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Religious freedom condemns terrorism

Guest Commentary


Last updated 5/2/2019 at 5:54pm

On March 15, a small group of white supremacists attacked a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 worshipers. Political and religious leaders throughout the world condemned the act and the terrorists. The six gunmen were rounded up and will be punished to the limit of New Zealand law. As far as we know, the motivation of the attack was more racial than religious.

In retaliation, a group of Islamic terrorists sent seven suicide bombers to Christian targets in Sri Lanka last week. They inflicted 800 casualties, 300 of them fatal. Once again, the world was shocked. The outrage knew no politics or religion. The fact that any group of human beings could inflict such suffering on another group of human beings was absolutely denounced throughout the globe…except by Islamic political and religious leaders. They were conspicuously silent.

I am convinced that Islamic terrorism would be virtually eliminated if the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and other Islamic countries would publicly denounce the terrorists. I realize that the extremists who spawn radical bombers are only a tiny fraction of the body of Islam. So, too, are the radical white supremacists who harbor hate for other humans because of their skin color.

These white supremacist splinter groups actually believe they speak for the entire Caucasian race. But when they act on their misguided beliefs, they are condemned by those they hope to represent. Thus, we have relatively few white supremacist terrorists. The same could be said of Islamic radicals if they were universally condemned. But it isn’t happening.

I am still waiting for a Muslim spokesman to condemn 9/11. In a few countries, crowds actually applauded. The master mind, Osama Bin Laden, found sanctuary in Pakistan. Someone with Islamic clout needs to step up and say, “Acts of terrorism are unacceptable to mainstream Muslims.”

Congresswoman (Ilhan) Omar could be that spokesperson. She has a chance to be the leader who integrates Muslims into mainstream America, or she can portray her constituents as victims and keep them segregated.

We are one of the only countries in the world with true religious freedom. We ensure that freedom by respecting other beliefs. When Rev. Terry Burns publicly destroyed Qurans, he was ostracized. We don’t desecrate other beliefs in America. Americans are united in outrage when a sacred, church, mosque, synagogue or temple is attacked.

Shortly after 9/11, a high school girl in Spokane portrayed herself as a victim because her classmates criticized her for wearing her hijab. She made no mention of the terrorists who killed almost 3,000 of her American countrymen. The hijab is not required by the Quran. It is a choice. She had the right to wear it, but under the circumstances, it was insensitive.

“Somebody did something,” is an insensitive description the deadliest act of terror in American history. Congresswoman Omar had the right to say that, but it was out of line with what our country stands for.

Americans come from around the globe. We are all colors and all faiths. At one time or another, our ancestors had the choice of standing apart or becoming a part of a unified American ideal. We need a Muslim leader who will foster the concept of American Muslims rather than Muslims who happen to reside in America.

Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and long-time resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a free-lance columnist for over 19 years.


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