Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Not Just Islam

One attitude I often see is that Muslims are somehow uniquely intolerant of other religions. A Get Religion blogger named Mollie said in the context of the Saudi mufti's call for mosque destruction: "Can you imagine the coverage if, say, the Pope or some other major religious leader called for similar destruction? Even if it were a minor Christian or Jewish figure using such rhetoric, one imagines it would receive tremendous coverage." Actually, comments of foreign religious figures seldom receive any coverage regardless of their faith.

Last year the government of Moldova moved to recognize Islam as a religion in the country. The Moldovan Orthodox Church went ballistic. The metropolitan of the Moldovan Orthodox Church was among those critical, and the the prime minister finally pledged to review the decision, though I can't find an indication it was revoked. On the specific issue of houses of worship, I read this: "For the time being, the Muslims are pleased that the government has finally recognized them and that Muslims in the nation's capitol Chisinau can worship freely. Someday, they hope they might even be able to build a mosque. 'Now we have a prayer room and for us this is our mosque. As for building a mosque in accordance with Islamic norms, with a minaret and all, maybe it is not the right time now, not now,' a local worshhipper Ismail Wahab Wahab said." Meanwhile, one Bishop Marchel said, "Our ancestors’ idea of cleansing the land of pagans is under threat now."

Meanwhile, also in 2011, an Israeli Jewish publication called "Fonts of Salvation" called for death camps for "Amalekites." In religious Zionist narratives, the Palestinians are usually said to be the new Amalekites, who attacked the ancient Israelites during the Exodus from Egypt. Two years ago, Rabbi Yitchak Shapira said it was permissable to kill babies if they might grow up to harm Jews. Shapira was supported by a rabbi named Dov Lior who said of Baruch Goldstein's 1994 machine gun massacre of Muslims at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron: "He took action for no other reason than to sanctify the holy name of God."

What I take from these stories, as well as the statements by radical Muslim leaders, is that your inclination be a violent and hate-filled fanatic has to do with lots of cultural factors of which religious background is but one, and I'm not convinced an important one.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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