by Amer Zahr from the CivilArab
The events of the past couple weeks have confirmed something we Arabs and Muslims have known for some time:
America is still clueless about Islam.
Now, I’m a Palestinian Arab Christian Muslim American. My parents are both Palestinian Arabs. My dad is a Christian, and my mom is a Muslim. We affectionately call ourselves “Chrish-lims.” Now, many people say, “Well, you can’t be half this and half that.” Hey, take it up with my parents. But I should warn you. Arguing with Palestinians is no fun.
In any case, there is a bright side. In a world where Muslims are required to condemn ISIS on a daily basis, I am in a pretty good spot. As just a half-Muslim, I don’t need to waste as much time on this exercise. For those interested, condemnations are available 3.5 days a week, depending on my schedule, but never on Sundays. Since I’m related to Jesus, I rest on that day.
Of the many professional activities I engage in, one of them is conducting seminars to educate American companies and organizations on Arabs and Muslims. The National Football League should hire me immediately.
On Monday, September 29, I was watching as Husain Abdullah, a Muslim member of the Kansas City Chiefs, celebrated after returning an interception for a touchdown. He intercepted the quarterback of the New England Patriots, the great Tom Brady, a living legend. A defensive player returning an interception for a touchdown is a fairly rare occurrence in the NFL. Abdullah had every reason to celebrate. And celebrate he did.
As he reached the end zone, Abdullah slid to his knees and knelt down in Muslim-style prayer. The referees quickly penalized him for “unsportsmanslike conduct.” Football players are not allowed to celebrate “excessively” after scoring. This includes dancing, taunting, miming, pirouetting, back-flipping, and the such. Prayers, however, are not subject to penalty.
Now, if he were celebrating the fact that he was a Muslim who just embarrassed someone from a team called the “Patriots,” then I would squarely condemn such action. But let’s assume he was celebrating the touchdown, only the second of his six-year career.
I should say that I don’t think the referees were penalizing Abdullah for performing a Muslim prayer. They simply had no idea what he was doing. They were clueless.
Of course, we all remember Tim Tebow kneeling in prayer multiple times on the football field without penalty. Other players routinely make gestures to the sky whenever they score, and sometimes even when they simply catch a ball. None of this is ever penalized. Referees tend to have a very clear idea of what Christian prayers look like.
But why should the NFL even care about Muslims? Football is the all-American game! Well, first, as we all now know, there are at least two Muslim players in the league, Husain and his twin brother Hamza. There are more Muslim players that we do know about, of course. And there are even more undercover ones that we don’t. Second, there is at least one Muslim owner in the NFL, Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, the Jaguars have been terrible under his reign, so I don’t like to brag about him too much. But here is there nonetheless, and as far as I know, he is not related to any terrorist activities, so that’s good. Finally, the NFL has millions of Muslims fans. If you visit any café in Dearborn on a Monday night, you will find yourself among scores of Muslims watching American football, cursing at the TV in a foreign language.
Now, to the NFL’s credit, the organization quickly announced the following morning that Abdullah should not have been penalized at all. But the bigger point is that the referees on the field did not correct their call, although they had ample time to do so. None of the seven officials on the field approached the others and said, “Um, guys, I think he was praying.”
Now, if the NFL had gone through some sort of Arab/Muslim sensitivity training, it could have avoided this whole episode.
A few days later, I was watching “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Bill definitely needs to hire me as well.
After Maher brought on renowned atheist and author Sam Harris, the two started discussing the ills of Islam. The duo proceeded to basically blame all Muslims and Islam itself for ISIS and other extremist elements. Now, Maher is famous for criticizing religion in general, but he has a special love affair with Islam. Well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he has a special love affair with being clueless about Islam.
Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof, two of Maher’s guests that evening, took much umbrage to what Maher and Harris were spewing. “It’s gross. It’s racist,” cried Affleck. “The picture you are painting is to some extent true, but it hugely incomplete,” noted Kristof.
Maher and Harris were regurgitating the same old things about Islam and Muslims. “They support female genital mutilation.” “They support killing people who leave the religion.” “They don’t condemn ISIS enough.” “They hate apple pie!”
Read the whole article here.