Friday, October 22, 2010

Moderate Muslims on Juan Williams debacle

By Donald Sensing

I have written that while there certainly are moderate Muslims (untold millions, even), the problem is that, "Jihadists hold almost all the power and influence across Muslim lands" and here in the West.

In the wake of NPR's cursory dismissal of longtime commentator Juan Williams for saying on Fox News Channel that he gets nervous when he boards an airplane and sees men in Muslim garb, some moderate Muslims have spoken out.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told The Daily Caller that though Williams could have been more tactful, his ouster is symptomatic of the problems Americans continue to face when discussing Islam.

“As much as the way he said it was poorly chosen, the era we find ourselves — of political correctness — we are not able to address what this fear is,” Jasser said. “Anybody that starts talking about this fear gets shut down.”

Fatah agreed, saying that he did not believe that anything Williams’ said was terrible enough to lose his job. “I think it is another expression of political correctness. I didn’t find anything that he said that he deserved to be fired,” he told TheDC.

According to Jasser, the fact that the vast majority of national security threats emanate from the Muslim world makes Williams’ fear reasonable. Without open discussion, however, those concerns will never be conquered. ...

Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, echoed Fatah and Jasser. Schwartz told TheDC that he and his organization opposed NPR’s reaction to Williams’ comments.

“Mr. Williams is basically an opinion journalist and he offered an opinion based on an undeniable reality: American Muslims have so far failed in our duty to prevent negative perceptions among our non-Muslim neighbors, and many, unfortunately, have taken the existing concerns among non-Muslims as a challenge to assert Muslim identity more aggressively, through forms of dress as well as speech that are often extravagant and excessive,” Schwartz wrote in an e-mail to TheDC.

“Mr. Williams spoke to this reality in an understated, candid way. He did not express hatred or incite violence against Muslims. He should not have been dismissed.”
Let us hope that these voices and the influence of those who speak will become evermore prominent and forceful henceforth.

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