Don’t judge all on actions of a few fanatics
Dan Thomas 5/10/04 Dear Editor,
Over the past several months, and especially in the past week, I’ve read several letters that I found to be racist and disrespectful of the truth. While I do understand that people in this country have the right to express their views, I hope that your newspaper would refrain from printing letters that have no basis in factual content. For example, Bob Anderson’s letter printed on May 4 shows complete ignorance of historical fact, and stereotypes all Muslims on the actions of a small radical segment of their religion.
Muslims did conquer Spain, Portugal and southern France from 632-732 A.D., and they even held onto portions of the Iberian Peninsula up to the 15th century, but this is considered more as a period of enlightenment and tolerance than the tyranny that Mr. Anderson portrayed. While our ancestors were running around in the Medieval Ages wearing suits of armor, raping, killing and worshipping Rome’s version of God with a fanatical fervor that compares to today’s modern terrorists, the Muslims during this time were researching the works of Aristotle, astronomy, medicine and practicing religious tolerance. The reign of Abd-al-Rahman III was considered the zenith of power, influence, and prosperity on the Iberian Peninsula.
More people converted to Islam for economic reasons than at the point of a sword. The caliphs allowed Muslims a substantial tax relief that they did not grant to Christians or Jews.
Islam, up to the 20th century, has a history of tolerating Christians and Jews. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are believers in the same God. Our religious books are very similar to one another, and Arabs trace their ancestry back to Abraham’s son Ishmael, whereas Christians and Jews trace our religious roots back to Ishmael ‘s brother, Isaac.
The Crusades were a period of wars from 1097 to 1270, when Christian soldiers, under the blessing of Roman Popes, invaded Jerusalem and the surrounding lands in hopes of driving the “Muslim infidel” from the Holy Lands. During the First Crusade, Christians were so fervent in their desire to kill that the “streets of Jerusalem ran red in the blood of innocents.” Christians massacred Muslims, Jews, other Christians, women, children, and the elderly. During the Fourth Crusade, the Christians never attacked anything Muslim. The armies raped, pillaged, and burned Constantinople (Istanbul), a Christian city at the time.
Even today, Christians are not very different than they were in the past. Both Christians and Muslims were involved in the criminal acts in Bosnia during the 1990s. Milosevic was the leader of a Christian nation. Even our own nation has a history of bloodshed that can’t be ignored. How many Native Americans did our Protestant ancestors forced off their lands?
During college, several of my friends were Muslim, and they were nothing like the bloodthirsty demons Mr. Anderson paints them to be. They were some of the nicest, most honorable people that I have ever known, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to have known them.
Today, radical fanatics have hijacked the Islamic religion onto a path of hatred and intolerance. Wahhabism is a radical interpretation of the Quran that encourages the killing of Christians, Jews, and even moderate Muslims. Instead of calling all Muslims “agents of evil,” we should instead be actively seeking out the moderates and helping them find their voices and take back their religion from the fanatics. We should refrain from labeling all Muslims based on the actions of the fanatical few.
Frederick Wegert is a Glenwood Springs resident.
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