Skip to comments.Trouble on Long Island
Posted on 05/20/2003 1:21:40 AM PDT by WaterDragon
On Saturday, May 10, I was welcomed to a memorial in Queens, honoring Shi'a clerics killed by the fascist Saddam regime. Hundreds of Shi'a imams were brutally murdered by the dictator's forces. In many cases their remains have yet to be recovered.
I spoke to the crowd about similar instances of martyrdom I investigated in the former Yugoslavia, where Shi'a spiritual leaders were slain by Milosevic's mercenaries.
At the memorial, I was heartened to see that, while Shi'a Muslims are widely viewed with suspicion and fear in our media and government, as the most extreme Muslims, these believers, who come from Iran and Lebanon as well as Iraq, were open-hearted and open-minded about the future.
American Shi'a Muslims are thrilled by the removal of Saddam. Naturally, there remain anxieties on both sides of the divide between "us" and "them."
I had to answer some tough questions about whether America would long remain in Iraq and what kind of regime we would leave there.
But I was impressed by the absence of angry rhetoric among the Shi'as. Even in discussion of the ever-prickly question of the Israel-Palestinian "road map" I heard, rather than the old, militant slogans, a hope that peace could actually come about.
On Sunday, I had a very different experience. I had been invited to give a short talk at the Islamic Center of Long Island, in Westbury.
The occasion was a celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. I prepared a brief speech, avoiding controversy and stressing the common commitment to learning that, historically, united Muslims with "the People of the Book," i.e. Jews and Christians.
But not long after I arrived at the Westbury Mosque, I was handed a pamphlet headed with the ominous words "CONFRONT MUSLIM-BASHER." The target of this propaganda was me. The tone was one of violent incitement...(SNIP)
The long arm of the Saudi/Wahhabi conspiracy, supported by American neofascists and leftists, had reached me in Long Island.
Rather than bring about the confrontation these fanatics desired, I left the mosque without speaking. Many small children were present, and I would not have risked an uproar.
Later I found out that as soon as I was gone, a large crowd of scowling men in Taliban-style beards also departed the scene - after one of them had delivered a harangue denouncing me as a Communist, of all things. They obviously had not come to hear the children sing praises of the Prophet....(SNIP)
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