Pakistani Americans’ Befitting Response
By Khalid Hasan

Washington, DC: The Muslim community in Massachusetts is up in arms against the state governor Mitt Romney’comment that mosques and Muslim student centers should be monitored and wiretapped as part of the war on terror.
Taking up cudgels against the governor, Pakistani-American Shahid Ali Khan, who had an important role in the Kerry presidential campaign, writes in Boston Globe on Wednesday that Romney has “demonstrated not only a lack of cultural understanding and a disregard for civil liberties but also an alarming ignorance about effective methods of combating radicalism.” The governor has his eye on his party’s presidential nomination in 2008. Khan writes that if he really wants to pursue that ambition, he needs to learn some basic lessons about American Muslims and about uniting Americans in the struggle against extremism of every sort.
According to Khan, “Since 9/11, Muslims have been targets of harassment in the forms of specious investigation, detention, and suspicion. Our mosques and Islamic centers are houses of worship and of cultural identity; if there is no evidence of wrongdoing within them, they must be accorded the respect due an institution of significance. Based on his recent comments, it seems the governor is incapable of respecting the dignity of one of the world’s great religions ... It is unacceptable for a governor with a self-serving political agenda to suggest invasively scrutinising the entire Muslim community. Such a policy is not merely reckless and disrespectful; it is also unwise.”

Khan writes that by attempting to further marginalise American Muslims, the governor weakens the cause of eliminating radicalism. “The incitement of political violence is abhorrent to Islam, and those who promote this tactic are rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, who want the same things as everyone else - a future of peace and prosperity for ourselves and our families. And so, if there are indeed radical, potentially violent elements within our community, who better to expose and uproot them than we? But instead of cultivating a positive relationship with Muslims, creating trust and cooperation, this governor and his allies aim to breed mistrust and suspicion - all in the service of their own political agenda.:
According to Khan, all Americans, regardless of their origins, are Americans, deserving of the same respect, the same dignity, as anyone else. This is the ideal upon which America was founded and the reason so many immigrants came here in the first place. He adds, “But unfortunately, too often this ideal is sullied by those who seek advantage not by striving for greatness, but by diminishing others. We must not allow our nation to be shoved down this path of divisiveness, of suspicion, and of fear. We must present a unified front against the forces of radicalism that seek to destroy America. If we allow Mitt Romney to divide us, the radicals will have prevailed.”



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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