Monday, November 29, 2010

Oregon mosque burned in reaction to Christmas tree bomb plot

Two tales of religious intolerance in a single community end with two different outcomes, one of them a sigh of relief, the other a tragedy.

On Friday evening, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-born teen, attempted to set off explosives at a Portland, Oregon, Christmas tree lighting. The plot failed when Mohamud attempted to detonate the explosives from his cell phone twice, not realizing that the explosives provided to him were part of a sting orchestrated by the FBI.

Many lives could have been lost had Mohamud actually carried the act out with legitimate explosive devices. His capture is something everyone can be happy about.

Unfortunately, the event brought about violent backlash towards the peaceful Muslim community in Portland.

In nearby Corvallis, Oregon, a mosque that is considered the "cultural epicenter for the estimated 1,000 Muslims living in the area," was set ablaze early Sunday morning in response to the attempted Christmas tree plot.

Mohamud sometimes attended the mosque in question -- but his presence there doesn't mean that the entire Muslim community within its walls endorsed his actions. Most Muslims the world over are peaceful people, and the Muslims in Oregon are no exception.

The actions of one person don't represent the beliefs of the people they try to associate with. Mohamed Osman Mohamud doesn't represent the opinions of every Muslim in America. Nor do Timothy McVeigh or David Koresh represent the opinions of every Christian in the country. These three individuals share one thing in common: they are a radical element within a community, not representative of the whole on even the simplest of ideas.

The attempted bombing of a Christmas tree lighting doesn't justify the burning of a mosque. It's something that shouldn't even need to be said -- it should be understood, by Christians especially, that a reaction like this is inappropriate. But apparently, the ideals of loving thy brother, forgiveness, and reserving judgment of others are a set of ideals that is still lost among at least one person in the Portland, Oregon, area. And sadly, I fear that they're ideals that are lost elsewhere as well.

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