Published on January 10th, 2015 | by Rayne0
When extremism exists, the peaceful majority are irrelevant
Over the last few months we’ve seen horrible events which have resulted in the death of innocent people. Two of them have attracted worldwide media attention. Firstly, the siege in Sydney, Australia where a fundamentalist Muslim man had taken hostages in a 16 hour stand-off with police. This event ended with the death of two hostages and the gunman himself. The second event in Paris where three fundamentalist Muslim men walked into Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper building and opened fire, killing 12 people. 1 of the shooters later turned himself in with the remaining two gunmen being killed by police after a man hunt a little later on. Another gunman linked to the attack was shot and killed after taking hostages, four of the hostages also died bringing the death toll of innocent people to 16. All because they didn’t like the newspapers criticism of their religion.
In the aftermath of the Sydney siege, the Australian public quickly rallied together to combat threats of violence against the Muslim community from the wider population. People gathered to make sure the safety of Muslim men, women and children on public transport and those walking on Sydney streets after the siege. Australia rose up in a show of solidarity against those threatening violence by creating the Twitter hashtag #illridewithyou which went viral within minutes.
The concept of the hashtag I agree with because the actions of a few fundamentalists should not be generalised as the actions of an entire community. As a result of the siege, the threats of violence against the Muslim community weren’t just contained to the Muslim community itself but towards anyone who “looked Muslim” which we all know means “brown people” especially those wearing turbans, scarves or head coverings, clothing which isn’t generally Islam specific. Rallying around people to ensure their safety from people who conflate a religion with a colour of a person’s skin is a great thing and should be encouraged. Violence isn’t the answer.
After the tragic even in Paris, Twitter exploded with the hashtag #RespectForMuslims, this hashtag is an entirely different story. Giving respect should not be based on religious affiliation or lack of religion. Respect is earned. People should not be given respect freely simply because they belong to a religion. Your actions matter.
Twitter was divided into several groups of people. Those who demanded respect for Muslims and those who criticise fundamentalist Islam (as well as monotheistic religions in general), as well as criticising the moderate Muslim apologists who won’t stand up and address the issues of fundamentalism within their religion. Not surprisingly those who disagree with the sentiment of respecting people based on their religious affiliation were dismissed as racist.
We should respect people on a case by case basis, not based on their religious affiliation. I don’t agree with respecting the ideas of religion, especially the monotheistic religions and I vehemently disagree that criticising the idea of Islam is racist or that criticising monotheistic religions is somehow a bad thing.
Richard Dawkins has landed himself in hot water with the above tweet mainly due to the opposition missing the point entirely. His tweet wasn’t being literal, it was highlighting how an affiliation with community of people doesn’t make that community a “race”. His satirical comment on the accusations of racism against the criticises of Islam highlights a very important point:
Islam is not a race. Christianity is not a race. Judaism is not a race. They are religions. A Muslim person is a person who follows Islam regardless of their colour or nationality. There are white Muslims and brown Christians. One cannot be racist against a religion because anyone of any nationality can follow a religion. Any religion of their choice. Religion and faith are not nationally specific.
The freedom of religion is a fundamental human right as is freedom of speech. People have the right to hold whatever belief or faith or phobic opinion they want, even if it is illogical or harmful or dangerous. However the corollary to that is people also have the freedom to criticise those beliefs or opinions. We have the freedom to disagree with another’s ideas. In fact, ideas should be scrutinised, they should be torn apart to ascertain whether they are beneficial to society or not. Adding to that point, while people have the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech – we are under no obligation to give people with harmful views a pulpit to express them.
People have died throughout history because people don’t understand that we have the freedom to criticise their ideas and ironically people are now suppressing the right to freedom of criticism under the guise of racism. What we need to do is have a frank and open discussion about the dangers of extremism and fundamentalism within the various religions – not just within Islam but in all religions. Unfortunately religious apologists would rather silence that discussion than stand up and say “There is something wrong within my community and we need to fix it”.
We need to stop silencing discussions around the dangers of extremism within religions with cries of “Islamphobia” or “You’re persecuting Christians!”, we shouldn’t be using the racist card as a shield to stop discussion. While we also need to realise that not all religious people are extremists, moderate religious people need to recognise that sitting in a corner doing nothing but loudly proclaiming “Not all Christians/Jews/Muslims” and throwing the “No true Scotsman” fallacy around is not doing anything to stop the problem of extremism and the violence and oppression it brings.
The dangers of indoctrination isn’t just contained to Islamic extremists but it is prevalent in everyday life. Fundamentalist Christians attempt dominionism by implementing their own beliefs into legislation which has resulted the oppression, discrimination and death of minorities. Buddhists are attacking and killing Christians and suicide bombing in the name of their beliefs, a young man was attacked and killed by a religious zealot, a fundamentalist Norwegian Christian wanted to start a “Christian war to defend Europe” attacked and killed 92 people. The list goes on and on and on and on.
To stop the problem, you need to stop being part of it. Stand up and recognise that something is not right within your community and address the issues properly rather than dismissing them. The concept of Islamphobia or persecution against Christians is bullshit especially when it is used as a silencing tactic for speaking out against the dangers of religious indoctrination.
“I know that we portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there [are] 1.8 billion Muslims followers of Islam. We have 8 million plus Muslim Americans in this country, and I don’t see them represented here. But my question is how can we fight an ideological war with weapons? How can we ever end this war? The jihadist ideology that you talk about — it’s an ideology. How can we ever end this thing if we don’t address it ideologically?”
Brigitte’s answer is more eloquent than I can manage on this blog:
“What I find so amazing, is that since the beginning of this panel – we are here about the Benghazi attack on our people – not one person mentioned Muslims, or [said] we are here against Islam. We are here because four Americans died and what our government is doing. We are not here to bash Muslims. You were the one who brought up the issue about ‘most Muslims’ – not us. But since you brought it up, allow me to elaborate with my answer.
There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world today. Of course not all of them are radicals. The majority of them are peaceful people. The radicals are estimated to be between 15-25% according to all intelligence services around the world. That leaves 75% of [Muslims being] peaceful people. But when you look at 15-25% of the world’s Muslim population, you’re looking at 180 million to 300 million people dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization. That is as big as the United States.
So why should we worry about the radical 15-25%? Because it is the radicals that kill. Because it is the radicals that behead and massacre. When you look throughout history, at the lessons of history, most Germans were peaceful. Yet the Nazis drove the agenda. And as a result, 60 million people died, almost 40 million in concentration camps. 6 million were Jews. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. When you look at Russia, most Russians were peaceful as well. But the Russians were able to kill 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.
When you look at China for example, most Chinese were peaceful as well. Yet the Chinese were able to kill 70 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. When you look at Japan prior to World War II, most Japanese were peaceful people too. Yet, Japan was able to butcher its way across Southeast Asia, killing 12 million people, mostly killed by bayonets and shovels. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. On September 11th in the United States we had 2.3 million Arab Muslims living in the United States. It took 19 hijackers – 19 radicals – to bring America to its knees, destroy the World Trade Center, attack the Pentagon and kill almost 3000 Americans that day.
So for all our power of reason, and for all us talking about moderate and peaceful Muslims, I’m glad you’re here. But where are the others speaking out?. And since you are the only Muslim representative here, you took the limelight instead of speaking about why our government – I assume you’re an American [Ahmed responded yes.] As an American citizen, you sat in this room, and instead of asking a question about the four Americans that died [in Benghazi] and what our government is doing to correct the problem, you stood there to make a point about peaceful, moderate Muslims.
I wish you had brought ten with you so we could talk about how to hold our government responsible. It is time we take political correctness and throw it in the garbage where it belongs“(transcript from CNS news).
When extremists exist, the peaceful majority are irrelevant because when extremists take the lives of others and the peaceful majority do nothing to stand up and demand change – the moderate majority are part of the problem, not part of the solution.