The Pope gives a speech in which he quotes a Byzantine emporer characterizing Muhammad’s teachings as “evil and inhuman” and referring to spreading Islam “by the sword.”
Offended Muslims all over the world protest the Pope’s speech by burning the Pope in effigy; participating in violent riots; firebombing churches; wounding and killing people; calling for the Pope’s assassination; declaring jihad; and vowing to continue to fight until the entire world is ruled by Islam and all non-Muslims are forced to convert to Islam, pay a head tax and live as dhimmis, or be executed.
A few Islamic leaders and organizations condemn the threats and violence perpetrated by their brethren, but most either remain silent or openly encourage them.
Is it any wonder that non-Muslims throughout the world have become increasingly dubious of claims that Islam is a “religion of peace?”
Violent Christians are on the radical fringe of Christianity. Violent Jews are on the radical fringe of Judaism. Violent Muslims are part of maintream Islam.
Perhaps there are peaceful Muslims. If so, then there can be only two reasons why they do not speak out against the violence perpetrated by their coreligionists — either they support it, or they are afraid. There can be only two reasons why they do not put a stop to the violence — either they don’t want to, or they can’t. If those who share a religion with the people committing violence in its name are afraid, then all the more so those who do not share that religion must fear it. If those who share a religion with the people committing violence cannot make it stop, then those who do not share that religion must put a stop to it.
Click on the cartoon to read another take on this.
Check out the rather scathing portrayal of Islam at http://www.flex.com/~jai/satyamevajayate/index.html.
Tolerance: A Two-Way Street
By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
Friday, September 22, 2006; Page A17
Religious fanatics, regardless of what name they give their jealous god, invariably have one thing in common: no sense of humor. Particularly about themselves. It’s hard to imagine Torquemada taking a joke well.
Today’s Islamists seem to have not even a sense of irony. They fail to see the richness of the following sequence. The pope makes a reference to a 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s remark about Islam imposing itself by the sword, and to protest this linking of Islam and violence:
Click on the cartoon to read another take on this.
“So I’m interested in what can be done to make more Muslims find it politically expedient to not cooperate with terrorists.”
Honestly, I’ve lost hope that anything can be done. As you yourself noted, Muslims who oppose their violent brethren tend to wake up dead.
I’m not terribly convinced that what Bush and Co. are doing is going to help the spread of peaceful Islam, but on the flip side, I’m not terribly convinced that there’s anything else they could be doing which would be more successful.
And no, I don’t for a minute buy the argument put forth by some that the only reason why the Muslims hate us is because we oppress them, and if we stop oppressing them, they’ll stop hating us. The Oslo Accords handed the PLO pretty much everything they could possibly want, and their response was the second Intifada. Giving in on any issue is perceived by these people as a sign of weakness, and it just emboldens them to fight harder to win more concessions.
Israel’s unilateral withdrawal plan is the closest thing I’ve seen to an idea that has potential. Build big walls and let them stew behind them until they’re ready to play nicely with the rest of the world. The problem is that while that might work on the relatively small scale of the West Bank and Gaza, it’s hardly feasible to “contain” al-Qiada, for example.
“Maybe some of these condemnations were based on political expediency. But if you admit that, then you have to admit that when a man with influence in the Muslim world endorses terrorism, then maybe he is also motivated by political expediency.”
No, I don’t have to admit that. Although there are plenty of cases of Muslim leaders condemning terrorism when speaking to the world at large while supporting or encouraging it when speaking to their followers, I’ve yet to see a Muslim leader preach in favor of terrorism in public while opposing it in private.
There is one reason why a Muslim leader might endorse terrorism without really believing it. That reason is not political expediency, it’s fear. And that goes back to what I wrote before — if Muslim leaders are afraid of their terrorist brethren, then surely we should be too!
I followed the links on a few of the 9/11 decisions, and the tenor of the argument seemed to be “you’re not allowed to kill civilians and private individuals are not allowed to decide for themselves when it’s appropriate to wage war”. Those arguments would apply equally well to the recent attacks on churches. I don’t know of any Muslim leaders who have specifically condemned the attacks on churches, but I don’t know of any who specifically encouraged them, either.
Maybe some of these condemnations were based on political expediency. But if you admit that, then you have to admit that when a man with influence in the Muslim world endorses terrorism, then maybe he is also motivated by political expediency.
So I’m interested in what can be done to make more Muslims find it politically expedient to not cooperate with terrorists.
I’m not talking about 9/11, I’m talking about the Pope’s speech. Where’s the long list of Muslim “leaders, scholars and ordinary folks” condemning the violence and killings that it sparked?
I’m sure some of those Muslims who condemned 9/11 were sincere. I’m also sure that many of them did it out of nothing more than political expediency. Frankly, Islamic leaders have earned a bit of a reputation for themselves for speaking out of both sides of their months. What they say to the world in English is frequently radically different from what they said to their followers in Arabic.
Judaism, too, does not have a unified decision-making body, but you don’t see Jews threatening to take over the world and slaughter all non-believers every time any world leader says something anti-Semitic.
Muhammed made no bones about the fact that he was bent on world domination. The Koran makes no bones about the fact that the ideal state to be strived for is a world governed by Islam.
The fact that the Algerian, Egyptian, and Syrian goverments and others have had to take such drastic action to put down radical Islam in their midst has nothing to do with whether Islam can or will police itself, because those governments’ actions were motivated not by Islam but rather by a desire to preserve their own power. Governments in the Middle East are afraid of their Islamic population exactly because so many of them are bent on violence.
You can debate all the philosophy you want, but what I’m seeing are facts on the ground. How much violence was perpetrated by Jews when the President of Iran declared that Israel should be wiped off the map? How much violence was perpetrated by Christians when al-Qiada declared that Christianity was doomed and Islam would take over the world? Compare and contrast: How much violence has been perpetrated by self-avowed faithful Muslims since the Pope quoted a centuries-dead scholar in a speech in which he also said that he disagreed with the scholar’s words?
Here is a long list of links to condemnations of the 9/11 attacks by Muslim leaders, scholars, and ordinary folks. Here is a list of prominent Muslim scholars who condemned bin Laden in particular.
To quote from that second page: “The Algerian government fought a virtual civil war to put down political Islam, in which over 100,000 persons died. The Egyptians jailed 20,000 or 30,000 radicals for thought crimes and killed 1500 in running street battles in the 1990s and early zeroes. Al-Qaeda can’t easily strike in the Middle East precisely because Syria, Egypt, Algeria, etc. have their number and have undertaken massive actions against them.”
PS: “Islam” (unlike “Catholicism”) is not a corporation with a unified decision-making body. One can claim that Muslims are statistically more or less likely than other people to be peaceful (although I’m not sure how, as a practical matter, one can figure that out); one can claim that a proper interpretation of Islamic religious texts does or does not endorse violence (although whichever way you argue, there are obviously lots of people who call themselves Muslim who disagree). But to say that Islam is or is not a “religion of peace” is either too vague to communicate anything useful, or it’s a category error.
PPS: Interesting article from the New Yorker about a Sudanese fellow who promoted a moderate form of political Islam. He was martyred (surprise surprise), but his ideas are becoming more popular.
The United States is, as far as I can tell, the only country in the world where Muslim leaders or organizations have condemned the violence. And frankly, who cares, since as you point out, American Muslims are not the ones perpetrating it? Why aren’t any of the Muslim leaders in countries where the violence is taking place condemning and putting a stop to it?
Perhaps the Muslims were once oppressed by Western imperialism, but nobody’s oppressing them anymore. Furthermore, they’re not just talking about throwing off the yoke of some imagined oppression. They’re talking about TAKING OVER THE WORLD.
If you believe the Bible, Judaism was once a rather violent religion with visions of world dominance. Christianity was also once a very violent religion with visions of world dominance. Judaism got over it. Christianity got over it. Islam hasn’t gotten over it. The difference between the “phase” that Islam is going through and the one that Judaism and Christianity went through is that when they were going through their phase, there was no such thing as weapons of mass destruction.
Militant Islam is a threat to the entire world. They prove it every time they erupt into world-wide violence in response to a slight, imagined or otherwise. They prove it every time they kill innocent people and claim that it was the will of God.
If there is indeed a peaceful Islam, then its adherents need to do something about violent Islam if they want the world to view Islam as the “religion of peace” they claim it is. There really are “Islamofascists.” They really are “evil and inhuman,” and they really do want to take over the world through violence.
It is a mistake to interpret the selective response of some Muslims from certain areas of the world as representative of the whole of Islam. There are conservatively 1.8 million Muslims in the United States, and yet I don’t see any burning cars or rioters shouting “Death to the Pope!” here.
The response to the Pope’s inappropriate comments were more governed by the culture of the areas than by any deep-rooted core of violence in the Islamic religion. Nearly all of the countries plagued by this violence were, at one time, regions conquered through European imperialism. They were invaded my missionaries trying to subvert their religion and culture. And finally they were arbitrarily carved up into disparate countries whose new governments had to struggle to contain the conflicting groups.
In their eyes, the leader of the Catholics diss’d their prophet, of whom they are very protective, and his anything-but-an-apology demeanor has been read as the ‘western world’ once again looking upon them with condescension and disdain. Of course they are upset. And their culture, not their religion, tells them how to respond.