Remembering the words of our friends
| Friday, 10.14.2016, 12:41 AM

Religious and racial intolerance are reaching alarming levels. Populist politicians have taken advantage of the spread of violence across the world to scapegoat Arab and Muslim Americans. 
The bigotry is manifesting itself institutionally, through unfair government programs and policy proposals, but also in society as evidenced by the exponential increase of hate crime against people who appear to be Muslim.
While politicians adopted a predatory approach in demonizing Arabs and Muslims, some media outlets led the way in stereotyping. 
But through these challenging times, some institutions and individuals have stepped up to defend American values and correct misconceptions about those viewed as the “other” by the wider American society. 
As we have slammed those promoting and fueling Islamophobia in the past, it is only fitting that we voice our gratitude for those who stand with the community. 
“At the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
Not all of our friends have been silent. Many have spoken out, not for self-interests, but from a principled position and commitment to the ideals of our nation. 
Of those, we thank ABC’s Detroit affiliate WXYZ, which has aired and promoted an online series of profiles on successful and patriotic Muslim Americans. We welcome this kind of profiling. 
“Muslim American: Inside a growing Michigan community” has garnered thousands of views, educating those who were willing to listen. 
WDIV is also appreciated for its educational series, “Arab in America.”
Despite some negative online comments about the videos, such programs help breaking the cycle of stereotypes perpetuated by political talk shows, right wing politicians and Hollywood.
What was particularly uplifting about this series is that it allows Muslims to speak for themselves instead of creating a space for someone else to paint an image of them.
At a time when politicians avoid being associated with Arabs and Muslims, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) has stood by this community and defended all of her constituents in Washington. The same is true for U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint). 
Beyond the rhetoric, Dingell has fought the good fight against discrimination.
She has called on the government to fulfill its legal duty and evacuate Americans stranded in Yemen. She called for a thorough investigation in the tragic death of Muslim Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui. She pushed back against a discriminatory bill that would exempt people from the Visa Waiver Program because of their national origin.
Most recently, Dingell led the way in drafting a letter addressed to the secretary of Homeland Security to ensure due process for individuals on the No Fly list.
Although we have disagreed with the congresswoman in the past, she remains one of the community’s closest ally on Capitol Hill.
Other ethnic and religious minorities have been supportive through this wave of prejudice as well. 
Sikh leaders, whose communities have been repeatedly targeted by hate crimes stemming from Islamophobia, have been honorable in rejecting bigotry instead of distancing themselves from Muslims. 
Sikhs are not Muslim. It would be easy for them to say, “We are not like them.”
Instead, they are saying that “Sikhs stand alongside Muslims in combating bigotry and hate violence”, which is what Arjun Singh Sethi, director of Law and Policy at The Sikh Coalition in Washington D.C., told The AANews in August.
The African American community, leaders and activists have also come to the defense of Arab and Muslim Americans. This is no surprise, as Black Muslims constitute the biggest group among Muslim Americans.
But also non-Muslim African Americans, including Black Lives Matter organizers, the NAACP and civil rights icons like Jesse Jackson, have been pushing back against hatred towards Arabs and Muslims.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has also done an excellent job in tracking and labeling anti-Muslim groups and individuals across the country.
We encourage our readers to continue to reach out to the wider society, build bridges and form coalitions. Arab and Muslim Americans should stand for justice for all and be appreciative of those who stand with them. 
The darkest days may not be behind us. Those who believe in America as the land of the free for all Americans must stand united.

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