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Forest and Trees

Reader comment on item: The Mystical Menace of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
in response to reader comment: Mysticism and Menace

Submitted by K.H. Ahmed (United States), Oct 31, 2006 at 09:46

Dear g mcme,

I enjoyed reading your recent comments, a lot less polemic and more thoughtful. Regretfully, a lot of conclusions based upon generalizations that really aren't true. Yet you do strike at some of the core problems.

First, this idea that Islam at its core is a violent and aggressive religion is no more true than Christianity is a violent religion at its core. Christianitiy was and still can be expansive and violent when the wrong people are allowed to control the handles of power. Want to read a good book on violence, stoning, rape and pillage, try the old testament. But we do indeed get stuck in the trees when we debate the idea that religion is at the core of the problem.

I really want to move off of the idea that somehow anyones "Holy Book" leads to a certain conclusion. But I do have to comment on one glaring error in your comments. You state the Jews wandered for fourty years and found the land. I refer you to Numbers 33:50 - "Say to the people of Israel, when you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you..." It goes on about destroying things etc. etc.. Okay so you are wrong on that one, but you know what, who cares. The Jewish people have no more claim to it that than the Palestinians. We can't solve a problem by saying God gave it too me. It is a fundemental problem of the Middle East - this age old fight of which came first the chicken or the egg.

Could the Palestinians have accepted democracy and moved on? of course they could and should and to some extent many factions have done just that. But there are people in positions of power both in Israel and in Palestine that find it too there advantage to continue the hostilities and some of these do indeed include the Imams,

You touch upon an accurate point regarding the problems of the Imams. There are far too many Pat Robertsons in the Islamic world. who make interpretations based upon what they want it to mean as oppossed to what the intent and meaning of the words actually are. But I would point out to you that this particular strain of Islam is a direct result of compromises between the House of Saud and the wahabi sect that kept the House of Saud in power in Saudi Arabia - and guess who supported that little set up - we have for a very long time and now it is biting us in the butt.

Look the underlying problem in the Middle East is not Islam - it is a power structure that props itself up on the back of Islam and the existence of Israel. It is classic xenophobia, wag the dog, whatever you want to call it. People in power stay in power through the use of symbols and ideas and these can include religion. But from a diplomatic stand point we have to find a means to defuse the symbols that they use. Being an arab, (again I point out I'm not arab I'm Turk and they don't like us), is like being a Red Sox fan, years of losing and getting your hat handed to you creates a certain inferiority complex - relgion can make that go away. Attacking these people and their religion only reinforces the idea that the west opposses them, wishes to keep them down.

Our current policy is foolhardy and counter productive it does not address the fundatmental problems. Islamic extremism is a seperate issue within the problems of the Middle East, address it, attack it but at the same time we have to deal with the other problems that exist in the region. I wouldn't say crush the US because within the US there are some Christian fanatics - you would look at overall US policy and deal with the extremists seperately - that is all I am advocating. A clear and concise policy - we have to get off this religious issue.

As to your comments regarding Islamic inroads into Western society I couldn't agree with you more. If Muslims wish to enjoy the benefits of the West then they have to take the good with the bad. If they don't like what they see they can do as the Amish set up their own little communities and live peacefully and quietly. I know many muslims who own little stores, they sell booze, they sell lottery tickets and make a good living. There is no prohibition against that in their religion, they know it and act accordingly.

I did not respond to the piece on the Minnesota taxi drivers because what they sought didn't deserve a response or any form of defense. If they don't like it find another job. On the other hand if some one wants to be veiled or wear the burqha a far as I am concerned that's their business. The religion does not call for it, its a cultural thing,(mostly persian), but I don't think that's any concern of mine or of the governments.

One other point, the Koran actually does teach equality between the sexes. Long before it was so in the west women could own land, gain inheritance, choose who they married. Over the centuries many old cultural biases crept into the religious framework. The prophets wife Aisha led men into battle, his first wife was an extremely well off business woman, it was quite common in the beginnings of Islam for women to be heavily involved. There is a very strong movement today among western women muslims to revisit the Koran and point out the Prophets admonishins about women. One I would point out is that the closest thing to God is a woman. This is what is so important about understanding the facts about what we are dealing with. You ask "Do you stone guys who rape women?" I believe it calls for the death penalty, beheading if I recall correctly. But guess what Old Testament, what do you do with a women who commits adultery. You stone her.

Foreign policy cannot be based upon a debate about religion. All religion can be is prisim that we can see the other through a glass darkly.

On a personal note regarding my beliefs. I am indeed Muslim. I find a great deal in my religion that is thoughtful, caring and beneficial in my life. However, I don't face Mecca five times a day, my wife doesn't cover,(heck if she hadn't had three kids she would be wearing a bikini) and I am a big budweiser fan. I am half german and half turkish. The Turks have separated religion and government for a very long time and it has been an extremely long and arduous task and it remains so to this day. Thank God Attaturk made the military swear an oath to the state and not the faith.

You will find Muslims are as diverse a people as Christians. This is why I say the level of polemic on religion must be reduced if we are to achieve our goals. Politicians love religion because they can fire up the faithful and the facts can be ignored. You seem a thoughtful person. I would ask that you dig deeper, understand the people that we currently struggle with and find ways to use "their" religion to accomplish our goals, make their weaknesses our strengths. Play the game of diplomacy as it is suppossed to be played, with intelligence.


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