Saturday, August 31, 2013

Muslim convention – holiday weekend fun or target for troublemaking rabble?

It will be intriguing to watch suburban Tinley Park this weekend, as the community with a convention center will be the site of a convention meant to give the public greater awareness of Islam as a religion.

It’s the 24th annual event, and it’s being held this year at the Tinley Park Convention Center. Starting Friday, it is scheduled to run through Sunday.

LOOKING AT THE program for the event put forth on the Internet, it would seem that the weekend will include sessions such as a fashion show, children’s activities and other programs meant to bolster the interests of small business owners within the Muslim community.

It seems like many other sessions I have seen take place throughout the years, and seems to be about as un-notable as those programs.

Except, …

Things always get different these days whenever we talk about the Middle East and Islam. Certain people always are going to want to let their paranoia run amok and their ignorance take over.

ANYBODY WHO WANTS to convince me that this gathering coming right at the Labor Day holiday weekend is somehow a gathering of subversives wishing to take over the nation can just stow it right now!

I’m not in the mood for hearing paranoid pap. Then again, these are probably the same people who think the Labor Day holiday weekend is somehow subversive because it celebrates the concept of the worker. As though Karl Marx is the primary thought that runs through our minds when we roast a few weenies (or whatever other edible we choose to consume) for a holiday barbecue.

Personally, I see the event being put together by The Mosque Cares of suburban East Hazel Crest and Imam W. Deen Mohammad as just more evidence that our Chicago area continues to evolve in its ethnic composition.

But I also can’t help note the location of the convention and its proximity to Orland Park (the two suburbs are adjacent in southwestern Cook County – a region that has developed a significant Arab population in its many municipalities). That was the site of an incident just a couple of weeks ago.

THE LOCAL PUBLIC library put together a program for the community in which academics with knowledge of Arabs, the Middle East and Islam were to speak – in hopes of educating the public.

Instead, a collection of radical types showed up with the intent of disrupting the program – while trying to claim it was the fault of the people on the panel that there was any controversy.

All too similar to the actions of some 50 years ago when civil rights activists who were abused by angry white mobs were then further dumped on by police – with the establishment trying to justify such conduct by claiming the activists caused the problem by not staying in their (subservient, of course) place.

Perhaps it is evidence of how we have advanced in a half-century. When the police were called for in Orland Park, no one got arrested. But it was quickly seen that the problem was from the people whose purpose was disruption.

THE LOCAL POLICE did not follow the literal words of one-time Mayor Richard J. Daley and “preserve disorder.” They kept the two sides from erupting into a full-fledged riot of any sort. They did their jobs.

Let’s only hope that nothing similar (as I write this commentary on Friday, I am unaware of any outbursts) occurs during this holiday weekend.

Because I really can’t see how an event that includes a session on what exactly preparation of food in accordance with Halal could create any legitimate controversy.

Unless the Muslims themselves take offense to the fact that their convention was being held in a facility (although not necessarily the same room) that, just a week earlier, was the site of the Midwest Pole Dancing Competition!


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