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Copyright 2005 Pamela K. Taylor

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Why Don't They Speak Up?

I have heard over the past year and half many criticisms of moderate Muslims for not speaking out against terrorism, against extremists, against the draconian policies of Muslim states.  "Why," these voices cry, "are they silent?"

I will tell you why.  Yesterday, in Pakistan, a 40-year old writer, Fazal Wahab, was shot and killed.  Fazal was well-known for criticizing the Taleban.  Fatwas had been issued against him because he challenged the influence of conservative mullahs.  Last month, Fazal held a press conference appealing for assistance, and revealing the receipt of death threats.  The gunmen were so intent upon killing Fazal, that they sprayed the shop he was in with bullets, killing both the owner and a teenage worker.

In Iran, a moderate professor, Hashem Aghajari, was sentenced to death for remarks made in a speech.  The comments criticized conservative clergy and called for a protestant Islam. 

In Kashmir, an extremist group declared that all women were to wear burqas, and that any who did not do so, would be executed.  At last count, four women who dared violate this ban had been killed, two of them beheaded for the audacity of going out with a bare head.

I ask those who wonder why moderate Muslims do not speak up, would you, under those circumstances?

In the US, Muslims may not face such dire threats, and we have spoken out.  How many newspapers have covered it?  How many press releases from Muslim organizations have they printed?  How many have even mentioned Muslim reactions in a single line in articles covering terrorist actions, murders of Americans overseas, or events like the ones above?  How many Muslim columnists or journalists have they added to their staff?  How many letters like this have found their way to the circular file rather than the op-ed page? 

We are shouting, and still we cannot be heard.