Ignoring moderate Muslims

Ebo Patel is founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit that promotes interfaith cooperation. He was recently a guest on a radio call-in show:

One caller said, “I was raised a Catholic and we were taught love and acceptance. You were raised a Muslim … and you were taught hatred which leads to violence.”

The producer said there were several other callers from different religious backgrounds with basically the same format question.

I answered each question pretty directly. I effectively said there are many moderate Muslim voices. You just heard one of them – mine – speak for about thirty minutes. Instead of continuing to ask that question, please tell your friends about me. I cited several other such voices.

I expanded on many of the points that I had made in the initial conversation with Marty Moss-Coane – that the dominant ethos of Islam tends towards compassion and pluralism, values that Islam shares with other traditions.

But I admit, there was a little voice inside my head that wanted to say to some of these callers, “Don’t you feel a little embarrassed revealing that level of ignorance and bigotry on Public Radio? Do you know nothing more about the religion of one-fifth of humankind for over 1000 years but the violent bits? Isn’t that a little like knowing nothing more about the United States Constitution than the clause which states black people only count as three-fifths of a human being”.

Read it all.

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