Separate the widespread protests against an American film that was designed to anger Muslims from the terrorist attack in Libya. Forget the political debate about Mitt Romney’s comments and President Obama’s reaction.
For me the events of the past week remind me of Daisy Khan, who spoke at a conference of the Frank Church Institute at Boise State University a year ago. Khan is the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, whose mosque is 12 blocks from ground zero in New York.
These events seem far away from Idaho and the West. But Boise has a growing Muslim community of its own.
Church and Sen. William Borah before him served as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Republican Sen. Jim Risch serves on the committee today and has traveled to the Middle East to see the issues up close.
Khan spoke last October of the wave of anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide in the United States when her husband announced plans to build an Islamic Center only two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, had advice that is still good today.
“Our task today is to demonstrate when a crime is committed in the name of religion, it is a crime against all religions,” she said.
The movie is just the latest in a campaign by a small group of people who have spent more than $40 million to paint the 6 million to 8 million American Muslims and the Muslim religion as inherently terrorist.
It shows, Khan said, that “a mature democracy can be undermined by a few intolerant people,” she said. But she also condemned those Muslims who use religion to justify violence.
Khan said at the time that she was happy that Romney, a Mormon, was overcoming the intolerance toward that religion in his effort to become president. And she couldn’t pass up a comparison of a Mormon candidate to the election of a president with the middle name of Hussein, even though he is Christian.
American Muslims are incredibly diverse, representing communities from around the world, Khan said. American Muslim women are, as a group, better educated than the American public as a whole.
She said her husband has been working with other Islamic scholars to develop benchmarks for the emerging Islamic democracies to protect people’s rights, even minority religions, as they organize new governments.
“What we Muslims have to do is to show that good governance and social justice are at the heart of Muslim law,” Khan said.
The jury is still out on whether Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, will follow their advice.
Khan said it starts with allowing minorities to practice their own religions and bringing them completely into civic life.
Most of all I think about how outraged some of my friends were about Khan’s husband’s plan for the mosque in Manhattan. I would hope they can at least understand how Middle Eastern Muslims feel about a movie that portrays their prophet, Muhammad, as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer.
Rocky Barker: 377-6484