Amid the row over the proposed Islamic Centre near Ground Zero and the earlier plan by a Florida-based Pastor to burn the Quran, an Indian American interfaith advisor to the United States President on Saturday said Muslims in the country are now more scared than they were in the days after 9/11.
"That's true," Eboo Patel told ABC's Christine Amanpore in an interview when reminded of his earlier statement that he feels more scared now as a Muslim, "My mother called me on Sunday and she said, 'Eboo, I've been in this country for 35 years as a Muslim, and I have never been scared to say I was fasting, I've never been scared to say that I call God Allah, but I'm scared now and I'm scared for your kids, Eboo. I'm scared that their names might be too Muslim, that they might get bullied in school'," Eboo Patel said.
"And what I tell her, is, mom this is a blip in the broader arc of inclusiveness that is America. And the history books will read, as they have read before, that the forces of inclusiveness will defeat the forces of intolerance," he told the ABC in his interview.
"When the faces of intolerance show themselves, the forces of inclusiveness in America go into action," he said.
"On Friday afternoon, when I came back to my office after Eid prayers and a set of interviews, there was a sixth-grade girl at the interfaith youth corps who said, I heard about this planned Quran burning in Florida, and it hurt me in my heart. I think religions should be nice to each other. I'm donating my allowance to your organisation," Patel said.
Patel said US President Barack Obama has been spot on about this. "We have to get the 'us and them' right. The us are the people who believe in the American promise of pluralism, a country which George Washington said will give bigotry no sanction, persecution no assistance," he said.
"A country in which one of our earliest presidents, Thomas Jefferson, reverently owned a Quran and hosted an Iftaar dinner. America is a great arc of inclusiveness. It envelopes everyone. I want my children to be able to contribute to this country just like the children of my Jewish friends, just like the children of my evangelical and Catholic friends. The us are those who believe in pluralism; the them are those who believe in extremism. It's that simple," Patel said.