I agree that Sheryl Siddiqui’s Commentary (“The post-9/11 Muslim experience”) lacked a clear point, needlessly alluded to the War on Terror and was an essay more about feelings than facts. However, I did not vote for her, nor do my tax dollars pay her salary. It is saddening to see an elected official, namely Rep. Wesselhöft, engage in the same kind of appeals to emotion over reason.
Three main rebuttals he offers to Siddiqui’s Commentary are: (1) accusations of Islamophobia are unfair, (2) Muslims building a mosque near Ground Zero demonstrates a need for suspicion toward Oklahoma Muslims and (3) Muslims in the Arab world cheering the attacks on 9/11 show a need for suspicion toward all Muslims.
I am willing to take Rep. Wesselhöft at his word that Oklahoma’s lawmakers draft their laws with complete objectivity, in a spirit of honoring the common good and their constitutional duties.
But the idea that the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” reflects in any way on Muslims in Oklahoma, or indeed on American Muslims as a whole, is absurd. In the first place, the mosque was not sponsored by the New York Muslim community, which wasn’t even aware of Feisal Abdul Rauf until after he announced the project. Secondly, there was a deep divergence in opinion among American Muslims as to the mosque, including right here in Oklahoma. Many were against building the mosque, and many advised Rauf and the Park51 backers to engage in meaningful dialogue with the New York community as a whole.
Rep. Wesselhöft must surely be aware that Muslims do not think and act as one unit. Muslims in Oklahoma don’t have control over Muslims in New York, and to hold all Muslims culpable for Rauf’s incompetence and intentions is unfair.
Rep. Wesselhöft then alludes to Muslims in the Arab world applauding the 9/11 attacks. Please be aware, Rep. Wesselhöft, that even if you gathered every video recording of every Muslim celebrating 9/11, and counted up every participant, you would reach a finite number: Let’s say 10,000, to be generous. Simply because videos of these criminals and losers were played constantly in the media following the terrorist attacks, does this mean that all Muslims must have been celebrating 9/11? Not in the least.
Oklahoma’s Muslim population is comprised of professionals — physicians, lawyers, engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs and scientists — who do much good for the state. To equate them with terrorists or supporters of terrorism, or to hold them responsible for such actions, demeans their contribution to Oklahoma and reflects poorly on Rep. Wesselhöft as an elected official of the people.
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