Wednesday, September 1, 2010

As the protests over the GZ mosque continue

we will get a plethora of articles by Muslim authors such as the one below.

They will all demand we shut down freedom of speech and religion because we have insulted them by protesting against their speech and religion. They will also contain veiled threats of violence if we don’t.

Editor's note: Akbar Ahmed is professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington. He is author of "Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam," Brookings Press 2010.

(CNN) -- In less than a month, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida plans to host "Burn a Quran Day" to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The pastor, author of the book "Islam is of the Devil," is using the burning to urge American Christians to "stand up" to what he describes as a monolithic Muslim threat. A Facebook page for the event has accrued thousands of "likes" and Jones has said people have been mailing him Qurans to burn.

As a Muslim scholar, an adherent of one of the Abrahamic faiths -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- and as someone committed to interfaith understanding, I urge Jones to cancel this event. Not only are the actions of Jones contrary to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, but they are also against the ideals of the American Founding Fathers.

Has anybody explained to the author that religious freedom lets people do whatever they want? Even establish mosques at GZ? (sarcasm alert)

The planned burning has already caused alarm in the Muslim world, with the pre-eminent Sunni university, Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, condemning it as "stirring up hate and discrimination."

At a recent dinner in Washington, a host for one of Pakistan's top TV channels confided in me that he "didn't dare" report the story because if he did, "not a single American would be safe in Pakistan." He and the cameraman were quivering with anger as they asked me to explain why Americans hated Islam.

I tried my best to explain this was not the case, but Jones' burning will have great symbolic significance to a Muslim world already feeling under attack by the United States. It will cause undue harm to U.S. relations with the Muslim world and particularly the war effort.

You know, that sound like a threat to me. Someone needs to tell the TV exec that when churches can be built in SA and Iran we’ll try and get a handle on the book burning. Until then…(Think of the Italian Salute!)

Gen. David Petraeus, the head of American forces in Afghanistan, has repeatedly expressed the need for winning the "hearts and minds" of local people by treating them with dignity and respect. When Afghans see that their holy book is being burned, it will cause riots and attacks that will put U.S. troops further at risk. There will be similar riots and attacks in neighboring Pakistan and Iran. It will inflame the entire Muslim world and fuel acts of terrorism

This is just a repeat of the “Don’t you dare offend Muslims” argument. I think it is time to tell them that if they want to be treated as equals then they have to respect others as much as they demand respect.

Let me know when they start.

It could also inflame anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, especially in the context of the anger over the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan.

Then withdraw the plans. I mean, for the dozenth time. IF YOU WANT RESPECT GIVE RESPECT.

Many American Muslims will feel as if they are second-class citizens and it could push some angry young men toward violence.

Well, I hope not. But that’s why we have police, national guard, etc.

On my recent fieldwork trip to 100 mosques in 75 American cities with a team of American researchers for the book "Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam," we documented that many mosques had been attacked, sometimes bombed. In May, not far from Jones' church in Gainesville, a pipe bomb exploded in a mosque in Jacksonville.

You know, that’s shameful and I hope that find the perp and put him in jail. But that doesn’t mean we have the right to shut down free speech and freedom of religion.

As objectionable as the prospect of Jones' Quran burning is, it may not cease with the holy book of the Muslims. I have always maintained that this kind of vitriolic hatred of one religion is a descent on a slippery slope, as no one can say who will be next. I was not surprised, therefore, when I heard Jones recently agree, when asked to do so in an internet podcast interview, to burn "a couple of copies of the Talmud" too.

Not only does the burning of holy texts reflect the darkest days of medieval Europe and Nazi Germany, but it is hard to think of anything more un-American, by the definition of the Founding Fathers themselves.

Ah, the old slippery slope argument. I am sure the Baptists are trembling with fear…. But snarking aside…. Freedom of religion and freedom of speech must rule… or at least that is what Mayor Bloomberg tells us.

George Washington welcomed the Jews to America as the "stock of Abraham" while John Adams showed the utmost respect for Islam, naming the Prophet Mohammed as one of the greatest truth seekers in history. Benjamin Franklin called him a model of compassion.

Well, there was that small matter of pirates on the shores of Tripoli and demands for tribute that we had to take care of. Other than that Muslims just kinda faded away for the next two hundred years.

And, of course, no radical Muslim had driven a burning carriage into buildings in NYC.


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"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." - Karl Popper

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.” - William Pitt

"Logic. There is little logic among the cultural elite, maybe because there is little omnipresent fear of job losses or the absence of money, and so arises a rather comfortable margin to indulge in nonsense." - Victor Davis Hanson

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