|Joplin Islamic Society/image courtesy of Joplin Islamic Society|
I don’t know how many of you know about this, but two nights ago the only mosque in Joplin was burned to the ground. While there is no proof yet of arson, suspicions are strong that the fire was intentional, given that surveillance cameras captured images of a man attempting to set the mosque on fire on July 4th.
Last night on CNN Gary Tuchman reported from the site of the fire and interviewed one of my daughter’s friends, Laela Zaidi, whose family are members of the Islamic Society of Joplin.
Most of us here in Joplin are deeply saddened by this act of hatred and ignorance. While I understand the fear that so many Americans have regarding terrorism, we must remember that terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, and religions. Just like I do not wish to be indicted for every crime some so-called “Christians” commit in the name of their religion (i.e., abortion clinic bombings, Westboro Baptist Church protests, persecution of homosexuals, etc.), Muslims should not be blamed for the actions of extremists who claim they represent Islam.
Much like Christianity, Islam is a religion that has been misinterpreted throughout the centuries in an effort to justify political dominance over others. And, just like in Christianity, some of its leaders use fear tactics to control their followers and to help increase and maintain the expanse of their power. Rest assured, the members of the Islamic Society of Joplin have no intention of taking over our city and turning us all into Muslims. They, like us, just want a place to bring their families for worship and community in an environment that embraces and supports their culture and beliefs. Sort of like why my family and I attend St.Mary’s Church. Or why you and your family attend the house of worship of your choice. And, let us all remember: this is America, the land of the free. Not just the land of the Christians. Or the Protestants. The Land of the Free.