I came across an interesting article by Ziad Haider, a Muslim American, in a Malaysian newspaper recently. He wrote in response to the controversy surrounding the construction of an Islamic cultural center in
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim clergy who lived in
Here is an excerpt from Ziad Haider’s article:
Catholics were thought to bear ultimate allegiance to the pope – not to
. The election of the first Catholic President John F. Kennedy ended that. During World War II while the America USwas at war with , Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps – a wrong that has been publicly acknowledged. Now it seems is the turn of Muslim Americans whose allegedly exclusive allegiance to syariah over the constitution is in question at a time when Islamic extremism is the threat. Japan
History seems to show that this too shall pass. Despite a host of hate crimes that have occurred ranging from the recent stabbing of a Bangladeshi taxi driver because he was a Muslim to the desecration of several mosques in the US, the voices of Muslims and non-Muslims supporting the center and condemning such heinous attacks are spilling over across the airwaves, online, and in the streets of New York. The maelstrom will exact a toll in the days ahead but
will, I believe, ultimately self-correct… America
As a Muslim American, one would expect Haider to be upset over the controversy. Yet, rather than lamenting intolerance in his country, he expressed hope. He believe America would self-correct. He believed in a better future.
Malaysia, like the US, is no stranger to racial and religious conflicts. Our history isn’t as bad as America’s. Unfortunately, we are also more pessimistic. In fact, it is arguable that racial relations have gone downhill since the day Union Jack was lowered some 53 years ago. How could that happen?
In his article, Ziad went on to write:
…For better or worse
is engaged in a debate; it is long overdue elsewhere as well. America
I believe debate, or lack of it, is exactly what has held us back…