By Abdul Malik Mujahid

It was in the midst of about a hundred labor leaders that Joe Lombardo told me that a slogan being used by Wisconsinites protesting their governor’s union-busting laws is “Walk Like An Egyptian”. I cannot think of a better tribute to the courageous protestors of Cairo’s Liberation Square than this one. I wish someone could tell them that they have inspired not only those in the Arab world, but even those living in the world’s freest nation. Joe Lombardo is co-coordinator of United National Anti-War Committee.

I had only 15 minutes to convince the board of the largest union in the USA to support the anti-war movement this week. This was at the behest of President George Gresham, of local 1199, our nation’s largest labor union with about 400,000 members. He had invited me to speak to his group. Following thunderous applause after my talk, they endorsed the upcoming April 9, 2011 rally in New York, calling for jobs, not war.

Several hundred Egyptians died, suffered through torture and detentions to get their rights to be counted as citizens.

 Although we take our freedoms for granted, it was the struggle of courageous women and African Americans that all citizens today enjoy the right to vote, the right to assemble, the right to challenge and work toward a discrimination-free society, among other freedoms and privileges. It was through their protests, their sit-ins, their rallies, their vocal opposition to our government’s biased and unjust laws and policies, that change came.

In short, they were willing to take a stand. And that is what being a true American is all about.

I remember when I took the oath of citizenship in Chicago several years ago, the presiding judge set his notes aside and addressed all of us saying, “just remember one thing - now that you have become a citizen, it is your responsibility to participate in this democracy.”

It is a tremendous loss to not just Muslims, but America as a whole, when we don’t use the rights and powers we have as citizens. Every time any American stands up for what is right, challenging bias or wrong of any kind, these rights and powers are strengthened for all of us. Muslims benefited from the sacrifices of the civil rights movement, which led to greater acceptance of diversity. Now, it’s time for us to pay the favor back by further strengthening our nation for the benefit of all.

No doubt, many of us find this extremely difficult, especially given the negative attitudes and incidents directed at Islam and Muslims. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public life found last year that opinions of Islam among Americans have declined since 2005. But hate in general is on the rise.

Anti-immigrant sentiment is leading to hatred directed at Latinos across the country. Hate toward the perceived other has risen substantially. While a record number of 392,862 undocumented workers were deported in 2010, the remaining ten million are forced to live in extremely inhumane conditions, as the Economist recently reported.

President Obama is receiving 400 percent more death threats than President Bush did during his term in office, according to the Secret Service. The first black president of our country has been a source of hot and loud conversations about his place of birth and faith. These conspiracy theories have found grounding in the minds of a good percentage of the American population.

Verbal and physical attacks on Muslim Americans are increasing at an alarming rate. While more Muslims are choosing not to report crimes against them, hate toward Muslims is becoming mainstream. City after city, Muslims have to wage a battle to get their mosques built. A mixture of misguided public policy and irresponsible media is creating a lethal environment in which it is acceptable to say anything and

do anything toward a Muslim. As six more states are considering anti-Muslim laws similar to Oklahoma’s anti-Sharia constitutional amendment, Congressman Peter King wants to hold hearings to investigate Muslim Americans, while Newt Gingrich would like to have a federal law banning Sharia.

I would like to share with the Muslim community that we must realize this: although the majority of Americans hold negative opinions on Islam, 30 percent, that’s 100 million people, who have a positive opinion of Islam despite 10 years of propaganda. It is these Americans who are wondering where Muslims are as our faith and community are attacked.

It is no doubt important to build Masjids and schools. But now is the time to stand up and speak out. Muslims in America and Americans in general are suffering because of war and terrorism. And our economy is being destroyed because we are borrowing billions from China to bomb people in Afghanistan, instead of conquering the hearts of people so that we can do as good business with the world as China does.

It is time to stand up. It is time to stop being silent. It is time to organize.

  • We oppose war: "War settles nothing," said the celebrated American President General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • We condemn terrorism: It is Haram to hurt one's self or one's neighbors. It is un-Islamic.
  • We fight against Islamophobia: This is the only acceptable racism in the world today. It is hurting America more than it is hurting Muslims.
Walk like an Egyptian, vote in your elections, join the peace movement, and organize for April 9.


  1. Use the term Islamophobia when talking with others about hate directed at Islam and Muslims. By identifying a problem with a name, it becomes something that can be discussed, debated, and challenged.
  2. Share with your interfaith partners the reality of Islamophobia and how they can help you fight it.
  3. Make sure your interfaith partners understand the connection between war and terrorism. If not, give them the gift of Robert Pape’s book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Read it yourself as well if you already haven’t.