By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Many of us live in America, but have doubts about its ability to accommodate us or principles of justice involving Muslims. Here are two examples that demonstrate that there are people willing to stand for justice regardless of who the perpetrators of injustice are. We often assume that the media is the representative of all Americans. It is not. What it presents is nothing but a sensationalized version of reality that is often ambiguous.
The two examples deal with fears concerning Muslims and Israelâ€™s predominant position in this country. Make your decision after reading this. How many of us would ever appreciate this and write to such people expressing our appreciation of them.
A Letter written by Rep. McCollum:
April 25, 2007
Pastor James M. (Mac) Hammond
Living Word Christian Church
9201- 75th Avenue North
Brooklyn Park, MN 55428
Dear Pastor Hammond:
A letter of invitation to your churchâ€™s April 29th event, â€œA Night to Honor Israel,â€ was received in my St. Paul office. In response, I am writing to inform you that I must decline the invitation.
Your event and events like it are â€œbeing coordinated and conducted around the country by Christians United for Israel,â€ according to the invitation.
The founder of this organization, Pastor John Hagee, is prominently highlighted on the invitation as an event speaker, along with Israelâ€™s Consul General Barukh Binah.
Pastor Hammond, freedom of speech and the freedom to practice oneâ€™s religion are cherished American rights. However, well publicized public statements by Pastor Hagee demonstrate extremism, bigotry and intolerance that is repugnant. For example:
â€œI believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God …
I believe that Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.â€ (Fresh Air, 9/18/2006)
â€œThose who live by the Quran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.â€ (Fresh Air, 9/18/2006)
â€œI would hope the United States would join Israel in a military preemptive strike to take out the nuclear capability of Iran for the salvation of Western civilization.â€ (Jerusalem Post, 3/21/2006)
These statements are not representative of the people of Minnesota nor do I believe they reflect the views of the people of Israel whom the Pastor purports to be advocating on behalf of your church. How does one â€œhonor Israelâ€ with an individual whose toxic statements pollute the environment of peaceful religious coexistence, cooperation and respect that we strive to achieve in America, and especially in Minnesota, among Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of all faiths?
Pastor Hammond, it seems I am not alone in this belief. A clergyman from Pastor Hageeâ€™s own hometown of San Antonio, TX, Rabbi Barry Block, was identified in the Jewish Weekly as a supporter of Israel and characterizes Hagee as promoting, â€œ…extremist anti-Palestinian positions and anti-Muslim prejudice…â€ and states, â€œI do not believe Pastor Hageeâ€™s activism is good for Israel.â€ (Jewish Weekly, 3/9/2007)
My support and much of Americaâ€™s support for Israel is built on a historic partnership between our two nations and peoples, sharing a common goal of living in peace, security and freedom. Unlike Pastor Hagee, I support working for the â€œroadmap for peaceâ€ in the Middle East, Israel living side-by-side in peace and security with an independent Palestinian state.
This is a goal many of us in Congress share with both Israeli political leaders and citizens.
Pastor Hammond, your invitation says this eventâ€™s purpose is for people to â€œspeak and act with one voice in support of Israel and the Jewish people.â€
As an elected official and a person of faith, I feel compelled to speak out against a voice, like Pastor Hageeâ€™s, that promotes or, even worse, preaches intolerance and bigotry – whether in churches, synagogues or mosques.
Minnesota is a state in which multiculturalism, religious tolerance, honest debate and a spirit of respect are treasured. Pastor Hageeâ€™s voice is clearly inconsistent with our Minnesota values and I believe with the values of the people of Israel.
Member of Congress
MN Congressional Delegation
â€œAsk Amyâ€ Column Courtesy Tribune Media Services
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Dear Amy: I live in a retirement community in which all residents are provided one served meal each day.
This service, normally the evening meal, is served in a dining area for about 200 residents. High-school students serve the meals. These servers are both male and female, and wear white shirts/blouses and black pants/skirts.
It is a uniform of sorts.
Two of the female servers wear black headscarves over their heads and around their necks, consistent with, I presume, their Muslim religious tradition.
Dining management has allowed this deviation from the black-and-white uniforms.
It offends my sense of propriety to have these two servers display their religious symbols in a private dining area. I would like to complain to management, but I don’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest.
Am I wrong? – Kilroy
Dear Kilroy: Are you offended by evidence of any religion in the dining room? Or do you mind the fact that these girls are Muslim and you cannot ignore that fact? The ideal function of the hijab is to project an air of modesty to avoid attention, not draw it. It seems that a black headscarf fits in with the uniform for servers.
I wonder if you would be similarly offended if these girls wore Amish caps or if young male waiters wore yarmulkes? Perhaps you would be. If so, and if any evidence of religion in your dining room offends you, then complain to management. But you will be stirring up a hornet’s nest if you do.
These young people have a right to wear their headscarves; unless these scarves impair their ability to serve your dinner, I donâ€™t think you have a leg to stand on. Our pluralistic society might be changing a bit fast for you, but the freedom to practice and express one’s religion is an important aspect of what it means to be an American, right?