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Islam cannot be confused with terrorism

New York was right to stand by its values and approve Ground Zero mosque

Gulf News

It is essential that the world knows the difference between terrorism and Islam. Terrible atrocities committed by criminals and terrorists, who were also Muslims, do not have anything to do with the religion of Islam, a religion of tolerance and outstanding human values.

The terrorists have had far too much coverage over the past decade, and the faithful of mainstream Islam have not made their message loud enough for the world to hear. But this does not change the truth. Islam is a religion which completely rejects terrorism, and mass murder.

The atrocity of 9/11 was condemned by Muslim leaders from many sects and nations. Which makes it very hard to understand the row going on in New York over the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission to approve the construction of a mosque and Islamic centre two blocks from Ground Zero. The mosque has nothing to do with Al Qaida or its violent followers, yet right-wing politicians have rushed to condemn it as wrong.

The United States has a proud tradition of commitment to religious and individual freedom. It is a mark of respect for that tradition that even countries which have deep disputes with the policies of various American administrations, still aspire to share the dream that the Founding Fathers of the United States summed up in a constitution that is a benchmark of freedom.

It is a deep outrage that opponents of this mosque persist in fanning anti-Islamic rhetoric for their own narrow political purposes. They are wrong to deliberately confuse the destructive and violent tactics of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida, with the true Islamic way espoused by billions of people worldwide. And the city of New York has been right to stand by its own American values and approve the mosque against the bitter chauvinism of its opponents.