Extremism breeds extremism
Nazia Nazar
5/6/2011

 

The danger of nuclear arsenals is considered as an imminent threat to this globe; however, the real enemy the world confronts today is extremism. Unfortunately, the words ‘extremists’ and ‘extremism’ are considered as synonyms for Muslims and Islam only, which is a flawed and biased perception propagated by the western media. The fact of the matter is that extremists could be found everywhere in the world belonging to every religion and creed.

The Christian pastor John Terry who has burnt the religious book of Muslims in a fit of acute hatred against Islam is as much a religious ‘extremist’ as those who retaliated by killing some UN workers in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan. It is indicative of how extremism breeds extremism and poses a threat to peace in the world. However, neither Christianity can be held responsible for the hate mongering act of Christian Pastor John Terry nor Islam should be blamed for the acts of those misguided Muslims who resort to violence and bloodshed to implement their agendas. In fact, generalizing an individual criminal act in religious perspective is utterly wrong, as this dangerous trend is polarizing the world and widening the gulf between different communities; thus hampering their peaceful co-existence.

Unfortunately, endorsing tirade against Islam and Muslims under the garb of freedom of expression has become a fashion of the day in west. Nevertheless, the motives are no other than getting cheap popularity and inciting Muslims to violence, and then blaming Islam for all the mess. The recent burning of Quran by Pastor John Terry and senior British politician Sion Owens is also an effort to express their hate against Islam and not to serve their religion whose teachings exhort love for humanity and prohibit the spreading of hatred and enmity. Nevertheless, Muslims’ extreme violent reaction and unnecessarily media hype from the west to such incidents is serving the purpose of blasphemers and hate mongers, inspiring the likeminded to follow suit. However, despite resorting to violent means and punishing the innocents for such incidents, Muslims must raise their voice and invite the pro-pacifist world community to join hands with them against those hate-mongers who defame and insult someone’s religion.

Likewise, the world community must not be oblivious to the fact that addressing the root causes of extremism is the only way out to realize the dream of making this world a land of peace. To achieve this objective, it is incumbent upon all the communities of the world to respect each other’s faith and refrain from hurting the religious feelings of others. In this perspective, one must not ignore the demographic proportion of this world where Muslims are 1.5 billion ie about one fourth of total world population. And Islam is the second largest religion of the world after Christianity. However, hurting the feelings of second largest religious community in the name of freedom of expression is the real impediment in the way of interfaith harmony.

Unfortunately, freedom of expression has become a buzzword, and there are some people in the West who believe that unless they participate in tirade against Muslims they have not used their right to freedom of expression. However, when the question pertinent to the freedom of adopting a particular dress code comes to fore, the West always shows a double standard. Banning Burqa or veil in France and supporting and promoting nudity on the other extreme is a recent example which raises the question as to who would determine the rules to sanctify freedom with the right sense of justice. In fact, the perception is gaining currency among the Muslims that the term ‘freedom’ is being used to ridicule the Muslim world. On one hand, use of derogatory language or desecrating the holy book of Muslims is sanctioned in the name of freedom of expression, whereas on the other hand the very basic human right to live freely and peacefully according to one’s wishes has been denied to Muslims in Palestine and Kashmir for last six decades. Such display of double standard is in fact the core issue which is embittering relations between the West and the Muslims more than ever before.

The need is to understand that limitless freedom has never been sanctified in a civilized world; nevertheless it has been a distinctive feature of a primitive society which was free from the compulsion of adhering to the rules and laws. Moreover, the situation necessitates understanding the difference between freedom of expression and freedom to offend someone, which mostly pushes one towards retaliation. To understand such an action and reaction phenomenon just think for a moment how would you react if someone resorts to derogatory language about you or your dear ones?

It might result into a brawl, or abusing in retaliation. If such a small offence gives rise to a hate vs hate phenomenon, how passions could be controlled or violence be avoided in case of blasphemy against a religion? The fact of the matter is that tirade always gives rise to major clashes pushing people towards endless enmity. For that very reason Islam, despite presenting the concept of oneness of God, prohibits Muslims from abusing the gods of non-believers and ordains ‘abuse not those whom they (i.e. non-believers) call upon besides Allah’ (Quran 6:109). Unfortunately, apostles of unbridled freedom of expression hardly look into the seriousness and sensitivity of blasphemy issue and its repercussions on today’s world, which is confronted with the danger of terrorism posed by some militant organizations who remain busy in hunting down new recruitment. Since, blasphemy has been a boiling issue in Muslim world, so militant organizations find it an easy pretext to give a call to Muslim youth all over the world in the name of revenge. Hence, it strengthens the roots of terrorism and enhances the might of terrorist organizations and their dangerous agendas.

In this perspective, it would not be an exaggeration to conclude that the survival of this globe depends upon harmonious relations among different faiths, creeds and religions, which could be achieved only by tolerance, reverence and understanding. However, it does not mean that the doors of polemics and criticism should be closed forever. But criticism should be conducted in a healthy and positive environment and necessarily on scholarly level exhibiting one’s wisdom and sense of intellectual reasoning and not someone’s hatred, prejudice and personal vendetta. Moreover, using derogatory and abusive language against anyone’s religion does not fall into the category of freedom of expression but it is indicative of a person’s sickness of mind and low level of his human faculties. History is evident that great people and apostles of freedom never resorted to derogatory and mean kind of expressions. So why to defend tirade in the name freedom of expression at the cost of peace and harmonious relations among different communities?