Scrolling Headlines:

Justin King sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison -

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two future UMass hockey players selected in 2015 NHL Draft -

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court ruling clears way for same-sex marriage nationwide -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Former UMass center Cady Lalanne taken 55th overall by Spurs in 2015 NBA Draft -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Second of four men found guilty on three counts of aggravated rape in 2012 UMass gang rape case -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boston bomber speaks out for first time: ‘I am sorry for the lives I have taken’ -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

King claims sex with woman was consensual during alleged 2012 gang rape -

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wrongful death suit filed in death of UMass student -

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ryan Bamford uses online Q&A session to discuss UMass football conference search, renovation plans, cost of attendance -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Opening statements delivered, first witnesses called in second trial for alleged 2012 gang rape at UMass -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UMass Board of Trustees approves rise in tuition, student fees -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Former Minutewoman Quianna Diaz-Patterson named to Puerto Rican national softball team -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

UMass rowing’s Jim Dietz inducted into CRCA Hall of Fame -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jury selection begins Monday in second gang rape trial -

Monday, June 15, 2015

Students turn attention to state legislators as decision on UMass budget looms -

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Alumna and next director of Brooklyn Museum Anne Pasternak ‘created her own path’ -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

UMass graduate crowned head of 600-year-old Indian kingdom -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Committee recommends UMass increase tuition, student fees for in-state undergraduates -

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Darrice Griffin named UMass’ senior associate athletic director for internal operations/senior woman administrator -

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Report: UMass football will host Mississippi State in 2016 -

Monday, June 8, 2015

The fight against religious extremism

Flickr/cattias.photos

January’s news and much of the news of the past six months has been dominated by the ongoing fight against terrorism. September and October were clouded with news of violent protests against clips from the film “Innocence of Muslims,” a low budget production portraying a very negative depiction of the Prophet Mohammed’s life. Although the film was never completed, overdubs in Arabic became a focal point for violent protests that claimed lives. The start of 2013 has been similarly marred by the outbreak of violence in Mali and the deadly hostage-taking at an Algerian oil refinery, in which as many as 50 hostages died.   The common factor uniting these recent, violent events is religious extremism.

The fight against religious extremism is a growing issue, and has become a much more publicized conflict since the Sept. 11 attacks. But unlike earlier fights that pitted democratic governments against movements such as fascism and Marxist-Leninist communism, today’s democracies are scared to condemn their enemies. During the recent film protests, the U.S. denounced the work of the maker of “Innocence of Muslims,” even as innocent people have suffered as a result of religious fundamentalism. Offensive as such productions may be to some, Western democracies have no right to apologize for the very rights that their citizens have fought and died for – the right to freedom of expression.

People across the globe have every right to be offended by projects such as “Innocence of Muslims,” and should feel free to express their opinions in constructive ways, through editorials or peaceful protests; resorting to violence is intolerable.  By denouncing the film clips, the U.S. sends a weak message to religious extremists, almost exonerating the actions of mobs and organized terrorist cells such as Ansar al-Sharia. The stance of such groups is clear. In an interview with the BBC in September, Sheikh Mohammed Zahawi, a spokesperson for Ansar al-Sharia told journalists, “We want to tell the world that the democratic project doesn’t suit us and doesn’t suit Islam.”

Instead of apologizing, Western governments must defend the right of individuals to espouse ideas and create intellectual property of a satirical nature that some may deem offensive, a right enshrined in almost every democratic constitution. Instead of apologizing, Western governments must condemn every act of terrorism and mob violence, and act to prevent future events. To date, religious extremists have had some notorious successes, most notably the Sept. 11 attacks, the July 7, 2005, bombings in London, and the March 11, 2004, attacks in Madrid. Many other plots have been stopped thanks to the vigilance of law enforcement agencies and the ineptitude of many conspirators. But the evidence is growing that religious extremism is on the rise. In countries such as Pakistan, radical Islamists control huge swaths of territory threatening to overthrow already unstable nations, turning these countries into springboards for terrorism.   Even in developed countries, religious extremists are making dangerous inroads – for example, Christian fanatics have assassinated doctors who perform abortions. Finding allies in the war on religious extremism is difficult, with two-faced behavior from many nations. Saudi Arabia, an ultra-religious absolute monarchy, is considered a key U.S. ally in this war, yet funnels millions of publicly and privately held money annually to Wahhabist madrassas (religious schools) that indoctrinate students in their extremist version of Islam and serve as recruiting posts for groups such as al-Qaeda. However, there are many madrassas across the globe that do not indoctrinate students with radical ideas and generally stay within the ambit of secular ideas. Whatever their creed and wherever they operate, religious extremists share common goals – the removal of democracy, the overturn of freedom of speech, religion and hard-won gains in civil rights by women and minorities.

It’s time to identify the enemy and stop apologizing. Western democracies must make it very clear to their citizens and to other countries that they are not at war with any one religion, but rather with the violent extremist elements of many different religions – whether Christian, Jewish or Islamic. It’s a war that will not be won with troops alone, but also with education, health care, economic development and the extension of democracy.

Eamon McCarthy Earls  is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at ecmccart@student.umass.edu.

 

Comments
2 Responses to “The fight against religious extremism”
  1. Arafat says:

    Eamon,

    Your article is disingenuous. You insinuate other religions produce extremists like Islam does, and this is simply untrue.

    In the past 36 years there have been six abortion clinic attacks resulting in eight deaths. There is not a day goes by that Islamic extremists don’t kill many multiples of that number.

    Pure and simple Islam IS unique among all religions. It IS the only religion whose prophet was a warrior, a man who stole from defenseless caravans and villages so as to increase his wealth, a man who enslaved, raped and tortured those who refused his demands.

    Today when Muslims act they quote chapter and verse from the Quran and model their actions on Mohammed’s as described in the hadiths.

    Mohammed is the polar opposite of Christ as is Islam from Christianity, and you do yourself and your readers a great disservice by insinuating otherwise.

    “Allahu Akbar” they shouted as they slowly cut off Daniel Pearl’s head.

  2. Arafat says:

    Eamon,

    Let me also say I completely agree and commend you for your belief that it is long past time we started being honest about the problem.

    The alternative – Obama’s choice – is to continue to whitewash and to even lie about the true nature of Islam. It’s time for honesty and education for only through doing that will we help address the problem.

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