Letter: Muslim feature one-sided

Editor, the Gauntlet,

[Re: “The Muslim,” Sarah Malik, Nov. 9, 16, and 23, 2006]

I began to read Sarah Malik’s three-part feature on Muslims with great interest. I wanted to understand “the world’s most misunderstood religion,” and “the history of Islam.” But I find almost nothing on the Islamic religion, and the history of Islam is in fact an account of the oppression of the Middle East Muslims by the (Christian) West since the 19th century.

Ms. Malik seems to think that oppression went exclusively in one direction. Islam’s expansion into Spain was, I suppose, refreshing, not oppressive. If we must restrict discussion to the past two centuries, see Elizabeth Kolbert’s article on the 20th century genocide against Armenian Christians by Turkish Muslims in the Nov. 6, 2006 New Yorker.

At the end of part one Ms. Malik makes a comment that I think gets to the crux of the matter: “Under Western state microscopes, all Muslims are suspect.” If Westerners think that every Muslim is a terrorist, and if every Muslim thinks that all Muslims are innocent victims who never do anything bad–and as I understand, a large percentage of Muslims still think that 9/11 was a CIA/Mossad plot–then we are in for a very long and costly siege of mutual suspicion, hatred and violence.

It need not be so. I recently read about the rise of Muslim gangs in northeast Calgary. The source of this information was a concerned Muslim leader. That is helpful and encouraging. We must all face reality, especially when unpleasant. Sarah Malik’s one-sided account is, in my opinion, utterly unhelpful and discouraging.

Robert Schmiel

professor emeritus

department of Greek and Roman studies

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