Friday, December 21, 2007

Be the moderate you're looking for

Kareem Elbayar, Common Ground News Service (US: Washington DC)

In a 7 December op-ed in The New York Times, Ayaan Hirsi Ali asked where the moderate Muslims were, and concluded that the very notion of a moderate Muslim majority was "wishful thinking". Moderate Muslims are all around us, from the attorney and husband of the rape victim from Saudi Arabia, both of whom expressed revulsion and shame at the decision made by Saudi Arabian courts; to the delegation of British Muslims who travelled to Sudan and worked with Sudanese MP Ghazi Suleiman to secure the "teddy bear" teacher's release. It seems that Ali would like me and my co-religionists to go about our lives constantly marching around the streets apologizing for the acts of zealots – but I will not do so, for I bear no more responsibility for these acts than she does ... It seems that in our modern age of sound bites and one-liners, strident if uninformed criticism will always outperform calm and reasoned debate. If Ali is serious about supporting tolerance among Muslims, perhaps she should spend less time penning distracting and misleading screeds against Islam and more time reaching out to groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslims for Progressive Values, Al-Fatiha, and Sisters in Islam. The only way to prevent the "clash of civilisations" from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy is to build bridges between our communities. Promoting a black-and-white caricature of reality serves no one – least of all the tolerant Muslims Ali can't seem to find anywhere she looks.

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