Can the Japanese-Internment be applied to the post-9/11 discrimination?

Archive for March, 2012

To A Suicide Bomber

Enemies Grow Stronger

To A Suicide Bomber

Dr. Rafey Habib

You do not speak for me:

You who soak yourselves in blood

Are far from the Prophet’s mantle.

You who act beyond the Book

Are far from the Word.

You do not speak for me:

You who do not know, and kill,

Murder your own soul

You blew up a young girl.

A mother’s heart will bleed forever.

A father’s will is broken.

Because of you their world is ended.

What good have you done?

Your own wife, young,

Curses you in her sleep, her nightmare.

Your children betrayed

To a myth; they still ask for you.

Your parents dragged

Through your empty dream.

Because of you their world is ended.

You have brought not paradise

But hell: hell to all around you.

Their ghosts will rise around you,

Asking: Why? Why?

What good have you done?

Because of you, I am reviled;

Because of you, your own people suffer;

Because of you

Oppression speaks louder.

Because of you, my religion reels in shame.

Because of you, two countries lie in ruins.

Because of you, a deserted nation suffers.

Because of you, the corrupt have grown stronger.

The bigots can speak without shame.

Because of you, the good people the world over

Have no name.

With each act of your violence,

Your enemies grow stronger, harsher

More justified in killing and conquest.

Each life you take weakens your cause, turns

An indifferent world against you.

You call yourselves holy warriors:

But you have never read the Holy Book,

Never tried to understand,

Never struggled with yourself.

You took the easy way:

And what will you say on the Day of days?

What will you say to your Lord, to

Those you killed, to your family?

What good have you done?

It is not you who bear

The prophet=s sword; the

True sword is a word, a thought,

Touched by light, forged

In wisdom and

Relentless in love.

It is not you who wear

The prophet=s mantle but those who

Strive , armed not with bombs but with

Patience, with a Book,

High in words and deeds.

You do not speak for me

Or the sweetness of my God;

You do not speak for me.

I thought this poem was very moving and really emotionally driven. I thought there was a lot of symbolism in the poem that made it speak a greater message and to a larger audience. Every person may not understand every aspect of the poem, but enough so that they would understand the message and feel its political implication.

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Frightened and Free

Frightened and Free

I am like the Bedouin who travels on hostile sands,

Stranger to all, mistrusted, to be driven from the land.

I exalt peace with a hushed prayer and elicit fear,

Reason has died and I am left to weep before its bier.

My self is only what a frightened fool desires to see,

stripped of dignity, handcuffs in lieu of humanity.

Here in the land of the frightened and the free.

 

We dressed in suits and irony and spoke fine English, we thought.

The six of us awaiting takeoff performed our noon Salāt.

Love is blind, but Fear is not and someone raised the alarm:

Suspicious Arabs aboard the flight, intent on causing harm.

We Imams, we Leaders, we men of God and peace,

Played by all the rules but still lost out,

Here in the land of the frightened and the free.

 

They took us away in handcuffs, at a whisper’s beck and call,

Worse yet I saw the faces, fear or hate covered most all.

In the face of such recklessness what good can reason do?

In all of History it’s been the same, the many rule the few.

The word “Imam” means leader, and so I’ve tried to be,

Yet in this world I’m suspect, my race is all they see.

And we’re still looking for equality,

in the land of the frightened and the free.


What More

I used to be able to walk around without the stares

Then after the bombs fell out of the sky                           Then after the planes fell out of the sky

And more than 2000 people died                                            And more than 3000 people died

Trapped by a fire that I did not create

 

I lower my head in shame                                                       I raise my head without shame

 

Because I did not do this.

I attract stares at the grocery store                                                      I attract stares at the airport

They tell me to stand in a different line and

Ask me questions about the government.                 Ask me questions about another government.

They say it is because of my eyes                                         They say it is because of my clothes

That I am treated like this

I speak English, I am almost a citizen                                   I speak English, I am a U.S. citizen

What more can I do?

 

I cannot change the color of my skin.


Mealtime in the Camps

This is the Manzanar Relocation Center in Manzanar, California. This is mess-hall number 15. As you can see, it is very crowded and much like a cafeteria. Living in the camps, an evacuee was treated more like a number than a real person, as shown by the massive cafeteria and similar living situations.


Archive about Japanese Internment Camps

http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/topics/japanese-americans/

 

This archive includes a variety of images of the people affected by Japanese Internment Camps in the United States. It also includes bulletins from the United States government and also excerpts from Newspapers that were popular at the time of the internment.


Flying While Muslim: Religious Profiling

In this article, a Muslim-American was picked out of a crowd, “interrogated, finger printed” at an airport because of his ethnicity despite his taking every precaution against such acts by speaking in english, wearing Western clothes, and in his group, booking seats away from each other. His group was escorted off the plane after other passengers claimed they were suspicious. This kind of racial profiling in the United States happens unprovoked over ten years after 9/11 and is very similar to the profiling seen during the period following the attack at Pearl Harbor in which there were Japanese Internment Camps. Despite a westernized way of life for both groups of people, they are still discriminated against based on their skin color or religion.

Excerpt from “The Daily Beast” by Jessica Bennett

As a Muslim-American and president of the North American Imams Federation, Dr. Omar Shahin is no stranger to the heightened security of a post-9/11 world. On more than one occasion, the Phoenix, Ariz., resident says he’s been picked out of a crowd by the color of his skin—interrogated, finger printed or detained. So when Shahin headed to the airport Monday with five other imams for a flight out of Minneapolis—where the NAIF had met for a conference—the group did everything they could to avoid suspicion, according to Shahin. They wore Western clothes, he says. The men spoke only English. They didn’t book their seats together. And when it came time to conduct their sunset-time prayers, Shahin says, they did so quietly, and not all together—hoping to avoid any unwanted attention.

But when the group boarded their U.S. Airways flight bound for Phoenix, on which Shahin (a frequent flier on the airline) had been upgraded to first class, they would never leave the ground. After finding their seats and preparing for takeoff, Shahin and the other imams were escorted from the flight in handcuffs after a passenger handed a note to a flight attendant expressing concern over the group’s “suspicious activity,” according to the airport police report. The group was taken off the flight in handcuffs, and after several hours of questioning by federal authorities, released. But though the airline refunded their tickets, U.S. Airways—which released a statement Tuesday saying it does “not tolerate discrimination of any kind”—reportedly denied them passage on any of its other flights and refused to help them obtain tickets through another airline. “This was the worst moment in my life,” says Shahin, who, after an overnight delay, was able to get himself and his colleagues a flight on Northwest Airlines. “When they took us off the plane, six big leaders, it was very humiliating.” U.S. Airways told NEWSWEEK late Wednesday that it would not comment on the case beyond its issued statement.

What was the group’s suspicious activity? According to the report filed by the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport police, the group’s loud chants of “Allah, Allah, Allah,” initially drew the suspicion of nearby passengers—one of whom said he heard the imams make anti-American comments regarding the war in Iraq. Once on the flight, the men—who allegedly boarded the plane with no carry-on luggage and used one-way tickets—seated themselves in pairs, two at the front of the plane, two in the middle, and two in the rear (all according to the police report). The men, three of whom are U.S. citizens, two of whom have green cards and one who has a worker’s permit, also allegedly asked the flight crew for seat belt extensions.

But Shahin, a lawyer, disputes many of these details. He says everyone in the group had round-trip tickets that he had booked—and that he has the documentation to prove it. The reason he was at the front of the flight was because he was upgraded to first class because he’s a frequent flyer on the airline. And the reason he asked for a seatbelt extension? Shahin says his 290-pound frame should make that obvious. As for the anti-American remarks, Shahin says the group was talking about the conference, which, ironically, was focused on building bridges to the non-Muslim community. And to avoid this very type of incident, Shahin says he’d already notified both the F.B.I. and local Minneapolis police department of the NAIF conference, as a precaution, in hopes of avoiding any problems. “What they claim [in the police report] is just not true,” he says.

Shahir and the North American Imams Federation say they’ve consulted their lawyer, and have called for a boycott of U.S. Airways. They’re also being backed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based advocacy group that has demanded U.S. Airways launch an immediate investigation (which the airline says it has done) and has called on the U.S. Department of Justice and the Transportation Security Administration to conduct separate investigations of the incident. (CAIR says it has received a letter from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties saying that it has opened a review of the case.) “Since 9-11, we’ve seen a great number of racial and religious ethnic profiling resulting in people being taken off airplanes summarily because they are Muslim,” said CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar, who says the Imam case is another example of “flying while Muslim.” “Reactions like this to Muslims praying really strike at the heart of the fear and prejudice that’s still so prevalent in this country.”

This is at least the second time this year that U.S. Airways has removed a Muslim from a plane. In August, Rima Qayyum, a 28-year-old substitute teacher, was taken off a flight and detained for 14 hours at West Virginia’s Tri-State Airport when security officials reportedly mistook her facewash and bottled water for possible bomb-making ingredients. Nationwide, according to CAIR’s latest civil rights report, for 2005, complaints of anti-Muslim harassment, violence and discrimination have gone up 30 percent since the year prior. Additionally, for the second year in a row, the 1,972 reports received in 2005 mark the highest number of Muslim civil rights complaints ever reported to CAIR in its 12-year history.

Observant American Muslims—who must pray five times daily—are left with a dilemma. How do they maintain their religious faith without attracting attention in an environment of heightened fear? Some ask why they should be expected to change their behavior in a country that promises religious freedom. Amine Chigani, a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech, raises some of these questions—and more—in a Wednesday e-mail to CAIR: “Is there anything that I should do so I won’t have the same experience as our imams did?” she writes. “I mean, should I ask the plane crew while I get seated that I will need to pray at a certain time, or should I tell them during check in? Should I explain to the passenger next to me that I will be praying? And if the worst happens and they ask me to leave, should I? … I am willing to do anything to avoid [causing problems], except not to pray. Please advise!” Chigani is traveling to Seattle in December.

Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which owns and operates the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, says that everyone should have a right to pray, but that in this day and age, “people must be sensitive to how their actions might impact those around them.”

But Shahir says his group took every precaution possible. “That’s my question to the people,” Shahir says. “What more do I have to do? I am American, I speak this language, I do everything by the book and I’m still suspicious. I cannot change the color of my skin.”


NYPD Advocates Racial Discrimination

The NYPD is active in racial discrimination

Stigmatization because of a Desire to Adhere

The above article addresses the actions of the NYPD: NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT SHADOWS PEOPLE WHO CHANGE THEIR NAME WHEN THEY SOUND ARABIC OR MUSLIM. The first time I wrote the opening line for this post I did not use capitalization, but as I reflected on the news, I became more agitated by the issue. I believe that this action should garner the utmost attention, as it is completely discordant with American values. The program is a tripwire that helps the police find “homegrown” terrorists. Immigrants for centuries, and even African Americans after emancipation, have changed their name to conform to the United States’ rampant discrimination. However, there has never been a program instituted in the nature of this one. Under the first amendment, this should not be allowed, there is no justification for this kind of invasion of privacy with no grounds. The FBI would be condemned for this kind of action and its INCOMPREHENSIBLE how this could continue. A poignant quote from the article: “In the past, you changed your name in response to stigmatization,” she said. “And now, you change your name and you are stigmatized. There’s just something very sad about this.” How much does a name mean to a person? One’s name is the foundation on which we are raised and its utterance will always draw attention. To give up one’s name must be a difficult action, allowing American racism and amalgamation to pervade into one’s life. All these individuals want is the ability to be treated in an equal manner; a chance to be evaluated as American citizen, rather than by one’s racial background. For this desire, they are made second-class. Additionally, some individuals change their name to a more Arabic one. For this to be considered as a sign that one might participate in terrorism works against even every racial assumption. Why would someone call attention to their background if they were going to confer harm onto their fellow Americans? They are only going to be faced with stricter scrutiny and discrimination. The NYPD cannot be justified in their actions. They are acting only on racial bias.