The best way to thwart terrorism is to reach out to the Muslim community with empathy and concern, for Muslims are the first to suffer the effects of a terror act done in the name of Islam.
I am a Muslim American, father of a West Point graduate who served in Iraq, a businessman and a heart-transplant recipient who dearly loves this country.
Every few weeks we hear of terrorist acts that result in loss of innocent lives on American soil. President Donald Trump is quick to harshly condemn acts of terrorism committed by Muslims but is more nuanced and explanatory in his reaction to similar acts by people of other faiths. Why the double standard? How does this response keep us safer?
During the presidential campaign, Trump touted his idea of a Muslim ban as a way to keep Americans safe. As president, he signed the first executive order banning Muslims from seven Muslim majority nations. At the same time, he suspended the admission of Syrian refugees who are predominantly Muslim.
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The ban has undergone some cosmetic changes, but its primary goal of banning Muslims stays.
Muslims in the United States are peace loving and patriotic. What does Trump get by demonizing them? The goal of law enforcement and the FBI should be to get full cooperation from Muslims. You never get that by putting them on defense for the actions of a few evil individuals.
Islamophobia, hate, bigotry and violence against Muslims is the order of the day. It escalates with every passing day. Even words like Allahu akbar, meaning “God is great,” take on a sinister meaning.
If you were a Muslim and the focus of all this hate and bigotry, would you be comfortable voluntarily cooperating with the FBI or other agencies?
The FBI is known to send people to spy on mosques and Muslim businesses and communities. This has caused resentment and mistrust.
So, to the Trump administration, listen up. Muslims are the first ones to suffer the effects of any terrorist acts done in the name of Islam. Every such act sees a rise in Islamophobia.
To combat homegrown terrorism, we need to change our tactics. After a terrorist act occurs, reach out to the larger Muslim community with empathy. Let them know you don’t blame them and show concern about the backlash from Islamophobes.
Law enforcement at all levels of government must look out for the Muslim community. Treat its members fairly and with respect, and you will see the results.
This may not eliminate all acts of terror, but it will give law enforcement millions of Muslim eyes and ears on the lookout for signs of potential terrorist acts. Families and friends will be more likely to come to authorities and share their concern about individuals they suspect may be radicalizing.
The next step would be programs that could help de-radicalize an individual by helping him change his path to violence. Throwing him in prison should be a last resort. Rehabilitation should be the ultimate goal. If a family turns over their loved one and you blindly lock him up, the community will never cooperate with you.
There is enough violence and hatred in this country and this world. Let’s take some courageous steps toward a more peaceful world.