SEE FLYER HERE: http://www.montrealmuslimnews.net/flyer.jpg
By WAVENEY ANN MOORE
St. Petersburg Times (Tempa Bay)
Published January 28, 2007
Joel Harper couldn't believe his eyes. The piece of paper that hung on his front door didn't advertise the usual pizza deal or offer to trim his trees. Rather, it was selling a message of hate in the name of God.
It accused Muslims of stockpiling anthrax in America and smuggling suitcase-sized nuclear bombs across the Mexican border. If the worst happened, it asked, "Are you prepared for eternity? If this tragedy happened today, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?"
Harper, a disabled Army veteran, said the vitriolic message upset him and his wife. She jumped into their car to try to find the 20-something-year-old they had seen with a stack of the yellow fliers but had no luck.
"We're having enough trouble around the world with hatred and stuff," Harper said. "They're trying to scare people to Jesus, to church, instead of doing it the right way."
The fliers that made their appearance in Harper's Seminole neighborhood, in the 8400 block of 76th Avenue N, about two weeks ago, gave no clue about their origin.
"You'd think they would be proud of what they're doing, but it just seems strange that they wouldn't fess up to who they are," Harper said.
The Seminole city manager's office said Friday it had received no calls about the fliers.
Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Tampa Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was concerned about the "hateful content and the fact that somebody is actively going door to door to circulate this bigotry in the name of Jesus."
Islamophobic propaganda has increased across the country, he said.
"However, this is the first time we've learned about this type of door-to-door propaganda," he said. "What if it was a Muslim home? Will that cause a confrontation? ... How would the neighborhood start looking at their Muslim neighbors when they get that type of propaganda?"
Such messages are dividing America "along ethnic and religious lines, which is contrary to the message of Jesus," Bedier said.
Charles Kimball, a Baptist minister and professor of comparative religion at Wake Forest University who was invited to talks with the Iranian government during the 444-day hostage crisis, said he hadn't heard about "this particular tactic" before, but he described it as a combination of two things.
"One, we see there's an anti-Muslim sentiment that some say is growing in the land. The other is there are more and more examples of evangelical and fundamental Christians looking for ways to frighten people," he said. "Anything to compel people that you may not be alive in 24 hours. This sounds like something right out of the TV show 24. And the rationalization is that anything that opens people's eyes to the message that they are delivering is justifiable."
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at 892-2283 or email@example.com.