Saturday, November 7, 2009

Muslim & Arab American Citizens and President Obama Address Fort Hood Shooting

Analysis: US Muslims fear reprisals in wake of Fort Hood attack
Published Date: 07 November 2009
By Chris Stephen

THE KILLING of the Fort Hood soldiers by Major Nidal Hasan has set people in America's six-million strong Muslim community on edge, fearing a possible backlash against them.

Leading Islamic groups were quick to condemn the killings, with the largest Muslim civil rights group, the Council on American-Muslim Relations, declaring: "No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims."

Ibrahim Ramy of the Muslim American Foundation called on the government to protect Muslims from a backlash: "We reject the idea that this incident is motivated by a terrorist ideology of a religious community."

The attack comes as the council tries to persuade other Americans that Muslims in the United States do not identify with terrorism. "Most Americans were introduced to our faith on 9/11, watching a plane hitting a building," said council spokesman Corey Saylor. "Its an educational process. That will take years."

Just how many years is a moot point. Japanese Americans were seen as traitors following the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor in the Second World War. "For Japanese Americans it took decades," said Mr Saylor.

The council's solution has been to promote education programmes designed to spread the word that US Muslims do not agree with extremist ideologies.

There has been little support among American Muslims for radical organisations and, to date, few racist attacks against Muslims are recorded.

US president Barack Obama's speech in Cairo earlier this year, in which he called on all Americans to recognise Muslims as fully integrated into the United States, eased tensions, but the council wants the president to do more.

"We're still waiting for him to visit an American mosque," said Mr Saylor.

November 6, 2009,

A Challenge for the Commander in Chief

New York Times

President Obama spoke of the shootings during brief remarks from the White House Rose Garden on Friday.

President Obama faces a delicate question in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings.

In any moment of national tragedy, Americans expect to hear from their president. Mr. Obama quickly came forward, offering words of consolation, prayers for victims and their families, and the promise to find out how such a calamity could occur on a military base. On Friday afternoon, he is scheduled to visit troops at Walter Reed Medical Center. He will also attend a service for the victims.

But will the commander in chief also try to use this as a teachable moment?

Investigators, who believe Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people, are piecing together how and why the attack occurred.

The grainy photograph of the suspected shooter – Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan – is being shown again and again on television against a backdrop of news reports that he claimed to be harassed because of his Muslim faith.

Does that raise the burden for Mr. Obama to address any potential backlash against Muslims – military or civilian – in the United States?

Mr. Obama appeared in the Rose Garden at the White House shortly after 11:30 a.m., offering brief remarks on the Fort Hood shootings. He said that he met with Robert Mueller, the director of the F.B.I., and ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until next Wednesday, which is Veteran’s Day.

“We don’t know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts,” Mr. Obama said. “What we do know is that there are families, friends and an entire nation grieving right now for the valiant men and women who came under attack yesterday in one of the worst mass shootings ever to take place on an American military base.”

He added, “We honor their service, we stand in awe of their sacrifice.”

The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said later on Friday that Mr. Obama would attend a service for the victims. Mr. Gibbs said the president’s schedule for the coming week, before he leaves for Asia, is “in flux” as the White House awaits word of when a service might be scheduled.

But as Mr. Obama was already weighing how many more troops to send to Afghanistan and how to explain that decision to the nation, has the tragedy at Fort Hood complicated the task for the commander in chief?

Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting