As the month of Ramadan comes to a close, the National Lawyers Guild- Muslim Defense Project (NLG-MDP) stands alongside Muslims who will be gathering in prayer and celebration in communities across the country.
Today, merely gathering as a Muslim has become an act of courage in the face of terror. Indeed, the last few weeks have been marked by horrifying instances of hatred around the United States. The day after Wade Michael Page, who had ties to white supremacy groups, brutally attacked members of the Sikh community at their gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin , a mosque was also burned to the ground in Jopelin, Missouri. This mosque had been the subject of persistent attempts at arson. In Morton Grove, Illinois, a man shot at an Islamic center where 500 Muslims had gathered for Ramadan prayers. And in the suburb of Lombard, a soda bottle filled with household chemicals was thrown at an Islamic school, also during Ramadan prayers.
These acts of hatred towards Muslims and others regarded as “foreigners” to American society are not random or isolated but have been fomented by politicians, law enforcement officials, and sanctioned by judges. The two attacks in Illinois followed the incendiary claim made by local Republican House Representative Joe Walsh at a town hall meeting on August 8 that there is “a radical strain of Islam in this country…trying to kill Americans every week.”
The New York City Police Department (NYPD), with Commissioner Ray Kelly at the helm, continues to promote its “radicalization” theory, connecting all Muslims to terrorism, which it uses to justify the wholesale surveillance of communities, with an army of informants and spies in areas extending far beyond New York City. This past winter it was revealed that the NYPD used a patently racist propaganda film accusing all Muslims with extreme views and portraying them as a threat to train scores of police officers.
The American judiciary continues to play a cowardly role in cutting Muslims off from their ability to challenge these discriminatory practices by deferring to law enforcement agencies. This week, a California federal judge protected the FBI from scrutiny into allegations of misconduct in its investigation in the Muslim community of Orange County, even while acknowledging that these allegations were “disturbing.” Such rulings fail the 14th Amendment in its guarantee of equal protection to all people.
This Eid, the NLG-MDP stands alongside Muslim communities throughout this country, aware that the struggle ahead is long, but inshallah, that the prayers for peace, equality, and justice, will someday be answered.