On Koran burning and Afghanistan killing

Let us take great care with recent events, so that we are true to our best American traditions. A small church in Florida symbolically burned a Koran. Thousands of protesters in Afghanistan, ginned up by three mullahs angry about the Koran burning, stormed a UN compound and killed at least 12 people.

To be sure, words and symbolic actions have consequences. But our response to the words, the consequences, and the conclusions we draw, tests mightily how we as Americans think about speech, bigotry, religion and murder.

First, the fairly incontestable conclusions.

1. Burning a Koran, the Muslim holy scripture, is indefensible bigotry. It is a hateful condemnation of an entire religion, of many millions of people who draw inspiration, guidance and daily grounding from their holy scripture. It is a grotesque failure to appreciate the range of Islam and an ignorant obsession with a few high-profile extremists who push one violent interpretation of the Koran.

2. Violence — never mind murder — in the name of, or based upon a perceived slight against, Islam, is indefensible. What the Afghani mullahs promoted and what the protesters committed was a horrible crime. People in Afghanistan to help Afghanistan lost their lives because of irrational and indefensible rage.

This much is clear — and the rest of the more difficult conversation can only happen with people who acknowledge that this much is clear. To any who hesitate as to one or the other above conclusions, you are part of the problem, and no longer part of the dialogue. Please consider rejoining.

For the rest of us, seeking to build bridges rather than borders, I want to suggest additional fair conclusions.

1. The Koran burning “caused” the Afghanistan protests. It did not cause the violence and it did not cause the murders. Committing violence against, or killing, someone, particularly an innocent person, is an act of moral agency entirely independent from whatever prompted the anger. One may feel insulted and react passionately. Violence against innocents, and most certainly murder, is a plainly indefensible overreaction — an independent immoral decision that must be universally condemned without regard to what prompted the anger.

2. Muslim communities need to be as forthright as possible about the proper response to insult. Part of the suspicion problem in America and abroad is the notion that Islam gets a pass from what every other world religion routinely endures. Christians and Jews in America, for example, are well accustomed to frequent and repugnant insults against their beliefs, their scriptures, their icons– and the reaction is frequently passionate, but not violent, and certainly not murderous. The vast majority of Muslim-Americans embrace exactly the same calibration of protest without violence — and they need to say it.

3. Americans need to stop thinking about “Islam” and “Muslims” and the “Koran” and “sharia law” as uniform and codified “things” about which one can speak generally. Before any person presumes to speak a negative word about Islam, Muslims, the Koran, or sharia law, he or she better have a thorough understanding of each. Otherwise, confine yourself to criticisms of what you perceive to be objectionable interpretations of Islam. Then dialogue happens.

4. We have an uncommon First Amendment tradition in America. We permit the American flag to be burned, we permit a crucifix to be placed in a jar of urine and deemed “art” called “Piss Christ,” we permit atheists to accuse organized religion of all manner of vile historical and current atrocity (see #2 and #3 above). We accept these instances of sacrilege, in the American tradition, because we know that religious dispute must always be handled with words, even angry words, but never with violence. We can never return to the bygone age of settling religious dispute with violence. Every American, of every religious, non-religious, and irreligious stripe, benefits from that American commitment to freedom to be religious, in whatever way, or anti-religious, in whatever way.

5. I count Muslim-Americans — and this may be controversial abroad — as a special class of Muslims, a class of Muslims who have thrived because of American religious freedom, who are not a victim class but a success story, precisely because America respectfully lets religions be themselves. This is our shared greatness. This is how we talk with each other — on the basis of shared American values. This is how the vast majority of Muslim-Americans blend appreciatively into being Americans. And more Americans need to appreciate that.

There is a high-profile discussion now about Islamist extremism. I am hopeful that more Muslim-Americans step up and speak forthrightly in opposition to extremism and violence and in defense of both American and Islamic values. And I am hopeful that more non-Muslim Americans join that discussion respectfully, and come to see Muslim-Americans as their partners in preserving what makes this country great.

UPDATE: Cross-posted at CiF Watch — with some lively and mostly hostile commentary.

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44 Responses to On Koran burning and Afghanistan killing

  1. Lou says:

    A large nugget of the West-to-Islam disconnect comes from a core freedom ideology that still pervades the U.S. Christians and Jews — even extremists — don’t respond to insult with violence because the base of their culture and belief system accepts the free expression of the repugnant and grotesque. Other parts of the World, including notably many Islamic countries, do not share these basic values. Without those values, violence may seem an appropriate response to certain speech. Similarly, in evaluating events like a Koran burning, Westerners bristle at the thought that a free wo/man can’t burn anything they want to — this bristling can be miss-perceived as approval of the act. In sum, I think you are talking about symptoms of a value much deeper held by dramatically different cultures, each of which is entitled to its own ways.

    • I agree with you in principle Lou — and indeed, our visceral First Amendment instincts would be to some degree bizarre to many, if not most, other cultures — but when you say “dramatically different cultures,” I don’t think you mean to include Muslim-Americans, and that was my focus. To be sure, there are diverse Muslim-American sensibilities, as with any communities, but my sense is that Muslim-Americans are both Muslim across a spectrum and very American, and that it’s perfectly consistent with being Muslim and American to condemn the killings in Afghanistan. Moreover, to say “each is entitled to its own ways” suggests (though I don’t think that’s what you meant) that we have to respect — or perhaps resign ourselves to — different cultural mores that lead to murder in the name of religion. No. We do not ever have to do that. And we never should. There are proper lines in the sand. That’s why I teed up up the two incontestable propositions, before getting into trickier matters. These are propositions that everyone should embrace, cross-culturally. One is, no violence, no murder in the name of Islam or any religion, even if you’re an angry Afghani, and that is a proposition for which we should have no hesitation whatever in seeking global, cross-cultural embrace.

      • Lou says:

        Agreed Kendrick. To be clear, I wasn’t including Muslim-Americans. Perhaps my error is in defining Americans culturally without regard to birth, citizenship or green cards. I see how that may be confusing.

  2. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    And rational, calm, thoughtful folks should certainly not find fault with your points here, Kendrick. But another unwritten conclusion to your post today is that there will always be a segment of U.S. society waiting in the wings to promote their dogma in the most inflammatory (no pun intended) manner available within legal limits. And there will always be a segment of foreign Muslim society that will react with violence if they believe their religious texts are being disrespected. (Even in my utopia, I don’t see an end to this.) You and I have had discussions about free speech before; this is yet another instance in which an American’s right to free speech led to unintended and tragic consequences. There is no excuse for either culture’s behavior. None. But what we do in the U.S. – what the media does – to create the drama, the circus of opinion and emotion around these free expressions of belief is not admirable. It’s fuel to light the fire and it’s irresponsible. Reporting it once as a side story buried in the back pages can never be an option it seems. The media reports for audience-building goals. Yeah, right – they just report the news – they don’t make it. Perhaps not. But they do make the ground fertile for heightened emotion and irrational, violent reactions to occur. When many of us were children, we were told by our parents to ignore the pest in school or the pesky sibling; they’ll soon tire and go away. The media could do all society a good deed and ignore the antics of extreme groups and individuals. Perhaps that’s simplistic of me. It certainly would be nice to see if it could work.

    • Interesting angle SDS, and in fact, the Koran burning did not get a lot of media play here precisely because it was a small church of 50 members in Florida, and not really representative of, well, anything except that particular small attention-seeking church. That was actually an instance of our media behaving responsibly. But it did get more play in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and what happened happened. And if what had happened been limited to protests, then the focus would have been appropriately on the tone-deaf stupidity and bigotry of the church in conducting a Koran burning. But that’s not what happened. What did happen shifts the focus appropriately over to abhorrent killing in the name of Islam. There was no justification for burning a Koran — but vastly less justification for killing innocent people because of it. I’m very comfortable condemning Koran burnings and killings, but much more concerned about the latter. Because people die.

      • Snoring Dog Studio says:

        Yes, you’re right, Kendrick. I failed to read the NYTimes article you linked to. It’s true, this Koran burning story was difficult to find on major and even minor news outlets – but the church had received a fair amount of press when the pastor threatened to do the deed the first time around. The church had already set the stage–it had focused the light on themselves, the media gathered around, but fortunately somehow the pastor was talked out of going through with it. Considering all the outrage and protesting that occurred previously over that, I think Act III could have been expected given the turmoil in Africa and elsewhere right now. It makes the outcome no less horrific–not even remotely. Perhaps my argument, poorly made as it was, is still with free speech and limits to it. I’m a lonely voice in this matter, aren’t I? I keep expecting people to weigh their decisions to act against a background of current world tensions and conflicts and I continue to be disappointed that rashness wins out. It’s not as though we’re completely unaware that terrorists who despise the U.S. are just waiting for a reason to retaliate violently. Sheesh. I am living in a dream world. Anyone care to join me there?

        • I don’t think you’re living in a dream world. Your position is very defensible. You’ve never said we should actually scale back on First Amendment freedoms — just that people exercise them way too recklessly. You’re like the proponent of private enterprise who has actually read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations *and* Theory of Moral Sentiments. You know liberty is the best, if often regrettable, political alternative — and you choose to devote a lot of your attention to how people abuse liberty. I’d say that’s an admirable position to embrace.

  3. Paul Grubbs says:

    The tail wags the dog. In this case, Terry Jones is the horse’s tail. Why we give him the time of day I’ll never understand except it comes down to consumerism. We bought it; hook, line, and sinker. This small tribe of rotten extremists had the world’s attention. It seemed cooler heads prevailed and Jones decided against burning the Koran. Then he did it anyway which was really a non-story until President Karzai commented about this insult to Islam in a speech to his Afghan people. As a result, there was a violent reaction. People were brutally attacked and murdered. Probably there will be more. Karzai should bear some responsibility. The real story in America should be how the main stream media chooses to blame this little band of hillbilly Christians for murders on the other side of the world.. Stupid is as stupid does. The Muslim world should police their own but this will never happen. If these murders were perpetrated by another religious group I think our response would be much different. Why? The victims are just as dead.

    • Absolutely Karzai bears some responsibility. What was he thinking? He had to have known the likely result. So was he toying with America, saying, hey, I can trigger anti-American riots anytime? Or was he trying to shore up his Muslim bona fides? Karzai is smart enough to know the actual weight, in a country the size of the United States, one very tiny Florida congregation deserves, and he opted to exploit it anyway. Shame.

    • That’s exactly what I though about Karzai – why did he say anything knowing the consequences? I absolutely want to kick him. Ugh.

  4. Paul Grubbs says:

    President Karzai is pushing emotional buttons. He certainly pushed mine. His disregard for the dire consequences of his diatribe convinced me that the time is now to get out of Afghanistan and let this band of warring tribes decide by their traditional manner who is to serve as their next evil dictator. This will mean that innocent women, children, christians, homosexuals, and non-conformists will be tortured and executed. It is time for the Afghan people to choose their destiny.

    President Obama has opened the doors to question all of our American “humanitarian” efforts to protect basic rights for all of God’s people. BO is getting tough on the job training. We cannot do it all. We cannot do it alone. God have mercy on us all. President Obama please bring our freedom fighters home. We are under attack on our on soil.

  5. Pingback: Koran Burning, Afghanistan Killing, and What Should Be Unnecessary Defense of the First Amendment « The Prince and The Little Prince

  6. You have written a great article, excellent points, Kendrick. Thank you!

    In Islam, the believer’s first priority is to understand the meaning of life and the finality of human actions, to create peace and harmony in our inner life for the preservation of moral sanity. If successful, the next task is to aid peace within humanity by fostering a strong relationship with divinity, an internal connection with unconditional love for the sake of the Creator. The motivation is not political hegemony, but neither is it the acceptance of secular or materialistic dominance over our personal lives.

    Religions are sometimes malevolently used to manipulate people into hatred for one another, which leads some to persecute and murder others. If we Muslims believe this is God’s world to experience, being fully human, then why do we commit great crimes in the name of God? I wish there were an easy answer.

    You can check out my article on this subject at this link:
    http://yilmazalimoglu.com/2011/04/07/extremism-and-terrorism-by-yilmaz-alimoglu/

    • Yilmaz, thank you kindly for the visit. You’re articulate in eschewing both a political hegemony agenda and secular or materialistic dominance. Nicely done. I think more people need to understand that. But let me tackle your last two sentences, because they trouble me. “If we Muslims believe this is God’s world to experience, being fully human, then why do we commit great crimes in the name of God? I wish there were an easy answer.” On the question of violence and murder in the name of Islam, I think non-Muslims need to hear something much more than a rhetorical question, and the rhetorical equivalent of a shoulder shrug. I think non-Muslims need to hear — no violence, no murder in the name of Islam, period. There is a growing consensus in America that Muslim communities need to police themselves and need to speak out without quibbling or “putting it in context” or otherwise obfuscating on what should be absolutely clear: no violence, no murder, in the name of Islam. The proper Muslim response to the Afghanistan killings, in my opinion, is unqualified condemnation, with not a hint of nicety, cleverness, or preservation of rhetorical options. Wrong, and a dishonor to Islam, and having nothing whatever to do with true Islam. If there were such Muslim voices in more abundance, much of the distrust in non-Muslim American communities would dissipate. What do you think?

  7. Kendrick, it is my pleasure to know people like yourself who can reason. What happened in Afghanistan (or similar events in other parts of culturally semi-Muslim countries) is totally unacceptable. It is a great crime. How could anyone with sane mind would even think of killing UN humanitarian workers? Crazy!. The killers must be punished to the fullest extend of the laws of the land, including the agitators; like leaders who incite hatred in the Islamic world. There are too many such leaders in the Middle East, and North Africa. They use such events to appeal to emotions of ignorance of ordinary masses to strengthen their seats of power.

    As the Qur’an reveals to us, “if someone kills another person—unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the Earth—it is as if he had murdered all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32) Committing murder is forbidden to all humanity. Our Lord has revealed that the murder of even one single innocent, therefore, is a crime equivalent to the murder of all people.
    I have bad cold and cannot write more in details at the moment. Keep in touch.

    Please check this article out if you get a chance. I wrote a while ago..
    http://yilmazalimoglu.com/2011/03/06/are-muslims-up-to-the-challenge/

    • Yilmaz, thank you for that forthright denunciation, and for extending it to leaders who encourage mob violence and hatred. And I read your excellent article. Thanks for the tip.

      Permit me to suggest respectfully, however, that the Qur’anic passage you cite is exactly one of the problems in perceptions of how Muslim communities condemn violence. That Qur’anic wiggle room! That condemnation with a wink! Murder is wrong (unless it’s against someone guilty of “corruption”)! Do you see how that kind of language could feed perceptions that some Muslim condemnation of violence is only half-serious? Certain fatwas, for example, no matter how murderously contrary to the norms of rational and tolerant civilization, are presumably driven by the conclusion that the target is guilty of “corruption.” It’s not enough to say “we condemn violence against innocent people,” and leave open the question of who may be “innocent.”

      Condemnations should be as forthright as the first paragraph of your comment — with no rhetorical back door.

      I hope you feel better Yilmaz. Thanks again for the visit.

  8. william wallace says:

    Kendrick / The usa govt abandoned international law as domestic law
    by illegal means invaded nations in setting up more USA puppet govts
    in the process caused untold destruction slaughter many hundreds of
    thousands of people / be it man / woman / child none shown no mercy.

    It be you put a arguement that / that such conduct by the USA not wrong
    such slaughter the destruction / the acts of injustice they committed but
    being done in the name of freedom / in defence of democracy / etc / etc .

    Kendrick you live with your head high in the clouds / you have no sense
    of right from wrong // you truely represent all that is wrong with the USA
    you as the majority of americans being the victims of decades of media
    brainwashing / where having grown incapabale of independent thought
    dependent on a daily 24/7 media in telling what to believe / what to think.

    • The resemblance of this comment to spam nonsense almost sent it to the trash. But in an article with a nod to American First Amendment freedoms, I’m obliged to err on the side of indulging all opinion.

      • Snoring Dog Studio says:

        If your head’s in the clouds, Kendrick, mine is sitting on Mars. Keep doing what you’re doing. Your voice is passionately needed. Thank you.

        • Thanks SDS. That’s very kind of you to say. Honestly, I don’t mind being told I’m wrong or that my head in the clouds or any other criticism. In fact, those words were the only part of the comment that saved it from the spam. The rest of it looked like a barely literate generic diatribe that was not responsive to any aspect of my column, just bizarrely ranting. I really did look for the Viagra link or some other tell-tale evidence of spam! But thanks again SDS.

        • william wallace says:

          Snoring Dog Studio / I found your support of young
          Kendrick most touching in it coming from the heart.

          Hoewever young Kendrick must be allowed mature
          in development of the brain / it be his hearts desire.

          I would not say your heads on mars / it being much
          closer to home / you being more of a moon person.
          Knowing your not the light but / able reflect the light.

  9. Here is the full verse and meaning of it. I will try to explain a few things if i can.
    5:30 (Qur’an)
    But the other’s passion*37 drove him to slaying his brother; and he slew him: and thus he became one of the lost. (5:31) Thereupon God sent forth a raven which scratched the earth, to show him how he might conceal the nakedness of his brother’s body. [And Cain] cried out: “Oh, woe is me! Am I then too weak to do what this raven did, and to conceal the nakedness of my brother’s body?” – and was thereupon smitten with remorse.
    *37 Among the many meanings attributable to the noun nafs (primarily, “soul”, or “mind”, or “self”), there is also that of “desire” or “passionate determination” (Qamus; see also Zamakhshari’s
    Asas); in this context, the best rendering seems to be “passion”.

    5:32 (Qur’an) Because of this did We ordain unto the children of Israel that if anyone slays a human being unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.*40 And, indeed, there came unto them *41 Our apostles with all evidence of the truth: yet, behold, notwithstanding all this, many of them go on committing all manner of excesses on earth.*42

    *40This moral truth is among those to which the first sentence of verse 15 of this surah alludes, and its succinct formulation fully explains the reason why the story of Cain and Abel is mentioned in this context. The expression “We have ordained unto the children of Israel” does not, of course, detract from the universal validity of this moral: it refers merely to its earliest enunciation.
    41 I.e., to the followers of the Bible, both the Jews and the Christians.
    42 The present participle la-musrifun indicates their “continuously committing excesses” (i.e., crimes), and is best rendered as “they go on committing” them. In view of the preceding passages, these “excesses” obviously refer to crimes of violence and, in particular, to the ruthless killing of human beings.

    From
    The Message of The Quran
    Translated and Explained By Muhammad Asad [Leopold Weiss]

    • william wallace says:

      Yilmaz Alimoglu / Through many lifes your having learnt
      to put aside the sword / thus use the developing brain in
      bringing just decisions / allowing such situations where
      justice serves all. Such a very very hard road in taking yet
      its ultimate rewards such / that they beyond all measure.

      The universe but dirt having no vaule / yet a great miracle
      takes place. / The dirt but transformed into a human form
      where given the breath of life. A form given a brain / heart
      means in understanding / as means to know the creator.

      Humanity in having travelled far /both understanding as
      experience /taking each step up JACOBS LADDER unto
      spiritual enlightenment. It not that God / Allah / withholds
      anything its that the understanding as experience must
      be kept balanced // creation not based on /ideas /beliefs
      but upon practical experience an clarity of understanding.

      At present time humanity rises from ideas / beliefs/ unto
      that of much more sound practical spiritual experience’s
      in bringing depth in understand that beyond arguement.

      Its a crucial stage in human development / all humanity
      upon testing times in bringing out the best as the worst.

      In word /deed /differ / yet in spirt we are one family on a
      a journey home where difference but silenced with love.

      • Thank you William…Nice comments which i can appreciate. Please check out some of my writings if you get a chance.

        Here is an important note to remember.
        Histories of human rights cite the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence of the United States, the Constitution of the United States, and little else. Between those two, Americans fought to create a nation, and the British committed atrocities on US troops. General Washington announced a decision unique in human history, sending the following order for handling prisoners. “Treat them with humanity, and Let them have no reason to Complain of our copying the brutal example of the British army in their Treatment of our unfortunate brethren…” His courageous act reminds us that America was born out of faith in certain basic principles.

        • Yilmaz, glad you’re able to grasp old William’s wavelength. Too weirdly faux-poetry, Yoda-diction, preachy, condescending, ethereal, and borderline megalomaniacal for my taste. But that’s just me, and my brain is at an early stage of development. And if William is sincere and wise, as opposed to foisting some ironic or delusional joke on us, then I really mean, my brain is at an early stage of development.

          • 🙂 Well, I guess, Bill is like that..When can you do?! I don’t appreciate that style either. I thought, he was being unreasonable with you, especially, with his choice of words. I do think your brain is fine, and hopefully he will come to his senses. Sometimes people do not know how to better express their love and thoughts. He must appreciate the work you do and you must inspire him to think. Otherwise, he would not be on this page to contribute in his own way. I try to learn from all types of people, when possible. It is important to be humble. Bill, please do not get offended too much. You did make some good points, and there is a better way.

            Here is story to read. 🙂
            A Sufi mystic came to a town. His grace was such that,so many people gathered around him.They became his disciples in no time. The local religious heads heard about him and happenings around him. They were angry that their own men began to defy their orders.

            One day the mystic along with his disciples were passing the town,then one man came to the mystic and showered him with so many abusive words. The sufi heard them all and returned a beautiful smile to the man. The gesture was spontaneous that the man left them at once. The disciples were furious,they said “This is too much,who gave him the authority to abuse you in such a manner.At last you smiled,we would have responded…”The mystic smiled again and said”He has given what’s with him,and I have given what’s with me”!!!

          • Thanks very much Yilmaz. I love Sufi stories, as I love Hasidic stories. Both teach us laughter, humility, and such wisdom as we are able to grasp.

          • I liked that story of the Sufi mystic a lot. Thanks for sharing it.

        • william wallace says:

          Yilmaz / I did look at your writings as I was interested in knowing
          the paths you have taken in lifes upon your spiritual development.

          I did not believe in the main it being from western tradition values
          your writing in having great depths / /which springs from the soul
          western nations do not have such depth of clarity /understanding
          western nations are still very primitive / in spiritual understanding
          as regard to true spiritual experience / they greatly lacking in such.

          In having the lesser knowledge. / It be their wrongs being forgiven
          while your wrongs having no excuse /thus the punishment severe.

          Human spiritual development having not start with christianity but
          many thousands of years previous / much having been destroyed
          of past history / nations write re-write history through the centuries
          present times / we have govts worlwide / whom control the media
          where daily spin out utter nonsense in brainwashing the people’s.

          Your words upon General Washington but show your kind nature.

          General Washington but made a very cunning political statement
          his inclusion of the British. T’WAS his way of informing the British
          that Americans also could be as cunning deceitful / as the British.

          The last few hundred years of history / British as American govts
          have committed appalling crimes against humanity // though it’s
          fairer to say Euopeons having / waged / wars as brought slavery
          worldwide. / Americans / British all being bred of the same stock
          all having their roots in christianity all kiling in the name of Jesus.

          When being no development of the brain then humanity just goes
          into decline / they turn against each other / or more the reality they
          are being turned against each other / as usual religious divisions.

          The only way the brain being allowed development is an removal
          of media state brainwashing / where the general public can have
          some output of expression. That they being wrong or right in their
          expression is open to debate. / In the brain cells being engaged.

          As of course the removal of dictatorships / where power is being
          handed down from father to son / where maintaining such power
          through torture / murder any whom dare challenge their authority.

          Thus the dire present struggle in the Middle East / as elsewhere
          examples being YEMEN / SYRIA / PALESTINE / JORDAN / IRAQ
          AFGHANISTAN / EGYPT/ as of course poor BAHRAIN where the
          people are being brutally beaten / killed on an daily basis / their
          crime // they dared march openly in protest / where wishing the
          removal of a brutal dictatorship /in its place freedom democracy.

          Humanity at a crossroads. / Development of brain allowed thus
          face the challenge life brings / or we continue with dictatorships
          ever more puppet govts / backed by a 24/7 media brainwashing.

          • Thank you William for your kind comments and you do have good points. America can be a better place and it is possible. My mind was plagued by Turkish and Islamic dogmas, which imply that one should not criticize the established order and norms. The penalty of challenging cultural dogmatic indoctrination could be very harsh. If Jesus comes back to this life at this very moment then he will be several prosecuted by the churches for being a heretic. Yes, the history of Christendom is mostly one of crimes committed against all types of people, including Jews. I do not belong to the Eastern or Western culture. I have benefited from both. I have given up on such labels a long time. Geographies have absolutely no meaning. Don’t underestimate intellectual power of the Western thinkers.

            Nietzsche said: “We interpret ourselves as a unity in a world of images, which we created”. Going through this schooling of indoctrination, this type of perceived “unity in a world of images, which we create” can turn a person into a very strange being. It is a process of being imprisoned for the rest of one’s life, if somehow the means cannot be found to challenge what has been taught.

  10. Paul Grubbs says:

    WW comments are almost unintelligible. A semantical circle jerk. Murder is unacceptable. Mr Alimoglu’s comments while condemning these heinous acts, fail to address the basic issue. Muslims must police themselves or it will be done for them.The patience of God, Jews, Christians, and others is limited. It is a historical fact that villains disguised as Native Americans perpetrated violent crimes on families headed west. Many innocent people were punished as a result. There was a saying, “The only good Injun is a dead Injun.” It is not too far a leap to see this same lie brought against all Muslims. Where are the Imans that can speak with respect and authority to these issues?

    Muslims must address the problem of terrorism as Islamic jihad. The nation of Israel has shown great restraint by not retaliating for vicious crimes against their citizens. The US has been cautiously restraint as well. There is wisdom in the adage “you cannot negotiate with a terrorist.” There is another saying, “Dont bring a knife to a gunfight.” Without some significant violent trespasses such as these boil over into an all out war. Rocks and molotov cocktails lose every time to an organized military. Someone needs to inform the jihadists. The belief that God is on their side while comforting to them is of little use in military conflict. Just ask the Nazis.

    • william wallace says:

      Paul Grubbs // you dont put out a fire by pouring petrol upon it.

      Such the actions of a USA military if not working with NATO as
      others capable in giving sound advice / using common sense.

      USA GOVT having a long standing problem / that be when an
      decision having to be made bringing miltary action / they tend
      making the wrong decision / and continue making the wrong
      decision until left with an situation they finally / make the right
      decision. Not wisdom but they having only the one choice left.

      The point be there a flaw in the american thought processing
      such having brought the USA as all humanity grave problems
      it fortunate in USA Govt & Military depts many coming to terms
      with the nations serious problems in their hought processing .

      BARACK & HILLARY in taking responsibility / in having vowed
      will work more hand in hand with NATO / not going USA alone
      ending in a situation / they are at war with the rest of the world.

      Of course others factors come into play / the USA military but
      one of the biggest employers. Those in the military / as those
      in supplying such military needs.Then there the arms dealers
      whom ever support wars thus making $billions in arms sales.

      It can be a very complex situation for politicians in dealing with
      one does not envy their situation / /none wish having mob rule
      thus try pleasing all factions / bringing the minimum of trouble.

      The USA if survive must make change / changes not pleasing
      all // on the bright side there’s BARACK and HILLARY as many
      good souls whom willing facing the task / looking to the future.

  11. The innocence and guilt must be decided through a state run judicial system. A person or group of people cannot simply decide to kill someone because they may think a person could be guilty of a crime. Islamic principles set out in the Qur’an must be interpret by scholars (qualified and practitioners of the faith) who live in the community/Country. This was a well functioning systems, let’s say a few hundreds years ago :-). Muslims living in the non-Muslim lands (by the there is no Muslim land at the moment) must obey the rules of the land whatever they might be, this is not choice. For example, I live Canada and I must obey the legal laws in this country. A Sheikh or a scholar living Egypt cannot make a ruling for something that may take place in the United States. This is simply against basic principles of Islam. I am not a scholar of Islam but an intellectual and practitioner of the faith.

    The problem we Muslims have at the moment is that we do not consider the current living circumstances when interpreting the spirit of Islam in the light of current realities. Vast majority of Muslims still want to go back to texts written a 1000 years ago. The divine principles laid out in Quran are dynamic not static in nature.

    It is unfair and unreasonable to think that we can impose our values and culture on others forcefully.

    As humans, we have the wonderful blessing of intellect to think, learn, unlearn and relearn when circumstances change. We have the capacity to find our way in life; ideas do not need to be forced on us. We should not be afraid to exchange ideas, have stimulating, heart-to-heart conversations, and share different thoughts that we may have. Personally, I have been very blessed with people who came into my life in the last two decades in North America. They became my mirror to a certain degree.

    The question that comes to me so often is this: Why can’t we see each other as human beings first before anything else? We have the capacity to reason, to be creative, to find newer answers to life’s current challenges. One of these challenges is to be able to better understand what our role is on a global scale. Can we escape the prison of cultures, racism, prejudices, misconceptions that we have created for ourselves? We have a fantastic opportunity to know many different cultures, religions, ideas and philosophies in Canada and the United States. Still, we can do better in understanding one another.

    Thank you Kendrick for sharing your thoughts and accommodating my opinions. You are a reasonable person and your head is not in the clouds or somewhere else. William Wallace made some important points which should be seriously considered as well.

    • Thank you Yilmaz. You are always welcome here, and I appreciate your willingness to bring a Muslim perspective to bear on these discussions. I disagree with you about William Wallace though. To the extent I could parse the literal of his rant, it had nothing whatever to do with my column. It was just a generic rant, which is why I almost treated it like spam. I have no problem with criticism, even harsh criticism, if it’s on point. His was not.

  12. Hi Paul.

    I need to respond to your comments. My request from you is that please read comments with a cool mind and try to understand them before making any judgments. There is no need for anger either. We would be able to resolve issues and live in peace if we can make intelligent/intelligible within the spirit of being part of family of human beings. We all need to learn a thing or two about each other to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. Accurate perception can help to develop more positive feelings toward each other. We can be of great service to each other and to humanity. We need the courage to deal with the lack of knowledge and, more important, the lack of comprehension.

    I am not interested in arguments but intelligent dialogs coupled with a degree of respect for different opinions.

    Please read these articles I have written about Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Four parts at below links..

    As Yoda says, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This is Zionism, whatever its religion or nation
    http://yilmazalimoglu.com/2011/04/04/fear-drives-sheep-to-commit-atrocious-crimes-against-innocent-people/

    History has left unequal powers in the area. Israel today is militarily strong, economically wealthy, and politically well organized. Palestine, in contrast, has struggled to establish a functioning government. Israel has built numerous settlements in Palestinian territory that it occupies. Palestinian leaders must take greater responsibility to better the current terrible conditions.

    http://yilmazalimoglu.com/2011/04/04/zionism-and-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-1/

  13. Thank you Kendrick. As our imaginations expand deeper and deeper into the universe, all object systems – nature, the solar system, the galaxy – operate on consistent principles that can be studied, understood, and documented.

  14. william wallace says:

    Yilmaz / when the ultimate reached in the material realm
    when one having given their all. Then by invitation of the
    Almighty / Allah. One can take the oppertunity as granted
    in knowing the spiritual self / in very practical experience.

    Such but done through meditation / where one turning
    the senses inward / in such an process one unfolding
    the spiritual self in very practical /spiritual experience’s.

    All learning in going through in lifes is but preperation
    for the final stage of one’s learning / where then going
    beyond that of ideas beliefs unto an clarity of knowing.

    Through meditation all questions be answered even
    the questions one having not asked being answered.

    Such being the gift that all spiritual masters through
    history passed unto all the followers / their ability in
    turning the senses inward / to look upon the light of
    creation / drinking ing from the holy grail. // The holy
    grail being the human form. // As jesus having said
    I will show you the fountain that within / where drink
    and you’ll never thirst again. Of course jesus is not
    the only spiritual teacher / or authourity on spiritual
    knowledge/ development. Many teachers in having
    come throughout history / / being a beacon of light.

    Jesus did not lead / the disciples unto prayer but
    taught them through meditation in being one with
    the holy spirit ( the breath of life ) such is why the
    disciples had such strength of conviction /having
    been taken beyond ideas /beliefs / unto knowing.

    With meditation one best need the guidance of a
    spiritual teacher /// at present times humanity be
    blessed having Prem Rawat not only a spiritual
    teacher but a teacher of teachers. /The very best.

    On PC search put ( words of peace ) on the site
    you’ll find an large selection of video’s / of Prem
    Rawat speak of the need of meditation / thus in
    one allow each individual an spiritual unfolding.

    The ultimate truth was never in the world / but
    within oneself. Once preperation be made its
    a time to look within. In knowing spiritual self.

    • Thank you William for sharing your invaluable insights. Much appreciated. There is much to say and sometimes it is better to keep it inside.

      This story may go well with what you have written….
      One day Nasreddin Hoca was searching intently up and down the street in front of his house. A friend came by and asked, “Hoca, what are you looking for?” “My wife has lost a really valuable ring; she’s really distraught, I’ve got to find it!” answered Nasreddin Hoca. “Well, where was she when she lost it?” asked his friend. “In the bedroom, she lost it under the bed” answered Nasreddin. “Under the bed?!” replied his friend, “if she lost it in there, shouldn’t you be looking there? Why are you looking out here on the street?” “There’s more light out here, I can see better,” answered Nasreddin….

  15. william wallace says:

    Yilmaz / Nasredden Hoca was the wisest of fools.

    I remember being told such story at an young age
    it hit me as a bolt of lightning / of course I grasped
    the basic understanding / yet it t’was years before
    understanding its far wider implications upon life.

    Many nations having been fortunate having been
    blessed with the birth of souls as rich in wisdom.

    Unfortunately not such as AMERICA / Gt BRITAIN
    FRANCE /GERMANY/ SPAIN / ITALY( not western
    but include RUSSIA with regard unto enlightened

    Their harvests of spiritual souls/ is poor indeed
    majority born warmongers. // Through centuries
    no sages / saints.Thus they put up stautes unto
    war hero’s / whom worshiping praising as gods.

    In regard to FRANCE some will say JOAN be an
    SAINT / such holds truth ( however ) she did not
    come to impart spiritual knowledge / her task to
    only inspire the FRENCH PEOPLE thus gaining
    freedom from foreign oppression. // Her powers
    were limited / her task not toward enlightenment
    of the people but their freedom from oppression
    nevertheless/ her courage winning many hearts.

    Egypt being another nation with strong spiritual
    history / / t’was in EGYPT the first temple built in
    worship of the one God. / Such idea / belief was
    later adopted by the jewish people’s Where not
    having many Gods // but in having only one God
    brought great wealth as power. When western
    nations saw the gain wealth power /of one God
    all jumped on the bandwaggon // thus the birth
    of the son of God in christ. /// Whom the jewish
    people accepted as the choosen to lead them
    however Jewish authority as SEEN in Gadaffi
    would not let go off power / in having become
    addicted to power blinded by greed / stupidity.

    Thus seeing the Jewish authority today making
    mistakes of the past. The Almighty in life grants
    a diamond as fools they price diamond // glass.

    China has a rich spiritual past. Though they have
    wandered far from the path. / However many tend
    wrongly judge CHINA /one thinks CHINA’s beaten
    yet turn of the river card it CHINA collecting the pot.

    With humanity there two outcomes a nuclear war
    with total destruction. / Or spiritual enlightenment.

  16. ALIVEalways says:

    Koran burning by an American is what the world would see it as. This is what the various protesters in Afghanistan saw it as. It is very important for the governments in the two countries to solve the issue at diplomatic level. The American government must apologize to the Islamic community on behalf of the church. If something has gone wrong, or may be has not, but is considered wrong by some other community, it needs to be rectified. Being a nation that respects and is open to all forms of religions i.e, America must adhere to the religious sentiments of the Islamic community.

    The warning of Islamic community and the speculation that the Islamic militants have kept bounty over the person’s head who had burned the Koran is not fare and utter nonsense. Koran does not support violence and hence such a move by the militants simply degrades their credibility as follower of Islam.

  17. william wallace says:

    Book Burning is part of western culture
    one does not need books. One should
    just take the word of the priest / whom
    being Gods / representatives on earth.

    For centuries the ability reading / write
    was witheld by Church Authority/ t’was
    feared if given / EDUCATION then the
    people would challenge The Authority
    of Church // as QUESTION christianity
    centuries of / appalling brainwashing.

    The burning of the Koran was not an
    insult to Islam // t’was just a ancient
    primitive attitude / that knowledge is
    bad. /One should just be obidient to
    religious authority / books / learning
    the work of the devil / work of satan.
    .

    Much the same in those wishing for
    political change in the / Middle East.

    Tyrants as puppet govts challenged.

    People’s not wishing to continue be
    herded as cattle & sheep they want
    a say in political power // they wish
    all in having the ability to read write
    abled in forming a opinion / not but
    simply told to make their X it not for
    them to think / in having an opinion.

    The reaction to the peoples call
    for justice / equal rights / having
    the ability raise their voice agin
    oppression. / Is being met with
    appalling brutality /those whom
    having been in power /// having
    he benefits in power. Now hold
    to power / by use of any means.

    The examples of horror that are
    committed by the tyrants / whom
    wish holding power being many.

    Worst of the Middle East / being
    BAHRAIN where the mad ruling
    family that hold power / are now
    slaughtering the population / by
    brutal military force./ An military
    force gifted to the BAHRAINIAN
    govt / by Neighbours the Saudi
    Govt / whom but another bunch
    of thugs / tyrants /whom having
    remained in power of govt / by
    appalling brutal force / torture
    murder any whom challenging
    their authority. An nation where
    thousands of people continue
    go missing / the vast majority
    poor victims of torture murder
    others are in prison / living in
    appalling conditions / no trial
    no charge / justice unknown.

    As a cruel situation in EGYPT
    where people have removed
    the main tyrant from power..
    but are left with the rest of a
    rotten corrupt govt in power
    in making matters worse
    it be the military / are now
    making their bid in being
    both powers /military as
    holding /political power.

    The military / at present
    arresting // in hundreds
    people judged by military
    closed courts./ The army
    widely using / brutality in
    in their gaining of power
    people victims of brutal
    military force. / // Where
    people now being shot.

    There should be an
    emergency civil govt
    put in place/ before
    the egyptian military
    start their killing / in
    thousands / where
    rather than freedom
    democracy / it turns
    to human slaughter.

    • Excellent comments, William. I was discussing with a German friend how the idea of burning books started with the Mongols and Europeans in the middle ages. They would mostly burn scholarly books written by Muslims becuase they were afraid of knowledge and would consider knowlegde to be type of magic, that is simply becuase of incomprehension..

  18. william wallace says:

    Yilmaz / A reporter went to a RUSSIAN saying /excuse me
    “whats your opinion of the Meat Shortage”. / The RUSSIAN
    replied. / Whats an OPINION??????????????????????.

    The reporter than asking a POLE / excuse me Whats Your
    opinion of the MEAT SHORTAGE. / The POLE replied with
    the words. // WHAT’S MEAT ???????????????????????.

    Finally the reporter asked a JEW / in saying “EXCUSE ME”
    but whats your opinion of the MEAT SHORTAGE. To which
    the JEW replied. What on EARTH is “EXCUSE ME” ?????.

  19. Superb website yours faithfully Elodia Olis

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