America has always been a melting pot, but in the post-9/11 world the environment can be downright hostile. Radio talk show hosts, pundits and politicians utter statements about Islam and Muslims that if they were to say the same about other religious groups, they would face severe consequences. This hateful discourse leaves me wondering how I can respond in a way that is constructive and doesn't simply perpetuate the shouting and hate speech.
A 2010 TIME poll reported that 62 percent of Americans claim to have never met a Muslim. This left me wondering: What about those Americans that do know a Muslim? How can can they effectively respond to this climate of fear and hostility towards Muslims?
A new online project, "My Fellow American," enables people of all faiths and backgrounds to share a story about a Muslim they know personally. The centerpiece of the project is a short teaser film that juxtaposes voices of hate with everyday Muslim Americans. It serves as a call-to-action for people of all faiths to stand up against this climate of hate speech and Islamophobia.
After watching the short film, the viewer is encouraged to visit the website, where dozens of Americans have already submitted short YouTube stories about a Muslim they know and admire. It calls on people of all faiths to sign a pledge and share the project with their network and affirm that American Muslims are indeed our fellow Americans. The pledge reads:
Muslims are our fellow Americans. They are part of the national fabric that holds our country together. They contribute to America in many ways, and deserve the same respect as any of us. I pledge to spread this message, and affirm our country's principles of liberty and justice for all.
To take the pledge and share your Muslim story, visit the My Fellow American website.