These are difficult and challenging times for all of us. Our country is in the midst of a war that the majority of our citizens did not approve and our people are in harms way in Iraq and elsewhere. As American Muslims, we grieve for what is happening to our country and to our religion.
Last week, the beheading of a fellow citizen at the hands of criminals exploiting the name of Islam is indeed a stab in the heart of Islam. It is an act of injustice that must not be tolerated. Masking their identity for a crime raises questions about their intentions and actions. What was done to Nicholas Berg was barbaric, uncivilized and unfathomable. His beheading diverted the attention from a major crisis that grew in the prisons of Iraq.
The horrors in Abu Gharib are bleeding wounds in the hearts of all people of conscience. We feel unbearable pain for those men and women who were tortured and humiliated. We totally resent the manipulation of the obvious facts by some who are trying to make them isolated incidences contrary to the Red Crescent and Red Cross assertions, or to reduce them to just a public relations failure in the Arab and Muslim world. There is a big apology due to the American people, to every Americans in harms way and to the forefather, of this country and the values they preached.
We are horrified by the hate mongering, racial statements and religious venomous talks that have been on the rise lately and still continue now. General Boyken who ratified Islam in the most vicious language, and who stated: "Our God is bigger than their God" is still enjoying his high rank. He still gives advice about preparing prisoners for interrogations; Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberts and his ilk are still preaching their hatred against Islam among Pentagon officials. They have increased their rhetoric about apocalyptic future where Islam emerges as the enemy of Jesus as the Anti Christ. All this has created a subculture of violence, which is begetting worst violence. There is the potential of having this malignancy materializing and growing in our society.
But we must not sit quiet and resign to the leadership that has misled us so far.
A coalition of people of conscience, politicians, disenfranchised elements of the society, human right groups, media leaders need to be formed at once, to counter this subculture of hate, violence and bigotry, before things get worst, if there is a worst than what we already have.
Dr. Maher Hathout is the Senior Advisor for Muslim Public Affairs Council