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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Muslim Q&A coming to Kirtland

A pervasive atmosphere of fear has begun to affect my stories, notably one intended for the News-Herald's Religion page on Saturday. It was an interview with the two Muslims who will be speaking on Sunday at East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirtland. Both are proud U.S. citizens and work with interfaith  organizations to explain elements of Islam and answer questions from their audiences. It is their hope that with knowledge and solid information many misconceptions can be put to rest.  But they are afraid of being targeted by hate-mongers, especially in the light of some current events.. At the conclusion of our fine interview they asked that their full  names not be used.
Affi and Sahid

That's something The News-Herald does not permit. It's a policy rooted in the belief that readers have the right to reach their own conclusions about what others say.  Attribution of statements to those who make them also causes the speaker to choose his or her words carefully,  and hopefully accurately, knowing  they will have to live with them once the story has run..We don't use just first names, fake names or run stories with nameless sources in them.

Until I began to read the anonymous comments on the online versions of stories the paper has published, I hadn't appreciated how a cloak of anonymity causes some people to say cruel things. Perhaps that very anonymity is one of the reasons for the widespread fear that seems to be everywhere these days.

One of my Muslim subjects once experienced a death threat against her then 8-year son after she spoke out. And both know how easily an address can be found on the internet once a name is entered.   .

One of the points both made was the recent tendency by many to equate Islamic principals with the words and actions by various governments of the Middle East. Both came here from Iran several decades ago, a country where women had the right to vote, own property and be paid equally long before our own equal rights amendments. The woman made the point that the wife of the Prophet Mohammad was a business owner and the prophet worked for her. "He married the boss," she said. The rights afforded women in Islam are believed descended from that fact, she said. A woman who inherits money or property from her father or mother keeps that property and never has to share it with her husband.   The local woman is a widow after a longtime happy marriage to an Irish Catholic.She's retired now but often volunteers as a translator from Farsi, the most widely spoken Persian language and her native tongue.  The man is married, the father of a young child and works as an an engineer. Both came to this country as students. 

When they are introduced to the audience at East Shore Unitarian Church only their first names will be used. Their fear goes with them even when they speak to those coming the hear what they say..  

 The session follows a noon vegetarian luncheon at the church, 10848 Chillicothe Road in Kirtland. Reservations for that are needed by today and the cost is $5. Call 440-256-3400. The presenters, members of the Unity Mosque in Strongsville, will not cover the history of Islam but instead will discuss how they see their religion, addressing why they have been hesitant to speak out in today‚Äôs world of 24-hour news showing the radical side of Islam.
It should be a real eye opener.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a shame that in a country founded to escape religious persecution, one has to live in fear for speaking their views on their religion.

December 2, 2010 at 9:18 AM 

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