One of the biggest criticisms of the American Muslim community is their silence in regards to terrorism and their lack of active participation in finding solutions to home-grown or global radicalization. Though this assertion is grossly exaggerated, there hasn’t been a nationally organized, structured response from the Muslims to engage in dialogue with other Americans about how they feel and think. It has usually been organized by non-Muslims or interfaith groups, but today, the Muslim Public Affairs Council released a 9/11 Community Dialogue Toolkit today to “empower communities to engage in positive conversations surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and organize community events geared toward honoring the victims of that horrific tragedy.”
From a PR standpoint, this is very important (although to some a little late), because it shows a proactive and unified statement by American Muslims to address a momentous occasion in this country’s history from their perspective and answer questions that many people may still have. It rejects the notion that the community has nothing to say, especially nearing the 10th annniversary. Putting out a toolkit online to be easily accessible and downloaded by anyone allows American Muslims to help guide the narrative of their role in the country’s reaction to terror and violence.
As MPAC states on its website:
“The focus of the commemoration should be on the victims, the survivors and the impact of the attacks on our national reaction and character. The focus should be on the suffering of our entire nation and all its citizens and faith communities”
I found the above statement interesting, because if you look at the general public, many Americans still view the global war on terror as against Islam and Muslims and don’t associate Muslims as on “the good side.”
You can see that viewpoint illustrated in the recently published controversial children’s coloring book called, “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kid’s Book of Freedom,” which contains a page of Bin Laden and his wife in a cave and the accompanying text: “Children, the truth is, these terrorist acts were done by freedom-hating radical Islamic Muslim extremists. These crazy people hate the American way of life because we are FREE and our society is FREE.”
How should the media use this critical time to address the gaps in communication and understanding that still exist between the younger generation that wasn’t born until after 9/11 and those who lived through and are seeing the consequences of it? What are some unique ways using new media and citizen journalism to have more in depth, provocative and honest discussion with the 10th anniversary coming up, that includes recent anti-Muslim, immigrant and multiculturalism attitudes in this country?
I am eager to see if we can avoid the over-hashed, unoriginal coverage that surrounds critical historical events and actually look towards solutions and understanding. It would be nice to see if people sound off and share the results of using the MPAC-provided toolkit and what kinds of dialogues emerge from it.