Mosque construction still faces opposition in the United States

Apparently, all mosques are somehow a celebration of the attacks of 9/11. Across America, mosque construction is being challenged by various right-wing groups using euphemistic rhetoric to mask their Islamophobia. It seems that Muslims must continue to apologize for 9/11 and that the best apology is to renounce Islam altogether. That, or claim to be “moderate” Muslims. Think about the forces calling for a “moderate” Muslim voice.  In the post-9/11 climate, much of the rhetoric used by Muslims was not one of standing with all American Muslims, but rather, was one that proclaimed a “moderate” Muslim identity. Moderate Muslim has come to be the term used to define an “American” Muslim, or a patriotic Muslim. This term does not really mean much, and is often used to alienate specific Muslim groups as being extreme, radical, or un-American. This idea was sparked when the Bush administration asked “moderate” Muslim groups to come to the forefront and represent American Muslims. This statement inherently implied that there were (seemingly large?) American Muslim demographics that were radical, and may have even celebrated the attacks. This has led to an internal struggle amongst various Muslim groups with opposing ideologies to claim that they are moderate voices.

The idea of being moderate can depend on the type of Islam practiced, political allegiance, and even nationality. For example, amongst Muslim communities, and in popular Western discourse, Arab Muslims are often seen as more radical (Wahabbi-oriented) Muslims while South Asian and Southeast Asian Muslims are seen as more peaceful and usually Sufi-oriented. They are thus branded as moderate Muslims.

A related famous episode that occurred in 2010 was the apparent Park 51 (Ground zero) mosque controversy. The Imam, Feisal Abdelrauf, of the proposed center claimed to be a voice of moderate Islam. He was moderate because he was Sufi-leaning and his wife did not wear the hijab. Abdelrauf and his wife Daisy Khan (her name, is Daisy, she has to be moderate, right?), claimed that they should be allowed to build the mosque not because of their American right to practice their religion, but because they could perpetuate moderate Muslim views. Thus, embracing the term moderate Muslim by Muslims has caused further distrust of much of the American Muslim community.

 

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