Will Rev. Jones burn Quran? For the safety of American troops fighting in Afghanistan and other Americans abroad, I hope not. But even if he backs down, this should serve as a watershed moment when all who value Western ideals and champion freedom of expression come to terms with the fact that Bin Laden has hijacked these very truths which we hold to be self-evident. And then we must fight to reclaim those truths with as much conviction and courage as our forefathers did when they fought to first realize them.
Where does are greatest hope lie? In the hands of Muslims who believe in a peaceful Islam, particularly Sajjad Karim, a member of British Parliament who made the following appeal not to Rev. Jones, but to fellow Muslims:
...the Quran burning “is the act of one man and his followers alone. His actions should not be identified with the West or Christianity. Muslims globally must know that, through this Quran burning, this man will achieve nothing. He has been isolated in his country and his religion. It is only through a reaction that any perverse sense of achievement can be earned.”
The hijacking of freedom of expression is real. And it’s also very cunning at disguising itself as benign with appeals for religious tolerance, when in reality all it achieves is a dangerous level of unaccountability among one of the largest segments of the world population. A solution becoming part of the problem.
Van Gogh was silenced to death. Ali is still in exile, kicked out of the country that promised her sanctuary. Cartoonists who depict Mohammed in newspapers or run an episode of him in a bear suit on South Park are marked for death. And now the world is in peril because one publicity-seeking man and a handful of followers announced they’re going to burn a few Quran? And if he doesn’t, it’s only a matter of time before some other kook follows through for him.
Out of fear, we turn a blind eye to honor killings and the subjugation and exploitation of women in Muslim countries. “If we say Islam is a peaceful religion, we make it so” seems to be the prevailing strategy for peace throughout the West.
One of the most compassionate doctors I’ve ever been treated by was a Muslim from Pakistan. I don’t for a second think he’d ever condone violence. Bin Laden has hijacked his Islam. But the good doctor and his fellow peaceful Muslims have the power to redefine the worldview of their religion.
More Western Muslims need to follow Karim’s lead and take back their religion by using the freedom of expression to condemn terrorist acts and abuses of freedom. We need a Muslim hero.