This great country of America has been the venue for several historical civil rights advancements from the abolition of slavery to women's suffrage to the advancements made by blacks in the mid-20th century. These events could not have taken place without a widespread oppression against those groups who rose up and peacefully demanded their rights to safety, political involvement, etc. We are currently experiencing what seems to be a not-so-new version of such oppression in America: Islamophobia. It had died down considerably in the decade that has passed since 9/11. But as of late, it appears to be stirring among the population, especially in the Chicagoland area.
On August 6, a mosque in Joplin, Missouri was burned down. On the 10th, a neighbor fired shots from his high-velocity air pistol at a mosque in Morton Grove, Illinois at a time when it was heavily populated with worshippers preparing for the nightly tarawih prayer of Ramadan. These shots were much more powerful than BB pellets, and came within inches of striking a security guard in the head. That would have likely been fatal. On the 12th, an acid bomb was thrown at a K-12 Islamic school in Lombard, Illinois during the tarawih prayers. It has been widely and reasonably speculated that the shooting on August 5 at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin occurred because the gunman confused the Sikhs for Muslims, a common mistake among Americans . Must a majority of upstanding Muslims (and others) live in fear due to an extreme few that are perceived to be a much larger percentage of the Muslim population than what they really are?
On August 8, U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) hosted a Town Hall Meeting in Elk Grove in which he railed against not only extremists, but Islam in general. He claimed that radical Muslims are “trying to kill Americans every week,” and that “it’s not a matter of ‘if’ – it’s a matter of ‘when’” a 9/11-like attack will happen again. Who can say things like that without expecting to inspire hatred? You can watch the video here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/aug/09/republican-joe-walsh-muslims-kill-americans-video
This happened two days after the Joplin mosque was burned down, and within a week before the other two attacks on mosques. In light of the Joplin fire, wouldn't one expect a national leader to exhibit more reservation in such discussions, a bit more forebearance than to generalize as such? That is why we want to remove Mr. Walsh from office if he refuses to take responsibility for his actions. This is a wake-up call to Mr. Walsh and politicians throughout the land that we live in a society that demands tolerance and understanding of different cultures, especially from its leaders. Ideally, in a democracy the elected are supposed to serve the people.
When looking at the map of his district, there are at least four major mosques that support congregations that he "represents". He has not come out with any public statement relating to the violent crimes that occurred after his Town Hall meeting, and his press release to address his statements was a defense, not an apology. I want to address a quote therein:
"A recent Pew Poll said that 15% of Muslim-American men between the age of 18 and 29 could support suicide bombings. How people can dismiss things like that, I don’t understand, but I won’t."
If he took the time to look into these matters himself, he would find that suicide is explicitly forbidden in Islam, and although this may not be known to most of the American population, it is very clear among the Muslim community, and this figure therefore seems to be a gross exaggeration. What does that mean anyway, that they "could" support suicide bombings? That they are financially capable of doing so?
Of course, we understand that terrorism in all its forms should not be tolerated, but to hold an entire demographic responsible for a few that do not represent nor adhere to the values of the group is unacceptable.