America, The Land that I Love~

Statue of Liberty with Flag

Orlando, FL- As the founder of the Facebook group by the same name and the website PakistanisforPeace.com, I know I may come under some inevitable criticism by some conservative Pakistanis, some Pakistani Americans, or even others elsewhere as part of the worldwide diasporas of my community globally, due especially to the title of this article! “America, the land that you love?”, they may ask. 

How could you both call yourself a Pakistani, let alone also be the leader of a group for Pakistanis and at the same time profess your love for another country such as the USA? An imposter, a charlatan, a fake, they would say! He is bought by them, probably on their payroll to have such a pro stance and publish an article professing his love for his adopted country!

They simply would not understand that the freedoms enjoyed in the United States are not enjoyed in any other country in the world. They would not understand that the local police escorts and provides assistance every Friday outside every Muslim place of worship across the USA to help the departing faithful from their mosques an easy passage back on to the main roads and through fares.  Despite eight heart wrenching years after 9-11 and two wars in Muslim countries, Muslim Americans enjoy a higher level of religious and civil freedoms that is unmatched by Muslims in Europe or elsewhere.

They would not understand that across Europe, Muslim girls raised religiously to wear the hijab are banned from attending classes while dressed in the religious garb that covers all their hair for modesty reasons. The fear is rampant of the Arabization or the Islamization of the old continent. In America, the average person is curious and asks “Doesn’t it get hot wearing that all the time?” Shrugs, and then goes about their day. They are more concerned about whether you are sane and not a terrorist here to do us harm again, rather than your attire, no matter how different to them.

Maybe due to simply the size of this country or for the sheer number of differnt groups and ethnicities from around the world, that make America truly a melting pot. Muslims from Morocco and Tunisia don’t dot every square inch of the territory as it appears to many a Frenchman in France. There is not a chicken and curry shop on every corner in the US as you may see in London. You will never see this many Turks in all the US as you will see in just a few cities in Germany. Yet in their small spread out numbers of 4-6 million out of a population of 300 million, the small Muslim minority of the US enjoys much more freedom and protections than others in much larger proportionate numbers in Europe.

They would not understand the background and experiences of a young Pakistani man, boy really, as I was not yet 15 years old when I arrived in the US. They would not realize that within me resides the best of both worlds. The American cultural and social traditions that have become second nature to me, that tend to go hand in hand with my Pakistani Muslim need to worship  as I did this past Ramadan.

As I fasted the entire month of Ramadan, for the nearly the first time in my adult life, I realized the cherished life that I live in this great country we call the United States of America. I truly appreciate an open and accepting country built by generations and waves of immigrants that all contributed and continue to do so to make it the best place in the world!

As a naturalized citizen, I have taken the following oath: (oath of citizenship- Wikipedia)  “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies , foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. “

Despite my cultural, historical, and familial ties to Pakistan, The United States of America is to whom I have and continue to pledge my allegiance. This is where a boy of 15 years grows up to become his own man and realizes that the constitution Is the greatest living document in history. In fact, after the Torah, Bible, and Koran, it is next in line to sacredness to someone like me.

To pledge allegiance to this document, this system of governance, checks and balances, representation, due process, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the beauty of America and why I am proud to be a Pakistani American.

As I tell people all the time, “ I may not have been born here, but I got here as fast as I could!” 

 

Manzer Munir for http://www.PakistanisforPeace.com

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