Saturday, October 09, 2004

Diaspora: Being anti-Bush without being anti-American

[When Masud was 7, his parents moved from Bangladesh to America to provide a better life for him and his older sister. His mother, who is deeply religious, taught him to not be ashamed of his faith. She has also taught him not to force his beliefs or ideas on others. Masud thinks a lot of terrorism arises from anti-American attitudes. "I absolutely cannot understand why people move to the United States and then criticize the United States," he said. Although he doesn't agree with President George W. Bush's foreign policies, he isn't anti-American.]

Firsthand terror, prejudice

by Stephanie Anderson

Ish Masud, a 19-year-old economics junior from Bangladesh, has never lived with terrorism, but after Sept. 11, he experienced negative attitudes toward Muslims. The year 2001 was difficult, said Masud, a member of the Muslim Student Association.

"I remember we had held a peace rally that year which got really tense," Masud said. In 2001, Hillel, a Jewish club on campus, held a counter-rally 100 feet away in front of the Memorial Union. "There were people yelling at each other back and forth. People started chanting."

Masud sometimes uses humor to shrug off Muslim stereotypes. "One time, me and my guy friends were driving down the street, and this dude pulled up to the curb and was like, 'Hey does your dad own the 7-Eleven down there?' And we were just like, 'No, he owns the one over there.' What can you do? You've got to use humor."

When Masud was 7, his parents moved from Bangladesh to America to provide a better life for him and his older sister. His mother, who is deeply religious, taught him to not be ashamed of his faith. She has also taught him not to force his beliefs or ideas on others.

Masud thinks a lot of terrorism arises from anti-American attitudes. "I absolutely cannot understand why people move to the United States and then criticize the United States," he said. Although he doesn't agree with President George W. Bush's foreign policies, he isn't anti-American.

"As a Muslim, I think terrorism is something the Muslim world needs to deal with internally," Masud said. "There's something wrong when people are sending their kids off to camps to die, to blow themselves up."

One common misperception is that all Muslims are terrorists. According to Deedra Abboud, executive director of the Arizona office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, moderate Muslims consider it a sin to kill anyone or anything that is not trying to hurt you. There are 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide, she said. If 10,000 of them were terrorists, that would be only one out of every 120,000 Muslims.

Although Islamic extremists use religion to justify feelings of helplessness that come from living under government oppression, Abboud said their motivation is partly political. In Palestine and Chechnya, for example, extremists think the only way to get America's attention is through the media.

"If they burn an American flag, it makes the American news," she said. "To them, American news is the only news that matters."

Web Devil 08/10/2004