I am writing to urge all fellow citizens to stop the hateful, mean-spirited and unconstitutional rhetoric directed toward a religious population (see "etc.," Feb. 18, and "Unwelcome mat" in this week's issue). The debate regarding allowing refugees into our country should focus on the real problem of establishing a vetting process to ensure that refugees are not linked to terrorist groups and to address the impacts and resources needed to properly host them. After the recent Ravalli County meeting, a new question arises regarding a limited resource: Do we have the compassion to help refugees or will we be blinded by prejudice, hate and fear?
The fear and misconceptions are understandable, as the media has sensationalized the views of a very small percentage of Islamic extremists who use religion as propaganda to carry out an agenda of dominance by force and terror, a tactic used by other religions throughout history. To ignore the distinction between the majority of Muslims and terrorists insults the dignity of most Muslims. There are 5.5 million Muslims living in the United States, yet percentage-wise, there have been far more acts of terrorism and violence committed in the U.S. by non-Muslims. Ninety-three percent of Muslims denounce extremist terrorist activity, are nonviolent people, view Islam as a religion of peace and recognize and respect other religious views. Millions are victims of terrorism and are now faced with the additional fear of being profiled and treated with prejudice and hate by non-Muslims.
Rather than repeating history by perpetuating hatred and prejudice out of fear and to further our agendas, let us be a community and country that displays courage to promote understanding and compassion towards all humanity regardless of race and religion.