How do you effectively condemn the violence without contributing to counter hatreds?
The genesis of this essay is from some recent interactions and discussions over on Facebook. I, along with others, have been adamant in condemning the unprovoked violence being committed by Muslims around the globe. However, such unequivocal condemnations may potentially give rise to, or encourage, hatred of Muslims. We do not want our opposition to the violence and hatred coming from some Muslims to serve to provoke hatred of Muslims on the part of non-Muslims. Resistance to Muslim violence, yes, but not hatred.
Before continuing with our thoughts, a brief and partial listing of current Muslim outrages is appropriate so as to remove our very valid concerns with this ongoing violence from the abstract for our readers, and place these concerns in a real world context. As well, one must keep in mind that most of this violence is independent of, and unrelated to, Muslim anger over Israel’s harsh treatment of the Palestinians (approximately 70% of whom are Muslim), and independent of US actions in the Middle East.
Women are being raped by Muslim immigrants in Europe. This is occurring on the Continent, in the UK, and in Scandinavia (recent news on rapes in Norway). This behavior is not limited to Europe. In Indonesia (formerly the Dutch East Indies), the very small Chinese (largely Christian) minority is subject to frequent abuse by the Muslim (Javanese, Sundanese and Malay) majority. The women and girls are raped so as to humiliate and degrade them. After these girls are so humiliated and thus “lose face”, they sometimes commit suicide. This is no exaggeration. (Back in 2001, when reports of this were in the international news. I spoke with a (at that time) coworker who was from Indonesia and she confirmed that the Chinese Christian minority is abused frequently there.) Rapes of Christian girls occur every day in Pakistan (as household or domestic servants they are often raped by their Muslim employers). Such unconscionable behavior demonstrates that Muslims do not respect women and girls.
The killings of gays by Muslims in many Muslim countries. Opposition to homosexuality on moral grounds does not excuse, justify, or allow for the murders of gays. Case closed.
Lastly, we mention the current (and ongoing) violent and murderous persecutions of Christian minorities in Pakistan, Iraq, and in Egypt. Christians are beaten and killed by Muslim mobs. Churches, homes, schools, and places of business are destroyed. (And, Muslims have trouble getting along well with Hindus in India and with Buddhists in southern Thailand.)
Muslims frequently deny that such violence is occurring, or claim that it is condemned in Islam. However, in the Muslim countries listed above, there is not much de facto legal protection or legal recourse available for non-Muslims who have been victimized by violent crimes. The civil authorities (often corrupt themselves) usually do not care when the victims of violence are non-Muslims (“infidels”, non believers in Islam).
(One wonders why Muslims are so militantly intolerant as regards other faiths or belief systems. Could it be that they feel threatened by the existence of other faiths? If so, why so? Could it be, that deep in their hearts, Muslims are unsure as to the “truth” of Islam. It does make one wonder. Muslims are not allowed to learn about other religions in the schools in Muslim dominated nations. You will not find any thing like a comparative religions course offered in their colleges or universities.)
So, the thought came to me, how can we condemn such violence and injustice committed by Muslims, and not incite nor contribute to hatred of Muslims? This is a very real risk and thus a valid concern. There may not be an easy answer here. Muslim violence naturally causes anger in the innocent victims and their loved ones. Anger can lead one to hate. (If only Muslims could alter their attitudes towards others. If only Muslims could reject their patterns and habits of violence.) However, as an escalating, vicious cycle of violence is not conducive to peace, justice, and harmony among peoples, we must not adopt hateful attitudes. Rejecting hateful attitudes is not a sign of weakness, but rather an indication of character strength and maturity. As well, the danger of falling prey to hate (a strong and destructive emotion) is that hatred makes it very difficult to achieve and maintain objectivity (and rationality) in one’s thought processes. One’s thinking becomes warped by harboring hatred.
Consciously be on guard and do not let hate take root inside you. We see too many people driven by hate in this world. Hate is not going to solve our many problems.
As we condemn the violence, and work to end it, let us also caution one another not to give in to the impulse to hate the victimizers. Do not cultivate hate in your heart.
We wish to stress the following.
1. People have a fundamental right (often violated, sorry to say) to religious freedom. We condemn religious based hate and the persecutions of religious minorities.
2. Human beings have a right to be free from violence and intimidation. They have a right to their personal security and safety. A right to live in peace.
3. Human beings – both individually and collectively – have a right to self-defense.
In closing, an observation and a few words to the Muslims. It is clear to most people that much (read: most) of the non-Muslim world is really not interested in converting (either voluntarily or by force) to Islam. You Muslims need to accept this fact. Your violence and violations of human rights are serving to increase the resistance to you and your religion. Why not try living in peace with your neighbors?! A radical thought.