While surfing the news this morning I came across two stories dominating the American news scene which were focused on the ‘radical’ perspective.
First, BBC’s headline ‘Obama condemns Koran burning plan’ and in the subsequent two lines that follow the headline to draw the reader in ‘US President Barack Obama says a small church's plans to burn the Koran are a "recruitment bonanza" for al-Qaeda.’ Now while I applaud President Obama’s stance to condemn such an awful, disgusting act the take away point here is not the ‘recruitment bonanza’ the Al-Qaeda is going to have. The planned burning of the Quran is a slap in the face of every Muslim not only in America but everywhere around the world. It is wrong to do because it is insensitive, disrespectful and quite honestly appalling to even be thought of. It is also furthers the growing misconception in America of equating Islam and Muslims with terrorism.
Now to be fair, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda members do claim to be Muslims but as far I or any other Muslim with half a brain are concerned, they are the farthest thing from it, and we must make a concentrated effort for people to realize that. By burning the Quran to denounce terrorism, one automatically equates the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims as terrorists. That is wrong, and that is why this pastor should be stopped, by persuasion and legal methods of course. What the international media and in particular the American media seems to be focusing on is that the pastor should be stopped so as not to add further fuel to fire that is Al-Qaeda. The impression that one gets is that the main and perhaps only reason to not burn the Qurans is so that Al-Qaeda doesn’t have more incentive to carry out attacks. The fact that American lives are at risk more because of this is an unfortunate truth, and it is not just American lives, Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis suffer the most casualties as far as terrorism is concerned.
But that is not a reason to do anything, one point I do agree with this deranged Florida pastor on is that we cannot bend to the terrorists will. So don’t take their feelings into consideration. Don’t burn the Quran because it is wrong, not because it will cause Al-Qaeda and others to have more incentive carry out more attacks, but because you offend an entire population of 1.2 billion people. In fairness to President Obama, I do believe that was his main point, and he added the ‘recruitment bonanza’ point as a side note, but that is the point the press seemed to latch upon.
The second piece of news that I came across was in relation to the ongoing saga ‘Park 51’ or the ‘Ground Zero mosque’. Now enough has been said and written about this already but this latest piece in the New York times describes how again the Imam of the mosque says that changing of location could ‘spur radicals’. Refer to all arguments above for why the focus of any policy decision should not take the Al-Qaeda perspective into consideration. Park 51 should not be moved because the developers have every constitutional right to build a community center. It is further away from ground zero than a prayer center that already exists, and about the same proximity to ground zero as some fast food joints amongst other things.
But you all have heard these arguments before, the point here is that why is the Imam talking about how Al-Qaeda will react to changing the location. If we start to thinking about what the radicals want in every step of our lives, might as well move to Mecca for the rest of our lives. Just a sidenote about the imam, described as at one point radical by various American news channel, he closed his Larry King Live interview from which the New York Times article was based on by wishing all Jews a happy Rosh Hashana. Wow, real radical stuff there Imam.
The purpose of the article is not to undermine the threat that radicals pose. President Obama and Imam Rauf are probably spot on in their thinking of how the Al-Qaeda and similar organizations will react to the burning of the Quran or moving of Park 51, but we cannot let that dictate how a policy decision should be made, one way or the other.