Publications & Statements by Imam

08/05/08: Extremism is wrong for Islam, but also for U.S.

Detroit News

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi: Faith and policy

Extremism is wrong for Islam, but also for U.S.

In a Pentagon strategy report last Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates pledged partnership with and , while he suggested a long war against Islamic extremism. The promising point in the secretary's statement was his emphasis on the need to prevent Islamist militancy by promoting economic, political and social development in vulnerable areas. So he admits it: the best way to end militant extremism is to fight poverty, corruption and social injustice!

The invasion of caused death, destruction, and the relocation of many millions of Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers -- to destroy a weapon that didn't exist. That was in itself an act of extremism which created even more violent extremism!

The war has cost $600 billion but the human cost is greater. This year more than 22,000 traumatized veterans sought help from a suicide prevention hot line.

Even more astonishing is the recent report on CNN that 41 percent of the women at one veterans hospital in have said that they were victims of sexual assault from other soldiers while serving in the military. What does that say about the moral casualties of this war?

What happened to the America of JFK and Martin Luther King? The American rule of law and the U.S. Constitution disappeared at Abu Ghraib, and in our foreign policy.

Extremism is against the pure teachings of Moses, Jesus and Mohammad. The Dalai Lama said recently that "it's totally wrong, unfair" to call Islam a violent religion.

Are the Armageddonites, who believe that all 5 billion non-Christians on the planet must be killed and sent to hell, are not violent Christian extremists?

Are those settlers, who illegally occupy Palestinian property, not violent Jewish extremists?

Scapegoating Muslims leads to the loss of civil rights for all of us. Not only do I get stopped for questioning every time I return from a foreign trip, but even U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy and Rep. John Lewis have been repeatedly stopped and searched at the airport and made to fill out multiple forms. We aren't extremists! We love our country. We always condemn terrorism, extremism and violence in any form.

There is a need to rebuild mutual trust. Let's not waste our time and resources for another 30 years fighting an enemy that doesn't exist. Let's correct our mistakes, get out of isolation or what Phil Gramm recently described it as "mental recession" and become a source of inspiration and prosperity for our nation and the world.

Mr. Secretary! Let's dislike for ourselves what we dislike for others!

Extremism is wrong for Islam but it's also wrong for . A recent survey indicated that 76 percent of Americans say the is going in the wrong direction. Do those oil companies whose profit passed $12 billion in three months care about people's opinions or our new $500 billion budget deficit?

If we can dialogue with and despite their thousands of nuclear bombs, how come we can't have a serious dialogue with , who isn't even making nuclear weapons, based on our own intelligence agencies?

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in . Send letters to The News at 615 W. , or (313) 222-6417 or