Thankful to Live in a Pluralistic Society - By Dr.Javeed Akhter

Fence Post

Date: November 26, 2005
Publication: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Section: News
Page: 14

On this Thanksgiving Day, I reflect for a moment on what I, as a Muslim American, am most grateful for. Yes, the years after 9/11 have been stressful for Muslim Americans. Yet there are many things that I, living in America, have to be thankful for.

I am thankful for the pluralistic society that I live in. I don't mean some nebulous, abstract concept, but actual pluralism in action. Just last week, a visitor to my workplace would have noticed a physician-in-training who was going about her business wearing the Hijab. Along with her, in a different part of the hospital, was a student displaying a large red dot on his head, a proud symbol of his Hinduism, and another student with a full black beard and a turban, advertising his Sikh religion. The visitor would have run into one of my Jewish colleagues wearing a Yarmulke and many other associates displaying crosses of various shapes and sizes. They were all comfortable in their displays of religious identity and in working with each other; and there were many others in the hospital, who had no use for any public display of religion, but were accepting of others right to do so. This is because the pluralistic culture in the US is accepting of �the other.�

I am thankful that I am not in France, where religious symbols, in particular the Hijab, are banned from schools, or in Turkey, where a patient is denied medical assistance because she wears the Hijab.

I am thankful that I am not in China, where people do not have the right to practice their religion openly. I am thankful that in the US everyone can pray the way they want and wherever they want. I am thankful for the all the little things in our daily lives that we all take for granted. I am going to fight to preserve all that I am thankful for.


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