The fallout from last weekend’s Orlando shootings has special resonance for Araf Hossain. He co-founded Alpha Lambda Mu, the country’s first all-Muslim fraternity, at UT-Dallas in 2012. Hossain’s now trying to launch a new project called Muslims Against ISIS.
Interview Highlights: Araf Hossain…
…On his reaction to the attack in Orlando:
“As soon as I saw the name on screen, I yelled at the top of my lungs in my house. I just flipped out. I was enraged at the fact that a Muslim did this and it’s our holy month of Ramadan – this is when we try to get closer to God, focus on tranquility and spirituality. It just sincerely affected me knowing that this is totally going to set us back especially regarding [the LGBT community].
They’ve been with us since the beginning, ever since the 9/11 attacks. They were the first people that stood up for us and have been every time there has been a demonstration against Muslims. I’m just kind of at a loss as to how to go forward with this because now we’ve really, really offended one of our closest allies here in America.”
…On why he wishes the Muslim community would take a more proactive approach against ISIS:
“Every time an attack does occur, the Islam community is there to immediately condemn the attack, as they should. Every Islamic organization will contact any news outlets that will hear them to make sure it’s known that this really is not in the name of Islam whatsoever, and that frustrates me because how long can we be reactive? How long can other Americans on the other side say ‘Ok, you guys are saying this. But, I mean, is it just going to be we have an attack and you’re going to be reactive? Or is it going to be the status quo from here on?’
…On his approach to Muslims Against ISIS and Muslims Against Violence:
“[ISIS has] their own media branch that puts out these messages that are meant to target people on the fence and kind of sway people over to their side. It’s propaganda. We don’t have a similar sort of thing anywhere. Yes, we are fighting them on social media trying to shut down their accounts on Twitter, whatever things they put out on Facebook, shutting down those accounts too. But, that’s not enough. There has to be an alternative voice.”
…On why he still has hope after the Orlando attack:
“[On Monday, I saw news articles] reporting Muslims standing in the line at the blood donation center trying to give blood while they were fasting, and they stood out there for hours and hours. Donating blood is the last thing you want to do while fasting, but these people knew this is the least we can do… The LGBT community has been with us so many times….But, we have to make an effort on our part to make sure that more people like the Orlando shooter don’t come up in the future, which is the biggest task.”