Open Letter: There Are No Islamic Terrorists

10 Posted by - October 19, 2013 - Life

Open Letter to the National Geographic Magazine (or anyone who does this):

Recently a post came across my Facebook stream that read, “They call it “the crisis”: Islamist terrorists are trying to gain control of the north” and it linked to an article on your site. To your writer’s credit, James Verini, the article itself doesn’t include this term, but it does include the terms “jihadists” and “violent islamic extremism”. (Another article by the same author references an “Islamic Jihad Fighter” (did the interviewee call himself that or is that a designation that Verini gave him?) and a New Yorker piece by him quotes “Allahu Akbar!” without explaining that it simply means God is Greatest similar to the Christian “Praise Jesus!” or “Thank the Lord!” — I believe it’s this routine lack of context that feeds the fear and misunderstanding about Muslims in the Western world.

natgeo

Let’s be clear: there is no such thing as an Islamic terrorist.

As National Geographic, a publication that is synonymous with world travel and exploration, I would expect better of you. The Western bias, ignorance and anti-Islamic sentiment contained in the short hand “Islamic terrorist” is part of a larger problem of sweeping anti-Muslim attitudes in the United States and a kind of casual racism and bigotry that has been widely accepted and unquestioned.

But they are Islamic, right?

Of course, they consider themselves to be Islamic. But let me point out several things. First, we never call US-based terrorists “Christian Terrorists”. You can google the phrase inserting different religions and see for yourself. This is a term used exclusively with Islam and it promotes the idea that all terrorism, or at least the majority, is Muslim. This is not true.

Secondly, it shows our bias. When a pro-life extremist organization kills a doctor or bombs an abortion clinic we separate these horrific acts and the religion that they are supposedly driven by. We know, from our lived experiences, that the vast majority of Christians do not support killing, that the Vatican while anti-abortion doesn’t condone violence, that the average Christian believes something very different from the murders who claim biblical authority. Even the KKK is largely a Christian organization. Yet we don’t call their acts Christian, even though that’s their religion, because we understand that hate or violence of any kind are not the teachings of Christ.

This is also true in Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion. It does not incite people to violence. A reality check: 23% of the world population is Muslim. 80% of them are non-Arab, 60% of them are in Asia. If Islam was a violent religion, with 1 in 4 people practicing it, wouldn’t we be overrun with so-called “jihadists”? Even without knowing a single verse of the Qur’an, common sense tells us that obviously the religion is not the problem here.

The final point is that even the term terrorism has become so synonymous with Muslims that we don’t associate mass shootings or other violence in the US with terrorism, and this framing effect (the way the information is presented) leads to the false perception that Islam is driving cause of terrorism.

Yes, but Islam is very extreme, especially in the Middle East.

If Islam is extreme, or conservative or anti-progressive, then why in the 1970s did Iran look like this?

BR9

And why now, forty years later why does it look like this?

iran_female_ninjas

Did Islam change? No. It is exactly the same since the Prophet Mohammad came in 600 AD. What changed? The politics of Iran. The shift of control to a group of people who interpret Islam in this conservative manner.

With 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, the way Islam is practiced is more about the local culture and politics.

Malaysia Muslims

Malaysian-Muslims-lead-wellbeing-index

 

Chinese Muslims

chinese-muslims

 

Australia Muslims

PICEDITOR-AGE

 

Canadian Muslims

Canada  Muslims perception1

 

Nigerian Muslims

nigeria

 

British Muslims

british-muslims

 

New York City Muslims

American+Muslim+Day+Parade+Winds+Through+New+QDv0Yf8bSTwl

It’s just a word and they are technically Muslim…

Words matter. By modifying the word terrorist with Islamic you are implying that there is a type of terrorist that is of the Islamic persuasion. This of course is false, and in a minute I’ll talk about the statistics about this that prove this, but it’s also harmful. The Obama administration has recognized this, that it’s important to not use anti-Muslim language when we talk about acts of violence, because it’s harming our relations with those people. Just as Christians would object to being linked to the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church, because theses fringe organizations are not mainstream Christianity. You could say, “terrorist” and you could talk about their religious background, but more care needs to be taken to underline the fact that despite what anyone claims, no religion in the world advocates for violence or the killing of innocents. Simply interviewing neighboring clerics (as the author did in this piece) is not enough, it is not just the opinion of the terrorist’s neighbors saying this is not part of Islam, it is a cold fact that should be handled the same way we would with other religions.

Because of this casual acceptance of what is at best biased reporting or at worst anti-Muslim hate speech, we’ve reached a point where it’s completely acceptable and unchallenged for people to say things that are clearly anti-Islam. They say it on national TV, in the media, and online. Recently at a tea party rally someone said about Obama “put the Quran down, get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up”

It was Larry Klaman founder of Freedom Watch, this guy:

larry3_lg

Is Larry afraid of Muslims, hates them, or just using them as scapegoats to further his own political agenda?

Does National Geographic really want to use the same kind of language that is adopted by extreme right political organizations that use “islamaphobia” as a political tool to unite their base?

What about so-called “Jihadists” that’s a real thing, right?

The word Jihad means “struggle”. There are Jihads issued for many things, positive and negative and the word “jihadists” implies that jihads are always a holy war. There is an excellent fatwa (a ruling or advisory opinion in Islam — I know that word has negative connotations too) about this topic, which you should read if you are not already familiar with the concept. I will quote a few passages here:

“In other words, context and circumstance of Qur’anic revelation and Hadith are crucial in coming to terms with Jihad. It is an error to judge Islam and Muslims in the light of the kind of “Jihad” that has fallen victim to ideological tendencies. The critic also has to be wary of the interpretation of Jihad which is projected, and sometimes imposed, by the selective “religious reformism” so rampant today. They ignore central aspects of Islam’s intellectual heritage, selectively repress important figures and disregard Islam’s impeccable history of adherence to the standards of law and justice in affairs of state.”

“Ibn Rushd, in his Muqaddimaat, divides Jihad into four kinds: “Jihad by the heart; Jihad by the tongue; Jihad by the hand and Jihad by the sword.”"

“One form of Jihad, usually overlooked in today’s pursuit of newsworthy headlines, is the Jihad of presenting the message of Islam-da`wah. ”

“The question often asked is whether Islam condones and teaches the forced and armed conversion of non-Muslims. This is the image sometimes projected by Western scholars and as any Muslim scholar will tell you, is seriously flawed. The Qur’an clearly states ”There is no compulsion in religion, the path of guidance stands out clear from error” [2:256] and [60:8].”

“The position of the law is that only at such a time when it can be reasonably proven that; 1. there are aggressive designs against Islam; and, 2. there are concerted efforts to eject Muslims from their legally acquired property; and, 3. that military campaigns are being launched to eradicate them. At such a time the ruler can declare and execute the provisions of Jihad. It is a condition that there be a leader of the Muslims, an Imam, to declare combative Jihad.”

While anyone can claim to be a “jihadist” this term should be treated carefully when people use it who are not actually acting under internationally accepted Islamic law.  Even then, care should be taken because like many of these terms and Arabic phrases, they sound scarier than they are, especially when the reader has only been exposed to Islam though biased western reporting.

But every country in the Middle East is in turmoil, that’s not related to Islam?

These are developing nations. I’m not an apologist for what happens in the Middle East, I don’t agree with the politics in many situations. But these people, in many countries, have stood up to their governments and overthrown dictators during the Arab Spring at great personal cost. How many times has any American gone to Washington DC to protest something their government did? Would you camp out daily for weeks or months to get your way? What if they shot into the crowd and started killing protesters? Have you ever fought for something with your own life?

For the majority of Americans, of whom only 57.5% voted in the 2012 election, the answer is no.

In the US, we declared independence from Britain in 1776. How long did it take for us to create our constitution? 12 years. There is a lot of work to be done to create a democracy and the Middle East is deep in that process.

Isn’t this just your opinion?

No, there’s research to back this up. Robert Pape researched every suicide bombing from 1980-2003. He says, “There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions”. After studying 315 suicide attacks from the last two decades, he concludes that suicide bombers’ actions stem from political conflict, not religion.

Let’s say that again: In EVERY CASE, the motivation was political and not religious. There is no such thing as an Islamic terrorist, there are only political terrorists.

The words we use are just the beginning, but it’s a first step. If we stop casually and unthinkingly describing terrorists acts as Islamic, if we take care when using the word jihadists, if we stop linking Islamic fundamentalism with terrorism—then I think we begin to become more aware of how we think and talk about Islam and Muslims, and perhaps shift our thinking of them not as “others” but just as one of the world’s religions full of people from many different countries, cultures and walks of life.

The point is that we cannot paint nearly a quarter of the world with a single brush. There are many forms of Islam in how it’s practiced and how it is changed by the politics and culture of its believers. The tiny minority of violent extremists has nothing to do with the religion and its teachings, which at its core is a peaceful religion that promotes family life, protecting the less fortunate and building a better community under god.

With Kindness,
Christine Gilbert

  • Lindsay

    Well done, Christine! This is brilliantly written and deserves to be shared far and wide.

  • Megan

    Amen Sister.
    I never comment but, I’ve been reading for some time now.
    This deserved a comment – so well done.

  • http://furtherbound.com/ Hannah

    Bravo Christine – a very important point, perfectly expressed!

  • Stephanie

    Oh, goodness, for argument’s sake. I will speak about Christianity. I grew up in the US, the state of Georgia, in the Baptist church. I have read the KJV Protestant version of the bible many times, from cover to cover, and I cannot come away saying that Christianity is a peaceful religion. (If you base Christianity on the ideas found in this version of the bible as whole.) It’s full of justified war, the conquests of entire groups of people, racism, and sexism. I do agree that if one bases Christianity ONLY on the few teachings of the person called Jesus, then there is a possible interpretation of peaceful way to live, even then many, many of his parables are problematic when its comes to creating a socially just society. That said, I agree with you that certainly most, nearly all people, who call themselves Muslim or Christian are NOT terrorists. However, in the end, I must argue that I believe these religions, and probably all of the rest of them, to be dangerous. To promote that you have found the only true way to some god out there, everyone else is wrong, and given that they want to make everyone conform to your way of life. In the end, I do think it would be better for humans to consider a life without a god, this life is all you have, and if you want it to be better, you will have to do something to make if better, no amount of prayer to or belief in an imaginary god, angel, virgin, man, woman, spirit, etc, will ever help you.

    • almostfearless

      Stephanie, there is a difference between peaceful and pacifist and both Christianity and Islam advocate for self-defense while clearly limiting wanton violence. Also much of the bible is filled with the history of time, but I don’t believe that Christianity advocates for violence, killing, or hate. I haven’t read the whole thing, just most of the New Testament, some of the Old Testament, and a smattering of the Book of Mormon and it seemed pretty peaceful to me. If you want to quote parts that disprove that, I’m open to hearing it.

      I am non-religious but I believe it’s important to be tolerant of religions because it’s nearly impossible to separate human nature from the outcome of believing certain things. Did the crusades happen because of religion or would those men found some other excuse to go out pillaging and looting in the 12th century? And if you look at countries like China, who have tried to suppress religion, I don’t see that they necessarily better off.

      In general I think religion is a shared human desire to be inspired. We want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. I don’t get that feeling from church, but I do get it from other things… like travel. But I hesistate to judge anyone for what they believe, I’m more concerned with how they act.

      • Bree B.

        Yes! Again, thank you Christine for your intelligent and thoughtful comments and responses. I love that when someone feels passionately about something they are able to articulate what they are feeling or what they believe while using a fact-based approach and respecting others’ beliefs and practices. Just incredible…

  • SnarkyNomad

    I also take issue with people claiming that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.” It’s a total lie and they probably know it, off in the back of their mind. Basque separatists, Oklahoma City, Unabomber, Northern Ireland, the Japanese subway attack, and every abortion clinic bombing…the list goes on and on. And the thing is, they KNOW of those events. They have the information in their minds to realize what they’re saying is abject nonsense. But I think the more and more people say “Muslim terrorist,” the more people group the ideas together.

    • Tom

      What if you replace the word ‘all’ with the word ‘most’?

  • Billie31

    The Continental Congress declared its independence from Britain on July 2, 1776. We celebrate independence day on July 4, 1776. The treaty of Paris was signed in 1783.

    The statistics from Robert Pape end as the war in Iraq begins, and only about a year and a half into the war in Afghanistan. It is presumed that more suicide attacks have taken place between both of these wars than in the 23 year period proceeding them. We are still at war in Afghanistan and Americans are dying regularly.

    You first state that just because a minority of Muslim individuals are radicalized terrorists (extremists), that doesn’t make them all terrorists, but then go on to say that the Tea Party is an extreme right organization simply because of the actions of a handful men who merely claim to represent it. That isn’t a fair, and it seems you have no qualms with misunderstanding a group of individuals when it amplifies the emotional undertone of your letter..

    The Obama Administration saying that people should watch their tone because it is damaging our relationship with Muslims around the world is ridiculously hypocritical considering he has illegally droned more innocent Muslims than any of his predecessors. Killing innocent people around the world without a declaration of war or constitutional authority is not putting us in the good graces of the Muslim community. Below is a link to a startling infographic of the truth behind the strikes that have been damaging the reputation of western world in the eyes of the global Muslim community.

    http://drones.pitchinteractive.com/

    There were 85 killed at a church in Pakistan last month in what has been the worst ever attack on Christians in Pakistan. This has prompted the a warning to go out to minority Christian populations in other Muslim countries. The surviving victims say that they are being targeted by Muslims directly because of the US drone strikes that kill innocent Muslims in the country..

    This open letter intends to be objective, but it falls short. With less bias and better research this could probably be very well received by National Geographic.

    • almostfearless

      I used these two dates,

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

      “The Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776″

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Constitution

      “The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven States. It went into effect on March 4, 1789.”

      (I did have a typo in there, thanks, I fixed that).

      The point was that it took a long time. It wasn’t six months or a year. There was a lot of back and forth and fighting about state verses federal rights — something we still wrangle with today.

      Regarding Pape, so you’re suggesting that recent data, which you don’t have, is completely different than previous data?

      Next, let’s not equate the tea party with Muslims. The tea party is a movement within a political party. Those people are chose specifically to speak for the interests of that party, whereas terrorists who claim to be Muslim are not speaking for Islam, in fact, they are not even practicing Islam the moment they start killing people. If you don’t agree that the tea party on the extreme right end of the spectrum, that’s fine, but I truly do not see how that has an impact on the main topic here.

      RE: Obama, I agree, I am also against the drone attacks. However the facts remain that the administration has rewritten it’s CIA and miltary field manuals to be Muslim-neutral. Which if you think about it, even

  • Beth Partin

    This is a good article, but I would like to point out that the term used was not “Islamic terrorist” but “Islamist terrorist.” “Islamist” is a specific term referring to Muslim fundamentalists who impose their narrow version of Islam on others. Also, the United States did not gain its independence until 1781, when Cornwallis surrendered. Your point about context is very important—there’s so little context in most articles these days.

    • almostfearless

      There’s a number of terms used, Islamist, Islam Fundamentalist, Islam Extremism, etc. I think they all need to go when combined with terrorism. RE: The US independence, you are right, we “declared” it in 1776, not gained it, bad word choice, I have fixed it. Thanks!

      • almostfearless

        Also if you look at the wiki page for Al-Qaeda, a militant islamist group, there are 70 references to “islamic” on that page alone. I think the terms tend to be used interchangeably, and even the New York Times has used the term “Islamic Terrorist”. Sort of getting into splitting hairs at this point, but thought it was worth sharing.

      • Alison Swihart

        Actually, abortion clinic bombers ARE labeled as Christian Fundamentalists or Christian Terrorists. Timothy McVeigh was labeled a Christian Terrorist. Christian Fundamentalists are on the “terrorist watch list” maintained by the NSA and/or Dept. of Justice. Abortion clinic bombers are SO few and far between that that hardly qualifies. It’s always been a lone nut, not an organization.

        • almostfearless

          As I was researching this article I did google Timothy McVeigh and in the news articles covering him they DID NOT call him a Christian terrorist. But you are free to do a google search on Christian Terrorist, flip to news view and see how many articles you come up with. It’s a tiny fraction when compared with Islam, and this is something you can go look at and discover for yourself.

          • Alison Swihart

            I googled “Timothy McVeigh Christian” and he is called a Christian terrorist numerous times. But I agree, no religion should be identified by its crazies.

          • almostfearless

            From wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh “Timothy James “Tim” McVeigh (April 23, 1968 – June 11, 2001) was an American domestic terrorist” zero mention of the word “christian” on the entire page.

            Profile McVeigh on the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1321244.stm mentions the word terrorist twice, “In the hours after the Oklahoma bombing, commentators first suspected it was the work of a fundamentalist Middle Eastern terrorist group.” and as the name of a book by someone else called “American Terrorist” and does not have the word Christian in there anywhere.

            New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/arts/television/19mcveigh.html?ref=timothyjamesmcveigh&_r=0 calls McVeigh an anti-government extremist and refers to him as the Oklahoma bomber but there is zero reference to Christian.

            I could go on. The fact is black and white… the media simply does not discuss domestic terrorists according to their religion the same way they do when they are talking about Muslims.

          • Alison Swihart

            I guess we are looking at different search engines. Like you say, it is black and white. You see what you see; I see what I see, so I stand by my statement. I don’t want to argue about this, but I think you will see more and more that religion is used to describe someone’s crime or terrorist activity. I had no idea I would raise such ire when I made my original comment. In fact, I thought I was agreeing with you. I’m sorry my comment did not come across that way.

          • almostfearless

            Such ire? All I did was respond. Please don’t take me not agreeing with you as “intense anger”. I am sure there are other people who agree with you, so I wanted to take the time to outline why I take a different position.

  • skemarawks

    This article is so uplifting and inspiring. May God bless you…

  • Sarah Somewhere

    I loved this, an important point that I hope reaches far and wide. I really enjoyed reading this and would love to read a book about this topic from you some day, inshallah. We need it Christine!

  • Bere S. Munch

    Genial Christine! Hay mucho que entender sobre este tema, y la mayoría de la gente solo está expuesta e influenciada por la basura de información que consume en los “mass media”, con artículos así puedes educar y cambiar las ideas de algunos. Saludos y suerte! (te escribo en español para que practiques el idioma! )

    • almostfearless

      ¡Espero que sí! Creo que es importante para los viajeros que educar a la gente también…

  • http://www.theboywander.net/ Theboywander

    This is a brilliant letter, very well written and clearly you are well-informed. I think you also have to put in to perspective of where the hate (from the extremists) for the US, etc. actually stems from as well. While I agree that the Middle East is still a region finding its feet, the USA has played a huge role in keeping it de-stabilized.

    I’ll be sharing this article for sure!

  • chadsentientmoney

    You are suggesting terrorists and extreme fundamentalists are not following their religion by being terrorists. This is basically a semantic argument, whichis fine. Semantics matter and are a part of “soft power”, which the US has basically ignored for the last decade. However, I disagree with your conclusion that the “Islamic” or religious descriptor must be removed.

    The religious descriptor should be kept for the Islamic terrorists and added to all other terrorists associated with religion (including Christian)*. This matters, as the majority of the extremists in all religions can only exist through the tacit acceptance by the much larger “normal” religious body.

    “Did Islam change? No. It is exactly the same since the Prophet Mohammad came in 600 AD. What changed? The politics of Iran. The shift of control to a group of people who interpret Islam in this conservative manner.”

    I agree that politics impacts religion, but religion also impacts politics. It’s nieve to suggest religion doesn’t change and only politics changes. Christianity is vastly different now than it was during Roman times and it’s not all because of politics.

    Your reference to the Crusades in one of your comments is a prime example of what I just stated. Some people decided they needed to increase their power and wanted to take back land in the Middle Eastern area. It was politically motivated at the top, but they couldn’t have accomplished this without the religious masses being completely on board.

    “Robert Pape researched every suicide bombing from 1980-2003. He says, “There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions”. After studying 315 suicide attacks from the last two decades, he concludes that suicide bombers’ actions stem from political conflict,not religion.”

    I must say, I’m interested in reading that book. Though, and please correct this if I’m wrong, I would bet he is suggesting the “why” isn’t Islamic and is based on political beliefs, which is reasonable. But, I imagine the “how” of their recruiting to remain successful is through the religion, as everything else I have read suggests this is a common strategy.

    Politics is obviously influencing religion in this situation, but that does not mean religion isn’t willing going along with this change. It’s not just politics.

    “The point is that we cannot paint nearly a quarter of the world with a single brush. There are many forms of Islam in how it’s practiced and how it is changed by the politics and culture of its believers. The tiny minority of violent extremists has nothing to do with the religion and its teachings, which at its core is a peaceful religion that promotes family life, protecting the less fortunate and building a better community under god.”

    To clarify, I don’t disagree with the above. I just disagree that the religious label should be pulled of when there is a connection.

    *I want to clarify that not all terrorists are religious based, even ones in the Middle East.

    • almostfearless

      Yes, if you think religion should be noted for Christians as well, then yes, this would be an alternative way of handling this. I suspect that would be a harder won change, but it’s a fair solution.

  • Bree B.

    Very well done!

    Have you read the book Infidel? You might want to consider it – while it doesn’t completely line up with what you’re talking about, it does give a deeply personal account of what it means to grow up as a Muslim and talks about the specifics and dedication of those who practice. The author herself eventually turns away from the religion, but it’s still a very interesting read.

    Another thing… Does it irk you the same way it does me when people blame the individuals who where turbans for terrorism? That’s a good one too… It’s not even the same religion… Yikes.

    Thanks for your intelligent and thoughtful writing, I hope National Geographic reads this.

    • almostfearless

      I haven’t read Infidel but I will look for it… And YES the attacks on Sikhs because people think they are Muslim is to me the sharpest example of the misunderstanding of both Islam and other cultures — I mean Sikhism isn’t even related to Islam!

  • Robin

    Great open Letter. I hope NG responds. I fear you’re preaching to the choir with your audience though. I wish there was a way to educate more Americans that are less likely travel and be exposed to other religions about Islam so it wasn’t so easy to make these broad sweeping generalizations.

    • almostfearless

      I’m considering re-publishing it somewhere else, but I’m not sure where…

      • almostfearless

        Do you think Fox news would publish it? LOL. Oh the hate mail I would receive then…

  • http://www.PadoukDesign.com/ Diane Chehab

    Thank you for this unexpected post, Christine. I will share it. It serves certain groups on a political level to let Americans believe that the only terrorists ever were and are Muslim.

    • almostfearless

      Thank you. My time in Beirut — the 4.5 months that I lived there, changed me. I have taken a lot of time to reflect and research on what I felt, but at the core I think I became aware of how the perception of the west and the middle east are filtered through the media… both sides are guilty of this, but the Nat Geo post gave me a tool to talk about this issue.

      • http://www.PadoukDesign.com/ Diane Chehab

        This is proof positive that travel makes us more like citizens of the world, humans, rather than “us against them”. I am not Muslim, but as a Lebanese-American, I am tired of the constant offensiveness of perceptions, and the double standard.

  • Mary Hickcox

    Well said Christine. I completely agree and am so glad that someone with your talent for writing has put it out there.

  • http://www.PadoukDesign.com/ Diane Chehab

    Now that I read the National Geographic article, I find it to be a rather nuanced article, showing the various aspects of the Boko Haram violence. After the first mentions of “Islamic terrorists,” it doesn’t really come up anymore.

  • http://www.discovershareinspire.com/ Rachel

    Excellent points! Generalization is the root of too much prejudice and misguided preconceptions.

  • Renee L. Ten Eyck

    Brilliant! though I disagree slightly with the violence point-though the religions were historically established to be peaceful, the OT upon which the Abrahamic religions are based is full of violence, anger, jealousy, hatred, rage… also, all three have histories full of war… completely human-made separate from what their prophets preached.

  • Brooke Hull

    THANK YOU.

  • Cheryl Jefferies

    Why then are Christians in the US now deemed “hate groups” and “terrorists” by the US military? Under the command of “O?!” Sorry. Your article is wrong on most counts. National Geographic is totally correct. And, realistic. You are neither correct nor realistic. Why don’t you mention all the Christians being slaughtered by the Al-Qaeda-filled Syrian “rebels?” What about all the Christians in Egypt burned alive in their churches by Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood pals? What about those slaughtered in the mall in Kenya because they could not answer “Trivial Pursuit”-type questions from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists who claimed credit for the massacre? Why do you not mention those few terrorist incidents? And, there are hundreds more occurring every day. Instead, you sound so calm. And, so totally deluded.

    • almostfearless

      I did link to the Kenyan massacre. Al-Qaeda is denounced by mainstream Islam. That is the piece I think you are missing. These acts are terrible, done by Muslims and the Islamic world is horrified by them. But they are not driven by the ideology accepted by the majority of Muslims. So yes, it is hate speech to slander Islams who don’t believe any of the things Al Qaeda does.

    • Farhan Anwaar

      Boi if you want all then do include the massacre done by Christians in the battle of crusades when every living soul in Jerusalem was murdered/slaughtered/martyred whatever you want to call it!!
      The fact still brutality is done by individuals and not by religions!

      • Terry Collmann

        “brutality is done by individuals”

        in the name of religion.

  • http://www.sheikhaman.com/ Aman Alam

    Thank you, Christine, a big Thank You, from the bottom of my heart.

    What’s surprising is that in the comments, you find more balanced people while I was expecting aggressive comments bashing you out for your views.

    You’re so informed, people in the comments are wise as well.
    A good start of the day!

    Peace and Love, everybody!

  • Steve

    Usually when I hear about trouble in the world – for example kidnappings, bombings, I politely inquire ‘Muslims?’. And sure enough…
    Whether it’s Mindanao Philippines, Sri Lanka, the Middle East (OK Jews too), or Amsterdam, the dangerous areas always seem to be the Muslim areas.
    Should people pretend it’s just a coindcidence, for the sake of politcal correctness?

    • almostfearless

      Okay so here’s the problem with your collection of facts. When you hear about a bombing, you ask “muslim” they say yes, then you drop it. You don’t research the context of what is happening. For example, Muslims have been slaughtered in many places in the world where they are a minority. Then a small group rebels bombs the non-muslims in return. Is that Islam? Or is that the result of the political turmoil in the region?

      You mention the Philipines. What happened there? Well the government killed 60 Muslims and they have been fighting ever since http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moro_insurgency_in_the_Philippines and read this about the massacre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabidah_massacre

      Sri Lanka: there have been so many massacres of Muslims there that Wiki has it’s own page for it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Mass_murder_of_Sri_Lankan_Muslims

      Middle East: This is a really broad region, but you have Palestinians who were left without a country, you have two occupied countries by the US in the last twenty years, you have a civil war in Syria and the Arab spring. There is MASSIVE political change in the region, and any violent responses are most definitely linked to that rather than just picking up the Qur’an one day and deciding to go murder people.

      Amsterdam: They did an inquiry on this and found that radicalized young muslims actually were acting because they felt isolated and disconnected. They were found to be LESS religious than their non-extreme parents. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_the_Netherlands#Radicalization

      Islam, itself, it not the problem. But we can begin to have this conversation if we address the way these events are framed in the media (as isolated terrorist acts) and instead look at the bigger picture.

      • Steve

        Yes you’re quite right, it’s not that Islam itself is bad. I’m sure Mohammed was a good man like Jesus and Buddha (except he had to participate in a war, like Abe Lincoln).
        So it’s a mutual thing, the Muslims are victimized and marginalized and they retaliate, it’s a chicken and egg thing, it takes 2 to tango.

        • Tom

          Dont Muslims marginalise others with that tax they enforce on non-muslims in muslim-majority countries?

          • Farhan Anwaar

            Boi in islam Zakat is kind of a tax for all muslims and since we cannot impose zakat on non-muslims then there is a separate tax “name” for non-muslims…

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  • pdigaudio

    Islam is to our generation what Nazism, fascism and Communism was to our parents’ and grandparents’ generation. An evil to be defeated. It’s not a religion, certainly not one of peace. It’s a totalitarian culture — just like Nazism, fascism and Communism — with its own legal, social and political structures that seeks to dominate the world. It is completely incompatible with Western-style democracy and the concepts of individual liberty and personal freedom.

  • Dick Turnip

    You have not quoted Muhammad.

    Muhammad is Islam, like Jesus is Christianity. Without using Muhammad you have fatally undermined your argument. You say one thing and Muhammad says another. Who are we to believe? A Prophet followed by 1.3 Billion people or an apologist who doesn’t like to mention him?

    Reality is Muhammad was a warrior Prophet and Islam is the fight to conquer to world for Allah. It’s always been violent and always will be. It’s not Christianity, it’s not about doing good deeds to go to Heaven. It’s about fighting the non-Muslims until all is for Allah.

    You can sugar coat it as much as you like but people aren’t as stupid as you would like to think they are. They can see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears and they don’t need you to tell them that it isn’t true when they already know that it is.

    For all of that, it really doesn’t matter, all religions are false and the sooner these Muslims have their beliefs challenged the better it is for everyone else. Religions are dying all around the world and to try and claim a special dispensation for the nastiest and most violent one is ridiculous.

    Instead of apologising for Muslims like you do, I will attack their beliefs as hard as I can. I will hold up a mirror to their beliefs and discover if they really do believe everything they are supposed to. Sooner, rather than later, they will realise that actually they don’t agree with Islam either.

    • almostfearless

      Exactly this. This is the attitude that is so widely accepted. You believe that Islam is actually evil. This is why I wanted to write this letter to National Geographic, because THIS is what they are promoting and encouraging by the language they use. This belief that, “It’s about fighting the non-Muslims until all is for Allah”. Muslims live in peace with non-Muslims all over the world, but you ignore this fact because it doesn’t align with what you want to believe. Does National Geographic want to contribute to this kind of hate and intolerance?

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  • M A Khan

    The author say, she doesn’t know a single verse of the Quran and obviously less so of the ahadith and prophet’s biography. Yet, she write such a piece as if she is a master of Islam. She say, “It [Islam] is exactly the same since the Prophet Mohammad came in 600 AD.” How do you make such an assertion without knowing absolutely nothing about the Quran and Muhammad’s life story. The fact is: Islam is not the same as it was under Muhammad and his marauding band of Jihadi looters, plunderers, enslavers and rapists. Had it remained the same, the world indeed would have faced a horrible reality today.

    • almostfearless

      I think you misread that, I said you don’t HAVE to know a verse of the Qur’an to understand my point. And it is a fact that the Qur’an has not changed a single word since it was first written.

      • M A Khan

        I quote you: “Even without knowing a single verse of the Qur’an, common sense tells us that obviously the religion is not the problem here.” I thought it means not exactly what you claim.

        Nonetheless, as you now seem to claim to have a mastery of Islam and if that is true, then you should have started with the understanding that the Quran is manual of terrorism and Muhammad was a master terrorist of his time.

        Just to point out the ignorance contained in your essay, for example your meaning of “Allahu Akbar”, here is an example of how Muhammad used the phrase (“The Life of Muhammad”, p. 511; http://www.islam-watch.org/books/Life-of-Muhammad-Ibn-Ishaq/#Page_510):

        “We came to Khaybar by night, and the apostle passed the night there… We met the workers of Khaybar coming out in the morning with their spades and baskets. When they saw the apostle and the army they cried, ‘Muhammad with his force’ and turned tail and fled. The apostle said, ‘Allah akbar! Khaybar is destroyed’

        …The apostle seized the property piece by piece and conquered the forts one by one as he came to them… The apostle took captives from them among whom was Safiya d. Huyayy b. Akhtab who had been the wife of Kinana b. al-Rabf b. Abu’l-Huqayq, and two cousins of hers. The apostle chose Safiya for himself.”

        From the time of Muhammad, “Allahu Akbar” has been used as battle cry in Islam, and even today we see exactly that — other than the call to prayer, we primarily hear Muslims shouting it while launching Jihad attacks or violent protests.

        • almostfearless

          “Quran is manual of terrorism and Muhammad was a master terrorist of his time.” This is hate speech.

          • M A Khan

            Maybe, but it’s a fact that is all contained in what Muslims hold as their holy scripture.

            Calling a book “manual of terrorism” and a dead man “master terrorist” is hate speech?

            Will calling ‘Mein Kampf’ a manual of terrorism and Hitler a master terrorist amount to hate speech too?

          • almostfearless

            I have quoted in the original post directly from a fatwa describing what is contained in their scripture. I would suggest that you read the fatwa in full, the link is here: http://www.sunnah.org/fiqh/jihad_judicial_ruling.htm

  • Farhan Anwaar

    Islam existed in these hot zones for centuries but only when the region was destabilized such acts of terrorism became a norm… so basically islam cannot be at fault …
    I can also give an example which supports Islam is peace and the true facts and not the movie… when Muslims recaptured Jerusalem they allowed Christians to leave peacefully or live in Jerusalem harmoniously without any trouble which the Christians did not allow and killed every living muslim soul but still Muslims do not believe Christianity is evil! No religion i know of ever preaches hated!
    Thanks for the article… really!

    • almostfearless

      Thank you!

      • Tom

        How do you know whether Muslims have ever forced conversions? In some areas, Muslims who want to leave the religion face the death penalty, so it seems that unconverting is certainly policed with force.

    • res08hao

      you idiot! How many christians are being killed by muslims today? wake the f up!

      • Farhan Anwaar

        And you really do not have a clue!!! Actually search the facts… if you are considering Iraq and Afghan invasions because of world trade centre then get all the facts plus i still take it as the act of individuals!

  • Dick_Gosinya

    A pretty simplistic (and long winded) letter excusing those who act out violently in the name of religion. Call them what you’d like, it’s all about SOME Muslims terrorizing people who don’t believe in spreading their vision of Jihad.

    • almostfearless

      Where exactly did I excuse the acts of violence? And “some” is a very vague word, but yes, it’s some. Some like, .00001% of them. That’s the point. Yet there have been a number of people, even responding to this letter, who openly hate ALL muslims. This is the distinction I want Nat Geo and other publications to make more clear.

      • Phil Ostrand

        Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Caucuses, the Saudis, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Indonesia all have substantial minorities or outright majorities that embrace terrorism. Sorry they just do. Until the Muslim public no longer tolerates terrorism as a tactic Radical Islam will have a place at the table in Islam. Muslims must reject terrorism and not tolerate it.

  • almostfearless

    I received this email from a reader who couldn’t get the comments to work. His text follows below:

    A friend sent a link to you blog post, which I think is great. I wrote a response to your request for quotes from the Bible contradicting your sense that it was mostly peaceful, but can’t seem to log-in to your comments section. (Maybe God’s mad at me…) Rather than delete, I thought I’d send it on. Post if you’d like, or not. Thanks for your good work.

    Mark

    Excellent and needed: thank you. One way Islam is denigrated is by quoting the worst bits of the Koran, which certainly seems to advocate violence. That’s not surprising as Judaism, Christianity and Islam all start with the image of an angry, punishing god. Sadly – despite your characterization of the Christian Bible as peaceful – the same streak of violence runs through both the Old and New Testaments. There are beautiful verses in the Bible – The Sermon on the Mount, for instance – which tell us love, forgiveness and humility are the currents of spiritual life. But these few verses are well known and loved particularly because they shine when contrasted against the darker themes more common to Christian scripture.

    Here are a few quotes which, I think, depict the character of the god worshipped by both Christians and Muslims quotes which have offered scriptural authority to all kinds of nasty behavior in the bloody history of both Christian and Muslim nations. Religion can’t be separated from the political as religion shapes political behavior and is shaped by political needs.

    GOD SAYS: “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and woman: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” (Ezekiel 9:5-6)

    GOD ON RIVAL RELIGION: “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.” (Deuteronomy 12:2-3)

    GOD ON THOSE WHO CONVERT TO OTHER RELIGIONS: “And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.’” (Numbers 25:3-4)

    GOD VS THE EGYPTIANS: “And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” (Exodus 12:29-30)

    GOD ON UNBELIEVERS: “And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God…” (Deuteronomy 13: 5)
    “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;” (Deuteronomy 13: 6)
    “Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.” (Deuteronomy 13:8-9)

    “Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.” (Deuteronomy 13:15)

  • Octavious ONeal

    STOP THE DENIAL. Just this morning, ISLAMIC TERRORISTS bombed a bus in Russia. They are ISLAMIC TERRORISTS because they carry out their acts IN THE NAME OF ISLAM. And it is a growing problem in dozens of countries around this world. So KUDOS TO YOU National Geographic for being open and above board and about this issue.

    • almostfearless

      Octavious…. why would someone blow themselves up? What is happening politically to motivate this? http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/10/21/uk-russia-blast-idUKBRE99K08I20131021 <– here is the story on the bombing.

      "female suicide bombers, dubbed "black widows" in Russia because their male relatives have often been killed by security forces."

      There women called, "black widows" who are becoming suicide bombers, why are they doing it? Because they are Islamic? Or because their husbands or male relatives were killed by Russian security forces? I think this is the point… she didn't blow up a bus because Islam told her to do it… (although we don't know all the details yet) but if she is like other "black widow" suicide bombers, she did it in revenge for the death of her relative. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ISLAM? Nothing. What does it have to do with politics? Everything. It is an act of absolute desperation by a person who feels they have absolutely no other way to fight back. I am not excusing acts of terrorism, but this idea that they are ideologically driven by the basic tenants of Islam is patently false.

      • almostfearless

        By the way, even if she flipped open the Qur’an found a passage that said, “go kill everyone” then proceeded to bomb a bus, she does not represent mainstream Islam as it is practiced by over a billion and a half people.

  • Megan DaGata

    I 100% agree with what you have written. On Sept 12, I wrote about the American response to the Muslim march in Washington and how shameful it was. I can’t believe that we are still having these kinds of arguements. I can’t believe that in 2000+ years we haven’t found a global common ground. I always believe that if you don’t like someone else’s religion you don’t have to practice it. You don’t have to comment on it. You don’t have to leverage your hate. People need to start keeping their hate to themselves. Dick needs to change his photo if he is going to go spouting that kind of vitriol. Anonymous and the recent social movements are about finding a common ground – a freer society to be whoever we want to be, worship however we want to worship, love whomever we want to love, and govern with limited government. You can not be supportive of the movement and still hate the existence of another human being based on something like religion. I hope there is a way to change this line of thinking on the planet. I am doing my best to keep my kids from this kind of idology, except it’s everywhere. It’s pervasive and almost impossible without sheltering them completely.

    • almostfearless

      It has been interesting to see that the response has been very polarized. If we replaced Muslim with Jewish no American would publicly trash Jews like this. If politicians did it, they would be attacked immediately. But for some reason it’s completely okay to talk like this about Muslims. It is shocking and disturbing to me and I struggle with the same thing… how to negotiate teaching my children about the world when there is so much hate-speech out there.

      • Megan DaGata

        I would imagine it is a little easier from your current location, but maybe not. I know it will be easier once you are in Barcelona. Thank you for posting this it needs to be said over and over again.

      • Tom

        Maybe Jews dont get trashed to such a high degree, because they are less involved in the bloodshed?

        • Guest

          You don’t see the conflict in Gaza as bloodshed? But that isn’t a single sided issue…it deserves more attention than it gets in the US. We see the one Israeli side and that’s it. No one ever takes the time to find out the details.

          • Tom

            I didnt say that Jews are completely uninvolved in bloodshed. I was saying that they seem to be much less involved in it than Muslims.

    • Joe

      “I always believe that if you don’t like someone else’s religion you don’t have to practice it. You don’t have to comment on it.”

      But when it tramples on a person’s human rights, why should one not comment on it? That’s not aimed at Islam but any religion or superstition.

      • Megan DaGata

        If you are seeing a religion trampling on human rights, by God say something, but don’t spread lies and hate because you don’t agree with how they are practicing. Islam is not a violent religion any more than Christianity is, but both groups have militant extremists who produce violence. If I befriend someone are they less of a friend because they tell me their a practicing Muslim or Jew or Fundamentalist Christian? No. I take the time to get to know them and if I have a problem with them THEN I speak to them at the core of the issue, not spread hate through public channels. That’s not how to live. That’s not how to coexist on a planet that we all have to share. That’s my point really – whether we agree or not we all share one patch of dirt in a big universe and we are on the brink of insanity because of something as trivial as religious bias.

  • TroverAmber

    While driving through my podunk hometown recently, I saw a pickup truck with these words painted in the back window: “Trust no Muslim.” I literally just felt pity for them. They say ignorance is bliss, but how blissful can life be with so much hate and fear in your heart? Personally, I am an atheist. I don’t believe in religion, but I do agree that a majority of the strife caused by religion is actually political, but then again I believe religion was created by politicians. I also recently spent a substantial amount of time in the Middle East as a solo female traveler. It was an experience for sure, but every conversation I had with a Muslim who would address the rights for women in their countries all stemmed to the laws created by the government and how they had interpreted the Quran. Anyway, well done Christine. The point is to educate yourselves. — Amber, Curator of Awesomeness at trover.com

    • almostfearless

      “Trust no Muslim.” Exactly… the media has to do a better job of talking about terrorism so that people don’t have this blind hate of people that absolutely nothing to do with it.

      • http://www.destinationhereandnow.com/ Margaret | DestinationHere&Now

        I think that’s the nub of the whole discussion here Christine.

  • Phil Ostrand

    Sorry, Radical Islam is responsible for most of the worlds terrorist acts. It is the truth. Do the vast majority of Muslims embrace this? No, but do they casually tolerate it as a way to get back at the West or power elites in their own countries? Yes they do. Until women can be educated and treated as equals, until the radicals are driven out of power and not tolerated by Islamic society, until Islam embraces the modern world as it did 800 years ago when it showed tolerance in the face of Christian radicalism, Islam can be said to be passively tolerating terrorism.

    • Asadullah Ali Al-Andalusi

      On the contrary, most of the worlds terrorist acts are performed by the U.S., NATO and other allies.

      The death toll of civilians is astronomically higher from these groups than it is from “Islamic Terrorists”.

      9/11 was the largest terrorist attack made by so-called “Muslims”. It killed 3000+ people.

      That many civilians died in the first attack on Afghanistan (Shock and Awe) alone. Nearly over a million civilians have been killed by so-called “civilized” Western militaries and “precise” bomb attacks since the beginning of the war on Afghanistan and Iraq. Let’s not even mention Libya and other places. Let’s not also mention the coup that was performed in Iran by Britain and the U.S., that overthrew the democratically elected president and installed a harsh dictator that sparked the recent Islamic revolution in Iran. Let’s not also mention the harsh dictators continuously installed and supported in the Middle East by Western powers at large (Mubarak etc.). Let’s not also mention that the place where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from was Saudi Arabia, which happens to be one of the U.S. and allies closest friends and is basically untouchable — not to mention that Saudi Arabia was created with help from the British and an extremist group that rebelled against the Ottoman Empire.

      Shall I go on?

      • Billie31

        Shock and Awe was Iraq.

        • Asadullah Ali Al-Andalusi

          Thanks for the correction.

      • Phil Ostrand

        3000 deaths in the first wave in Afghanistan of civilians was not caused by the West. It was caused by the Northern Alliance who killed their fellow Afghans. A million deaths in Iraq? No grossly exaggerated. Did I support that war? No it was a stupid war to go into.And if you go back to the installation of the Shah and the Ottoman Empire, I think I see why Persians and Arabs have trouble getting to peaceful resolutions. And I do not think you can blame the Islamic Revolution on the West. Persia had a very caste conscious social system that discriminated against the poor and darker skinned. The revolution was more about that and our support of the Shah than against the West. Iranians like Americans. We are more open to talking with people from all aspects of society than any other culture in the world. BTW have you been to Iran??? I have.

        yet you try and obfuscate the issue. Islam must find a way to rid itself of its radical extremists. Killing children who are sent to school to learn. stoning women who are raped, blowing up civilians as a matter of policy it not the hallmarks of a religion that is tolerant. It is the hallmarks of evil. Islam must purge itself of this evil.

    • Renee L. Ten Eyck

      actually, you’ve been misinformed and should go do some real research-especially with regard to how Americans casually accept anti-Islam sentiment anywhere, most especially here in the US. we have more terroristic behaviors and activities due to white Muslim-haters in this country to worry about, simply because any view that is anti-Muslim is still not only socially accepted, but actually promoted. the anti-Islam network in the US is huge, enjoying millions of dollars not uncommon to religious right organizations, some of which funnel funds over to the nearly 70 organizations that exist for the EXCLUSIVE purpose of vilifying american Muslims. These organizations, most of which operate as a 501c3, make it their primary purpose to influence YOU… and it works because it plays on your personal experiences. My husband also spent 5 years in Iraq and Afghanistan and he knows that not only is there a difference between the religion itself and those who use it for bad, but he also knows that there’s a difference between educated and uneducated Muslims (same as the difference between educated and uneducated white Christians, who we often refer to stereotypically as rednecks-but even this negative stereotype doesn’t come close to how vilified American Muslims are). My husband also understands that American Muslims are not the same as Muslims in other countries and are not the same as any detainees or others he had to contend with under the circumstances of war and unrest.
      Did you know that while 49% of republicans who watch other news sources don’t have a good impression of Islam, this number sky-rockets to 72% of republicans who trust Fox news and Roger Aisles-simply because that network specifically promotes anti-Islam sentiment…. they focus on the hate and fear mongering and tell Americans that Islam is the reason for their problems because, of course, we always have to have someone to blame. And Muslims have taken heat and been vilified since before this country was founded. Christians did more terrible things routinely to non-Christians throughout history, even in this country, but everyone is ok with this. Did you know that between 2011 and 2012 there were 51 anti-mosque acts recorded in this country? 78 bills were crafted to vilify Islam as well over this time frame. And, just like the typical religious right orgs, these anti-Islam orgs are well-funded, some of them with donations that come directly from religious right orgs (I wonder how many of those religious donors know exactly how their donations are being used…)

      here’s a good source of info to start with: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/religion/report/2011/08/26/10165/fear-inc/

  • http://www.theepicadventurer.com/ Julia

    Thank you for this, I will promptly be sharing it everywhere I know how to!

    One thing – I believe “Islamic” is used to describe people of Muslim faith, while “Islamist” is used to denote a politically extreme group. Am I misinformed? I don’t believe the words can be used interchangeably…

  • Tom

    The photo labelled “New Zealand Muslims” depicts a man named Waleed Aly, who is an Australian-born resident, and a woman who like him is also often seen in the Australian media so is likely also an Australian resident. This post conveys some valid points, but like the photo caption, it also includes some inaccuracies.

  • aitchpb

    This entire article is opinion, not factual. From the story-line to her reasoning. There are many learned people in the world who have written many learned papers on this subject. Christine Gilbert and this article falls into neither the former nor the latter category.

  • http://www.phuketfamily.blogspot.co.uk/ EK Bradley

    Thank you for this Christine! As you know, here in Phuket Buddhists and Muslims live side by side, along with Christians and other denominations. I’ve been here for years and have only been met with kindness from the muslim fishermen/women, and whenever we go to Malaysia we have never had a problem whatsoever with crime, harassment, etc. And in Penang there are many families vacationing from Saudi Arabia, who have a different culture, dress etc than the local Malaysian muslims. Still, only respect. Our neighbors are from Pakistan, lovely people and there daughter is friends with mine. The American mainstream media in all its forms pushes for a climate of fear against Islam in general, as you aptly pointed out. The wording is used purposefully even though media and political outlets claim to be ‘neutral’. They certainly aren’t. They greatly edit and manipulate news to make a piece have a certain affect, as the saying goes in the news world ‘if it bleeds, it leads’. I’ve lived in many countries and never have I seen such a fear driven media than that of the US, and it has created a climate of hatred towards Muslims because the general American populace is ignorant of what a real Muslim is like and what they believe.

    • Joe

      What about the conflict in the south of Thailand?

  • http://lublink.org/alison Alison

    OY – the comments by some people here sadden me. YOU, on the other hand inspire me, Christine. THANK YOU for this letter! As a Canadian Christian living in the middle east I get frustrated when people make negative sweeping statements about Muslims. Thank you for speaking up about this important topic.

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  • Ayaz

    As a Muslim, I would like to appreciate your letter Christine.

    I’m honestly not sure whether people like Dick (below) are worth any attention. It’s unfortunate because I wouldn’t blame him at all for his misconceptions; and it’s really quite sad that someone should live with the fear that is sometimes propagated and instilled within people.

    Anyway, thank you.

    All the best.

  • TSA

    Christine many thanks for such a well written piece of journalism which tackles the issues involved. The phrase Islamic Terrorist is an oxymoron and I am surprised at the shallow views which allow it to gain traction. Politics is at the heart of all violent conflict as any religion in essence seeks to establish peace and harmony among mankind. We have to stand up against and away from the haters who manipulate the essence of divine revelation and against those who capitalise on those who err to promote their own hatred. Peace.

  • Kathleen

    • almostfearless

      What’s your point?

  • Di Taylor

    Wow, there’s definitely a lot to take away from this open letter, and the comments here. Without going into the whole thing too much, I just want to say thank you for writing this letter :)

    Di

  • res08hao

    you are so full of Islamist shit it is difficult to even start. All terrorists are fucking muslim scum. end of story. Further, anybody stupid enough to be a muslim deserves to be blown to pieces.

    • almostfearless

      Replace the word Islam and Muslim with American and you sound exactly like Al Qaeda. Maybe you have more in common with terrorists than you think.

      • res08hao

        Minus the suicide vests, of course. You are too stupid to live.

        • almostfearless

          Well add my body to the other 1.6 billion people you think should die. What’s one more?

  • Don’t Forget To Move

    Amazing letter. Very eloquent & informed. It drives me crazy when people assume jihad means terrorist. I think we’ll need a sweeping shift in media representation of Muslims and better education for youngsters about Islam before we see much change. Thank you for being brave enough to write about such a fiercely debated issue. It’s great to see someone with such a popular blog such as yourself write about what they believe in, even at the risk of negative reactions.

  • Aseema

    nice post , if you want to experience rich Islamic culture you have to come to Dubai. Visit us for more http://relishyachtdubai.com/

  • Maharaja Kashan Arshad

    Thanks for this article! As a muslim backpacker & blogger, I sometimes wonder what people would think of me, and I’m glad there are people like you out there that see and write beyond what the media tries sell!

    • almostfearless

      As you can see from the comments on this post I took a lot of heat for this… there’s still a lot of work to be done. I think anyone who travels to Muslim countries has a responsibility to speak out.

  • Ali Sina

    Dear Almostfearless,

    With all due respect to you and acknowledging your good
    intentions to be an instrument of peace rather than hate, I must point out that
    you don’t know Islam and virtually everything you have written is baseless
    Islamic propaganda.

    Jiahad had only one meaning and that is waging war to spread
    Islam. You can wage jihad by words and many Muslims do today and yours should
    be counted among that, by financing the wars and by body, which is done today
    through terrorism.

    The Quran does say there is no compulsion in religion but
    you misunderstand this verse and don’t know about the contexts behind it. It does not mean what you think. There are
    many verses in the Quran that make it clear that no other religion is accepted except
    Islam and that it is an obligation for Muslims to fight the non-Muslims to
    submit to Islam or die.

    I invite anyone who is interested to know the truth about
    Islam to visit my site alisina.org I have written extensively on this cult
    demystifying it and explaining the misconceptions of people like the author of
    this utterly misinformed article.

    Ali Sina

  • Ali Sina

    You published two pictures from my country Iran. The first picture is what I remember of it. That is where I grew up. The country was only Islamic by name but the Iranians had no interest in religion. We made a revolution to gain our freedom from a dictatorial ruler, but thanks to our ignorance of Islam, the same kind of ignorance that permeates this article, we fell into the trap of Islam, which reduced country into a hell.

    In Iran today the Christians and the Baha’is are persecuted, jailed and murdered for the sole crime of belonging to a wrong religion. No they are not persecuted for cultural reasons. They are persecuted because of the teachings of Islam and following the examples set by Muhammad.

    Maybe your husband is a Muslim and because of that you are unable to see the truth or maybe there are other reasons but the truth is clear to anyone who reads the Quran, the hadith and specially the Sira, which is the biography of Muhammad.

    Comparing Islam with Christianity stems from sheer ignorance of both religions. In nowhere Jesus promotes violence, while Muhammad’s entire life was filled with violence, massacre, raid, rape and genocide.

    For learning the truth about Islam please visit my blog alisina.org or get hold of my book Understanding Muhammad and Muslims available from Amazon.

  • Ali Sina

    Well I see you removed my comments. Is that not evidence of your cowardice? Any time I see someone is defending Islam I know I am dealing with a fascist.

  • Ali Sina

    Almost fearless? No my dear, you are just a coward. Don’t deceive yourself,. There is nothing fearless in you

  • jack william

    This is a brilliant letter, very well written and clearly you are well-informed.

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