[private] I often hear pragmatic westerners pronounce either one of two generalizing phrases about religion. One- “All religions are good, same in principles and bound to live together peacefully.” The other- “all religions are basically the same: violent and deceitful.”
I believe neither of these points of views is true. Religions are not the same. They provide different approaches to interfaith existence, behaviour and some have basic fundamental flaws. There is very little dialog about these controversial topics.
Discussing relations between faiths, their conflicts, contradictions, and history is a taboo. The religious conflicts that saturate the news pages in the West are stereotyped as ethnic and racial. There is a confusion of terms and inability to even correctly label them: religious cleansing, ethnic cleansing, racism. The militant Islam is called fascist, the religious terrorists are mislabeled insurgents. The West is unable to face or analyze the threat to its core existence.
While Western materialism has rendered much of the Christian beliefs irrelevant to European lives, the westerners are wrong to assume that religion will become irrelevant to people who move there from other parts of the religious world.
Some religions have in the past integrated into the European and American melting pots, others have not. Islam has a history and principles that forbid such integration, and nothing, despite wishful thinking on part of many Europeans, has shown to contradict this phenomena.
How can the West deal with unapologetic, angry, unforgiving, and accusatory Islam, while western leaders are excusing Muslims as victims and the West is readily accepting the role of the victimizer? The common version of events, is that West was and still is, a colonizer, responsible for genocide of Jews, the Crusades, etc. Guilt, a natural feeling in the Judeo-Christian culture has dominated the West’s core to the point of self hatred. Westerners are readily accepting blame for past and present, blaming their church leaders, or imperialist, colonial past.
Muslims are well organized and voice their protests on a global scale when they feel their faith is being attacked by cartoons, medieval papal quotations, or interrogation techniques. I see apologies and acts of contrition coming from Popes, European politicians, and US presidents. They in turn are unwilling to judge by the same token the violent and atrocious acts of beheadings, bombings and Islamic press ridicule done by Muslims. What I never saw was an apology from an Islamic group, or prominent Islamic leaders.
One of the problems in getting such statements, is that Islam, which unlike Christianity or Buddhism, is a decentralized religion, lacks religious authorities on global scale. There is also the concept of ‘tribal’ solidarity of not going against your Muslim enemy if he is at war with non-Muslim is a simple fact. This is also the principal reason why no Iraqi people directly help or inform the US against fighting the foreign born jihadists. Muslims would rather be wrong together than right divided.
While Europeans remain paralyzed in what to do with their 20 million Muslim minority, most of them don’t realize that several western European countries had substantial Muslim populations in the past, following centuries of Islamic conquests and expansion. When after countries they regained control of their Muslim occupied lands, Muslims were forced to convert and integrated into the society, or had to leave. Spain, Portugal, France, Sicily, Greece all made these choices.
This is by no means an uncommon practice in the Muslim world. As recently as the 20th century, Turkey’s Armenians, the Algerian French, or Italians in Libya all had to leave their Muslim dominated birthplace. In Honduras, tens of thousands of Christian Arabs from Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan fled Islamic religious persecution to settle here in the early 20th century.
Islam is the only religion which punishes apostasy by death. Forbidding members of a religion or any organization to leave by threat of death, as uncomfortable as it may read, is a definition of a cult.
Muslim minorities as a rule, after centuries of living in their host nations, weather in China, Thailand, and Poland, never integrated into their non-Muslim host societies. Why? “Our beliefs are superior. We will never integrate,” said a British Muslim being Interviewed on BBC. Such candid expressions to the non Muslim public are rare, but reflect a universal belief of the Muslims towards all other religions. [/private]