On Nov. 4, Eastminster Presbyterian Church hosted Brigitte Gabriel, a self-proclaimed expert on Islam, to give a speech about radical Islam. Gabriel's performance resonated with an audience hungry for hate speech. Not once did she offer a credible source for her personal story or alleged claims against Islam and Muslims.
Nonetheless, she was honored with multiple standing ovations. She referred to Muslims in general as radicals and extremists, and asked locals to form a vigilante group to gather surveillance on the local mosque and to provide the FBI with the names of the mosque's deed holders. By the end of her performance, she offered her usual disclaimer that only 10 to 15 percent of Muslims are radicals.
Gabriel is part of a cottage industry that has sprung up post-Sept. 11 to capitalize on tragedy and to strengthen the campaign against Islam and Muslims. As I was making my way out of the church, while people gathered to buy Gabriel's book, statements of intolerance pierced my ears and saddened my heart.
In these troubled times, the role of religion should be to bring people together in peace and harmony, to alleviate oppression and to establish justice. As people of faith, regardless of our specific religious affiliation, this duty lies squarely upon our shoulders. Otherwise, we are derelict in our duties.
Maher Musleh, Wichita