By Dr. AS Nakadar
|File: Interfaith and media event headed by David Crumm.|
Note: Mr. David Crumm, founding editor of ReadtheSpirit.com, former staff reporter for the Free Press, and activist for interreligious harmony, has held several meetings of Michigan reporters and newspaper editors in the metro-Detroit area. At the most recent one Dr. Nakadar, publisher of The Muslim Observer, spoke on the importance of diversity and tolerance. See remarks below.
Ladies and gentleman, I greet you with greetings of peace to you all.
Thank you Mr. David Crumm for giving me this opportunity,
It is a pleasure, privilege and honor to speak to this distinguished group of Journalists,
I am not a journalist, neither a writer nor I a communication expert.
I am a physician by profession, trained to be an Internist and cardiologist. I practiced medicine for 30 years in Western suburbs before I took an early retirement to pursue my social obligations and publication of The Muslim Observer.
This newspaper has been in the circulation for over 11 years serving the community and you may say it is an alternative voice,
Today my biggest concern and the concern of all of us should be the challenges that our pluralistic society and our country face.
Pluralism is the Achilles Heel of our societyâ€™s foundation.
And it is this ethos that has led our social, economical and political progress in a democratic setup.
The followers of Abrahamic faiths; Judaism, Christianity and Islam have played a crucial role in shaping the world and its civilization, especially, the two largest faiths, Christianity and Islam.
Today we see this pluralism and cohesiveness shaken to its roots.
In the current scenario the media coverage of Islam may be primary factor for creating Islamophobia.
Most of the time when a reporter covers the news where Christians or Jews or other religions are involved it is covered and analyzed as a political issue, or a conflict and are reported in general terms without linking of any community to an individual or a groupâ€™s act.
While a similar news event where Muslims are involved it is covered and analyzed in light of Muslim tradition, beliefs and practices. Apart from this the whole community is held responsible for the action of an individual or a fringe group.
This kind of news reporting about Muslims often invokes emotional response; it captures the audience and helps to improve the bottom line.
But in quest of profit we forget the damage it does to the harmony and pluralistic ethos of our society and to our nation.
Social harmony, respect to each other, and religious tolerance, is a prerequisite for a meaningful progress.
In todayâ€™s globalized world the relationship between different faiths is a matter of serious thought because of increasing interdependence and the changing color of the American mosaic.
Thus it is essential we all work responsibly towards social harmony and pluralistic ethos.
We will not be able eradicate Islamophobia, like anti Semitism, in near future unless we treat it as our national problem.
Social activists, religious leaders, politicians our institutions and especially media have critical role to play if we want to transform our societies in eliminating voices of hate and bigotry if we were to promote global understanding of peace.
Our relations have to go beyond â€œusâ€ verses â€œthemâ€ and to work for our common good.
Zogby survey done in 2004 showed that more than 50% of the Muslims income bracket was over $50,000 as compared to nationwide average income of $47,000 and nearly 60% Muslims are college graduates as compared to 27% as a whole.
We canâ€™t afford to marginalize or alienate the group or the society that has so much to offer for national development.
Let us not define America on our religious or cultural identities but let us define America by the cherished and noble American values of respect for Human Rights, Freedom, Democracy, Justice and respect for the rule of law and to the American constitution. The rest of the world, look up to these values with a universal appeal to them.
As pointed out by Karen Armstrong, â€œIn the Islamic Empire, Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, enjoyed religious freedom.
This reflected the teaching of the Qurâ€™an, which is a pluralistic scripture, affirmative of other traditions.
Muslims are commanded by God to respect the â€œpeople of the bookâ€ (namely; Jews and Christians) and reminded that they share the same belief and the same God.â€
Let us all work responsibly towards better understanding for the sake of our society and our country.