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Sharia followers aren't the problem, Newt is

In the wake of the horrible tragedy in Nice, France, Newt Gingrich has called for the deportation of Muslims who believe in the Sharia Law. So tell me, Mr. Gingrich, will you deport me when I say a prayer before I eat? When I give alms to the needy? Or when I greet my neighbor with a smile or take care of my sick parents? Tell me exactly how you plan to tease the Sharia out of me and millions of other Muslims living in the United States? Is this your plan to isolate us and expose us to discrimination?

It is a shame that a prominent political figure like yourself is completely ignorant of what Sharia even means. You have the power to influence minds and mold perceptions. Yet, all you have done is play into the hands of ISIS' narrative and incite citizens against one another. You have abused your power.

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It's people like you and Donald Trump we don't need in this country spewing vitriol. If you were truly interested in serving America, you would use your influence and intellect to bridge the gap of understanding among citizens and further the American value of tolerance, rather than foster bigotry.

But alas, Mr. Gingrich is not the only American who is ignorant about Sharia — a concept that has generated much fear and controversy over the last decade. It is true that some Islamic countries have distorted what Sharia means and have imposed harsh interpretations of the law to suit their own motives. But in reality, Sharia is a moral code that tells Muslims how to live. It sets out rules and regulations as to how we can worship God and how we can manage our financial and moral affairs to lead a just and equitable society.

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Islam tells us that loyalty to one's country is part of faith. What that means is that if the United States commanded me or any other Muslim-American to fight another nation, we would be religiously obligated to do so — even if that country happens to be Saudi Arabia where Islam is the predominant religion. We would be obligated to honor the laws of our country.

What Messrs. Gingrich and Trump are trying to do is distract people from the reality of Islam by focusing on a few harsh examples of Sharia and ignoring the rest of the Islamic teachings. In reality, their efforts will prove far more detrimental to peace and harmony in this country than anything else. At a time when we need to remain united to fight insurgency both at home and abroad, some of our political leaders are trying to create a huge ideological gulf between us.

As people, we may have our differences in faith, ethnicity and race, but at the end of the day, we are Americans. Our fight against extremism is the same. We all want to see ISIS and other extremist groups perish. We all share the same fears when it comes to protecting our families and our loved ones in these tumultuous times.

But before all of this, we are human beings who face similar struggles every single day. We cannot let the ignorance of Messrs. Trump and Gingrich take away our humanity and our will to do good unto one another. Let's challenge ourselves to be more open-minded. Let's invite each other to our places of worship so we can have dialogue and more understanding.

Let us show the world that Messrs. Gingrich and Trump will never, ever represent the true American values.

Huma Munir is a writer for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association; her email is humamunir1989@gmail.com.

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