Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Muslims and Christians Walk Against Islamophobia

DALLAS – Suffering for years from bias, hate and misunderstanding, Dallas Muslims decided to take an action, arranging a walk to reject anti-Muslim sentiments and spread awareness about Islam and Muslims.

“I deal with Islamophobia on a regular basis with clients all the time,” Yvonne Munoz, a lawyer with a Christian upbringing who reverted to Islam in 2008, told Dallas News on Saturday, May 31. “Automatically my clients will not want to meet with me and want somebody else. Once they meet with me and find that I am kind and helpful and … they change their idea.” Proudly wearing a black head scarf, Munoz is one of the Muslim professionals who participated in Saturday’s “Walk Against Islamophobia”.

 The walk has been arranged by Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a group of young Muslim activists called Enlightened Generations. In a bid to shed light on the problems facing Muslims in the American community about 80 Muslim activists gathered at Reverchon Park in Dallas’ Oak Lawn area for the walk. Gathering before the walk, speakers shared personal experiences of discrimination they face regularly.

One speaker, Dallas activist Nicole Queen, said that during a recent lunch with a friend, someone put bacon in her drink as a joke. “They were hoping I would slurp it or eat something I am not supposed to eat,” Queen said. “I did not have anything like that happen before until I chose to be a Muslim. It was eye-opening to me,” Queen said.

Though 9/11 attacks were vehemently rejected by the majority of world Muslim, the stain of terrorism remained to affect Muslims’ daily life. Munoz and others hope events like Saturday’s walk might help break that connection in people’s minds. “Islam brought peace in my life,” Munoz said. “I was able to put myself through a lot of struggles I would not have been able to do if I didn’t find a peace.”

Unity The walk has drawn members from other faith communities, including Wes Magruder, senior pastor at Kessler Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. “I went to the rally, and I have to say I was absolutely shocked,” Magruder said. “I was not prepared for what I heard or what I saw. I heard and I saw the reality our Muslim brothers and sisters live with all the time.”

The pastor said he began advocating for Muslim rights after attending an anti-Muslim rally in downtown Dallas. Yet, the Muslim support has put him in the face of criticism storm for advocating Muslims’ rights. “That scared me. The things I heard were shocking. I heard Muslims described as ‘Third World Neanderthals.’ I heard all about the Muslim plot to take over the world,” he said. “Christian pastors told us we were not Christian pastors — that we were the enemy and a disgrace to our churches.”

 The diversity, however, has pleased the event organizers. “We want to promote activism in our youth, and so I am very happy and excited about the turnout,” Alia Salem, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, said. Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to from 7-8 million Muslims. An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States. Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, many Muslims have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities. A recent report by the umbrella Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise. - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/06/us-muslims-walk-islamophobia.html/#sthash.7V2S9Dwn.dpuf

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