It is not Islam - It's Religion

This is a response to "'Flaming' of Islam has to be stopped" published in the Review and Forum section of The Straits Times, 6 April 2011.

An American pastor branded a cultist by estranged followers eventually made good on his threat to burn the Quran. He can now rouse his dwindling flock by saying President Barack Obama, the Defence Secretary and the general conducting the Afghanistan campaign could not stop him from dramatising his beliefs.

Okay... So he "won" some boasting rights in some people's perspective. Uh huh.

Which were, what? Of the wanton killings by Muslim rioters that his act caused in Afghanistan the past week, pastor Terry Jones disputes that he has blood on his hands. His next act, he suggests, is to place Prophet Muhammad 'on trial', just as he had the Quran. Its burning had been the 'sentence'.

Bloody fucking nonsense.

"Wanton killings by Muslim rioters that his act caused"? It might as well have read "Failures in School Examinations caused by Science."

This statement brazenly ignores the autonomy of the Muslims involved in the riotings and killings. If I killed a murderer's mother as revenge for the murderer's killing of my mother, would I somehow be relieved of my responsibilities because my actions were a reaction to offences against  me? I say not.

There is nothing theatrical about random acts of provocation. They are downright dangerous, abetted in some cases by permissive laws. A case could be made out that there are degrees of madness or delusion which afflict leaders of cults. But how to define depravity within an American constitutional context of free speech guarantees? Bringing decorum to the religious sphere has to start in America because intolerance tends to find fertile soil in its interior communities.

I honestly don't believe that Free Speech itself is the issue here. It is not the root of the problem at hand. Again, blaming Free Speech for permitting religiously motivated hateful speech is like blaming cars for people speeding in them.

That the Quran burning was a triumph of ignorance and bigotry, there is no doubt. Fair-minded people are rightly alarmed at the poisonous overtone of religious contestation that arose after the Sept 11 attacks spawned a misleading view of Islam. What is being done to roll back the prejudice? The pastor's act and that of a Danish newspaper cartoonist who drew offensive caricatures of the Prophet are signs of an anti-Islam baiting campaign gathering force. It could get more widespread, in Europe as well as in America. It will spark retaliatory mob violence which in turn will harden attitudes against Islam. What then?

 Again, it seems unusual to me that the author of this article passes over the autonomy of the people involved in the "retaliatory mob violence". 

So it's not okay to speak ill of others' religion but it's okay to kill people, destroy property because you were pissed over someone speaking ill of your religion. 

What's the bigger issue here? Somebody needs to get their priorities straight and I don't think it's me...

The American public, politicians and the media have acted sensibly in condemning the pastor for his stunt. The Quran-burning ritual which took place on March 20 had been deliberately blacked out by media. It became public knowledge only after the pastor posted a video of it on his website. But America may have to go beyond a climate of censure as a check against intemperance, to consider criminalising incitement in an expansion of hate-crimes legislation. Arguing free speech as a First Amendment bedrock protection may become less convincing over time when religious extremists begin to cause schisms and serious disruptions in society. The European Union has just as robust protections. Yet Germany and many other European nations still outlaw denials of the Holocaust and the Jewish extermination. What could be more injurious to social order in a post-Sept 11 world than the 'flaming' of Islam as sport?

The article seeks to pin blame on Free Speech for permitting insults that causes Muslim robots to go insane and kill people. No?

"Bullshit"  is an appropriate response I think.

The problem as I see it is two pronged (and Free Speech ain't either one of them) - it is education in general and religion itself.

It is a failure of education of the public in general. Fundamentalist Christians are thought to be poor in their general knowledge of religions around the world (their religion included). It doesn't help that the religious, conservative segments of the population perpetuate the "Islamist" stereotype of Muslims in general in their communities and some media sources.

One might argue that the failure of education is due to certain religious attitudes which brings us to the other prong.

Throughout history, religions has demonstrated their ability to cause and catalyse conflicts. This is no exception.

Create insular societies based on unevidenced claims to ultimate truths and a connection to the divine creator of the universe. Follow that up by creating an Us versus Them scenario where "us" is good and godly and "them" is evil and of the devil. Wait for one party to do something perceived as inflammatory by the opposing side and watch the shit hit the fans.

Yes, the pastor did something distasteful - he burnt a Quran. And yes, just distasteful. It's not the most pleasant or eloquent way of making a point but still, it is a valid point and can/should be discussed.

But we don't fucking kill people for it. You can be all pissy and disagree with that pastor but if you go ape-shit and kill somebody over it, you are wrong. Period.

The author seems to skip over this aspect as he attempts to blame Free Speech for the problem as if it was acceptable to murder because someone insulted your religious beliefs. To this, my first  response was "WTF?"

Such obscene irrationality on the part of the religious should be condemned whenever and wherever it happens. Instead, here it's seems to be regarded as somehow acceptable because it's religious.

If you don't like people criticizing your religion, perhaps it's your religion that needs fixing - you don't "fix" the people.