Soapbox

Mosques assimilate Muslims, don’t harbor terrorists

Worshippers gather at the Sacramento Area League of American Muslims mosque.
Worshippers gather at the Sacramento Area League of American Muslims mosque. Courtesy of SALAM

After the horrific Orlando, Fla., attack, Donald Trump called for monitoring mosques and falsely asserted that even second- and third-generation Muslim Americans barely assimilate.

Trump is dead wrong.

A Muslim at the Orlando nightclub is a poignant example of assimilation. Imran Yousuf, a Marine who fought in Afghanistan, helped save dozens that night. Trump, who avoided serving his country during the Vietnam War through multiple deferments, has yet to acknowledge Yousuf.

The next afternoon, Sacramento Muslims joined the LGBTQ community in solidarity at a rally outside the Faces nightclub in midtown. I stood on the stage with imams of Sacramento-area mosques and other Muslim leaders to share sadness and outrage, as well as to express support for a community that has long supported Muslims in opposing discrimination.

The fact is terror attacks are increasingly difficult to detect and prevent because they are not coordinated by groups such as the Un-Islamic State, as I prefer to call it. Rather, they are lone wolf actions inspired by pernicious internet and social media campaigns. The attackers in Boston, San Bernardino and Orlando were U.S. citizens with loose or no affiliation with local mosques.

American mosques are part of the solution because they have the religious credibility to inoculate those few Muslims susceptible to manipulation by promoting the peaceful tenets of our faith and American values. Trump’s blatantly bigoted rhetoric is dangerous because it reinforces the terrorists’ propaganda that Muslims are reviled and unwelcome.

At my SALAM Center mosque in Sacramento, our mission statement says our prime goal is “the emergence of an American Muslim identity.” That is reflected in our diversity, including trustees and congregants. Mosques like SALAM play an important role in assimilating Muslims.

The Un-Islamic State offers nothing but misery and death and views Muslims like me as apostates, wishing to kill or convert us to their death cult. It takes all Americans, Muslim and non-Muslim, standing together to defeat this menace threatening us all.

Waseem Bawa is a business consultant and chairman of the Sacramento Area League of American Muslims. He can be contacted at wmbawa@gmail.com.

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