Me In The Middle
Just because he says he is a Muslim, does not make all Muslims like this
Just because he says he is a Muslim, does not make all Muslims like this

Its time to stop linking Islam and the Terrorists

A Big Think

Topic:  Religion
Mood:  Serious

I have two people I know. Both are Christians.

One likes to go to Church once a week, prays regularly in her own time and if pressed will admit that her faith gives her comfort.

The other one is a complete fundamentalist, creationist fruitcake. He tells everyone he can that they are a sinner and will go to hell, thinks Dinosaur bones are being planted as a conspiracy and teaches his children that scientists are liars.

I have NEVER asked the first Christian to apologise for or explain the views of the other Christian. From my perspective as someone who has no religious belief, they might as well believe in completely different gods. And that is logical really - their beliefs do overlap, but if I put the two in the same room the differences would soon drown out the similarities.

I have another friend who is a Muslim. He believes in a god, has good things to say about the prophet Mohammed, fasts at the right time and tries to go to Friday prayers. Other than that, he gets on with life, goes out to dinner, gets nagged by his girlfriend when he is late and the rest. I don't actually know a terrorist to compare him to, but I can absolutely guarantee that the differences between the two would be even bigger than between the two Christians.

And yet, the Muslim gets fed up with people asking him to explain the the terrorist and being told "shouldn't you stand up and publicly condemn him?"

Why should he? Do we expect the mother of a murderer or thief to publicly declare her horror of her son or daughter's actions? Or do we have pity for her? And in the case of the Muslim, he doesn't even know the terrorist, has never heard of him, probably does not even come from the same country.  But still, it is almost like it is his fault that the terrorist exists in the first place.

Why is it?

The problem lies with us

Or at least we have made it worse. The terrorist starts the process by saying that his actions are the true account of his belief, but we forget that like the Christians above, one person's version of Islam does not define everyone else's version.

Our politicians will stand up and say "These terrorists do not represent the views of the majority of those who follow Islam." And then they will add to the confusion by saying, "These Islamic Terrorists...."

Our media will do likewise.  When they report a terrorist incident, they will go into details about what mosque they attended, which books they read, which cleric influenced them and so on. Now, these facts maybe important if you are worrying about which other people have gone down the same road, but they have also reinforced the connection between an Islamic Terrorist and Muslims in general.

We do not understand Islam in the West. We are far more likely to see it as some vast conspiracy than as a personal belief system. And yet, when it comes to influence, Christianity has much to answer for, especially in the past. And I doubt that anyone would have a hope in hell of getting into the White House without declaring their love of a Christian god. But apart from a few verbal thugs, most of us would not expect the average church goer to explain the actions of Christianity's violent past.

The WHY behind the terrorist is important and it does need to be examined and if there is a problem, that problem solved. But reality must also feature. MI5 has said they think around 600 people have travelled to Syria and other destinations to fight with IS and others in recent times.

That works out as 0.000952% of the UK population.

It is only 0.021% of the UK's Muslim population.

Six hundred people are a potentially very, very dangerous number of terrorists. But it is such an insignificant percentage of population, that making that connection simply makes no sense, indeed, it probably it is not statistically high enough to reliably produce any useful conclusions at all - it is just too small.

The current wave of terrorists are a huge and dangerous problem, there is no question about it. They need to be tackled and it needs to be recognised that, as the Canadian PM has said, "The Jihadists have declared war."

But stamping our feet and thinking the solution lies in the actions of all those Muslims who are NOT Jihadists is quite frankly idiotic.

If my Muslim friend could wave a magic wand and all the terrorist just vanished, he would do it. If I had a wand, I would do it also. But other than that fantastical notion, he has no more influence on whether another Muslim who he has never heard of and has no connection with becomes a terrorist than I do as an atheist.

This whole situation may change, of course. Listening to the Canadian PM and his talk of an organised Jihadist "army" in the middle east, now occupying lands, perhaps we will start separating the actions of one group from a general belief of others. But I doubt it will be very soon.

Talk about it

Be nice, don't swear, keep to the subject. This is not some "adult only" room where you can be a big jerk and think you are all grown up. We are all stuck in the middle one way or another, so be fair to the others you are stuck with.

Love and kisses, @its_middle_me

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