Muslim Community on Edge?
(Via VOICES NY) Pakistani Muslim writer Omar Akhtar embarks on a journey through Muslim Brooklyn and finds paranoia, fear, and outrage. Akhtar says his journey was prompted by recent reports of secret NYPD infiltration into New York City mosques. He explores the question of what it’s like to be young and Muslim and living in an America where Muslims felt not only alien but suspected of disloyalty. What he found included a constant retelling of the story of jailed Muslim activist Fahad Hashmi.
From The Brooklyn Ink:
I come from a country where almost everyone is Muslim, a country founded, with great bloodshed, on that premise. My relation to the state is not framed by my faith; it is not a reason for me to be regarded as a person of suspicion. The students I met in Brooklyn College, were caught in a very different struggle. They were caught between the forces of assimilation and identity – between fitting in as loyal Americans and resisting the temptation to appear acquiescent. Their parents may have advised caution. And some of them heeded the warning. But others were still not sure how to live lives as Muslims in a country where the visceral response to their faith, my faith, was the inevitable connection to the extremists who had killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, and who remained the targets of the ongoing war on terror.
Listening to first Hashmi’s story, and then the reaction to the surveillance left me feeling, at turns, alarmed, paranoid and guilty. I too am a Pakistani. I am a practicing Muslim who has lived for years and studied in the United States. I have on occasion criticized American foreign policy in conversations with friends. Which left me to wonder—if it could happen to him, could it happen to me?