Our Muslim Allies?

I have been increasingly annoyed by the misinformation and accusations about Mormons in the media during the Romney campaign. The brief summaries inevitably do injustice, the history is constantly misrepresented, and what is important to Mormons always takes back seat to the obscure. I am particularly dismayed at the sins of our past that are constantly trotted out. At the same time, I have noticed that I am also dismayed by the way that Muslims are misrepresented in the media, and that this kind of prejudice far outweighs in both scope and frequency any discussion of Mormons. Through our relatively short history, Mormons and Muslims have been similarly compared and similarly misunderstood, maligned, and taken as symbols for what is violent, secretive, oppressive to women, and politically dangerous.

Unfortunately, Romney has not helped this situation, choosing to rely on stereotypes and fear with regard to Muslims. When former moderate Iranian president Mohammed Khatami visited Harvard last year, Romney called him a “terrorist” and refused to use Massachusetts State Police to provide an escort. Romney has similarly painted the rest of the Islamic world and many Islamic countries in this kind of extremist language.

To a certain extent, I do not blame Romney, who is running for President in a time of Islamophobia, a powerful political tool. At the same time, I am dissappointed that he has not taken greater efforts to be more careful and deliberate about the way that he speaks about Islam. Instead of stoking people’s fears and prejudices about American Muslims, he could take this opportunity to become an ally to those whose religions are feared, oppressed, and maligned in the media.

Similarly, I wish that the Church would make public statements in support of Islamic groups and communities who are unfairly targeted, persecuted, or maligned. It seems that if we spoke out against this kind of behavior that others would speak out on our behalf as well.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Our Muslim Allies?

  1. Chris H.

    Didn’t you know that Christian love does not apply to gays, undocumented workers, Muslims, and lazy poor people (of course only lazy people are poor). Until we accept tolerance as a moral principle rather than an empty slogan these things will persist. The irony of all of this is that most Mormons only invoke tolerance when defending themselves and ignore it while rallying against others who are often more persecuted and vulnerable. I guess that it what makes so many of us conservatives.

  2. theradicalmormon

    Sorry man, but you have to blame Romney to the full extent. Islamophobia is a tool to play on people’s fear. He is not here to help us, but to make us afraid so that we’ll vote for him and his tough-guy approach. His proven track record of disrespecting even moderates like Khatami, shows that he will not engage in dialogue and will likely continue the arrogant approach of Bush to world politics and will not be an impediment to the US war machine in the middle east. You have to lay the blame on him in spite of this being an election season. Selling one’s soul to the devil so that you can gain votes is not good policy.

  3. How have Muslims been misrepresented in the media? Also, from my understanding Mohammed Khatami is a terrorist – or at least a supporter of them. When it comes to Muslims the “sins” are not hundereds of years old, or even a generation ago. They are now and sometimes on our front porch. Unlike Mormons or even Scientologists, Muslims don’t have a good track record of peaceful coexistance. In fact, you only need to look at the repressive governments of Iran, Iraq, and Sadi Arabia among others to see how dangerous they are to freedom and democracy. Even those Muslim nations that boast democracy are more akin to theocracy (liberals and secularists might have a convincing argument if they pointed this fact out to those who want a “Christian Nation” made out of the U.S.).

    I am not saying we should paint a wide brush on all Muslims, and should work with those we can. However, as a whole I don’t think Muslims have proven themselves capable of inclusion in a democratic society. There is no fear when there is a clear and present danger. I used to think that Mormons and Muslims would be good allies. Current history has proven such an alliance isn’t actually possible. At least Mormons are allowed to live and talk freely in “Christian” countries. The laws of Muslim countries make “the extermination order” look like a childish tantrum.

  4. Mark D.

    TT,

    It would help if you would provide full quotes for what Romney said. In addition, there is little evidence that state sponsorship for terrorism diminished significantly during Khatami’s presidency. See here for example.

  5. TT

    Mark, he had been in office less than a year when that was written. Consider this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Khatami#Dialogue_Among_Civilizations

  6. TT

    Jettboy,
    I don’t even know what to say…it is obvious that you know very little about the founding of any modern Western states which are soaked in the violence of religious wars, and even less about 1/5 of the world’s population.

  7. Mark D.

    TT,

    Thanks for posting the video. I don’t think it is very good support for the thesis that Romney is anti-Islam, however. It is about “jihadism”, the perniciousness of which hardly any rational person can deny.

  8. Mark D.

    From a 2006 Romney press release:

    In the recent conflict along the Israel-Lebanon border, Khatami described the terrorist group Hezbollah as a “shining sun that illuminates and warms the hearts of all Muslims and supporters of freedom in the world.”

    More here. (scroll down)

  9. Chris H.

    Mark D.

    Did you just use a press release as factual evidence? Wow. Spooky.

  10. capturedlive

    Recently, a Muslim congressman was sworn into office. Rather than using a Bible to take his oath, he chose to use a Koran, the primary scripture of his faith. A woman in my ward was openly indignant about it, saying this country was based on a Christian government and that all those who choose to take office should do so with a Christian oath. I openly disagreed with her, and that made her even less happy. The Founding Fathers, she declared, were Christians. Well…they were, and they weren’t, but never mind.

    Regardless of their denominational affiliations, I don’t believe the nation’s architects shared her sentiments. James Madison wrote in his original wording of the First Amendment, “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.” During his presidency, John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli which stated, “As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” And my favorite irony is, the Koran the congressman took his oath on belonged to Thomas Jefferson.

    It would be a mistake to assume that a religious Muslim swearing on the Koran is an abomination to the Lord. Each worshipper memorizes the opening chapter of the book, the Fatifah, and recites it on many occasions as a Christian might the Lord’s Prayer:

    Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds!
    The Compassionate, the merciful!
    King on the day of reckoning!
    Thee only do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help.
    Guide Thou us on the straight path,
    The path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious;
    With whom Thou art not angry, and who do not go astray. Amen.

    In Alma 29:8 an ancient American prophet declared, “For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore, we see the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.”

    On February 15, 1978 the “Statement of the First Presidency Regarding God’s Love for All Mankind” was issued. In part, it reads: “The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammad, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.”

    Frankly, as a Latter-Day Saint, I’d be inclined to believe that a Muslim has at least as much light as a Catholic, Episcopalian or Baptist, and at least as much understanding of God’s Word. I dare not assume otherwise. I was actually glad when I heard about the congressman’s request– that a public figure and politician felt strongly enough about his beliefs to want to exercise them before his constituents is a bold and loveable act, and I wish him well.

  11. Mormonism is Evangelicaldom’s abused spouse who desperately keeps crawling back for one more beating.

    When I was at BYU in the 90s, there was a significant outreach to Muslims going on. Muslim parents reported that BYU was one of the American schools they felt most comfortable sending their children. BYU was starting to have speakers from Muslim nations and forming common cause with Islamic groups on moral issues before the UN and other forums.

    I don’t know what has happened to that outreach since. But it seems to me we really need to quit identifying ourselves vis a vis American Christian fundamentalism.

  12. “I don’t even know what to say…it is obvious that you know very little about the founding of any modern Western states which are soaked in the violence of religious wars, and even less about 1/5 of the world’s population.”

    Oh, I know about them. The thing is, for the most part they grew up. WWI and WWII were, for the most part, the final end to European indulgence in violence. The Muslim nations, and Muslims in general it seems, are where those “Western states” were about 100 or 200 years ago.

  13. “I don’t know what has happened to that outreach since. But it seems to me we really need to quit identifying ourselves vis a vis American Christian fundamentalism.”

    And Muslims need to stop identifying themselves with terrorist Islamic fundamentalism.

  14. Mark D.

    Chris H.,

    Do you think they are going to manufacture a direct quote out of thin air?

    Here is an International Herald Tribune article with the same quote.

  15. Chris H.

    “Do you think they are going to manufacture a direct quote out of thin air?”

    Sure I do. I do not have faith in politicians.

    My point was not that the quote was fake but that you were taking your cues from Mitt’s PR machine. Depressing.

  16. The Muslim nations, and Muslims in general it seems, are where those “Western states” were about 100 or 200 years ago.

    And I hear in the south Pacific they eat shipwrecked sailors…. Thank goodness we have the West to provide a beacon of civility.

  17. Brad Kramer

    Jettboy,
    You’re welcome to imbibe all the anti-Islamic hysteria you want. But you don’t get to complain about Krakauer’s book and his selective reading/quoting of Mormon history making it look inherently violent or his apparent unwillingness/inability to distinguish Mormons from radical fundamentalist Mormons since you’d be championing the book from the rooftops and citing it on this thread if it were written about Muslims. Chauvinistic ethnocentrism is a knife that can cut both ways.