Bill Fletcher Jr.ColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

Terror in the Name of Religion

Bill Fletcher
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
NNPA Columnist

 

It has been deeply disturbing to hear and read suggestions that there is something inherently violent in Islam that distinguishes it from other religions. It is also a false notion, and one which we must dispel immediately.

Let’s start with the obvious facts. Islam has somewhere around 1.2 billion followers on planet Earth. All one has to do is to count the number of terrorists who have been involved in various actions over the years to see that we are talking about a minuscule percentage of adherents to extremism. The recent killings in France involved less than a dozen terrorists, for instance.

Thus, a reasonable person would ask who, in their right mind, would suggest that on the basis of such small numbers, that an entire religion is extreme, violent and outside of the human family? The answer is that this is not about being in one’s right mind; it is about a political agenda that wishes to demonize a religion plus suppress any and all discussions about the foreign policies of Western countries toward the Arab and Muslim Worlds.

Let’s think about another religion. Consider for a moment that official Christianity endorsed the slave trade. What conclusions should we draw from that? Here’s another example: What about the Ku Klux Klan that, again, in the name of Christianity, carried out open terrorist warfare against African Americans and their allies. What are the implications of this for Christianity?

These are only three examples, but one can go on with many more. Rarely do I hear such a discussion in the mainstream media. How can anyone suggest that Islam is any more violent than any other religion or, more specifically, how can anyone suggest that religious extremism is somehow limited to adherents of Islam?

The simple answer is that one cannot. Unless one wishes to ignore key facts, it does not add up. But if you need one more story to convince you that we should be very careful about allegations suggesting that Islam is particularly violent, consider this. When the Mongols invaded Europe in the 1200s, they caught Eastern Europe by surprise. The Europeans did not know who the Mongols were and they could not figure out how to stop them, given the superiority of the military approach of the Mongols.

The Christian East Europeans concluded that the Mongols were actually devils, of some sort, and that they had been sent to Europe to destroy the Christians. Guess who they blamed for this? Jews. And, as a result, massive pogroms (lynchings) of Jews took place, including the incineration of entire villages of Jews.

The point here is not an attack on Christianity. In every religion there are examples of extremism in the name of that religion. Hindu extremists in India have attacked Indian Muslims as well as promoted the development of India’s nuclear weapons. Irish Protestants carried out terror attacks against Irish Catholics for decades in the name of religion. Extremism is not limited to one religion; it can always fly the banner of this or that religion in order to advance its nefarious objectives. For this reason we should step away from blind, ahistorical indictments of a religion because of the insane actions of some who would use its name.

 
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. He is a racial justice, labor and global justice writer and activist. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.

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Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staffperson in the national AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

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