WASHINGTON -- Imam Mahdi Bray is feeling a sense of deja vu these days, with threats and attacks on Muslims reviving memories of his younger days working and marching alongside civil rights activists.
"For me and for America, these types of things have happened over and over again," said Bray, of the Muslim American Society.
He and other African-American Muslim leaders say the recent verbal and physical attacks against Muslims because of their faith are painful reminders of past discrimination felt by blacks because of their skin color.
Threats to burn Qurans recall the bombings of black churches, they say, and anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller's crusade against the proposed Park51 Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero summons memories of Bull Connor's orders to aim fire hoses at civil rights marchers in Alabama.
"When people are talking about exclusionary zones where Muslims cannot build houses of worship or cannot freely assemble, then it evokes memories of those exclusionary politics and exclusionary laws African-Americans had to deal with," said Imam Zaid Shakir, a professor at Zaytuna College, the nation's first Muslim college, in Berkeley, Calif.