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Recent Conflicts

Reader comment on item: Christianity Dying in Its Birthplace

Submitted by Aidan Maconachy (Canada), Nov 27, 2005 at 07:04

The recent riots in France prompted me to re-visit this thread that has touched the idea of a "clash of civilizations".

There have been quite a few voices that have been suggesting these riots were Islamist in inspiration, and some have spoken of "holy war" coming to the streets of Europe.

I think we have to be very cautious with such judgements. This conflict can't be reduced to a simple "us versus them" paradigm, reason being that we have moved light years beyond that reality. There are many Muslim citizens in our Western societies who are in every respect "integrated". Many of these people are in business and in the professions ... they are members of our armed forces. In Canada we have a sikh community that is an integral part of our society, a number of them key players in the business community and officers in the RCMP.

I am proud to be a member of a society that is struggling to include peoples of all ethnicities and faiths within a social/political framework that is inclusive.

I agree that in Europe there are radicalized and unassimilated populations of immigrants that are posing an enormous challenge. However it is a mistake to identify these Muslim immigrant peoples with radical Islam of the bin Laden variety and to concoct wild theories that their aim is to create European caliphates etc. This is hysterical and unhinged thinking.

There are some hard core Islamist elements in these Muslim communities that are definitely engaged in this type of jihadist activity, as we have seen with the Madrid and London bombings.

However, a closer and dispassionate analysis of these atrocities makes it clear that the Muslim communities at large were in no way guilty by association. Interviews with English Muslims in the communities in which the young bombers lived, makes it clear that most of those citizens were frankly appalled and ashamed that this action could have been spawned in their midst.

I do agree though that there is a tolerance for Wahhabi teachings in some European mosques, and a culture that tends to cultivate violent ambitions. This is true. However the solution, is not to further marginalize and stigmatize these communities so that they are driven toward violence as a solution. The way forward is to work with the majority of moderate people in these communities and seek to find a way to lessen tensions.

Recently Salman Rushdie called for reform within western Islam, and I completely agree. Muslims living in the West must find a way to reconcile their faith with the democratic societies in which they live. We have a courageous young woman here in Canada named Irshad Manji who has also called for extensive Islamic reform in her writings, and has of course been pilloried by hard line Muslims for speaking out.

This is a work in progress, and those who advocate exclusion and condemnation in response to the problems posed by our immigrant communites, are basically trying to create the conditions for civil strife of the most ugly kind. None of us need this.
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