Sunday, January 11, 2015

Religious terrorism: It's not just Islam

I've been annoyed and frustrated (yet again) by those blaming all of Islam for the actions of fundamentalist extremist Muslim terrorists.  They insist on trying to tar the entire religion with the same brush with which they condemn individual acts.  (For a particularly egregious example, which I do not endorse, see here.)

Those spreading such propaganda completely ignore (or deny the reality) that other religions have precisely and exactly the same problem - rogue individuals and groups who emphasize certain aspects of the faith in question to justify their atrocities while ignoring others.  Don't believe me?  Here are just a few examples of Christian terrorism around the world over the past 50 years.  It's by no means an exhaustive list - and I might add that the 'body count' in these incidents is pretty impressive by any standards, rivaling (and perhaps exceeding) that of Muslim terrorist incidents over the same period.

I could cite many more examples, but why bother?  Similarly, I could point to terrorist incidents perpetrated by Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and any number of other religions, but again - why bother?  Such acts are seldom, if ever, perpetrated by organized religion as such.  They're perpetrated by those who espouse violence and terrorism, but use religion as a cloak to fool others (and themselves) that there's some justification for their actions.  No-one blames all of Christianity for the terrorist actions listed above, just as no-one blames all of Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Judaism, or any other religion for atrocities perpetrated by their followers.  Why, then, do people persist in blaming all of Islam for the actions of Muslim fundamentalist extremist terrorists?

The answer, of course, is simple.  It's easier to blame the 'other', the 'different', as an entity, rather than seek to understand the reality of the situation.  The latter requires hard work, empathy and a willingness to look at all sides of the situation.  Few people are willing to take the time and trouble to do that.

In the sidebar you'll find a series of articles I put up a few years ago under the overall heading 'Discrimination, distrust and xenophobia'.  I stand by what I said in them.  To blame the whole of Islam for the atrocities perpetrated by some of its adherents is to ignore reality.  Those who insist on doing so identify themselves as being just as intolerant, biased and prejudiced as the terrorists they condemn.  Tragically for the peace of the world, there are a lot of them . . . on all sides of the terrorism equation.



B said...

Your argument has merit. However, in all other instances (including those you listed above, among others) the actual world church(es) refuted and condemned the actions of the individuals.

If Islam (AFAIK, there is no real governing body as such) has refuted the actions of the muslim terrorists then I haven't seen nor heard it. The muslims I know don't do so. They refuse to comment, or they make excuses, but they *DON'T* condemn these acts of terror.

I may be wrong, but I haven't seen a Fatwah against acts of terror in any shape nor form.

And that is the difference that you fail to address.

dorfer21 said...

While im no expert in world religions, i believe that the other religions outside of Islam have commands that are to the effect of 'murder is wrong' and including the killing of those outside the religion, whereas Islam explicitly states the believers are to kill infidels and apostates.

og said...

The core document of Christianity is the new testament. A treatise on loving kindness toward one another- everyone. The core document of Islam is the Koran. A treatise that specifically commands murder and torture. When someone claiming to be a Christian acts badly in the name of Christianity, he's doing it wrong. When someone claiming to be a muslim acts badly in the name of Islam, he's doing it right. Therin lies the specific and precise difference.

m4 said...

@dorfer, @og I suggest you look in more detail at what is permitted under jihad, and indeed what is permitted in the religion as a whole... Not to kill those who have given their life to religion, not to use scorched earth tactics, not to kill civilians... I'm pretty sure conversion by force isn't allowed either. Been a while since I've read religious texts though (not that they change often...), it's all control as far as I'm concerned.

@Peter Thank you for this, I had noticed such things in comments on this very blog, and it's a dangerous attitude to have.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

I have to concur with B, Peter. I agree that a minority of Islam is responsible for Jihadist acts of terror, or the movements like Al Qiuda or ISIS. But it is also true that the few voices of disapproval are coming from very small groups who seem to carry little weight with their fellow religionists. This fact is troubling, even given the non-centralized nature of Islamic faith. And while your examples are valid, NONE OF THEM have the word-wide focus of Islamofacisim. B's point is valid. Where is the Fatwah? The widespread condemnation of terror? There seem to be more liberal media apologists making your point than Muslims themselves.
I agree that while all Muslims are not terrorists, one hell of a LOT of terrorists ARE Muslims, with no real condemnation from the hierarchy. This makes me and many other reasonable folks go "Hmmm...."

og said...

m4: I've been studying what is permitted and what isn't since about 1974. I have a pretty good idea what I'm talking about And I study still. The Koran specifically commands muslims to convert, subjugate, imprison or slay non muslims. It is pretty clear. The fact that "Jihad" exists is in itself proof of this. Jihad doesn't exist as a proscription in any religion but islam.

Anonymous said...

I simply repeat the comments by
1, 2, 3 and 5 and add that I recall nothing of any "good works" by those of that religion. If they are known for any charity, I'm sure I would have gotten a request for a donation by now.
The reward for following their religion seems to be sex and they invoke their religion during their cowardly attacks, I gather.
Then, there is the garb that seems to benefit their actions.
Everything seems to be in their favor so I see no need to chastise those who take precautions as they would when
encountering a strange pit bull dog. How are we supposed to tell the good from the bad?

Kimberwarrior45 said...

Ask your self- if there were suddenly 1 billion more Christians (following Christ's teachings) in the world would it be a better place and then ask if there were suddenly 1 billion more muslims (following mohammad's teachings) in the world would it be a better place. If you answer truthfully you recognize the problem and your argument is one of misdirection on the root of the problem not the facts.

m4 said...

@og Would you be kind enough to point me to the relevant parts of scripture? It is my understanding that Islam was originally completely peaceful, and as a result Muslims were routinely preyed upon because they would not defend themselves. As a result, Jihad was created, to allow Muslims to defend themselves without breaching their religion. Inkeeping with those requirements, jihad had more conditions than a modern EULA.

og said...

try these on for size.

Peter said...

Too many comments to respond individually. A few points:

1. Islamic authorities in many nations HAVE condemned terrorist acts, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Do your own search for the results. Unfortunately, most Western news sources never report such condemnation, and those who lust after anything and everything negative about Islam that they can find don't bother to look for them. That would require an open mind.

2. Islam does not have a supra-national authority such as the WCC or the Vatican. It simply doesn't exist; so to require a unified Islamic response to or condemnation of terror is a waste of time.

3. I'm very tired of people raising this or that issue in the Koran, or this or that Islamic teaching. Precisely and exactly the same can be said about Christianity; some of history's worst excesses have been 'justified' on Biblical grounds, from the Albigensian Crusade ("Kill them all - God will know his own!") to the use of torture by US agencies and individuals during the War on Terror. To harp upon such issues merely evades the point that IT IS WRONG TO BLAME ALL ISLAM FOR THE ACTIONS OF SOME MUSLIMS, just as it's wrong to blame all Christianity for the actions of some Christians.

4. I'm not going to get into a theological pissing contest with those whose mind is made up and who don't want to be confused with the facts. I laid out the facts in my series of articles on 'Discrimination, Distrust and Xenophobia' linked in the blog sidebar. Those articles contain FACTS. If they can be refuted, the thrust of my argument can also be refuted; but to date, no-one has been able to refute them. Instead they've jumped off to another point and said "But what about this?" when instead they should be saying, "You're wrong on that factual point because of this evidence". Changing the subject is not an argument, and is not convincing. That's how a child argues. An adult has to deal with facts and reality - or he's going to get nowhere.

Peter said...

Oh - one more thing. Many anti-Islamic sites are so biased as to be completely non-objective. If you get your facts from sites with names like "Bare Naked Islam", "Religion Of Peace" or "Gates Of Vienna", be aware that you're reading pre-judged and therefore inherently prejudicial material (that's what the word means, after all). They aren't interested in the facts, only their preconceived perspective, and they'll look for facts and 'massage' other details to fit their agenda.

This does not make for trustworthy material. There's a lot more out there, and anyone interested in the truth is going to have to dig for it, because it's too much like hard work for most such sites (and besides, they don't want to be confused with the facts).

B said...


While I am not the most adept google searcher, I haven't been able to find a single statement that condemns the acts of terrorism.

I have found many that say that "it is too bad that this had to happen, but what could be expected when you insult the prophet...and what can be expected when individual muslims are enraged" and stuff like that, but no condemnations of the terrorist act.

If you have some, please point me to them.

parabarbarian said...

The "Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings" by Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri claims that terrorism and suicide bombings are not supported by the the Koran nor the Sunnah, are unjust and are evil. You can get an English translation on Amazon.

Peter said...

@Mr. B: A very quick search reveals the following:

French Muslim condemnation -

Saudi condemnation -

Lebanese condemnation -

From a pro-Muslim Web site, a list of reactions and condemnations from Muslim governments -

og said...

Peter: I'm not getting facts from anyone but the Koran. The quotes at 'Religion of peace" can be looked up by anyone, period. The website I listed is just a handy reference, you can look up the individual verses in the Koran themselves, they are precisely as quoted. You can say theyre taken out of context, and that may, on it's surface, be true, but if you regularly read the Koran, as I do, you'll see that the context is worse. As I pointed out; the core document of Islam is the Koran, and it is chock full of proscriptions of violence against everyone else. Not so the new testament. Violent Christians act out of accord with their beliefs; violent muslims follow theirs.

B said...

Sorry, you make my point here *IF YOU BOTHER TO READ WHAT IS ACTUALLY SAID in the articles***.

Most of your quotes are GOVERNMENTS *not* religious leaders.

"This extremely grave barbaric action is also an attack against democracy and the freedom of the press," the French Muslim Council (CFCM) said in a statement."

Not a condemnation as I see it.

"But we can't exonerate the West for its insulting of the prophet. I'm not justifying what happened, but these are causes," Sheikh Ashraf Saad said. "Just as we condemn extremists, we must also condemn these freedoms that have reached the point of insulting the prophet."
From the same sources you posted.

Governments might condemn the act, but again, where is the Fatwah against killing unbelievers or those non muslims who might "insult" Mohammed?

No one has stated that "these killings are wrong and should not be repeated and people who do this are not acting according to the teachings of Mohammed".

No one.

og said...

"No one has stated that "these killings are wrong and should not be repeated and people who do this are not acting according to the teachings of Mohammed".

No one."

Because that would be a lie. The people who do this are acting specifically according to the teachings of mohammed. And this is not prejudice or xenophobia, it is observable fact.

Peter said...

@Mr. B: As I pointed out earlier, there is no central Islamic religious authority such as the Vatican or the WCC in Christianity. Therefore, there's no statement from a central religious authority - there can't be. There have been, and still are, rulings, fatwas and condemnations from clerics in individual nations, like the one cited from Saudi Arabia.

@Og: With the greatest respect, Sir, you're talking past my points rather than addressing them. Yes, the Koran does indeed call for such atrocities. So do books of the Bible - the Old Testament, specifically. Take any one verse of any religious book and you can probably justify just about anything. The fact remains that in Islam as a whole, calls to such action are not being made. They're being heard in certain areas from fundamentalist terrorists and their sympathizers, and from political extremists who happen to use Islam as a fig leaf for their ultra-conservative prejudices (e.g. the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan). That won't stop you or I walking down the road in many Muslim areas (or even entire Muslim nations) without a shred of harm coming to us, because most Muslims don't subscribe to terrorism or hate crimes.

Peter said...

I'm not going to continue to debate the pros and cons of Islam. I've said everything I needed to say in my articles linked in the sidebar under "Discrimination, Distrust and Xenophobia". Those interested in learning more can follow the links provided there. Those whose minds are made up . . . well, you're not going to change mine, and I know I'm not going to change yours. We'll just have to agree to differ.

Rolf said...

Peter - any thoughts on my potential solution as a way to draw the lines more clearly for folks that I posted at Joe's blog?
Seems part of the problem is that what you or I say the Koran says is meaningless to most Muslims. We need more clarity for all concerned, and I proposed a way to get it.

W. Fleetwood said...

Just my two cents worth. Nothing personal but I've heard this before, back in the 70's when the academic lefties would insist that communism, "real communism" was warm and fuzzy and bright and shiny and totally wonderful. Pol Pot? Not really a communist. Mao? Not really a communist, and old too. Joe Stalin? Not a communist, just a Russian (he wasn't). How about Lenin? Okay. he was a communist, but he had very bad subordinates. And so on. And on. And on. Well, to paraphrase that philosophical light of the west, Forrest Gump, a communist is what a communist does. And an Islamist is what an Islamist does. I grant you that what most Muslims do is get up in the morning and go to work, work, then go home and eat dinner. True. But, within any Muslim group there are the all-capital-letters, more Muslim than thou, UltraMuslims and those bastards will kill you. You speak of walking down the road in a Muslim town in perfect safety. Well, don"t be doing that wearing a Star of David cowboy. Yes, Yes, Yes, its only one percent. But in a small town of 2,000 that's twenty guys with clubs trying to crush your skull. Now you are correct to point out that all the Abrahamic religions contain the material to justify damn near anything. If the Ur-text of your religion holds that when the voice in your head says "Abe, I want you to chop up the Kid as a sacrifice to Me." and the correct answer is "Gotcha Boss, I'll just nip over to the neighbors and borrow their bone saw." (I paraphrase) there isn't much you can't do in the name of the voice. And yes I am aware of all the theological back flips and forward rolls that one can do to have the text mean something, anything, other than what it says. And no I am not a religion basher. My point is that while the 99% may not join in the skull crushing festivities they don't have a theological answer to "The voice says do it! See, its written right here in black and white!" The answer has to be a practical one, General Sisi of Egypt stopped the burning of Coptic churches and the gang rape of Coptic women not by by arguing for the "real" Islam but by issuing a shoot-to-kill order and then shooting and killing (And may all Gods of whatever name bless him and keep him safe against the darkness.). I would, with respect , suggest that the question of what is the real Islam is actually irrelevant. Islamist is as Islamist does. When Gen. Sisi, and the Kurds, and the Jordanians and so on put their lives on the line to fight the 1% dingbats the US should back them, period, not undercut and betray them as we are doing now. And so much for my two cents, thank you for the space.

FishStyx said...

I have not read or studied the Koran.
I have worked with three devout muslim men for more than a decade.
I know their wives and children.
I have eaten in their houses.
I consider them good friends.
I no longer discuss anything regarding terrorism or Islams apparent violent tendencies. To a man they make excuses for that sort of behavior or claim that it is exaggerated to make Islam look bad. To a man, they deny that the Holocaust happened and that it is a "story" made up by the Jews for sympathy.
These are not newcomers to the West. They have each been here for more than 30 years and would be considered "fully westernized".
They follow American sports teams, enroll their kids in little league, complain about local politics, etc.
I am not judging Islam by what is written in a book or on a website.
I am judging by what its followers DO. AS A MAJORITY.
They claim to do nothing wrong.
Everything that may "happen" is brought about by someone elses perceived transgressions against them.
I see rallies in the middle-east with 10s of THOUSANDS cheering acts of terrorism and the deaths of thousands. REPEATEDLY! In MANY countries.
I am not judging them by their religion or by their words.
I am judging them by their actions.
I shouldn't believe my "lyin' eyes"?
Really. I am sincere. Tell me what I'm missing here?

Anonymous said...
hope this will help

PeterW. said...

Mohammed is to Islam what Jesus is to Christianity.

Each faith points to its founder as the greatest example, the image of what the "perfect" practitioner of that faith should be like.

Jesus (the historical man that no serious historian denies , existed) preached peace, self sacrifice and specifically rejected the proposition that his followers establish an earthly, political power-base.

The historical Mohammed was a man of violence and war, who both ordered and endorsed murder...... and lead his followers in military conquest to establish an empire on earth.

Now if a Muslim decides to "get serious" about his faith and follow the example of his prophet, in which direction is that going to take him.?

Every example that Peter gives of "Christians" going off-track, can be demonstrated to BE opposed to basic Christian doctrine simply by quoting the teaching and example of Christ.

Try doing the same comparison between ISIS and Mohammed.

Peter B said...

Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch is one authority you probably consider to be prejudiced. He went through Tahir ul-Qadri's fatwah to see how he dealt with the key Koranic verses and Hadiths which Hamas, ISIS, al Qaeda and others "Islamists" use as legal justification for their actions. He found that not only did ul-Qadri not refute the jihadis, he generally doesn't discuss the verses at all.

How can a legal analysis that claims to be a comprehensive study of the topic and disagrees with other authorities' legal assertions not discuss them and refute them? It can't just ignore them; one wonders if he can't refute them, or whether his silence is tacit agreement.

Islam is organized around law. So simple a word as "innocent"might mean one thing to a Western journalist thinking of his children, and another thing altogether to a jurist for whom it is a term of art.

For example, Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi asserted that suicide bombing in Israel was permissible, since while Islam forbids the killing of innocent persons, Israelis, whether men, women or children, did not fall in the legal category "innocent." Hamas relies on analyses such as that; the late Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, who in his lifetime was the top authority at al Azhar in Egypt, at one point argued with Qaradawi but later endorsed his conclusion.

Ul-Qadri was the force behind, and is very proud of, Pakistan's hideous blasphemy laws. A number of years ago, when Zia's government tried to declare that stoning to death was not one of the Koranically mandated Hudd punishments, Qadri authoritatively proved that it was.

Yes, Gates of Vienna has its bias, it also does good translations, such as this one, in which ul-Qadri expresses his pride in the law and in overturning Zia's ban on death by stoning in Pakistan.

Oh, and here's a pertinent discussion from Richard Dawkins' old website:

Speaking of the Ahmadis,

The Wikipedia article on the blasphemy law cites the following section: An Ahmadi, calling himself a Muslim, or preaching or propagating his faith, or "in any manner whatsoever" outraging the religious feelings of Muslims, or posing himself as a Muslim.

Three years and a fine. That's almost up to apartheid standards. Perhaps things like this are why the Ahmadis are upset.

Peter B said...

Speaking of law: Peter, you cite Jewish and Jewish violence. While there have been and continue to be Jewish terrorists who use religious legal justification, they are socially condemned and their religious-legal rationales for their actions are vigorously challenged. More than that, even if you ignore over two millennia of Jewish jurisprudence, even if the Jewish religious territorial maximalists had their way, their millennial religious/legal ideal is rule over a very small piece of territory. Yes, it still has tribal aspects, but they are intrinsically, internally limited.

In contrast, Shariah, which also incorporates a tribal mentality, has as its millennial ideal a state with a unified religious, civil and criminal legal authority over all human beings and every square inch of the Earth. Shariah legally requires Muslims to see to it that this ideal is realized. The only question is timing and means.

Under that conceptual framework, the Boers in South Africa were more of a technologically advanced tribe with modern weapons, fighting a tribal war against other, less well equipped tribes. Certainly their national church had little religious support from most of the Christian world.

I submit that whatever Christian religious authorities did to the Albigensians, things changed with the religious wars following the Christian Reformation, which led to the Congress of Vienna system and the modern concept of national sovereignty instead of a tribal sense of nationality. The affected churches altered at least their conduct and to some extent even their doctrine accordingly.

The Congress of Vienna system is under attack today from transnational forces such as corporations, the United Nations, the EU, and various NGOs, and was forcibly imposed on Islam, which never conceptually agreed with it because it impinges on the scope of Shariah.

I would submit that the more closely a nation today hews its legal code to Shariah's line, the less any reader of this blog would want to live there permanently.

m4 said...

@og Well I've seen what I need to see of your "source" and I'm afraid I can't trust it any further than I can throw it. I noticed that it quoted two almost contiguous passages... There was a gap between them. The passage either side said how it is good to fight the enemy. Wonder what the passage between them says. Lo and Behold!

" And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!" "

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Peter, but nowhere does the Old Testament contain blanket commands to wipe out people who do not believe. There were very specific commands to wipe out those living in the land God promised to Israel, and many of Israel's problems to this day stem from their failure to carry out those commands. There is nothing comparable to Mohammed's "smite the infidel" commands in the Judeo-Christian scriptures. As noted by others, those groups justifying their terrorist acts based on Christianity have to twist Christian teaching beyond reason. That is simply not the case for Islam. When Mohammedans use terror tactics, they are following their founder's example and his explicit teachings.

og said...

M4: enjoy your submission and enslavement. You quarrel with one link, ignoring the rest.

m4 said...

For those insisting that the Bible doesn't contain blanket instructions to murder...

Exodus 31:15
For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.

Exodus 22:18-20
Do not allow a sorceress to live. Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death. Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.

Leviticus 20:27
A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer ... That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God.

m4 said...

@og I asked for your evidence of what you claimed as truth. What you gave me doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

Islam is not just a religion. It is a political system and in my eyes a cancer spreading across the world that commands all non-Muslims be converted, taxed (enslaved) or killed. It can not co-exist with other religions or atheist societies. At least not for long.

A radical Muslim wants to cut your head off. A moderate Muslim wants a radical Muslim to cut your head off.

darko said...

I just have to comment on the "Former Yugoslavia" part.

1. the war wasn't based on religious grounds directly, it was more on national basis.
2. there were no cleansings of Muslims in Serbia (as far as i know), there was no war there; and in Croatia (Croats vs. Serbs; we did differentiate catholics vs. Orthodox christians but there were many orth.christians on the croatian side and vice versa. Like i said nationality based.
3. And Bosnia is a special story: at one time everybody was against everybody.

R. said...

So, Apartheid is evil. OK.

What then is the hundreds of thousands (perhaps as many as 750K) people who have died as consequence of violent crime since Apartheid has fallen?

Are those dead the inevitable consequence of liberty?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, M4, but none of those are commands to murder infidels. They apply only to believers who violate the commandments.

It's really rather amazing how many people willingly misinterpret those passages.

m4 said...

So all those people burned as witches and heretics, all they had to do is say the magic words "I don't believe in your god" and they'd be let off to live their lives in peace because that's what the scripture says? I don't think so. The lines quite clearly say that anyone living among you that falls into those categories must be put to death.

Incidentally, your defence of "you're just misquoting and wilfully misinterpreting the scripture" is one that has come up before in this thread, for the other side. As far as I'm concerned, that proves that we can both play this game and you should all stop getting your "facts" from obviously biased sources.

RM said...

What!? Are you actually suggesting we should deal with people as individuals rather than as members of groups? What kind of outlandish nonsense is this? The sad reality is that dealing with people as individuals requires that I be willing to accept the sort of risk that accompanies real freedom. Many of us like the idea of freedom far more than the sometimes messy reality. As are result, we only deal with people as individuals when it suits us to do so.