Muslim scholar urges Americans to come together in wake of current administrations divisive policies
Dr. Amir Hussain, Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University and Jerusalem Conference participant shares why an inclusive Jerusalem needs to start with Americans
My most recent book, Muslims and the Making of America, examines the reality of Muslim life in the United States, and shows how Muslims have helped to make America the country that it is. The book reflects not only my own academic work for the past twenty years, but also my own life as a Muslim living in America during that time. During the second presidential debate, Hillary Clinton mentioned that Muslims had been in America since the time of George Washington. In fact, we had been in America more than 90 years before the pilgrims arrived, and some two centuries before most of the founding fathers were born.
Muslims, both within America and around the world, are the religious community that is most affected by the presidency of Donald J. Trump. It is clear that the next years of the Trump administration will continue to be difficult times to be an American Muslim. On Friday, January 27, 2017, a week after his inauguration, President Trump ordered that the United States ban travelers and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen). He did this in the afternoon, after making comments that morning for International Holocaust Remembrance Day that made no mention either of the Jews or of anti-Semitism. Thousands of people protested the ban at airports across the country in the following days. I flew back to Los Angeles from Washington DC on January 29, and those protests were quite powerful to see, people standing up for us not just or only as refugees or immigrants, but as Muslims. That was extraordinary. What has also been amazing to see is the response from the American Jewish community. They have been at the forefront of the protests, both because they know that the commandment that is repeated more than any other commandment in the Torah is to not oppress the stranger, and because they know with the painful history of the Holocaust of where the road of prejudice and intolerance ends. And with the rise of hate crimes against Muslims, over half of the hate crimes committed against a religious group in America were against Jews.
On May 14, 2018, the Trump administration moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In America, we often think of the Palestinians as Muslim, ignoring the Palestinian Christian community with its diverse ways of being Christian. We need to work together, as Muslims, Christians, and Jews, to recognize a Jerusalem that is multi-ethnic and multi-religious. As Americans, we need to begin that work here in these United States.