Letter to the Editor Washington Post – January 1, 2005
Respect America's Muslims
Regarding the Dec. 27 news story "Plan for Muslim Cemetery Met With Fear":
America is supposed to be the beacon of hope for the weak and defenseless. That any American would equate innocent Muslims with Islamic extremism is reprehensible. It is the same thing that happened to the Japanese in World War II: We were at war with Japan, so we locked up innocent Japanese Americans. Now, it would seem many Americans wish to do the same to innocent American Muslims.
I am especially disgusted by John Wilson's statement that his opposition to the building of a mosque was because it would make the area a terrorist target. "You may think this is far-fetched," he said, "but that is what the Jewish people thought when the Nazis started taking a small foothold."
As an observant Jew, I see Mr. Wilson as the oppressor and the Muslims as the innocents being abused and discriminated against, not the other way around.
The Bible tells us not to abuse the stranger in our land, for we were strangers in the land of Egypt. Its message is that because Jews have suffered so much at the hands of others, we must be sure to be defenders and protectors when others become oppressed.
I hope that America can return to its roots as the defender and protector of the weak and defenseless. Until then, I will pray that America does not do to Muslims what others have done to the Jews, Japanese, Gypsies and countless others.
Washington Post – December 27, 2004
Plan for Muslim cemetery met with fear
Critics in Tennessee community suggest move could bring terrorism, disease
SOMERVILLE, Tenn. -- Muslims planned to turn an old sod farm near Memphis into a cemetery, but angry neighbors protested, complaining that the burial ground could become a staging ground for terrorists or spread disease from unembalmed bodies.
It was not the first time a group faced opposition when trying to build a cemetery or a mosque, but the dispute stood out for the clarity of its anti-Muslim rhetoric.
"We know for a fact that Muslim mosques have been used as terrorist hideouts and centers for terrorist activities," farmer John Wilson told members of a planning commission last month.
Similar disputes have arisen elsewhere when Muslim groups sought to develop mosques or cemeteries, which are often the first Islamic institutions in some communities.
Opponents of a proposal to open a mosque in Voorhees, N.J., distributed an anonymous flier warning that Islamic worshipers might include "extremists and radicals." Arguments over a proposed Muslim cemetery near Atlanta persisted for more then a year before officials approved preliminary plans.
Critics of the projects generally complain about potential damage to the environment, reduced property values and traffic congestion, but many also associate Islam with terrorism.
Rabiah Ahmed of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said she noticed more protests of Muslim building proposals after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, so she was not surprised by the cemetery critics near Memphis. "It's not shocking, but it is discouraging," Ahmed said from the council's headquarters in Washington.