Sadly, here we are:
Media outlets, particularly on TV, are increasingly promoting overt bigotry against Muslims, stating over and over that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that peaceful Muslims are somehow to blame for ISIS. Hateful stereotypes are treated as fair game; the question of whether Muslims are somehow lesser human beings is raised as a valid or even necessary debate.
There’s more, of course. Vox’s Max Fisher continues:
Elements of the Republican party have been hijacked, at state and national levels, by a fringe group of anti-Muslim activists who see Islam itself as a threat. While some leading Republicans resist their agenda, others embrace it; Louisiana Governor and presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal has falsely claimed that Muslims in the UK have set up “no-go zones” that police refuse to enter and where sharia law prevails, and that Muslim immigrants coming to the US are an “invasion” and “colonization.”
Thankfully, Adam Walker provides a sane counter to this rampant bigotry, writing in The Independent that a “majority of Muslims have a peaceful reading of the Koran”:
The verses that are often quoted by critics are … cherry-picked context-dependent verses. They were only applicable at a time when war had been openly declared against Muslims because of their faith. They were being driven out of their homes and routinely assassinated. “Fight them until there is no persecution and religion is freely professed for Allah”, says the Koran. But if they stop oppressing you, it warns, then remember that “no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.“
In a Washington Post op-ed, Fareed Zakaria confronts Islamist violence said to avenge blasphemy. He points out that the word blasphemy never appears in the Koran (though it certainly does in The Bible’s Old Testament):
On several occasions, Muhammad treated people who ridiculed him and his teachings with understanding and kindness. “In Islam,” [Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan] says, “blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment.”
As a Christian who believes that Jesus’ example is a non-violent one, I can certainly sympathize with the frustrations of Muslims who live in a culture (indeed, a world) in which, more and more, their faith is perceived to be aggressively militant. And I pray for them: that their faith will give them the strength to continue to pursue peace.
Violence is a temptation — to us all. Christians have wrestled with it since Jesus admonished Peter for his use of the sword.
And Christendom has struggled with its connections to state-sanctioned violence since the time of Constantine:
But let’s return to Fareed Zakaria, whose warning is surely intended for all governments — self-proclaimed “Christian” and “Muslim” — that would attempt to co-opt the worst elements of religion for secular gain:
When governments try to curry favor with fanatics, eventually the fanatics take the law into their own hands.