Jack Durutti’s Oct. 4 letter, “‘Tolerance’ is a two-way street” (in reply to Muhammad Abu Yousuf’s Sept. 30 letter, “Article that showcases tolerance“), was spot-on. Setting up a shopping-mall prayer room for Muslims is indeed an act of tolerance to which no decent person would object.
It’s unfortunate, however, that such tolerance is not extended to other religions in much of the Muslim world. As Durutti pointed out so well, tolerance must be a two-way street.
In many Muslim countries, the public practice of religions besides Islam is forbidden. Churches, synagogues and other non-Muslim houses of worship are not allowed to be built. Christian minorities in predominantly Muslim areas are often heavily persecuted — not that Yousuf or his native Bangladesh are party to this repression. But it must be discussed as long as we’re on the topic of religious tolerance.
As for Islam’s prophet being depicted badly in various media recently, Yousuf has every right as a Muslim to object. Having said that, my religion (Roman Catholicism) is depicted badly in films, TV shows and other media all the time. We never see Catholics respond to it, however, by killing and rioting.
As Durutti said, Islam must coexist with other religions and worldviews, many of which highly respect freedom of speech — even when said speech hurts someone’s feelings.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.