I just got back from a screening of the film “My Name is Khan”, a Bollywood movie about a man with Asperger’s Syndrome who, after his son is killed by a group of anti-Muslim teens, goes on a mission to tell the president “My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist.” Yes some of it was far-fetched and strange, but then again, it is an Indian movie, and our movies tend to be a bit eccentric.
There are many scenes in the film that show the plight of the Islamic-American post-9/11. Shops are vandalized, men are beaten and some Muslims and non-Muslims even take to changing their appearances and names so they can better assimilate into the post-9/11 American society.
The movie really got me thinking about how North Americans treat minorities, especially those who follow Islam, and those who, to the untrained or ignorant eye, look like they follow Islam. I’m talking about brown people. Maybe it’s not easy to tell where a brown person is from. I wouldn’t know, because I can tell pretty easily, since I am one. But I’ve been asked if I’m Iranian, Afghani, Pakistani, Jordanian, and in one odd case, Italian. That last one made no sense. None of the guesses, by the way, offended me in any way.
I am, ancestrally, from India. Does that make me Muslim? Hindu? Jewish? Christian? Does it matter? No. So, I’m not going to tell you. But what does matter is the attitude some of the residents of the U.S. and Canada take toward minorities that look Muslim.
Of course, not all of either country is anti-Muslim. I’d wager that only a small percentage of people in both countries harbor real, genuine hateful feelings towards Muslims. Some of these people think jihad, bombs and death are the primary teachings of the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran does not advocate killing, but verses taken out-of-context lead some to believe it does. Verses taken out of context from other religious books, be they from the Hindu faith or the Christian faith, can also give people the wrong idea of the religion. That’s why people say education leads to understanding, because a lack of education leads to ignorance.
Anyway, after the movie I came home, logged on to Twitter, and searched the word “Muslim”. I came across a few prejudice tweets. Below is a conversation between two women that I found interesting:
@caitebeth: “Why do we have Obama as president? I mean, really. Don’t tell me he’s not a Muslim. I won’t believe you.”
Why are people so vehemently attacking a man on the basis of his (perceived) faith? Like “@rawrxmaggie” says, who cares what faith he is? Isn’t the U.S. a land of freedom, freedom of religion, the right to be who you are anywhere, at all times? If someone is smart, capable, morally decent and kind, why can’t they rise to the top in any profession? Do they have to be smart, capable, morally decent, kind and Christian? No.
But wait, here’s more tweets from the “@caitebeth” brand of thinking. These are a bit more radical, though:
@brettcoulter: “SOME PEOPLE THINK HIS REAL NAME IS MOHAMMED. HIS MIDDLE NAME IS HUSSEIN SO THAT IS BELIEVABLE. HE’S A MUSLIM IN DISGUISE. RECORDS ARE HIDDEN”
@TexasRV: “This is United States of America not Communist, Muslim or Socialist nation. We r last hope 4 free world. God Bless America”
Apparently, to “@TexasRV“, Muslims can be equated with Communists and Socialists. Who knew?
I’m sure most of my readers are open-minded, accepting, kind people. I thank you for your lack of prejudice. For those who aren’t, I respect your views. I just don’t agree with them.
Am I Muslim? Hindu? Christian? Jewish? It doesn’t matter. So, I’m not going to tell you.