Intimidated by extremists
- "Standing Pentagon orders instruct those touching the Koran that "clean
gloves will be put on" and that "two hands will be used at all times."
How about washing your hands AFTER touching it?
Interesting "spin"...but irrelevant...Islam is not moderate and has not been
"hijacked by extremists"...and no evidence at all is offered that Islam is
either a religion (as opposed to being a fascist political ideology) nor
that it merits, as a death cult, any respect whatsoever.
Intimidated by extremists
Frida Ghitis International Herald Tribune
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2005
ATLANTA One day, when historians study this first major war of the 21st
century, they will scratch their heads in disbelief, wondering how it came
to pass that Muslim extremists managed to intimidate moderates of every
religion - including Islam - on every continent on earth.
The whole planet, it seems, twisted itself into knots trying to untangle the
forces at work behind the retracted Newsweek story about desecration of the
Koran. Journalistic practices came under attack, while experts on Islam
tried to soothe the less erudite, not quite justifying, but more than
thoroughly explaining why desecration of the Holy Book leads to mob rampage
and murder in a Muslim society.
No question, insulting any religion is beyond reprehensible. It appears,
however, that nothing is more reprehensible than insulting the Muslim
religion. And the extremists now decide what constitutes an insult.
In Pakistan, a Muslim nation whose president Muslim extremists have twice
tried to assassinate, Islamists have decided that women's sports constitute
a grievous offense to Islam. Some women, it turns out, find the idea of
using Islam to repress them itself quite offensive. So, when the government
of President Pervez Musharraf, which lately bends to the will of extremists,
placed bans on women's rights, women decided to stage a protest
A leading Pakistani human rights activist, Asma Jahangir, was brutally
attacked by the police during the peaceful demonstration. Participants in
the "mini-marathon," a kind of sports event/political protest, came under
violent police assault. This from a key U.S. ally, a government presumably
fighting to defeat Islamist extremists. A fine way to strengthen the
And speaking of moderates, and of respect for religion, consider the
official sermon on Palestinian Authority television, which is financed
largely by the contributions of democratic countries in the West, shown to
viewers on May 13. Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris explained that "the Jews are a
virus resembling AIDS." This man of God told the faithful that "the stones
and the trees will want every Muslim to finish off every Jew," and he
predicted that "the day will come when we (Muslims) will rule the entire
With the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, on his way to the
United States, the authority did not want such notions to dominate the
headlines, so it took a stand against the imam. But this kind of rhetoric by
religious figures goes unchallenged every day in much of the Middle East,
including so-called moderate countries friendly to Washington.
Even in Africa, moderate governments behave timidly before mob-stoking
Islamists. Muslim radicals in Nigeria a few years ago whipped the masses
into a murderous frenzy days before the scheduled Miss World Pageant, all
because a newspaper columnist speculated, tongue in cheek, that the Prophet
Muhammad might have taken the winning contestant as his wife.
Frenzied Muslims killed 220 Nigerians to defend Islam from such an insult.
Nigeria's moderate president accused the media of insensitivity and blamed
the riots on "irresponsible" journalists. We can add the 220 to the hundreds
who have died in protests against other affronts to symbols of Islam.
While Muslim moderates get swept away by the tide of extremism, unprotected
by so-called moderate governments, the rest of the world frets in
well-intentioned angst. Moderates everywhere now seem terrified of making
missteps that might upset the extremists, while they obsess over the
question, "What can we do to avoid offending Muslims?" Standing Pentagon
orders instruct those touching the Koran that "clean gloves will be put on"
and that "two hands will be used at all times."
Let me say it again: Disrespecting the Koran or Islam or any other religion
is contemptible behavior. If American soldiers do it, it is particularly
egregious because the United States self-righteously argues for more
tolerance in the Muslim world. But tolerance must be demanded from all
The views and life choices of moderate Muslims must be respected, as must
those of people of all religions, by members of all religions. The demands
fall on Muslims, too. And the requirement of standing up against intolerance
falls on all governments. Only intolerance is undeserving of tolerance.
(Frida Ghitis is the author of "The End of Revolution: A Changing World in
the Age of Live Television." )
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