By Tim Townsend
Since June, area Muslims have become increasingly uncomfortable and even fearful not because of overt attacks or threats against them, but because a sequence of incidents have built upon each other to form an intense, low-grade foreboding.
Beginning with the monthlong Israel-Hezbollah conflict through Pope Benedict XVI's inflammatory lecture last month, American Muslims say they feel more uneasy in their own country. Local incidents, including the August screening of a controversial anti-terrorism movie and an FBI raid on the home of a Muslim in Columbia, Mo., have heightened the anxiety, according to dozens of St. Louis Muslims interviewed over the last few weeks.
"Muslims are feeling like the world is closing in on them," said Orvin T. Kimbrough, executive director of the Interfaith Partnership of Metropolitan St. Louis. "They feel like they're being targeted."
At the end of August, a thousand people about half of them Jewish and half Christian, according to organizers attended a screening of the movie "Obsession: What the War on Terror is Really About" at the Frontenac Hilton Hotel.
Muslims who were there said they were horrified by what they believed was the movie's inference that Islam, terrorism and Nazism were one and the same, despite a disclaimer that ran at the beginning and end of the movie that said "most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror."
Far more upsetting, they said, was the reaction of the audience. Writing in "The American Muslim" two weeks after the screening, Manji said those Muslims who attended were "still experiencing physical and emotional distress primarily due to the positive reaction of the audience including applause and standing ovations and to some of the hateful comments we overheard from individuals sitting around us."
LET ISSUES FATWA TO KILL THE POPE
Acting on behalf of the International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People, which is headed by Osama bin Laden, the Markaz-ud-Dawa (MUD) of Pakistan, which is the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), is reported to have issued a Fatwa calling upon the Muslims to kill Pope Benedict XVI for a recent speech of his delivered on September 12,2006, which has been projected as anti-Islam by Al Qaeda and other jihadi terrorist organisations of the world.
The LET has secret cells in the UK and France, but there is no confirmed information of any LET activity in Italy so far. It is likely that the task of executing this Fatwa might be entrusted to one of its cells in the UK or France.