The column "The path to ...?" (Commentary, July 3) by Frank Gaffney Jr. contained a message full of hate against Muslims and Islam. He called Shariah a fascist legal code, the Islamic Center/Mosque in Washington a place for disseminating intolerant Islamofascist ideology and the Organization of the Islamic Conference an organization sympathetic to jihadists.
Apparently, President Bush's visit to the mosque on the occasion of its 50th anniversary infuriated Mr. Gaffney and led him to write such distortions and misinformation. He overlooked the facts of history and fairness. It was under the Islamic Shariah that European Jews lived their golden age of freedom and prosperity in Spain and the Ottoman Empire. Shariah code is essentially based upon the Koranic rules "no compulsion in religion" and "you have your religion and I have mine."
Mr. Bush was not the first American president to visit the Islamic Center/Mosque in Washington. Fifty years ago, President Eisenhower dedicated the Islamic Center and reminded the world that civilization owes to the Islamic world some of its most important achievements. The Washington mosque is a place of worship to the one God that the Muslims worship and they call him the God of the world, not of Muslims alone. The message of universality and equality is central in the Islamic doctrine.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference is a regional organization of governments, exactly like the Organization of American States (OAS) or the African Union (AU) or the Arab League (LAS) or the European Union (EU). The only difference is that the OIC is not based on ethnicity, nationalism or geography, but on shared common values. That is why you find among its member countries from four continents, such as Albania and Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, Malaysia and Indonesia, Senegal, Mozambique and Guyana. Through its Islamic Development Bank, the organization has undertaken a great number of projects.
Contrary to Mr. Gaffney's column, the OIC is a governmental organization with a membership of 57 countries, almost all of which have cordial and cooperative relations with the United States. By visiting the Islamic Center/Mosque Washington and announcing his intention to appoint a permanent envoy to the OIC, Mr. Bush has taken a good step in the right direction. It is a good investment to gain the hearts and minds of the Muslim world through dialogue and mutual understanding.
Journal Information Department
Organization of the Islamic Conference