Thursday, July 28, 2005

Battle of the Letters

Recently, a local Imam and myself have gotten into a bit of an argument by means of the 'Letter to the Editor' page in our local paper. Here's his letter:

The Islamic Center of Topeka joins Muslims worldwide in condemning the recent barbaric bombings in London. Our prayers have been offered along with Jews, Christians and other fair-minded people for world peace and condolences to the families of the victims.

This was a calculated, premeditated, cold-blooded atrocity and the wrong-doers will be brought to justice, if not in this world, surely the next. The Qu'ran says, "If anyone kills the innocent people it is as if he killed all of humanity," chapter 5, verse 35. The Qu'ran also condemns the act of taking one's own life (suicide) chapter 4, verse 29. Prophet Muhammad said, "The one who takes his life with a piece of steel will wake up in Hell repeating the same act."

The Islamic Center of Topeka asks the media to stop using misleading terms like Islamic terrorist, Muslim terrorist and Islamic extremist. The words Islam and terrorist together create an oxymoron. They simply do not go together.

A criminal is a criminal, period. To identify a suspect by the religion that he or she proclaims is biased, unfair and negative stereotyping.

Members of the Irish Republican Army aren't referred to as Catholic terrorists, but many of them are Catholic. It is reported that Hitler was a devout Christian, but he was never referred to as a Christian terrorist after exterminating more than 6 million Jews.

After 400 years of slavery in this country, history has never referred to white America as Christian slave masters. However, many of them were indeed Christians. The BTK killer is not referred to as a Christian serial killer and he was an active member of his church.

The bottom line is this, we can't commit crimes and blame it on religion. Prosecute the criminal to the full extent of the law, but please leave a person's sacred religion out of it.


Here's my response to him:

Recently, Imam Omar Hazim called for us to separate the religion of a criminal from the criminal act. He wrote, "We can't commit crimes and blame it on religion." He referenced the IRA as an example of a terrorist organization that was distanced from its religious beliefs. In that, he is incorrect as the IRA was often noted to be a Catholic organization.

He goes on to say that the media is using misleading terms such as "Islamic terrorist, Muslim terrorist and Islamic extremist" that are oxymorons. Firstly, these criminals are terrorists, so that word is applicable. Secondly, these criminals are followers of Islam, so Islamic or Muslim would apply. Lastly, in regards to the word extremist, I would hope that these criminals wouldn't be representative of Islam as a whole so extremist is also correct.

In fairness, the Imam is trying to distance the Islamic faith from the brutal acts being committed by a tiny minority. It's an understandable reaction, yet it's a counter-productive one.

The terrorists aren't trying to free imprisoned comrades or extort money from governments. They are using their religious beliefs as justification for the very acts that the Imam claims are against the Islamic faith.

As long as they are using Islam as their primary motivation, it is impossible to separate their acts from their religion. If the majority of the Muslim population truly wanted to separate themselves from the barbaric actions of a very few, then they need to denounce the acts and the perpetrators themselves, not the media for using correct verbiage. Any attempt to distance Islam from these crimes is disingenuous until the leaders of the Islamic global community are willing to stand forth and denounce the crimes and the criminals instead of the victims.

In my opinion, the Imam is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he condemns the acts as barbaric but then turns around and wants the media to not label them in such terms. I maintain that, no matter what those in Western civilizations do, until those of the Muslim population who disagree with the terrorist activity actually stand up and let it be known, in both word and deed, that they will not tolerate those kinds of actions we will not be rid of this brand of barbarism. We can kill every terrorist that crops up and it won't stop, not until the culture that is spawning such creatures makes it clear that it will not allow them to continue down such a path. If the Muslim global community truly believes that terrorism is wrong and evil then this kind of fanaticism can be stopped. If, however, they are only paying lip service to such a view then nothing will change.


At 5:56 PM, Blogger sgo said...

I assume you would have no problem with calling Timothy McVeigh a Christian Terrorist?

nor would you have a problem with calling Eric Rudolph a Christian Terrorist?

Or David Koresh a Evangelical Terrorist?

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous kes said...

SGO, your examples are ridiculous. In each of those particular cases the perpetrator did not commit the crime in the ‘name of’ Christianity. Likewise with the Imam’s examples of the BTK killer and the Christian slave owners and Hitler. They had other reasons for committing their crimes other than ‘God wanted/told me to do it’.

This is COMPLETELY different from the Islamic terrorists. They, on a regular basis claim that they are doing Allah’s work and that their fight is jihad, or ‘holy war’. For anyone to say that they are on the same level as your average-Joe murderer is mis-representing both versions of criminals.

Should a member of any religion commit an act of terror ‘because their god told them to’, or because they believe it’s the only way to gain ‘spiritual salvation’ I think that in those cases that labels like Christian terrorist, Buddhist terrorist, Jewish terrorist etc… are fully appropriate. This is why, when the IRA was labeled a Catholic terror group, no one in the Catholic community argued with it. Rational Catholics WANTED the distinction between themselves and the criminals.

But likewise, a Muslim who goes on a serial killing spree… killing one victim at a time because of a personal need, like the Green River killer, Bundy or any of the other sickos, they’d only deserve the title of serial killer, not terrorist. To label them otherwise would be doing their victims a disservice.

The distinction is clear, unless you choose to muddy it, for your own agenda

At 9:58 AM, Blogger sgo said...

The 3 I mentioned DID NOT kill "one victim at a time because of a personal need".

No the folks I mentioned Killed many in the name of the values espoused by their messed up versions of christianity.

Please explain how McVeigh, Rudolph, David Koresh were NOT Terrorists? Your above arguement skirts the issue and brings in a bunch of Red Herrings.

For example: What sets Rudolph apart?

He did it for his religion - that is clear as day.

Do you agree with what they did?

At 10:01 AM, Blogger sgo said...

on more thing. YOu make the assumption that all Isamictic terroists do it because ‘God wanted/told me to do it’.

Too simplistic - too much Talking Point logic.

Try again.

oh and you might want to read this to get some perpective about what's going on in the world with terrorism.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Mindwyrm said...

kes says it pretty well. Here's some examples that I would give you SGO. The early KKK would absolutely be labeled a christian terrorist group as they claimed to be doing God's work. Those who bomb abortion clinics could be called Christian terrorists because they are committing those acts in the name of religion. The IRA were Catholic terrorists. They tried to change their image after a while into a political one but with a membership of nothing but Catholics that was impossible to do. Timothy McVeigh did his bombing, not in the name of God, but in the spirit of revolution. He saw himself as a modern day George Washington fighting against tyranny. Not as a disciple on a jihad. Eric Rudolph would be a good example of a Christian terrorist and I have no problem with that label. He committed a terrorist act in the name of his religion. Just as the Islamic terrorists are doing. And as for it being a 'talking point' when you look at the statements given by the Islamic terrorists over the years they are nearly always religious based as opposed to political. So you're right in that it is simple. The Islamic extremists are taking on Western culture, not just the US, in the name of Islam. That's why they are labeled religiously as opposed to politically.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous kes said...

I apologize for the attack. I inferred your intent and then didn't address your specific examples, instead I addressed the imam's examples. Jumping to conclusions is something I usually try to avoid.

Let me state in no uncertain terms that I do NOT agree with the violence perpetrated by McVeigh, Rudolph or Koresh in any way, shape or form. Let society judge them and punish each according to the law. Then let their God judge each respectively for their actions.

That being said, I agree with mindwyrm that McVeigh is NOT a Christian terrorist. He never stated that what he did was 'for god'. He may have thought that the Bible allowed/supported his actions because they were revolutionary in his mind but that's a far cry from being told what to do by your deity. Men who beat the wives find justification in the Bible, that doesn’t make them right, doesn’t make the act justified or legal, and doesn’t make them religious extremists.

Regarding Rudolph, upon writing my message I hadn't fully thought about who you were talking about (I'll fully admit that's a horrible thing to do!). Upon a Google-helped reminder, I will agree with both you and mindwyrm that he could rightly be labeled a Christian terrorist in his acts. The only difference being that he acted alone rather than as a part of an organization – not a big distinction, I know. As an individual who's perpetrated a series of crimes, I think it is wholly appropriate that he be punished as such, for each crime committed. I believe that most other Christians, whether they agree with his 'ideal' or not, would agree that he crossed the line when he committed the violent acts. I think the same thing about those individuals who bomb abortion clinics. They believe that it is their Christian duty to protect the unborn and that violence is acceptable to gain their goal. Whether I or any Christian agrees with their goal or not is not the point. I believe that all Christians should denounce their act as unjustifiable and impermissible. They too should be punished to the full extent of the law, for each act committed.

As for Koresh, there's no doubt that he was a religious wacko who had violated several laws and needed to be brought to justice. Had he committed any violent, terrorist acts before Janet Reno showed up in Waco? Had he encouraged his followers to do so on his behalf (or his god’s)? I’m not too familiar with the details. If he had, I have no doubt he did it because of his faith and therefore would rightly be called a Christian terrorist. But, if all he did was buy guns illegally, marry too many women, and create a ‘commune’. Those are not an act of a terrorist… religious or otherwise.

In summary, I’m sorry for my original comments not being very well thought out and my examples not in-line with your original comment. But, I stand my by original assessment of the imam’s letter. Just because someone is of a particular faith and commits a crime, they are not necessarily a religious terrorists. It is the combination of type and intent of the act that justifies using the religion as an adjective before the noun.

Lastly, In the case of Islamic terrorists, I'd like to see any examples where they've been claiming that they aren't doing it for 'jihad'. 'Cause if that isn't their motivation, they would then have to admit that they are going against the will of Allah... as all the moderate Muslims are saying. That just makes them terroists. Either way, the majority of the Muslim community has EVERY REASON to denounce them, if not bring them to justice themselves. Mindwyrm's origial point was just that... why aren't they?


Post a Comment

<< Home