Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Mosque in Minnesota

This letter was published in Dawn, June 15, 2005

A lot is being said and written in the post 9/11 world about the poor treatment of the Muslims living in America but very little is reported about what the Muslims do to 'endear' themselves to the communities among which they have chosen to live. An old colleague and a friend of mine, who is happily settled in the state of Minnesota for many years, has this to say about his first-hand experience. He is actively involved in local community affairs and frequents a mosque located in close proximity to a big church in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St.Paul. The church officials, he says, were kind enough to allow the mosque-goers free use of the church's ample parking lot with the only condition that a specific row in the parking lot must always be left for use of the church officials.

But the "brothers" would arrive late for the prayers and, in the characteristic rush to join the congregation, park their cars wherever they could, including the reserved spots,even double park,and make a dash for the mosque. The church officials pointed out the problem to the mosque officials, notices were sent out, and even announcements were made during the Friday sermon, but to no avail. This went on for about six months and finally the church officials, when they had enough, called the police who ticketed the violators, and the tow truck did the rest. The "brothers" were outraged and let out their anger on the mosque officials.

But then they started parking their cars in the neighborhood streets, blocking people's driveways. The neighbors lodged numerous complaints with the imam, the police issued warnings and yet the "brothers" persisted. The neighbors got fed up and the more angrier among them one day vandalized the mosque. Come Friday, the imam delivered a fiery speech on increasing incidence of hate crimes in America!

This is a typical example of how some of the imams here exploit the freedom of speech guaranteed under the American Constitution by giving vent to their unfounded anger. Incidentally, the damage caused to the mosque was fixed by another church group free of charge.


Sunday, June 05, 2005


Published in Daily Times, Lahore on June 5, 2005

Sir: All violence is tragic, but words alone cannot describe the savagery that took place in Karachi on Monday when an inspired mob set a KFC outlet on fire and did not allow six of its trapped employees to escape or be rescued. They all perished. The irony is that the mob was protesting an equally ‘senseless’ murder of several innocent people earlier at a mosque. No religion, no creed or code of morality sanctions this kind of savagery under any circumstances.

Yet, all this madness is being perpetrated in the name of Islam. And what do our clerics have to say? The same tired and meaningless statement that they issue after every such incident, that “no Muslim can think of killing another Muslim”. This statement is factually incorrect. Muslims are killing other innocent and unsuspecting Muslims all the time (over 150 people have perished in such attacks in Pakistan since May 2004). Secondly, the statement sends a subliminal message that it is okay for a Muslim to kill innocent non-Muslims.

I wonder if the government realises that sectarian violence is not necessarily directed, it is mostly inspired.

New York