Posts Tagged ‘Muslims’

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Why We Shouldn’t Stop Rev. Jones’ Quran Burning Party

09.08.10

Rising from the still-smoldering debate over the legitimacy of the Park51 community center is the Rev. Terry Jones’ proposed “Burn A Quran Day,” scheduled for this Saturday, September 11th.  Just like the name implies, from six to nine in the evening, people will gather to set copies of the Islamic holy text ablaze to show their opposition to the faith held by the radicals who attacked New York City nine years ago.

Jones’ plans have been met with considerable opposition of their own by just about everyone in the State Department and even from the military — General Petraeus warned that this very act could harm our efforts to control Afghanistan, even endangering our troops.

This hasn’t deterred Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center church.

Jones, who has about 50 followers, gained some local notoriety last year when he posted signs in front of his small church declaring “Islam is of the Devil.” But his Quran-burning scheme attracted wider attention… The Quran, according to Jones, is “evil” because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.

Religious freedom sure is an odd thing, isn’t it?  People want it when it suits them, but want ways around it when it doesn’t.  It’s part of the freedom’s brilliance and why it’s so vital to our Constitution.  Just like the Muslims have the right to build their mosque near Ground Zero, Jones and his own crew radicals have the right to burn some books.  Freedom of expression, of speech, of religion, however you want to slice it: they have the right to do this.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it an effective, worthwhile use of time.  Combating extremism with more extremism isn’t going to work.  Not to get all squishy, but you can’t beat hate with more hate.  You can’t beat ignorance with more ignorance.  You beat brutality with civility.  You overcome oppression with freedom.  You trump prejudice with acceptance.

What people don’t want to realize is that conflating all Muslims into radical terrorists is the same fallacy as Muslims condemning all Americans as infidels.  So, by blaming the entire religion of Islam for the terror attacks, Rev. Jones and his followers are responding to the mentality with which they disagree by adopting that exact mentality themselves. There’s very little in the way of logic going on here — it’s simply an “I’m right, they’re wrong” line of thinking.  No rationality required.

Another paradox is that these 50-odd people and their inflammatory plans for Saturday really could’ve just come and gone without much notice from anyone, except the media exploded this thing to the point where all levels of government voiced their opinions, it’s all over the news, all over the blogosphere.  It’s everywhere.  We could’ve all ignored Jones and his followers’ sad, unfortunate response to tragedy and they would’ve faded away without much of a whimper — no television stories for people abroad to see and misinterpret.

Although, that’s never going to happen — nor should it necessarily.  It is a news story, after all.  But does it require the amount of national exposure that it’s receiving?

People wonder why others hate Americans and then when snippets of news of Americans burning Qurans flood the airwaves, it’s not hard to see why they might be too fond of us.  Because just like how we only catch glimpses and read certain stories about what kind of people they are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and Palestine, you have to figure that people in those countries only catch glimpses and read certain stories about us, too.  And who knows what is being passed off to them as representative of Americans as a whole. Odds are that if there’s video footage of a bunch of Floridians burning Qurans gleefully, claiming that the entire faith is of the devil (remind you much of Ahmadinejad calling America the “Great Satan” at all?), that will make it over to those Islamic nations with which we’re firmly entrenched overseas.

While we can’t stop the Dove World Outreach Center from their Quran-burning plans, we can do our part to embrace our diversity and focus on remaining rational in the face of these highly emotional times.  Let them burn their books.  Because when has that ever changed people’s minds?  The beliefs aren’t in the books; they’re in people’s minds and hearts. They won’t accomplish anything good with their pointless, crude event, so why give them a soapbox any bigger than they already have?  Our efforts are best served doing something else, something productive, something positive.

If we continue to do more and more things that promote tolerance, acceptance, rationality, and – ultimately – positivity, we can outshine any blaze by the loud, radical outliers.

Image courtesy of Sydney Lea Steele — All Rights Reserved.  And no, it has nothing to do with this post other than it makes me happy.  And we need more of that in the world, right now especially.

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This is Still a Holy War

01.07.10

Segregating people of certain countries to go through pat-downs or walk through full-body scanners, forcing everyone to remain in their seats during the last hour of certain flights, and disallowing passengers from accessing their carry-on baggage during certain times of the flight will do nothing to change the fact that so many people consider this a holy war.

The total religious disconnect with this war makes it unlike anything else we’ve encountered.  This isn’t just an ideological difference like the capitalism versus communism conflicts that America endured in the last century.  Communist ideals didn’t create suicide bombers willing to detonate themselves along with their American counterparts like those involved in this conflict.

America has some difficult decisions to make.  The knee-jerk reaction would be to make any and all Islamic countries banned from all air travel.  We’re already doing a less severe version of that with the restrictions and mandatory extra-security measures for those who travel from certain countries and anyone who is a citizen of said countries.  Sure, on the surface it makes sense: stop those people from countries who want to kill us from entering America’s borders.  But, the issue though isn’t just with those specific countries.  The obvious way around this form of security would be for terrorists to get official papers from countries not on that no-fly list.  They have the money and the connections so you know that will be possible.  What happens when the next terrorist travels on a British, Australian, or Canadian visa or passport?  Do we just start banning anyone with an Arabic sounding name?  What about Richard Reid, the infamous shoe-bomber?  Were these current rules in place then, he still could’ve made it through.

I don’t have the answers to this riddle and I don’t envy those in government this difficult task.  I recently read an article about how Israel handles their airport security that made me wonder why we can’t scrap our system and start over.  I realize the costs involved would be enormous, but what about the costs if we don’t?  How does it help us to spend money on our current system that doesn’t work: we spend all of our time in fear that the terrorists will sneak through the holes in our security (which they will eventually) and then putting bandaids over those gaps (rinse and repeat).  Unfortunately, the article doesn’t explain how Israel deals with incoming flights, which is our current crisis.

There will always be a way around our false sense of security.  When will we realize that we aren’t any safer by adding more and more reactive, rather than proactive, measures that come dangerously close to infringing upon the very values on which America was founded?  Alienating specific demographics – in this case, Arabs and Muslims – will do nothing to help us in this fight.  If we want to create more radicals, this has to be a pretty solid way to do it.

And that will only make us less, not more, safe.

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The Backwards World of Religion

03.31.09

(Massoud Hossaini / AFP – Getty Images)

I would like to attribute something this grossly offensive and obviously a clear-cut attack on human rights to the sub-sect of fundamentalist radicals within the Muslim community.  But, when Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-backed, elected president of Afghanistan, a country that we invaded and “liberated,” forces legislation through that legalizes rape, I really can’t blame the fringe.

In a massive blow for women’s rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman’s right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by The Independent.

Yes, legalized rape.  See, when it’s between a husband and a wife, the wife relinquishes her ability to say no.  In Afghanistan, at least.

I’m beyond tired of hearing about all of these so-called “family” laws that claim to protect any aspect of the nuclear family unit, which, according to certain religions, is THE only way to have a family.  We have plenty of these types of laws in America, too, so Afghanistan is not unique by any stretch.  Ours come in the form of DOMA and numerous generically titled groups and lobbyists.  I’m not saying that DOMA is equivalent to this Shia Family Law by any stretch.  But that’s not to say that DOMA doesn’t egregiously discriminate and deny rights to a specific group of people based on religious rhetoric.  The SFL goes even further to condone sexual abuse, which is too appalling to even capture in words.

This is a sad reminder of how far humanity still has to come as a species.  It makes me glad that here in America we have knocked over some of these boundaries that seem so archaic to us now yet still exist in many other places in the world.  But, at the same time, it also reminds me of how much work we still need to do here in the West.  I hate having to always bring up that less than 90 years ago women didn’t have the right to vote.  People of different ethnicities and races couldn’t vote less than 50 years ago.  We needed a full-blown civil war in order to stop the practice of people owning people.  Equality takes time and an immense amount of effort.  We can’t go into a different culture and just impose our way of life onto them and assume that it will just stick.  We need to continue to progress, better ourselves, and encourage widespread education.

The time for governing our lives based on ancient texts is over.  It’s time for the Next Renaissance.