A more appropriate title for the article “Santorum Blasts Radical Islamists” (THE HOYA, March 28, 2008, A1) would have been “Santorum Blasts Islam,” full stop. It is disappointing to see that people like former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who are expected to have a high level of education and knowledge equal to their high political status, continue to blindly “blast” the beliefs of more than a billion of the world’s inhabitants.

Santorum was quoted in the article to have said, “Radical Islamists do not come from outer space. They come from a belief system within the Muslim faith.” I beg to differ. Radical Islamists do not come from within the true Islamic faith; they breed out of the kind of venomous and ignorant rhetoric put out by people like Santorum, who clearly have no understanding whatsoever of Islam. If I, as a jeans-and-T-shirt-wearing, MTV-watching, McDonald’s eating Muslim, am outraged by Santorum’s comments, it doesn’t take the imaginative capacity of R.L. Stein to conjure up horror stories of what the reaction of some poor, uneducated, frustrated 18-year-old in the streets of a third-world Muslim country would be.

Rhetoric like Santorum’s is a treasure trove for the old brainwashers that call themselves protectors of the faith, who would rather see some unfortunate, unemployed and embittered young man be blown into bits for their cause rather than bothering their beards about it themselves. One may well imagine Santorum’s words coming, in a different context, straight from the mouth of Osama bin Laden – both men seem to believe that the Islamic faith inherently encourages violence, and both men are equally delusional. As any of the hundreds of multi-faith Hoyas who have studied first-level Arabic at Georgetown will be able to tell you, the word Islam in itself is derived from the root alphabets S, L and M, translated in the simplest terms as “peace.” Both Santorum and bin Laden may need to sit for a quick session in professor Kassem Wahba’s class to brush up on their awzaan al fa’al skills (for those of you who care, Islam is the Form IV masdar of S, L, M).

The former senator was said to have repeatedly mentioned that the Western world was of a “Christian model,” although it must be noted that he did once reconsider his words and proclaim the West to be the product of a “Judeo-Christian model,” an almost embarrassingly blatant attempt to appear somewhat politically correct. Forget political correctness – even if Santorum’s political awareness was above par, he would know that Islam is, and has been for a long time, the fastest-growing religion in not just the United States but the world over. One would hope that at some point or another, Santorum would realize that by so stoically defining the archetype of a whole hemisphere, he is not only alienating a potential lobby of millions of Muslims but is also raising the eyebrows of the millions of non-Muslim advocates of the separation of church and state. Santorum’s theocratic theories of the Western world may well evoke a “Sacré bleu!” from secular Sarkozy – or any other component of the rest of the Western world, for that matter.

Santorum further declared that “civil rights do not exist in the Islamic world.” As my fellow classmates in professor Joseph Murphy’s Problem of God class in the fall semester of 2007 would be able to tell you, half the Quran, particularly the Medinian verses, is dedicated to outlining the civil rights and civic duties of a Muslim. In a time period when Europe was immersed in the Dark Ages, Islam set the precedent in equality. While slaves were still being “broken in” in the Deep South at the turn of the century, Islam had long condemned such practices. Long before Henry VIII sought annulment for his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, the Quran set the rules for a fair and rightful divorce. Long before the suffragettes and the feminists, the Prophet Muhammad delivered a sermon declaring the equality of women and men. It would take Mr. Santorum a simple Google search, or if his busy schedule of Islamo-bash-ism would allow him, a quick skim through a translated copy of the Quran, to know these tidbits of information that I learned in a middle school history class (at an American school, may I add).

I hope that the 50-odd students who attended Santorum’s speech took it, at the very least, with a grain of salt. I have faith in the tolerance of a Hoya community in which just as many non-Muslims as Muslims attend an Iftaar dinner, where one Muslim Interest Living Community apartment hosts three Christians with just one Muslim roommate, where basketball fans of all different faiths come together to hate on a single enemy (Davidson), and where non-Muslim students outnumber Muslim students as Arab Studies majors. I have faith that the knowledge and cultural awareness of people like the ones I am surrounded by on this campus will be able to undo the damage caused by the ignorant ramblings of ignorant people in power.

eanwhile Santorum should seriously consider enrolling in Professor Wahba’s class. Allahu akbar.

Hijab Shah is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service and a sports editor for THE HOYA.

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