Posts Tagged ‘religious freedom’

Civil discourse? Responsiveness to Muslim constituents? Belief in religious freedom? Not from Congressman Allen West (R-FL)

August 18, 2011

When the Council on American-Islamic Relations recently wrote Congressman Allen West (R-FL), urging him to cut ties with “anti-Islamic extremists, they explained,

“Muslims protect and serve our great country and are afforded equal protection under law. We shouldn’t have to defend our rights to worship freely or participate in the governing of our society.”

Congressman West responded with one word, in what the Miami New Times reporter wrote “might be the dumbest thing ever written on congressional stationery.”

Thanks to the Facebook page, “Americans Against Islamophobia,” for spotlighting this ugliness.

President Obama, time to do the right thing about the mosque near Ground Zero

August 18, 2010

Some days ethics backs you into a corner. You have to choose between doing what your inner voice is saying is right—or not. That day is here for President Obama.


He made a stirring statement about religious freedom last Friday at a Ramadan dinner. The next day he equivocated: “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.”


Score a miss for Presidential leadership. His conflicting statements poured fuel on the burning controversy.

· Americans generally believe Muslims have a right to worship, just not there.

· One and one-half billion Muslims thought America was a land of religious freedom, not at war with Islam, but aren’t certain.

· Manhattanites mostly think people ought to be able to do whatever they want.

· Families of 9/11 victims are divided


You can’t please everybody, Mr. President. Time to do the right thing. But what is the right thing? Should a Muslim community center-cum-prayer area be built on the site of a decrepit ex-Burlington Coat Factory, hard by an Off-Track Betting parlor, a bar, a porn shop, and some run-down office buildings 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero?


The opponents say it’s a matter of respecting sensitivities of people who lost loved ones on 9/11. (more…)

Fareed Zakaria says build the Ground Zero mosque

August 11, 2010

I’ve been writing in favor of Park 51, the so-called Ground Zero mosque, because ethics demands that we treat others as we would be treated, and because religious freedom is a precious American birthright.

But sometimes the ethical thing is also the best strategy. Fareed Zakaria, one of America’s most insightful political commentators (and an Indian-born, Yale- and Harvard-educated Muslim) writes in this week’s Newsweek that encouraging groups like the one behind Park 51 is part of a “lasting solution to the problem of Islamic terror.”

Zakaria has been tagged by New York Magazine as a possibility to be the first Muslim Secretary of State. All his columns are worth reading, but this one is a must for understanding the national security reason for supporting Park 51 and other efforts by moderate American Muslims.

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The mosque “at” Ground Zero: the Anti-Defamation League sides with the bigots

August 1, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League has in the past stood against, not only anti-Semitism, but against all kinds of racial and religious bigotry. Those days sadly are gone. In a shameful statement the ADL summed up its position this way:

“Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.”

So if you are a victim and you blame Islam—not al Qaeda—for 9/11, we should honor your bigotry by preventing American Muslims from building a community center/mosque 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. For a Jewish group to make such a statement is remarkable, and especially reprehensible. It wasn’t long ago that Jews too were told to be unobtrusive because their presence where they were unwanted would cause pain (more…)

Anti-Muslim rants on Facebook: “1,000,000+ people who disapprove of building a mosque at Ground Zero!”

May 30, 2010

There’s a Facebook group called “1,000,000+ people who disapprove of building a mosque at Ground Zero!” It has 109,000 members so far, and the postings are mostly rabid anti-Muslim rants and slurs. Most of the members—even those not apparently driven by hate of Muslims—refer to all Muslims as “they”—as in they are terrorists, or they attacked us on 9/11.

There’s some background on the mosque here. Just last week a Manhattan community board struck a blow for New York-style tolerance and diversity by voting 29-1 with ten abstentions to approve the mosque. There are more hurdles ahead, but the community sentiment is in a good place.

I’ve joined the group to join the conversation. Wouldn’t it be nice if 109,000 more people joined who believed in religious freedom, and in NOT attributing to an entire people the acts of the worst of them. Go ahead and join up. You could join the conversation and perhaps inject a note of love-your-neighbor to the group. Who knows, it might be catching.

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