Friday, 9 August 2013

Religious Intolerance and Orthodox Islam In the USA


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Fluent in Arabic and many other languages, Andrew Bieszad was considered a "unique addition" to the Masters program at Hartford Seminary because of what he describes as "my strong interest in and strong disagreement with Islamic teachings."

And so he proved to be. Although there were other Christians in the program, notably in the class on "interfaith dialogue," he claims to have been the only non-Muslim to say aloud, "I am Catholic and I do not believe in Islam."

Bieszad reports that he paid a heavy price for his forthrightness, being, by his account, routinely subjected to insults and threats by Muslim students. He writes that one student told him, "according to Islam you do not deserve to live." Bieszad claims that his detractors were not censured, either by professors or by other Christian students.

Conversion to Islam was encouraged, Bieszad writes; but Christian proselytism was forbidden. Christianity, Bieszad alleges, was taught in the context of homosexuality, class discrimination and women's liberation from patriarchal oppression. But in classes on Islam, he says, the professor never spoke of any "contextual" Koranic interpretation, let alone from a feminist, socialist or gay perspective.

When Bieszad brought his concerns to the administration, he says, he was accused of being "intolerant" of Islam, and ordered to show a "better understanding of Islam" as a solution.

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