Friday, September 22, 2006

The Pope, Islam and Anger.

The reaction to the infamous quotation by Pope Benedict XVI in the world is deeply troubling. No, not the reactions in the Muslim World (more on this below) but in the west. Some examples from various blogs and comments to news items:

I say this - the christian religion needs to commit jihad on all Muslims of the world. They need to be exterminated from the planet once and for all. Their heads need to be stuck to the end of a pike. The holy crusades need to be started again to purge the world of this filthy disease called Islam. I'm sick of the nation's religious and political leaders kissing the Islamic leadership's ass.
They can take their stinky birkas, headscarves, suicide bombers, mosques, dirty filthy beards, and shove them all into the depths of hell.

Well, as a (formerly) non-extremist Catholic I can honestly tell you, the over-reaction to the Pope's WORDS, following on from the treatment of that Danish cartoonist, has left me feeling extremely hostile toward Muslims everywhere and hoping that my church rises up to use it's far superior firepower to wipe this ugly blemish of a religion from the face of the planet! Yes, that's right, I, a non-hostile Catholic, has become so angered by these animals that I now hope they DO bring their f***ing Jihad here and get wiped out once and for all by my God-fearing, peaceful church.

The angry mob is proving the Pope's point by their actions. If everybody went around causing a ruckus every time something they didn't agree with was said, the world would be in chaos.

There's ton's of this stuff out there. More and more the image is engraved in the minds of westerners that Muslims ("well not all but many") really react at the slightest amount of negative criticism with violence, and idiots even start to suggest that the west should be violent back.

Let's consider the facts. Yes, many Muslim leaders protested. Yes, this was a bit of an over-reaction in this case since it turned out that the pope was quoted out of context. But considering the general context of a rich part of the world constantly trying to rule over a poorer part of the world, often with the use of violence (Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan...) and always by propaganda (television), to hear that the pope have actually said that Muhammed brought nothing into the world except things "evil and inhuman", then a protest is not necessarily that un-called for. Consider that most western media were very light on context in reporting what the pope actually said, and that the Pope's actual point was not that easy to grasp. He was, after all, speaking to an academic audience. In other words, that many Muslim leaders reacted with outrage was no surprise. I did too, even if my normal suspicion of media kicked in rather fast.

But, wait, we are talking violent reactions, right? Well, again, consider the facts. There is talk of a nun being killed. To my knowledge there has been no certain link between this tragic event and the pope's speech. And a few (less than ten) churches have been attacked. Again this is horrible, but one should keep in mind that the Muslim world is a big place, and that the Christian minorities have suffered there for a long time. I suspect this makes up little except a small peak in an ongoing situation. I mean, churches are being burned in the West, too. Certainly there are fanatics that would use this incident as a cause to do what they generally do, but to be perfectly clear, the image of a Muslim World in Outrage and general Chaos because of this speech by the pope exists in the Western media only, who seems to love to show images of angry men in beards.

The thing is, I'm starting to see a pattern where more and more people in both the Muslim and the Western part of the world starting to subscribe to these false representations of the other side. This development will only lead to one thing: war. C'mon, this is serious! I'm no expert on the media in the Muslim world, but considering how bad western media is at presenting the Muslim world, it does not surprise me one bit that these things happen. The only thing that get reported in the West from Muslim countries is violence! It's absurd! People live their lives there, it's not like the whole region is one big battlefield. Yet this is the image we see in the media. I wonder what kind of image they have of us.


Andrew said...

Very true-I've been wrestling with my own opinions of Islam and violence lately. It does seem that violence is the name of the game in the Middle East, if we trust our Western media. But violence isn't just a Muslim phenomenon. (I mean, just 2 days ago there was a woman next to my office in Midtown Manhattan who was shot 3x and robbed in broad daylight.)
The pope should have thought more about what he said -- what an unwise thing to say (even if taken out of context).
My question, and maybe this is too simplistic, but nevertheless I struggle with it: Are all fundamentalists capable of extreme acts of violence? I know fundamentalists in any religion are not representative of the whole, but each religion has a strictest sect and it seems that these are usually the ones resorting to violence.

Patrik said...

I'm not too sure about the fundamentalist - violence connection, really. Sure, you can bend any religion to condone violence, and even find motivation of violence in the religions, but I do think these are minor elements compared to the significance of things like poverty and lack of power and freedom.

We will have the first "Christian" terrorist group the day oil prices go high enough so that ordinary western Christians will not be able to heat their houses. Then there will probably be people who will blame Muslims or Islam and attack the local Mosque. Until then, Christian fundamentalists will mostly stick to verbal violence against those that they feel threaten their life-style.

One of Freedom said...

I see it as a threat. Fundamentalism that is. We have seen violence from Christian fundamentalism already in North America. Abortion clinics being bombed is not a passive event. Nor is George Bush's brand of terrorism. We are at a very tenuous point in history and as long as violence is an option violence will be exercised. Having read the papal address I am not sure much of it was wise - I am not impressed with this pope at all.

Patrik said...

Well, you may be right, but I still se media disinformation as a bigger threat. You know, to be able to consider killing people in a war you have to consider the "enemy" sub-human. And this is exactly the lie media is increasingly feeding us: that the people in the Muslim world do not react, think and feel as we do, i.e. not as humans do. I suspect the case is the same on the other side.

If there is a full-out war between the Western world and the Muslim world, it won't be between two religions, it will between two groups of people that consider the other group sub-human.

Weekend Fisher said...

Out of curiosity, Patrik, have you ever read the Sirat Rasul Allah? It's the earliest Muslim biography of Mohammed. The more one understands the basic fundamentals if Islam, the more sense can be made of the various strands of events in the Muslim lands, and the more they can be rightly put into context.

byron said...

it will between two groups of people that consider the other group sub-human.

Yes: the de-humanisation of media portrayals (on both sides) deserves more critical attention.

Aric Clark said...

As far as Christian Terrorists we can't forget the NRA in Northern Ireland, or any of dozens of Catholic Nationalist and Protestant Unionist groups there. Nor should we overlook groups like ETA in Spain or dozens of other examples - not to speak of crazed individuals or state sponsored terrorism which is what many powerful Christian political leaders have committed throughout history by engaging in assymetrical warfare.

There is no question, but that Christianity can and does provide plenty of fuel for violence, however, basically I agree with patrik that the root causes of violence are dehumanization of the other and economic injustice. It is a tragedy that gospel has ever been perverted in support of these things.

Patrik said...

Weekend fisher, no I haven't read it.

Aric, yes there is Christian terrorism but not directed at other religions (excluding North-Ireland which is basically a land-conflict.)

Terror-Free said...

New Pope Shows Spine
Islamonazi CAIR Is Not Impressed - video

Please Call The Vatican Embassy In Washington, DC at (202) 333-7121 to Express Your Support!