Thank You, Islamophobes

2 min
at 10:43 PM

In the noisy chorus of anxiety and fear within the American-Muslim community since the attacks in Paris and the San Bernardino shootings, hate attacks on American-Muslims have spiked to their highest levels since 9/11. As a Muslim, it occurs to me that I have not heard two relevant words spoken: Thank you.

Thank you to the woman in Castro Valley who attacked and yelled racial epithets at three Muslim friends praying at a park in December. The video of you spurred our disunited mosques in Hayward to join for once and help found an area interfaith group. At a rally the day after Christmas, hundreds of Muslims and people of other faiths marched to denounce your actions. We would not have met without you.

Thank you to the man in Sacramento who fired off an angry email to my mosque asking why we could not speak louder than Muslims who distort verses in the Qur'an. You inspired me to study the Qur'an in a way I hadn't since I was a kid. I'm on Chapter 7.

Thank you to the Unitarian Universalist church in the East Bay that wrote a letter of support to the Bay Area Muslim community. I called my local Shia mosque to deliver the letter. For the first time, I talked with an Imam who is Shia. I now better understand the beliefs of this minority Muslim community.

Thank you to those in the media who write narratives that do not represent us. In increasing numbers, young Muslim-American are choosing high social-impact careers like journalism and politics to tell our story as only we can.

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Thank you to Donald Trump, Ben Carson and other presidential candidates. You have torn the fig leaf off Islamophobia like only you could. Your rhetoric of fear and hate has united our disjointed community.

Today, there are an estimated 250,000 Muslims-Americans living in the Bay Area. We have been in the U.S. since its founding. The time is now for us to integrate more fully.

After the fog of Islamophobia has lifted, we will look back with grateful clarity and be thankful to each person who has brought us to where we are.

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With a Perspective, I'm Munir Safi.

Munir Safi is a mosque manager who lives in Hayward.

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