“The bottom line: Muslims increasingly feel unwelcome, unwanted and viewed by their neighbors as un-American.” Well, there would be one easy way to take care of that problem: support the anti-Sharia initiative. They say that it’s fantastical that anyone would think that they have any plans to impose Sharia anyway, so why not declare open and wholehearted allegiance to the principles of the U.S. Constitution that are in contradiction to Sharia, such as the freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and equality of rights of all people before the law — instead of yet again claiming victim status?
“Oklahoma Muslims Unsure of Status After Shariah Referendum,” by Omar Sacibey for Religion News Service, November 4:
(RNS) Born and raised in Oklahoma, Sarah Albahadily will wear her headscarf to a Brad Paisley concert and her cowboy boots to mosque. There are two things she says she never misses: Friday prayers and University of Oklahoma football games.
But after seven in 10 Oklahoma voters on Tuesday (Nov. 2) approved State Question 755, a constitutional amendment that prohibits courts from using Islamic law, known as shariah, Albahadily suddenly feels a little less at home in the Sooner State.
“It’s disheartening. Even though it was expected, you still feel the blow,” said Albahadily, 27, as she drove to the Mercy School, a K-12 Islamic school in Oklahoma City where she teaches science.
In many ways, State Question 755 will likely have little impact either in Oklahoma or elsewhere — Muslims quickly point out they never lobbied for shariah law, and many wouldn’t support its use anyway.
What really worries Muslims is the anti-Muslim fervor that fueled it. It’s the same sentiment behind the aborted Quran bonfire in Florida and the opposition to an Islamic community center near Ground Zero. The bottom line: Muslims increasingly feel unwelcome, unwanted and viewed by their neighbors as un-American.
And if that sentiment can be legislated in one state, they say, it could be legislated in another.
Yet rather that retreating from public life, Oklahoma Muslims like Albahadily are vowing to increase their involvement in community affairs and raise their visibility, confident that when fellow citizens get to know them, their prejudices will dissolve.
Albahadily said she would put on a brave face for her teenage students.
“If they see me upset, they’re not going to want to participate in civics or community life. But if I can be upbeat, and say, ‘OK, we’re going to stand firm,’ they’ll respond.”
Less than 24 hours after the polls closed, Albahadily’s mother was organizing local Muslims to meet newly elected lawmakers; local Muslim groups and the ACLU announced a bid to have the referendum declared unconstitutional.
There are an estimated 30,000 Muslims in Oklahoma, which has 3.7 million residents. They describe themselves as well-educated, prosperous and attracted to Oklahoma’s friendliness, slow pace of life and safety.
The referendum was primarily authored by Republican state Rep. Rex Duncan, and sailed through the state’s legislature. In 2007, Duncan made headlines when he refused a copy of a Quran given to lawmakers by the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council. On Tuesday, he won a bid for a county district attorney position.
Muslims say the referendum worsened anti-Muslim prejudice that was already enflamed by the Ground Zero controversy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and frequent visits from Islamophobic speakers like Brigitte Gabriel, hosted by local churches and conservative
“It’s really brought the Muslim-haters out,” said Allison Moore, a Muslim activist in Tulsa.
Since the referendum was introduced in June, Moore and other Muslims said, mosques saw an increase in hate mail and threatening phone calls. Children walking home from a Muslim school in Tulsa were harassed by people in passing cars. Some Muslim women left their headscarves at home….
Studies show familiarity breeds solidarity and support, so Muslims say they need to be seen and known now more than ever. But Sheryl Siddiqui, a spokeswoman for the Edmond-based Islamic Council of Oklahoma, said there are limits to how much they can do.
“Muslims in Oklahoma do a phenomenal amount of outreach,” she said. “It’s not on us anymore. There are people out there who still believe Obama is a Muslim.”…
Horror of horrors! How could anyone get that idea?