I must admit that I was surprised by this interview. Many of the responses this strong Muslim woman gave to the interviewer from the Clarion Project surprised me, in that they sounded much like the same things non-Muslim Americans have been begging Muslim-Americans to say since 9-11. More Muslim Americans need to speak out and condemn fellow Muslims who are not willing or interested in assimilating in America, and those who adhere to extremist views that include Sharia Law.
Anila Ali was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and studied in London, where she became a volunteer in the All Pakistan Women’s Association. In 1996, she came to California. She is an active member of the Council of Pakistan-American Affairs (COPAA), the author of “Mommy am I a…?” and a contributor to the largest Pakistani paper in the U.S., The Pakistan Link.
Ali is the founder and board member of the American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council, which is the only Muslim women’s organization that works on the ground with law enforcement and interfaith leaders to counter radicalization and build capacity in the Muslim community do they can be the first line of defense against radicalization.
She graciously agreed to speak with Clarion Project Dialogue Coordinator Elliot Friedland about being a Muslim-American since the election. The views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Clarion Project. Ryan Mauro previously interviewed Anila Ali for Clarion Project.
1. Clarion Project: Since Trump’s election many Muslim groups are feeling scared that he will implement repressive policies targeted at the Muslim community. How do you feel about such fears?
Anila Ali: There is a real fear in the community that a Trump presidency will mean restrictions on Muslims. There is talk of internment camps and it was in registry and that is generating a lot of misconceptions and fears. There is also a concern that Mosques and citizens will be monitored as well.
Personally, I have faith in the constitution of the United States of America and I feel majority of America knows and understands that you cannot make generalized statements about all Muslims and paint all Muslims with the same brush stroke.
But we have also realize that it is time that Muslims in America step up their game and get more involved in making sure that the neighbors understand who they are and that they are peace-loving patriotic Americans.
For it is mostly the fear of the unknown that spreads misconceptions.
2. Clarion: What should public figures be doing to calm inter-communal relations?
Ali: Public figures, especially the ones in the majority party, have a responsibility to represent all Americans. Their words can help alleviate fears about Muslims and stop the Muslims from getting marginalized. Show of support unity with all unities that maybe feeling slightly marginalized, will help them from further isolation.
The level of hateful rhetoric that I have heard in the past one month has been the worst since 911. It seems people have a newfound courage to tell “Muslims to leave the country,” “pack up and leave the country” etc. Anti-Muslim sentiment is rampant and most people are not able to distinguish between a radical and a moderate.
There is a general perception that all Muslims condone violence and that all Muslims want sharia law in America. There is also a very toxic perception that Muslims like myself who are any patriotic, modern and progressive are lying as mandated in the Quran to convert people, the concept being taqqiya. This notion must be dispelled because the majority of Muslims don’t even know what this concept is. Muslims who have come from South Asia have no idea of this Arabic concept because it is part of the Wahhabi Salafist ideology and Muslims like me, majority coming from South Asia, have never even heard of it.
These misconceptions in the mainstream community must be countered and dispelled.
3. Clarion: What do you think the impact of designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization would be if it passed?
Ali: If Arab countries can ban Muslim brotherhood why can’t we? Any organization that has terrorist ties should be banned in the US. Any organization that condone the killing of an innocent, or promote so insights hatred for non-Muslims should be banned.
4. Clarion: What organizations or activists would you recommend as standing up for the rights of the community and are unaffiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood or related organizations?
Ali: Of course I would promote my own organization American Muslim women’s empowerment Council, formed to counter extremism which gives women a voice, promotes the real Islam, gives women equality and completely condemns all shapes and forms of terrorism and hatred.
Whoever wants to follow sharia law should migrate to a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia.
For entire interview, go to the Clarion Project