As a Catholic, I do not want people to convert to Islam, but I do believe that everyone profits from an open exchange of ideas.
I think that the enormous amount of attention that news media and the events of September, 2001, focused on Islam was a largely-wasted opportunity. Muslims in America and around the world had access to the ears of non-Muslims that hadn't existed before. This was an opportunity to let America, a largely-non-Islamic country, know what Islam was all about.
A few Muslims did so, but they were overshadowed by people eager to portray their Islamic communities as victims.
I did not, and do not, believe that was the best approach. I thought that Islam, which I thought was a faith which encourages proselytizing, was squandering a publicity windfall.
That seems to have changed. Although knee-jerk racial-profiling charges seem to be the rule for some, Muslims: how to win hearts and minds (Ajmal Masroor, July 12, 2007, in the Guardian, UK, repeated in a page in the Muslims for America website), shows what I see as a much more realistic understanding of the opportunities and dangers that Muslims and non-Muslims face.
Muslims for America's Muhammad Ali Hasan, Founder and President, describes the organization as "a bi-partisan organization. We are about getting Americans, and Muslims more involved and excited about the American political process!"
I've learned to be very attentive when the phrase "bi-partisan" is used, but a quick glance at their News Room suggests that Muslims for America uses the term in the 'not favoring one party over another' sense. Some of the headline links were:
- "Racism is the real obstacle we face"
- "Nancy Pelosi Basks in Historic Day"
- "Nancy Pelosi Calls for End to Muslim Profiling"
- "'Islam is a part of us,' Rice says"
- "Muslim concerns about Jerusalem dig justified: Rice"