Atif Harden thinks he has an easier time since he is an African American and was raised here. He says the perception is that if you are an immigrant and have an accent, you are a terrorist.
He works with the Muslim American Society (MAS) and says he is much more of an activist now. “The fight is not going to stop. It’s the same politics of paranoia. When the Catholics came here, they were considered terrorists taking over the country. The same kind of stuff was done to the Jewish community, the Chinese, the Japanese. What they say about MAS they used to say about the NAACP. America has these basic principles such as freedom, justice, and equality. But under stress, they cave in.”
He points out that when it comes to Muslims, there are double standards. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are like the Ku Klux Klan, a right wing extremist group. They have nothing to do with Islam, just as the Klan has nothing to do with Christianity. “When the Klan does something, do they ask all Christians to apologize? We are the only group that is singled out. There are crazies in each religion, but we are the only group to get blamed.”
He fears that there will be more attacks on Muslims and mosques and regrets that the informant situation is having a chilling effect on worship. “People have told me that they are afraid to come to the mosque because of it. I am scared about informants coaxing Muslim youth to do crazy things. An informant can just say that x and y were talking about politics and then their name could be entered in the fusion center and there is no way for them to know about it or appeal it.”
He feels that Americans don’t want Muslims in the United States to get any political influence. “But the more they attack us, the more we have to organize.“