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For a ‘religion of peace,’ Islam sure does seem rather violent

Islam is a “religion of peace,” or at least that’s what that good old political neologism claims, anyway.  While the definitive answer to whether Islam is truly a peaceful religion remains in a gray area, several condemnable attacks this week by members of this so-called “peaceful religion” really make me wonder and further prove to me at least that the neologism, while trite and cutesy, is more farce than anything.

The last time I checked, “religions of peace” don’t torch the temples of followers of another religion simply because the “peaceful” religion was insulted, but this is exactly what happened on Sunday in Bangladesh.  According to Reuters, “Hundreds of Muslims in Bangladesh burned at least four Buddhist temples and 15 homes of Buddhists” after a Buddhist man apparently “insulted” Islam by posting a questionable photograph on the  internet social networking site Facebook.

Although the Facebook photo isn’t specifically described in the story, this act by angry Muslims against the truly and inarguably peaceful religion of Buddhism really speaks volumes about the lengths that followers of Islam are willing to go to protect the already-tarnished sanctity of their religion’s name. This story reminded me of a famous quote by noted neuroscientist and New Atheism contributer Sam Harris: “The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say it isn’t, we will kill you.”  Truer words were never spoken, and the most recent attacks by the “peaceful religion” of Islam didn’t end there.

According to the Associated Press, police in Thailand “believe Islamist insurgents fired grenades at a fair in southern Thailand [on Saturday], injuring 30 people.”  This angry response was, according to the story, provoked by an apparent governmental effort to win over Muslim religious leaders for political gain.  Call me crazy, but lobbing grenades into booths at a trade fair doesn’t seem too “peaceful” to me.
Islam continued its peaceful reputation this weekend in Nairobi, Kenya, when on Sunday, sympathizers of Somali-based al-Qaeda group al-Shabaab allegedly tossed a hand grenade into a Kenyan church that was full of children, as reported by Al Jazeera.  When the smoke had cleared, two children lay dead and two more were left wounded.

Funny how a religion whose members so often claim it to be nothing but peaceful breeds so many followers responsible for the deaths of Buddhists, fair-goers and even innocent children.  

It’s true that many followers of Islam are peaceful, and most Islamic leaders have condemned the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and continue to speak out against attacks like the three this weekend, but at what point can we call a spade a spade?  When is it fair to stop this politically correct nonsense of continuing to call Islam “peaceful” when followers of the religion do nothing to prove the statement’s validity?

I’d like to remain skeptical, but in the face of the results of certain studies, I just can’t.  According to the Pew Research Center, for instance, “86 [percent] of Muslims in Jordan” believe followers who have committed apostasy (leaving the Muslim religion) should be punished by death.  So much for freedom of choice, eh?  The Pew Research Center has also found that 46 percent of Muslims in Nigeria believe that “suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified,” while 29 percent of Jordanian Muslims, 15 percent of British Muslims and eight percent of American Muslims agreed.

When such large volumes of Muslims themselves believe that violence is acceptable in solving problems, proponents of the religion cannot continue to profess that it is a “religion of peace.”  

Furthermore, just because Islamic extremists are subscribing to some obviously perverted form of Islam does not simply allow the religion proper to wash its hands of all blame.

Perhaps Hassan Butt, the former spokesman of radical Islamic British group al-Muhajiroun, said it best.  In a 2007 article in The Times, Butt said, “Only when Muslims admit that 9/11 and 7/7 were the work of Muslim terrorists can we move forward to the next juncture: which is recognizing the hard truth that Islam does permit the use of violence.  Muslims who deny this, preferring instead to mouth easy platitudes about how Islam is nothing but a religion of peace, make the job easier for the radicals who can point to passages in the Koran, set down in black and white, that instruct on the killing of unbelievers.”

Gerry Wachovsky is a graduate student and columnist for the Daily 49er.

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