One of the worst results of the jingoistic, racist right wing mob attacks on Islam the last few years is that it makes it extremely difficult for decent people to engage in any kind of critical analysis of what is going on in the Islamic world today. However, it still remains true that there is something very dangerous happening which is unfortunately tied to Islam. I've made this little map to try to explain what I mean:
This is a map of the Eastern Hemisphere in which I have colored the predominantly Muslim areas in green. The red explosion icons represent two things: either countries in which Muslims are at war, or have committed violence, to force conversion, or Muslim countries where secular governments are fighting Islamist hard liners. These conflicts have resulted in millions of deaths in the last few decades.
There is something drastically wrong here, and it is clearly being fueled by Islam. Remember that, in the last decade of his life, Mohammed himself led wars to forcibly convert non-Muslims.
Now, before going any further, I want to add that mainstream Muslim clerics insist that this is not a justification for anyone else to engage in such behavior, but it is certainly taken as a precedent and justification for violent conversion by large numbers of Muslims, all around the world.
I must point out that this attitude is well in line with, say, the Christian attitude that produced the Crusades. I am not even going to argue that that attitude is far in the past for Christians. I can remember just a few decades ago, when the Crusades were still taught as a glorious chapter in history, and sadly the comments of many right wingers since 9-11 show that the mentality that produced the Crusades still lingers on. But the difference between that and the almost omnipresent religious violence wherever the Muslim world meets the rest of us is extreme.
Somehow, this self-granted license to destroy in the name of religion, must be beaten back, until at least it reaches the (still disgraceful) level that it occupies in our own country. Otherwise, the world is in for endless conflict. Muslims must accept the fact that other people also have a right to their myths and fantasies. How that is ever to happen, I don't have a clue.
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