Michigan Muslims Counter Claims of Sectarian Conflict

February 16, 2007 § 8 Comments

I was born in Michigan and it is true, there is a very large presence of Muslims living in Michigan, it is very beautiful to see such a clear shift from the ethnic norm emerge nearly out of nowhere. To be immersed into a cultural collage of non-domestic origins is truly beautiful, in my opinion. While looking up some things concerning my birthplace Michigan, I found an NPR article suggesting that there has been an influx of “vandalism” in the Muslim majority city of Dearborn, MI:

“In Dearborn, Mich., the nation’s largest Arab-American community, Shia and Sunnis have long lived together mostly peacefully. But it appears that some of Iraq’s sectarian violence is being mirrored in the Detroit area, particularly in recent months. As the Muslim communities have grown and prospered, more mosques have been built and some of the divides between these sects have been brought into sharper focus.” (C. Corley, NPR) audio2

However, I noticed that in the radio editorial, NPR journalist Robert Siegal, appears to suggest that Iraqi-Americans and Iraqi immigrants are crossing Middle-Eastern cultural conflicts into Muslim communities here in the U.S.. But if you listen closely to an immigrant brother named Karim Al-Mayhi he expresses that,

“We don’t have trouble like that, the trouble like that… is over there in the Middle East.”

Likewise, Imam Eide Alawan clearly states that the vandalism and graffiti being spray painted does not appear to be Muslim at all, reading (according to Alawan):

“…Muslims go home…”

Alawan suggests, that it was a non-Muslim doing it because of the frustrations over Iraq. I am writing on this story because it may be indicative of the kind of slanted arguments against Muslims we may see in the future. These arguments if implied in the media could attempt to further feature Muslims as a civic threat, despite the civil reality of our communities. This article is simply a heads-up to my fellow Muslims and a “wagging finger” to media hounds and pundits contemplating an expansion on Siegal’s take of the issue.


§ 8 Responses to Michigan Muslims Counter Claims of Sectarian Conflict

  • gess says:

    ^ why don’t use it same spin on Shia-Sunnis when it worked in Irak 🙄

  • Aaminah says:

    Asalaamu alaikum brother Hakim.

    As you may remember, I live in Michigan, though on the West side. I have been reading numerous articles that CAIR has maintained in their listings and all of them site as Sunni-Shi’a split being the factor in the recent violence/grafitti etc going on in Dearborn and surrounding areas. Like you, I don’t think that is the case at all based on the descriptions. I think that some people would really like to play up a split – it’s Cesear’s Divide-N-Conquer method and it has worked very well for centuries all over the globe when put into use. But the truth is that it is non-Muslim Islamophobes who are, at least in the vast majority of cases, the actual culprits in the recent issues.

    But then, I have a suspicion that the Sunni-Shi’a split is somewhat fabricated or egged on in Iraq by Allied forces (or more correctly, their leaders) who want an excuse to stay there longer and control things…

  • Bin Gregory says:

    I’d have to disagree. Dearborn most definitely has inter-Arab tension along country of origin lines and along sunni-shia lines as well. It’s one reason Dearborn still hasn’t had an Arab mayor. I wouldn’t want to exaggerate the divisions, but I can’t deny it exists either. I’m speaking as a native Detroiter and I lived in Dearborn for a couple years. I left in 2002 so I can’t speak for the situation now, but it would be reasonable to assume that things are more tense now than before. I mean, political ups and downs in the Middle East are palpable in Dearborn. For example, when the Israelis pulled out of southern Lebanon, there were flowers strewn across Warren Avenue from the rejoicing.

  • Hakim says:

    “Dearborn most definitely has inter-Arab tension along country of origin lines and along sunni-shia lines as well.”

    I’m not saying that there is not intercommunity tension… what I am suggesting is that these tensions are not as related to the violence in Baghdad as Siegal and other pundits may have you believe.

    We all know of or have had an inter-community quarrel based on the age old issue that differentiates Sunni and Shi’a. What I am suggesting is that perhaps the “vandalism” and recent crimes committed are not the result of events in Iraq or at least not by Muslims as Imam Alawan has suggested. Besides… brother don’t you live in South East Asia?

  • Bin Gregory says:

    Yes, that’s right. I’ve been living in Malaysia for the last 4 and a half years, after leaving Dearborn in 2002.

  • Dirty Butter says:

    IN A PERFECT WORLD … we could trust the news media to give a true and accurate accounting. But ….

    That’s the main reason I added the Messopotamian’s blog to BLOG VILLAGE .. to try to get the perspective of someone who LIVED in Iraq! So, I would take the views of local Muslims as closer to the truth than the sensation seeking news.

  • Aaminah says:

    Asalaamu alaikum.

    It was not my intention, Bin Gregory, to deny that there are issues between Sunni and Shi’a in Dearborn and elswhere. I’m not looking at it with rose-tinted glasses, as they say, and claiming that there is no conflict, as I know there certainly is. But what I was addressing was in relation to the recent spate of violence, graffiti on masjids and other vandalism. Perhaps I am naive, and I’m also not saying it’s impossible, but I just am not particularly inclined to believe that MOST of that behavior is Sunni-Shi’a related. I believe that the type of vandalism being perpetrated on Shi’a mosques and businesses is MORE OFTEN the act of non-Muslims who see this as a good opportunity to disrespect Muslims, and if they can make it look like a sectarian thing and thereby get away with it they will do so. Obviously, a Sunni Arab isn’t likely to spray paint “Arab dogs go home” on a Shi’a mosque…that is far more likely to have been done by a non-Muslim ignorant.

  • George Carty says:

    “But then, I have a suspicion that the Sunni-Shi’a split is somewhat fabricated or egged on in Iraq by Allied forces (or more correctly, their leaders) who want an excuse to stay there longer and control things…”

    I suspected that the US was fomenting a Sunni-Shi’a bloodbath too, but the reason I had in mind was the hope that it would destroy Islamism in both communities (much as the carnage of the Thirty Years’ War in Europe led to the Enlightenment and to the decline in the concept of “Christendom”).

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