"Using religion is very dangerous," said Muslim leader Mohammed Elmoctar. He is the Imam of Lubbock's only Mosque. A place of worship, surrounded by barbed wire. A reflection of fear, with new concerns raised by the war with Iraq. "About how this war will affect the relationships of Muslims and non-Muslims," he said.
For many Muslims, getting rid of Saddam takes a back seat to the issue of religion. "To be honest, many people in the Middle East see this war as a crusade," said Elmoctar.
A religious war? For most Americans, the very idea seems preposterous. After all, freedom of religion is one of our most cherished rights. In Lubbock alone there are nearly 200 churches. But last weekend, America witnessed brutal images of resistance to a crusade. And it wasn't from the business end of an Iraqi rifle, but from an attack by one of our own troops.
Sgt. Hasan Akbar, a Muslim-American soldier, threw three grenades into the tents of his comrades, killing two, wounding nearly a dozen more. He cited religion as his main motivating factor.
"Obviously, it's not a Christian/Muslim war," said Executive Pastor Dan Boyd of Lakeridge United Methodist Church. Reflecting on the challenge of waging war without conveying religious superiority. "The difficulty that we as Christians face is that we do follow one that is called the Prince of Peace. And therefore, reluctantly, you would say, for the greater peace of society and the world we have to make a decision to make this stand at this point in history," he said.
But making that message clear to Muslims will take far longer than the war. "Winning the war is easy, but winning peace will be difficult," said Elmoctar.