Is Islam Violent? The Answer Isn’t as Simple as Many Think

ALLOW ME to describe a familiar course of events. Somewhere in the world, extremists carry out a terrorist attack in the name of Islam. In the days and weeks following, a series of opinion pieces are published either attacking Islam for violence or denying it bears any responsibility.

Critics may note that terrorists who carry out murderous acts routinely cite Islam as their justification; that the Koran is full of brutal content; that polls have repeatedly shown alarmingly violent beliefs and attitudes in significant minorities of Muslims around the world; and that the world is long past the point where we can afford not to criticize harmful religious beliefs.

Defenders may note that the vast majority of Muslims are not militant extremists; that there are great differences of belief among Muslims; that it is bigoted to draw conclusions about all Muslims based upon the actions of a small minority; and that many Muslims sit at the forefront of the fight against Islamic extremism—both as activists and as its primary victims.

After a while public attention turns to other things, but then another attack occurs and a new series of commentaries are published on the topic. As for the conversation, it goes largely nowhere. It just repeats itself in well-worded prose with each new terrorist act.

What’s common to both sides of this intellectual tennis match is a simplified way of thinking about causality. Let me illustrate using the words of CNN host Fareed Zakaria. Writing in his Washington Post column last fall, Zakaria argued that violent extremism cannot be due to anything intrinsic to Islam. And why not? Because, as he learned back in graduate school,

 …you can never explain a variable phenomenon with a fixed cause. So, if you are asserting that Islam is inherently violent and intolerant—“the mother lode of bad ideas”—then, since Islam has been around for fourteen centuries, we should have seen fourteen centuries of this behavior.

Citing research by Zachary Karabell, Zakaria argues that there simply hasn’t been fourteen centuries of extremist violence and intolerance in Islam. In fact, Islam has shown itself to be more peaceful and tolerant at times than Christianity over the same period. Ergo, Islam cannot be the reason why there is a problem with Islamic extremism, and there is something deeply mistaken in the views of critics who say otherwise.

Although this argument might sound convincing, allow me to persuade you otherwise. First, Zakaria isn’t wrong that a single fixed cause like the revelation of Islam may have an impossible time explaining a variable phenomenon like Islamic violence and terrorism. However, a fixed cause can still be an integral part of the overall explanation of a variable phenomenon.

Imagine that a man crashed his vehicle after driving home on a familiar stretch of road between his house and a local bar. As the crash investigators later examine the scene, they note that he had recorded a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit and that it had been raining on the night of the accident. They also know from a previous report by civil engineers that the crash took place on a problematic corner. The curve of the bend and a dip immediately before it were deemed unsafe, and plans were before local authorities to redesign the road’s layout.

If we accept Zakaria’s reasoning, we should discount the corner as a factor in causing the accident because it was present on every occasion (it was “fixed”). Yet this would make us horrible crash investigators who should be fired immediately. Yes, the corner was there all along, including at all the times the man did not crash. However, that doesn’t mean the properties of the corner didn’t combine with the alcohol and the wet road surface to cause the crash on the night in question.

Zakaria’s treatment of the issue is quite simply too simple. It is entirely possible for Islam’s revelation to be a part of the reason why we see Islamic violence and terrorism in the modern era even though the religion itself has produced only variable levels of it over the course of 1,400 years. Indeed, there appears to be no other way of explaining the modern problem without it.

By necessary extension, though, anyone who thinks that Islamic violence has a direct and easily traceable path back to the content of the Koran is also in trouble. They are in no better position than someone who points to the dangerous corner and, understanding it to be dangerous, overlooks the man’s consumption of alcohol and the rainy night. Such a person should be let go as a crash investigator, too.

The connection between Islam and violence is unsurprisingly complex, and a fuller explanation of the problem needs to reference other things, including individual psychologies, an established subculture of violence within the Muslim world, and the political and socioeconomic realities that some Muslims live within.

In addition to these other causal factors, it should also be recognized that there is considerable praiseworthy moral content in the Koran, and that the vast majority of Muslims are far removed from those who would execute French cartoonists on the streets of Paris. Still, the link between Islam and violence is not imaginary, and it should not be ignored simply because it is painful and regrettable to admit.

In the language of our analogy, Islam is a road with an unsafe corner, and while most of the people driving on it are excellent drivers with mechanically sound cars, not all of them are. Some are driving terrible cars, some have poor vision, some have been drinking, and some are driving at night. Within a population as large as one and a half billion people, it’s to be entirely expected that some will crash on that corner in the road. Productive dialogue concerning Islamic extremism must focus on educating and assisting those who travel upon it.

Read all articles in this issue’s Paris Perspectives series.

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  • Larry Conley

    Good thoughtful, treatment of a topic too often treated with almost unbelievable thoughtlessness.

  • The Gorn

    The author states a valid argument that Islam itself shares at least some blame for extremism. But then he writes “By necessary extension, though, anyone who thinks that Islamic violence has a direct and easily traceable path back to the content of the Koran is also in trouble” yet he makes no argument to support this supposition.

  • MaryElizabeth

    “Still, the link between Islam and violence is not imaginary, and it should not be ignored simply because it is painful and regrettable to admit.” Thanks for NOT bowing to ”political correctness.” Just as many Europeans chose to ignore Nazi brutality until it was too late…so, too, does the world ignore the increasing violence, brutality and murdurous provocation by ISIS. They must be stopped.

    • John Cochran

      Thank you MaryElizabeth for bringing the gist of the argument back to the sane conclusion about Islam. Some self-righteous agnostics ignore the obvious to the detriment of everyone else’s safety. And unless we blanket ourselves in post WWII isolationism while the Nazi terror gained strength, we best forget the political correctness so pronounced today and attend to business. We need to forget the poor lessons we learn from any religion and simply get done in the Middle East what must be done.

      • Rick

        John I was with you through your entire post, but you lost me at: “…we learn from any religion and simply get done in the Middle East what must be done.” Don’t do it. Don’t say it. I understand you’re a very learned individual and a Vietnam Veteran. Don’t say it.

        • John Cochran

          Your message is curious to me. What exactly are you saying? Are you offended by “We need to forget the poor lessons we learn from any religion and simply get done in the Middle East what must be done.” If that is the problem, I stand by it 100%. The crux of that statement comes from the fact that the most moral people I have ever met are atheists, and they need no superstitious melodrama from any religion. No one needs religion to have strong mortals, and since more people have been murdered in the name of some religion, I say forget all religions and act according to what is moral and just. If, however you are upset by my comment that we should go and do what needs to be done, ..well, I certainly stand by that also. Are we to simply sit on our hands while those non-humans butcher innocent people? Instead of watching another report of some innocent human aid individual being beheaded by an ISIS child terrorist I would much rather see a report of 50,000 head rags burning from a napalm attack. I doubt I am alone in that thought. If you are offended by that then it would seem there is no common ground on which we can communicate.

          • iconoclast73

            your message “no one needs religion to have strong morals” is such an important message to spread. I frequently try to dialog religionist to express appreciation for their values that happen to be worthy and ask that they expand their thinking to realize “religionists do not have a monopoly on morality”. I’ve been successful at this – but if you try to tell a fundy he is the moral equivalent to ISIS people, you will just appear as a blind lunatic. By the way, please don’t use the term “rag head” – it is degrading to many ethnicitys – I know many sikhs who really are offended for being lumped in with a different religion. :Lots of cultures where strange stuff on their heads.

          • John Cochran

            The “rag head” was too grandiose considering the number of cultures who wear them. It was a moment of anger thinking about ISIS having a child execute a man that prompted that unfortunate rant. Perhaps I should have said rag face, as ISIS members tend to hide behind rags covering their entire face and head. (Could it be they realize the shameful things they do and try to hide from the rest of humanity like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand? Actually, ostriches don’t stick their heads in the sand.) As far as religion thinking they are the sole proprietors of morality, unfortunately many of the fundsys (thank you for that word) do believe that this is the case. And so many think (just as does ISIS) that their brand of religion is the only want that is valid and sanctified by god. You are correct in describing the wall of resistance you will meet if you try to explain this to a fundy. When you are indoctrinated to Jesus at a young age it does something to the brain that makes it very difficult to see any other line of thought. But like Bill Clinton said (paraphrasing) , “No matter how strongly and intently you believe in something, no matter how long you have cherished it in your heart, ….you could be wrong.”

          • iconoclast73

            We agree it is hard to get through to a fundy. A way that I have done it to a limited extent is agree with one on common ground we share and then go on to say, “:surely you realize on this issue that you take this stand on, it is very common for people to take this other stand on – we can talk about why” – phrasing a debate in the third person frames things less personal. A small change in attitude is possible. They may still strongly believe in an issue but at least understand better why it will not be generally accepted. A respectful dialog can leave them finding some commonality with a non-religious person. I encourage you to be a bridge person to help others expand their thinking.

          • John Cochran

            I see what you are saying and have heard it expressed that way many times. People condemn Richard Dawkins for being what they consider so “upfront” and it seems to them he pushes science and atheism in their face. But he is simply stating the facts that have been discovered over the years, and those facts are so different from their old traditional beliefs it seems as an attack. So many people think Dawkins, Harris, and now regretfully deceased Hitchens were enemies to the bone. Others try what you prescribe, what seems to be a more rational approach. And for some it is more palatable. But I think both methods are necessary in this day and age. We live in the 21st Century and the majority of our citizens are living under a 2,000 year old superstitious belief system that has been scientifically refuted time and time again. A couple of months ago In Austin I asked Richard Dawkins if the reason most people reject atheism is simple “fear” and he said “Yes. People fear offending their family and friends, they fear offending the people at work, they fear being isolated in the general public. They fear dying without the mysticism involved.” The things we could accomplish if we joined so much of the rest of the world and put our resources toward science and not the ancient voodoo of religiosity. I’ve got to go start the corned beef and cabbage. Later.

          • Rick

            Take it easy will ya. I thought your being a Vet and all you were going to use the “W” word. The world is all “W’d” out.

          • John Cochran

            I was leaning more to the “A-W” word (atomic weapons.

    • Kimberly WhiteFox

      The link is not between Islam and violence. The link is between Religion and violence. The levels of violence by every major religion fluctuate in different times but the link between all major and most minor religions is an indisputable and historical fact. Just because Islam violence is in the news more currently does not change the fact that as long as religion is allowed to promote violence in their beliefs, it will become violence in their acts by a percentage of the population of whatever religion they adhere to. The Islam terrorists have not invented anything. They are just recycling the violence that has been perpetuated by previous religions since they were first invented as a way to control the masses.
      And in response to John Cochran, I challenge you to go down south to the “Bible Belt” and hold hands with another man walking down the street and see if you even make it alive let alone whether you feel “threatened” which also shows that crucifixtion is not something that ended long ago because that happened in the United States in the “Modern Era”.

      • John Cochran

        I live in the freaking Bible belt and 30 years ago your scenario would have had some merit. But few give a rat’s ass about dykes and fairies (Ten Years After) anymore. Now, I’ll go find some weird dude willing to hold hands while we walk down the street in Biloxi, Mississippi, and you wear a big crucifix around your neck and walk down any street in the Middle East. Wanna bet who will still have a head at the end of the day?

  • Kimberly WhiteFox

    A smart thoughtful description of the problem. However, we need to realize that this description applies to all religions and cults. It is an intrinsic part of the religious belief system. We need to guard against the thought that we don’t have the same risk of driving off the road just because we are not Muslim Every religious road has that bad corner. I grew up in a “Christian” household that got more extreme as the years went by until I began to feel like I was in a place just slightly less extreme as Waco became. After leaving home I looked at other beliefs but I saw that weakness in every one of them. I finally found Humanism and felt comfortable with it but I will always guard against extremism and will carry the scars of my past forever.

    • Ben Munford

      Terror is control mechanism. Religions use terror from threats and indoctrination to control the thinking and actions of members. Sharia law is a threat to all who do not conform. Jesus’ promise of hell (Mark 9:43-49) is a threat to all who do not conform. Moses’ executions in the Jewish Bible, see Numbers 15:32-36 for example, are a threat to those who do not conform. Middle Eastern religions do use threats to control behavior. That is not all they do, but that is one thing that they do. If we ever want to be a free thinking world, we are going to need to make a global decision to discard religion, regardless of beliefs about whether God exists.

      • Kimberly WhiteFox

        I agree with you Ben Munford with every fiber of my being. I just don’t think that the majority of people in America and a few other countries are willing to do that even if it meant that we could eliminate religious terrorism. It is certainly a great goal worth striving for. My fear is that the world will continue slide down into the ignorance, superstition, and hatred of the dark ages instead of progressing into the future. How can we achieve our greatest potential when our education is systematically being stripped and eroded to a public daycare system instead of education?

        • Senre

          I just would like to point out that America is a continent with about 35 countries; it is not a country.

      • I definitely agree with you. Although – when one starts talking about…”making a global decision to discard religion” – you get into dangerous territory. Are you suggesting we outlaw religion, or merely encourage foreign governments to become secular in nature?

        There’s a risk of becoming just as controlling as religion strives to be (and has been in the past). I think these changes happen very slowly – look at the disaster of the Middle-east. Our involvement, no doubt, put their progress back a few decades.

        Iraq, under the Ba’athists, was at least stable – despite the atrocities. That stability is imperative for any social, economical and religious cognitive shift. I believe that Iraqis would trade their current ‘freedom’ for that stability without a thought.

        Christiane Hoffman says it better than I can:

        “Free countries, as constitutional law expert Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde once wrote, flourish in conditions that they themselves are unable to guarantee. Without a cultural learning process — like the one undergone by Europe over the centuries — the toppling of a dictator and the holding of elections are not sufficient to establish democracy. As such, the West should value functioning states to a greater degree in the future.”

      • Candale Andrei

        Yeah, but all countries have laws (as religions have laws) that threaten you with punishment, jail time or even death, if you do not conform to them. So by your logic we should discard all legislative systems because they represent a control mechanism. I am under the threat of jail if I go 30 km/h over the speed limit as I am under the threat of being punished by a deity if I break a rule that is defined by that deity. Both of them, the state and the religion, have a set of rules that need to be respected and their breaking comes with consequences. The fact that a set of rules is right or wrong is another matter, but your argument is invalid; that is the way society works.

  • Tim Law

    The additional error here is in assuming anything about religion is “fixed”. The words may not have changed in these ancient texts, but the interpretation and application to the present context is always both variable (not shared equally across all adherents) and changing. The expansion of Western freedoms and increasing immediacy and proximity of these freedoms to the Islamic world has made expressions of these freedoms more wicked and increasingly intolerable to zealots in relation to these texts. (A slander against Islam in France would not have been known for a long time or ever 100 years ago.)

    As Western and human freedoms evolve, as our ability to express those freedoms becomes instantaneous and immediate, as freedoms expand globally, Muslims must interpret these new freedoms against these texts and must respond. It is necessary for the maintenance of all religions that they respond to changing contexts.

    We have seen very clearly now how modern freedoms are measured against these texts and the intent in applying these interpretations in a modern context of globalization and the response of a significant minority of Muslims.

    The intent is the globalization of Islam (as has been and remains the goal for all major religions). The interpretation of a large minority of Islam is that modern freedoms do not conform to Islamic law. The response of this significant minority is violence against and death to transgressors, which is the remedy called for in the texts.

    If Fareed’s analysis is correct that Islam is indeed “fixed”, then we are inexorably in a situation where Islam cannot moderate its views, as Christianity was forced to do, with very dire consequences for the World.

  • John Cochran

    American politicians tip toe around the religious aspect of terrorism because in the fundamental basis of our democratic system lies freedom of religion. And due to many historical incidents we have seen severe religious persecution. Thus, we have a hard shell of tolerance for all religions. Until now this has served our nation well. But today we find ourselves in a plight that challenges that protectionism. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim. The one commonality of terrorism in this age is Islam. Although most of the Muslim faithful may not share in the beliefs of the radical sects and do not support them, (as our national leaders keep telling us) there seems to be an inherent undercurrent of solicitude for the extremists if the people incarcerated or executed are from other religions. While such empathy does not exist if the terrorists are abusing a Muslim’s own particular sect, there is very little public outcry from Islamic officials when the terror is perpetrated on those outside the faith. It seems from the lack of response to modern Muslim terrorism, the whole of Islam is complicit in these heinous crimes against humanity.

    • Chris Smith

      “All terrorists are Muslim” is a wildly inaccurate generality that undermines any other point you’re trying to make.

      • John Cochran

        It’s hardly inaccurate and certainly not original. I have read that from several notable journalists and it very accurately describes the events of today and the gist of the article. I have been trained not to use “universal” statements, thus not “all” terrorists are Muslim, but the slight distinction does not seem to make a lot of difference. Especially to the many victims of the Mohammad loving lot. Why don’t you go traveling through the Middle East, Chris, and see how wildly inaccurate the statement becomes.

        • GuestWhom

          “All terrorists are Muslim” is a blatant lie. Search the internet and you will quickly find that non-muslims are resonsible for more than 90 percent of terrorist attacks in America and the same goes for Europe. If the humanist will approve my pending posts that contain links to the info you will see what I am talking about.

          • John Cochran

            Oh yeah, I always go to the Internet to get my information. Anyone who actually believes that 90% of terrorists attacks in Europe were committed by non-Muslims is in serious need of psychiatric medication. Go back and review your “internet” statistics. Then go drink the kool-aid.

          • iconoclast73

            that’s just not true. The majority of terrorist attacks are moslem – and the vast majority of religiously motivated attacks are moslem. It is safe to tell the truth about this – people are smart enough that we shouldn’t have to constantly remind everyone of the obvious statement “most moslems are not terrorist”

          • Birdy

            That really depends how you define “terrorist attacks” and if you are including all levels of violence and non-violence (e.g. throwing stones etc). I think when most people talk of terrorist attacks they are talking of those where lives are taken…

        • GuestWhom

          From thedailybeast…

          “Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close”

          “Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.” … “For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.”

          “Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States?”

          “Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks.”

          Read the dailybeast article for more.

          • willknutsen

            It is true that not all Muslims are terrorists, and one does not need a poll to know this. But the number of Islamic attacks in Europe are low only in comparison to such attacks in the Muslim world. This information below comes from the 2011NCTC Report on Terrorism, which is based on information available as of March 12, 2012.

            Sunni Muslim terrorists committed “about 70 percent” of the 12,533 terrorist murders in the world last year, according to a report by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

            “Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third consecutive year,” the report says. “More than 5,700 incidents were attributed to Sunni extremists, accounting for nearly 56 percent of all attacks and about 70 percent of all fatalities.”

            “Muslims continued to bear the brunt of terrorism, while attacks targeting Christians dropped nearly 45 percent from a five-year high in 2010,” stated NCTC.

            “In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years,” added the report. ”

            And since we know Shia also carry out religiously motivated attacks, the percentage of Muslim terror attacks world-wide (which is what really counts) is by far the highest by any group. Also, seperatist attacks are political, not religious. The West does not fight Islam, butfoghts extremists of all stripe. Islamist DO say they fight the West and other “non-believers”: Such primitive thinking is what angers non-Muslims.

          • Birdy

            In reference to the dailybeast article the problem is that “acts of terror” isn’t very helpful as, for example, it could refer to suicide bombs or throwing a stone. I think the above statistics show a very limited picture…its also helpful to show how many terror acts resulting in deaths there were proportionately and then we would get a different picture. Don’t get me wrong, I also agree that the perpetration of the idea that “all terrorists are Muslim” is inaccurate and unhelpful, but so too is trying to stick our heads in the sand and use clever stats manipulation to pretend there isn’t a genuine problem here, and then try to look at causes and hopefully solutions.

          • Lindum

            You are wrong on so many levels. Let’s just start with the easy one. Israel is not in Europe.

        • Chris Smith

          So rather than admit that you were flatly wrong, which you were, you attempt to rationalize your blatantly wrong opinion, which you yourself admit is wrong while still attempting to defend its validity. “It’s hardly inaccurate”; “thus not “all” terrorists are Muslims”. Um, so it is more than just hardly wrong, IT’S WRONG. And if you wonder where the anger that fuels terrorism comes from, YOU’RE PERSONIFYING IT. Making broad, bigoted statements, then stubbornly sticking to your guns when you’ve been proven wrong. Perfectly emblematic of US foreign policy post-Eisenhower. Have you traveled the Middle-East John? Or have you run out of logical and factual arguments to make so you feel the need to apply some false personal experience to your argument to make it seem more valid? Yes, Islam is certainly responsible for the majority of violent terrorist attacks today. But to conflate that to mean that they are the ONLY terrorists or even the “inventors” or originators of terrorism is to be ignorant of human history and only serves to create more discord between us and moderate Muslims, who should be our allies against radicalism.

          • John Cochran

            Chris, I have met many pseudo intellectuals such as yourself, people who flatter themselves with the most ignorant rants and illogical arguments, …bellowing that someone says something he or she has not, then attacking your own creation to make an asinine point (to satiate your grandiose ego). If anyone has proved me wrong it certainly was not you, you pin headed cretin. Ask the people in Paris if my statements are wrong. I’m sorry ISIS continues to act out and thereby destroying lives and your pitiful argument. Your self serving diatribe that Islam is not the ONLY terrorists or originators of terrorism is so blatantly obvious that it is hardly palpable to hear such sad rhetoric. Do you have to stoop so low to make a statement that seemingly makes you appear superior in intellect (to yourself)? The point to be made was quite simple for rational minds. The Islamic world is one that has created and fostered many splinter groups intent on using murder to carry out their sick ideology. Yes, there are other people and groups in this large planet we share who also do naughty things. But hardly on a scale as demonstrated by ISIS. To say that Islam has no fault in such atrocities because the blame falls only on the terrorists is unfortunately wrong. All Islam centers on their holy book, the Koran. Read and see what it says about the need to kill anyone who is not of their faith. Read about how a woman should be stoned to death for a number of mentioned offenses, read how, ..oh hell, you get the idea. Point is, any religion that has such distorted fundamentalist features is a powder keg and hardly trustworthy as a fellow citizen of the world. My points are clear and hardly wrong. The Islam world is the major problem in the world TODAY. I am not needing a history lesson nor do I have time to give one. The Islamic terrorists prove my rationale on a frequent basis whether you chose to admit it or not. Oh one last point, your comment that . . “.blah blah blah..and only serves to create more discord between us and moderate Muslims, who should be our allies against radicalism.” Another point to illustrate my correctness. Why isn’t the moderate Islam nation speaking out in condemnation over their brothers’ crimes against humanity? A sane religion would show far more empathy with the families of murdered victims. But the hush of silence is deafening. Could it be that they really believe ISIS is carrying out the Koran’s teachings better than they are themselves? There is a sickness in Islam that caters to the darkest impulses of man. And when they come to the surface the deeds they manifest are done for the glory of Muhammad’s instructions.

          • Chris Smith

            ISIS was created in the aftermath of our failed state-building mission in Iraq. And I didn’t put any words in your mouth. You said something that was WRONG(like 10 months ago I might add) and I pointed out that your point was stupid and inaccurate. I stand by that and no amount of high-horsing on your part is going to change that. You said something, it was wrong, I called you on it. End of story. And, if you actually read what I wrote, you’d see that I acknowledged that the majority of terrorism today is carried out by muslims. Read the old testament and see how many backwards and outdated views were expressed. Outdated views in books that were written before the advent of science?! SHOCKING! Islam hasn’t been secularized as much as Christianity because that region of the world has not advanced nearly as quickly as the west. That’s pretty much the biggest difference. To blame the perpetual unrest in the middle-east solely on Islam is to be completely ignorant of history, the influence the east and west have had in the region, the social and economic conditions which have pervaded in the region, etc. That’s my point. People who want to simplistically say “It’s their religion” are ignoring that basically every religion can and has been used to justify violence. That’s religion’s role in conflict. It is very rarely the root cause, more often it is used as justification for political violence. Every war in history has been fought by people who claimed god was on their side.

    • Neurotic Knight

      Another reason they tiptoe is that, Islam is indeed quite violent, but only so a little bit more than christianity in it’s own texts, they ignore the big elephant in the room because then theyd have to confront the one in their own house.

      • John Cochran

        When was the last time you heard about a group of Methodists ambushing some Pentecostals on the way to Sunday service?

        • Kimberly WhiteFox

          You can’t pick one of the most liberal and tolerant of many “christian” denominations and say that because you don’t see them participating in terrorism that christianity is not just as much as guilty of terrorism as “islam”. Let’s not forget the bombings, murders, and attacks both physical and verbal on abortion clinics, doctors, and patients by “christians”. The murders, beatings, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, social, legal, and cultural exclusion, alienation and discrimination and even a crucifixion of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender people denying them their basic human rights, their citizenship rights and even their right to exist by people, groups, and a government that considers themselves “christians” in a “christian” nation. And don’t forget about the “christians” who think they have the right to protest and harass people who are grieving their dead just so they can get on TV and spout their hatred for just about anyone. Then remember that many of the people who shot children in their schools considered themselves “christian”. These are just a few examples and only in this country and only in the very recent past. Have you ever read about the Salem witch trials, or about the Crusades or the Inquisitions both Spanish, English, and the rest of the then known world? If you study history at all, you find that more people have been killed in the name of god, including every religion than all of the “non-religious wars put together. That is supposing that you can find a war that religion didn’t have some part in. The list is too long for this short discussion.

          • John Cochran

            I would rather protest and harass people than cut their heads off.

            You said:
            “To say that because you don’t see them participating in terrorism that Christianity is not just as much as guilty of terrorism as “Islam.”

            That’s the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever read on this blog. Go to any of the 50 states, or England, or France, or virtually anywhere in the free world and see if you feel the least bit frightened by some religious threat (assuming their are no Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses around). There is no doubt about it. Islam is the greatest threat in our modern world. Of course it is radical sects of Islam that are causing the problem but that does not mean the terrorists are not Muslim! People have objected to this by giving examples of ancient history, and political struggles couched in religious overtones, but they all pale in comparison to what is happening in TODAY’S WORLD. Islamic terrorists are probably a bigger threat to the world than any of the diseases found anywhere or everywhere. Those who do not believe so are advised to take a leisurely vacation through the Middle East and see how long their head remains attached to their body.

            Jeesch! Enough already.

        • RetiredCatholic

          How about Protestants and Catholics blowing each other up in Northern Ireland, with residual violence still occurring now? Then there are the religious elements integral with the Spanish Civil War, with Catholic Franco making free use of NAZI assistance. Then there is a history of a thousand years of Christian kindness to Jews. Then there is the conservative religious nuts of the KKK, where fellow Christians ambushed there brethren in lots of places-I seem to remember a certain black Pentecostal church blowing up in Mississippi, killing four little girls. Of course, I would wager that the South’s history of lynching involved just that Methodist Pentecostal mix of violence. Gee, we shouldn’t forget the Salem Witch Trials. I won’t go into further detail about who killed who over who was a heretic and who wasn’t. That would take several books-oh, there are already more than several.

          • John Cochran

            I’ve got plenty of old history books, retired Catholic (whatever the freak that means). It has been a terrible trek for ancient man in his development of behavior. The earlier you go back the more insidious and widespread the slaughter. Later they became somewhat less widespread and more selective. And in fairly recent times you’ve had hate filled radicals murdering children. That’s all been well documented and everyone knows the stories. But none of that was what we were talking about in “today’s” world. No one is burning witches in Salem anymore. And although race problems still exist, there won’t be state wide initiatives against the blacks.Widespread lychings were common 70 years ago, but one would make front page news today. Lots of folks fear Hispanics taking their jobs and gov benefits, but you don’t hear about mass killings in this country. It seems that the Christian majority has begun to act like its faith and beliefs require. Now, that is not the situation in Iraq, Syria, and parts of Africa. Today we have fanatical groups who claim to be faithful to Islam and only their particular slant on that religion counts. They openly murder (and televise their atrocities) explicitly in the name of their brand of Islam. We’re not going back to ancient history, RetiredCatholic. We’re talking about what goes on today almost every week. You won’t read abut a bunch of Pentecostals ambushing some Mormons on the way to church. And you won’t see any Christian religion beheading any Hindu because he isn’t a Christian. The threat today is Islam’s radical groups. And if you don’t understand that take a trip to Iraq and do some investigative reporting. And by the way, when you left the Catholic Church I’ll bet both you and your parish were happy.

          • RetiredCatholic

            Retired Catholic means I.m unchurched. If you read the rhetoric on lots of right wing sites, there is a plethora of eliminationist language to be found. There are plenty of atrocities being perpetrated in the name of religion now. The victims have changed, so have some of the perpetrators, but the tune remains the same.

          • John Cochran

            The last thing I would care to read is some right wing propaganda. I appreciate you dusted off the old thesaurus, but why don’t you use the Queen’s English instead of such tripe as “plethora of eliminationist language.” And yes, no one disputes that more atrocities occur in the name of religion than from any other source, including ethnic and racial hatred. I am glad you got out of the church before you attacked the youth minister.

          • RetiredCatholic

            They weren’t ministers, they were priests-ass kickers one and all. One of them, in fact, taught me how to box. “Plethora” IS the Queen’s English. Agatha and Winston used the word often. By the way, I have a degree in Asian History and more than one related minor, in addition to my time in Naval Intelligence. To please you, however, I’ll say a surfeit of death threats. Most terrorist acts in Europe belong to non muslims. Israeli ILLEGALLY OCCUPYING settlers commit more acts of terror than all other groups on the planet combined. Like I said, Israelis invented modern terrorism, although Mao and Uncle Ho invented modern guerilla warfare, after studying Sun Tse(u)’s The Art of War.

          • John Cochran

            Plethora is a common word, but when you write something like “plethora of eliminationist language” it becomes high browed clap trap that only serves to make the writer feel superior in intellect, something which your subsequent verbiage and ideas nullify. Your old speech on the evility of the Israelis is well received and stored with the appropriate grain of salt it deserves. Yes Israel commits heinous crimes everyday and our politicians continue to mention that they are are “most important ally” in the Mid East. (Jimmy Carter didn’t really think so and wrote a blistering book about the Palestinians’ plight.) They fail to mention that Jews own most of the United States’ industry and pull all the important strings. In short they pretty much own our government. As far as the history lessons over Ancient Asian inventions, it really wasn’t necessary. I only have three college degrees myself and retired as a professor in a major university. But my knowledge over Asian history is almost on par with my interest over the same. However, I did study and profess over Machiavelli’s classic “Art of War.” Today my interest is the world we share and its perilous danger from ISIS. Extraneous bits of fragmented events from around Europe and the Mid East is hardly worth serious study. This is not to say they are not significant, certainly to the players and victims involved, it’s just that a segmented synopsis is invalid as a core for intellectual discourse. I wish you well in your continued perusal of international events.

          • John Cochran

            Again, historical rhetoric. Mostly ancient rhetoric. I mean “Salem Witch trials?” That really counters the main issue of modern Islamic terror. Yes there are many volumes of books on the subject of religious persecution, mostly back deep in the history section shelves. And for your information, the Northern Irish Catholic vs Protestants was not about religion nearly as much as it was a political fight against English sovereignty. There would have been as much bloodshed if they were all Catholic or all Protestant. The Irish Catholic rebels killed many English Catholic soldiers and Irish Protestants killed many English Protestants. Hey, you forgot the Spanish Inquisition! Of course that was the Church against it’s own people, or heretics as they were proclaimed. Just like ISIS today is branding their own foes as heretics (and that includes anyone who doesn’t believe exactly like they do. And only they know what all that means).

          • RetiredCatholic

            WWII, the Irish “Troubles”, and other violent social pathologies like the KKK aren’t old. Our biggest terror threat is that of right wing white extremists in this country. One thing people forget, the tactics of all modern “terrorists” were pioneered by the Haganah and the Irgun and up until very recently every single senior member of successive Israeli governments were intimately involved with these groups. Begin was the head of the Stern Gang at one point. They killed fellow Jews for not being as murderous as they were, also claiming innocent Jews killed in there acts of terror, should, in fact, be proud and grateful to die for the caus . They also assassinated Lord Bernadotte.

            One more thing, ISIS was created by us and are actually still functioning with our clandestine assistance. The Taliban were also our spawn. There statements to that effect in the public record, only our sycophantic media don’t see fit to mention that. I was in the intelligence biz early in the Viet Nam war. I knew what was going on then, and I do now. America is the biggest threat to global security going. There is hardly a conflict anywhere that doesn’t have our finger prints on the opening pages.

          • John Cochran

            “WWII, the Irish “Troubles”, and other violent social pathologies like the KKK aren’t old.(?) According to my calendar WWII was 70 years ago, the KKK hasn’t been in my area for many a decade (don’t know about yours), and the Irish hostilities have pretty much resided. You have deviated so far from the main thrust of what we started discussing I don’t know where your most recent rant is even going. Lord Bernadotte? Stern gang? Haganah and Irgun? Buddy, you’re watching way too much late night CNN. While some of this may be true, American citizens will never be privy to what is really going on in the world (even you). And I agree with you on a number of points. George Bush and his modern Crusades has caused much of what threatens the world today. We did indeed create ISIS, but that hardly excuses their hideous and murderous campaign. Can we agree on that? And we have indeed supplied Taliban with equipment and gave them manpower by releasing the Iraqi armed forces. And I think you would agree that our media reports on what can be sensationalized the most, and on that which most supports our political ideals (I.e. Israel). I think it is a stretch to say that America is the biggest threat to global security. The world has long learned to create havoc without our involvement. We do have our hand in many clandestine operations, and many of them turn out very bad. But all that aside, Islamic terrorists are the biggest threats the world knows at present, and it is indeed a world threat. Yes, we have had our hand in far too many political ventures in the past (and present) but in today’s world our resources have to be spent on fanaticism. If not you will be dealing with a suicide Muhammad lover coming to you at your favorite mall or restaurant.

          • RetiredCatholic

            While Ireland has receded to a far, far lower level of violence than that of the troubles, these folks still murder one another. We still live daily with the consequences of WWI, let alone WWII. I mention the 20th history, because it is still a potent force. Remember the USS Liberty? I was aboard the naval vessel closest to the Liberty, two of my friends we killed aboard her. History doesn’t start getting old until all the participants are dead and not remembering it is dangerous even after they are all dead. History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes. What would you say to the fact that we STILL subsidize ISIS? We’re less direct and more secretive about it, but we still do.

          • John Cochran

            Well, we murder one another here in this country for a sundry of reasons too. So what? It doesn’t mean they are all related to old religious differences. Yeah, we live under some of the influences of WWI and WWII, and we also live under the influences of the Civil War. And yeah, we all have stories. I was talking to my sergeant in Vietnam when he got nearly cut in two by a machine gun. (Just barely grazed my hand) Stuff happens. And a blatant statement like we are still subsidizing ISIS is a dubious comment that sounds like it came from the latest right wing conspiracy theory rag. Unless my PBS pledge is being diverted to ISIS I don’t think I’m contributing to that head removing bunch of non-humans. And what do you mean “more or less” secretive about it? If it was happening at all it would be lock solid hid from the public! Dinner is ready. Have a good evening.

        • iconoclast73

          buddhists, quakers, ba hai, amish, hindus – all kinds of groups just never had used their religion as a reason to do violence. On the other hand, the religion of moloch believed in human sacrifice, Aztecs ripped out tens of thousands of hearts on their holy alter – so we need to unlearn “all religions want peace”

        • artie1million

          John, I think we can all agree that the Muslim religion is a significant factor in terrorism today, and that we need to fight such terrorism, but why overstate the case? Doesn’t that just invite refutation, when we need to arrive at a consensus. We all agree, I think, on the gist of your argument. Let’s try to avoid quibbling — it doesn’t further our cause and is a waste of our precious resources. Let’s concentrate instead on formulating a workable plan of action to put an end to these atrocities. I think you might have some valuable ideas on furthering this goal and I, for one, want to hear them.

    • artie1million

      All terrorists are Muslim? Excuse me, but was that kid in Charleston a Muslim? Are the Klan Muslims? Are the Nazis Muslims? People that blow up clinics where abortions are performed? If you had said that the majority of terrorists in the world today are Muslim, I would probably agree, but there are a significant number of non-Muslim terrorists with a significant impact
      and following.
      “Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler” – Einstein

  • Warren Taylor

    Unmitigated equivocation.

  • Neurotic Knight

    Islam and quranic texts are a reason, but they are not the only reason, poverty, power and other factors add in too. Unlike most of modern world, modernity was thrust into middle east. Unlike former colonies of asia and africa, the only exposure Muslim countries had prior were mere trade.

    • iconoclast73

      buddhist people have had plenty of poverty, oppression and those issues – they just don’t have anything core in their religion advocating violence like islam. Muhammad had slaves, led raids, killed critics, etc – religious leaders like buddha and Jesus just weren’t like that. It’s time to unlearn “all religions want peace”. All modern strains of juddaism have successfully dropped the many reasons for the death penalty and genocide advocating verses from the original core of their religion. many doubt this kind of reformation is possible in Islam – reformists keep getting lynched

      • Neurotic Knight

        Of Course, religions are not about peace, but there are two options, nuke them all and be a monster or try to educate them,

        • iconoclast73

          I think that is a false dichotomy. Also, some religions like Buddhism, Amish and Bahai are very peaceful. It really isn’t fair to lump them all together. Could we agree there is a continuum from genocidal to tolerant? American Christians are far less intolerant than 30 years ago (of course Christianity was doing much of the religiously motivated killing 400 years ago and for too long supported slavery). Christianity has had room for an enlightenment – some older denomination are welcoming gays as members (compare that to islamists who whip them or throw them off buildings). I think we as free thinkers realize that “ideas irrationally arrived at are not easily rationally dispensed with” People born hardline moslem or fundamentalist Christian are both hard to change – but at least an offended Christian won’t kill you or a christian who renounces his faith isn’t at risk for death by laws from his countries. We free thinkers have long been condemned by Christians in this country – but if we take an honest look at the whole world, we should appreciate the worst the christians do when we mock them . . . . is pray for us

  • cliff14

    I would say, in the language of your analogy, the curve in the road is Abrahamic religions. Muslims are driving cars in poor mechanical. Christians are drinking alcohol. Jews are terrible drivers.

    Bashing Muslims is something in which am willing to participate. But I will not participate in bashing Muslims while being silent about the violence is Christians and Jews.

    • iconoclast73

      Cliff, it is not just Jews and Christians attacked by islam. Afghanistand and pakistan used to be peaceful buddhists. The history of indian involves 10’s of millions of hindus slaughtered during centuries of slaughter by jihads. The last middle eastern Christians seem getting wiped out in our lifetime. The Yazidhi’s like most religions are peaceful and they have been mostly exterminated by religious moslems. let’s be honest about what is happening today

      • cliff14

        Iconoclast, you missed my point. I agree Muslims behave poorly. However, Jews and Christians have behaved and do behave equally poorly.

        Currently, Muslims are in disarray and Christians and Jews are powerful and wealthy. Muslims are using means available to them. Meanwhile, Jews continue to slaughter Palestinians and make their lives miserable in hopes that they will go away. Christians sit by and do nothing except to empower Israel and fight its wars.

        Religion is the problem. Violence will be reduced as religion loses its power.

        • iconoclast73

          If you want to go back in time – you can condemn christians for once using religious scripture to justify taking slaves. I won’t get into the debate of what israelis need to do to prevent being holocausted off – but look at your comparison between extreme moslems and christians – the Christians fail to act. Just as you should not lump together all people of a certain group, please consider not lumping together all religions – there is a continuum from extinct religions that were more violent than Islam all the way to Buddhists, Bahai and amish. Many just do not have violence and oppression in their DNA. There is still plenty to criticize in the predominant religion here in America, I just ask you to see the difference between fundy’s running amok who don’t want to pay for womens birth control vs hard line people of another religion that do FGM, sell women as rape slaves and make their own women travel in a big black tent

  • Dan Slaby

    Christianity had evolved several liberal interpretations and adapted to the secularization of government, and radical fundamentalism in Christianity has been on the fringe of society, except of course its rise in right-wing politics that is attempting to undermine secularism. Islam has not evolved through a process of liberalization and secularization, still holds religious control over governments in a large area of the globe, and Islamic fundamentalism promotes its militant expansion and fundamentalist reform of current Islamic countries. Islam has its sectarian divisions much like Christianity and there are movements for human and women rights, liberalization of political participation and religious reinterpretation, but these are just beginning. Islam is a civilization, and like every civilization arose from military conquest and has a code of laws (Sharia) for maintaining social cohesion.

    While the “greater” Jihad refers to the territorial conquest of the unbelievers, the context for the “lesser” Jihad is pacifying the conquered and keeping the believers in submission to Sharia Law. The lesser Jihad is not some kind of personal enlightenment that is achieved through self-denial because Mohammed disapproved of the asceticism practiced by Christians. However, the idea of Jihad as an internal moral struggle appears to have arisen with the Sufi sect. The Sufis are a sect of Shia Islam that emphasizes the inner practice of Islam to worship Allah, but it is not a personal enlightenment or meditation for achieving of non-self. Sufism is opposed by Wahhabi and Salafist fundamentalist sects that emphasize outward obedience to the letter of Sharia Law.

    To interpret the lesser Jihad as kindred to eastern mysticism or religious meditation is mistaken by many westerners who envision a liberal pacifist role for Jihad. In its core meaning, Jihad means struggle: to subdue nonbelievers, to pacify those who are subject to the political rule of Islam, and to suppress apostasy in believers.

    Most Muslims are like most Christians, comfortable in the community of believers for personal and social reasons, likely to accept other people with a sense of dignity and respect, but subject to feelings of offense and persecution if their beliefs are questioned.

  • Vir Narain

    Vast numbers of people, over many years and all over the world, while committing organised acts of violence have believed that their religion – Islam – required them to do so. They kill others – and even themselves – in the belief that their religion enjoins them to do so. Others can say that they are misinterpreting their religion, but what authority do they have to say so? It is their words against the actions of their co-religionists. It would be naive to get lulled by the words.

  • GuestWhom

    I find a site called the humanist that blocks comments with any links quite ironic and contrary to the idea of humanism. It’s near impossible to have logical, fact based discussions when the site prohibits linking the source of said facts.

    “Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).”

  • Dan Slaby

    Most Muslims are like most Christians, comfortable in the community of believers for personal and social reasons, likely to accept other people with a sense of dignity and respect, but subject to feelings of offense and persecution if their beliefs are questioned. From a policy standpoint, the freedom to participate in a religious community is a right, but the radicalization against non-members to the point of violence should not be tolerated. As a secular humanist, I would like to understand the precepts and context which motivates religious violence, and find those pivotal points that link people together. It is very evident that Islam fails to be a religion of peace just as much as Christianity fails to be a religion of compassionate love; luckily there are many peaceful Muslims and compassionate Christians because both share a common humanity with believers of other faiths and non-believers in any.

  • Mnm

    Islam definetly isn’t a violent religion. It is pure, and strong, but not most people are. 9/11 doesn’t prove anything except that life is full of massacre and violence

  • Rahul

    If “being drunk” is a metaphor for the political and economic oppression the Muslim world has faced throughout history, let me ask you this:

    Why, when “drunk” does the rest of the world not also engage in Jihad? That is to say that many other parts of the world have faced economic and political problems and yet have not responded with violence.

    ie in the rest of the world, the car crash seems to not really occur at all, in spite of alcohol consumption (political factors) or the curb (religion).

    So I’m sorry to say that your analogy merely proves that Islam is actually violent.

  • Sir Creepus

    ISLAM is NOT violent.For example imagine if he suits charlie insulted your religion such as hinduismim and Christianity.How would you feel?Would you stand there and do nothing?I’m not saying the attack on je suits charlie was RIGHT but still Islam is not violent!

  • artista

    Hogwash, from beginning to the end. He has obviously never read the Koran. Every third page admonishes Muslims to kill the unbeliever. No amount of whitewash will cover the truth. But it will not stop liberals from running interference for this murdurous ideology, nor keep them from comparing it to Christianity. Only an intellectual could make such arguments for no ordinary man could be such a fool.

  • quacknduck

    The reason for islamic violence is that islam is a political ideology for the nation of islam, a medieval form of social organization. By medieval I mean that it views individuals as unable to control their natural behavior which is anti social and it necessary control this behavior so that a society can exist is by a strong individual who either forces everyone to submit to his will or kills them.

    The institution of sharia enables a politically ambitious cleric to make an interpretation of the koran and haddith and market that interpretation(( a sharia) to grow a career and a following. This is the natural way of allah and if successful this cleric is the will of Allah. Shariah a process in which the cleric gets to make the law and the muslim submits to it.

    This is political, i.e. its through the institution of sharia that clerics broker political power, making laws, punishments and as th legitimate political power they have the right to enforce their laws with violence, (just like our police have) which includes being the sole legitimate source of violence and they create a militia to that end.

    It has been this way since the beginning of islam , and this is pretty how medieval societies were organized. and structured.

    The civilization of islam is like medieval England except instead of kings and princes fighting each other, its ambitious clerics in various relationships of dominance or submission, working towards becoming the “king cleric” and no matter how they do so its in the interest of a stable society and thus the will of allah.

    If dominant they attack and if subordinate they point their fingers and say “that is not real islam!”

    In the nation of islam this is the natural and normal state of affairs exactly as allah created humans and the world and it is the job of the cleric to make the law and the muslim to submit to maintain this natural order.

    Some muslims seek reform of sharia can offer an option to us but most do not and and view them as weirdos. This is not about the words of koran or haddith but the institution of sharia which enables the ambitious to cleric realize political power.

    The first ayatollah argued this was more democratic than the west because it was decentralized and enabled the mass constituency to choose the cleric and the sharia that they followed. This cleric was the will of allah abased on a grass roots solid base. But he also argued that shopping with choices, such as in western stores, created mental problems because it confused people and used time the could be thinking about allah.

    This is different than from the west, where the preacher for podunk church can, using the right of free speech, influence laws, but in the civilization of islam the cleric is the law and thus brokers political power, which is about who has the unilateral legitimate right to use violence for their own purpose. Clerics are political dictators and as we see in history, they do not, or will not, give up their power without a violent fight.

    This will go on until muslims eliminate/reform shariah to be in accord with due process of law, common law, freedom of speech, individual rights and open markets and regulated capitalism, i.e. the modern nation state. Right now the nation of islam sees these things as the work of satan and their enemy and they are correct about the latter.

    Simply put the institution of sharia enables the ambitious cleric to become a political dictator and becoming part of modern world means they lose this institutional path to political power. Violence is not rooted in the words of koran or haddith but the institution of sharia which enables clerics to broker power.

  • tim zakosek

    all religion should be privatized! keep it at home!

  • Kevin

    What is the definition of religion?

    From Merriam-Webster dictionary:

    : the belief in a god or in a group of gods
    : an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
    : an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group

    This itself shows that religion is a cult that will make you to follow the rules of that cult defined by the group of that people who founded that religion. Religion is based on mythology, rituals, fear, violence and all means to suppress any ideas or any progress that can help evolve mind.

    If there is GOD – will it be only for human beings who are residing only on earth. Just think, there are millions of galaxies that might have billions of stars that must be having hundreds of thousands of planets that might be harboring intelligent life over there. How GOD is controlling whole universe and when our solar system is like a small dot, how GOD will be affected by any religion. GOD does not need any religion or any creature to make him happy. He does not need to send any messenger to get his things done when HE is OMNIPRESENT and OMNIPOTENT. Why would he care about small human beings who are not even evolved that much. Even if there is GOD, is he so weak that he will need your prayers, your rituals or offerings to make him happy.
    GOD concept is created by human beings, not by any GOD 🙂

  • Kevin

    This is what happens when human brain gets stuck in religion.

    “In December 1984, on Mohammed’s birthday, Khomeini told his people:

    “‘War is a blessing for the world and for all nations. It is God who incites men to fight and to kill. The Koran says, “Fight until all corruption and all rebellion have ceased.” The wars the Prophet led against the infidels were a blessing for all humanity. Imagine that we soon will win the war. That will not be enough, for corruption and resistance to Islam will still exist. The Koran says, “War, war until victory!…” The mullahs with corrupt hearts who say that all this is contrary to the teachings of the Koran are unworthy of Islam. Thanks to God, our young people are now, to the limits of their means, putting God’s commandments into action. They know that to kill the unbelievers is one of man’s greatest missions.’

    “Amid all the killing, Iran also declared war on sexuality. Women were commanded to shroud themselves so completely that no lock of hair showed. Morality patrols in white jeeps cruised streets, arresting women for being ‘badly veiled’ and sending them to prison camps for three-month rehabilitation courses. Western magazines entering Iran went first to censors who laboriously blacked out every woman’s picture except for her eyes.”

  • Kanaderu

    It doesn’t really matter if all terrotists are muslims or not; the important thing is that all Abrahamic religions are violent, aggressive and that they distort the concept of morality. In this light, we have finally come to the time when we can see how dangerous religion is and, if we want a peaceful world constantly evolving to make this world a better place religion must be rejected.

  • Steven

    Mr. Rowe’s road analogy is, unfortunately, deeply flawed. What a good crash investigator should do in an analysis of the road is control for other factors, like weather and alcohol. If we then find this corner to be more dangerous, we can say this corner is an integral part of our explanation.

    Such a control for religion is no doubt impossible, but it would look something like this. Imagine a culture with another religion, say Christianity, was conquered in WWi, and carved up into governments with no connection to the local culture, serving only the material interest of their conquerers. Imagine then a hundred years, 4 or 5 generations, of imperial rule, neo-imperial rule, and imposition of dictators paid to subvert the legitimate grievances of the people. Imagine now the creation of a global world order and system of international law, which gave these conquerers repeated and often-used authority to invade, overtly or covertly, these countries, installing and re-installing new dictators who violently crush various people’s movements. Finally, imagine a present where those conquerers are still killing many more innocent people than militants of our imagined culture.

    Now ask: if this culture were Christian, would it be less violent, less terroristic, solely because Christianity is essentially less violent than Islam. If so, we would expect to see, once significant factors are controlled for, less Christian violence throughout history. This is not what we see, and the analogy of the road has led to more confusion that it has clarified.

    A group of people who feel justified in killing will often reach for whatever justification has long enough legs to foster a subculture of higher moral grounds. So in this respect, yes, Islam is a factor. But so might many other religions or secular ideologies that were lying around.

    Arguments that reduce cultures and meaning to determinate causes are bound to fail.