MUSLIM AND ARAB AMERICANS: DIVERSE MINORITIES CHAPTER 11 Muslim and Arab People Muslim and Arab Americans are different groups in America • Though they overlap with some Muslim Americans of Arab ancestry, they are distinct from each other Two objectives for considering Arab and Muslim Americans together • 1st - clarify the distinction between two groups incorrectly referred as the same population • 2nd - Overcome prism of Orientalism through which many Americans view the Arab and Muslim world Simplistic view of people and history of the orient with not recognition of change over time or the diversity in the many cultures Arabs are an ethnic group Muslims are a religious group Islam is the faith (like Christianity) Muslim is a believer of that religion (like a Christian) One cannot accurately identify the Muslim faithful by nationality alone Clearly being Arab does not define one as being a follower of Islam Arab Americans Arab Americans • Refers to immigrants and their descendants from the countries that now comprise the Arab world “Middle Eastern” • Middle East is an ambiguous geographic designation the includes many that are neither Muslim nor Arab but is frequently used The Arabic language is the most single unifying force among Arabs There are up to 3 million people with Arab ancestry in the U.S. • Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Palestine account fro 2/3rd of Arab Americans in 2000 Diversity of Arabs • Variation in time of arrival • Variation in the point of origin • Variation of religious tradition Deficit Model of Ethnic Identity • One’s ethnicity is viewed by others as a factor of subtracting away the characteristics corresponding to some ideal ethnic type Muslim Americans 1.3 billion followers worldwide and second to Christianity Islam is guided by the teaching of the Koran (Qur’an) Use religious rituals Divided into a variety of faiths and sects Jihad • A struggle against enemies of Allah, usually taken to mean one’s own internal struggle but recently reinterpreted to mean political enemies Number of Muslim Americans is difficult to estimate • 20-42 percent African American • 24-33 percent South Asian (Afghan, Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani) • 12-32 percent Arab • 10-22 percent “other” (Bosnian, Iranian, Turk, and White and Hispanic converts) Total agreement that the population is growing rapidly • Immigration and conversion Blended Identity • Is the self-image and worldview that is a combination of religious faith, cultural background based in nationality, and the status of being a resident of the U.S. Muslims often find their daily activities defined by their faith, their nationality, and their status as American, however defined in terms of citizenship In the US, many Muslims experience both the freedom to be Muslim and the pressure to be Muslim Black Muslims Estimated to account for 90 percent of all converts to Islam in the U.S. Not tightly organized into a single religious fellowship Against adultery and drinking alcohol The Nation of Islam became a wellknown and controversial organization • Trace roots to W. Fard Muhammad in (1930) • Became well-known and controversial under Elijah Muhammad Malcolm X Originally a member of the Nation of Islam Was the most powerful and brilliant voice of Black self-determination in the 1960s Was highly critical of the civil rights movement in general and of Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembered for: • His sharp attacks on Black leaders • His break with the Nation of Islam • His apparent shift to support the formation of coalitions with progressive whites • Teaching that Black must resist violence “by any means necessary.” Created the Organization of AfroAmerican Unity • Meant to internationalize the Civil Rights Movement Assassinated in 1964 Louis Farrakhan Has been the most visible spokesperson among various Muslim groups in the African American community Anti-Israel foreign policy Pro: Self-help, bootstrap capitalism, and strict punishment Against: Abortion, drugs and homosexuality Leader of the 1995 Million Man March Immigration to the United States Some slaves were followers of Islam The National Origins System slowed immigration to the United States In 1919, the first mosque was established and a variety of service agencies to help the immigrant community Professional-Preference Clauses within 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act • Increased immigration among Muslims and Arabs Contemporary Life in the United States Arab Americans tend to immigrate to urban areas Fill skilled and professional roles in US and become self-employed merchants or entrepreneurs Operate stores in low-income areas of central cities major retailers ignore • Opportunities for success are great, but face challenges of serving low-income population with few consumer choices and history of being exploited by outsiders Family Life and Gender Traditionally, Islam has permitted men to have multiple wives—a maximum of four. Role of women receive much attention because outer clothing is a conspicuous symbol that to some seem to represent repression of women in society Perception of gender practices in Muslim societies receive special attention by Western media • Particularly dress codes Hijab • Refers to a variety of garments that allow women to follow the guidelines of modest dress Three perspectives among Muslim women in US and settlements outside Islamic countries Younger, better educated, support hijab but draw upon Western ideas of individual rights Older, less-educated support hijab and make arguments without reference to Western ideology Third group of all ages and education, oppose the hijab There are differences in the role of women within the faith and the mosque Segregations of the sexes in mosques Education Recognize the importance of education and value formal instruction in their faith Schools are specific to particular expressions of Islam and specific nationalities Children attending public schools encounter the type of adjustment experienced by those of a religious faith different from the dominant one of society Politics Muslim and Arab Americans are politically aware and often active Most visible Arab American in politics • Ralph Nader tried to open presidential politics to a true alternative to the twoparty system Muslims in the U.S. often express the view that their faith encourages political participation There is a clear distancing that one can observe between the major parties and Muslims and Arab Americans There is clear distancing between the major parties and Muslim and Arab Americans Contrast to the catering of African Americans and Latinos for votes In the last decade, escalation of charges that some organizations and charities assist groups unfriendly to Israel and support terrorism • Some U.S. politicians have begun to take the safe position of refusing campaign money from virtually any group linked to the Muslim or Arab community Being Arab or Muslim in the United States News events have fueled anti-Arab and anti-Muslim feeling 1972 terrorist raid at the Munich Olympics 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies, Kenya and Tanzania September 11, 2001 engineered by Arab Muslim extremists The USA PATRIOT ACT, passed in October 2001, has specific provisions in it condemning discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans Racial Profiling • Any arbitrary police-initiated action based on race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than a person’s behavior • Became intense after 9/11 The U.S. Department of Justice required that all foreign-born Muslim men be photographed, fingerprinted, and interviewed The registration process deepened fear and disillusionment among the many law-abiding Muslims in the U.S. Issues of Prejudice and Discrimination Motion pictures uniformly show Arabs and Muslims as savages, untrustworthy, and barbaric. On television, there is an overemphasis on the extreme representations Surveys conducted after 9/11 found a growing willingness to view Arabs and Muslims generally as a dangerous people and to require the carrying of special identification cards Hate crimes and harassment rose sharply after 9/11 One in four people believe a number of antiMuslim stereotypes Arab and Muslim Americans have not been passive to their treatment Organizations have been created: • To counter negative stereotypes and to offer schools material responding to the labeling that has occurred • To represent their interests and to promote understanding as well as to bring attention to discrimination and expressions of prejudice in public life and the mass media QUESTIONS What are the dimensions of diversity among Arab Americans and among Muslims? What distinguishes African American Muslims from other practicing Muslims in the United States? How has the immigration of Muslims and Arabs been influenced by the governmental policies of the United States? What would you identify as the four most important differences between being a Christian in the United States and being a Muslim in this country? Besides Arab Americans and Muslim Americans, what other groups can you identify that have recently been subjected to prejudice and discrimination in the United States? 9/11 was a major tragic even in recent U.S. history. However, based on the functionalist perspective, it led to interesting changes. Identify three negative and three positive functions of the events of 9/11. Identify the characteristics of the deficit model of ethnic identity related to Arab Americans and one other group in America. What are some of the characteristics associated with Muslim and Arab Americans that come to be viewed as negatives, but when practiced by Christian Whites are seen as positive.