Muslim Journalist: Time to Open Door on Our World

Thursday, 10 Mar 2011 08:14 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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It is high time for someone to reveal what actually is going on inside the American Muslim community and to acknowledge there are extremist elements trying to influence the mostly moderate and patriotic U.S. followers of Islam, a Muslim woman journalist says.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King Thursday will hold the first of several hearings on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism in the United States. Some critics have claimed the hearings stigmatize and demonize the American Muslim community.

Not so, says Asra Nomani, author of "Standing Alone, an American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam.”

Asra Nomani, Muslim, Peter King, hearings
Asra Nomani
“I'm going to try to get a front-row seat at the hearing tomorrow because I am so excited that we're going to actually have a conversation about serious issues inside the community,” Nomani said during a CNN interview Wednesday. “For too long, we've had closed doors, and closed hearts inside of our Muslim world. We need to open up the doors of our mosques.

“And I hope that moderate Muslims will take this opportunity to stand up and actually challenge the extremism. We have to be pushed sometimes,” she said. “Nobody likes this kind of examination – but we have to have it.”

Nomani, whose family came to the United States when she was four years old and settled in West Virginia, said all her life she has been frustrated by fanatical Islam outreach.

“For the last 40 years we've seen this encroachment of puritanical, dogmatic Islam. I have with me this Koran that came to my mosque in West Virginia from Saudi Arabia – and it adds into its translation text – that tells us not to be friends with the Jews and the Christians,” she said.

“And so that spirit of intolerance is one that we still have in our community, and we're not challenging it enough. When we do try to challenge it, we get stigmatized ourselves,” Nomani continued. “My family and I challenged it in our community. They put me on trial to be banished from the mosque. My father lost his friends. My mother doesn't get invited to the pot-luck dinner parties.

“You know, communities do what they can to survive – and especially when they feel on the defensive – but what I think what we can do is take the opportunity and actually take on this kind of extremism,” she said.

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