Another Blog to Recommend

Ali Eteraz, which is another WordPress blog.

I’ve only read a small portion of his blog posts so far, and he is much more thoughtful and eloquent blogger than I. Here’s a post I found today (from May 2006) that was chock full of information that was new to me, especially the existence of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian guerrilla army:

While I had heard of the Lord’s Resistance Army in bits and fragments, I was not aware of the details until a National Geographic magazine from last year informed me that the LRA has killed (not ‘is responsible for’) 100,000 people. The piece was not detailed as the pictures focused on the lives of refugee boys living in large government camps. What was revealed though, was that the LRA was a Christian Fundamentalist organization. In other words, it killed in the name of God.

Generally speaking, this entire situation in Uganda reminds me of what we assume to be going on in the Muslim world: religious rebel group using religion to motivate followers and justify its behavior, while secular-type of government acting equally brutally to suppress the rebels.

I will leave it to the blogging community to get into the geopolitical make up and the history of the situation. What I am dealing with here is how atrocities in the name of religion are perceived by people in the West. My issue is this: most people, when they read of the LRA, will shake their head at the fact that Christians are behaving so immoraly. In the next sentence, they will say: “but at least we know that Christians all around the world would condemn such behavior, whereas we can’t say that about Muslims around the world.”

The implications of this fact are the following: it means that the reason Westerners don’t automatically think that a large majority of Muslims would condemn violence is because they have not met individual Muslims nor interacted with them on an extended basis. In fact, I have never actually met a person in my life who, once having become acquainted with the human face of Muslims, could accept the proposition that most Muslims around the world are into violence. So, it turns out, the problem isn’t what people believe, but how much and how well we know people, and what assumptions we are willing to grant them. I have had my bad share of experiences with Christians, but I have not ever let that detract me from the good feelings Christians have given me.

Furthermore, just as we don’t say that because of the LRA Christianity is inherently evil, we ought to be smarter, and not say the same about Islam. For us to believe that any human tradition is evil presupposes that we believe that humans are inherently evil (since they compose the traditions). I doubt there is anyone out there who actually believes that.

Ali Eteraz’s is definitely the blog to go to for deep thoughts about Islam.

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