Having no interest in giving a misguided, self-proclaimed "Christian" pastor in Florida any more media attention than he has already received, I sincerely debated whether or not to write anything about his ridiculous plans to burn a bunch of Qurans this September 11.
Ultimately, I chose to address the issue solely as a plea to my own communities and not in an effort to take any further notice of this bigot with a congregation of merely 50 members.
The communities I wish to address are my colleagues in the media and my fellow Muslims.
First, to the members of the press (among whom I proudly include myself): please let this issue go. Enough already with all the reports on Pastor Hatemonger. We don't need to know his name, nor do we need to know the name of his church. As members of the media, we have an obligation to report on stories that matter and stories that have actually taken place.
At this point, it's as if the media is running advertisements for this pseudo-Christian man and his church. We are providing him with free publicity, and for that, I am truly repentant. I recognize that even by writing this I am committing the same offense for which I am criticizing my colleagues, and of course, I recognize the irony in that, but I simply can't remain silent any longer given my concern for the direction that much of the media is taking with respect to this issue.
Secondly, to my fellow Muslim sisters and brothers around the world: please let this issue go. It's not as if this fanatic is burning the only copy of the Quran. He cannot rattle us unless we let him, and sadly, it appears that many of us are allowing him to do so. As such, I beseech you to respect his right to burn whatever the hell he wants, so long as he isn't violating any fire codes, damaging property or endangering human life or limb. The same freedom of speech that provides him the right to burn the Quran also gives us the right to openly mock and denounce him -- or better yet, ignore him entirely.
Burning a couple Qurans isn't going to destroy a religion with nearly 1,500 years of history and civilization and over a billion adherents worldwide. Sure, it's offensive, but we have more important things to worry about. Muslims all over the world are being harassed and discriminated against -- even imprisoned, tortured and killed -- as a result of their beliefs. Wouldn't we be better serving our God by focusing on those individuals and drawing attention to their plights?
So, I say, let the bigot burn what he wants, and ignore him as he does it. By doing so, we will free up time and energy to report on and fight against the injustices that plague our planet: the ongoing violence and most recent rampant gang-rapes in Congo, the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience all over the world, the continuing violence and atrocities in Sudan, and the list goes on. By doing so, we will show the world that we, as Muslims and/or members of the media, are above such silliness. By doing so, we will raise and better represent the values of our faith and the standards of our profession. And thus, I beg you to ignore this ignorance and get on with the real business of faithful practice and responsible reporting.
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