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Tuesday, December 15, 2015
By +Scott Leffler

Amer Abdallah decided he couldn't just stand by any longer and watch people vilify his religion.

Amer Abdallah's Facebook post from this afternoon. He says he can no
longer sit by and watch his religion be vilified. (SCREEN CAPTURE)
The Lockport kickboxer threw down the gauntlet, so to speak, on his Facebook page this afternoon, saying, "I've tried to stay as forgiving as possible about the recent outpouring of ignorance towards Muslims. Let me make it easy for everyone... I'm a proud MUSLIM. If you have a problem with that, let's not associate. It's that simple."

He posted the status while in Oregon for the opening of a community center at the Muslim Education Trust. The $9.5 million building offers schooling and a community common area, a cafeteria, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a gymnasium. Fundraising is ongoing to add solar panels and bullet-proof windows.

Most community centers, of course, don't need bullet-proof windows. But leaders fear reprisal over events that have nothing to do with them -- much like the Islam religion itself is under attack in this country. No more so than on Facebook, where Abdallah issued his statement.

"What bothers me more than anything is ... some of the things that I see on Facebook. People that I considered friends ..."

Abdallah, whose last name, which means "servant of God," -- and is as common for Muslims as "Smith" is for Americans -- and whose first name is short for "America," said he got tired of seeing Facebook statuses along the lines of " 'Why don't they go back to their country?' " The Bronx-born man who now calls Lockport home asked, "What country? This is our country."

"They know I'm Muslim," he said. "There's nothing about me that doesn't portray that I'm Muslim. When you say, 'Hey Muslim, go back to your own country,' they're talking to me."

Amer Abdallah, right, speaks to LCTV's Jim Slowey following a victory in a
June, 2014 kickboxing match. Now Abdallah is coming out in defense of Islam.
Abdallah boasts 11,000 followers on his fan page and about 4,000 "friends" on his personal page.

"I was very quiet and I was very passive ... and I let it go for a long time. And as time went on, people take my passiveness as 'Well maybe this is his admission of guilt.' "

That couldn't be further from the truth, he said, explaining that he didn't want to add any credibility to such "ignorant, racist comments" by refuting them.

Reached this afternoon by phone while still in Oregon, however, he refuted away. He half jokingly said that for the greater good, he's steered clear of debating three topics: "Religion, politics and Floyd Mayweather." However, he added, that the anti-Muslim sentiment has "become such an epidemic" that he felt the topic needed to be addressed, as did the political rhetoric behind it.

"First of all," Abdallah began, "I am a proud American-Muslim-Palestinian-Jordanian-Arab. I was born here. I have business here. I have ups and down here. And I would die for my country."

He imagines most practitioners of Islam would. As his religion teaches him, "In order for me to serve God, I have to serve my fellow man."

In fact, he notes, that in the Paris terrorist attacks that seem to have escalated the current anti-Muslim mood, there were Muslims on the front line, defending the victims: "The guard that was protecting people was a Muslim. The store owner who was hiding people in the basement is a Muslim."

As for the attackers? And ISIS? "That group ... is not Muslim. They are a cult ..."

"We don't even see them as Muslims," he said. "In the Quran if you kill one innocent person, it's as though you've killed all of humanity. ... Islam promotes peace. Islam lives by peace. Islam dies by peace."

Abdallah said the notion that the Muslim community hasn't spoken out against the self-proclaimed Muslims who would harm others is bunk.

"Every single prolific Muslim ... I have not seen one that has not stood up against ... this," he said. "When you say, 'Why don't you talk out?,' what more can we do? We don't have a voice in the US media?"

"Why isn't the story on all the great things that Muslims have done?" he asked. Then answered, "There is a reason for it. It sells."

And in Abdallah's mind, no one is selling it more than GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"Now you have a guy whose really a celebrity politician who's looking to grab the masses of people and turn a spark into a fire," Adballah said. "Who does he go after? Muslims."

"Make America great again? You're going to make America the Ku Klux Klan again," he said, noting that Trumps list of ideological foes has increased as the Republican front runner has garnered more attention. "It's just a matter of time before blacks are in there, Asians are in there, Jews are in there."

Abdallah went a step further: "Donald Trump is Isis. Donald Trump represents everything they do" -- hateful rhetoric, division, attempting to turn people against one another.

"We're better than that," he said. Or at least we should be.

"We as a society are uneducated with anything outside of the border of our society," he said. Noting our status as "a nation of immigrants," he pointed out that our ancestors have a lot in common with current Syrian refuges. "They escaped famine. They escaped religious persecution."

Further, he noted that if Muslims -- who comprise about 25 percent of the world population -- truly wanted to inflict damage, they could. "If every one of us believed in this garbage ideology of ISIS, don't you think the world would be in a bigger problem," he asked rhetorically.

Of course, Muslims -- like Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc. -- make mistakes. "We as humans make mistakes and we pay the price. I'm a prime example of that," said the man who served two years in prison for identity theft.

"As Muslims, we learn from our mistakes. We're not perfect," he continued. "But when one Muslim makes a mistake, can we put the whole religion on trial? That's not fair."

He said a review of the START terrorism database shows that only a small portion of terrorist attacks are perpetrated by Muslims. But somehow the religion has been strapped with the "terrorist" label. The FBI released a report in November that states that six percent of terrorist attacks in the United States over the past 25 years were carried out by self-proclaimed Muslims.

In the end, Abdallah believes, Islam and its followers will be vindicated. "There is going to be so much attention shined on Islam and what we stand for. In the short term there is going to be a struggle for every Muslim," But people will see in the end how Muslims persevered without violence, he said. "Shine all the negativity you want. In the end, the truth is like a lion," an abbreviated version of St. Augustine's “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”

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