Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fear or reality?

I don’t think that acknowledging negative facts necessarily makes a perception wrong. Take, for instance, the religion of Islam.

FACT:

Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light. Mr. Hassan is charged with beheading his wife.

FACT:

Mansa Musa Muhummed, who beat, tortured and starved his children for decades, was sentenced to seven life terms in prison today by a judge in Murrieta who said the man’s "reign of terror" against his family merited the harsh sentence. Mr. Muhummed is a muslim.

FACT:

In November (2008), an extremist Web site called on Muslims to launch a "forest jihad" in Australia, Europe, Russia and the United States. The posting, which quoted imprisoned Al Qaeda terrorist Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, said setting forest fires was legal under "eye-for-an-eye" Islamic law.

FACT:

(Osama) Bin Laden has been implicated in a string of deadly attacks on the United States and its allies: the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; the 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200; and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Bin Laden also claims responsibility for a 1993 gunfight that killed 18 U.S. troops in Somalia and the 1996 bombing of the Khobar military complex in Saudi Arabia that left 19 U.S. soldiers dead. He is a Muslim extremist.

FACT:

An Egyptian Muslim cleric has instructed that husbands should not beat their wives to the point that their beauty is scarred or bones are broken, but that it should be clear that: "A word would be enough for any wife with lofty morals, but with you, words do not help."

FACT:

(2001) Arab and Muslim states can be broadly grouped under three categories, according to their degree of democratization and respect for human rights:
1. one-party dictatorships: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Tunisia, Afghanistan.
2. multi-party regimes: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Kuwait, Palestinian Authority.
3. traditional Islamic regimes: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, UAE and (non-Arab) Iran as well as Pakistan.

The first group is characterized by severe limitations on personal freedoms, a strict control of the media, and strong repression of all dissidence.

The second group allows a limited degree of parliamentarianism, some freedom of speech and organization, but with clear, and often harsh, limits set to criticism through the use of strong police and security services.

The third group is based on traditional Islamic values and concepts of government with some tokenism designed to present a more modern face. There ensue different approaches to the rights of women and minorities that do not always meet with globally-accepted norms.


I could go on and on, but the point is that Islam is the only major world religion that clings so strongly to violence. This is not to say that every Muslim is violent. One of my favorite college professors was a devout Muslim and was a very kind and gentle man. My husband and I were discussing this, and he pointed out that the other major religions have all under gone “renaissances”, if you will, changing them to a less militant focus. Some started there in the first place. To ignore the Muslim tradition of violence and approach the leaders of Muslim led countries from a position of weakness is to invite their ridicule and disrespect. We might as well put on a big red sign that says, “Please, shoot us now.” I would like to believe in the innate goodness of my fellow man, but history is a harsh teacher and has shown me otherwise. I will believe in the good faith of my protagonists after they demonstrate it long term – not merely for the “no longer than 10 years” indicated in the Quran. (For those who don’t know, the Quran indicates that you should make peace with your enemies for a period of no longer than 10 years – however long you need to build up your forces to crush them unequivocally.)

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