In the immediate aftermath of the bombing in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, law enforcement officials and the media speculated about the bombers having a Middle Eastern connection. When this turned out not to be the case, many Muslim organizations issued alarmist statements about the extent of anti-Muslim bias in the United States. In contrast, the Kuwaiti writer Khalil `Ali Haydar called American Muslims to task for not being good citizens of the United States, appreciating its benefits, and showing more loyalty to it. In this, he shows just how deeply Kuwaitis have been changed by their experiences of 1990-91.
Arab-Americans were not behind the bomb that exploded in Oklahoma in the United States. And yet, Arabs in the United States expect, and rightly so, that the slightest provocation will set off another round of hostility against Arabs and Muslims in America. But why is this likely to happen when those who planned this explosion were elements of the radical right in America?
There are, of course, racist movements in the West that are generally hostile to foreigners. . . . In the United States, such movements against the Catholics, The Irish, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Italians, the Jews, the Arabs and, of course, the negroes started many years ago. Actually, they started during the last century. But are the policies, activities, and general mental attitudes of U.S. Arabs and Muslims conducive to putting out the fires of strife that erupt against them? Are their policies, activities, and general mental attitudes endearing them to the rest of Americans and making it easier for them to become assimilated in this melting pot? Did Arab-Americans, particularly Muslims, study the experiences of minorities in the United States and elsewhere? Did they consider how these minorities became assimilated there?
Of course not. The activities of Arab-Americans have not made it easier for them to become assimilated in America. Their assimilation became more difficult, especially after American cities were turned into conflict centers used by Islamic movements and some Arab regimes for rallying supporters and recruiting activists. These Islamic movements then proceeded to establish various fundamentalist associations, leagues, and organizations. All this will inevitably be disastrous for Arabs and Muslims in the United States and in the Arab and Islamic worlds as well.
How can a Muslim, Arab-American be accepted in American society when he hates his country, condemns its culture, and declares its imminent demise? Is a Muslim, Arab-American expected to be a good American and a good citizen of his country, or is he expected merely to be a rebellious politician or a radical fundamentalist who uses his U.S. citizenship as a shield and his U.S. material and political freedom as armor?
The Arabs of America have been speaking out for many years about the need to preserve their cultural identity and authenticity. Many of them, laboring under illusions of grandeur, have become quite conceited. They believe there is a conspiracy against them, and they also believe they are being persecuted. So much so, they have become aliens in their own country.
During the crisis of Iraq's aggression against Kuwait, support for Saddam Husayn among the multitude of Arabs and Muslims in the United States was unwavering. Meanwhile, support for us [Kuwaitis] was limited to some Arabs and a smaller number of Muslims. Jews, on the other hand, were steadfast in their support for the resolute U.S. position against the [Iraqi] aggression. . . .
The [American] Muslims' stubborn zeal and their hostility to the West created a general atmosphere of hostility that overwhelmed even Christian Arabs in the United States. In such an atmosphere, hatred for Muslims and Arabs is likely to continue . . . .
The time has come for Arabs in the United States to realize that it is dangerous to be driven by national and religious fanaticism. The time has come for those Arabs to realize that movements such as the ones they have in the United States would not be tolerated in the Arab and Islamic countries themselves.
Is there a single Arab or Islamic country that is willing to give Christians half the freedom that Muslims have in the United States?
Al-Watan, June 22, 1995, in FBIS Aug. 24, 1995