Dream the American Dream

I did indeed watch تیرے بن لادن (Tere Bin Laden or in English: Without you Bin Laden) on the anniversary of 9-11. Some might say that a film about a hoax Osama Bin Laden tape would be in bad taste, but it was a very appropriate film. I watched this film at a time when people are protesting Islamic Centres being built near the site where the World Trade Centre stood and insane preachers threaten to burn Qu’rans to more media attention than they deserve.

Why do they hate us?

Do Muslims hate America or what it stands for? And when I say what it stands for, I don’t mean the ideals mentioned in the Constitution (and not the misinterpreted right wing version of that document). It is the misinterpretation of that document: the people who call the US a Christian nation in any form. The people who don’t decry the misuse of military power.

The protagonist of Tere Bin Laden, Ali Hassan, wants to come to America, but due to misunderstandings on his first visit to the US is deported. The film is about someone who wants to live the American Dream as this music video shows:

The problem is that Muslims don’t hate America. Most US muslims enjoy the fact, or believe that they can practise their religion in freedom. They see opportunity in living in America as well.

If anything, people hate the US not for what it is since the official US is a very lovely place. They hate the fact that it is a country that talks about high ideals, but doesn’t live up to them. It’s a bait and switch where the American dream is mentioned, but it doesn’t pan out. It’s a bit like online dating where the person sounds wonderful, until you meet face to face.

This film isn’t very kind to the Americans and their reaction to terrorism, which is probably why it won’t make it to many US theatres. Unfortunately, it’s probably something Americans need to see since they do tend to not like things which challenge their opinions. It’s a shame that a country which presents itself as a “melting pot” doesn’t want to pay attention to what amounts to a population of 1.3-7 Million its citizens (and most Muslims come from Indo-Pak region). In addition, American Muslims have a long and varied history coming from various backgrounds, and are one of the most racially diverse religious group in the United States according to a 2009 Gallup poll.

In fact, American views of Islam affected debates regarding freedom of religion during the drafting of the state constitution of Pennsylvania in 1776. Constitutionalists promoted religious toleration while Anticonstitutionalists called for reliance on Protestant values in the formation of the state’s republican government. The former group won out, and inserted a clause for religious liberty in the new state constitution.

In his autobiography, published in 1791, Benjamin Franklin stated that he “did not disapprove” of a meeting place in Pennsylvania that was designed to accommodate preachers of all religions. Franklin wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

Shouldn’t that be the way things are now?

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