Ibrahim Hooper

Associated Press goes overboard on Muslims 'under siege' headline

Associated Press goes overboard on Muslims 'under siege' headline

I must say, the headline stood out: 

Muslim spokesman: As boy departs, Muslims feel ‘under siege'

Too bad the story had little to do with it. First, I read this Associated Press story about how the family of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old boy who was wrong accused of bringing a bomb — which turned out to be a clock — to school has decided they’d do better in Qatar. We critiqued some of the press coverage here.

The AP story got some intriguing quotes from two Muslim sources who disagreed with the family’s move:

Yaser Birjas, imam of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving, said he wishes the 14-year-old well but worries about the stress that can come with celebrity.
"I hope that he does not get overwhelmed and consumed with that because now the expectation of him is so high," Birjas said. "And he's just a kid."
Birjas cautioned that people who move from America to Muslim countries are often disappointed when they discover restrictions they never experienced in the U.S.
"Here in America, you have much more freedom practicing the faith," he said.
For others, the family move to the Middle East sends an unfortunate message.
Yousuf Fahimuddin, a Muslim journalist in the San Francisco Bay area, believes the family's departure will only perpetuate the idea that Muslims are not loyal to the U.S.
"I don't think moving to Qatar, a country with its own share of problems, constructively helps fight prejudice," Fahimuddin said in an email.
Instead, he said, "Muslims should try to share their common humanity with others to demonstrate that they are regular people."
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the U.S. has seen a significant rise in the level of anti-Muslim sentiment — feelings he said were reflected by the political attacks of GOP presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
"The Muslim-American community feels under siege by all this," Hooper said.

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