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Anti-Muslim Bigotry

How Muslims are Treated in the USA – ABC Primetime


Previously, Ahmad did a post on “Islamophobia in Action: ABC Catches it Live!”

The following is an extended version of the program. I found it very moving. It highlights both deep prejudice as well as a deep sense of justice that everyday Americans possess. The challenge for Muslims is to increase the ratio of informed to the misinformed, by being good Muslims, interacting within our social and work circles, educating non-Muslims about what we believe and what we don’t, and so on and so forth.

 [youtube PqbQWxHIn4U]

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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").



  1. Life

    March 28, 2008 at 11:07 PM

    Excellent experiment but misrepresentation of Islam. What’s up the shaking hands and hugging? Astaghfirullah.

  2. MK

    March 29, 2008 at 1:02 AM

    Life: If someone the age of my father did that for me, I’d want to hug him too.

  3. ibnabeeomar

    March 29, 2008 at 1:15 AM

    seeing the reaction from the man in the white shirt really sent chills down my spine. i wish more people were like that.

    Life – easy to speak like that now, anyway – what happened to making excuses for people?

  4. Manas Shaikh

    March 29, 2008 at 12:14 PM

    It was heartening to see so many sensible people though.

  5. Sara

    March 29, 2008 at 12:24 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing that. It gave a more complete picture than the other post and I actually feel better about it.

  6. Abdulrahman

    March 29, 2008 at 10:02 PM

    Ah! Beautiful video!

  7. sincethestorm

    March 29, 2008 at 11:24 PM

    Life; that’s the problem with folks. Instead of seeing something note worthy that this sister thought of this experiment, you see the one wrong thing.

  8. Life

    March 29, 2008 at 11:48 PM

    MK: Well, sometimes I find men the age of my Dad simply staring (at women). Maybe you wouldn’t mind hugging them but I would.

    Sincethestorm: Actually, there would be a problem in just letting it go. Also, if you are a male and making that comment then I see a problem with that. Where’s the gheerah for your Muslim sisters in Islam? Doesn’t that bother you?

    Finally Ibnabeeomar: Yeah, I agree with you about making excuses. Actually it was too bothersome too keep it to myself so I made that remark. I don’t think there is a lot of benefit in me pointing out the lady’s mistakes in her absence. Since the video is public I thought it was ok if I said that. But Wallahu Alim. If its Islamically wrong, then the moderators can feel free to delete my comment.

  9. Life

    March 29, 2008 at 11:52 PM

    Oh and incase it (my comment) gets deleted make sure an Islamic reasoning for the deletion is provided.

  10. MK

    March 30, 2008 at 12:59 AM

    Life: Instead of assuming everyone else must have a loose character and Islamic morals, you seriously need to take a look at your own. Your personal attack on my character is very offensive and uncalled for. Can you give ‘an Islamic reasoning’ for that?

  11. sincethestorm

    March 30, 2008 at 1:04 AM

    Life: Really Muslims like you are the problem. So, instead of focusing on the need for dawah and the need to be vocal about injustice, we are going to have a discussion about how this sister shouldn’t have hugged the guy. How do you know she doesn’t regret it or repented to Allah SWT?

    Really get off your high horse. We all know it is unIslamic and you really didn’t need to point it. Pointing faults and picking on each other isn’t going to get us anywhere.

  12. ibnabeeomar

    March 30, 2008 at 1:13 AM

    talk about missing the forest for the trees :)

  13. Amad

    March 30, 2008 at 1:28 AM

    Why does “Life” sound as annoying as “Person”??

    So, person, is this your new life? ;)

  14. Life

    March 30, 2008 at 1:47 AM

    MK: I didn’t make a “personal attack” on you. I was just trying to say just b/c a man happens to be your Dad’s age doesn’t mean he has completely lost sense of …. (I’ll just say) ‘staring at women’. Also, if you haven’t noticed, I said ‘maybe you wouldn’t mind hugging’ despite you saying that you would want to hug a man your Daddy’s age if he stood up to defend you.

    So, there you go, that’s my reasoning.

    Sincethestorm: Yes, everyone should be acquainted with Islamic rules and implement them before setting out to give dawah.

    MK and sincethestorm: Your extraneous and offensive remarks are uncalled for. Assume and accuse less, and learn some manners.

    ibnabeeomar: The ends do not justify the means.

    I don’t know why there is so much commotion for bringing up a major violation of an Islamic rule.

    I think I have fully explained myself and I don’t feel the need to argue further.

    Peace be upon you!

  15. Life

    March 30, 2008 at 1:50 AM

    What’s your definition of annoying?

    To answer your question, surely it is.

    I notice that you haven’t fixed the place up yet, brother Amad.

  16. ibnabeeomar

    March 30, 2008 at 2:11 AM

    life – i agree ends dont always justify the means, however, i think that you also need to step outside the black/white world and realize there’s always different situations and circumstances – that’s all.

    anyway – as you yourself said – “I don’t think there is a lot of benefit in me pointing out the lady’s mistakes in her absence.” – then don’t.

    end of discussion then :)

  17. Life

    March 30, 2008 at 3:36 AM

    I don’t know what you are referring to when you say black/white world…but I do know what you intend to say. Incorrect application of the concept, I must say.

    As for ending the discussion, I didn’t know my statements carried so much significance. Oh, but I guess that’s only true when I say something that you want to hear.

    May Allah guide me and everyone else. Ameen.

  18. Nahyan

    March 30, 2008 at 11:46 PM

    wo wo wo, how did the discussion take that turn

    Oddly enough tho; i checked the comment After watching the video bc i knew someone would bring the handshake n hug issue up.

    It’s clear that it was not correct, but at least we can seek out the good result from the video. May Allah reward her for her efforts.

    O Muslims, Seek out the good in others and make dua to correct their faults. Not the other way around plz.

    May Allah guide us and those in the video.

  19. Life

    March 31, 2008 at 10:09 AM

    Nahyan, if people had reacted (to my comments) the way you have reacted, then the huge argument might not have taken place.

    Br. Ibnabeeomar, I’m sorry about my previous comment about you
    (with regards to ending the discussion). I was in my defense mode when I said that.

  20. Umm Layth

    April 1, 2008 at 2:20 PM

    This was very inspiring to watch. It’s very sad most people watch, but keep in mind that is not just with prejudice like this. They have done some experiments with children being kidnapped, yelling for their parents, saying ‘you aren’t my dad’, etc. Most people just watched as it went along. And if you think that this Muslim one is sad, then think harder. Alhamdulillah for those few that do stand up, though.

  21. Shirien

    April 1, 2008 at 2:54 PM

    I’m sorry I’d have to agree with Life. I find it interesting that people are always like “what a great piece of new story!” sure it’s really interesting and i’m glad it was put out there, but i’d also have to agree since when is it “aww look how sweet” when a Muslim woman shakes hands or hugs a man?

    and I’d love to see the same thing done with a niqaabi woman, or a sister that doesnt wear make up and wears abaya at least. Not saying anything bad about those sisters, may Allah forgive them and us all, ameen. but, America tends to forget “religious” Muslims and focuses on “average” muslims.

    Tell them to do the same report with a niqaabi woman and see if they get the same responses from people.

    that’ll be interesting.

  22. Umm Layth

    April 1, 2008 at 7:30 PM

    With a niqaabi, these responses would be much lesser, obviously. But it also depends what part of town you are in. I personally have received good and bad as a woman with niqaab and without niqaab. I would obviously say that people are more welcoming when they see my face, but that is due to their own culture, and I don’t know if I can blame them 100% (for not being completely welcoming like the man to this hijabi) with all of the fear that is being instilled in them today.

  23. Umm Reem

    April 2, 2008 at 8:24 AM

    Sister Shirien, sometimes a person gets stuck in a situation of shaiking hands/hugging that it is difficult to avoid what is happening, although at other times the same person may be very careful with this issue.

    This has happened to me. I went back to see all my ex-neighbors in houston and they all knew very well that I can’t shake hands with guys etc. Yet, one of my neighbors (old man!) got so excited that he stepped forward and hugged me. It was so sudden that I had no idea what to do!

    It seems like the same happened to the sister in the video and unfortunately it was being recorded. We should feel sorry for her that she had to go through that. Like my husband said when he was watching it, ‘Baychaari’ (poor sister)!!

  24. Sabir

    April 2, 2008 at 5:46 PM

    The experement was revealing and insightful, and captured the best and worst aspects of America.

    Unfortunately, the very first comment is equally revealing of how clueless we are as a community.

  25. Sonia

    April 2, 2008 at 7:05 PM

    it was a great video mashallah…but i dont get why everyone is attacking Life. it was jst a matter of pointing something out, not like she was going overboard. anywaz i was thinking the same thing but Allah knows best why she did that.

  26. Life

    April 3, 2008 at 12:19 PM

    Sisters Shirien and Sonia…May Allah reward you for agreeing with what Allah has laid down for us. Ameen.

  27. Just a Bro

    April 3, 2008 at 7:47 PM

    I had the very same feeling that Life pointed out in her first comment when I first watched the clip too.

    But let’s give the sister in the clip the benefit of the doubt. In the heat of the moment (the camera crew etc) perhaps everything happened so quickly and the sister couldn’t react as a muslim sister should.


  28. ummabd

    April 4, 2008 at 8:08 AM

    i also think some people overreacted to Life’s comments. its not about giving benefit of the doubt lol. something was weird so she/he pointed it out. big deal. its a public video.

    its true. it could be a judgement call-my opinion obviously. one person may think that man to be harmless and hug and another may not.

  29. Diefullah

    April 10, 2008 at 1:11 PM

    Great video but darn, the ending just killed my heart.

  30. Summer

    April 13, 2008 at 12:08 PM

    This was such a touching video. I was so happy to see somone stand up for the sister!
    Regarding the first comment- I agree with Umm Reem. Things like that happen to me all the time! Usually I get out of it by saying “I’m sorry, I don’t shake hands with men” but once in a while it just happens so fast that I can’t get out of it (shaking hands, not hugging). May Allah forgive us all.

  31. ummafnaan

    May 13, 2008 at 9:42 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    This is my first time on this website and I must say masha’allah and may Allah reward you all for your efforts. However it is importanr for us to remember that Allah’s law is Allah’s law. No one has the right to bring in sentiments into the deen. Life you are very correct for your observation and for pointing it out. That is the way of our beloved messenger (saw). He never saw an evil but spoke against it. As for my other muslim brothers and sisters, we need to be very careful as to how far we go in ‘modernising’ this beautiful and complete way of life that Allah has sent us. Its sad to see that a muslim is attacked so ferociously simply because he or she was doing what Allah has commanded us to do, ie ‘ENJOIN THE RIGHT AND FORBID THE WRONG’

  32. muslim

    September 24, 2008 at 11:53 PM late…great video but disgusting end… sad that people opposing LIFE for saying the haq..the truth..Wallahi it is the truth….YES this was haram and you take sin for supporting that hugging and shaking hand…correct your basics…have you not read in Quran about forbidding the evil and doing righteous deeds (ask for reference)…also age of father?? people of that age are allowed to marry to girls of that age….so just put the father issue on side…have you not read anything about mahram? people like you all are problem for Islam who are google muftis…not people like LIFE….it was a great video…bro amad you need to change that wierd way of talking to people….you need my info i will give you we can talk directly…also my phone…since you are doing these mistakes openly I am critisizing you openly…you are calling someone problem for speaking what is right….dint our Messenger(Peace be upon him) and the sahaba taught us to speak up ?….man may Allah guide us all

  33. Umm Ismael

    September 25, 2008 at 8:01 AM

    I agree that this was a good experiment, but also that the hugging was not right. I was treated like this everyday, especially when I had to go out alone. I started to only shop at Muslim or Arab owned gas stations and shops unless someone else waswith me. I was also threatened physically. I finally had enough of it and moved to the UAE two years ago. My family has been in America since the revolution and I really resented being told I am not American because I became Muslim and wear hijab. Still when I come back to the states to visit my mother I am treated this way. I am always told to go home, get out, or take that thing off your head. I can never feel safe there anymore.

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  35. Ahmed Fouda

    November 5, 2008 at 6:43 PM

    Heh…in the words of the immortal Snake Plisskin: “…The land of the free, eh ?”

  36. Marwan

    November 15, 2008 at 2:23 PM

    I’ve read the discussion over the hug, and I find the hug completely harmless for two reasons.
    1) The man was probably as old as her father, and stood up for her when a lot of people didn’t.
    2) It was on camera, and was a very emotional moment, and she couldn’t just say no infront of the camera.
    Just remember that God knows what you’re thinking, and your intentions. If she hugged the man with pure innocent intentions, it’s different that if she hugged him with something else in mind.
    We’re not to judge.

  37. fais

    December 16, 2008 at 11:52 PM

    Thank you Life. I understand how these seemingly harmless actions make it harder for muslim women (and men) trying to implement proper hijab… now, not only do you need to explain why you don’t shake hands, but you have to try to explain why the hijabi in that video does =P. We should realize that valid reasons or not, her actions have been caught on camera sending a construed message to non-muslims. And just like Life, I am not discrediting the sister, we all make mistakes. I just want to point out we as muslims should step up and be particularly mindful next time we are caught up in a similar situation.

  38. Muslim Lea

    December 22, 2008 at 4:53 AM

    Ha, more than 6 months too late but I have to get my opinion in.

    Great video, loved every bit of it.

    And about the hug discussion (which I wouldn’t even have noticed had it not been mentioned here; which just proves how much people are fixated to find that one thing WRONG):

    MK was basically the only sensible person on here.

    This makes me really angry, and it is something I ALWAYS see Muslims do. STOP always looking for the wrongs in people’s actions. STOP telling people what they have to do just because YOU think it is right. There is not ONE right and ONE wrong. There are situations. Different reasons and intentions. I am a full Muslim and to me that hug was more than all right. This was not a ‘mistake’. And I take absolutely zero shame in saying I would’ve hugged him a million times over.

    But who ARE YOU (or I) to judge? God is the sole judge, so stop trying to take place!

  39. American Guy

    May 13, 2009 at 8:15 PM

    Discrimination of any American because of their faith is wrong. USA is a great nation. One can see many of Americans came in defense of the Muslim girl. A different perspective – I have friends who live in MiddleEast. In Saudi Arabia and other countries (except Dubai), people of other faiths are treated as Kafirs (infidels). There are separate laws and harsher punishment than Muslims. I wonder if this story, roles reversed and done in MiddleEast, how many locals would come in defense of Kafir.

    Kafirs cannot have temples, churches in MiddleEast. When you enter any county, any picture of Jesus, God or Goddess is confiscated. People of other faiths have to fly to other countries to get their kids baptized. Women of other faith are required to wear ‘hizab’. People of a Islamic faith feel offended in US because of ‘exceptions’ and use stories to promote hatred against US.

    During the month of Ramzan in Middle East countries, if you are not a Muslim, you have to close all windows, doors and ensure that no Muslim person sees you eating meals. If by any chance some Muslim sees you and informs the religious police, you are punished with lashes. People of other faith cannot have temples or churches in these countries.


    • Amad

      May 13, 2009 at 10:18 PM

      American guy, the word “kaafir” is a non-believer, someone who is not a Muslim. Just like a Muslim is a nonbeliever as far as most Christians and Jews are concerned, the reverse is true as well. Repeating the word a dozen times does not make it ugly or wrong in its essence.

      I also know of non-Muslims in Middle East. There are people from Europe and Americas working there. With few exceptions, they are doing well, otherwise they wouldn’t leave the West to go there. Yes, there are restrictions but those are the laws of the country that the people who enter it know before coming there. If there was a law in the USA that Muslims cannot have mosques, then Muslims would have to obey it. But America is not a country ruled by religion, it is a secular nation, so it has to abide by its own laws and principles. Comparing it to the Middle East or anywhere else is apples to oranges, and really irrelevant. I think we cannot forget what Americans not long ago did to African Americans and before that native Indians. So, where we are today, is a relatively new phenoneman, and we have to protect that for all Americans, regardless of race or religion. This is not about the Middle East, this is about America. That is where I live and that is where you live.

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  41. Ian Davis

    August 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    It is a shame the main stream media does not show the murder and persecution of Christians in Muslim countries which pales in comparison to this piece of propaganda from the main stream media ABC prime time.

    The video proves that the majority of Americans are not anti Muslim. I wonder if the same work was done in Saudi Arabia in support of a Christian women we would see what might happen. Never mind what if a Muslim women were to remove her Hajib what would happen to her in Saudi Arabia. How many lashes would she receive

    The media gives you about 10% of the truth which distorts the whole truth.

    If America is so bad why do Muslims come here in the first place. There is no mass exodus of Christian Americans looking to settle in Saudi Arabia, Syria, the great panaceas of freedom. Is there?

    • Siraaj

      August 18, 2010 at 2:50 PM

      Ian, your post is fascinating. It highlights that:

      1. Muslim countries have human rights issues.
      2. Muslims left those countries because of those issues (and financial reasons as well).
      3. Muslims are now disagreeing with American policies (a right they didn’t have in their own countries often).

      Is your view that Muslims should live and act as they did “back home”? That they should just shut up and not point out when they’re discriminated against, or when they don’t approve of a government policy? Do you think that Muslims shouldn’t stand up and point out that the American government’s policies and diplomatic relationships with many of the countries you’ve mentioned is what empowers many of the dictators and tyrants worldwide that allow for and commit these egregious crimes of human rights violations?


    • Rafa

      August 18, 2010 at 3:40 PM

      America is a democratic country. Saudi Arabia is a religious monarchy. You can’t compare the way both countries treat their citizens when ultimately their ideals are different.
      Nobody doubts that Saudi has issues. But which government doesn’t? Here’s something to take note of: Saudi is NOT Islam. No religion, be it Islam or Christianity, is defined by borders made by man or the laws made and governed by man.
      No religion is defined by its people. The mere fact that you’re human will guarantee that you will make mistakes. What you’re saying here is the equivalent of me taking the “Burn a Quran Day” practice in a Florida Church (if you haven’t heard, look it up) and declaring that all Christians are anti-Islamist and are burning Qurans in their homes. But I won’t take it that way, and not because I’m a righteous person. It really just comes down to common sense.
      No one is saying America is bad. If you really take a deep look around, even on this site, you’ll notice time and again that Muslims ARE happy to be American, happy to call themselves American. That’s the only message that’s trying to be conveyed.

  42. heidi

    January 8, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    this is so horrible u ppl r still judging others even after hundreds of years of this problem being “solved”.

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