A Message From The East: Anti-Islam rhetoric poses great threat to all ethnic groups

In a new wave of anti-Islam propaganda, conservative Baptist minister Jerry Falwell called Prophet Muhammad "a terrorist." That hateful opinion made 1.3 billion Muslims around the world sad and angry.

Prophet Muhammad is a central figure for those who follow Islam. All the Muslims are very sensitive about Prophet Muhammad, have the greatest respect for him, and consider him a man of peace.

In a sense, the hate speech of minister Falwell is not different from those remarks by other fundamentalists who have slurred Islam after Sept. 11. Day after day, those narrow-minded religious leaders prove their ignorance, intolerance and fanaticism.

It seems that the Islamophobic rhetoric dominated the whole media. If you follow what is published concerning Islam and the Muslims you will be amazed.

For example, the televangelist Pat Robertson's claimed that all roots of terrorism could be traced back to Islam. Franklin Graham claimed that Islam is a "very evil and wicked religion."

Free Congress Foundation's William S. Lind made allegations that "there is no such thing as peaceful Islam." Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter's called to invade Muslim countries and convert the populations to Christianity. The editor of the National Review made a "sarcastic" suggestion that "nuking Mecca" would send a "signal" to Muslims.

Anti-Islam rhetoric is a real danger. First of all, those hostile remarks came from leaders of the religious right who have strong ties with Bush administration, which negatively affects the American policy.

Second, all those comments do is contaminate the atmosphere by spreading harmful feelings against Muslims who live in the U.S. Some people might be fooled by such comments which could lead to attacks on American Muslims.

Third, there are thousands of Christian missionaries and humanitarian aid workers living in Muslim countries. Such hate remarks put their lives at increased risk of any actions of retaliation.

Apparently, the views of Falwell don't reflect the ideas and feelings of mainstream religious leaders. The Executive Board of the National Council of Churches voted unanimously to condemn and repudiate Falwell's invective about Prophet Muhammad and urged President Bush to condemn and repudiate Falwell's remarks.

The council that represents 36 Christian denominations and more than 50 million members expressed worries that such aggressive attacks against Prophet Muhammad could drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims.

Not only are the antagonistic statements about Islam and Prophet Muhammad untrue and offensive, but also they represent a threat to the national security of this country where more than eight million Muslims live side by side with people from other religions.

There should be more efforts to enhance religious awareness. This is a call to religious leaders to educate their group members of other faiths to make people better understand each other. Elevating the level of understanding will contribute to build a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, which is what we need the most.

Write to Fahad at fahad765@yahoo.com


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