Thursday, December 9, 2010

Excerpt: Muslim nonprofits struggle with media portrayals

See the full story here.

More than 90 percent of Muslims worldwide said that they were against violence and extremism, according to “What Makes a Radical,” a 2008 poll by Gallup. The largest Muslim civil liberty and human rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, holds the same stance.

“Associating Islam with the actions of terrorists and religious extremists implies that we accept their argument that what they do is based on a legitimate interpretation of the faith,” said CAIR’s legislative director, Corey Saylor, in a 2008 press release. “It is best to call them what they are – criminals, terrorists, extremists – without giving them the false religious justification they seek.”

When dealing with the biases that the media illustrates, Saylor said that nonprofits often have to put the issue aside to focus on what is in their control to change.

“That’s why you hear us asking what can we do for ourselves,” said Saylor. “We don’t have any control over outside organizations and media.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

‘False' patriots whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment

(Saylor note: Could not have said it better myself.)

Letter to the Editor written by John Selvidge, Oklahoma City
Published: December 8, 2010
The Oklahoman

Leonard Pitts Jr.'s “Mourning the loss of America's mind” (Commentary, Dec. 3) is much appreciated for injecting a dose of common sense into the hysteria over Oklahoma's recent anti-Sharia referendum. Regardless of what the measure's backers might wish us to believe, the Constitution does, in fact, provide for the protection of religious freedoms and against the legislative singling out of any religious group for official censure by the government.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange was right to issue an injunction against the referendum. Her decision was rooted squarely in constitutional principle, not some fuzzy notion of political correctness, and represents fundamental American values more truly than those who would seek to label her an “activist judge” for her ruling.

Fears that the most egregious offenses against a free society, such as those practiced under Taliban rule or other hard-line theocratic Islamic regimes, could somehow gain a legal foothold in our country or our state remain unfounded. Balanced and well-considered rulings like this one are a good part of the reason. The real danger lies in the anti-American efforts of demagogues like the legislators who whip up and exploit anti-Muslim sentiment in the name of a false patriotism. We don't need incoherent, pre-emptive campaigns against “the law of Islam,” whatever the referendum's authors take this to mean.

We should place trust instead in the principles of honest debate, tolerance and fair treatment before the law that set our society apart from those who would rather govern by fear and terror.