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Muslims in Texas Walk a Fine Line

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by rocketsjudoka, May 6, 2015.

  1. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Member
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    A very interesting look at the Texas Muslim Community from the NYT.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/07/us/muslims-garland-texas.html?_r=0

    Muslims in Texas Walk a Fine Line After Garland Shooting

    GARLAND, Tex. — When Muslim leaders in the Dallas area learned in February that a provocative New York blogger named Pamela Geller had rented space for an exhibition of cartoons and caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad featuring speakers known for vitriol against Islam, they decided to ignore her.

    They were well acquainted with Ms. Geller’s methods and figured that there was no point protesting and giving her free publicity.

    “We don’t want to be falling for her tactics,” Alia Salem, the executive director of the Dallas and Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said to her colleagues. “She’s trying to bait the Muslim community.”

    So it was that on Sunday night, Ms. Salem was at a festive interfaith women’s event with hundreds of Jewish, Christian and Muslim women when she received a text message from a friend saying that two gunmen had been shot and killed while attacking the center where Ms. Geller was hosting her event. First, Ms. Salem said, she started to cry, fearing news of more deaths.

    Then she took calls from those she views as allies — other Muslim advocates, a Methodist minister, an organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union — to come up with a response that would walk a fine line: clearly condemning the extremists behind the attack, while also calling to account what they see as hatred decked out in free speech finery.

    “The discussion we have to have is: When does free speech become hate speech, and when does hate speech become incitement to violence?” Ms. Salem said. “Free speech is not the same as responsible speech.”

    Muslims in the Dallas area have worked hard to find their footing in the conservative Christian culture of the Texas suburbs, and the shooting on Sunday in Garland set off another vigorous effort to defend both their faith and their American ideals, while also condemning extremism of any kind.

    Texas, and Dallas in particular, has been both welcoming to Muslims and accommodating of bigotry. Even as the numbers and economic clout of Muslims continue to grow — an estimated 200,000 now live in the Dallas area — they have faced a series of political and cultural challenges just in the past few months.

    The shooting in Texas, showcasing that there are Islamic extremists in the United States communicating with radicals overseas, comes just as Muslims here have been confronting suspicions about their faith and loyalty.

    An imam who gave a nondenominational prayer at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in February, at the invitation of organizers seeking to be more inclusive, received so many hateful comments on social media afterward that he canceled a second scheduled appearance there.

    In January, at an annual lobbying day in the State Capitol for Muslims, Molly White, a state representative, told her staff members that any Muslim who entered her office must be asked to pledge allegiance to America and its laws and to renounce Islamic terrorist groups.

    The Texas Legislature is also considering a bill, similar to ones passed in other states, that would prohibit basing decisions in state courts on foreign legal codes. It was proposed by conservative activists who contend that the goal of Muslims in the United States is to gradually impose Islamic law, or Shariah — an assertion that Muslims say is false.
    Continue reading the main story

    Supporters of the Texas bill say that it is not anti-Muslim because it would prohibit the use of all foreign laws, not just Shariah. But for many Muslims here, the bill and other recent episodes amount to painful local evolution, with the old power structure of Texas struggling to make sense of a complicated, more diverse present.

    Many Muslims here defy easy categorization. They embrace their many identities — as Texans, Muslims and Americans. Many of them are registered Republicans. One former community leader, a Syrian-American businessman with ties to Garland, served in 2013 as prime minister of a Syrian opposition coalition’s interim government.

    For some, the shooting in Garland led to fear; the day after it happened, a 59-year-old at a mosque in the neighboring city of Richardson was punched and kicked by two men as he left a prayer service. Although the man told investigators that he believed he was most likely not targeted for his religion or ethnicity, the attack remains under investigation and has added to tensions.

    But a wider range of emotions has also emerged.

    On Tuesday afternoon, at a green-domed mosque a few miles from the site of Sunday’s attack, Mohammed Jetpuri, 68, knelt for the second of five daily prayers, and reacted to the shootings with the anger of a law-and-order Texan.

    “Those people who got killed got what’s coming to them,” said Mr. Jetpuri, a retired businessman who lives in Richardson. “You just don’t shoot people or kill people. This is not acceptable at all. I’m glad they got killed, those two people. No sympathy, period.”

    Moments later, in the parking lot outside the mosque, Mr. Jetpuri, who wore a white kufi prayer cap, spoke of free speech and of finding caricatures of Islam’s prophet offensive. “Prophet Muhammad was one of the highest, highest quality of persons in the universe,” he said.

    Mr. Jetpuri straddles multiple worlds — as a Muslim and a Texan who used to own two Mexican restaurants, called Café Mexico and El Paso Cantina — and his reaction to the shooting and the gathering in Garland seemed to illustrate the quandary many Muslims in the Dallas region face: What response should be prioritized?

    In interviews, Muslims across the area condemned the exhibition of the cartoons depicting the prophet, and the gunmen who attacked the group.

    And at a time when Islamic extremists once again drew the spotlight, some Muslims in Texas felt compelled to emphasize their deep love for the United States.

    “There’s no country like this — I came to this country in 1970 with only $50 in my pocket,” said Mr. Jetpuri, who is originally from Pakistan and started working as a dishwasher when he arrived in the United States. “This is the American dream story. I have 10 grandchildren. They’re all born here, and the 11th is on the way. This is our country, just like anyone else’s country.”

    Mohamed Elibiary, 39, a founder of the North Texas Islamic Council — and a former member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which provides advice and recommendations to the secretary of Homeland Security — said he, too, found the idea behind the event in Garland on Sunday insulting. But, he added, that did not mean it warranted a reaction.

    “It’s a gimmick,” he said. “Pamela Geller and people like her have no power. All they can do is cause commotion and bait people into things.”
    Continue reading the main story
    Recent Comments
    Deus02 6 minutes ago

    The last sentence of Mr. Elibiary speaks volumes. The problem always has been that the medias thrives on controversy and controversial...
    Pete 6 minutes ago

    Even in Texas, I cannot believe they would have allowed an exhibition of cartoons and caricatures of Christ; hopefully they would have...
    Michael Branagan 6 minutes ago

    “Free speech is not the same as responsible speech...” Ahem to that!

    See All Comments Write a comment

    Caricatures of the prophet are offensive to him and to others, Mr. Elibiary said, but reactions vary. Not everyone is interested in the arguments of Ms. Geller, who has defended herself by arguing that her enemies are simply trying to crush “truth and freedom.”

    Mr. Elibiary said, “You’ve got to remember, I live a middle-class lifestyle in a first-world country.”

    “I have plenty of opportunities to express myself,” he said, “and I’m in no way disenfranchised. People who usually react violently to that have a totally different life experience.”

    Mr. Elibiary, who was born in Egypt and grew up in the Dallas area, runs a security consulting firm from his home in Plano, a suburb of Dallas that is a short drive from Garland. On Tuesday afternoon, he was wearing a button-down shirt emblazoned with the Texas flag.

    Many of those who attended the Garland event were not from there, he pointed out, or even from Texas.

    “These aren’t native Texans that are gravitating to picking a fight with their neighbors,” he said.

    Similarly, he added, Muslims in the Dallas region view the two gunmen — who lived in the same apartment complex in Phoenix — as outsiders.

    “Their actions don’t go into our calculus,” Mr. Elibiary said.

    The migration of Muslims to Texas can be traced to at least 1854, he noted, and their bonds to the state will outlast Sunday’s shooting.

    “A lot of things happen because of ignorance, limited understanding,” said Azhar Azeez, who has lived in Dallas for two decades and is the president of the Islamic Society of North America, a large umbrella group.

    “But I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is a lot of goodness, people are very tolerant and respectful of each other’s faith,” he continued. “People like Pamela Geller, they are fringe elements. They won’t be able to sustain themselves for too long, because what they are selling is lies.”

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  2. Cohete Rojo

    Cohete Rojo Member

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    So the only fine line they walk is to not get baited by people like Pamela Geller, from New York?
     
  3. Buck Turgidson

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    Well there's this one:

    “The discussion we have to have is: When does free speech become hate speech, and when does hate speech become incitement to violence?” Ms. Salem said. “Free speech is not the same as responsible speech.”

    aaaaaaaand this one:

    Texas, and Dallas in particular, has been both welcoming to Muslims and accommodating of bigotry. Even as the numbers and economic clout of Muslims continue to grow — an estimated 200,000 now live in the Dallas area — they have faced a series of political and cultural challenges just in the past few months.
     
  4. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    Conservatives think sharia law is coming to Texas/usa. At the same time the liberals are tearing down the moral fabric of society with gay marriage and legalization of drugs.

    Somewhat confusing.
     
  5. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Member

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    There's a fine line between shooting up people you disagree with and not shooting them up.
     
  6. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    And that first quote is dumb Dumb. It's simple speech should never be an incitement to violence, no matter what circumstances are existent.
     
  7. Bobbythegreat

    Bobbythegreat Member
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    Yup, the struggle is real. I mean, imagine having to live in an area where people might do something somewhere that you don't want them doing and having to make the hard choice not to seek out and murder them....
     
  8. Buck Turgidson

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    Let's say there's a "Let's Deport All Muslims" Rally. Lot's of stuff will be said like (I'm being very simplistic here) "Muslims are unAmerican, Muslims are bad etc...". There will probably be no direct threats of violence uttered, but when does that become an implicit advocation of violence?
     
  9. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Member

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    The Muslims who don't shoot painters are actually doing quite well, as the article indicates.

    Muslims are immigrating to Texas and thriving.

    But we're supposed to believe Texas is a big racist republic.
     
  10. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Member

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    I don't understand the sudden liberal discomfort with free speech.
     
  11. durvasa

    durvasa Member

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    Clarifying a couple points of confusion for posters in this thread:

    (1) The "fine line" isn't whether or not to commit violence. It is whether to respond in peaceful protest or ignore. No one quoted in that article even hinted at a desire to use violence.

    (2) Regarding the quote that "free speech is not responsible speech." -- this is absolutely correct. "Freedom to do X" and "X being a responsible thing to do" isn't the same thing. Its hard to believe that so many people are struggling with this point.

    (3) As for the above poster's remark that we shouldn't have discomfort with free speech -- again, confusing things. If some guy wants to write hateful, racist propaganda in a book, he has that right. I'm not "comfortable" with the content or his choice to publish it, but I am quite "comfortable" with the notion that he has a right to do so. If the content of the "free speech" was always comfortable, it wouldn't mean anything. Its the fact that some speech is objectionable and yet we accept that people have a right to express it that makes it "free speech". Doesn't mean we can't at the same time call trash what it is.
     
    #11 durvasa, May 6, 2015
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
    2 people like this.
  12. Remii

    Remii Member

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    Believing there aren't any gay conservatives and or conservatives who don't indulge in illegal drugs is what's confusing.
     
  13. thumbs

    thumbs Member

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    As long as there are Muslim terrorists, Sharia law that encourages barbarism such as acts like honor killings, rejection of other faiths and other Muslim faith-based roadblocks , social integration for Muslims will be impossible.
     
  14. FTW Rockets FTW

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    Muslims all over the world should walk a fine line until that despicable religion that preaches terrorist activity, killings etc is completely abolished.
     
  15. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Member

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    No one is saying you don't have a right to disagree with objectionable speech.
     
  16. fchowd0311

    fchowd0311 Member

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    Look at what happened when Muslims wanted to gather in Austin...
     
  17. fchowd0311

    fchowd0311 Member

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    O man... What is the Muslim community I was living in in SW Houston/Sugar Land for my first 18 years of my life? Was I dreaming...

    Oh man... Does my family exist thumbs? I feel so... I think I'm disappearing guys....
     
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  18. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Member

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    Someone tried a mass shooting?

    No, there was a counter-protest. By nuts, yes, but still just a counter-protest.
     
  19. fchowd0311

    fchowd0311 Member

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    Did anyone say that the bigotry that is rampant in Texas always culminates to violence? Al large portion of Texans don't find those protesters to be nuts. You are playing some serious mental gymnastics if you think otherwise.

    Being raised in Sugar Land, the muslim community there felt safe but venture out a little more to let's say Richmond, and I've witnessed my fair share of uncomfortable awkward stares directed towards my mother and her hijab.
     
  20. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    Are you saying that is what I believe? I assume it is clear to you that R's are opposed to those two things at a high percentage. although I am sure (actually I am hoping) they are evolving and lighting up on those tow issues.
     

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