24 heures: American Muslims are mounting Islamophobia

The U.S. commemorates the 9th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11 amid controversy surrounding the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, while the threat of Pastor Terry Jones’ Koran burning still hangs.

We spoke to a leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Read the original French version HERE

Ultimate rebound. Yesterday evening, the American pastor Terry Jones, behind the initiative to burn the Koran, gave two hours to Imam Feisal, proponent of the mosque project  at Ground Zero, to agree on a venue change. Following the ultimatum, right when the story went to press, the imam did not manifest and the Reverend Jones had not revealed his intentions.

Ahmed Rehab, one of the leaders of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), discusses the controversy of global Islamophobia an its prevalence in the United States.

Is it difficult being a Muslim in the U.S. today?

– It’s complicated.  We are at a crossroads.  Today we see an expression of Islamophobia was underlying all along.  Americans realize that there is Islamophobia at home, and we hope they will address it as we attack a disease.

– In this context, is it a bad idea to build a mosque just steps from Ground Zero?

– On the contrary, I think it was the best possible idea, because Al Qaeda attacked us on September 11, 2001. Muslims died that day and, in addition, our religion has been taken hostage.  This mosque is an expression of our belonging to the United States, a sort of identity claim.  Critics who speak of  a “victory mosque” as if we had conquered a territory can not be serious.  Al-Qaeda is not welcome in the mosque.

– But do you understand that Americans, including families of victims are sensitive about this project?

– I understand, but I do not agree.  There is no link between the mosque and September 11. It is even quite the opposite.  All the victims’ families are also not opposed to the Islamic Center.  This controversy has been exaggerated.

– Some Americans compare the project by Terry Jones to the practice, common in some Arab countries, to burn the American flag.

– We are talking about two different things. These practices are taking place in other countries, not the United States. No one would burn the American flag here.  And a Muslim would never burn a Bible, because Muslims consider it a holy book.

– And what do you say to Muslims abroad who do not understand that we can burn Korans without government intervention?

– I think that Muslims around the world know the difference.  I do not think they blame Obama. They are upset at Pastor Terry Jones.

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