Why are we afraid of Muslims?

When I started the religion beat in September, one of the first people I met was Mujahid “ Rick” Ramos, imam of the congregation Masjid At-Tawheed in York.

We had a very pleasant conversation at the Martin Library downtown. Rick is a very astute and well-spoken man. Here is a comment that I didn’t use in the story I was doing at the time: “Islam is a permanent part of the American landscape. It’s not going away at this point. You’re starting to see more professionals from all walks of life accepting Islam.”

I came away suitably impressed with Rick and the fact that his congregation had found a home in York with no known resistance.

Sadly, not all among us are so accepting. And maybe we aren’t either.

Fearmongering continues to exist and it is being peddled by the Florida Family Association, a Tampa Bay group that is leading a campaign urging companies to pull ads from “All-American Muslim.”

The new TLC reality show premiered Nov. 13 and follows five Lebanese families in Dearborn, Mich. It has drawn protests from Christian groups.

“All-American Muslim” is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law,” the Florida group asserts in a letter it asks members to send to TLC advertisers.

Really? Didn’t we learn anything from the Civil Rights movement?

Nationally, the number of workplace religious discrimination complaints are on the rise as well. Logic would indicate that when you spread hate, actions are going to follow.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission statistics show that religious discrimination complaints in workplace settings have more than doubled from a little over a decade ago, resulting in roughly $10 million in settlements.

After talking to Shannon Powers at the state Human Relations Commission, I learned that 12 complaints of religious discrimination have been filed by York County residents so far this fiscal year, which began July 1. All of the complaints are from Muslims.

The HRC has never received more than six complaints from York County in any given year.

These statistics are troubling all around.

Why are we afraid of Muslims?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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