Published: December 12, 2006

Fear of Islam Can Be Treated, Cured

By DR. ADEL ELDIN | Guest columnist

Let the world know, American Muslims strongly condemn terrorism and all terrorists, whoever they are and wherever they may be. We love our country and are very proud to be American and Muslim.

Taking a scientific approach to the problem, first we should diagnosis it, then treat it.

The Diagnosis: The disease called Islamophobia (or fear of Islam and Muslims with the rise of terrorism). It has been perpetuated mostly by ignorance, and partly with deception and misinformation before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

As much as terrorists hijacked our religion, extreme right-wing neoconservatives hijacked our administration, and it seemed to every Muslim that America is at war with Islam the religion, not with the terrorists who have hurt us. As you, we wanted to bring terrorists to justice. It seemed the facts did not matter anymore, as negative and false perceptions became the rule, not the exception, about Islam and Muslims.

Islam in the media is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a clash of civilization (an idea put in Samuel Huntington's 1998 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order). Thus, anti-Muslim hostility is seen, which includes demonizing Islam and attacking our prophet and holy book (the Koran), and waging a smear campaign on radio talk shows, TV programs and the Internet.

The treatment: I believe the therapy will include education and outreach and kindness. Ignorance constitutes 90 to 95 percent of the problem; the remaining 5 percent of the problem will need to be dealt with by law enforcement.

In Hernando County, for the past five years, there has been ongoing education about Islam and the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), including a radio show aired at 12:40 p.m. every Friday on WWJB-AM 1450.

There also have been many visits to a large number of churches, clubs and businesses to educate, share views and establish dialogue. There is a Web site, www.hernandomasjid.com, with all free materials in English and Spanish about Islam for those who are interested.

Naturally, we have to stop inflaming the feelings of the Muslim world by:

- Bringing our troops back home within six to 12 months and replacing them with a U.N.-led peacekeeping force, mostly from a very strong Muslim ally of the United States that also is a leading Arabic and Muslim country: Egypt.

- Becoming an even-handed broker in the Middle East conflict, especially if United States wants to maintain credibility as a broker in the peace process.

- Reviewing the parts of the Patriot Act that are damaging to our liberty and way of life, and makes us suspicious of each other.

- Reviewing policies and holding hearings on policies that unfairly target the Muslim community, such as wiretapping and denial of visas to Muslim leaders who advocate peace and justice, such as Yusuf Islam (also known as Cat Stevens).

- Establishing a special liaison between the U.S. State Department, the White House and American Muslims to discuss education, security and peaceful conflict resolution in the world.

- Reconnecting America to the Muslim world and re-establishing a healthy dialogue about mutual interests and the alliance of civilizations, not clash of civilizations. We need oil, which our lives and economy depend on, and which is found mostly in Muslim countries.

- Following through on the 9/11 bipartisan commission's recommendation to bring hope through human development and improved living conditions, especially in Palestine and in Lebanon, where witnesses reported massacres of children. America alone vetoed the U.N. resolution that condemned those acts and sided with Israel, a country that is given $200-million every day in U.S. tax money, part of which is used to kill innocent women and children. It makes our country look really bad in the eyes of the world.

Thus, we need the U.N. force monitoring the region while the peace process is being resuscitated and a final road map is being established to create two separate states living in peace and harmony and while attempts are made to replace extremism with moderation. This is the only way to bring sanity back to the world; clearly, wars will not achieve anything but destruction.

Finally, a very powerful treatment tool is to use the power of prayer to bring peace in this very special season, when our Christian friends and neighbors celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), along with their Muslim friends who celebrate Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, and with their Jewish friends who observe Hanukkah. All three religions have a common father: Abraham.

Peace on earth is the best gift anybody could wish to have. Peace be with you all.

Dr. Adel Eldin is a Hernando County cardiologist and leader in the Muslim community. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

Fear of Islam Can Be Treated, Cured [Last modified December 12, 2006, 06:30:03]

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