Boston Voices

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“You think we should befriend them,” Boston radio talk show host (WTKK-FM) Jay Severin told a caller on April 22, 2004. “I think we should kill them.”  

This declaration followed a long rant about the disloyalty of Muslims in America, whom, he said, were here “to take over our culture and eventually take over the country.”  

Severin has not been the only big mouth with a microphone in Boston to indulge in vicious Islamophobic tirades. Muslims in Massachusetts continue to feel vulnerable, targeted by sections of the media, by local right-wing bloggers such as Solomonia and Miss Kelly and by groups like the David Project that tried to prevent the substantial Roxbury mosque from being built and now portray it as a beach head in Islam’s takeover of America. The well-funded network that is conducting what Max Blumenthal has called “the Great Islamophobic Crusade” makes it unlikely that these feelings of vulnerability will be permitted to subside anytime soon.
 
In interviews conducted with Boston’s Muslim community in 2009 and 2010, a commonly expressed view was that Muslims are being misrepresented and it is important for the general public to understand what the community in Boston is experiencing.  “I am an American,” said one woman. “This is my country and I do not want anything to happen to it.  Do not just hate or suspect all Muslims. The vast majority are law-abiding and love this country. Do not treat us like outcasts.”
 
In the interviews, people described the hostility and ignorance they faced on the streets, when seeking work and at their jobs. They worried that their children were being harassed at school and how that could affect their attitude and behavior.  They talked about the problems of running a business when their bank accounts were closed without explanation. They recounted being repeatedly visited by the FBI at their homes, their jobs, and sometimes at the airport. Some said they no longer wanted to go to the mosque because they knew it was under surveillance and there were informers everywhere.  
 
Women talked about how differently they were treated when they wore the hijab. Men and women described how humiliating it was to be singled out at airports and borders, and made to undergo lengthy interrogations and searches. Many gave the impression of being part of a community under siege and of living with fear that was showing no signs of abating a full decade after the 9/11 attacks. This was not the America of their dreams.

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