Burning Qurans won’t bring justice to anyone

Mariah Najmuddin

By now, I’m sure almost everyone knows about the controversy surrounding the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero, but how many people know about the “International Burn a Koran Day” that will take place Sept. 11? It is within our first amendment rights to express when, how and what we believe; however, it’s mind boggling to see that the bigotry of yesteryear still plagues our society and our views.

From Japanese prison camps during the 1940s — to Jim Crow laws of the 1960s — to the Quran burning that will take place in just a few days — we can see that America is still as

narrow-minded as it was when our grandparents were children.

If a group of Muslims were to publicly plan to burn Bibles, it would be blasphemy and surely a sign of underground terrorism. The media would be spending hours covering the story. But this little church in Gainesville, Fla., is getting nothing short of a pat on the back and open support. They haven’t received any angry media coverage in defense of Islamic communities, nor have they received any backlash from other Christian organizations.

Instead, they have received more than 7,000 fans on Facebook and a book preaching the evils of Islam.

Let me remind you: freedom of and from religion is provided in our First Amendment.

It’s ridiculous that we have heard next to nothing about this Quran burning. Just last year, the nation was in an uproar over the University of Texas in San Antonio’s campaign, “Smut for Smut,” a program where one could exchange religious texts for porn.

The media won’t eat up Quran burning because bashing Islam has become socially acceptable. According to an Aug. 10 CBS poll, 45 percent of Americans said they have an “unfavorable” view toward Muslims. And according to an Aug. 19 TIME poll, 62 percent of Americans said they don’t personally know someone who is Muslim.

It’s easy to target someone and something we don’t know a thing about. In fact, Muslims make up less than 2 percent of our population. We are afraid of something we are completely oblivious to.

But this goes beyond religion no matter what faith you belong to. Not only has anti-Islamic sentiment been spreading since 2001, but stereotyping has also become a commonality among all faiths. More and more Christians are viewed as intolerant and unloving, Muslims as radical and violent and Mormons as cultic and creepy.

Yes, it was Islamic extremists who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, but let us not forget the Mormon compound in Texas that held 400 children prisoner, or the more than 200 abortion clinics that have been bombed by different Protestant organizations.

I’m not trying to undermine the significance of Islamic extremism, and I’m not saying we should ridicule Quran burners, but before we strike the match, we should be a little more open-minded to the people we’re affecting, not just the people who have affected us.

There is ignorance among us all, some more than others, but we shouldn’t let the foolish acts of few define the character of many.

Mariah Najmuddin is a writer for The Oklahoma Daily at the University of Oklahoma.