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An apology to Muslims for celebration that never happened
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This is an apology.

Earlier this month a letter from a reader appeared on this page that stated in no uncertain terms that Muslims had celebrated outside of their Manteca Prayer Center on Sept. 11, 2001 when the jetliners were flown into the World Trade Center.

That simply wasn’t the case.

The prayer center at the time was located just half a block away from the Manteca Bulletin on Fremont Avenue. Everyone in the office was acutely aware of that. No one – not a neighbor, not the businesses next door – reported seeing any type of celebration that day.

That reference should have been edited out or accompanied by an editor’s note saying why it wasn’t true.

By chance on the morning the terrorist attack occurred, the Bulletin carried on the front page a story about the new Sikh worship center on Woodward Avenue just east of Airport Way. We received at least four calls from people accusing us of being insensitive for running the story with one caller going as far as saying we were in cahoots with the terrorists.

It was rumor mongering at its worst. First, the Sept. 11, 2001 edition of the Bulletin was printed at 2 a.m. that day before the attack occurred. Second – and most important – the Sikhs had nothing to do with the terrorists. It didn’t matter to some. It was the same wrong-headed thinking that led to the forced detention of American citizens who were of Japanese descent during World War II but not Americans who were of German descent.

It was out of fear that Americans who were Japanese had an allegiance to the emperor just like Americans who are Muslim have an allegiance to extremists in their faith.

This entire debate over religious freedom is a bit too much to take sometimes with the situational ethics played by both sides.

First, those Christians who slam other faiths by implying they’re not protected under the constitution have a funny way of interpreting the line, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”

It doesn’t say “Christianity.” It says “religion.” True, the historical context of the time was the battle that had been waged in England by the governed establishing The Church of England because Rome didn’t kowtow to the king, the government essentially created a break-away church – The Church of England.

It also must be remembered, though, that a number of the framers of the constitution were Freemasons, an organization that didn’t hold much favor with a number of established Christian churches. So to believe the constitution was only referring to Christianity in the purest form as interpreted by those who believe they represent the truest form of Christianity is a tad of a stretch.

At the same time it is disturbing to see some of those who chose to persecute Mormons during the Proposition 8 campaign two years ago to be so outspoken against those protesting the mosque and community center proposed near Ground Zero in New York City and the knucklehead idea of burning the Quran.

They astutely point out that there are extremists in all religions – Muslims and Christianity included – which makes it irresponsible to paint all those trying to block the mosque as religious bigots.

Some of those same people attacking the anti-mosque sentiment had no problem slamming the Mormons in the 2008 election by claiming they were all polygamists based on a tiny splinter group of Mormons.

And when it comes to persecution by the government – or anyone else for that matter – based on religious grounds in America nobody has yet to top the wrongful acts backed by Congress against the Mormons in the 19th century including President James Buchanan dispatching the Army to quell a non-existent rebellion. Congress also backed loyalty oaths to keep Mormons out of jobs. Laws were passed forbidding some Mormons from voting holding office, or owning property.

It’s not just some who are religious that have to do a better job at being tolerant. It is also those who attack religions such as Christianity for being intolerant at times when they themselves as an accuser are guilty of the same behavior when the situation suits them.

We don’t need prejudice and fear judging religion regardless of whether it’s western- or eastern-based or anything in between.