It’s No Excuse, But…


In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

The most obvious conclusion that someone could make about the violence that has erupted in response to the publication of the cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is that Muslims are simply barbarians, who can’t help but be violent. This is a message, I am sure, that many want to get across (maybe even the cartoonists?) to the rest of the world.

Yet, by the grace of the Lord God, the truth always manages to come out. This time, the truth has come out in an excellent article in the Christian Science Monitor. Reporter David Montero wrote that the riots in Pakistan, the scene of the most violence by far, are about more than just the cartoons.

In his article, Mr. Montero wrote: “Over the past week, Islam and religious fervor have been fingered as the source of the spreading violence. But to some analysts, the erratic nature of the demonstrations points to different root causes. The flash conflagrations, they argue, highlight a profound discontent in Pakistan over economic and social inequality that has deepened over the past five years, sparking alienation and resentment.”

Kamila Hyat, joint director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, was quoted in the article as saying, “There was no religious component to the violence. All the violence was influenced by small groups of boys who were not moved by the blasphemy issue.”

“The whole thing was initiated because of the cartoons,” said Nauman Wazir, president of the Industrialists’ Association of Peshawar. “Then it was hijacked by some elements – schoolboys, people sitting idle – who also wanted to be a part of it. They have forgotten what the cause is.”

So, there is more to the story than just Muslims being “the barbarians that they are.” What’s more, there are many who suspect that state intelligence agencies have fomented the violence. Zarafullah Khan, director of the Center for Civic Education in Islamabad, was quoted by the article as saying, “Maybe [President Pervez] Musharraf is trying to create a situation where he says to [US President George] Bush, ‘Look, I’m sitting on dynamite with these mullahs and I’m the only one who can contain them.'”

Now, there is no proof of this activity, but the implication is very interesting indeed. What’s more, the article says: “…observers say a weak police response is suggestive of state approval.” Again, let me be fair, there is no proof, and officials have denied the accusations. But, still, the conspiracy theorist in me (the one which I actively suppress) has had his interest piqued tremendously.

Another point brought out by the article, although that was not it’s intent, was the fact that there have been Muslim leaders who have condemned the violence and spoken out against it. When I was on Fox’s show “Heartland” on February 11 (I hope to have the transcript for you soon), I was asked by Congressman Kasich about why we haven’t heard more Muslim leaders speak out against the violence. I replied that we have, but the media has not done a good job reporting it.

Well, three cheers for the Christian Science Monitor:

Muhammed Sarfarz Naimi, a religious party leader, began Valentine’s Day
shouting down the Danish cartoons as blasphemous. By the afternoon, however, his
faith compelled him to shout different protests…For Dr. Naimi, condemning the
desecration of the prophet Muhammad and the desecration of life and livelihood
are both parts of his calling.

“We demand that the government of Denmark apologize. Until they apologize,
the protests will continue,” he said by telephone, but added about the violent
protesters, “On that day we stopped them. We shouted, ‘Don’t destroy others’
livelihood, don’t destroy others’ wealth, others’ shops.’ This is prohibited by
Islam.”

Naimi is one of several religious leaders playing a dual role these past
few days, condemning in equal measure the offensive depictions of the prophet
and the wanton violence perpetrated in several Pakistani cities.

“Violence is antireligion. To be harmful in this respect is against
religion,” says Syed Munawar Hasan, secretary general of Jamaat Islami Pakistan
in Lahore.

If it wasn’t for this wonderful newspaper, I bet no one would have heard of these Muslim leaders or their stance against the violence in Pakistan.

Now, let me be clear: this is not to excuse the violence in any way, shape, or form. No matter what the motivation, to take life and limb, to destroy property, to burn and pillage is absolutely wrong, immoral, and un-Islamic. It should never have been done in the first place, and it should not be even contemplated in the future.

Having said that, however, the truth is usually a bit more complex. There are those who want to spread the message that Islam is a barbaric warrior cult and point to these violent protests as their “proof.” But, the Precious Beloved has sent us the truth, and it makes us think a but more about the other possible reasons behind it. At the very least, this article refutes the claim that the Muslims are violently protesting the cartoons because their religion tells them to do so.

Again, it is no excuse, but knowing the truth makes one a better person. Nay, knowing the truth is liberating: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

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