Friday, December 14, 2007

Do You Believe These Letter Writers?

December 14, 2007
Muslim Moderates Do Speak Out Against Extremism

To the Editor:

I share Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s outrage over various injustices inflicted in the name of Islam (“Islam’s Silent Moderates,” Op-Ed, Dec. 7).

But there is a danger in her suggestion that moderate Muslims uniformly fail to condemn Islamic extremism.

Muslims are not a monolithic group. American Muslims, though in the past often wary and even defensive about criticizing fellow adherents of Islam, have increasingly found their voice in denouncing terrorism and the sort of barbarity Ms. Ali so rightly reviles in the case of the young Saudi woman who was punished after being gang raped.

As a quick search of news clippings will show, American Muslim organizations and numerous Muslim citizens of the United States have spoken out against depraved actions wrapped in the mantle of their ancient religion.

Anyone who has spent time with Muslim families and congregations in this country, as I have, knows that the vast majority are animated by mainstream views and aspirations.

Muslim extremism exists in many parts of the world. Sadly, echoes of it can be found within the American Muslim community. But most American Muslims are moderate by any reasonable definition, and if you listen, you can hear that moderation.

Paul M. Barrett

New York, Dec. 7, 2007

The writer is the author of a book about Islam in America.

To the Editor:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali asks the resounding question of where the voices of Muslim moderates are in protesting the outrageous atrocities that are being committed in the name of Islam almost on a daily basis. In response to Ms. Ali’s assumption that Muslim moderates are remaining silent — this is far from true.

Muslim organizations, sheiks, mosques and the Muslim community at large are constantly condemning actions such as those in Saudi Arabia and Sudan, but sadly, Muslim condemnations are not considered important enough to warrant media attention.

Who wants to hear the story of peaceful Muslims, when the stories of so-called terrorists are so much more entertaining?

Muslim moderates are being unjustly silenced and ignored; they are not, as Ms. Ali states, silent themselves.

Hiba Jaber

Fayetteville, Ark., Dec. 8, 2007

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