Mohammad Ali Salih, Washington, “Asharq Alawsat”:


Last month I wrote an opinion in “The Philadelphia Enquirer” titled: “I am Muslim First, Arab Second, American Third.”  I received many responses, and published some of them.

Last week, “The Baltimore Sun” published the same opinion. I also received many responses.  These are some of them, for the sake of a wider discussion:


After reading your very interesting commentary in “The Baltimore Sun” my first thought was--- of course, you would be Muslim first, Arab second, American third.  My grandparents on my father’s side came from
Italy and when I was a very young boy. There was no mistake that my grandparents were--Catholic first, Italian second, American third.


America was established based on Judeo-Christian values. That's why Muslims will never be true American -  just as you assert. 

Stan Janiak
, Colorado

I am a middle age White Catholic. I feel that anyone of any religion who places his religion ahead of his country is a traitor and any group that does so should be forbidden to enter. 

I have personally written to Catholic leaders to tell them to stay out of politics.  I know no Christian who would listen to the Pope or some other figure above our country.

To be here you should be AMERICAN first and if you have a problem with a policy, work to change it but religious fanatic of any faith are unneeded and unwanted.

YOU are wrong in your loyalties.



I have no problem with your train of thought. That is what America is all about. Your article is well reasoned and that's about all I ask when looking at all sides of an issue.

However, the problem people like me have is when 9/11 happened, (and just about any other terror attack) there is no loud and unified condemnation of the attack.  It's like there is almost a low murmur of approval and it's typically the apologists that make the airwaves.

David Schauer


I enjoyed your article in “The Baltimore Sun.”  I certainly understand how one's faith would take a pre-eminent role over one's nationality, particularly as a first generation immigrant.  Although I find your position discernable, I am interested in the reconciliation a follower of Islam must make with the cultures of a nation like the United States. I am no expert in Islam or Muslim beliefs.  I have only thumbed through the Quran and read a few first texts on the faith.



Your article was very moving.

When people like you come here to worship freely, it continues our great tradition.  I think it is so very sad that someone would use religion as a basis for destroying this freedom, or oppressing people. 

Perhaps you cannot see it readily, but most Americans wish to help Muslims like you to be free of those who would use your religion as an excuse for evil.  It is similar to the way we condemn the groups who preach supremacy of a certain race. 

Thank you for writing your sincere feelings.  This perspective is not understood by all.  I hope you will continue to give readers a window into the lives of Muslim and Arab Americans.

Carolyn Guist


Your article in “The Baltimore Sun” today is perhaps the best expression of a person's philosophy of life I have ever read.  If we could all come to such a view, what a different world we would have. 

As a Catholic I, too, see my relationship with God as primary.  I would only add that I am a human being first (which may be seen as implicit in your priority).

Please continue to help us, Americans, to understand more of your views, particularly of Islam.

Richard Irwin

Wolcott, Connecticut





I found your column very moving--one of the best pieces I have read in a long time. 
Judy Nall


I just finished reading your recent piece, and wanted to let you know I found it reassuring.  With all the noise in the world over this subject, it is good to know that there are still reasonable people of good character out there.  I hope this note finds you well, and you have my best wishes.
David DeZwaan


While I will admit to being wary of many things Islamic, I have never understood the relevance of people identifying themselves as members of their respective religions first and members of a political group second.

Mat Burns


It's possible that your priorities of being a Muslim 1st, Arab 2nd, and American 3rd don't make you any less American- but then you would be an exception.  In that very same Pew Poll you referenced in your piece, 26% of American Muslims ages 18-29 supported suicide bombings "in defense of Islam". 

Does that sound American to you?

I'm also quite certain that the beating of women and decapitation of "infidels" is not an American value.  Yet when these atrocities occur on a daily basis in the Arab world, Muslim Americans are inexplicably silent.  Your silence breeds distrust.  Coupled with the above statistic, many Christian Americans are left to think that Muslims Americans either agree to the atrocities or are too afraid to take a stand.

John Adcock 


I'm not religious.  I was raised as a Catholic and my uncle is a priest.  At 7 years of age, I started to observe that most religions are the product of men, not a supreme being, and don't make sense.

A person who kills or hurts someone else, by definition, can't have any sort of meaningful Supreme Being in mind. In those cases, they have defiled their religion and should lose the right to feel protection from it.

In your column you indicate that you identify with your religion first, then your heritage, and finally your country.  

That is certainly OK, but promotes a certain point of view, that I don't think is helpful. 

Perhaps this is because religion is not important to me.  My personal morality is extremely important to me, and I'm willing to compare my actions in that area, against anyone there is, religious or not, and that's where I think most people lose their way.

Henry Harriman 

I love Italian food. I love vacations in
Italy I love the Italian people. I
have a natural, instinctive affinity for Italians. I think Italian women are the most beautiful in the world, albeit the craziest. Even Italian-Americans, who I don't like, I have a "familiarity" with them that I don't have with German-Americans or Spanish-Americans, etc.
But if the moment came to choose between religious affiliation, or ethnic
affiliation, or national affiliation, my decision would be instantaneous: I
am an American, first, foremost, and above all other considerations.
, New Jersey


Thank you for your beautiful article. 

I am a Christian first, but I know that, on a separate scale, America deserves our foremost allegiance because America is the reason that I can practice my religion openly and securely. America has been called the great melting pot and that is because even though we all come from different backgrounds and cultures WE MELT INTO ONE PEOPLE with a common love for America.

I love what Patrick Henry, an American hero said: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here". 

Deane Dradzinski

Highland, California


This article explains why this “American” guy views himself as Muslim First, Arab Second, and American Third.

It strikes me that the guy is really neither a true Moslem (he rejects Sharia) nor a true American.  He is smart enough to realize that his native culture is Arabic and he is Arabic before he is American because Arabic culture demands that he be a Moslem.  And, of course, as he says, he is a Moslem FIRST.

He benefits from America’s Enlightenment ideals (freedom to be a Moslem according to his own lights) without ever taking responsibility to have to defend that Enlightenment ideal to others. 

David D. Haley


I read with interest your provocative essay on "Muslim First, Arab Second, American Third", and I agree with what you said, regarding the comparison with Christian priorities.

It's what you didn't mention that concerns me more.  Pew also found that 15% of younger Muslims could justify suicide bombings, and 7% supported Al Queda.  I seriously doubt that a similar percentage of American Christians would support these tactics.  If 7% of those under 30 support Al Queda and suicide bombings, that's a lot of potentially explosive problems, from a population of 2.35 million of Muslims in the US. 

G. Wesley Clark, MD


The problem is that the barbaric treatment of women and infidels by “the religion of peace” is not compatible with OUR Christian based value system.
Tolerance is fine. Immigration is fine. But, when you come here, if you don't want to play by our rules and values, then leave.

T. Telltalk


I read and much appreciated your moving opinion piece (Muslim First, Arab Second…). 

As a Christian, I agree with what you say; my faith must come first.  Luckily, here in America there is little conflict between following my Lord and living within the laws of my country.  But if there is a conflict, I know what must come first.

You are very brave to say much of what you have said.  I had to smile at your reference to “medieval Sharia scholars.”  I know that there are extremists in your faith who would renounce you or even threaten you for some things you have said and done. 

May God Bless You!

Greg Padgett



I read your article today, and take your points.  I guess all I can say is that you have pointed out exactly what separates me and you: I am an American first (my worldview of facts and morality for day-to-day human affairs), my spirituality comes second (I admit it is based on Faith,), and I am a Slovak third (my ancestry is not to be forgotten, but it is, after all, ancestry).

Thanks for pointing out your views.  It didn't reassure me, but at least it was honest. 



I read with interest the article and its succinct points and for the most part agree with a lot of what you say.

I have one question for you from myself and a lot of my friends.

Where is the outrage from the Muslim community about the Radical Muslims who are giving you such a bad name and causing so much strife around the world?

I don't hear it or see it anywhere, where is it? Are you too afraid of this Radical element of yours?

Larry Motter

Ocean City, Maryland


I enjoyed your article and I must apologize for my fellow Americans and some of the hateful mail you must have received by now.  I would hope that none of the haters called themselves "Christians" but I'm certain many probably did.

I didn't find your positions surprising at all. Being an Arab is not like being an American necessarily; it's more like a race than a nationality although the French might argue that point.

I believe that to become a true American, you would need to renounce all foreign allegiances, but obviously not your racial identity. Being an Arab in today’s world does have its political ramifications, but that's not the purpose of my correspondence.

Where I was intrigued was your comfort with worshipping in a Methodist church.   

Kevin Courtney

Wednesday's editorial “Muslim first, Arab second, American third” surprisingly moved me to tears at one part:  “Christianity and Western civilization is at the core of what makes
America tick.”

I have never, ever, heard anyone pays a compliment to the Christian religion in this country, not even Christians.  I am Catholic and it moved me that someone not Christian would find that spirit of humbles and giving, inspired by the teachings of Jesus.  Thank you for being the first person to affirm what I always think I felt in my heart.

I have thought about this and cannot figure out if it is because the media is largely Jewish and/or owned and ran along Atheists. 

I think I am odd in that I actually like Islam and Muslims even better now than before 9/11.  

Why?  Because now I have been working 6 years to try and learn and understand about them, whereas before they were simply unknowns, living in a far away land.
May Allah Bless and Be with You always, thanks again,
Mary Regina Giles