Like millions of Muslims around the world, hip-hop star Lupe Fiasco is observing the month of Ramadan. So from sun up until sun down, he will fast and focus on making himself a better Muslim by giving to charity and studying the Holy Koran.
But this year, the Muslim religion has been thrust into the forefront of public opinion due to the controversy surrounding the proposed mosque at Ground Zero.
During the first week of Ramadan, President Barack Obama’s support of the mosque created a firestorm that divided many Americans and essentially became a tool for political propaganda.
Proponents claimed that building an Islamic community center would be disrespectful to the families of the victims of Sept. 11. The opposition argued that the Constitution provides all U.S. citizens with the right to freely practice their religion.
Before performing at Dwyane Wade’s Chicago Has Talent showcase, Lupe Fiasco sat down with rolling out and shared his thoughts on the Ground Zero mosque controversy. –amir shaw
As a devout Muslim, how do you feel about the Ground Zero mosque controversy?
I’m taking President Obama’s stance. Everyone has the right to worship where they please, but you do have to question the wisdom of it when you look at the reaction that it caused. I’m Muslim, so I understand the importance of practicing the faith. But that is something that is sensitive to Americans. I don’t trust polls, but there was such an overwhelming sentiment that maybe it’s not the best of idea. I think the people who are building it should take that under consideration. Would they be setting themselves up for vandals? Because now it’s become a target. But on the other side, I think it’s a great opportunity because Islam is in the forefront. This mosque situation is a good chance to spread what Islam is really about. People can give commentary on how much of a peaceful religion it is. I look at the situation as a win-win. Just by you talking to me about the controversy, I get to spread the fact that Islam is a wonderful religion. The majority of Muslims are not even in the Middle East. the majority of Muslims are in South East Asia. The point of Islam is to promote peace. But there are a lot of emotions in New York. I’ve visited Ground Zero so I understand that it’s a sensitive subject.
The acts of Sept. 11 were committed by the extremist group al-Qaida. Why have a lot of Americans presumed that most Muslims are like al-Qaida?
I think it’s miseducation. I think people get caught up in whoever America is at war with. We have to demonize the opposition, whether it be the Japanese in World War II, the Communist Party during the Cold War, or even the Black Panther party at one point in time. Most Americans started by demonizing al-Qaida, rightfully so. But eventually, the whole religion went with it. I think that was an unfortunate circumstance. It puts good Muslims at odds with the world. But with darkness, there should be light. There is now [an] opportunity for us to talk and have discourse about Islam. The majority of the world is sympathetic to Islam. You can go to certain countries and there are Halal McDonald’s. But now the U.S. media has made al-Qaida the face of Islam. Hopefully, the truth will come out in due time.