The holiday season is off to a strong start this year, but not merely
because the malls are packed with shoppers. Instead, the real spark was a
gesture of good faith that South Floridians should build on throughout this
hopeful time of year.

During Thanksgiving Day Mass at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in
Weston, a leader of South Florida’s Muslim community spoke to parishioners,
condemning the recent attacks by militants on Catholic churches in Baghdad.
Altaf Ali, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
in Miami, told the congregation that the violence ran counter to the “true
tenet” of Islam, and that he sympathized with the sorrow and suffering of

Ali’s gesture is a welcome breakthrough.

U.S. officials have been encouraging Muslim leaders across the country to
speak out against atrocities committed by Islamic fundamentalists. Others,
including members of the American public, have been critical of U.S.
Muslims for not being more vocal. In fact, Ali’s appearance at Thursday’s
service followed a commentary in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel by St.
Katharine’s pastor lamenting the assaults on Baghdad churches and

Ali has responded, and it’s up to South Florida’s religious leaders and
worshippers of all faiths to reach out as well with similar invitations and


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