The Demonstrations in Pompano Beach Against Moooslims And The Growing Divide Influenced By The War on Terror
By Bro. Tony Muhammad
In late June, seven Black men (nick-named The Liberty Seven) were seized and arrested by Federal Agents (6 of them in Miamis Liberty City section) on the grounds of what the community believes to be a case of entrapment led on by an FBI agent who reportedly had the men swear allegiance to Al-Qaeda and commit to the bombing of several FBI offices and the Sears building in Chicago. Partly considering what was making nation-wide headlines at that very moment (The New York Times breaking the story that the Bush Administration has been unconstitutionally spying on millions of peoples financial records), the community regarded the incident as a Weapon of Mass Distractions.
Weeks later, in Broward Countys Pompano Beach, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center, Rev. O’Neal Dozier, led his congregation to demonstrate in front of City Hall against ”Moooslims” (Muslims expressed in a derogatory manner) that are in the process of building a new mosque in the Black community. The demonstrations came after Dozier made comments against Islam in a news release and on a radio talk show; prompting Governor Jeb Bushs office to ask the minister/lawyer to resign from his post on the Broward Judicial Nominating Committee which he had held since 2001. Dozier, who as a Black Republican has worked closely with Governor Jeb Bush and Attorney General Charlie Crist in recruiting Blacks into the GOP, submitted his letter of resignation on Sunday, June 9th.
Dozier commented to Urban America Newspaper, We can not allow a mosque to be built in a Black Christian community, which would turn our young Black men, who are angry at white people, towards a dangerous religion. When questioned why he regarded Islam a dangerous religion, the pastor asserted that he holds a bachelors degree in religion and philosophy and argued that Islam has a violent history. He argued that the religion itself breeds terrorism. The Pastor was asked if he did not feel Christianity has had its share of violence being committed under its name, especially towards African peoples who were brought into this country against their will and for centuries lynched by their white Christian brothers. Opposing the hard realities of history, Dozier firmly said No, making a distinction that lynchings were not committed under Christianity despite the Ku Klux Klan historically using the burning cross as a traditional trademark symbol. He denied that his concerns have come in response to the arrest of the Liberty City Seven, but made it more apparent by his high emotionalism that he was upset that Islam is in fact the fastest growing religion among Black males in the United States. When asked if he has sat down to talk with Altaf Ali, the executive director the Florida chapter the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and others responsible for the building of the new mosque, Dozier responded in an restless tone, Why should I sit down with them? I know how they feel! I know their religion! I know its origins! They want to kill everyone! Dozier, who has made recommendations to the Bush administration about combining faith-based initiatives with combating HIV/AIDS in Africa, ended the interview by expressing awkwardly, I love the Muslim people. They are victims because they are misguided. They need to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Dozier affirmed that his opposing the creation of the new mosque has not ended; stressing, We will fight until we get results, including the courts if we have to go that rout.
Concerned about the conflicts and misinformation that could potentially spawn as a result of Doziers message regarding the effect of Islam on young Black men, the Fort Lauderdale based Muhammads Mosque #82 of the Nation of Islam has sought to inform the Black community in Pompano the truth behind the religion and its principles. Minister Ronald Muhammad commented to Urban America Newspaper, The Nation of Islam is definitely comprised of Muslims and have many mosques in the Black community, just as our Arab brothers who also have many mosques in the Black community. Muhammad adds, There is no record of violence or negative effect in the Black community as of consequence. Islam is a reforming religion, Muhammad asserts, I dont know where he (Dozier) is basing his argument but history does not support his argument. Critical of Doziers actions while involved in the Broward Judicial Nominating Committee and currently as a pastor, Muhammad argues, Social, civic and religious leaders have a moral responsibility to take a position that represents the general well being and edification of the people that they serve as it relates to the laws and rules that they serve. Muhammad concludes, In any civil society, freedom, justice and equality for all overrides any personal disposition that a public figure may have.
Urban America Newspaper contacted the Pompano Islamic Center for commentary. After greeting a representative on the phone with the traditional salutation of peace for the Muslim world, As-Salaam-Alaikum, and explaining the purpose of the call, the representative who remained unidentified responded with an emotional rant, WHO IS THIS? WHAT IS THIS?
The response is symbolically reflective of the level of distrust that many Muslims and conscientious people have developed for each other since President George W. Bushs War on Terror began in September 2001. Since it has been clear that the Bush administration has been (both legally and illegally) investigating the phone conversations and financial records of millions of people in America, many such people have been limiting the type of conversations they would have over the phone, through e-mail or even in person. Even more obvious, soon after the seizure of the Liberty Seven, various Sunni Muslim organizations nation-wide issued public statements about how those who were involved in the group were not really Muslims and were in no way related to them or their religion, an act that violates the principles of the Islam. Instead of working to gain justice for those are very obviously victims of the system, they step away in fear that one day they will possibly become victims in a similar manner. What is clear is that The War on Terror has played a strong part in increasingly dividing up segments of America who suffer from the same problems; both between communities and within the same community.