Phoenix, AZ — In the midst of a storm of hate, anger and bigotry, some anti-Islam protesters found understanding, commonality and peace. Their revelations came after being invited into a Phoenix, Arizona mosque by Usama Shami, president of the Islamic center.
Just a few days ago, on May 30, I posted about Muslims get it right. I didn’t know how very right they did get it!
Before the protest, Imam Shami said,
This is not new. Hatred, bigotry, racism — that’s old. It’s the same thing. No different from Nazis or neo-Nazis. They don’t believe society should be multicultural or multiethnic. They think everyone should believe like them, I guess.
The Free Thought Project reports now that it ended better than anybody could have expected. Usama Shami, president of the mosque where they were demonstrating, went outside among the armed protesters and invited them inside.
Some of them accepted the invitation. Some knelt and prayed with the Muslim men who offered friendship. Many of these protesters had never met a Muslim before and just assumed they were all terrorists. Way too many people make that assumption. It is not true.
It was the Imam who also said this:
A lot of them, they’ve never met a Muslim, or they haven’t had interactions with Muslims. A lot of them are filled with hate and rage. Maybe they went to websites that charged them with this hatred. So when you sit down and talk like rational people, without all these slogans, without being bigots, without bringing guns, they will find out that they’re talking to another human.
Before it was over, things were different for some of the protesters. Phoenix resident, Jason Leger, one of the protestors who was wearing one of the F– Muslims t-shirts, put it best;
It was something I’ve never seen before. I took my shoes off. I kneeled. I saw a bunch of peaceful people. We all got along. They made me feel welcome, you know. I just think everybody’s points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don’t believe.
I think so, too.
I don’t know how many of the protesters made their peace with these peaceful Muslims, but some did. And that’s encouraging.
I Am Not a Muslim
Let me be clear: I am not a Muslim. I am an atheist, and have been for 33 years. In Saudi Arabia and certain other Muslim countries (though not all), I could face the death penalty for writing this blog. But I have several Muslim friends, and I have met others on a very friendly basis. They are not terrorists, though I used to tease one of them that she was a “terror.”
Muslims are just people. Most Muslims in the United States are here for the same reason you and I are probably here. Because they love freedom. Their religion and customs are strange to most of us, and I make no excuse for customs I find disagreeable. But you may have noticed, I seldom make excuses for anybody’s faults.
I am against religion, but I usually respect religious people. I strongly condemn or criticize religious superstition, but I don’t go to a church or mosque to do it. People we don’t agree with still deserve our respect. (Understand that I’m not talking about violent people here. I’m talking about peace-loving Americans of any religion or none. No. I take that back. They don’t have to be Americans.)
The vast majority of Muslims, especially those in this country, are peace loving people, and it makes no sense to protest outside a mosque and draw cartoons of Muhammad. It’s not a matter of free speech; it’s a matter of common sense and common decency.
Nevertheless, the Muslims in this case turned a bad situation into an opportunity. I applaud them very much.