I’ll be honest, as badly as I want to stand in the face of some right-wing radical who’s proclaiming that Islam is a violent, hateful religion and tell them that they’re an idiot and nothing but an ignorant jackass – I don’t know if I can say that and still honestly mean it.
Just let the reality sink in for a moment of what really happened. A newspaper experienced its second terrorist attack in just over three years because it dared to poke fun at Islam. What other group of ideological individuals on this planet would do that? Say what you want about right-wing Christian radicals, they might throw a hissy fit when someone makes fun of Christianity or Jesus Christ, but Christian fundamentalists didn’t violently attack Seth MacFarlane or his team of writers when Family Guy aired their Christmas episode last month where the subject was trying to get Jesus laid.
And let’s not forget that nearly five years ago, South Park (a show that brutally mocks and makes fun of practically everything) had one of its episodes edited by Comedy Central following violent threats by Islamic groups concerning their making fun of Islam and the prophet Mohammad. In fact, one of these groups based out of New York, Revolution Muslim, said at the time that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone would probably end up like Theo van Gough for making fun of Islam.
Who’s Theo van Gough you ask? Well, he was a Dutch filmmaker who was killed by an Islamic militant in 2004 because he dared to make a documentary concerning the abuse of some Muslim women in Islamic countries.
In other words, this group Revolution Muslim, a group that was based out of the United States, was essentially threatening the lives of the South Park creators for making fun of Islam.
But my frustrations with all of this seemed to boil over today when I read that Saudi Arabia had condemned this attack. When I read that I didn’t feel a sense of relief that a powerful Islamic nation stood up against this kind of behavior. Instead I thought to myself, “Who the hell is Saudi Arabia to condemn anyone else considering the way they treat their own citizens every single day”?
Not that Saudi Arabia is a terrorist nation, but their record when it comes to basic human rights is atrocious. So, how are they an “example to set” for other Islamic states? Should we just ignore the fact that there are still laws in Saudi Arabia that punish people for being openly homosexual; that they treat women more like property than human beings (women still can’t even drive there); they continue to behead people as a means of execution; and often use Sharia law to oppress many of their citizens?
Seeing the wave of anti-Islamic messages that have flooded the internet since the attack in France, I so desperately want to say, “To hell with you anti-Islamic bigots” – but what examples do I have to prove them wrong? ISIL isn’t shrinking. In fact, it’s growing at a rather fast pace despite our airstrikes. Then when you look at countries such as Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria they’re a complete mess. Then it seems that far more often than not, when Muslims are given a choice to select their own leaders, they often choose some degree of religious fanaticism. Even the stable Islamic countries in and around the Middle East are ruled more along the lines of Saudi Arabia than countries that actually enjoy freedom such as the United States, Canada, England, Australia and Germany.
During a discussion about this topic, I asked a liberal friend of mine to name one Islamic state where:
- Homosexuals are allowed to be openly gay.
- Women are given equal rights.
- Other religions are allowed to freely practice their faith and are not oppressed.
He couldn’t do it. And I’ll be honest with you, I can’t either. Because to my knowledge, there’s not a single Islamic nation in or around the Middle East that meets all three of those criteria.
So, while there are several Islamic states that have publicly condemned this attack, and that’s great that they did, the laws by which many of these nations are governed are still awful when it comes to giving basic human rights for many of its citizens. Which makes it really difficult for me to say, “See, these nations are leaders in the Islamic world that are going to bring about change and opposition against Islamic radicals,” when many of these countries are flat-out oppressive on many aspects relating to their citizens having freedoms and rights.
Can I really say, “Yes, Saudi Arabia is a powerful nation that condemns terrorism” as a point of bragging to defend Islam from bigots? What do I say when they counter with, “Well, what about their stances on religious freedom, gay rights and women’s rights”? There’s nothing I can really say to that.
Now let me be clear, this article isn’t meant to sound anti-Muslim. It’s me reaching a point where I really don’t know where to go or what to say anymore about this subject. It’s hard for me to keep saying “it’s not Islam, it’s just the bad guys” when so many non-terrorist Islamic states fail the litmus test when it comes to basic human rights for so many of those living under these regimes.
And I know there are millions of great Muslim people on this planet. And I believe the overwhelming majority of them are kind, loving and wonderful people.
But something has to change. Publicly opposing terrorism is easy, but condemning horrific acts being carried out by religious fanatics isn’t going to bring about the fundamental change that’s needed to get at the root of much of this violence. That change is only going to come from Muslims fighting every single day against oppressive Islamic states. These people have to want, and demand, actual democracy. They have to build nations not ruled by the Quran, but by basic human decency toward everyone regardless of gender, religion or sexual orientation.
Theocratic governments have always, and will always, breed violence and oppression.
And as long as Muslims continue to flock toward nations founded, built and driven by Islamic rule – none of this is going to stop. And sadly, far too many Muslims continue to do just that.
So please, don’t take this as an “attack on Muslims,” because that’s not at all what I mean here. I just really, truly don’t know what to say anymore.
When I see videos of hostages being beheaded by ISIL, hear about 145 people killed (including 132 children) in a Pakistan school suicide bombing, learn of hostages being murdered in Australia and now satire newspaper writers brutally gunned down because of a couple of cartoons – all in the name of the same religion – how can I keep defending it from those who spew hatred toward it?
I want to, I really do. But I’m just not sure if I know how to do it anymore.