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Islam Again, Again
Entry 1857, on 2017-05-31 at 22:28:47 (Rating 4, News)
I said in my last post that I had some thoughts on terrorism and its causes, mainly after thinking about the Manchester attack. I think the there are two big problems which have lead to poor analysis of the situation: first, people tend to form conclusions based on their existing political beliefs instead of trying to reach an unbiased verdict; and second, they tend to look at things too simplistically instead of accepting that there is never just one cause for a complex social phenomenon.
In the last post I briefly mentioned my initial reaction when I first heard about the attacks. That was that it was probably "Islam again". By that I meant that Islamic beliefs were likely to be an important part of the motivation for the attack. And that was clearly the case. But what I didn't mean was that Islam was the only cause or that all Muslims should share equal blame.
Another important point is that, no matter how evil these attacks are, they really don't represent a great threat when looked at statistically. There are plenty of stats out there to show this.
For example, the Washington Post reported that on the day that 130 people died because of the Paris terrorist attacks, roughly three times that number of French citizens died from cancer. They also say that in the US more people have been killed by being crushed by furniture than by terrorist activity since 9/11.
Those numbers should be accepted but that doesn't mean that taking terrorism seriously isn't important. It could be that because terrorism is treated as if it is far more dangerous than it really is that it has been kept under control to some extent. And disease, road deaths, and work related accidents are just an unfortunate side effect of people living their lives. Terrorism is far more malicious and deliberate and has no positive side making the losses a bit more tolerable.
So a death from a road accident and a death as a result of a suicide bomber aren't really equivalent. People shouldn't be scared of terrorism, but they shouldn't become complacent and they should make their abhorrence of it clear even if they are unlikely to be affected by it directly.
I think I have made a case for treating terrorism and terrorists with the utmost contempt, what about the more difficult question of what or who to blame? Is Islam actually the problem?
Well yes and no. As I said above, all complex political or social issues have multiple causes. But the statistics make it very clear that Islam is a major factor. Find a list of terrorist attacks and you will see that the vast majority would be carried out by Islamic groups or individuals motivated by Islam. This cannot be denied, and I don't think it can be denied that Islam is one of the most significant causes of terrorism.
People will say Islam is a religion of peace, of course, but that has become more a knee-jerk reaction than a statement which is the result of serious and considered thought. I don't think it is a religon of peace at all. In fact, there are many reasons to think that it is one of the more violent religions. It's true that most Muslims don't act on these more aggressive aspects of their faith, but that doesn't mean that they are not there and that they don't encourage people with a predisposition to extremism.
Another excuse offered by Muslim apologists is that many of the problems in the Islamic world are caused by the unwanted meddling of the West, especially the US. I totally agree. I think US foreign policy is one of the biggest causes of political instability around the world today. But does the fact that a major power interfered with the politics of your country give you the right to kill innocent children at a pop concert in a different country? Only an incredibly sick-minded person whose human decency has been warped by a vile ideology could believe that.
Not many people would be prepared to sacrifice their own life and take those of many innocent people without some incredibly powerful ideology being involved. No one is going to strap on a suicide vest after considering a problem rationally. To do that takes something like strong political views... or religion, of course. The problem is currently Islam, but any Christian who thinks they can take the high moral ground on this should have a look at the history of their own faith and maybe reconsider that thought.
So was it Islam again? Yes it was, but it was also political frustration caused by western interference again, and it was many other things again too. Should there be greater scrutiny of Muslims because of this sort of event? Yes, but it should be in proportion to the potential threat.
These things are nuanced, and neither side: neither the people who always spring to Islam's defence, nor those who automatically condemn all Muslims, are right. The truth is somewhere in between. Sure, it was Islam again and it will continue to be Islam again, but what our response should be to that fact is the real issue.
Comment 6 (4720) by OJB on 2017-06-02 at 13:14:42: (view earlier comments)
And no, I don't believe I have ever discussed religion with an anabaptist before.
Comment 7 (4721) by richard on 2017-06-07 at 10:28:48:
I'll call you out Owen every time with this 'Jesus (if he existed)' nonsense. Lol.
I don't recall anything in Jesus teaching that endorses terrorism of any kind. His teaching was pretty clearly precisely the opposite. Oh of course there are some OT that can be pressed into service by those that want to do evil, but if the (internally consistent) Christian view that Jesus was also God and spoke for God, is taken seriously by Christians, then those awkward passages must be interpreted in the light of Jesus position, thus rendering them unavailable for service in the sort of evil done by historical christians. So this brings out an important point. For the most part, we must level blame at Christians where and when appropriate, rather than Christianity, if their actions are not in line with Jesus teachings.
While the same principle of course applies to Islam, I think we agree however, it is impossible to seperate Islam from the incitements to violent Jihad that are undeniable in it's writing. And we agree too that thankfully the vast majority of muslims choose quite rightly to bury and ignore that teaching. So the valid question is what has caused the rise of Islam terrorism in the last 60 years, before which it was almost non existent?
Comment 8 (4724) by OJB on 2017-06-07 at 11:27:41:
Fair enough to call me out on the historicity of Jesus question. I have already indicated that I am very uncertain about that topic. But we're discussing that on the other post so I will leave it out of this discussion.
There are plenty of web sites showing where the teaching of Jesus can be interpreted as inciting violence. I'll put a few examples together and post them here later.
Islamic terrorism has only been a phenomenon of the recent past, but Islamic violence has always been there. As I said, it is undoubtedly partly due to the Western meddling in the Middle East but I think there is an inherent background of violence in the religion itself too.
Comment 9 (4727) by richard on 2017-06-07 at 17:55:45:
I tend to agree with you that Western meddling probably hasn't helped the situation, but I also wonder whether the ever increasing access to global media coverage, and/including social media, that has provided the easy platform for widespread publicity (we just never heard much about local violence in the past) and also global notoriety, that has also encouraged it. Not technologies fault of course, but a sad consequence nevertheless?
Rather like email spamming - they wouldn't bother doing it if the message didn't get delivered so easily? But anyway - slightly off topic - aree with your analysis of Islam 100% Owen.
Comment 10 (4729) by OJB on 2017-06-07 at 21:59:59:
It's a complex issue with many contributing factors. There is no doubt that global communications have an effect but I don't see it as being an important cause - but that would be just my opinion because there's no real credible data on this.
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