Continuing to Counter Anti-Muslim Bigotry

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The best moment of the most recent hearing came during an exchange between Rep. Dan Lungren of California and one of the witnesses, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs Paul Stockton. It was an issue that speaks to an issue of concern for many Americans. When asked by Rep. Lungren if the U.S. is at war with “Islamist extremism,” Mr. Stockton replied, “we’re at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.” When pressed further about whether al Qaeda is an Islamist group, Mr. Stockton said:

“Al Qaeda would love to convince Muslims around the world that the United States is at war with Islam. That’s a prime propaganda tool, and I’m not going to aid and abet that effort to advance their propaganda goals. … I don’t believe it’s helpful to frame our adversary as Islamic, with any set qualifiers that we might add, because we are not at war with Islam.”


Though we are fighting an uphill battle, it isn’t all bad news. Individuals and groups are working on many great projects and campaigns to combat anti-Muslim bigotry. Recently, Rev. Gaddy shot a few short videos for an online film and social media project called My Fellow American, which calls upon our nation to spread the message that Muslims are our fellow Americans. This project, just as Interfaith Alliance does, seeks to shift the narrative from Muslims being “the other” toward reminding our nation that Muslims are just as American as every other American and that the hateful rhetoric and demonization of this religious community needs to end. To put it in Rev. Gaddy’s own words:

“Both of our scriptures have been manipulated to do very mean and dirty things to each other. But in the Qur'an as in the Hebrew Scriptures as in the Gospels and the rest of the Christian writings, … it seems to me we would do so much better to quit allowing people to make us afraid and listen to the essence of our traditions, which tell us to learn to get along and work together for what’s good for everybody in this world.”