How is it that all over the world, we read of Islamophobia?

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How is it that all over the world, we read of Islamophobia?

Here in Sulaimani, wehave experienced radical hospitality.  We hear the call to worship five times during the day, creating a space of mystery.  We watchgentlemen fingering their beads, heading towards the mosque across the road from us.  As they gather, we allexperience the energy that public worship creates.  Often times, we whisper a thanks for the reminder that we are all called to worship.

We walk to our corner and buy bread from the friendly bakers themselves.  They are always gentle and helpful.

We stop to buy our fruit and vegetables from a kindly man next door who, after a warm greeting, immediately introduces us to his family and friends who have gathered inside.  Only then do we start our business of buying the produce.  We are at home here.

So, how is it that all over the world, we read of Islamophobia:

We recent met with a Muslim Mullah here.  He had spoken publicly at the anti corruption demonstrations last year and was imprisoned.  He began his presentation here with a prayer and then, as part of his sharing, he spoke of the role of a Mullah in the demonstrations.   He sees the role of the Mullahas one of advising people, urgingthem to do what is ethically and morally right.  He told us that as religious people, Mullah's have to speak out.  Islam is against violence and oppression and therefore,  they mustbe courageous andstand togetherto protest it.  They are calledto bereformers, encouraging people to actively defend the human rights of all.   Religion teachesthat no one should oppress people, and religious leaders should be willing to place themselves at risk.   If they don't get involved in this and speak out, their prayer has no value!

During the demonstrations, he stood up publicly on the stage to protest the use of any violence. He called on government officials to protect all the people and for the armed militia to lay down their guns.  He called on all as students of the Qu'ran.  He spokepublicly against any use of force.  Later, because of his public statements, his house was broken into by masked gunmen.  He was kidnapped and thrown into prisonand tortured.  The people, together with NGO' s and various other organizations mobilized and put pressure on the authorities to release him.

As we listened to the Mullah, we realized that this isa man who speaks with authority, who seems to have no fear and who is living what he speaks.  As a religious leader, he strongly believes that this is the way for him.  I saw him gently defend his actions stating that one day he would be rewarded.  He told us that he can endure this because "I am ready for any suffering in order for people to live in justice.  I am ready"

So how is it that all over the world, we read of Islamophobia. 

By Rosemarie Millazo