Jones demanded that the project be moved elsewhere or he would go on with his plan to burn Koran copies.
Protests from around the world
Thank God Jones did not push through with his move, but as Ramadan came to a close throughout the Muslim world on the eve of the commemoration of the 9/11 attacks in New York, how Islam is faring vis-à-vis the rest of the world became the subject of introspective commentaries and studies.
Worsening attitude towards Muslims
Moreover, publicity about gruesome punishments, such as the stoning of adulterers in Third World countries and the shocking Time cover featuring a young woman whose face was badly mutilated by the Taliban, serve as proof of Muslim savagery and backwardness. While Time noted that religious intolerance is not limited to Islam, as Jews, Mormons and other groups still experience “hate speech,” evidence of inequality of treatment keeps cropping up.
For instance, those protesting the building of new mosques in US communities argue that “Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow churches and synagogues, so why should the U.S. permit the building of Islamic places of worship?” Time points out that ignored is the fact that “the U.S. is not, like Saudi Arabia, a country with a state religion, or that America was founded on ideals of religious freedom and tolerance.”
Difficulties of practicing one's religion
This blogger has heard this complaint from Filipinos working in Saudi, as they relate how rosaries are confiscated in the airport and they have a difficult time trying to even gather for Sunday mass; whereas in the Philippines, they argue, mosques are present in just about every provincial capital and major city. It’s obvious that religious tolerance has to be taught everywhere in the world, but it’s growing. Statistics from Time Magazine noted 1,900 mosques for the U.S. Muslim population of 2.5 million, 2,600 in Germany for its 3.2 to 3.4 million Muslims, 2,100 mosques for the French 5.5 million Muslims and 1,500 mosques for the U.K’s 2.4 million Muslims. In Spain there are only 454 mosques for nearly a million Muslims, for understandable historical reasons: Muslims and Christians bitterly fought for political domination of that country for centuries.
Hoping for less discrimination against Muslims
The young women expressed the wish to see a world with less discrimination against the Muslims and more integration into a society that respects the religious beliefs of every citizen. Nes and Tasneem confessed to feeling some discrimination against them since they were young students. Nes said their headgear makes them stand out from the rest of the campus population, and how they would just look on as they join their friends at lunch in the cafeteria during Ramadan. But they also spoke of the communalities between Christians and Muslims such as a great reverence for the Virgin Mary.
Cecile and I agreed with their observation that much of the discrimination stemmed from a lack of real knowledge about the Muslim world, due in part to the inability of Muslim communities to integrate into society. Most of them continue to live in enclaves. We also agreed that culture and education are perhaps the best way to break down barriers, beginning with the popularization of heroes such as Sultan Kudarat, the Muslim leader who successfully resisted Spanish colonization and after whom the province in ARRM is named. The Abdulrauf sisters pointed out that the prejudice against Muslims is palpable in the media, so that it became a challenge for Nes to explore this subject,; she made her thesis in college the comparative study of the anti-Muslim slant in the three top newspapers in Cebu. I asked for a copy of her thesis and will write about it soon.
Muslims in public service
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