By Shazia Akbar
Detroit: Mehdi Hasan, journalist and author and producer of several popular TV programmes reminded the American Muslims that they were fortunate to be the residents of a country where most of their basic civil and human rights were guaranteed in the Constitution, a case that is sadly not true for many nations around the world, particularly Muslim ones. Citing polls like Gallup and Pew, he spoke about how the American Muslim community fares well above the average in the metrics of education, employment and income, and how they need to leverage these advantages in playing a greater part in American public life.
Speaking to an 800- strong crowd of American Muslims on April 14, Mehdi Hasan dispelled the myth that American Muslims wanted to establish Sharia law in America. He pointed out many a salient feature of the American Constitution which promised freedom, justice and equality for all and said that American law broadly incorporated the ideals of Shariah law and was more humane than any other system of law followed in the Muslim world today.
Mr. Hasan, who is also the political editor of the UK version of electronic newspaper ‘Huffington Post’ was addressing Annual Banquet of Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Michigan as a keynote speaker on the theme “Faith in Freedom. While acknowledging that racial and religious discrimination remain a reality that most Muslims in the West have to grapple with, he also pointed out that we as a community also have prejudices against other people that we could do without, and that we need to treat the minorities within us with the same tolerance and respect that we expect from others.
CAIR is a civil rights and advocacy organisation, working on legal issues and defending the constitutional rights of the American Muslim community. Some of the recent successes of their Michigan Chapter were enumerated by Dawud Walid, Executive Director who spoke on the occasion. He is also a preacher, political blogger and has been the assistant Imam at Masjid Wali Mohammad in Detroit.
He highlighted several legal victories in the areas of asylum, profiling, employment discrimination and First Amendment speech against Islamophobia. He talked about how CAIR MI’s efforts resulted in the cancellation of the screening of an Islamophobic film called the ‘Honor Diaries’ in a city college campus. He also explained their ongoing programs with educational institutions and law enforcement agencies to improve religious accommodation policies.
By Shazia Akbar