Thursday, March 10, 2011

What does an American Muslim look like? Remembering one special soul

Congressman Keith Elllison spoke passionately and powerfully today at Peter King's congressional hearing about Radicalized Islam in the USA.  In distinction from the distasteful background to these hearings (see my earlier post this week), Congressman Ellison reminded us that every American Muslim is an individual and it is  incumbent upon us all to stand up in the face of Islamophobia, or any kind of racism that talks about a 'them'.  He did so by telling us about one particular American Muslim, 23 years old, who was a first responder at the Twin Towers on 9/11.  His testimony speaks for itself.

No-one would deny our obligations to keep America safe and to root out terrorism.  But when we forget that for every radical in any group there are many more stories like these, and try to tar an entire community of millions with the brush of extremism, we are guilty of racism, plain and simple.  There are more and less effective ways to identify terrorists and terrorist plots, whether they be within the USA or beyond our borders.  Holding a congressional hearing contributed not one iota to that goal.  Congressman Ellison helped communicate that message loud and clear.

Rabbis for Human Rights just released a first set of youtube videos of Rabbis of all denominations speaking out against Islamophobia.  You can view them here.
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz


  1. Dear Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz, as a Muslim American woman, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your work. May God bless you and congregation. I pray that your efforts and those of all interfaith groups alike help to one day overcome hatred, prejudice, and ignorance once and for all in America.

  2. I submitted this letter to the Connecticut Post:
    When I heard about King's terrorism probe targeting the Muslim community I grew alarmed. Whenever a racial, ethnic or religious group is singled out, images of Jews forced to wear a yellow star, rounded up for concentration camps and eventually the gas chambers come to my mind.
    King's probe is discriminatory, plus it does not make sense. THe KKK, the Christian Identity group and the Oklahoma City bomber are all terrorists and they are all Christian - yet there is no probe of Christian churches. The vast majority of Christians are peaceful, law abiding citizens and there is no need for such a probe. Likewise, Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization and Muslim. The vast majority of Muslim Americans are peaceful, law abiding citizens. There is no need to probe them in search of terrorists. One must remember that it was a Muslim street vendor who alerted police to the smoking car of the would-be Times Square bomber. Muslims were among the first responders of victims of the 9/11 attacks.
    Muslims, Jews and Christians are all brothers and sisters because we share the same patriarch - Abraham. It's time Jews and Christians stand up for their brother religion, Islam, and support the human right and constitutional right of freedom of religion of their Muslim friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens