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Kalash falls to Kalash–nikov


An honest answer to one simple question about your identity as a Pakistani or a Muslim explains the roots of extremism and an increasing intolerance among this society. I was asked this question many years ago, and my answer was not logical rather an abrupt and sudden gush of emotions. I said I am a Muslim first. The later years have weakened or killed that emotion and today I would like to answer in a different way.

The white patch in Pakistan’s flag which seems evaporating now, determines the answer. We are Pakistani first is a simple answer to this white patch. The difference in views of majority is stark. Majority now dreams of a homeland only for Muslims and the survival for rest depends on their submission to majority’s religion.

A few months ago, my friend Saad Sarfraz Sheikh, went to Kalash, a beautiful valley in the northwest of Pakistan, to capture its exotic beauty and rich culture. A tiny tribe of total 4,500 people, which cannot be a considerate share of the total 180 million Pakistanis, is about to be nonexistent. He returned with breathtaking pictures, but seemed perturbed. In the middle of the Kalash fairytale, he mentioned his visit to a school which did not have pupils for some unknown and known reasons. The school’s timetable shows a class of Islamic studies for the students who do not believe in Islam. How would Muslims feel if they are forced to attend a class on Christianity? In my view, they will be marching on roads, burning tyres and property, and calling it a threat to Islam and a Jewish conspiracy against Muslims. My friend mentioned that how tremendously Kalash has changed due to the extremist elements forcing the people to convert to Islam. Some radical Muslims, bound to spread Islam by force, began building mosques in the valley for Kalashis, who claim descent from Alexander the Great’s army.

The valley runs along the border ofAfghanistanand for centuries, they sacrificed animals and practiced polytheism without any interference from the Muslim community.

So what has changed now? The youth of this country, mainly inspired by Jihad against then Soviet Union, have grown up brandishing radicalized version of Islam. The concept of coexistence is at stake in this country, which has minimized the chances of survival for our minorities. Now the question arises that can all flee from this country in sheer despair and frustration? Will this country have space only for a particular sect of Islam? But we need to ask ourselves if we are humans or Pakistanis first or Muslims later? If the answer is Pakistanis first, I see hope.

Reuters Story:

Nestled among the valleys of Pakistan’s mountainous northwest, a tiny religious community that claims descent from Alexander the Great’s army is under increasing pressure from radicals bent on converting them to Islam.

The Kalash , who number just about 3,500 in Pakistan’s population of 180 million, are spread over three valleys along the border with Afghanistan. For centuries they practiced polytheism and animal sacrifice without interference from members of Pakistan’s Muslim majority.

But now they are under increasing danger from proselytising Muslim militants just across the border, and a hardline interpretation of Islam creeping through mainstream society — as Pook Shireen discovered.

After falling unconscious during a car accident , the mid-20s member of the paramilitary Chitral Scouts woke to find that people with him had converted him to Islam.

“Some of the Muslim people here try to influence the Kalash or encourage them by reading certain verses to them from the Koran,” said his mother, Shingerai Bibi.

“The men that were with him read verses of the Koran and then when he woke up they said to him, ‘You are a convert now to Islam’. So he converted.”

The conversion was a shock for his family. But they were lucky compared with other religious minorities under threat from growing religious conservatism that is destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed U.S. ally.

In May 2010, more than 80 Ahmadis, a minority who consider themselves Muslims but are regarded by Pakistan as non-Muslim, were killed in attacks on two mosques in Lahore.

Then in March this year, the Christian minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, whose job it was to protect groups like the Kalash, was assassinated outside his home in the capital, Islamabad, in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

SMOOTH CO-EXISTENCE

The lush green Kalash valleys, which sit below snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush, have been a magnet for tourists, both for the scenery and for the people, who are indigenous to the area.

Most are fair and with light eyes, which they say proves their descent from the army of Alexander of Macedonia that passed through the area in the 4th century BC to invade India. The community brews its own wine and women are not veiled.

But the smooth co-existence between the Kalash and Muslims has been fading in recent months and the area is suffering from many of the religious tensions marring the rest of Pakistan.

The conversions are causing splits among the Kalash — converts become outcasts overnight, described by many as “dead to their families”.

“When a Kalash converts we don’t live with them in our houses anymore,” said farmer Asil Khan, sitting on a neighbor’s balcony.

“Our festivals and our culture are different. They can’t take part in the festivals or the way we live.”

Some in the area are so concerned that they believe segregation is the only way to protect the Kalash.

“We should move the Muslims out of the valley to make more room for the Kalash,” said Shohor Gul, a Kalash member of the border police who lives in Rumbur valley. “This area should be just for us. We dislike these conversions – it disturbs our culture and our festivals, and it reduces our numbers.”

The subject of Kalash festivals is raised often in these narrow valleys, where carefully cultivated corn crops cover what flat land exists, and the Kalash community’s distinctive wooden houses terrace the valley walls.

Held to usher in seasonal change or to pray for a good harvest, Kalash festivals include hypnotic dancing and animal sacrifice, fueled by the grape wine with which the Kalash lace their gatherings.

Converts to Islam say, though, that these rituals quicken the decision to leave the Kalash.

“The main thing wrong in the Kalash culture are these festivals,” said 29-year-old convert Rehmat Zar. “When someone dies the body is kept in that house for three days.”

Muslims usually bury people the day they die.

Zar added of the Kalash: “They slaughter up to a hundred goats and the family are mourning – but those around them are celebrating, beating drums, drinking wine and dancing. Why are they celebrating this? That’s wrong.”

NOT ALL MUSLIMS

Not all of the area’s Muslims feel this way.

Qari Barhatullah is the imam, or priest, at the Jami Masjid in Bumboret valley’s Shikanandeh village.

He stresses that many of the valley’s Muslims value the Kalash’s contributions to the area’s tourism industry and contends that Kalash festivals run parallel to their own.

He admits though that there is tension between the two communities. Unveiled Kalash girls in colorful homemade skirts and head-dresses grow up alongside Muslim women covered by the all-enveloping burqas.

The Kalash girls are also free to marry who they chose, in a country where arranged marriages are common.

“We do support the Kalash – Islam teaches us respect for other religions – but there are people here, maybe they are not as educated – who don’t like the Kalash because of their religion,” Barhatullah said.

Akram Hussain oversees the Kalasha Dur, a cultural center devoted to promoting and protecting the Kalash culture, a stunning structure of elegantly crafted carved wooden beams and stone where Kalash children are educated. It also houses a library, clinic and museum, which are open to both the Kalash and Muslim communities.

“Some of the Muslims here don’t want to educate the Kalash people. They don’t want us to have an education,” he said.

Without more schools that cater exclusively to the Kalash, though, Hussain worries his community and culture will be disappear.

“There are few Kalash teachers and there aren’t schools for older children, so they go to the secondary schools and learn about Islam. The Muslim teachers are brainwashing them. They tell the children that Islam is the only right way and that we are going to hell,” he said.

A provincial spokesman said the regional government is funding development projects for the Kalash and that Pakistan was committed to protecting their unique heritage.

“We have set aside 15 million rupees ($173,210) over three years for projects such as improving roads, water supply systems and community centers,” said Ahmad Hassan. “Whatever the Kalash say they need.”

Others in the Kalash valleys though say development should cease and insist the adoption of Islam should continue, despite the impact on the Kalash culture.

Rehmat Zar, the Kalash convert, says his eventual aim is to convert his entire community to Islam.

“I’m trying my best to convert many of the Kalash myself. I’m trying to convert as many as I can,” he said.

“The people who are trying to preserve the Kalash culture are doing wrong. They are committing a mistake. The Kalash should convert to Islam because this is the real, and last, religion”. ($1 = 86.600 Pakistani rupees)

 

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Thank you Mr. Agha Akbar Mirza for ruining another life


To much of our surprise, the list of categories which decide the blasphemers in Pakistanis getting longer. The new entry is ‘students’ who are expected to give exams based on their understanding, knowledge and vision. The freedom to express their views should clearly be the core idea behind the examination, which does not exist anymore here. Is it a joke what I have read? No it is clearly not. A 17-year-old, not an adult, has been accused of blasphemy immediately after Controller of Examinations Agha Akbar Mirza of Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) found his answer sheet with an “expression of blasphemy”. His arrest followed by an FIR must have left the little boy bewildered and with his trust shaken which he ever had in teachers and education system. The country has lost the sacredness of education and respect for other’s views and for those matter students’ views. The board has a right to judge any student on the basis of his answers and allowed to follow the criterion of marks and grades. But the BIEK’s Controller has misunderstood and misused his powers when he sent the answer sheets to the police. It is a shame. The concept of a teacher, ustad, is universal who show the right path to every soul regardless of his/her religion, nationality, and biases. But this incident has shown how a youth has lost his future and path for good because one man in the system misused his authority and could not rise above his prejudices and notion of right and wrong. I take this opportunity to convey this to Mr. Agha Akbar Mirza that he has not done any service to Islam or the Prophet (PBUH) rather he has confirmed unfortunately what the accused cousins told him about “liberty and a happy life”.

Below is the story:
PakistanToday, April 22:

KARACHI– The police on Saturday arrested a teenage boy for allegedly writing blasphemous material on examination answer sheets. Seventeen-year-old ‘S’, a resident of Malir, was detained following a complaint by Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) Controller of Examinations Agha Akbar Mirza, police said.
The BIEK management has also sent photocopies of the answer sheets as proof of the blasphemy charges against the teenager to the police. The police added that FIR No 56/11 has been lodged against S under Sections 295-C and 109 of the Pakistan Panel Code on Mirza’s complaint.

Shahrah-e-Noor Jehan Station Investigation Officer Qudrat Sher Ali told Pakistan Today that during investigation, the boy told the police that his two Norwegian cousins, who visited the family in January 2009, had influenced him with anti-Islamic views. The statement said: “My two cousins visitedKarachifor 11 days. One day, when I returned home after offering Jumma prayer they laughed at me, saying that Islam has detained Muslims.”
“Both my cousins teased me and started convincing me that they were enjoying a happy life in Oslo while I am visiting mosques. They told me that their country was free and no one could stop them from expressing themselves. Gradually, I started thinking about the liberty they enjoyed,” the statement quoted S as saying.
The SIO said the boy was presented before Judicial Magistrate-VI Maqbool Memon, who sent the boy on a judicial remand for 14 days. Ali said the police had asked the BIEK management to provide the original answer sheets of Islamiyat and physics while the statement of board officials would also be recorded for further investigation.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2011 in Blasphemy

 

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Bhatti killing pushes Pakistan closer to the brink


Minority Rights Group International: Jared Ferrie

The assassination of Pakistan’s Minister of Minorities, Shabaz Bhatti, who was brutally killed Wednesday on the streets of Islamabad, was described as an attack on “the values of tolerance and respect for people of all faiths and backgrounds” by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As the only Christian member of the Pakistani government, the Vatican also considered it timely to comment, calling his death an act of “violence against Christians and religious freedom”.

While it is true that for decades Hindus and Christians, along with Shia, Sufi, and Ahmadi Muslims have suffered persecution in Pakistan, it is necessity to delineate these statements. After all, Bhatti’s death not only speaks to the obvious and continued stranglehold that Islamic extremism has on the Pakistani government, but also, the consequences of its continued influence on the country’s educated middle-class, judiciary and military.

In a claim of responsibility, Taliban spokesmen stated that Bhatti’s murder was a message to Pakistanis of all backgrounds who oppose the country’s long-standing blasphemy law. Introduced in the 1970s, the controversial law makes insulting Islam, the Qur’an, or the Prophet Mohammed a crime punishable by death. Critics claim, however, that it is often used to justify the persecution of minorities.

The real problem facing the Pakistani government over the last forty years is that, while radical Islamic groups enjoy periods of safe haven in the northern tribal regions of the country, they have also proven to be something the country’s ruling elite just cannot rid themselves of internally. Bhatti’s murder joins what has become a tradition of extremists killing liberal politicians at will, and follows the January murder of liberal Punjabi governor, Slaman Tasser, who was killed by his one of his own bodyguards.

Though Islamists have done very poorly in Pakistani elections, the country’s moderates do very little to publicly criticize these types of violent crimes. Further, while Pakistan’s military and intelligence community (ISI) claim to be rigorously hunting down terrorists domestically, Afghan Taliban groups continue to enjoy permanent operating residency in the notorious border region of North Waziristan.

With so much US military financing benefitting Pakistan, the epicenter of the global confrontation with radical Islam, the question remains: has terrorism in these countries become a cash crop? And if so, to what extant is the incompetence, indifference and corruption that allows it to continue to flourish there become an exploitable resource for its leaders?

Trevor Westra is a graduate of Canada’s Laurentian University in Religious Studies. He writes frequently on politics, globalization and the intersections of religion and history at his blog The Theo Log.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Assassinations, Blasphemy, minorities

 

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Pakistan: Silence has become the mother of all blasphemies


Mohammed Hanif, Guardian

Two months ago, after Governor Salmaan Taseer’s murder and the jubilant support for the policeman who killed him, religious scholars in Pakistan told us that since common people don’t know enough about religion they should leave it to those who do – basically anyone with a beard.

Everyone thought it made a cruel kind of sense. So everyone decided to shut up: the Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) government because it wanted to cling to power, liberals in the media because they didn’t want to be the next Taseer. The move to amend the blasphemy law was shelved.

It was an unprecedented victory for Pakistan’s mullah minority. They had told a very noisy and diverse people to shut up and they heard back nothing but silence. After Pakistan’s only Christian federal minister, Shahbaz Bhatti – the bravest man in Islamabad – was murdered on Tuesday, they were back on TV, this time condemning the killing, claiming it was a conspiracy against them, against Islam and against Pakistan. The same folk who had celebrated one murder and told us how not to get murdered were wallowing in self pity.

In a very short span of time, Pakistan’s mullahs and muftis have managed to blur the line between what God says and what they say. The blasphemy law debate was about how to prosecute people who have committed blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an. Since repeating a blasphemy, even if it is to prove the crime in a court of law, is blasphemous, no Pakistani has a clear idea what constitutes blasphemy. Taseer had called the blasphemy law “a black law” and was declared a blasphemer. The line between maligning the Holy Prophet and questioning a law made by a bunch of mullahs was done away with. What would come next?

During the last two months sar tan se juda (off with their heads) has become as familiar a slogan as all the corporate songs about the Cricket World Cup. Banners appeared all over Karachi and Islamabad last week demanding death for a Pakistani writer. The only problem is that nobody quite knows what she has written. Her last book came out more than eight years ago and, if it wasn’t so scary, it would be ironic that it is called Blasphemy. It was a potboiler set mostly in religious and spiritual leaders’ bedrooms. The banners condemning her say that not only she has insulted the prophet, she has insulted religious scholars.

So now disagreeing with anyone who has a beard and armed bodyguards can get you killed. The PPP government has tried to appease this lot by silencing the one-and-a-half liberal voices it had. What it didn’t realise is that you can’t really appease people who insist their word is God’s word, their honour as sacred as the Holy Prophet’s. In Pakistan, silence is the mother of all blasphemies. Most Pakistanis are committing that blasphemy and being punished for it.

Mohammed Hanif is a journalist and author of the novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Hindu Girl Abducted and Forcibly Converted to Islam


Hard to believe, but facts prove that some sections of Pakistani society are going insane in their pursuit of “one religion syndrome”. The word “force” logically does not fit in any lingo related to any religion where all preach humanity, freedom and respect for each other. But some orthodox forces seem capable of changing this rhetoric and tradition while kidnapping people and forcing them to convert to Islam. If we want Islam to become the most dominant religion and rule the world even then this approach is irrational and unaccepted.

Through such gestures, we will further push people away from us rather bringing them closer. Unfortunately, it hurts a religion the most where such forces voluntarily represent it and mostly in a bad way. Same is happening to Islam which is at the mercy of these orthodox who have even exploited law to hide behind its shield. The victim families when approach police often face disappointment and threats and no justice in the end. Same happened in the story pasted below, but the question is  how far we can go in expressing our helpless attitude in front of every injustice. Let’s start raising our voices for things which are just. Let’s defeat these religious fanatics. Let’s join hands in making this country for Pakistanis not for Muslims, Hindus, Christians or Sikhs.

Below is the story:

Karachi, Pakistan (CHAKRA) —In the town of Lyari in Pakistan, a 13-year-old Dalit girl, Poonam, has been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam.

According to Poonam’s uncle Bhanwroo she went missing last Wednesday and was not seen until neighbours spotted her at a Madrassa in the town and informed her parents.

When her parents went to the Madrassa to bring her back, they said that she seemed very scared and was under the influence of the imams there.  She reportedly stated that they would not let her go and that she was ready to live at the Madrassa as a Muslim.

When the family turned to police for help, they immediately refused and stated it was not a big enough case to be officially registered. Poonam’s parents were told by the police that there was no point in lodging a complaint or report because as soon as the court proceedings would take place the report would become null and be cancelled.

Poonam’s parents are left hopeless and have no where or means to turn to by which they can get their beloved daughter back.  And their crime for such a punishment was nothing.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2010 in Hindus

 

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Some Christians denied aid unless they convert to Islam


I need to ask one question to all the Muslims including those who are living here in Pakistan. Do you ask a hungry person before offering him food that is he a Muslim or not? And in case if he turns out to be a non Muslim, do you refuse to feed him? Please do not bother to give me this answer rather tell this to yourself. Self accountability often leads to realisation and then it helps in repairing the damage your actions have done. The story below is not new to us, in fact, since floods hit Pakistan such stories have started emerging.

What is the greatest sin our minorities have committed which has rewarded them with this discriminated and miserable life in this country, I have failed to understand. A Christian is as affected by the flood and deserves same amount of attention, help and food as a Muslim does. What we do not understand here that sufferings and disasters have a strange potential to remove the differences boundaries, cultures and religions create. In such situations, the status could just be one–a human being who is either an affectee or a victim, nothing else.

God knows which religion we keep on referring when it comes on giving aid to Christians with the money of Zakat. It looks to me a perfect excuse to justify bias and prejudice. If any Muslim has hesititation in spending Zakat money on Christians then one could always spend the money which is not Zakat. When there is a will there is a way.

We must realise that it is hard to hide such violations in this information age and the world is taking note of every gesture you convey as a nation. Nothing you can do in isolation anymore and every actions bears some consequences.

Below is the Story:

The head of an organization that combats anti-Christian persecution charges that some Pakistani Christian families are being denied flood aid unless they convert to Islam.

“Some Christian refugees are openly denied aid, while others are told to leave or convert to Islam,” said Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “You can imagine that terrible choice: either you abandon your faith or you cannot feed your child.”

The Fides news agency has collected testimony from several Christians who have been denied aid:

  • “We were overcome by waters and we lost everything,” said Zubair Masih. “We went to a refugee camp near Thatta, but they did not allow us to enter because we are Christians.”
  • “My wife is sick, but the doctor refused to visit her and treat her, saying that we should wait for the World Health Organization to send Christian doctors,” said Abid Masih.
  • “I arrived with my family at a camp near Hyderabad, but the camp administration refused to register us because we are Christians and they did not give us anything,” said Aamir Gill. “We were forced to leave.”
  • A Pakistani bishop said that the Church, in contrast, does not discriminate in assisting the victims of the worst flooding in the nation’s history.

    “The tireless work of Caritas continues in all directions, in every diocese and without discrimination on the recipients,” said Bishop Max John Rodrigues of Hyderabad. “In the diocese, we help everyone. Many religious and Catholic volunteers are working in the area. I see a lot of solidarity: Muslims, Christians, and Hindus are united in suffering.

    “As far as the aid brought by Islamic charity groups, they defend themselves by saying that according to their doctrine, the money from the zakhat (Islamic alms) should go only to Muslims,” he added. “We should keep in mind that in this country there is a general discrimination against minorities and the poorest workers. It is a widespread mentality which can also affect this tragedy. The fact that the rich are better off than the poor, having saved their own land, is a serious matter which the government must address.”

    Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

     
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    Posted by on September 9, 2010 in Christians, Discrimination

     

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    Church plans Quran-burning day, but the opposition proves that the world still believes in harmony


    We have heard the stories of religious fundamentalism and extremism and we have also seen the Islamic extremists who have damaged the religious sanctity of this religion. We have already accepted the reality that some elements belonging to Islam got indulged in activities which eventually disturbed the law and order situation of the world.

    We admit that Islamic extremists have a big share in replacing peace with terror and introducing a different lingo to the world politics. We are aware of the fact that a rise in extremism and the misconception of the notion of Jihad has taken hundreds of precious lives who had a right to live. We are conscious of the misinterpretation of Islam and its teachings in today’s world and believe some of its believers have hurt its image the most. But we believe that like all religions, Islam has preached humanity, forgiveness, freedom of choice, equality, justice and respect for all religions.

    And it is unacceptable for all Muslims to let some extremist forces to become custodians of Islam and display the mutilated and false face of the religion. After all this realizations, Muslims and other peace lovers all over the world tried to bring harmony between religions. Interfaith dialogues and debates everywhere prove that we still want co-existence of all religions with peace and tolerance. But I feel that it is not just some Muslims who ruin the good efforts, but people from other faiths have the same intentions.

    After dealing with the issues of cartoons of Prophet (PBUH), facebook controversy, here comes “International Burn a Quran Day” on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. A nondenominational church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to host this event with a slogan that (Islam) religion is of the devil.  Church is selling coffee mugs and shirts with the slogan on it to promote the event, but on the other hand the National Association of Evangelicals, the nation’s largest umbrella evangelical group, is opposing the move.

    I agree to the point the Association made that it would bring tension between two religions worldwide. It is a sigh of relief to read those who believe in respecting all religions irrespective of their beliefs, and experiences. This disrespect to Islam and its holy book will not bring those back who died on 11 September, but such childish acts will decrease the support of millions of Muslims towards the 9/11 victims.

    This is a sheer exploitation of a tragedy and a good chance to use this excuse to bring more tension and chaos. The world is facing a difficult time and the global village has many challenges to meet including the coexistence of different religions. I must remind all those who have such malicious intentions that in today’s world we cannot live in isolation and whatever actions we take have an impact on others.

    It is just a piece of advice that organizers of this event should reconsider their decision because it will bring more misery and hardships for those who belong to their religion but live in Muslim countries. Reaction against this day will be severe and only innocent people will be victimized. A tolerant world is our aim which will never be accomplished with such provocations…

    Below is the story…


    (CNN) — In protest of what it calls a religion “of the devil,” a nondenominational church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to host an “International Burn a Quran Day” on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

    The Dove World Outreach Center says it is hosting the event to remember 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam. With promotions on its website and Facebook page, it invites Christians to burn the Muslim holy book at the church from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    “We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it’s causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times,” Pastor Terry Jones told CNN’s Rick Sanchez earlier this week.

    Jones wrote a book titled “Islam is of the Devil,” and the church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase.

    Muslims and many other Christians — including some evangelicals — are fighting the initiative.

    The church launched a YouTube channel to disseminate its messages.

    “I mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim? As they’re on the way to Mecca? As they gather together in the mosque on the floor? Does it look like a real religion of joy?” Jones asks in one of his YouTube posts.

    “No, to me it looks like a religion of the devil.”

    The Islamic advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Muslims and others to host “Share the Quran” dinners to educate the public during the monthlong fast of Ramadan beginning in August. In a news release, the group announced a campaign to give out 100,000 copies of the Quran to local, state and national leaders.

    “American Muslims and other people of conscience should support positive educational efforts to prevent the spread of Islamophobia,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper in the release.

    The National Association of Evangelicals, the nation’s largest umbrella evangelical group, issued a statement urging the church to cancel the event, warning it could cause worldwide tension between the two religions.

    “The NAE calls on its members to cultivate relationships of trust and respect with our neighbors of other faiths. God created human beings in his image, and therefore all should be treated with dignity and respect,” it said in the statement.

    Dove’s Facebook page, set up for the September event, has more than 1,600 fans.

    “Eternal fire is the only destination the Quran can lead people to, so we want to put the Quran in it’s [sic] place — the fire!” the page says.

    But another Facebook group with more than 3,100 fans says it stands “against the disrespect and intolerance that these people have for the Muslim people” and encourages people to report Dove’s page to Facebook.

    Targeting another group it calls “godless,” the Dove center is also hosting a protest against Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, who is openly gay, on Monday at Gainesville’s City Hall. The group previously fought — unsuccessfully — to derail Lowe’s election campaign.

    “We protest sexual perversion because the Bible protests it. … What is acceptable to today’s leadership becomes acceptable to tomorrow’s society,” the church says in its blog entry about the event.

    Lowe and other government figures and media outlets received e-mails from the church about the event, The Gainesville Sun reported. Lowe isn’t concerned with Monday’s event.

    “I’ve got other things to do,” he said, The Sun reports.

    On the outreach center’s front lawn, alongside a sign reading “Aug. 2 Protest, No Homo Mayor, City Hall,” stands not just one, but three signs bearing the slogan “Islam is of the Devil.”

    One of the signs — one reading “Islam” on one side, “Devil” on the other — was vandalized. On its blog last week, the church said the sign will be replaced.

    “This is private property and vandalism is a crime here in America,” the blog says. “In Islam, many actions that we consider to be crimes are encouraged, condoned or sheltered under Islamic teaching and practice, though. Another reason to burn a Quran.”

     
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    Posted by on August 1, 2010 in Religious intolerance

     

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