American Muslims ambivalent celebrating July 4th

Americans fought a war against the English colonial power and some the values they fought for are contained in the Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal and they are endowed…with certain unalienable rights…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It is this declaration, written by Thomas Jefferson, that Americans celebrate every July 4th since 1776. I believe that people are inspired by the declaration’s tribute to humankind. On July 4th, people celebrated with rallies, fireworks, music. On July 4th, people of all races were proud to be American, with the exception of seven million people in the country who felt ambivalent.

Muslims in America were not sure if we would be able to celebrate in the streets. Will we be stopped at airports and road checks? Will we suffer racial profiling? Will people on the streets, afraid of terrorism threats, view us with suspicion? I feel that overwhelming numbers of Muslims stayed home this Fourth of July.

Muslims in this country wonder why we have been excluded from the principles enshrined by Thomas Jefferson. Why do we feel alienated? Is it because we are Muslim?

Muslims living in the United States, along with the rest of the one billion Muslims around the world, are presumed terrorist. Is it because of the way America conducts its global campaign against terrorism? If President Bush believed in the principles of Thomas Jefferson, he would not tell the Palestinian people that they should not elect Yasir Arafat as a leader. He must not regard Afghans as equal human beings, so every so often he bombs civilians in Afghanistan. He has declared has declared the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle terrorism.

One would think that Thomas Jefferson’s ideals were not revolutionary, that they were not fought for. That his words were not inspired by Locke and Rousseau. That they did not inspire the French Revolution and its bloody cries of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

If Muslims were the only people in the country who felt ambivalent then our dismay would have no end. Thankfully there are lots of people and associations who are concerned that Bush’s campaign for terrorism is an attack against civil liberties. There are many who see an evangelical spirit in President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft.

Keeping in mind Bush’s reluctance to combat corporate greed, it is clear that a new pledge of allegiance must be made up:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under the God of the conservative evangelical tradition, with liberty and justice only for those who have amassed enough wealth to afford it.”

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