Tag Archives: Islamists

A Story of Islamophobia: Bias, Fear, and Injustice

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Author’s note:
This is the story of someone whom I know personally, whom was a victim of malicious, immoral, unethical, and illegal, Islamophobia, just because they were Muslim, had an Arabic name, came from, ancestrally, from a part of the Muslim-World, and, because they were neither a U.S.-citizen, nor a citizen of their respective native-land.

This is what was told to me:

“I was traveling to visit one of my relatives; I really don’t like to take for granted the freedom and the respect I have been enjoying since I came to America. But this weekend, I have felt very humiliated and mistreated by authorities in both the nation in which I was in, as well as the US. When I arrived in the country my relative lives, the authorities denied entry in the country: they said that I did not have a passport. I’ve used American travel-documents, which is issued for refugees without citizenship, on more than one occasion, and had no previous issues, traveling to places outside of the U.S., prior to this incident; likewise, I had went to this particular country, last year, using these same travel-documents, without any problems.

They took seized my travel-documents, and also my green-card, after they denied me entry. I told them that if they are not going to allow me in, then at least just allow me to return to the U.S.. But, these guys weren’t trying to listen to me, at all-they really started treating me like I was nothing but piece of garbage, which disturbed me greatly. They thought I had no government that defends my rights, which is true-I do not have citizenship to any country yet. I am holding neither US passport nor any other national-passport. The authorities had told me that, if I had at least had a passport along with my U.S. travel-documents, then I could’ve been allowed to stay.

So, here I am, on a plane going directly back to where I had came from, heading back to America. However, there’s a lot more this-it does not just end, here. When I had boarded my flight back to the U.S.,  my green-card and travel-documents weren’t even returned to me, they were given, instead, to the airline & I was told that I’ll get everything back once I land in the U.S., and this is where frustration & anger started to really kick-in: I had told them that they had no right to keep my documents & property away from me and that I’m leaving this country. They said no, you can’t have it back. I felt so humiliated and realized how weak and unfortunate I am.

When I arrived back into the U.S., the airline gave me back my documents. When I checked in, a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer took my fingerprints, and then, forwarded me to another officer who then further inspected me. He started to ask me why I went to the country I had just came from, where did I get travel-money from…he started an argument, with me, about my recent trip. He said, ‘You were re-admitted last January and now, again, you are traveling?’…’Who helps you?’. I told him I that I have jobs to support myself. He then asked how much I am paid an hour…he then took away my wallet and checked everything it, asking me about how I got my credit cards. He asked me to open my suitcase and to take everything I had out of it. He then took away my backpack and opened my iPad, a binder, and some letters in it, this was a blatant invasion of my privacy. When I asked why is this even necessary, he told me I am not a US citizen, so I am subjected inspection.

After that, then in the checking area, two guys took me away to a room, after I was fully checked with an x-ray machine. They did a full pat-down on me, touching every part of my body. Then, another guy took my backpacks and coat for further inspection, itt was so stressful. I just wish that I did not have to undergo all of these troubles simply that I have a name which starts ‘Abu’ or that I am an immigrant, or tourist from a country that’s viewed negatively, by the U.S., and her allies. This year, I had about 4 trips on my schedule, but I am going to call off all of them. I just don’t want to undergo what I have went through this weekend.”

Anonymous

So, upon learning of this, I had immediately, told the person who told me their story, to inform CAIR/Council on American Islamic Relations, and I specifically gave them the contact-info. of the CAIR-NY Director, Muneer Awad. Sadly, this person was just too afraid to come forward & share their story. I even assured this person that the details of their story would be honored as anonymous, that they wouldn’t be required to give their name, rather, just their statement. But, alas, they even refused that, because they were so shaken-up & fearful that if they were to say anything that they wouldn’t be able to stay/live here (in the U.S.), any longer, that they’d lose their financial-aid status & may even get kicked-out of school, get deported to their respective land of origin (even though they either never grew-up there, never been there & were only born there), detained, tortured, killed, etc.

All of this is so deeply disturbing, how our government, as well as governments like ours deems it okay to intimidate persons, just because they’re Muslims, immigrants, residents/illegals, as opposed to full-fledged citizens, etc. But, at the end of the day, these are still the lives of Human beings, and as such we all, regardless of subjective national, state, or local, religious or secular, laws, are entitled to basic Human-Rights of the following: life, dignity, property. And, unfortunately, at least two out of these three were severely violated, to the extent that this person was made to feel as though their status as a Human being had absolutely no value.

This is not how things are supposed to be: I should never have to walk the streets in fear (of being detained, deported, arrested, beaten-up/having to beat someone up, being killed/having to kill someone, etc.), just because I’m a Muslim, or an undocumented-immigrant, a resident, a Non-English speaker, Non-European/White person. This story really affected my heart, mainly because I know how it feels to be harassed by authorities; but, also because at least with me (someone who was born here/a U.S.-citizen), I know certain important elements of the law, which can protect me from most things, pretty much; but, with people like this person, by virtue of the fact that they are not at least citizens, they’re made to be “easy-pickin’s”, or “fair-game”, of predatorial Islamophobes & Xenophobes, whether they’re as micro as a Dunkin’ Donuts employee/Manager, refusing to serve you, or as macro as the President of the United States of America, who orders/co-signs drone-strikes, or religious/ethnic round-ups against its own citizenry.

Gareth Bryant/2013

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This is what you don’t call me:

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Don’t call me an Islamist, that’s just a code-word for terrorist.
Don’t call me Fundamentalist, this just means I’m not tolerant.

Don’t call me a Sufi, this means I have my head in the clouds.
Don’t label me Salafi, this just means I treat people like dogs.

I don’t wanna be red-flagged as being anti-modernity and referred to as Conservative.
I don’t wanna be highlighted as a Liberal, just comfortable following their prerogative.

I despise being thought of as Jihadi, this means I wanna blow myself up.
I keep wondering to myself when all of this lame name-calling will stop?

You don’t know me; you don’t own me; so, who gave you the right to name me?!!!
This name calling is just a void, used by the enemies of Islam, because they’re guilty.

They’re resentful, because every system that they’ve invented has done nothing but fail.
And, they know that the Way of Allah, which is Islam, is the only thing that will prevail.

They are willing to use & do anything to encourage division among us.
When we indulge in sectarianism, for them this is just a strategic plus.

They only call us what we’re willing to call ourselves, we must  not give them ammunition.
Let them call us the most honored name Allah calls us in the Qur’an….just call us Muslim.

Gareth Bryant/2011

My thoughts on 9/11:

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Even the mere utterance of the household phrase “9/11” still sends chills down people’s spines, invoking fear, fueling the fire of anger, and encouraging hate to resonate in people’s hearts. But, why does September 11th still grasps the attention of Americans, whom many were not even alive to even witness the shocking events that took place on that day?!!! I have an answer for that, it’s called the blame-game. The American people have not been allowed to heal, from an event that has killed more American civilians, on American soil ever (more than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, HI in 1941, the race riots of Tulsa, OK in 1921, the first NYC World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City, OK in 1995, and the U.S. Embassy in Kenya in 1998 combined) because they’ve been lead to believe that 19 Muslims, Arabs, Saudi nationals, had the sophistication to breach NYC & Washington, D.C. airspace, and wreak havoc on America, by crashing into buildings that represent the financial & military prowess of the United States.

When a person is injured by someone that they love, and then they’re told that someone else did the damage, it is a lot easier to accept that fallacy. But, over time, the psychological & emotional trauma from that injury will not heal, because the person refuses to admit that the person that they love would ever do something hurtful to them. Likewise, with these attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, the American people have not been able to heal from this tragedy, because they’ve accepted this obvious lie that some big-bad terrorist network, once headed by someone who has spent nearly the last twenty years, dwelling in caves in Afghanistan, suffering from Kidney problems, before his pronounced “death” (conveniently during a Presidential election year), had the capabilities to complete such an intricate & complex task.

Unfortunately, many of us, as Americans, we just love to be entertained & to be lied to. It allows us to not have to take out enough time, use basic intelligence and/or enough integrity, to seek out the truth of things. It’s a lot easier to accept a lie, as opposed to the truth. And, the truth is that the attacks on September 11th were orchestrated by our own government, on the highest levels, to promote an agenda that places them directly into the realm of global domination, by using things like a “terrorist attack” to push policies that give more power to the U.S. government, and even less power to the American people, along with promoting their military war-machine in places like the Middle-East…..no question about it. The results of this event, as tragic as it was, has also placed the Muslim-Community, globally, on the forefront of being potential, inherent terrorists-in-the-making. I’ve even recently met someone, who was injured in Iraq & actually just became a Muslim himself, who admitted to me while we were talking that this whole “war-on-terror” is a complete lie & that the U.S. military are tyrants.

Unfortunately, most Americans, especially U.S. servicemen, will not manifest enough courage to admit something like this. The whole religious-extremist, Islamists, Islamic-Fundamentalists angle has basically been thrown out into the media, to be internalized by the American people, to keep them thinking that Islam & Muslims are the enemy. I seen the look of anger & fear on people’s faces every time I go out of my home, whenever I’m at Yankee Stadium, whenever I’ve ever been on a plane, every time I go to the movies, there’s always someone, somewhere, who me & people like me, just because I’m a Muslim, just because I have a beard, just because I may be reading the Qur’an in public, that I am a terrorist, or at least not that far from it. Even among people whom I’ve grown up around around, even those who’ve known me before I even became a Muslim, have been deeply affected by the lies & deceit that has been projected about Islam & Muslims in main-stream media. But, I as an individual am supposed to just accept the lies along with everyone else…..nah, not me. I refuse to to allow myself to be lied to, especially when the lies are going to directly influence how people will forever view my religion, and my fellow practitioners of my religion.

Now, I’m no fool…we all know that unfortunately, Muslims have used religious justification to commit acts of terror against people, but what group of religious fanatics historically have not done such a thing…we remember the Inquisition, right?!!! But, to say that 19 Arabs high-jacked four planes, by only using box-cutters, and to breach NYC & Washington D.C. airspace to crash into the Twin Towers & the Pentagon, and not only not intercepted, but not even detected…I mean, c’mon…that’s a lil’ ridiculous!!! There was a man by the name of Robert McIlvaine Sr., who lost his son, Robert McIlvaine Jr. at the World trade Center on 9/11, and was also interviewed for the 9/11 documentary, Zero, who had this to say,”I’m not a conspiracy-theorist. I’m a parent looking for the murderer of my son. And, you have to be a moron to think that 19 Arabs did it!!!”

It’s been years since the tragedy of September 11th took place, and I still find myself, having to explain that Islam doesn’t condone violence, that Muslims are not terrorists, that we’re not the blood-thirsty tyrants that we’re portrayed as being, who want to wreak havoc on the Western/American way of life, in the media, as if I’m being put on trial by virtue of the fact that I am a Muslim. The perpetuation of these fallacies will only allow the U.S. to play & perfect their divide-and-conquer game, to continue to push non-democratic policies, that infringe on the basic rights of Americans in the name of “national-security”/”national-interest”, and to increase the already clear-and-present hatred as well as fear that many Americans have for Islam & Muslims.

The only way that America & the American people can truly heal from this tragedy is honesty. We need to stop blaming those who were not involved: Islam did not attack the U.S. on September 11th, Muslims did not attack the U.S. on September 11th, and the Muslim-World did not attack the U.S. on September 11th. I’m really sick & tired of even Muslims taking this apologetic stance against what happened. Was it tragic what happened on September 11th…of course, was it unjustified…of course, but, is Islam responsible for what happened, are the Muslims responsible for what happened, hell no.

Gareth Bryant/2012