Neighbors or Enemies? > Living with Hate

Los Angeles

Sarah Eltantawi

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Former Policy Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council

What’s happening now is the death of the American Dream.  To immigrants, the American Dream means believing that you could say whatever you wanted. My family came here from Egypt, believing that America would be more free.

Now there is a profound sense of betrayal and disappointment in the American Dream. I said this to the press the day before the Iraq war started.

It’s really challenging people’s fundamental notions. Maybe America is just like Egypt – equally repressive, just more complex and hidden. Some people react to this by saying, let’s just try to make money and take care of our own family.

Then there are people like me, a lifetime rebel. I’ve always told my parents and my community yes, you can rebel. Now it’s beginning to seem less certain.

We are facing a campaign to disenfranchise the Muslim community, economically and politically, for decades to come. Commentators are warning people to watch out for Muslims, that they are trying to organize – that they are using democracy to subvert democracy. In DC it’s very obvious – they are painting Muslims as a Fifth Column.

Our charities are being shut down by the government, their assets are frozen by Treasury Department. Lawyers are suing Muslim charities to compensate the families of victims of suicide bombers in Israel/Palestine. What does that say about religious freedom?