America must improve Muslim world relations

By Justin Rheingold Online Breaking News Editor

It has now been a year, a month and 18 days since Barack Obama was elected president and took the reins of our country into his own hands. Over the previous months, speeches have been made to Congress, to leaders of the Muslim world, to West Point cadets and to the Nobel Committee—all laying out the groundwork for improved relationships with Muslims.

However, despite setting goals and claiming to choose a path towards increased world peace, the US continues to make poor decisions on many matters involving the Islamic people.

Recently, rather than lifting the ban that has existed on Iranian assets for over 25 years, the US expanded it. Mosques and a skyscraper in New York City could all be seized by federal authorities because of their alleged ties with Iran. Federal investigators are believed to have found a connection between the bank accounts of these mosques and the Iranian national bank, Melli, a contributor to Iran’s nuclear program. This repossession of services and buildings owned or connected to the Iranian government even expands to our area. Included in the possible seizure is the Muslim educational center on Montrose Road.

Shutting down assets of Iran that are plotting against the US is a reasonable and necessary decision, but closing houses of worship serves no purpose except the alienation of Muslim Americans and more prevalent discrimination towards them. In a country where diversity is celebrated and all religions and ethnicities are accepted, denying people freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution goes against all governmental principles.

Aside from any civil rights, limiting the freedom of people who simply study Islam could further increase tensions between the US and the Middle East. The hatred people have for our nation, rooted in our involvement with Arab politics, will simply heighten as our government’s unjust oppression grows.

Obama and other government officials charged with carrying out the policies established to deal with the Middle East may argue that these decisions have the sole objective of increasing safety in our homeland.

Admittedly, finding and shutting down a terrorist organization operating within or outside our boundaries is beneficial to the country’s safety. While it is disturbing that a plot by Muslim-Americans to harm soldiers and dies as martyrs was uncovered, it is unlikely that most mosques actually harbor such extremists. Rather than simply closing down mosques because of a minimal probability of connections with terrorist organizations or Arab banks, the U.S. government should still allow them to function for religious purposes while they investigate their financial endeavors.

The goal of increased safety could be achieved in ways other than closing down the hearths of Muslim communities, by finding the root of extremist uprising and building contacts with their governments. Sending more aid to these nations and resolving the economic conditions—a significant cause of the forming of terrorist groups—would be more effective in creating a more peaceful world.

Simply put, the US feels as though they are adding a new layer of protection against terrorist organizations. However, rather than continuously multiplying protection against outside extremist groups, the US must solve the underlying problem and must cure the hatred-causing agent.

Government officials continually argue two priorities—making America truly the land of the free and increasing the safety of America. Both objectives must be achieved to fulfill America’s legacy, but the US must alter its current course to one with increased collaboration and complex problem solving.