New Muslim Movement Challenges Islamophopbia on Home TurfSubmitted by Zak Carter on Mon, 12/10/2012 - 23:42
Tea Party circles in East Tennessee might seem an unlikely environment for launching a Muslim organization. Will Coley, a 31-year-old Tennessee native, Muslim convert and Tea Party activist did just that.
His one person outreach project to Tea Party conservatives and libertarians grew into the first national organization countering Islamophobia on the Right.
Their message: Islam is compatible with an anti-big government or libertariarian philosophy.
“I have noticed everywhere we go it is about the same,” says Coley. “We talk to 50 people. The five to six that pointed the group in an anti-Islam direction still hate us, but the rest start thinking, researching.”
Most notably, in 2011 Coley persuaded the majority of Tea Party organizations in East Tennessee to take a stand against Islamophobia.
After speaking with fourteen Tea Party chapters about Muslim beliefs on sharia and liberty, twelve agreed to reject anti-Muslim appeals. They even publically supported a petition opposing a proposed “sharia (Islamic religious code) ban” in Tennessee.
Coley’s efforts drew the attention of members of the small but growing community of Muslim libertarians, especially after an initial article on the anti-Islamophobia website Loonwatch.com.
Davi Barker, 31, a California journalist, blogger, and artist first contacted Coley to do a story on him, then began working with him. They were soon joined by Hesham El-Meligy, 41, from New England and Ramy Osman, 35, from Virginia.
The last two had started a website called Muslims4Liberty,org, while Coley and Barker had independently started a Facebook group called Muslims For Liberty. They decided to combine forces.
“[W]e started collaboration with them and we became a family immediately,” says El-Meligy.
By 2012, Muslims4Liberty/Muslims For Liberty has gained hundreds of followers, establishing chapters in Tennessee, California, Ohio, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., as well as in Australia, Malaysia and Pakistan.
They also worked with other groups in opposing New York Police Department surveillance of American Muslims, and co-sponsored the only two national debates featuring third party presidential candidates during the 2012 election, hosted by Larry King and broadcast by C-Span and Al Jazeera.
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And thanks for being one of the http://freeandequal.org/ debate sponsors Will Coley!