Originally created 08/20/00

Islam does respect other religions

John Craig's Aug. 7 letter asserting that there can be and has been peaceful coexistence between both Moslem and Christian Arabs with the Jewish community in the Arab world is neither ignorance nor naivete.

Denying this fact ignores approximately 700 years of well-documented Middle East history. During the rule of the Moslem caliphates, both Christians and Jews were given religious autonomy. They were also allowed to base their ethical and judicial proceedings on their own respective faiths. Respect for Christianity and Judaism is well indoctrinated within Islam.

Islam openly denounces "terrorism" and killing of the innocent. Islamic law also forbids the killing of children, women, elderly and non-combatants even in the course of armed conflicts.

The Quran, the holy book of the Moslems, further illustrates that preserving life regardless of faith is a major tenant of Islam.

Mr. Craig's letter incorrectly convolutes individual politics with the religious ideology of Islam. One may observe the events in Northern Ireland and similarly conclude that all Catholics are bloodthirsty "terrorists" who partake in deadly bombings to annihilate the Protestants. Any reasonable person knows that such concepts are not part of Catholicism. Likewise, it is not the religion of Islam that teaches the subversion of the rights or hatred of the Jewish or any other people.

Furthermore, Israel has not "bent over backward" to assure the rights of its Christian and Muslim population. It was not until the 1990s that Christians could openly observe Christmas in the holy city of Bethlehem.

U.N. Resolution 271 also condemns Israel for desecrating a sacred Islamic mosque. Moreover, U.N. Resolution 672 condemns Israel for the violence against Palestinians at the Temple Mount. Both Christian and Moslem Arabs who visit Israel from the U.S. routinely endure dehumanizing searches at airports based on ethnic profiling. These facts, like many others documented by the U.N., hardly support Mr. Craig's contention that the rights of Christians and Moslems are being preserved.

As The Chronicle editorial concisely stated, Israel's claim to the entire city of Jerusalem is illegal under international law. U.N. Resolutions 252, 267, 271, 298, 452, 476 and 478, to name a few, openly condemn Israel for unilaterally changing the status of Jerusalem to the capital of Israel and forcibly expelling Arabs from East Jerusalem.

Additionally, the Geneva Convention, which forbids acquisition of territory through warfare, nullifies Israel's claim to Jerusalem and Arab territories as spoils of military conflict. Israel is being asked to abide by international law by preserving religious, civil and territorial rights of non-Jewish communities within its borders.

Zameer Sheikh, Martinez


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