Intercultural Tensions

Kudos to the person(s) who decided to publish a reader’s letter in The Independent last week regarding Islam and Sharia law [“What Next? Puritans?” 6/10/10]. I have encountered hundreds of “educated” people with PhDs, MDs, etc., who have not even bothered to read a single verse from the Koran. It almost seems like they trust George Bush at his word when he said, “Islam is a religion of peace.”

I just wish “educated” people would actually sit down and bother to read the Koran, and decide for themselves whether “peace” is what the text of the Koran advocates for the treatment of—for example—Jewish people and other non-Muslims.

But reading is so uncool these days and takes waaay too much time. Just trust the media to tell us everything we need to know—in pleasant, hopefully funny, abbreviated articles.—Nick Shiffman, S.B.

• • •

Art Hansl’s xenophobic letter regarding a mosque being built in Goleta reveals ignorance of the facts, intolerance of the different, and complete disregard for the basic human rights protected by this country. His concern that Switzerland’s intercultural tensions will be mirrored if this building is allowed to exist completely disregards Europe’s failure to culturally integrate its immigrant population, and the relatively successful integration of foreigners that’s been happening in this country for 200 years. His “ours and theirs” assessment of differences in laws between the U.S. and the Muslim community at large shows a sophomoric understanding of Islam based on prejudices and media-induced stereotypes, while ironically ignoring the First Amendment which allows his shrill condemnation to be put into print. Reactionary opinions such as Mr. Hansl’s, based as they are on half-baked comparisons and misplaced collywobbles, are part of the problem, not the solution.—Brendon Thomas, S.B.

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