Don't allow suspicions over Muslims to get the best of you

 

I agree with The Augusta Chronicle's conclusion that NPR commentator Juan Williams should not have been dismissed for expressing his discomfort over seeing people wearing "Muslim garb" on airplanes. Instead of the controversy generating a productive discussion about the state of Muslims in America, the topic has veered to whether or not NPR made a fair decision.

Rather than concentrating on the propriety of Williams' dismissal, I would like to continue on the point that he raises. Islam and Muslims are clearly the taboo du jour . Muslims are viewed today as many groups -- African-Americans, Jews or Japanese -- were in the past. Just a short time ago, and even today for some, expressing the view that "blacks make me uncomfortable" was not uncommon, especially in the South.

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, when such sentiments translate into inequitable treatment for jobs, education or housing, then we have a problem. For Muslims, with numerous controversies arising recently, that is the direction public opinion seems to be heading.

The way to alleviate this discomfort is by dealing with it. When you see a person in Muslim garb at the airport or on your plane, why not try to strike up a conversation and make a brief acquaintance with someone whose culture you may be unfamiliar with? You may be surprised at how much you have in common. Why not visit a local mosque -- Augusta has two that routinely have "open houses" -- or have a discussion with that guy at work you know is a Muslim.

Sure, there are some crazy Muslims out there, as there are portions of every religious and ethnic group. I have always believed that 95 percent of all people are good; for the 5 percent of crazies, we mustn't let our fears get the best of us.

Sajid Lakhany

Evans

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