Friday, May 28, 2010

Peace starts with me:: Gulzar Ahmed

As a Muslim and as one born in Pakistan, it saddens me to see someone from that country engaging in a terrorist act, such as the one in Times Square a few days ago.

I'm thankful it was no one was hurt. And I hope that the guilty individual gets the maximum sentence under the law for his cowardly act.

As a long-standing American citizen and as a Muslim, I've engaged in promoting interfaith and interreligious understanding and acceptance. Peace is only possible when all peace-loving people work together to promote it. These types of individuals and their acts make our job ever more difficult.

For the many American citizens of Pakistani origin living in the Portland metropolitan area, it's incumbent upon us to come forward and condemn acts of terror in the strongest possible way. Our communities have to be willing to criticize ourselves and quit putting the blame on others. Let us not remain silent. A silent majority cannot allow an ideological minority to hijack the religion of Islam, which promotes peaceful coexistence among people of all faiths.

America is home to me now. She has given me a lot of opportunities. My children have grown up here and they have been able to get the best education possible. This area is full of beauty, but more than that there is beauty in the people living here. That beauty and sense of coexistence is manifested in every walk of life, in neighborhoods, in markets, in schools and in places of worship. I have been involved in interfaith activities where people are so open and eager to learn about the other. Where else would you find such openness, such benevolence?

And so when I see acts of violence perpetrated by people from the country where I was born, it saddens me. It makes me ashamed to have to explain why this has happened. I pray for peace. I hope that one day we human beings will live with each other without fear of violence and with genuine respect for each other, no matter what faith or background we happen to be. I firmly believe this is possible. I have faith in human beings. But it must start with us looking at our own actions and having the courage to be critical of what we do. It must start at a grass-roots level.

It must start with me.

Article by:
Gulzar Ahmed
The writer is a former member of the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia ( from Tualatin, Oregon.