Gainesville Muslims show how to react intelligently and peacefully

Abdullah Shah, 5, visiting the United States from Pakistan with his parents, at an Ecumenical Prayer Vigil July 8 in Gainesville, Fla. — Photo by Scott Camil

Wrote this on Sept 9, before the pastor called off his silly, but potentially dangrous plan. beena

Muslims of Gainesville appeal for calm

Muslims of Gainesville, Florida, have appealed to fellow Muslims to remain calm in response to the ‘Quran burning day’ announced by a pastor in that city.

“Remember that this does not represent America, this does not represent Florida and this does not represent Gainesville,” wrote Mohsen Ali, a Gainsville resident of Pakistani origin in an email sent to friends on September 6, 2010, subsequently posted at various places including this blog.

Ali pointed out that Terry Jones, the pastor who announced this sacrilege heads a ‘fringe group’ — the little known Dove Church initiating the sacrilege reportedly has less than a hundred members. “This is not a global conspiracy against Islam, these are just few hate mongers trying to get attention.”

“Three and a half years in Gainesville and today for the first time I am little afraid. I live in fear of how my countrymen will react. Will they morph into the lynching crowd of Sialkot? Will they burn fast food restaurants as they did when protesting against caricatures killing two of their own countrymen or will they set cars and buses on fire? Will they become the monsters the Dove Church envisages Muslims to be?”

Ali asserts that Gainsville is “one of the most diverse and welcoming” cities you can find. “Three and a half years in this city and I have not met one person who has discriminated against me for being Pakistani or being Muslim. My face does not hide from where I am and my name is quite indicative of what my beliefs are.”

The pastor was unknown until a couple of years ago, when he got school-going children of his congregation to wear shirts with “Islam is of the Devil” written over them. The school administration too swift action, getting the offending shirts removed or covered up, even before the Muslim community was aware of the offense. Gainsville schools re-introduced school uniforms. The Muslim community remained peaceful.

The Quran burning initiative has in fact united and energized the Muslims of the area, whom the larger Gainesville community, which is “against this hateful act”, fully supports, writes Ali.

“The Muslim Community of Gainesville has decided that they will not protest,” he says. Instead, they will serve the community through multiple events to help people, with a food drive for the homeless, blood drive and book collection drive. They are also doing community outreach, holding information sessions about the Quran (Koran 101 day) and “opening our Masajids (mosques) to anyone who wants to come and ask any questions”.

Protest, feel the Gainsville Muslim community, will not serve any purpose, “it’s useless and it can result in confrontation,” says Ali.

“Confrontation is one thing we don’t want. And we don’t want Muslims living outside America to become violent. Your violence, smoke coming out of burning tires and effigies will only harm image of Muslims. We, Muslims of Gainesville, are setting example of how to react intelligently and peacefully; please help us.”

On behalf of the Gainsville Muslims, Ali appeals to fellow Muslims and Pakistanis not to burn things or raise slogans in the streets. Instead, given the crisis Pakistan is going through, he suggests a Largest Donation Day or Biggest Blood Collection Drive or collect money to re-build schools.

“If you want to show your anger, do it by sending letters. Write to the American Embassy, to White House and if you want to Dove Church, telling them to read the book not burn it. Educate people about Islam.”

Gainsville officials have since denied Dove Church a burning permit and the “nut job pastor” as many describe him, seems to have backed off. For now.

3 Responses

  1. This is the natural result of the 9/11. America had reacted so far officially by waging war against the terrorism in the name of Islam but that war in which Pakistan also joined seem to have failed in suppressing or even cowing down the terrorists. Rather the terrorists seem to be gaining ground both against in America and Pakistan due mainly to foolish attempt of the Bush administration having wasted their power in attacking and destroying Iraq, the most liberal country in the Middle East.

    Now both the people of America and of Pakistan seem to have become frustrated. Pakistan is suffering more as a frontline power in the war against the terrorism which has rendered all their governmental institutions of power irrelevant against the suicide bombers who are increasing their attacks day by day killing scores of Muslims without any let or hindrance. They have in fact been unable even to find the source or bastion of the unlimited power of these terrorists who are becoming audacious with every passing day like a cancer of the entire human society.

    Naturally, in their frustration, the people of the West have now started reacting against the book which they believe is the real souce of this scourge of terrorism. This is perhaps what the terrorists wanted as this was the weapon, the religious and communal hatred, which they had used successfully in the sub-continent of India.

    The world having become a global village, it is now for the people of the world to organize a movement like ‘Aman Ki Asha’ at the international level as even the UNO has failed in fighting the terrorism which is more a communal phenomenon than a political one and national one.


  2. […] This cup of tea was served by: Journeys to democracy […]


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