Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 2001 / 19 Mar-Cheshvan 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- SOMEONE forgot to tell the gunmen who attacked a Protestant service in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, that Islam is a religion of peace.
Last week, assassins with automatic weapons invaded the church, killing 16. When mothers tried to shield children with their bodies, the killers stood over them, methodically firing until the moaning stopped.
The killings were in retaliation for Christian America's bombing of Afghanistan. We bomb terrorists; they kill churchgoers.
President George W. Bush has told us repeatedly that Islam is not to blame for the crimes committed in its name -- that terrorists practice a fringe form of the religion widely repudiated by Moslem clerics and scholars. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft endlessly echo these sentiments.
Among those who've somehow missed the message is Sami Al-Arian. The Kuwaiti native and professor at the University of South Florida was the subject of a Dateline NBC expose. Al-Arian was part of a Moslem delegation that met with Bush when he was campaigning in Tampa last year.
Yet according to NBC, Al-Arian raised money for a Palestinian terrorist group. At a 1995 Chicago conference, the prof told his fellow apostles of understanding that Allah had cursed Jews and Christians: "Those people, God made monkeys and pigs. Jihad is our path. ... Let us damn America. Let us damn Israel."
Islam's message of universal brotherhood and tolerance was also lost on Sheik Muhammad Gamei'a, lately imam of New York's Islamic Cultural Center. When he wasn't participating in interfaith services for World Trade Center victims, the sheik was telling the faithful that Jewish doctors were poisoning Moslem children.
Among Arabs, there is widespread confusion about the Islamic faith. In Saudi Arabia, where Jews can't set foot and Christians have to hide their bibles, a 10th grade textbook instructs, "It is compulsory for the Moslems to be loyal to each other and to consider the infidels their enemy."
Others who just aren't getting it include:
Demonstrators from West Africa to Indonesia, who hail Osama bin Laden as a savior. In Indonesia, where the Lashkar Jihad forcibly converts Christians to Islam, 50 percent of respondents to an online poll said bin Laden is a "freedom fighter."
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, exiled Iranian journalist Amir Taheri charges: "To claim the attacks (of Sept. 11) had nothing to do with Islam amounts to a whitewash. It is not only disingenuous but also a disservice to Moslems, who need to cast a critical glance at the way their faith is taught, practiced and lived."
Taheri notes that out of 30 active conflicts in the world, 28 involve Moslem regimes or movements. With the exception of Turkey and Bangladesh, no country with a Moslem majority has anything approaching democracy.
Bush has urged American children to adopt pen pals in the Islamic world, to let them know, "We are not at war with Moslems." If he says it often enough, he may just convince himself.
He also asked the kids to send $1 a piece to an Afghan relief fund.
I've got a better idea. Let's all contribute to an international fund to teach Moslems about Islam. Apparently, millions of them are less knowledgeable regarding the tenets of their faith than the Methodist in the White House and fail to grasp Islam's live-and-let-live
JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.