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Islam as a progressive force
by Michel Hoebink
In the United States, freedom of expression is a fundamental right, guaranteed by the constitution. That's great, of course, but when everyone's free to speak their minds the quieter voices are sometimes drowned out by the radical shouters. Iraqi-American Zainab al-Suwaij gave moderate Muslims a voice in the polarised American debates that followed the 9/11 attacks. To many, she's a hero of free speech.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 gave Islam a bad press in the United States, and American Muslims were put on the defensive. Unhappy about this polarisation, Zainab al-Suwaij and some others established the American Islamic Congress (AIC) with the aim of promoting religious dialogue and tolerance. "Why should religious differences divide us? We did not want to let that happen. We had to focus on what we had in common. The attacks of 9/11 were also an attack on us, American Muslims."
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