No announcement yet.

U.S. Official Suggests Funding Tolerant Imams

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    U.S. Official Suggests Funding Tolerant Imams

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior State Department official on Tuesday floated a proposal to fund Muslim imams who speak against ``terrorism'' and in favor of religious freedom.

    ``While many (Muslims) are speaking out against terrorism, it is not enough. ... We must continue to do more to challenge more Muslims abroad to speak out about the life-affirming values of their religion,'' Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky told a religious freedom commission.

    ``We must think outside the box and employ creative means to promote religious freedom. Here I think of funding Islamic scholars or imams or other Muslim voices,'' she added.

    Dobriansky, undersecretary for global affairs, did not elaborate on her proposal but a State Department official said she wanted to ensure that more Islamic scholars are included in U.S.-funded academic and cultural exchange programs.

    The United States believes in a strict separation between government and religious organizations, but the government can finance such scholars because the programs are not religious.

    The official, who asked not to be named, said: ``She's concerned that we make a greater effort that we reach these (Muslim) communities and these audiences. I think the aim would certainly be to support voices of tolerance in other countries and to encourage people to speak out in favor of tolerance.''

    Dobriansky said that in its ``war on terrorism,'' the United States would not abandon its traditional interest in human rights and religious freedom in other countries.

    But Washington has already shown signs that it will be more tolerant toward the behavior of Russian troops in Chechnya because of Russian cooperation against the al Qaeda organization of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden.

    Dobriansky said: ``We recognize that many of the victims of religious persecution abroad are Muslims. We also protest the treatment given Shi'a Muslims in Saudi Arabia and express concern about the religious dimension to human rights violations in India.

    ``In fact, we advocate religious freedom for Muslims around the world, such as in China, Chechnya and Burma (Myanmar).''

    She was speaking to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a presidentially appointed body that monitors religious freedoms.

    Commission chairman Michael Young told the meeting his commission was concerned the United States would compromise its commitment to religious freedom and other human rights in order to maintain international support for its war.

    ``We oppose such policy trade-offs. If we abandon our values to fight this battle, the terrorists already will have won,'' he said.

    funding pro-USA imams that is....if such imams can be called so at all..