Ties between America and Islamic countries have been strained for quite some time. Many can see this anti-Islamic and Muslim biases and prejudices in the world today. On my trip to Ireland over the weekend, our cab driver was actually asking us questions about America and feelings toward Muslim attacks, which was quite an interesting topic for such a short cab ride to the airport. Despite this, many of the tensions can still be seen in America today, such as the case in Rutherford County, Tennessee.
So far this has been a two-year battle against the people of the county who believe the mosque should not be in use because “The opponents said Islam was not a real religion and claimed Muslims wanted to overthrow the US constitution in favour of Islamic law”(“Tennessee Mosque gets go-ahead after legal fight”). A lawsuit was filed in 2010, and this May a ruling was said to overturn the buildings approval. However, as Ramadan approached, the situation got a bit trickier. By denying the worshipers the right to worship at their local mosque, it takes away the religious freedom that makes our country so unique and amazing.
However, the ruling was overturned and worshipers are allowed to use the mosque, right in time for Ramadan. The mosque has been vandalized and has had bombs threats against it in the past, which brings out the worst prejudices and hatred. The man who made the bomb threat against the mosque was indicted, and this particular mosque has been under attack for the last couple of years. The local judge was even accused of holding this building to a different standard than other religious buildings, hinting at the anti-American view of Muslims. After this acquisition, the tune seemed to turn very quickly.
Sadly this generalization of the Islamic culture is quite prevalent; however, my eyes were opened after attending a service at a mosque recently. I believe a lot of the hate stems from the unknown, and not knowing many components of the Islamic culture. It was such an incredible experience to be let into a mosque during a service and to observe the worshipers as they prayed. It is such a different experience than many people are used to, as Muslims use their whole bodies in prayer and the men and women are separated during the service. After leaving the mosque, I have a greater and vaster knowledge of the Islamic religion and seem to understand it more on a deeper level. If only those with biases would branch out, religious tensions could partially diffuse and compromises could be made, even if only on a local level.
America takes pride in being free, and especially the idea of “freedom of religion.” Consequently, there are many gaps and discrepancies when it comes to this category, especially against Islam. Many mosques have been vandalized, and many worshipers have been threatened due to their religion, especially after September 11. It is saddening to see that those who are simply trying to follow their religious practices are threatened on a daily basis. This was also seen in the movie, Brick Lane, in which the father wants to go home as soon as September 11 occurs, because he knows their lives will always be changed and will never be able to carry on the same.
This situation in the Tennessee mosque is not a new threat, and has been recurring over the past years. Tensions continue to stem out of our long histories together, but the worshipers at the newly built mosque in Rutherford County, Tennessee, get use out of their mosque for Ramadan, a sacred holiday.
“Tennessee Mosque Gets Go-Ahead After Legal Fight.” BBC News US & Canada. 19 July
2012. Accessed 23 July 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18909744