The Muslim Menace

August 9, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Posted in Religion | Leave a comment
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New York City last week approved the application of a Muslim group to erect a mosque and community center only two blocks away from Ground Zero. The project has been vigorously protested as a “slap in the face” of those who died on September 11, and as a political statement rather than a religious one. Stories circulated that the mosque would be at Ground Zero, rather than two blocks away.

I wonder how far away would be far enough? I wonder whether those opposed to the project know that there were Muslims–workers like others in the Twin Towers–who died in the attacks. I wonder whether the opponents know that the center will focus on interfaith dialogue, will have members of other religions on its board, and will include what the developer called “a September 11 memorial and contemplation space.”

The New York City mosque and community center project is not the only one being protested. According to the New York Times, protests were mounted recently against similar projects in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Temecula, California; and Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

So what’s the big deal? People protest against new church, synagogue, and other building projects all the time, because such projects may generate traffic and noise.

The big deal is that people are protesting these projects because they are Muslim projects. There’s a groundswell of bigotry against Islam that started after the September 11 attacks. People found out that Muslims were behind the attacks–and generalized their hatred of the attackers to include all Muslims. These people have decided that all Muslims are a grave danger to us. They have become bigots.

But there are a few things they don’t understand. They know little or nothing about Islam, which is one of the world’s major religions, ranking second only to Christianity in number of adherents. Like Christianity, Islam includes a contingent of fanatic extremists. Like Christians, the vast majority of Muslims are mainstream. It is the fanatic Muslim extremists, the lunatic fringe, who have perverted the religion: they are the danger. They are the terrorists.

These bigots don’t seem to realize that by spouting hatred against Islam they are playing right into the hands of the terrorists. Osama bin Laden and others like him can point to these bigots and tell prospective terrorists that the West is making war on Islam. He can say that we hate all Muslims, and that Muslims must destroy the West in self defense. We are not trying to destroy Islam, we are fighting the terrorists. The bigotry we see around us is wrong–and it encourages the very thing we’re trying to prevent.

The bigots don’t seem to understand the Constitution either. Amendment 1, the very first amendment, says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech , or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ” I don’t think it takes a constitutional lawyer or scholar to interpret that. Muslims must be allowed to practice their religion as freely as Christians, and Jews, and Buddhists, and Baha’is, and everybody else does.

Terrorists certainly pose a serious threat, one we must fight. But trying to prevent Muslims from freely practicing their religion is not fighting terrorism, it is bigotry. It is morally wrong, it is un-American, and it is unconstitutional.

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