By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Lecture Series: Know Your Muslim Neighbor
The questions at Thursday night's Muslim lecture series reflected American anxiety about the war on terror and the conflict on the Israel-Lebanon border.
And the answers were designed to ease that anxiety.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southern California, spoke at the last of four Know Your Muslim Neighbor Lecture Series at Peace Academy, Tulsa's Muslim school.
"The overwhelming majority of Muslims want to peacefully co-exist with Christians and Jews," Ayloush said.
He said that if 1 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are bad people, "that's a lot of people."
"Extremism, fanaticism is a human phenomenon, not an Islamic or a Christian one," he said.
"Look at the Crusades, slavery, the Inquisition . . . the Holocaust. Would it be fair to blame Christianity for the Holocaust?
"It's part of the cycle of violence of mankind. Is it fair to blame Islam, which has a long history of tolerance? Don't judge a religion by the misguided acts of some of its members."
Ayloush said Harvard professor Samuel Huntington's theory that the world is heading toward a clash
of civilizations, Islam vs. the West, is misguided.
He said Muslim and American values are wholly compatible, and that Muslims love American freedom, values and culture, including American Levi's, food and music.
Polls consistently show, however, that the Muslim world opposes American foreign policy on several points, he said.
Most important is what Muslims see as America's one-sided, unconditional support for Israel, a nation they say is holding occupied territory and denying the Palestinians a homeland.
Muslims also view America's foreign policy as hypocritical, talking about human values and due process while supporting some of the most oppressive regimes on the globe -- Tunisia, Egypt and others.
Muslims believe the American government has a double standard, he said, reacting one way to the nuclear threat in North Korea and another to the nuclear threat in Iran.
Muslims also have the perception that American foreign policy is driven by self-interest, influenced by major corporations, defense contractors and the oil industry, he said.
Hezbollah and Hamas are not the problem in the Middle East; they are byproducts of a political problem.
"There won't be stability in the Middle East until the Palestinian issue is settled," he said. "There is a people waiting to be free, waiting for a just peace. We have to resolve it by having a viable Palestinian state."
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html