I should know better.
I should know better than to gauge the actual opinion of people by what elected officials are saying. And yet, I get sucked into the trap every time. Luckily, people aren’t quite as stupid as I might make them out to be.
The mosque is not seething with resentment tonight.The atmosphere is relaxed, as befits a time of celebration. This is not, it turns out, such a bad place to be a Muslim. Ashraf Sabrin, a volunteer firefighter at the Pentagon on 9/11, says there’s no better place to practise his religion. Surprised? “People who are surprised to hear that are people who don’t live here, and don’t understand the recourse that we have when things happen that are bad,” he says.
It’s nice to know that in the midst of the tempest of moronity going on in Washington and the halls of power, there are people who are content to just live their lives:
Ashraf’s prescription for a successful life in America is disarmingly simple. “Being yourself. Being this average Joe-Muhammad-Abdullah guy that goes to work and comes home and lives peacefully is the best medicine,” he says. As worshippers mingle in between prayers, the conversation turns to the subject of what a small group of Christians in Florida may or may not do with the Koran. But, again, there’s no hysteria, no vengeful threats. Just a rather resigned acknowledgement that this is America, where freedom of speech is paramount.
“I think he has the right to do whatever he wishes to do,” says Khalid Iqbal, who is the centre’s deputy director and the grandfather of nine, referring to the Gainesville pastor, Terry Jones. Mr Iqbal was speaking before Pastor Jones announced that he was prepared to call off his incendiary protest, provided the planned Islamic centre near Ground Zero in New York is moved. “He can burn the books. It doesn’t mean that he’s going to take it away from the hearts of the people.”
I’m going to go thwack myself for getting just as caught up in the stupidity as those perpetuating it. Eid Mubarak, for those celebrating.