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Christians who turn their backs instead of their cheeks
By Ray Hanania — America is filled with bigots and racists. It’s a sad fact of life in the “Land of the Free.” People are free to do what they want in America, short of imposing their views by force on others. They are also prohibited by laws that include stealing from another or committing acts of violence against others. They can express themselves freely. That’s not always the case in the Middle East, the Islamic World or even most of the Third World where dictators control people by flaming fans of hatred against unpopular issues and people. It might help to explain the actions of a racist moron in Florida who claims to be a Christian Priest, Terry Jones.
Jones is a bigot and tragically, bigotry against Arabs and Muslims is accepted in America, “The Land of the Free.”
He has announced a plan to burn a copy of the Quran at his “church.” He heads an otherwise insignificant Church of fewer than 50 followers called “Dove World Outreach Center;” the name is clearly a mean joke on the image of peace and love.
Like Islam, Christianity has its racist bigots and even its terrorists who murder for political reasons and wrap themselves in the Christian religion as a cloak of pride and power.
The Muslims in Afghanistan who are angry at Jones, a man who would have achieved nothing in this country had it not been for the human failing of hatred, racism and bigotry.
But their anger is no different than the anger we see in many Americans against Islam. Muslims are hated in this country, there is no question about that. Even reasoned people in the United States who are not haters will try to explain why the burden of the hatred falls on the shoulders of Muslims, not the haters. It’s as if they are justifying the hatred.
Jones is bathing in the spotlight, the glory of international attention. He’ll probably start telling people he’s concerned for his life because of his hate-ridden Burn a Quran Day campaign. And he’ll most likely point a finger at Muslims as the alleged threat.
In the Middle East and Muslim World, people are not free. Many are no different than Terry Jones. Christians are persecuted but have come to live under a state of siege as an everyday form of life in Islamic countries. Christian Arabs like me, of course, become targets of Islamic extremists for saying that. Christians are supposed to remain silent.
Ironically, a Christian like Terry Jones who claims to love Christianity isn’t doing anything about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East or the Islamic World because he doesn’t care about Christians. He cares only about fanning the flames of hatred and profiting from that hatred as he is with international media attention and cheerleaders of hate who surround him.
He would stand up to defend Christian Palestinians, for example, because Christian Palestinians are being persecuted not only by some extremists in the Islamic World but by the Government of Israel and the increasingly extremist Israeli people. Christians are denied rights, targets of hate and their land is also among the lands being stolen by Israel from Muslim Arabs.
So a person like Jones will turns his back on those Christians who need support. He won’t stand up to defend them, which is the true spirit of Christianity. Instead, he’ll follow the evilness of the Christian extremists who hide behind Jesus and spew their words of incitement and spread their message of anti-Peace. Real Christians follow the teachings of Jesus who, during his sermon on the mount, urge the people to turn the other cheek when confronted by aggressors.
I don’t expect all Muslims angered with Jones to understand this logic. After all, many live under the thumb and censorship of oppressive regimes – some of which the United States helped to put in power.
But I do expect Americans and especially Christians in America to understand this conflict, and to make a choice to condemn people like Terry Jones rather than sit back and, by their failure to speak, fan the flames of hatred in such an unChristian way.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian columnist and Chicago Radio Talk Show Host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.)
This post has already been read 47 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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