Time for honest debate about Islam

cnnHarris Zafar is national spokesperson and youth vice president for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, which describes itself as an international revival movement within Islam. He is also author of “Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions.” The views expressed are his own.

150130190426-zafar-harris-head-shot-medium-169(CNN)Just a month into the year, and already the role of extremism in the Islamic faith has been at the center of heated debate. But while the attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris garnered most of the international headlines, another argument has been simmering much closer to home — one that all of us should be engaged in. Unfortunately, it’s also one that many might be tempted to sweep under the rug.

Earlier this month, Duke University, in North Carolina, said it would allow the Muslim call to prayer to play via the chapel bell tower’s speaker system for the weekly Friday prayer service. Unfortunately, what should have been seen as an inclusive gesture not only sparked controversy, but was met with outright hostility by critics, including some who tried to suggest the move was an attack on liberty and the call to prayer was somehow tied to terrorism.

Leading the charge toward this deliberate ignorance was the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham. The younger Graham used the announcement as another opportunity to attack Islam.Reacting to Duke’s decision on Facebook, he wrote: “As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism.”



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