Wednesday, President George W. Bush finally confronted the Christian right by denouncing anti-Islamic statements made by leaders such as Pat Robertson. While it is good the president is publicly denouncing the remarks, he should have spoken up sooner.
Since Sept. 11, Muslims have faced public attacks on their religion by members of the Christian right. Most notable were the remarks made by Jerry Falwell in October. Falwell made the comment that Muhammad, the most respected prophet of Islam, was a terrorist. The comments enraged Muslims and even sparked a riot in India that left five people dead and at least 50 injured. He eventually issued an apology, but by then damage had already been done.
There are at least one billion Muslims in the world, and understanding them is important. President Bush has started Americans down a good path by noting that the “vast majority of American citizens respect the Islamic people and the Muslim faith.” Bush is correct about that, and while his message may be late, it is not so late that people cannot re-address how they interact or view Islam and Muslims in general.
The holiday season is already in full swing, and it is a good time for reflection on all the world’s religions and a time to celebrate peace and good cheer. The president has made a good step in promoting tolerance, hopefully other Americans will follow, especially those in influential positions with the power to sway public opinion.