I cringe a bit to see that it's been over 6 months since I've blogged. I'm stateside at the moment, and there have been some related stories about American-Islam relation that are riling me up enough re-emerge.
Most have probably been following the U.S. news stories about the controversy over the Ground Zero Islamic center; the burned-down Islamic center site in Murfreesboro, TN (the Feds suspect arson); and now this extremist pastor in FL who is leading his congregation in an "International Koran Burning Day" this Saturday, Sept 11.
To the international debate that these events are sparking, I want to add the perspective of an American Christian who has been living abroad in majority Muslim areas for the last three years. In my opinion, this trend of paranoia, intolerance, and violence that is developing in America towards Muslims living here is scary, sad, and truly embarrassing.
This is scary because these events will no doubt trigger equally extreme repercussions in some Muslim countries, perhaps even worst responses, centered against U.S. troops, and other Americans and Christians working and living abroad. This is a very real risk that a few insecure people ocassioning for an entire nation.
This is sad, because I have much empathy for the minority Muslims that are in the States--many of whom have come from poor or unstable countries on the assumption that America is a nation which promises tolerance, religious freedom, and open opportunity to all, and who are instead being marginalized anew by some new form of social tyranny. I personally know many Muslims from Africa who have come to the U.S. to work or study. Both their places of worship and their sacred texts (in fact, "sacred text" does not convey all the meaning and importance that the Koran holds for a a Muslim) are being publicly targeted for destruction, and at the apex of Ramadan, one of Islam's most important religious holidays. That Christians and Americans are also targeted in other parts of the world--while true, sad, and unjustified--is beside the point here. Responding in kind, in fact, will only aggravate this violence.
Finally, this is embarrassing--because a small number of Americans are bringing disrepute to an entire nation, and so-called Christians are horribly misrepresenting the Christ-like love on which the our faith is centered. With this last comment, my frustration is brought back most ardently on this FL pastor Terry Jones. I hope that he is stopped, repents, and finds--maybe for the first time--the true Christian faith.