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.
- South Africa: Millions were displaced from their homes and tens of thousands tortured and killed to enforce the policy of apartheid, which was officially 'blessed' by the Dutch Reformed Church of that country (and implicitly endorsed by many other denominations) as a 'Christian' approach to the problem of race relations.
- Uganda: The terrorist activities of the "Lord's Resistance Army" are well-known.
- Mexico: Certain drug cartels have emphasized and embraced a quasi-Christian religious aspect to their operations. See, for example, 'La Familia Michoacana' and 'Santa Muerte'.
- USA: The activities of the Ku Klux Klan were (and still are) often explicitly defended in Christian terms; and the impact of the later 'Creativity' cult, which warps and twists Christian teachings to promote racial discrimination and White supremacist teachings, is well-known. Examples include the terrorist group calling itself 'The Order' and the 'World Church of the Creator', among many others. On the other side of the fence many Black pastors and churches adopted a more radical, racially-oriented stance from the 1960's onwards, including allegations that some have fomented violence against Whites. Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are among many well-known figures.
- Northern Ireland: The bloody record of paramilitary and terrorist organizations such as the Provisional IRA, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association, divided basically along the lines of Catholic or Protestant Christianity and justifying their actions as a defense of their 'faith' among other things, is too well known to require elaboration.
- Former Yugoslavia: The 'ethnic cleansing' of Muslims from areas of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia during the 1990's, including many atrocities (of which the Srebrenica massacre, in which over 8,000 Muslims were murdered, is probably the worst), will be familiar to many.
- Lebanon: The massacres at Karantina, Tel al-Zaatar and Sabra and Shatila were carried out by proudly self-proclaimed Christian militias.
- India: The terrorist National Liberation Front of Tripura is explicitly Christian in orientation.
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.