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No, Muslims are not joking

Reader comment on item: Pope Benedict Criticizes Islam [in Regensburg]

Submitted by Thomas Justin Kaze (Australia), Sep 25, 2006 at 02:35

It is easy to become complacent about the threats of Islamic terrorists and their sponsor states – and for a long time, both seemed extremely remote and even unreal. And then it started, and there seems to be no end in sight; first the self-appointed Al-Qaeda and other bands of holy warriors flexed their muscles for the world to see, and now this: Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, decried the "blood-thirsty Zionists and their big-headed and arrogant American supporters' and called upon "the Muslim youth in all Islamic nations" (those living safely in the Western countries, presumably too) to "stand against the savage wolf of Zionism and the aggression of the Great Satan".

Sadly, his speech was neither a paraphrased part of a script from the Movie "Team America – the World Police" nor a lame attempt at satire. It was an unambiguous treat against te United States and Israel.

His speech was received quietly in the democratic world; Americans did not attack the Iranian embassy in Washington and Israelis did not fire-bomb Shiite mosques in Jerusalem. Contrast this to the reaction in the Islamic world to the Pope's theological and historical observations about faith, violence and the nature of G-d. The response was violent (as many could have predicted) and the violence was portrayed, by Muslims, as The Pope's fault. It is so ironic that Muslims are so offended with accusations that their "religion" is not one of love, forgiveness and tolerance that they have responded in a way we have come to expect.

There is a trend, when liberal democracies or Western institutions are attacked by terrorists, for their apologists to blame the victims. The real culprits are portrayed as offended, oppressed, outgunned, discriminated against or misunderstood – or all the above; and the real victim becomes the guilty party. This trend was in evidence when British authorities uncovered a terrorists plot. British Muslim leaders quickly responded by publishing an open letter to Prime Minister Blair stating, more or less, that young British Muslims would be less likely to plan and execute (terrorist) attacks if the UK followed the Islamic line in running its domestic and foreign policies, and disengaged from Iraq. The blame-the-victim approach was again on display during the latest unprovoked assault on Israel. There was little mention that Hezbollah and Hamas rocket attacks and kidnappings were precursors to Israel's military response.

In the current blame game, those who speak freely or seek to defend themselves are deemed guilty – because they should take greater account of the likely reaction, consider the other party's sensitivities and – in case of a military conflict – respond "proportionally", whatever that means. (I think Faith Freedom had a good idea what such "proportionate response might be).

The threat of violence posed by devout (have we seen other than that?)adherents of Islam is very real, and we need to know the conviction that drives this violence. We should not apologize for seeking to understand the threat, nor should the Pope Benedict XVI. If Islam is not a violent belief system, as we have learned from Muslims first-hand, then there should be no harm in asking these questions, no matter how uncomfortable Muslims may feel answering them; as I have already written earlier, our ungrounded fears should then be dismissed with a laughter of contempt and dismissed – no harm done. If however Islam is as violent as we have had a chance to experience it, the sooner we confront the reality the better. Appeasement betrays a greater desire for false harmony than for truth – and I am being sarcastic when writing the word "harmony."

Thomas Justin Kaze

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