ISLAMophobia was the topic …

ISLAMophobia was the topic of discussion at the A.C.T.O.R. (A Continuing Talk on Race) meeting last Sunday afternoon at Busboys & Poets Restaurant on U Street in Washington, D.C. “Truly conceived out of the mind of the community, A. C. T. O. R. provides the opportunity for people to come together and speak openly and honestly about issues of race. The intent is that each person walks away from the discussion feeling something: challenged, uncomfortable, enlightened, refreshed or reassured,” the promotional blurb announces each month.  The panel of six, some Muslim by birth and others by choice, just by presenting themselves and their life experiences, easily challenged any preconceived notions of who Muslims are and their roles in our society.  There were reminders from both panel and audience of the interrelatedness of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism that many of us may have studied in the religious institutions of our younger years but have more recently forgotten. One participant produced an old newspaper salvaged during a cleaning spree which reminded us of a time when the media educated the public about the close ties among the world’s great religions.  Books about Islam were on display.  Since this is a blog about writing and promoting the products of writing, let’s tie it back together by just saying that A.C.T.O.R. frequently sponsors book presentations, as does Busboys and Poets, and their Teaching for Change bookstore is a great place to find resources for seekers of solutions.  And let me say that the discussion brought to my mind the futility of book-burnings throughout history–they do not destroy the thoughts in people’s minds. It also made me think of the planned 9/11 book-burning as a great magnet, pulling together from a wide spectrum all those in opposition to the burning, including President Obama, Secretary Clinton, General Petraeus, and religious leaders of widely varying beliefs, and focusing their thoughts and prayers on that small church in Florida. My writer mind has a vision of people swooping in before the fire is set and rescuing the Korans.  But peaceful protest is far better, of course.

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