Thursday, March 24, 2011

Muslim violence a fact, not prejudice

A Muslim felt that the gun belonged next to his religious book!
What we can read into it is that this way of life has nothing to do with us.
We did not cause this!

The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom

Given Muhammad's life as an example of perfection ~ all a person who proclaims to be a Muslim [forced or not] can do is to follow or abide by aspects of Muhammad's life. There is a drive in humanity to live a decent and respectable life ~ to get along with others ~ to treat others with the same basic respect ~ but this basic human drive is challenged by the example of Muhammad's 'perfection'. To subjugate one's neighbor and to bring them under a dhimmitude status ~ is not to treat one's neighbor as you would be treated. So there is a fundamental conflict between Islam and humanity itself. Naturally the fundamentalist also called extremists are attracted to or adhere to more of the aspects of Muhammad's life ~ which they deem as perfection ~ the warrior or jihadist ~ the man who would marry a child ~ a murderer / a man who would kill any one who challenged him. From here we can see the blasphemy laws [the sword against those who would challenge Muhammad] and the child marriages in Yemen, and the violence to conquer more territory and or forcibly bring more people under Islamic rule ~ which the dhimmi laws were founded on. And so there is the Islamists scheming to take over our societies in order to dhimmify them or us in the way that the Prophet asked.

The problem is that this has been going on for more than a millennium ~ in the early 1900's India ~ the commentary on Islam sounded almost word for word what we are saying today.

There is no nice way of dealing with it ~ we have to stand our ground ~ that is where freedom and individual rights lay.

THOSE who denounce critics of Islam should allow that, like all global faiths, Islam has its detractors and a religion will be judged on what its followers say and do.

There is a debate going on about Islam. The question being asked is: Does Islam itself - not just poverty or social exclusion - provide ideological fuel for extremism and violence?

It is all too tempting to promote one-dimensional explanations of religious violence. Monash University doctoral candidate Rachel Woodlock said on this page on Wednesday that social exclusion was the root of Islamic radicalism.

On one hand, there are those who, like Woodlock, demand that critics of Islam be stigmatised as ignorant, right-wing racists. On the other hand, Islam's problems cannot be simplistically reduced to social or economic factors.

It is an explanation that is wearing thin ~ more dangerously the case that all critics of Islam are 'ignorant' and or 'racists' ~ is being used to promote Islam at state level. Further it is a fundamental Islamic belief that all who are not in Islam are 'ignorant'. Which gives rise to the dhimmi or second class status ~ i.e. the non-Muslims not being deserving or capable of equality or respect.

Violence in the name of Islam is well-attested in nations in which Muslims are dominant, and it is non-Muslim minorities that suffer the exclusion. It does not do to argue that religion has no relevance to such events.

In Muslim-majority Pakistan on December 3, Pakistani imam Maulana Yousuf Qureshi, in his Friday sermon, offered a $6000 bounty to anyone who would murder Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who has also been accused of ''blaspheming Allah''. Pakistani minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab governor Salman Taseer were subsequently assassinated because of their opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

These laws are supported by Pakistan's Islamic elites. The killer of Salman Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, was praised by religious leaders from mainstream schools of Pakistani Islam, and when he was being led to court on January 6,400 Muslim lawyers showered him with rose petals, offering him their legal services free of charge.

[The case for Islamic intolerance or enforced dhimmitude of all others can be made using much less extreme cases]

There has also been a rush of recent assaults on Copts and their places of worship in Egypt, sparked by a wild tirade by a leading Egyptian cleric.

Closer to Australia, there have been well-publicised attacks on Ahmadiyah Muslims in Indonesia, including brutal murders. These were undoubtedly influenced by a theological belief that Ahmadiyah adherents are apostates from true Islam. Although prominent Indonesian leaders were quick to express abhorrence for the attacks, many Indonesian Muslims have called for Ahmadiyahs to be outlawed.

These events demonstrate the ugly effects of stigmatising minorities, and it would be deplorable to simple-mindedly extrapolate the religious views of Pakistani, Egyptian or Indonesian Muslims and apply them to Australia.

Don't forget the Buddhists killings in Thailand

However, it is irrational to insist that any and everyone who seeks to expose the religious roots of such hatred must themselves be decried as haters.

All over the world, every religious belief is disliked by someone or other. Christianity has its prominent detractors, too, from Bertrand Russell to Richard Dawkins. A Google search for ''Evils of Christianity'' yields tens of thousands of hits.

Australians can be thankful for a culture of tolerance, which has been carefully nurtured over decades. Tolerance is strengthened when people are able to debate ideological issues freely - especially those which impact profoundly on human rights - without being shouted down.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Nettle, in his findings on the case of the Islamic Council of Victoria v Catch the Fire, pointed out that criticism - or even hatred - of a religion should not be conflated with the hatred of people who hold those beliefs. It is one thing to promote tolerance, quite another to mandate it.

Perhaps the most powerful evidence against Woodlock's thesis - that it is exclusion, and not religion, that drives some Muslims to terrorism - is the fact that across the globe the most diverse religious minorities do not resort to violence, even when persecuted.

There are no Falun Gong terrorists in China, despite all the bitter persecution. The same can be said for persecuted Christians in many nations.

Even in Australia, many ethnic and religious groups have been subjected to disadvantage and exclusion, but none have produced the level of terrorist convictions of our own home-grown Islamic radicals.

It is a bitter pill for the vast majority of Australian Muslims to swallow that their faith has been linked, globally and locally, to religious violence.

Unfortunately, this link cannot be dismissed as the product of media prejudice or ''Islamophobic'' propaganda. It is in part an issue of some Muslims behaving very badly, and their often strident claim is that they do this in the name of religion.

Taking such claims seriously and debating them publicly must not be equated with stigmatising law-abiding and peaceable Australian Muslims.

Mark Durie is a Melbourne Anglican vicar, human rights activist, and author of The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom

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