I recently overheard a California man describing his cardiologist-an apparently brilliant doctor who had saved his life-as a Muslim, quickly following up with the insistence that "It's all right," because "he's a good Muslim."
Despite sharing remarkably similar religious roots and issues of faith, Christians and Muslims have spent centuries warring in the name of religion and personal values. Many uneducated Americans tend to misunderstand and even malign Islam as the next global threat this side of Communism, just as many Arabs are convinced that American greed, lust and consumerism will bring modern civilization to its knees.
Few people know or care to examine the many similarities our cultures share. For instance, Christians and Muslims both believe in one central god. Jesus is a significant figure in Islam and Christianity; both religions value peace, mercy and forgiveness as central tenets and both believe in an ultimate day of judgment and the importance of individual accountability.
According to the Center for Islamic Relations, reports of harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment against Muslims increased nearly 70 percent in the year after 9/11 and incidents of hate crimes have more than doubled. Our quirky little peace-love-and-recycle city is no exception. Just two days after the terror attacks, a Snohomish man shot up the parking lot of the Islamic Idriss Mosque near Northgate.
While the Arab-American conflict certainly isn't a new one, recent events such as the World Trade Center attacks, the U.S.S. Cole bombing, the torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, the war in Iraq and shady ramifications of the USA Patriot Act have helped make a bad situation worse.