It’s been a long slumber, but it is finally time for me to wake up the blog. Typically, one shouldn’t allow a blog to pass out. That’s not how you keep or gain readers. They can nap for a few days, but they shouldn’t hibernate. A cat nap can turn into a hibernation, which then can quickly turn into a fatal coma. Flat line, another blog bites the dust.
But that’s not happening to my blog. I had to set it aside as I left my job, said goodbye to friends, and moved out of Washington, DC for a new chapter out on the west coast. Now that I am settling in and finding my groove, I have decided to reignite MidEast Beat. This comes just in time for the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a time in which our country will be confronted by an onslaught of various emotions. 9/11 has become an unshakeable part of the modern American experience. The horrific murder of over 3,000 people, in a matter of hours, has changed our society and our world perspective. The event united us, its aftermath divided us, and its memory haunts us.
During these next few weeks, I hope to share some of my reflections–as well as the thoughts of others–on the anniversary of the attacks. For starters, I would like to share this interesting LA Times piece on how some American Muslims have combated the anti-Islamic sentiments of the post 9/11 era by reaching out to non-Muslims. By breaking the “Muslim bubble” and integrating into American society, these individuals have been able to act as unofficial ambassadors for Islam. Similar to the argument championed by members of the LGBT community, it is hard to harbor anti-Muslim feelings when you actually know at least one Muslim. Can you really think that Islam is a religion of hate and violence when you know that your child’s preschool teacher is Muslim? What about your dentist, doctor, pilot, barista, congressman, firefighter, or neighbor? The individuals in the article think the answer is no, and believe that it is time for American Muslims to “wake up” and engage outside of their religious community. They aren’t the only ones, as there are millions of American Muslims who are stepping out of the closet, so to speak. Take Sahar Ullar, one of the founders of the innovative and brilliant “Hijabi Mon0logues,” a show which seeks to dispel stereotypes about Muslim women. Or take Hamid Chaudhry, the owner of a Pennsylvania Dairy Queen who was featured in a recent NY Times article. Hamid isn’t an activist, he is just an ordinary American entrepreneur making a difference in his community. Oh, and he is Muslim.
Whether they are activists or just ordinary citizens, these individuals are helping to change how non-Muslim Americans think about Islam and its followers. But they can’t do it on their own. We non-Muslims have to do our part also. Open your eyes and challenge yourself to re-humanize Muslim Americans. The tragedy of 9/11 was bad enough, let’s put an end to the misguided hatred that followed the attacks.