I have been here in my country, Tanzania, for the last two months. In the last few days, I have been following the controversy raging in the USA around the idea of building a mosque near Ground Zero, New York.
As a Tanzanian, I am saddened by the ignorance and Islamophobia that I see among many Americans. Here in Tanzania, we have mosques, churches and other places of worship everywhere. We know they have a right to be there. At the University of Dar es Salaam, for example, the mosque and the church are only a few yards apart, and everyone is comfortable with that situation.
As a Christian, I am used to hearing the muadhin calling Moslems to prayer, from every mosque, before sunrise and at different times during the day. These broadcasts are so much part of my life here in Tanzania that I miss them when I am in the USA, where I teach. The ignorance and prejudice I have mentioned exists also in so-called Islamic countries, and it would quickly rear its head if someone tried to build a church there.
I listened to President Barack Obama's speech in support of the idea of the mosque near Ground Zero, and I felt happy to hear the US Government defending a basic human right.