Re: Islaamic Extremists.
The main underlying issue is that people typically associate the actions and demeanors of extremists with those that follow the Islamic religion out of peace and have no intention of causing physical or mental harm to others that may not follow the same religious practices.
What people need to focus on is that the extremists resemble a different, more destructive and oppressive version of the Islamic religion where walking into an open public area and blowing themselves up to kill as many “infidels” as they can is perceived as “glorious” with false promises of being granted paradise along with seventy-two virgins. The issue is only the violent negatives have been captured by the media, and because of that, people associate all of Islam with the destructive terrorism that goes on. What people need to realize is that Al Qaeda is composed not of homicidal maniacs, but is instead composed of students that are simply being fed the wrong beliefs, the wrong judgment, and the wrong answers and solutions to a difference in characteristics that naturally exists between two varying groups of people. Before, we saw how far this could go with Nazi Germany, and how far destructive propaganda can go to create one of the most destructive and unconscionable atrocities in human history.
The other issue is the culture of Islam that other people around the world are unfamiliar with. In America, one of the greatest freedoms we partake in is the freedom of expression. To us, the presence of Islamic women in burquas seems like a stark contrast to that freedom. In addition, there are those that feel insecure around these situations where they can’t even recognize the faces of those that they are trying to associate with, and how there is no chance a witness would be able to identify them if they were to commit a crime. For a moment, imagine how different society would be if everyone wore burquas like these. Ask yourself, setting all cultural and religious devotion issues aside, how fair is it that women have to wear them and men don’t? Why are these women kept under so many coverings to the point where only their eyes can be seen? In America, we are highly focused on maintaining freedom, liberty, and justice for all. To us, matters like these seem to be an intrusion on those freedoms. That the women choose to wear them by act of choice and not duress or threat of punishment, that’s a different story. That the women are forced to wear them lest they be punished for not doing so, that looks like an attack on their freedom, which is not something we tolerate in this country. Meanwhile, in America, we have come a long way to ensure there are equal rights and opportunities to people of all races, genders, religions, and backgrounds. Things like these seem to be a step in the opposite direction, and already the struggle to move away from gender/race/religion-specific parameters, limitations, and boundaries has been long, hard, and extremely bloody.
One of the main concerns with Americans is that most people would prefer it if people came here and tried to adapt to the country’s culture, rather than expect to have the entire country adapt to them. The situation also works in reverse. An American going into a foreign country would need to be prepared for cultural differences, otherwise they run the risk of unintentionally offending someone or being perceived as rude.
What would I do if I was a leading Islamic leader? The first step I would take is to openly and publicly condemn those that seek to destroy and murder others in the name of the Islamic religion. As a Christian, I know that one of the most severe penalties that the Catholic Church can infract upon someone is excommunication. I’m not sure what kind of similar punishment the Islamic religion uses, but it would need to be on this level, as these extremists create a massive wave of negativity toward Islam and threaten the very structure of the religion. Their actions create enmities and destructive distrusts toward those of different religions that may have otherwise lived in peace with those had it not been for the actions of the extremists. As a Christian, I appreciate being called an “infidel” as much as someone of the Islamic religion would appreciate being called a “terrorist” or a “suicide bomber.” In addition to that, acceptance, tolerance, and coexistence need to work both ways. One group of people can not be the “givers” while the other group is the “takers.” Both sides need to understand the standpoint of the other group, and both sides need to appreciate the varying attributes and characteristics of the other.
I understand that there are many of the Islamic faith that despise the extremists. The more they make their voices heard, the more people will begin to understand that the destructive tendencies that the extremists follow have absolutely nothing to do with the real Islamic religion. The more that gap is defined and declared, the more people will begin to understand that there is no reason to make an association between the two groups, and instead, the extremists will soon come to realize their mission has only resulted in them being completely isolated and appreciated by no one.