Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Open Letter to Friends and Foes

Dear Readers,

I'm sure you've all heard about the controversy surrounding the mosque in New York City. Everyone has an opinion, but what concerns me is the alarming increase in anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric in mainstream media as well as the hate motivated actions the rhetoric has spurred ranging from mosque protests to violent crimes. Though based in the Bay Area these days, I see these incidents happening across the country daily because of my work with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). For example this coming weekend there's a group in Florida planning to burn Qurans (the Muslim holy book), and their leader has been given numerous platforms from which to spew hate. Some Muslims are saying that the current environment is more frightening than it was immediately post-9/11. It distresses and frightens me to see this kind of hate increasing, and I realize that one of the reasons for this is that a lot of people really do not know much about Islam and Muslims.

This letter is to encourage you to ask me any questions you have about Islam or Muslims. Seriously, any questions. I will make every effort to ensure you walk with an educated answer versus an assumption based on a sound bite. AND I hope that when you hear someone say something hateful about Muslims, you will remember me. Remember that I am a down-to-Earth activist with no intentions to take over the world. I pray you will stand up for me and let that person know that you know someone who is a Muslim and that she defies the stereotypes and hate mongering.

Lastly, CAIR has put together some great PSAs to address the increasing Islamophobia featuring faith leaders and American Muslim 9/11 first responders (http://bit.ly/cfHEBm). If you haven't yet had a chance to view them, please do.

Zahra Billoo
mailto: zahra.billoo@gmail.com