Recent atrocities perpetrated against the U.S. by supposed Islamic extremists have served to focus attention on Moslems living or visiting in the U.S. It has been pointed out, correctly, that those responsible for these attacks are not representative of the majority of Moslems. In spite of this fact, there have been scattered sporadic attacks on peace loving Moslems in the U.S. Such bigotry against Moslems is unbecoming of our country and inexcusable.
Of course, statements like those above have been reiterated frequently in the last few days. What I have not heard amidst all the urging to be tolerant, is any possible positive thing that peace loving Islamic peoples can do in response to the recent atrocity that would make such anti-Islamic bigotry so obviously wrong that even the people now practicing it, would see it as abhorrent.
I suggest a vigorous visible effort be made by Moslems in freer Western democracies, to implore their fellows in the predominantly Islamic nations of the world, to practice, in their own countries, the same tolerance they rightly expect from western democracies. Even in progressive Islamic states like Saudi Arabia there is blatant and frequent persecution of anyone espousing any other faith than Islam. Proselytism is a criminal offense and conversion from Islam to anything is a capital crime. The inverse, of course, is never prohibited in a Moslem country. In many places, such as Sudan, Pakistan or Afghanistan, it is far worse. People of other faiths routinely are imprisoned and many face death, simply because they do not embrace Islam.
What would happen if even 50% of the Moslems enjoying the freedoms of more tolerant nations engaged in a fervent letter writing campaign to their countries of origin? What if Islamic clergy were to preach tolerance regularly? What if Moslems by the thousands protested and demonstrated outside the embassies of any Islamic country that dared to try a person of non-Islamic faith for blasphemy or converting from Islam? Such pressure would bring at least a modicum of change, maybe more. Such pressure, applied by fellow Moslems, would surely be accepted more readily than the protests of infidels. Such pressure, applied by Moslems, would do much to silence those who think all Moslems are extremist.
Phone: 507 775 6429
Sept. 20, 2001
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