Giving President Obama Due Credit

President Obama 2016

President Obama deserves credit for giving a message that some people on the political right do not want to hear.

Here is an excerpt from a story published by ABC News:

President Obama made his first visit to a U.S. mosque today since being elected president, and he tried to reassure American Muslims that religious discrimination and harassment would not be tolerated.

While avoiding Donald Trump by name, Obama did refer to the controversial proposal by Trump to ban Muslims from entering the country. Obama said this kind of rhetoric created an unsafe environment for some American Muslims.

“We’ve seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith,” Obama said. “And of course recently we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country. It’s no surprise then that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged.”

Whether or not “threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged” is a debate for another time. The theme of President Obama’s speech is what matters: That freedom of religion enshrined in the First Amendment applies to Muslim Americans, too.

What President Obama’s right-wing critics often overlook is the fact that Muslims are not all the same. Indeed, Shi’ite Muslims and Ahmadi Muslims are the targets of Islamic terrorists just as much as non-Muslims, as evidenced by ISIS attacks on Shi’ite mosques and Ahmadi mosques.

As Fox News story states, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Shebab and Boko Haram are Sunni organizations. Although there are terrorist groups comprised of Shi’ites, the greater global threat is coming from Sunnis.

What is currently going on in the Islamic world is akin to what took place in Europe several centuries ago, when feuds between alleged “Christian” groups led to all-out warfare and the persecution of minority church groups. Back then, the religious terrorists had the labels “Catholic” and “Anglican”. Students of Irish history and of Scottish history are well aware of the religious warfare that was condoned by (if not actually promoted by) England’s King James I and William of Orange. The Medieval Inquisition was a hotbed of religious terrorism after Pope Innocent IV issued a papal bull authorizing the use of torture. Religious persecution in “Christian” England and in “Christian” Europe prompted religious minority groups – such as the Pilgrims – to immigrate to North America.

America has a long history of being a place of religious refuge, and right now, a place of refuge is needed by Muslims who want no part in Islamic terrorism and/or who are the targets of Islamic terrorism. If America isn’t a place of refuge for peaceful Muslims, then America has lost some of her greatness.

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