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Driving home from downtown today, I stumbled across an audio essay on NPR's All Thing's Considered about the now infamous "Ground Zero Mosque."

Here's the linkie.

Many of us welcomed and responded to Keith Olbermann's excellent Special Comment last week,There is No Ground Zero Mosque. If you haven't heard it, please click and listen. There are voices of sanity, but they are still few and far between.

The author of the essay heard today is:

Dr. Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is a contributing editor at the Daily Beast (thedailybeast.com). His first book is the International Bestseller, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into thirteen languages, and named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade. He is also the author of How to Win a Cosmic War, and editor of an upcoming anthology from Norton titled Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East.

You may have seen his guest spots on The Daily Show or MSNBC. Check out his website.

Dr. Aslan asserts that the hate being directed at Muslims and Islaam through this manufactured controversy are in danger of radicalizing young people in America -- just as similar trends have in Europe.

For years, scholars like myself who've studied these radicalization trends have confidently argued that the kind of institutionalized Islamophobia one sees in large parts of Europe could never take hold in the U.S. That America's unbreakable dedication to religious liberties would never allow anti-Muslim sentiment to become mainstream. That, in fact, America's Muslim community — educated, prosperous, moderate and integrated into every level of American society — may be our nation's greatest weapon in fighting the ideology of radical extremism.

It seems we were wrong. The same kind of Islamophobia that has made much of Europe inhospitable to its Muslim citizens is now threatening to seize the U.S.

The fear is that this may lead to the same kind of radicalization among Muslim youth in the U.S. that we've seen in Europe. It has already played into the hands of al-Qaida, which has for years been trying to convince American Muslims that the unfettered religious freedoms they enjoy is a mirage — that the U.S. will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.

Are we in danger of proving al-Qaida right?

Every time my senses and sensibility are assaulted by the GOP-spewed insanity and manufactured outrage around the "Ground Zero Mosque," I get white hot mad and then I just want to cry.

How did we get to a place where one of our most sacrosanct tenets, the freedom of religion, and our very morality as a society, could be threatened by a handful of hateful, ignorant, manipulative people?

As I listed to his essay, it hit me with all the clarity of a bolt of lightening.

We can't be silent. If we're silent, we're complicit.

Please write letters to your local media, reach out to Muslims in your community, post comments on blogs. Use whatever communication tools you have.

Thank you.

Originally posted to LarisaW on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:55 PM PDT.

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