Religion in Society

In Reconciling With Muslims, Obama Must Get As Well As Give

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On June 4, 2009, Mr. Obama will be traveling to Cairo, the Egyptian Capital, to deliver a message to the Islamic world. The speech is expected to address ways to mend the differences between the Islamic World and the United States. The hope is for the speech to bring some kind of reconciliation between the two.

The relationship between the United States and the Islamic world has suffered serious setbacks in recent years. The Muslim World has been voicing feelings of grievances against the USA. As a result many Muslim radical groups emerged with agendas opposing the USA. The groups perpetrated a series of major attacks against Americans and US interest worldwide. In 1983 the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was targeted, killing 63. Later that same year came the suicide bomber attack on U.S. marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 marines. The Muslim Radicals dealt the USA a triple dosage of terrorism in 1996. The U.S. complex in Riyadh was bombed, killing 19; so were the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 223. They struck the USS Cole in Aden in 2000 and 17 American sailors perished. The culminating terrorist attack was on New York's Twin Towers World Trade Center, on 9/11 of 2001. It was the worst terrorist attack against the United States in modern history. The Twin Towers were completely destroyed and about 3,000 Americans were killed.

Of course, it is crucial for the USA to listen to the Islamic World's point of view. I hope somebody tells them it is equally crucial for them to listen to America's point of view. Historically the USA has done sufficient favors for the Muslim World to earn respect rather than such vehement hatred. Somebody needs to remind them the USA has been good to them. A large part of U.S. foreign aid has been going to Islamic countries. Recently, American soldiers protected Muslims in Kosovo against Christian Serbs. Were it not for American technologies and ingenuity the vast oil reserves under the sands of the Middle East would have likely remained undiscovered and undeveloped. Without America, the oil fields of the Gulf Islamic States would go unprotected from outside aggressors. Ironically, some of such are neighboring Muslim nations. Somebody needs to remind the Muslim World that polite reciprocity for generous kindnesses shown is supposedly an Islamic custom.

Internally, Muslims seeking residency on USA soil have been welcomed with open arms. American Muslims enjoy the same freedoms, equality and justice every American citizen expects. There are no restrictions on their religious practices and they are free to expend efforts to convert as many Americans as they can to Islam. Mosques, Islamic centers and schools are freely built allover the country. Such freedoms are most definitely not offered to those of other faiths within the boundaries of the Islamic World. An example is Egypt, the capital of the Islamic world, where Mr. Obama has chosen to deliver his speech. Egyptian Muslims seeking to convert to Christianity or to any other faith are not permitted to do so. Christians need presidential decrees to build new churches and governor's approval to repair existing ones. There have been instances where Christians were arrested for praying in their homes without a permit. Egypt's Christians number around 15% of the nation's total population. Yet, they are represented by less than ½ % of elected parliamentary representatives. An imposed quota on some jobs limits the hiring of Christians to 2% or less. Many high ranking jobs are completely out of reach of Christians.

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Mr. Obama: reconciliation cannot be separated from reciprocation. The Islamic World must not demand from us that which they are unwilling to return to us and to extend to their own citizens of other religious. I hope you help them understand reconciliation is a two-way street.