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Published:September 16th, 2009 12:10 EST
Dangerous Sign of the Times: Bashing Islam

Dangerous Sign of the Times: Bashing Islam

By SOP newswire2

The school year started off with an unpleasant bang in Gainesville, Fla., when a fifth-grader showed up on the first day wearing a T-shirt with "Islam is of the Devil" inscribed on the back.

Administrators sent the 10-year-old home to change clothes. But the next day several other students at two high schools and a middle school arrived wearing the same message. All were told to cover it up or go home.

Right Wing Mentor and Child

The local church responsible for the T-shirt, Dove World Outreach Center, is unapologetic about the school campaign. Church members had already erected a sign on church property proclaiming "Islam is of the Devil" to passersby. According to the pastor, the church has a Christian duty to expose Islam as a "violent and oppressive religion." "

It`s impossible to measure the effect of anti-Islam rhetoric on those who take it to the next level and commit acts of violence. But we do know that attacks targeting Muslim Americans are a significant problem across the country. Last month, for example, a Philadelphia business owned by Muslim Palestinian-Americans was ransacked and covered with angry graffiti telling the owners to "go home." And in Smithtown, N.Y., a man was arrested for threatening to kill a Muslim mother and her daughter and trying to run them down with his car. Both incidents are being investigated as hate crimes.

Back in Gainesville, some local residents living near Dove World are countering the anti-Islam message by speaking up for their Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens. Soon after the first sign went up in July, an interfaith group of Christians, Jews and others gathered in front of the church to protest intolerance and call for mutual respect.