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How to deal with the Muslim world

In a recent posting I lamented that the US does not soften threats to Iran with praise for its great tradition. My neighbor and good friend, the well-known microbiologist Sidney Raffel, says he has seen me angry only once: when he mentioned Salman Rushdie, author of Satanic Verses and the object of a fatwa demanding his death. He is normally portrayed as a victim of Muslim fanaticism. I view him as a bull rushing into the china shop of our difficult relations with the Islamic world. He travels with bodyguards, and, fearful of incidents, Air Canada has banned him from its flights all around the world. He gets scant pity from me.

The right approach to Islam was shown by Professor Jere Bacharach of the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Before a large audience, he gave a careful presentation of the history of the various trends in Islam. He could have a cordial exchange with Muslim scholars. He probably has.

Ronald Hilton - 3/20/02