African-American Muslims Have Unique Perspectives on Cartoon Controversy, Bias

February 15, 2006

Source: The Baltimore Sun,0,922008.column

On February 15, 2006 The Baltimore Sun reported, "In a rear room of a stately old house at the far end of West North Avenue, about 30 Muslims gathered for Friday prayer service.

The congregation was made up of black Americans. A young black man in dreadlocks walked to the front of the room and sang the opening prayer in Arabic. The Muslims intermittently prayed by either bending over at the waist and touching their knees or by dropping to their knees and placing their foreheads on the floor.

They're as devout a group of Muslims as anywhere else in the world. And they're just as offended by the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers that has led to rioting in the Muslim world. (No images of the Prophet Muhammad, offensive or otherwise, are permitted in Islam.) But rioting was the last thing on their minds.

'They're hurt,' Earl El-Amin, the resident imam at the Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore, said of the protesting and rioting Muslims. 'They're torn up. They don't know how to really process this thing. Because the people that they were supposed to ask how they processed it - the people who were the last ones to get the Quran on the planet - they never asked them the question. They never asked them the question, "Brother, how did you get through this here?"'

Those 'last ones to get the Quran' that El-Amin referred to are black Americans who embrace Islam. To understand El-Amin's remarks in their full context, you have to know the history from which his congregation sprang."