There is a raging Islamophobia in our country these days. Coming out of the 9/11 tragedy in NYC, and spurred on by the attempt to build a mosque close to ground zero, many people are developing an emotional fear of all Moslems who, they believe, are bent on taking over the USA. The situation is worse in Europe.
Recently, Bill O’Reilly, during a show of the “View,” claimed that “Moslems killed us on 9/11,” prompting two of the women panelists to walk out in disgust. He then apologized, and the participants returned to the stage. Also, in October, a hard-working Pakistani man by the name of Pir Khan, appeared on Chanel 5 in Boston, complaining that his life has been turned upside down because of a false claim that he had funneled money to Faisal Shahzad, a terrorist who tried to blow up a car in Times Square. Pir was arrested but released in July for lack of evidence. Now he faces deportation, and his landlord wants him out of the house. His wife, a Caucasian woman, is also devastated by the turn of events. How does one restore this man’s good name?
It is true that, of the many terrorists who have attacked us or have attempted to cause damage in our country, the majority have been Moslems. (The Oklahoma bomber was not). However, to think that every Moslem is a suicide bomber is an absurdity and a dangerous generalization. I grew up in Istanbul and still have good friends there. I can assure you that my Turkish friends who happen to be Moslems are not terrorists.
These days it is becoming very uncomfortable having an Arabic sounding name in the USA. Many jump to conclusion that the fellow must be wearing a bomb on his chest. From now on, I think, I am going to call myself Robert because I don’t want people to think that Rifat is a blood-thirsty fanatic. But maybe when they hear that I am a Rabbi they will change their mind.