the various thing that could be done. We
invited catholic charities and IRIS, who bring the refugees. Last weekend we had 10 families
who had just come to the country from Syria, from Chad, from Burma, Somalia, all kinds of
places. We asked them about their needs and well have a meeting tomorrow...Harriet Beecher
19

Stowe House asked for a box because they wanted to collect towels for us, mercy shelter... We
also have the Eid carnival at lake Compounce where we have people way beyond the Greater
Hartford Area, people come from New York too.
Where do you see the coalition 20 years from now? Do you have plan for the future for the
coalition?
I would like to see the Coalition grow so that we do represent the whole of Connecticut
in an effective manner. I hope, inshaAllah, that by that time we have an executive director who
can get paid and focus on all the programs, can delegate, and maybe have more interns from
colleges because we are still all volunteers. We would like to focus on the youth to train them
for the Speakers Bureau...As Muslims we inform people about Islam, not force them to become
Muslims. Also its important to know about other faiths. My experience is that when you speak
to people of other faiths your faith becomes stronger because you realize how beautiful our
faith is you know? Its so beautiful. It can only enrich it by speaking to people of other faiths.
Do you work together with other organizations or mosques?
[Answered in Previous Question]...We are very open to listening to people and if there is
a need then well discuss it and if its within our mission we support it. It was created as a
combination between the Hartford Seminary- who didnt have speakers and the masjids.
Worst and Best experience
Working together with people. You feel empowered, like also when you talk to them and
they say thing like I never knew Muslims do this. The majority of people when you go to
speak about Islam are very very positive. And because we created these relationships there is
a lot more positivity. They ask about how they can support us or help us. Once in awhile we
get rude things like You all are terrorist, when are you going home?-kinda thing.
Do you get hate emails?
We do get hate emails on facebook from like white supremacists and stuff. But not as
much as in in the southern states. We also have a lot of support from the police because weve
gone and met with them. They know who we are and they also come to our Open Houses at the
Mosques. Once you have that relationship its very positive.
What is the annual Leadership Banquet about?
Each year we choose a theme and get speakers from the Muslim community. Its at the marriot.
We showcase Islam to show what Islam has provided to talk about what people are doing
around the country. One time we did it on Universal Health Care and we gave an award that
year to the Ummah Clinic. They are a charity based clinic in California run by Muslims who do
everything for charity. The event is for Muslims and non-Muslims as well.

Interview With Mr. Joshi, MHS Social Studies Teacher

20

(Face to Face-Paraphrased)
What was it like during 9/11? Can you describe the social atmosphere, the environment?
(was there a greater sense of community?)
He said it was very unexpected. At First they thought the first plane was an accident but
when they hear that a second one hit the buildings, and another one hit the pentagon, they were
worried about how many more would be coming down. It was a very shocking and sad event. In
the first week, actually almost that whole month after the tragic event people felt very united.
How do you describe your life pre 9/11 and post 9/11? (did perspective change? or the way you
looked at life?)
Now, the concern of being endangered is worse, but before his perspective changed in the
way that if he saw a group of people outside late at night, he would be a little suspicious towards
what they were upto.
Did it change your perspective on Islam or Muslims?
No, sometimes people even think he is Muslim because of the way he looks. He thinks it
Based on how much you heard or know about Islam what do you think Islam preaches?
He knows about the five pillars of Islam and think it that the religion can be interpreted
by the way you choose to understand it. There are verses in the Quran which if you want you can
look at it from a negative perspective and act upon it, or you take the positive light of the words,
and do good from what you learned from it. It goes either way.
Does Islam belong in the Western World?
It depends which Islam you are talking about. Are you talking about the Lebanese Islam,
the Indonesian Islam, the Bengali Islam, or the ISIS Islam. They are not all the same. Just like
there are different versions of the Christian religion. There is the KKK practice christianity
different than how others might.
Where do you see America and Islamophobia in the next ten years?
He expects that it will got much worse with all that Donald Trump is talking about. The
more the media shows Jihadists on the news the more frightened or concerned people will be for
their lives.

Have events such as (Charlie Hebdo, Paris and California shooting, ISIS, Boston Bombing)
changed the way you think about Islam and Muslims?
It is not about directing things towards Muslims and Islam. It is more about them being
mentally ill. Just like how the newtown shooting was done by a mentally ill teenage boy, it
doesnt have to do with the fact that he is Muslim. He just happened to be a teenage boy who was

21

Muslim, but just like it doesnt mean that all teenagers are terrorist, it does not mean that all
Muslims are terrorists.
Do you think Syrian Refugees should be accepted into the U.S?
Yes, they should definately be accepted because they need help.
Donald Trump suggests that Mosques should have surveillance cameras in them, Muslims
should be banned from entering the US temporarily, and Muslims in America should have
special identification cards to note their faith. What are your opinions on this?
He thinks it is wrong to do these things. His expression seemed like as if it something that
is just ridiculous.
What can the government/we do about Islamophobia?
They cannot enact legislation that plays into islamophobia. Like special rules for
Muslims that are different from everybody else.
Can you explain?
Sure I am against profiling in the airport, trying to put spies into mosques, or putting
listening devices, or listening to conversations in emails, just because its a muslim name. That is
all government actions, and it is playing towards Islamophobia, its fearing, its fear based
actions.
If you could ask one question or say something to Muslims all across the world, what would it
be?
I dont think I would say anything, I dont know what I would say. Im not gonna say
you should condemn the actions of these extremists- you already do. So, live your life, I dont
know. Theres nothing I would say. I would say something to everybody like calm down, the
whole world calm down, dont fall into the traps of ISIS. ISIS wants us to become paranoid.
They want us to think that they are very powerful. That's the trap, we give them the attention
they want.

Interview With MHS Student


(Face to Face- Paraphrased)
22

Based on how much you heard or know about Islam what do you think Islam preaches?
It preaches the same thing as other religions, to love people. I dont think its saying to go
hurt
others.
Does Islam belong in the Western World?
It belongs anywhere, there is freedom of religion so people can worship when they want,
wherever they want.
Where do you see America and Islamophobia in the next ten years?
Its not good to be scared of something that you are not used to. It goes into the nature of
being animals who act differently because they are not comfortable with it. Bad things will
happen because it happens when you are scared of anything.
Have events such as (Charlie Hebdo, Paris and California shooting, ISIS, Boston Bombing)
changed the way you think about Islam and Muslims?
No, because they make up like 1% of a minority. Minorities can ruin the rest of the 99%.
Even if people choose to act differently that's not what the religion is.
Do you think Syrian Refugees should be accepted into the U.S?
If they get accepted legally into the country then yeah this is a home for their country. If
they come here legally then there is no problem because theyve gone through the process that
our laws require. If they come illegally they should have gone through the process. The U.S is a
country of immigrants.
Donald Trump suggests that Mosques should have surveillance cameras in them, Muslims
should be banned from entering the US temporarily, and Muslims in America should have
special identification cards to note their faith. What are your opinions on this?
I think the cameras is a invasion of privacy because people are allowed to worship when
they want and wherever they want. As for the rule about banning- it's not about islamophobia its
about islamophobia. He (Donald Trump) is scared of a minority in the people, that is with any
social group.
What can the government/we do about Islamophobia?
Educate people. On the media people are hearing a lot of bad things. I dont think a lot of
people know about Islam as a religion, people look at it as a group of people. For example during
the Bubonic Plague, Jews were labeled to be the problem because they carried the disease and
played part in causing it to spread- people were not blaming them as a religion or targeting their
beliefs, but they were associating the disease to them as a group of people. They make Jews
into a title, not associating them to a religion anymore (sort of like the KKK).

23

If you could ask one question or say something to Muslims all across the world, what would it
be?
I dont know alot about the religion. Keep worshiping, it gives us faith and faith is good.
Any type of faith gives makes us better.
Do you know any Muslims? What kind of relationship do you have with them?
I would have the same type of relationship with them as any other person. My neighbor is
Muslim.

Fardusy Lucky

Process Paper- 499 Words


My History Day experience has taught me the importance of planning and organizing. I
did a lot of research and note taking that was not too organized and I wrote down more than I

24

needed. The benefit is that I had a lot of information to talk from, but narrowing it down was
difficult because you almost feel as if you will be missing pieces. For upcoming projects, I plan
to not write down every detail, but things which matter most because quality is better than
quantity. I also realized that creating a organizer is the only way to move on. With all the
information I did not know what to begin with and what to end with, but creating a map relieved
me in the sense that I would know what to focus on next. With all the research that had to be
done, Ive become better at skimming through things to decide whether they are important or not
as well.
Researching the Iranian Revolution for a part of my essay taught me to stay away from
politics as well. There are too many pieces to it to decide what the main reason behind things are.
When stuck about what to do, we should use our resources and ask questions to people- friends,
teachers, mom, brother, even younger relatives because you will get the most of an experience
when you dont underestimate people.
Ive also learned that I get to decide what I make my priorities. I could have tried to
finish History Day over vacation but instead I pulled all nighters on the last few days- but I still
think its ok for letting myself escape from the thought of school over break to focus on things
which mattered more to me like family and religious studies. I realized what I did wrong was that
I did not really schedule time for when I should focus on History Day. So it's ok to make time for
your own interests, but only while keeping in mind of how you will manage juggling
assignments afterwards.
Ive also learned that God guides us a lot. He reminds us to get focused through the
nagging of your siblings telling you to work on History Day, He reminds us that we are capable
of finishing the paper through your friend who says, You got this!, He reminds us that there is

25

more work to do when we cant fall asleep at night, and he reminds us to ask Him to make it easy
when we are feeling frustrated. I realized that God is the Most Generous and does make things
easy, or else he wouldnt gives us 2-3 months to finish the History Day Project, but its whether
or not we act upon his favors that affects our success.
My History Day experience taught me a lot of things that I thought I already knew by
now, so I guess it has taught me to act upon what I finally now know.

26