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Our War Is Not Against Islam

Daniel Bullard-Bates,
ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief
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May 5, 2011

"Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader," President Obama said this Sunday, "he was a mass murderer of Muslims." Despite the President's assertion that "our war is not against Islam," the very next morning in Portland, Maine, a mosque was spray-painted with the words, "OSAMA TODAY ISLAM TOMOROW [sic]."

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. The same night as Bin Laden's death, California businessman Mohammed El Khatib was pelted with eggs outside of the night club he owns. The American Arab Forum in Paterson, N.J., received a phone call saying, "Tell your boss that we got his friend and we're going to get him."

Perhaps most heartbreaking is the experience of a ninth-grade student at Clear Brook High School in Houston, Texas. Her algebra teacher told her, in front of the entire class, "I bet you're grieving," and, "I heard about your uncle's death." The student, a Muslim who was born in the United States, was brought to tears by her teacher's bigotry.

President Obama has called for unity, but American Muslims are still experiencing bigotry and hatred from those who equate fringe terrorist groups with an international religion. It is long past time to set aside this groundless prejudice.

More than 17,000 people have signed our pledge against religious discrimination; won't you join us? And for more on the ACLU's advocacy on behalf of the rights of Muslims, click here.

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