Following controversy over planned lower Manhattan Islamic center Tariq Ramadan argues: "Even now, Muslims must have faith in America"

Analysis, posted 09.30.2010, from United States, in:

Just a short time ago, Europe seemed to be the part of the West where fears of Islam were most evident, with its bitter controversies over headscarf bans or the construction of mosques in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Yet in recent weeks, America's relationship with Islam appears to have changed. The battle over a planned Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York and the proposed burning of the Koran by a Florida pastor have revealed similar worries, and journalists and intellectuals (including, ironically, European ones) have been quick to describe the rise of Islamophobia in America.

Polls show that nearly half of Americans have unfavorable views of Islam, and the fear of this faith in America is undeniable. But is it as simple as xenophobia and racism? I do not believe so. Natural and understandable concerns can be transformed into active rejection and open racism when political discourse and media coverage fan the flames for ideological, religious or economic interests. That is what is happening in America today.

The great majority of Americans do not know much about Islam but nonetheless fear it as violent, expansionist and alien to their society. The problem to overcome is not hatred, but ignorance. The challenge for Muslims in America is to respect the fears of ordinary people while resisting the exploitation of those fears by political parties, lobbies and sectors of the media. To meet this challenge, Muslims must reassess their own involvement, behavior and contributions in American society.

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