Bashing Islam is a dangerous sign

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Life & Society Topics: Islam Views: 6707
6707

The school year started off with an unpleasant bang in Gainesville, Fla., when a fifth-grader showed up on the first day wearing a T-shirt with "Islam is of the Devil" inscribed on the back.

Administrators sent the 10-year-old home to change clothes. But the next day several other students at two high schools and a middle school arrived wearing the same message. All were told to cover it up or go home.

The local church responsible for the T-shirt, Dove World Outreach Center, is unapologetic about the school campaign. Church members had already erected a sign on church property proclaiming "Islam is of the Devil" to passersby. According to the pastor, the church has a Christian duty to expose Islam as a "violent and oppressive religion."

Missing no opportunity to drive the message home, Dove World marked the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with a rally to whip up outrage - not at what some extremists did in the name of Islam, but at Islam itself.

Under the First Amendment, Dove World has the right to proclaim its beliefs about Islam, no matter how much it offends others. But the kids in the congregation may have to wait until after school to put on the T-shirts.

Students do have some free-speech rights in schools. But the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the authority of school officials to draw the line at student speech that they can reasonably forecast will cause a substantial disruption. It's very likely that the Dove World T-shirt crosses that line, especially since Muslim students attend Gainesville schools.

Beyond the constitutional issues, however, the controversy points to the larger, more difficult question of how we engage one another in a public square that is increasingly poisoned by hatred and division. Dove World's anti-Islam initiative is not unique. Post-9/11, a growing number of churches inspired by some evangelical leaders such as Ron Paisley and Pat Robertson have condemned Islam in harsh terms. As Robertson puts it, terrorists don't distort Islam - they are "carrying out Islam."

Apart from the fact that these ugly generalizations are distortions of Islamic teachings and wildly misrepresent the views of the vast majority of the world's 1 billion Muslims, Islam-bashing on this scale threatens American Muslims and undermines the common good.

It's impossible to measure the effect of anti-Islam rhetoric on those who take it to the next level and commit acts of violence. But we do know that attacks targeting Muslim Americans are a significant problem across the country. Last month, for example, a Philadelphia business owned by Muslim Palestinian-Americans was ransacked and covered with angry graffiti telling the owners to "go home." And in Smithtown, N.Y., a man was arrested for threatening to kill a Muslim mother and her daughter and trying to run them down with his car. Both incidents are being investigated as hate crimes.

Most Americans recognize the problem. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, nearly six in 10 adults say U.S. Muslims are subject to more discrimination than any other major religious group.

Back in Gainesville, some local residents living near Dove World are countering the anti-Islam message by speaking up for their Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens. Soon after the first sign went up in July, an interfaith group of Christians, Jews and others gathered in front of the church to protest intolerance and call for mutual respect.

On a national level, many Christian and Jewish leaders - including some leading evangelical ministers - have reached out to Muslims by calling for peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding. In fact, Southern Baptist Pastor Rick Warren delivered a message of reconciliation between Christians and Muslims to the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America in July, around the time Dove World was erecting its sign.

"You know as an evangelical pastor, my deepest faith is in Jesus Christ," Warren told a crowd of some 8,000 Muslim Americans. "But you also need to know that I am committed not just to what I call the good news, but I am committed to the common good."

Warren then defined what Americans share across our differences: "America is a country not built on race, not built on a creed, but built on an idea - liberty and justice for all."

Charles C. Haynes is senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001. Email him at [email protected]


  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Life & Society
  Topics: Islam
Views: 6707

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Older Comments:
KRIS MACPHERSON FROM MALAYSIA said:
As as I write, let me also add this. More mosques, with the Muslim masses are sprouting in Europe. Regardless of what any anti Islamic movement may want to see and say.

Two years ago, I read that the US state department had reported that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the USA as well. In one CNN report also 2 years ago, I remember watching one county where Muslims organisation had bought an abandoned church building, turning it into a mosque. But imagine, the opposition to this was fierce. Thought it's senseless, it seems that the anti Islam movement can't bear the thought that in their county, a mosque will stand in place of a former abandoned church.

Let me ask the crusaders a few questions. How do you comprehend the concept of the trinity as a basis of your divine belief, where does the holy father stand, when was the " son " born, and where do you put this holy ghost in your lives ?

Whom do you worship more among these three ? Why can't you accept the Oneness of the only GOD ? If you claim Jesus as divine, yet in most of his teachings you abandon him. You made jesus a mockery in your life. You accept westernisation, you even idolise it, that propounded sins to the very maximum, that glamourise hedonism, a worship of material wealth to the exclusion of GOD. You accept that it's okay to have free lives without the lawful bond of marriages, and most so called Christendom also legalised abortion and gayism. You even have gay priest. and gay marriages. So where do you put your " divine Jesus " ? You lack ethics in your business dealings, and at the same time you also worship capitalism, that allows monopoly of wealth by any means ( though the financial crisis proves the failure of such system ).

I'll write more later.
2009-10-02

KRIS MACPHERSON FROM MALAYSIA said:
For the love of Islam, I say this. For those who bash Islam, I call upon them or challenge them, at least to study the true Islam, written by respectable scholars. Even western scholars had admiration on Islam. Please surf web sites of GWU, or Oxford, if non Muslims are suspicious of Islamic scholars, then read the researches of good non Muslim intellectuals.

My learned Brother Babandi is correct, Islam is now the fastest spread religion in Europe, hence that's why we have facism and anti Islam movement growing bolder and more evil, these days. These facism is actually the tools of anti Islamic movement, they just can't stand the thought of Islam growing, offering the only alternative for human salvation.

I have friends who are still Christians, with respect, but still I see emptiness in them, still I see the ever growing soul searching without answers. I was one before, so was my family. But in those days, we kept on asking questions on Jesus, and Mary, why were they worshipped as divine. Christians love Jesus, but most were unable to accept claims of his divineness, and the issue of confession.

Why can't I talk and plead to GOD myself, why do I need a priest to hear my cries, my plea, my haplessness, my agony ? I had always this conflict within me those years, and so were many of my companions. We ask, if the LORD is all Mighty and OmniPresence, then does HE not know our plight ? Can't HE not hear us ? And the concept of the original sin is another conflict, we often ask ourselves, why were we born sinners even when we had just seen the light of GOD's world in all our innocence ?

When I learn and knew about Islam, my hearts cried. I learn that it is possible to love Jesus, as a human being who is gifted by ALLAH. That loving Jesus ( J-Pbuh ) is more rational, more sweet and without any conflict within. That ALLAH is the One and Only GOd and Muhammad ( s.a.w ) is HIS messenger. Nothing can bring more happiness to me, than this true belief.
2009-10-02

YOHAN FROM BHUTAN said:
All these expressions are evidence of lack of understanding. In fact Christianity is original Islam. How can Christianity be of the Devil? The last prophet was tempted to coin this beautiful term (ISLAM) to attract more believers into his apostasy to build his sect. There are many common parameters between the believers' religion (ISLAM) and the prophet's sect that uses the same term.
It is intermingled as husk and wheat, the fruit of the same plant. Our glory lies in becoming wheat rather than envying the husk. The master will separate us on the day of visitation. Let us wait for His blessed arrival than labeling the misguided mankind with names but lacking goodness in the self. It is like cursing the deaf and the blind which the Lord never tolerates!! Shalam.
2009-10-01

BABANDI A.GUMEL FROM U>K said:
People like Romesh Chander the Crusader should join this Club the Dove Church so as to succeed in their propaganda and crusade rather than coming to our popular forum the Islamicity.They should establish their own website which is exclusively anti-Islam and Muslims rather than enjoining good and forbidding evil as does the Islamicity but nonetheless Islam would in sha Allah continue to flourish wether we like it or not as you can see how many brothers and sisters are joining the deen every day and how many share the Dove's or rather Devils ideas?.So as I said earlier to my brothers and sisters we should not worry about this bashing.It helps boost the Deen they want put off the light of Allah with their tongues but He promised to fulfil and carry on with the Light even if the transgressors detest.I hope as usual my brother Chris Macpherson would help carry on with the Islamisation challenging the Crusaders coming to this forum.
2009-09-30

FRANK DOUGLAS FROM USA said:
The taking up and use of Biblical Christianity against Islam is not ruled out.
2009-09-29

FATIMAH MUHAMMAD FROM CANADA said:
Good article, this is the true America folks! The Native Americans went through this, the African-Americans went through this and the Jews as well. Anything that is non-white has gone through this garbage. Now, its the Muslims, the danger is, if you do not stand against this mess, who will be next? This is not a clash of civilization, no not at all. Think about it, so many African-Americans, Cacaussian Americans, and Latinas are coming into this deen. These folks are trying to demonize the deen because they are losing so many Christians to it. It is sheer fear and jealousy. I met someone whenever i went down South who wants to revert to this deen. He told me that within 20 years, Muslims will out number Christianity. Thats the real fear folks, thats why they are demonizing us. I will say to all Muslims fear Allah and nothing or no one else.
I will say that my neighbors in Charlotte treat me very well. They helped me out so much. Not every American is as ignorant as these people. My faith and trust will always be in Allah. No matter what they say or what they do, I will always be Muslimah. I think people are cowards to want to kill a woman and her child. And to try and run them down, thats a shame. Only cowards do things like this.
Salam alaikum to all my sisters and brothers. Hold tight to the rope of Allah!
2009-09-29

SHAHIDA FROM U.S.A said:
What happens if people put bumper stickers on their cars or wear T'shirts "Non Muslims are of the Devils., War mongers, Bombers of Iraq, Palestine, Afghanisthan!!!!!
2009-09-29

YINUS FROM NIGERIA said:
allamdullilai,they are just confused n jealous of the daily increment of muslims aroud the world..it a challenge to us to embark on our outreach of the goodness of islam to the world.they want us to retaliate in bad verbal responds,Allah will be with us
2009-09-28

KC JAMES FROM USA said:
Salaam, the Islamic Community should sue the Dove (that name does not fit them) World Outreach Center for slander and whatever else is in the lawbooks that protects citizens against emotional harm done.Their Christian duty is to guide their members to a Christian life and not to slander other religions.
2009-09-28

ROMESH CHANDER FROM USA said:
Nothing unusual there. Just a small example of Clash of Civilizations. After all, these Civilizations (especially Islam and Christianity) have been clashing for the last 1400 years.

Probably, there will be plenty of copycat type of these happenings. Why object? After all, if muslims had not objected, it may not have been copied by other students at other schools. Sometimes, it is wise to keep quiet and take it in stride and just laugh at it. What would have muslims done if adults have shown with the T-shirts in all kinds of public places like shopping centers or amusement parks in Orlando or even at the University of Florida? Muslims would have not been able to do anything.

What happens if people put bumper stickers on their cars "Islam of the Devil"?

Try to make a mountain of a mole hill, it may become a mountain. Life is tough in a multi-ethnic, mult-cultural society; you don't like it, people will take advantage of you and that is human nature; no state can outlaw human nature.
2009-09-27

YAHAYA, KASHIM FROM NIGERIA said:
A unit of Christain community has yet again committed sin of disobedient. Do not they have a statutory body in America that oversees the activities of religious Heads? Dove should be taught the implication of generalization in matters of religious affairs. I am surprise that he heads a Church, only God knows how many youths this man will lead astray though, every soul shall account for his/her deeds on the day of Judgement. As for Muslim community, Islam has always sued for peace so, conscienteous efforts be made to address this issue using Government of Barak Obama. While I challenge the Muslim Umma is USA to peacefully take up this matter through dialogue with the support of USA Government, I earnestly pray to Allah to grants you wisdom to overcome this oppressed society.
2009-09-27

BABANDI A. GUMEL FROM U.K said:
We pray Allah give them guidance as they are away from true guidance.Once the light of true Deen dawns on them distinguishing between right and wrong they will regret what they have done following the Shaitan who shows them that Islam is not true.It is Shaitan that has misguided them following his evil footsteps using the Church as cover poising the minds of these inocent youngsters.These sort of things should not bother the Muslims as Allah has given us guidance we should make Shukr.Therefore we should remember whomsoever He has guided no body can misguide him and the one whom has been misguided no body can guide him."Indeed those who reject our signs and behave arrogantly towards them,the doors of the heavens will not be opened for them and they will not enter Paradise until a camel enters through the eye of a needle.Thus do We punish the crimnals". The people of Jannah will call the people of the Fire saying " We have found the promise of our Rabb to be true.Have you found the promise of your Rabb to be true?" They will reply Yes! Then an announcer shall announce between them that the curse of Allah is on the oppressors who prevent (others) from the path of Allah who seek to make it seem as if there is crookkedness in it and who reject the Hereafter.Those who treated their religion as a sport and game{show& entertainment) and whom the worldly life had deceived.Today We shall forget them just as they forgot the meeting of this day and because they used to reject Our Aayat. Unfortunately when they commit an immoral act they say "we found our forefathers doing this and God has commanded us.Say surely Allah does not command immoral behaviour.Do you speak such things against Allah for which you have no proof. Surely it is the Devil that has commanded them to do these sorts of things taking devils (Shayateen) as friends and think that they are rightly guided.So this is exactly what these youngsters doing doning Devils T Shirt.So we should pray for their guidance.
2009-09-26

RAUF FROM CDA said:
Had these misguided students been 'guided' by the Outreach Center to wear the shirts denouncing the sad holocaust event the entire world would have been up in arms.
So much for the freedom of speech.
Peace.

2009-09-25

KOVITH FROM CANADA said:
They were not muslims who initiated the WW-ONE, WW-TWO and HOLOCAUST!!!!!!
2009-09-25