In explaining the effects that “false propaganda” could have on the lives of Muslims and other religious and racial minorities, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claimed that another Holocaust would likely take place.
Nihad Awad spoke at the non-sectarian Wake Forest University in North Carolina on March 23 and ran down a list of people who have been “attacked” in the past two years in America:
“Latinos. Mexicans. Women have been denigrated. African Americans. People with disabilities. You name the minority, and they have been attacked in the past two years,” said Awad, noting that “fear and fearmongering ” are being spread throughout the land for political gain, and it’s working. “Sometimes, selling fear is effective. Fear is abhorred, is rejected by people with common sense. For people who don’t know, it is a very ‘selling’ product. In fact, it is a very profitable business to sell hate.”
CAIR’s mission is “promoting understanding about Islam, defending civil rights and building coalitions with diverse groups.”
“We have seen it, unfortunately, in the past 100 years,” Awad said. “We’ve seen it in Germany — what hate and hate mongering start and what they lead to. The Holocaust in Europe did not start with acts of violence. The Holocaust started with false propaganda against Jews in Europe.”
One member of the audience asked Awad about a recent incident in which a man spoke of his intent to kill Muslims during a meeting of right-wing extremists in Kernersville. Awad assured them that the matter was being investigated by authorities.
“I think we should be aware of what’s being said and what’s being done,” Awad said. “It is important for us to be alert. Definitely, I urge the Muslim community centers to be on high alert in terms of taking security very seriously in terms of surveillance and monitoring. Work with the local police. Work with the neighborhood associations, with the interfaith communities, because when one community is under threat, other communities can be under threat, too. It is our business to be aware of our surroundings and make sure that we are not intimidated by fear, and we’re not scared.”
Awad further stated, “This is our home country. We are not going anywhere.”
Mosques should take a proactive role in communities by inviting Americans to come in and learn about Islam, Awad suggested, urging his fellow Muslims to start the dialogue first.
“Invite … take the initiative,” he stated, “because they may think that you don’t like them, that you hate them. They think that you are the aggressor. They think that you are the enemy, that you pose a threat to them. I’m not asking you to put yourself in danger, but I’m asking you to take the initiative.”
Awad also addressed the non-Muslim audience members, explaining to them that Muslims in America reside in all 50 states and make up 2 percent of the population. He added that Muslims are an educated group and many of them are physicians.
Despite their relatively small numbers, Awad feels Americans are feeling more threatened by Muslims today, and that this has caused people to commit hate crimes against them. He referenced an upcoming CAIR report, which said that 2016 “was the worst year on record for American Muslims when it comes to hate crimes, acts of vandalism, discrimination, attacks on our civil and human rights.”
From 2008 to 2013, Awad said his organization has tallied $205 million in spending by what he called a “Core Network of Islamophobia” involving 33 full-time organizations dedicated “to stigmatize American Muslims.”
An imam in the audience asked him to talk about how American Muslims face pressure to denounce terrorism.
Claiming that those who kill in the name of ISIS or other extremist groups are deviants and criminals, and not representative of the religion, Awad said that it’s a “double standard in that Christians, who are the majority religion in the United States, are not asked to denounce Christians who bomb abortion clinics in the name of Christianity.”
But he noted that he thinks he has a responsibility to denounce terrorism, regardless.
Awad said that he believes President Trump is promoting policies that target people because of their faith. And he urged audience members to stop giving credence to “hateful comments” in the news.
“When you read the news and you see hateful comments, it’s your obligation to stop it, to speak up, because it will burn you,” he said. “You will send a very wrong message for your children, for your siblings. That’s why I believe when we see it we have to act against it. It doesn’t have to affect you in order to take action.
“You have to take action, not when it’s easy or convenient, but when it’s right,” he continued. “When it’s right, that’s the time to step in. You have to speak truth to power. And that’s why I believe hateful individuals and groups … while they think they are powerful, they are weak. They are powerful because we are silent, and our silence is empowering to them.”
Awad was reported to have been born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan before emigrating to the United States and becoming a citizen. He stated that “his faith in America was tested by Trump’s election,” but that most people are still kind to him, so he is glad he stayed.
H/T: Triad City Beat
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