News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly

Friday, December 01, 2006

An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly

Dearest Bill:

On your show last night (11/30) you stated unreservedly that Muslims have not come out against the slaughter of Muslims by other Muslims. You also said that no Muslims have criticized the recent trial and jailing of the British school teacher who allowed her Sudanese students to name a Teddy bear "Muhammad."

You must now be aware that you prematurely crowed about the lack of Muslim opposition to the sentence against this teacher. Even Fox News reports today that two Muslim legislators from Britain have visited the woman and asked that she be released immediately.

I know you will correct the skewed picture that you continue to paint about the vast majority of Muslems after you reflect on these reports.

I respectfully suggest that you review the list of links at Middle East professor Juan Cole's blog posting on the issue of Moslem condemnation of terrorism:

You might wish to direct your viewers there to further educate themselves about this issue as well.

The following sites report Muslim protests against the sentence against the British teacher:

Canadian Muslims enter Sudanese teddy debate

Student defends jailed teacher: Pupil, 7, named stuffed animal Muhammad after himself

The following comments by Muslims in a BBC article do not substantiate your view that all Muslims support the sentence against this teacher, even within Sudan:

""Millions of Muslim children in Muslim nations give their dolls, pets and teddies Muslim names of the Prophet and his mother, daughters and wives."

Gill Lusk, the associate editor of Africa Confidential and a specialist on Sudan, says the incident will have offended many in the country. As Sudan is a place where religion is never mocked or satirized, it's "unthinkable" that a toy or pet could be given a religious name.

"You're not supposed to give a religious name to any objects - it could be seen as idolatry."

But the majority of Sudanese people won't have wanted to see Ms Gibbons in trouble for the naming of the teddy bear.

"People are very forgiving of foreigners, particularly Europeans. Nobody would think she was trying to offend them - they would just think she was ignorant."
Granted, you're not a fan of nuance, but you will surely see that the Sudanese reaction indicates a localized incident to that cultural milieu that is not shared by Moslems from other cultures.

On the issue of whether Moslems, especially Arab Muslims, do or do not condemn terrorism, you might wish to review the following article from
BAQUBA, Iraq (AFP) - Dozens of suspected Al-Qaeda fighters raided a Shiite village north of Baghdad Saturday, killing at least 14 people including women and children, police and medical officials told AFP.
I know you will correct the record now that you have evidence that contradicts the misleading information you disseminated in last night's broadcast.

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