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Let Religious Hatred Be Not Forgotten

January 16, 2022

The New York Times  reports that “Malik Faisal Akram, 44, was identified by the F.B.I. on Sunday as the man who took four people, including a rabbi, hostage on Saturday morning at a service at Congregation Beth Israel.”

A much criticized policy of blocking emigration of Syrians to the U.S. by the Trump Administration was appreciated by descendants of Armenian Christians who fled the 1915 genocide of Armenians living in Turkey.

Religious minorities in countries denominated by religious majorities face the same difficulties as racial minorities in the U.S. They learn ways not to offend their neighbors.

A recent example of three white men found guilty of felony murder in November in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was running in their neighborhood, raises this question: why admit Muslims into a country where Muslims do not live?

While in Pittsburgh attending a Greek Orthodox wedding, I encountered several Muslim women completely covered in black chador. The policy of accommodating Syrian refugees by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf was addressed by his office in November 2015 by these words:

“While details are still emerging regarding the individuals responsible for the heinous attacks in Paris, all of those responsible committed atrocious acts and must be brought to justice. We must not lose sight of the fact that families leaving Syria are trying to escape the same violence and unimaginable terror that took place in Paris and Beirut.”

The cantor at the Greek Orthodox wedding seemed surprised when I called attention to this influx of Syrians into the “burg.” I was the exception as no other attendees found that unusual. Greece was once part of the Ottoman Empire, however, and tensions between Muslims and Christians in Greece are not forgotten.

Nor should we Americans.

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