Muslims protest portrayal as violent by committing acts of violence.

One thing I did want to take a moment to comment on is the idiocy that’s taking place in the Muslim world over the Pope’s latest speech in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who criticized Islam for using violence as a means of spreading the faith. I found it somewhat amusing that so many Muslims are pissed off about being depicted as a violent religion and are showing their displeasure by engaging in acts of violence:

Earlier Sunday in the West Bank, two churches were set on fire as anger over the pope’s comments grew throughout the Palestinian territories.

In the town of Tulkarem, a 170-year-old stone church was torched before dawn and its interior was destroyed, Christian officials said. In the village of Tubas, a small church was attacked with firebombs and partially burned, Christians said. Neither church is Catholic, the officials said.

Palestinian Muslims hurled firebombs and opened fire at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Saturday to protest the Pope’s comments, sparking concerns of a rift between Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

Note to any Muslims who might have trouble grasping the irony of the above: It doesn’t do anything to convince people your religion is not a violent one when you respond to such accusations by engaging in acts of violence. It just makes you look stupid and/or hypocritical. Grow the fuck up already.

93 thoughts on “Muslims protest portrayal as violent by committing acts of violence.

  1. I hadn’t quite thought of it that way, Les but you’re right. It IS ironic, and odd that no one has brought the issue up when they bring in Muslim leaders to criticize the comment.

    Even though it is clear that the behavior of some Muslims have done the same thing, it would be only fair to point out that the pope’s comments/quote constitute a vast over-generalization that encourages people to think in terms of stereotypes, fosters divisiveness, and promotes hatred.

    Guess he isn’t so infallible, after all. wink

  2. Consigliere,

    I’m not in any way justifying or excusing the conduct of Muslims who behaved this way—nor am I saying that we should suppress free speech. However, I am simply saying that the pope’s comments were inappropriate for a world leader and highly divisive. Since some Catholics take his word as emanating out of the mouth of God himself, his comments were (at a minimum) extremely ill-advised.

    He’s apologized and that should be the end of it, but since he was talking about a religious group that is dominant in many countires that still subscribe to a tribal and survival culture, the fall out is exactly what you might expect. This intelligent, educated pope should know that and shouldda known better.

  3. To be honest, I’m not sure what the Pope was apologizing for.  Telling the truth?  Catholicism seems to have gotten traction and been able to pull out of the century in which Islam is currently stuck.

  4. Dof, In my opinion, the pope has apologised for exactly what he should apologise for—upsetting people. He’s certainly entitled to a personal view, but when he speaks in a public forum, for all intent and purposes, for many people in the world, he speaks with the voice of the Christian God. This is something entirely different from drawing sketches that express a personal and individual view.

    With all due respect to Les, I would argue that it isn’t sufficient to look at people from a tribal culture and tell them to “grow the fuck up.” That approach hasn’t proven to be very useful anywhere in the world where western and tribal cultures have met head-on.

  5. NOTE TO ALL MUSLIMS.  YOU JUST DESTROYED A CHURCH THAT DOESN’T AGREE WITH THE POPE.  WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID!?! 

    Our media should start mocking stupid Muslims for doing things like this.  …Or we should find some other way of letting them know they’re idiots.

    I didn’t really know anything about the Muslims before The War.  …Now I know a bit about them, and I think I respected them A LOT MORE before I did.

    Are all Muslims stupid, or just most of them?

  6. I would like to ask the pope what purpose his comments served?  Why try to infuriate people?  What is the purpose?  The real problem here is religions not being acceptant of other religions.  Understand that people have differing opinions and move on.  The only reason I can see for a justification of the pope’s comments is to create the reaction that it created.  To prove legitimacy of one religion over another.  What a waste of time and energy!

  7. Shelly, read the text of the Pope’s speech; it was a scholarly call for the cessation of violent coercion that once characterized the Catholic church and still characterizes Islam.  With some quibbles I would say what the Pope said was broadly true; need he apologize for telling the truth?  Must leaders avoid telling the truth so no one will be upset? 

    Those who distorted his words to imflame the ignorant need to apologize.  And those who brandish the sword over words need to apologize, and lay down the sword.

  8. Dof—Thank you. I’ve now read the full speech. I’m not quibbling with the message in general, and as I said, I don’t think that the pope needs to apologise for telling the truth. I do think that his argument would have been complete without this specific quote and that the quote could have been predicted to lead to yet more violence and divisiveness.

    Yes, it is a scholarly argument, but it was inevitable that the quote would be used to inflame an already tense situation. I’d agree that those who used his words to “inflame the ignorant” should apologise, but the pope threw the weapon in their hands and they’ve demonstrated on any number of occasions that they believe that end result justifies all means.

    We now have Muslims rioting and burning churches and Non-Muslims asking whether all Muslims are “stupid.” Is that useful or productive or likely to lead to reasonable dialogue on the topic?

    The message about non-violence somehow needs to be heard by the very people committing these acts, and if the pope’s intent was to encourage scholarly Muslims to raise the issue of violence and faith, he has made it nearly impossible for them to do so.

  9. if the pope’s intent was to encourage scholarly Muslims to raise the issue of violence and faith, he has made it nearly impossible for them to do so.

    Shelly, at the risk of belaboring the point, he is not the one who has made it impossible to raise the issue.  That liability accrues exclusively to the terrorists.  The quote he used is both relevant and as true today as when it was first spoken. 

    What the pope said needs to be expressed by people everywhere each in their own perspective.  Granting censorship to the irony-immune because they may become violent really hands them the victory. 

    I see your point, but I disagree with it.

  10. Shelly, at the risk of belaboring the point, he is not the one who has made it impossible to raise the issue…The quote he used is both relevant and as true today as when it was first spoken.

    Ditto.

  11. Shelley, your reasoning seems to go like this:

    Islam has an unquestioned history of violence.  At times, Islam still utilizes violence to get its way.  That is a problem today.  We can’t talk about that problem because some Muslims will get mad and become violent. 

    Let’s see if that logic holds:

    Johnny has an unquestioned history of violent temper tantrums.  At times, Johnny still utilizes violent temper tantrums to manipulate those around him.  That is a problem today.  We can’t tell Johnny about his problems because Johnny will get mad and become violent. 

    It’s time for Johnny and the Muslims to, as Les said, “grow the fuck up already.”

  12. I’m not really for violence.. But I don’t blame them for being so pissed.. alls the christian religion has ever done to them was start problems and conflicts.. and i don’t think any religion has any right to enforce any type of opinion on another religion, because they are all equally gay, and when one bad-mouths another.. shit hits the fan.

    innn fact.. this is probably some pre-meditated plan from the catholic church to start problems. to make muslims even look more violent and savage then they’ve allready been made out to be..

    and look at history.. look at what the christians have done to so many other peoples.. they’ve got no right to say shit about the muslims or anybody else for that matter.

  13. On the one hand, Christians such as the pope have a lot of nerve speaking out against the evils of violent Islam, as Christianity is also a religion with a very bloody past. On the other hand, this is the second highly publicized instance this year of Muslims reacting violently to unfavorable words/opinions about them.

    Shelley: With all due respect to Les, I would argue that it isn’t sufficient to look at people from a tribal culture and tell them to “grow the fuck up.” That approach hasn’t proven to be very useful anywhere in the world where western and tribal cultures have met head-on.

    I agree.

  14. because they are all equally gay, and when one bad-mouths another.. shit hits the fan.

    Right.  When a blasphemous hit movie pulls in megabucks the Catholic church issues a Papal bull calling for the death of everyone involved, and says it’s a religious obligation for Catholics to slay those who profit from the movie industry.

    They may be all equally gay, but they’re not all equally violent.  What happened 600 years ago is not as important as what’s happening now.  One of the lessons of history is not to repeat it.

  15. They may be all equally gay, but they’re not all equally violent.  What happened 600 years ago is not as important as what’s happening now.  One of the lessons of history is not to repeat it.

    What happened 600yrs ago might not be important.. but for the christian religion to badmouth muslims.. its just very hypocritical.  And don’t forget.. history allways repeats itself.. who knows.. the 2nd coming of the crusades?

  16. Quick question DOF: if Islam is a violent religion and there are over 1 billion people practicing the religion, wouldn’t the entire world be in chaos right now?

  17. El Josh:

    Rarely have I ever encountered someone with such eloquence in their post. 

    First,

    I’m not really for violence.. But I don’t blame them for being so pissed..

    They weren’t just pissed.  They were violent.  So do you or don’t you blame them for being violent? That is the issue.  Whether you understand their feelings or their inner child is really not relevant.

    Second,

    alls the christian religion has ever done to them was start problems and conflicts.

    Nice choice of words there with alls.  Sound foundation for it too. You built up to your conclusion block by block and then topped it perfectly.  You see brainiac, you need to establish the factual background that supports your conclusion first.  Then you get to make the conclusion.  Otherwise, it appears to people, as it did to me, that you are just talking out of your ass.

    Furthermore, it seems to me the 65 year old woman that was murdered by these pissed Muslims was working in a hospital.  She was a Christian.  Alls you got is an overinclusive conclusion that is easily demolished.

    Third,

    and i don’t think any religion has any right to enforce any type of opinion on another religion, because they are all equally gay,

      Next time you bother to “think”, think again. The Pope was expressing an opinion.  He was not enforcing an opinion.  How would one enforce the opinion he expressed exactly?  I doubt you even know what the opinion was. What you want is a muzzle on free speech.

    Except your own.  You feel free to then go on and use sexual orientation as a slur applying the slur to a majority of the world’s citizens. I think most of the posters here would wonder how sexual orientation is a slur at all and why you would use it as one.  Why did you choose to use sexual orientation as a slur?

    Fourth,

    innn fact.. this is probably some pre-meditated plan from the catholic church to start problems. to make muslims even look more violent and savage then they’ve allready been made out to be..

    Oh yes.  A conspiracy theory. Nice postulation, since so many conspiracy theories are just money.  And you know what, I bet the Catholic Church has targeted you to.  And they are working with the CIA, just like they did when they simulated that whole we landed on the moon thing. Get a fucking life.

    and look at history.. look at what the christians have done to so many other peoples.. they’ve got no right to say shit about the muslims or anybody else for that matter.

    Very Old Testament of you here.  Quite surprising in fact that you would want to visit the father’s sins upon the sons.  Applying your logic to you, you don’t have a right to speak either about anybody including the Catholic Church given your citizenship. 

    It is rare for me to ever say this, but you are truly an idiot.

  18. for the christian religion to badmouth muslims.. its just very hypocritical.

    It would be hypocritical for one of the original crusaders to badmouth Islamic violence.  It is not hypocritical for the current pope to do so. 

    But the terrorists have something in common with our current president; they seem to want a final battle.  Their attitude seems to be; “Bring it on!”  Sadly, they may get their wish.

  19. Webs asks: “Quick question DOF: if Islam is a violent religion and there are over 1 billion people practicing the religion, wouldn’t the entire world be in chaos right now?”

    Quick answer: Because fortunately, most Muslims are no better at practicing their religion than most Christians.  Most religious people claim the identity because it is necessary for living wherever they live. 

    You don’t see Dan Brown living secretly under police protection, but Salmon Rushdie had to. 

    Christianity was once more violent than it is now.  I hope a similar transformation occurs for Islam.

  20. Consigliere

    you douche.

    Look at this from the muslims point of view.  and seriously.. correcting my grammar is a cry out that you are mad at me for expressing my thoughts.  shut up.

    would you like to use violence against me?

  21. Because fortunately, most Muslims are no better at practicing their religion than most Christians.

    Actually I think of any religion, those that practice Islam know and understand it better than most Christians understand Christianity and most catholics understand Catholicism. 

    I think really what is going on here is there are a lot of radical fundamentalist in Islam that got pissed.  If these fundamentalists in any way were representative of the whole then we could certainly be guaranteed that there would have been riots and church burnings in America and probably France (both of which have a high Muslim population).  But this has not been the case yet.

  22. Is it not time for the leaders of the muslims (imams/elders/clerics/et al) to restore some form of order in their house? Certainly there must be a majority of muslims who are capable of reason; what is happening is, hopefully, just the lunatic fringe frothing. But perhaps I am overestimating the rational capabilities of a religion which seems incapable of tolerance towards others. Witness Salman Rushdie, Talebanism, Destruction of innocent looking statues carved in Afghan mountain, Countless Fatwas/Jihads, 9/11, Suicide bombings, etc….

    Link to the Washington Post article from above has a great solution. We require a coherant World condemnation of stupid and violent acts by any and all groups, be they government, religious, or whatever. 

    I am with Les “Grow the fuck up”

  23. Idiot??  Fucker, you only know what the media tells you about this shit, same as me.. and what we say is all based on personal opinion.

  24. Yes, it is a scholarly argument, but it was inevitable that the quote would be used to inflame an already tense situation. I’d agree that those who used his words to “inflame the ignorant” should apologise, but the pope threw the weapon in their hands and they’ve demonstrated on any number of occasions that they believe that end result justifies all means.

    That is absolutely correct. However as someone on this site pointed, out Muslims get pissed if you simply say “Mohammed” in the wrong tone. Should we all have to mind every single thing we say just because they’re so thin skinned?

    I agree with “Grow the fuck up”

  25. Consi, if I may say so, you’re coming off as a little thin-skinned of late. Not that Josh doesn’t merit a verbal beating with his posts.

    And Josh, I too am puzzled that you would simultaneously condemn Christianity while using the term “gay” pejoratively. Ditto with “douche.” Homophobia and sexism aren’t traits that I would expect from one who wishes others to “see things from the Muslims’ perspective.”

  26. Les, until you brought this up, followed by the many interesting comments, I thought the pope was a bit of a fuckwit to comment as he did.
    I’ve changed my mind.
    This bit is especially good to remember: “nothing the pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical imams and fanatical clerics every day, all across Europe and the Muslim world, almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all.”
    Not that muslims will see it let alone contemplate it as they’re mostly just tools for their wacky imams.
    The imams’ retort to “Grow the fuck up” would probably be “and become decadent like you?”
    They feel superior to us even though “we have all the stuff”.
    That takes delusion … or religion.  wink

  27. What happened 600 years ago is not as important as what’s happening now.

    I agree. But despite Catholicism’s relatively peaceful present (we could endlessly debate whether ‘peaceful’ accurately describes the murder of millions of people by forbidding the use of condoms in the marital relationship when a partner has AIDS—that’s okay because that’s Christians), the Catholic Church has little right to drag out a 600 year old criticism of Islam when they were no better at that time.

    What the pope said needs to be expressed by people everywhere each in their own perspective

    It does indeed need to be talked about (most importantly by Muslims if change is to occur) but the pope’s role makes him an inappropriate mouthpiece.

    Consigliere: Johnny has an unquestioned history of violent temper tantrums.  At times, Johnny still utilizes violent temper tantrums to manipulate those around him.  That is a problem today.  We can’t tell Johnny about his problems because Johnny will get mad and become violent. 

    Consig, I don’t much like the analogy, but if you want to put it that way, I’d say that you haven’t got my point right. It isn’t about not telling Johnny about his problem—it is about not sending his nemesis and historically obnoxious older brother to do it.

    Consig: Islam has an unquestioned history of violence.  At times, Islam still utilizes violence to get its way.  That is a problem today.  We can’t talk about that problem because some Muslims will get mad and become violent. 

    Islam (like Christianity) has an unquestioned history of violence. Some elements still use violence. The pope shouldn’t berate Muslims both because his church has an awful personal history with Islam and because of what he represents himself to be: the infallible voice of the (Christian) God. His comments will do nothing to improve the situation.

    Should we all have to mind every single thing we say just because they’re so thin skinned?

    Absolutely not. I don’t really have a problem with talking about this. But the pope isn’t the right person because of what he represents.

    nothing the pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical imams and fanatical clerics every day, all across Europe and the Muslim world, almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all

    (Funny to see a bunch of people here defending the pope, but I digress.)

    I agree with your comment, John. But please recognize what we’re dealing with here. As I briefly mentioned earlier, there is a central cultural issue involved that promotes the problem of violent response and is consequently more important than than the pope’s actual words or the content of his messsage.

    The reaction of radical Muslim extremists has much more to do with a culture that is tribal in nature than it does with religion directly. We’re talking about a culture in which for many people, one’s personal and group honor are everything (maybe the only thing) and must be avenged at all costs. This is an environment in which brothers murder sisters for the sake of the family ‘honor’ and it is permissible to stone a new bride whose virginity is questioned. This is a culture that honors revenge killings. That’s who the people are who are doing this.

    Their sense of honor is manipulated in a highly practiced manner by people with a political agenda. I just don’t think you can counteract that by playing into it.

    The things that matter to their honor aren’t always things Westerners understand, and while we may have “outgrown” this kind of stuff long ago, we’re not going to change it by telling them to grow the fuck up. That isn’t going to work any better than invading their country to bringing them the great gift of Western democracy.

    If there is to be a solution to this problem (and I sincerely hope we can find one someday), I can absolutely guarantee you that it won’t come from forcing them into a position in which they feel that they must defend their fucking honor over and over again. There has to be a better way to do this.

    There now.

    I’ve said fuck four times in one day and I’m definitely at my limit, so I think I’ll go make myself a cup of tea and relax.

  28. There has to be a better way to do this.

    So you believe that the better way is to shut up about the barbaric nature of their culture.  Then what?

  29. My absolute favorite tea is any kind of black tea aged at least 9 years.  I have only tried a small portion, but of what I tried it was amazing!!

  30. Well, I too, just had to have a cuppa Madura Earl Grey which, at only 2.8% Caffeine, doesn’t mess with my sleep patterns.

    Shelley: Funny to see a bunch of people here defending the pope

    Wow, thanks for pointing that out.
    It’s definitely not something I consciously do on a regular basis.  wink

    There has to be a better way to do this.

    I’m fairly sure the solution involves a certain level of trust on both ‘sides’ and that’s not gonna happen anytime soon.
    There has to be much more violence and spilled blood yet to bring both ‘sides’ to the table and we know (?) they care less about life than we do.
    It seems their Lesser Jihad has become more important than their Greater Jihad … similar to the little head ruling the big head.  wink
    Noam Chomsky says: If you want to stop terrorism, stop participating in it … sounds a bit Quakerish, don’t it?
    As far as honour goes, I think you nailed it – that’s at the crux of this whole thing.
    Their religion and psychopathic lack, of belief in, and love of, the human race, supports their sense of honour.

  31. Tea, and a good night’s sleep.  Another day.

    Our discussion is hampered by a common bit of liberal happy-thought, that (as The Simpsons’ Reverend Lovejoy once told Ned Flanders) all the ‘other religions’ are ‘pretty much the same’ and that the difference lies more in execution than in content.

    Not true.  The original scriptures of the world’s religions vary widely on a ‘bloodthirsty scale’ in roughly this order: Buddhism, Christianity, Hindu, Judaism, Islam.  (I am leaving out several for which I have not even read summaries, and I’m not picky about the positions of Hindu and Judaism relative to each other.)

    Historical practice is another matter, which highlights the fact that scriptures are only one component – and not necessarily even the most important – of any religion.  Reverend Lovejoy is correct that all religions do have one large aspect in common: the human nature of their followers.

    If the Old Testament is to be believed, the Jews practiced genocide most foul in their early history, with the direct approval of Jehovah.  Sometime between the Maccabean revolt and the Renaissance Jewish culture evolved into the defensive and generally contributory society it is now.  The world would be very much poorer were it not for the Jews; for the most part they have moved well past the violent parts of their original scriptures to a larger and richer tradition.

    Jesus showed up with a radical nonviolent philosophy that was out of step with his times and with the Jewish culture of the time.  Not to say he didn’t have a temper, though, and Christians have used his ass-kicking at the Temple to justify lots of stuff over the years.  Safe to say that for the most part Christians pay little attention to their founder on the issue of violence and relatively more attention to traditions that have evolved since then.  Simply by ignoring Jesus’ claims to have fulfilled (and thus supplanted) the Law and the Prophets, Christians could then focus on the more violent parts of the Old Testament.  Today, few Christian sects adhere to nonviolence and nominally Christian cultures vary from quite benign to chronically missile-throwing.

    The Koran is a very different book from the Bible.  Whereas the Bible is a compilation of the writings of dozens of authors spread over a period of 1,500 years or more, the Koran was written by one man in a single lifetime.  His writings reflect his life.  Muhammed was a warrior-king, considerably more successful than David.  There isn’t a lot of wiggle-room in the Koran on the issue of violence; it’s a religious duty in defense of Islam. 

    It is no accident that fundamentalist Muslims insist the only book they need is the Koran; it prevents the development of more liberal tradition.  In spite of them other, less violent traditions have become a majority in Islam and that is a trend that should be encouraged.  But the Koran is what it is.  To ignore this fact is wishful thinking.

  32. DoF- indeed.  An interesting comparison can be made between those parts of the Koran written in Mecca, where the Muslims were a persecuted minority, and those parts written later in Medina, where Mohammed ruled a city filled with Jews and pagans.  The earlier Koran verses are much more exhortative, and the later ones rather threatening.  There are trends in modern Islam that hold the earlier, more peaceable verses, to be the true message of Islam, but they are not in ascendence today, unfortunately.  See this New Yorker article for fascinating details about the work of Mahmoud Muhammad Taha.

  33. I went to the cupboard looking for my favorite sleepytime tea (no caffine at night or I’d have been in here posting like mad)—but managed to find some lemon zinger. Not perfect, but at least it didn’t keep me awake.

    Another day, as you said, Dof.

    Dof, very interesting post—you’ve made some (excellent points but I’m not so sure that the “Koran is what it is.” Let me explain my very simplistic understanding, and you can correct me if I’m wrong.

    The Sunni’s are the traditional orthodox side of Islam and follow the religion as established by Muhammad (including the 5 pillars of the faith—none of which have to do with the conversion of anyone through violence or any other means). They believe that Muhammed was the last prophet and they see the Koran as the final word. Having said that, they recognize that a 7th century interpretation of the Arab world isn’t practical and has no guidelines for problems not anticipated in the Koran. So they’re not literalist. They consititue the majority of Muslims (though there are other groups much like protestantism can be divided into smaller groups). They don’t take the Koran as a call to violence.

    The Shi’ites on the other hand constituted a major split in Islam, and emerged over a leadership (political) issue within Islam itself someime around 700, but became theological. (They believed that Muhammad should have been succeeded by his cousin Ali).

    As a consequence of the link between the emergence of Shia and political authority, to the Shi’ites, the Imams are the leaders whereas to the the Sunnis, the Imams are basically the ones who lead community prayers. A very different orientation. (In fact, the Shi’ites are still looking for a “Mahdi”—a messiah figure who will appear on earth and lead the world to justice.)

    Unlike the Sunni’s, the Shi’ite very much prize martyrdom (largely due to the execution of Husain, Ali’s son in in-fighting over leadership).  And becase of the split between the Sunni’s and the Shi’ites emerged over leadership issues related to Ali, the Shi’ites do not trust the Koran because it fails to mention the name of Ali. They believe that it must have must have been tampered with by Ali’s enemies and consequently, they look for hidden messages and rely on “interpretations” by the Imams. The Shias are a growing force and one to be very worried about because of the way they link politics and religion, and because the political leaders are also the religious leaders and intrepreters of the Koran.

    Whew!!

  34. For many, many reasons, the pope should probably just STFU.

    And sorry, I just will not try to see anything from the muslim point of view.  Obviously, all irony is lost when one has to riot and threaten to kill huge numbers of infidels so they can prove they are a religion of peace.  My ass.  They can fire bomb each other into heaven and their 72 virgins for all I care at this point.

    I have tried my entire life to try to understand other viewpoints, outlooks, etc.  Yet I just cannot even begin to wrap my brain around these people.  Yeah, yeah, fine…not all muslims are lining up to jihad us to death.  But the time has come for reasonable muslims (and reasonable christians, for that matter) to speak out loud or bear the shame of associaton.  I have had it. 

    Extremists are fucking everything up and for some reason everybody just tippy-toes around them.

  35. Shelly: “Let me explain my very simplistic understanding, and you can correct me if I’m wrong… [very erudite brief passage that would be great on Wikipedia]… Whew!!”

    I can’t correct your comment because I get confused every time I tackle the subject.  As far as I know you got it just right.  I know a hell of a lot more about Christianity that I do about Islam.  I will go back and re-read the relevant sections of Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History of the Universe, Volume III.

    Cindi: “Extremists are fucking everything up and for some reason everybody just tippy-toes around them.”

    I agree completely.  But I’d probably be a lot more likely to tippy-toe if I thought I’d be tortured for disagreeing.  “Look at that decrepit old fool – all he ever does is smile and nod and talk about the weather!”  This is why the onus to more toleration belongs exclusively to the terrorists.  They are the ones making discussion impossible.

    sorry, I just will not try to see anything from the muslim point of view.

    Understandable: it’s like drinking spoilt milk to be able to recognize the taste.  As Shelly described, there isn’t just one “Muslim POV” to understand.  Like any diverse group, there’s lots of POV’s and the danger is in painting them all with a brush that should only cover a tiny minority.  Stereotyping leads to people freaking out over t-shirts with Arabic letters on them.  The next step after that is moderate Muslims concluding Americans are incapable of trying to find nonviolent solutions, which is eerily like what we tend to say about them.

    It isn’t even enough to recognize the Shia/Sunni divide.  After all, we’re supposed to be afraid of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and he’s Shia, but Osama is Sunni and we’re supposed to be afraid of him, too.  But while (as Webs pointed out) the majority of Muslims don’t appear to be trying to kill us, I must add that it appears they wouldn’t lose much sleep if someone did.

    There is a window of opportunity for moderate Muslims to change that and take their place in the human future, but that window is sliding down to a close. 

    As for the Koran being “what it is”, it “is” the writings of a single person and therefore very much a reflection of that individual.  In this respect it is different from most religious foundation documents, but similar to (for example) the Book Of Mormon and Dianetics.  And as far as I’m concerned, just as credible, but I am only an infidel.  Which leads to…

    Zilch, that New Yorker article about Taha was fascinating.  But being slow on the draw, I printed it out for more detailed reading (a good excuse to go to the coffee shop).  Here is an excerpt:

    …I visited the University of Khartoum, which is housed in a collection of mostly colonial-era, earth-colored brick buildings in the city center, where I met a woman named Suhair Osman, who was doing graduate work in statistics. In 1993, at the age of eighteen, she spent the year between high school and college in her parents’ house on the Blue Nile, south of Khartoum, asking herself theological questions. As a schoolgirl, she had been taught that sinners would be eternally tormented after death; she couldn’t help feeling sorry for them, but she didn’t dare speak about it in class. Would all of creation simply end either in fire or in Paradise? Was her worth as a woman really no more than a quarter that of a man, as she felt Islamic law implied by granting men the right to take four wives? Did believers really have a duty to kill infidels? One day, Osman took a book by Taha off her father’s shelf, The Koran, Mustapha Mahmoud, and Modern Understanding, published in 1970. By the time she finished it, she was weeping. For the first time, she felt that religion had accorded her fully equal status. ‘Inside this thinking, I’m a human being,’ she said. ‘Outside this thinking, I’m not.’ It was as if she had been asleep all her life and had suddenly woken up: the air, the taste of water, food, even the smell of things changed. She felt as if she were walking a little off the ground…
    – NY Times: The Moderate Martyr

  36. Dof: Like any diverse group, there’s lots of POV’s and the danger is in painting them all with a brush that should only cover a tiny minority.  Stereotyping leads to people freaking out over t-shirts with Arabic letters on them.  The next step after that is moderate Muslims concluding Americans are incapable of trying to find nonviolent solutions, which is eerily like what we tend to say about them.

    Yes, yes, yes! That’s exactly where I’m at and what I worry about—but there’s so much that I don’t understand about them and so many factors to consider that much of it gets jumbled together due to its interrelatedness. It is complex. and the answers are not simple.

    Thank-you, Dof!

  37. In my mind, the issue is incomprehension.  I don’t claim to be an expert on islam (my knowledge is limited to what I learned when reading No God But God by Resa Aslan, great book), so I can’t really understand the mind set of extremist muslims and neither, I think, can many westerners.  On the other hand, it seems as though many muslims view the west as being godless, without any morals, etc.  Nowhere was this more apparent to me then during the whole Danish cartoon fiasco.  Westerners didn’t understand how a few cartoons could cause such ire, because we live in a society where secularism is normal and religion is fair game for satire.  Muslims, on the other hand, don’t understand how we can be so flippant of religion and interpret that to mean that we are without values, without seeing that freedom of speech, religion, press, etc. has become our doctrine (of sorts).  In muslim societies, this is not the norm and so they don’t understand. 

    I may have wandered a bit off topic there, but my original point was that we don’t understand enough about each other to really begin attributing motives to our actions.  As my dad says:
    We barely know why we do the things we do, never mind trying to interpret why other people do the things they do.

  38. MoP: In my mind, the issue is incomprehension.

    I agree. For those who find it difficult to understand the actions/ideas of radical Muslims, I would suggest Karen Armstrong’s “The Battle for God” as a good starting point. The book also takes on Christian and Jewish fundamentalism.

  39. Zilch: See this New Yorker article for fascinating details about the work of Mahmoud Muhammad Taha.

    Thanks, Zilch. That was an enlightening article although still depressing to a degree.
    I’d like to think there’s more of that type of thought in and about Islamia than doesn’t get into ‘the news’.

    Abdullahi Ahmed an-Naim: I don’t really have high hopes for change in the Arab region, because it is too self-absorbed in its own sense of superiority and victimhood …

    I hope Naim is able to enlighten many men and women of honour before he’s killed by radicals.
    I’m very much doubting there’ll be an obvious change in Islam in my lifetime.

  40. DOF: 

    Stereotyping leads to people freaking out over t-shirts with Arabic letters on them.

    Total agreement.  However, my mother being Lebanese and all, I doubt I’d freak out over anything in Arabic!  Anyway.

    Obviously, there are as many muslim POVs as there are christian.  most incomprehensible, some not.  my wish is that muslims and not-so-nutty christians in this country,where there is no fear of torture, would make a stand. their silence damns them.

  41. How do you deal with a bunch of ornery little kids with slingshots?  The Pope’s approach: “Let’s live in peace- and yer momma wears army boots!”  Any ensuing violence is, to be sure, a stupid and immature reaction.  But the Pope was being impolitic.  Sure, he uttered no falsehoods: some Muslims were, and are, violent and unreasonable.  But is he trying to do- start a dialogue, or provoke a fight?

  42. Found via Pharyngula

    Richard Dawkins – The real reasons to hate the Pope: The tragedy is that when there are so many good reasons to hate Joseph Ratzinger, this week’s rioters have chosen one of the few bogus ones. For over a decade now, he has been one of the primary defenders of priests who go to the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world and tell them condoms are the cause of AIDS. In the past year, I have sat in two Catholic churches thousands of miles apart and listened while a Catholic priest told illiterate people with no alternative sources of information that condoms come pre-infected with AIDS and are the reason people die of it. In Bukavu, a crater-city in Congo, and in the slums ringing Caracas, Venezuela, people believed it. They told me they “would not go to Heaven” if they used condoms, and that condoms contain tiny invisible holes through which the virus passes – the advice their priest had doled out.

    Now if someone else had told me that, I’d have defended il papa.
    I shoulda realised they still played filthily. mad  angry

  43. For over a decade now, he has been one of the primary defenders of priests who go to the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world and tell them condoms are the cause of AIDS. In the past year, I have sat in two Catholic churches thousands of miles apart and listened while a Catholic priest told illiterate people with no alternative sources of information that condoms come pre-infected with AIDS and are the reason people die of it.

    You know, I was under the impression that lying one’s ass off is against Catholic doctrine. I guess that changed at some point.

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