The Politics of (Muslim) Names

This is a fantastic reflection by a Methodist pastor named Omar. Please go read the whole thing if this quote interests you:

First Born Son: the politics of names

Not too long ago I was given the opportunity to preach in a Baptist church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Before the service started I was introduced to the senior pastor. “Hello,” I told him, “my name is Omar and I’ll be doing the preaching tonight.” As he shook my hand, he pulled me close and asked loudly with his southern drawl, “Omar? You’re not a terrorist are you?”

I have to admit that this was not the first time my Muslim name was taken as a suggestion that I was “one of them.” By “them” I mean “the enemy.” The politics and preaching of fear saturates us. Representative Keith Ellison, the Muslim congressman from Minnesota, had to endure talk show host Glenn Beck’s ridiculous questions about his loyalty to “the enemy.” And now Senator Barack Obama is under attack because his middle name is Hussein.

4 responses to “The Politics of (Muslim) Names”

  1. This is awesome! I read Omar’s post and found it very well written. I love that there are names which combine specific meanings with tradition.

  2. … despite of everything, this is a little fun. Here in Colombia the name Omar is a little common (not too much), and no one thinks about it as being a “muslim” name (though it is an arab name).

    BTW its very stuoid to think of Obama as a muslim. Again I’m giving you a colombian example: in colombian caribbaean region some families from Lebanon have been living since 20’s – 30’s. some of the most prominent colombo-caribbaean politicians have lebanese ascendant, and we don’t think of them as being “muslim terrorists” (off course they are maronites). The only trouble is that some of those guys could be paramilitar-supporters (well… sadly, that’s common in Colombia).

  3. mountainguy: thanks for the comments from an alternative contex. It just goes to show how utterly stupid the US is when it comes to Muslims.

  4. No- the stupidity in America is confusing Sikhs and Hindus with Muslims. And thinking all arabs are muslim (about 10% aren’t, and they are the ones here).

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