Friday, August 27, 2010

What's so bad about Sharia law?

There's a lot of talk about Sharia law in the media these days. It might leave you wondering what that is, and what's so bad about it. Well, it's not actually a bad thing at all. All that "Sharia law" means is "Islamic law." And that, of course, is broadly open to interpretation. It's like saying "Christian law." What is the law that all Christians must follow? Well, it depends on the Christian sect. Christians have lively debates over how their religion should operate--just like Muslims. All Muslims are not the same, just like all Christians are not the same. Every Muslim does not celebrate the crashing of planes into buildings just like every Christian does not celebrate shooting doctors dead in front of clinics.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

The so-called "Ground Zero Mosque"

There's been quite a lot of talk lately about an Islamic center to be built a few blocks away from where the World Trade Center stood, once upon a time. Many voices have been raised in opposition to this, suggesting that it's in poor taste that an Islamic center be built near where some people who called themselves Muslims committed the worst terrorist attack in American history. The feeling is that Muslims in the neighborhood are trouble, and any member of that religion is not welcome in what some believe should be a Muslim-free zone.

Does anyone remember how there used to be such discussions about whether it was appropriate to erect Catholic churches or synagogues in the United States, since these faiths gave offense to true Christianity (namely Protestants?) Probably not, since these debates were over before any of us were born. But there have been laws in the past banning Catholic churches and synagogues in particular cities. In fact, there was even a proposed state to be called Hazard, which would have run from roughly between Erie, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois, where Catholics were to be barred from entry. This plan fell apart not on constitutional grounds, but because its would-be founder died before he was done pushing the idea on Congress.

Those of you who hate Islam: you have that right. You can hate Judaism, too; you can hate Catholicism, you can hate any other branch of Christianity, if you want. But you owe common decency to recognize that al Qaeda is as representative of Islam as Rev. Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps is of Christianity. This is not an al Qaeda monument--this is a mosque, and nothing more.

And you know what the hell of this whole thing is? The imam who's behind this new Islamic center has been declared an apostate by al Qaeda because of his attitude of tolerance toward Christians and Jews, and his opposition to militant Islam. You opponents to this project might want to think about that. Opponents to this project have more in common with al Qaeda than the imam who's driving it. I'd much rather have people like this imam in my neighborhood than the bigots who think that everything vaguely related to Islam and the Arab world, from algebra to al Qaeda, must all be part of one big terrorist conspiracy.

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