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Letter to the Editor: Countering fear-mongering and bigotry

To the editor:

A reader wrote that "Muslims are not willing to accept U.S. laws," which is an absolute statement and which further stokes fear and bigotry in some by implying that Sharia law will take over America. Every day in this country, Muslim Americans take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and defend our country. This includes everyone from Muslim members of Congress to Muslim members of the military who have fought and died in every war starting with the Revolutionary War defending our freedom.

The first mosque was built in Ross, ND, in 1929. But long before then, Muslims from Africa were brought over as slaves. It's thought that 20 percent of those slaves were Muslim and many were forced to convert to Christianity. Hopefully we have come a long way since then but we still have a long way to go. Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump have invited Muslims to dinner at the White House in celebration of Ramadan.

President Thomas Jefferson wrote that he intended his "Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom to Protect "the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan (Muslim), the Hindoo (Hindu), and the infidel of every denomination." Mr. Peter Manseau wrote an interesting article in the Smithsonian Magazine (1.31.2018) "Why Thomas Jefferson Owned a Qur'an: Islam in America dates to the founding fathers."

The Freer/Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., had a four-month exhibit this year on "the Art of the Qur'an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts." It was a beautiful exhibit visited by people of all races, religions, cultures and languages.

We have made some inroads to counter misinformation and falsehoods regarding Islam and Muslims but we still have a long way to go. Education and dialogue are key.

Gretchen Obert

Washington, D.C.

(Former Alexandria resident)