I love social media. Through it you meet the most amazing, interesting people. One of those chance meetings is a recent friend who is Muslim. We met on Twitter. Her name is Ponn Sabra. She is a practicing Muslim and writes a blog called American Muslim Mom. Is she from the Middle East? No. Is she a terrorist. It didn’t even cross my mind that she was a terrorist. Did I say terrorist? Yes, apparently there are Americans who think all Muslims are radicals or have ties to terrorists. I had two babysitters for my children that were both Muslim–they were wonderfully polite, punctual, caring women. I didn’t think for a second I had terrorists watching my children. In my mind Ponn was simply a Mom albeit a Muslim mom. So I asked her to guest post for MOMentum because I thought she would bring an interesting perspective and I have been trying to have guests from all over the world. I must admit I had a little trepidation right before I posted the article and wondered whether I would receive hateful comments because she was Muslim. But guess what, no one commented.
Ponn recently invited me as her guest to a special showing of CNN’s documentary “Unwelcome. The Muslims Next Door” which was hosted by Soledad O’Brien. The documentary is about Murfreesboro, Tennessee and how the town is torn apart over the prospect of an Islamic center being built for the 250 Muslim families who live there–peacefully–at least till the ground was broke for the center. Somehow this triggered hatred this town had never seen before. “They’re trying to kill us.” “They don’t bury their dead in caskets and just think what will seep into our water.” “And with the Muslim Sharia Law, they will come in and take over the local governments.” And don’t forget for a second that this fear only exists in Murfreesboro. Ten years after the 911 attacks, much of America still lives in fear. Events like this documentary shown in Murfreesboro are happening everywhere with politicians fanning the fires.
Did these same Americans study our Constitution in school? Our Constitution is based on our country not having an official religion. There is no way for the Muslim religion to take over. We teach our children American history in schools and about our heritage. People from different walks of life founded our country; people who came here to flee things like religious oppression. So how can we teach our children about American freedom and then stand up in small towns across American and tell people who different they are not welcome? It feels so un-American.
Maybe through social media and a blog such as Ponn’s, Americans can learn what it’s like to be a Muslim living in America. After all, social media prides itself on transparency, truth and leveraging connections/relationships. One of the most profound quotes in the CNN documentary came from a young woman who said, “911 hijacked my religion.” Americans weren’t the only ones affected by 911.