What happens when an anthropologist who happens to be a Pakistani, a former diplomat and a member of the Incident Management Team of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security shows up at 100 American mosques armed with questionnaires and a few white student research assistants? For the most part, nothing very controversial.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, and nearly half of its people are Christians. They are often in conflict, sometimes violent conflict, with Muslims.
Some of the best coverage of the firing of National Public Radio news analyst Juan Williams has been NPR's own. But the broader conversation has quickly become a chorus of ridiculousness.
I travel to the Middle East at least once each year, often visiting multiple countries. I belong to an evangelical-Muslim discussion group which meets annually, and the participants include pious, brilliant, generous Muslim scholars whom I count as my friends. When a topic like "Islamophobic America" comes up, I share intense personal e-mails with them. But I came away from my trip to the Middle East this past summer with some new concerns.
I used to sit on the front porch with my grandmother, otherwise the gentlest, most unconditionally loving person in my young life, while she regaled me with stories about what was going on under the dome of the Roman Catholic cathedral one block away. They're storing guns in the basement, Grandma assured me, and I imagined that the windows in the dome were gunports through which "they" planned to fire on the rest of the city.