Monday, July 30, 2007

Jihad on the Western Front: Hatred Toward Muslims Continues

“Attempts to Islamize the West cannot be denied. The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness.” said Monsignor Georg Gänswein, advisor to Pope Benedict XVI, Friday to German weekly publication Süeddeutsche Magazin, signaling the continued efforts of the Pope to set us back by a few centuries. In past speeches, the Pope has made several statements regarding Islam, linking the faith tradition and its devotees to violence and the spiritual downfall of the West.

During his trip to Brazil recently, he also lauded the religious leaders who explicitly played a role in the decimation of native populations throughout the Americas:

"Indigenous peoples welcomed the arrival of European priests as they were 'silently longing'' for the Christian faith, and embracing it purified them"


"decried the growing gap between rich and poor in Latin America on Sunday but told priests to stay out of politics even as they fight for social justice."

Wow. Clearly the Pope is giving us hearty advice. His hypocrisy comes with a pretty long sting considering that religion, especially Christianity given its long history, is hardly apolitical. Religion has been used since the beginning of time to motivate leaders and their followers in their actions. The Pope and his advisors clearly do not stray from politics as they make public statements about the "European identity" and its need for purification. Considering the Pope's connection to Nazism earlier in life, I am not entirely surprised. Though his involvement with the Nazi party was supposedly due to conscription, the ideals of fascism seemed to have resonated within him as he continues to inject his announcements with Nazi ideals.

It seems as though the identity of American peoples at the earlier periods of Christian European contact were of little to no importance as their lives were in jeopardy if they chose not to accept the religion being forced upon them. Yet today, somehow the presence of a Muslim minority population, one that has not exhibited force en masse in Europe to solicit converts, threatens the European identity. I find the Pope's and his advisor's statement as absurd as it is racist as it just so happens that most of the practicing Muslims in Europe come from South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. I dare to hypothesize how the Pope would feel if they bore an appearance more similar to his or called England, Italy, or France their homelands. The Pope has, to this point, been pretty silent on abortion clinic bombers, the KKK, and terrorists working in the name of the Christian God, despite the fact that they pose a much greater threat to the Western identity than immigrant populations and their descendants who, for the most part, quietly observe their faith in the countries in which they now live.

The Pope is not alone in his jihad against Muslims and the Islamic faith, however. Plenty of Americans exhibit outright hatred toward Muslims and anyone whom they assume to practice the religion. In a recent Washington Post "On Faith" article authored by Muslim Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the majority of the comments were so hateful toward Muslims that I could hardly continue reading them. Ellison, though proud to be a Muslim, is unfairly expected to speak for the entire group to which he belongs, a common expectation for people within a minority ethnic, religious, and/or racial group (among many others). Some readers also assumed that he was a representative for any Muslims who happened to have committed acts of violence and hatred. Though Ellison himself did not respond to the comments, the deafening silence from those who could have spoken out against the words pregnant with hate spoke for itself. There is still an infinite amount of misunderstanding with relation to Muslims and their faith in the United States, and fear of the unknown is what continues to drive this problem. Many young American Muslims are trying to do something about the problem. Blogging, film-making, writing, and other forms of entertainment and even merchandise seem to be several options that may help lead to a more positive relationship between American Muslims and observers of other faiths:

film courtesy of HijabMan

Instead of advertising his clear bias against people who are "different," the Pope should, instead, teach a true Christian message of understanding and loving thy neighbor. Sure, it's fine to speak out when you see acts of injustice, but the Pope has been more up in arms about what he feels is a "threat" to a European identity (that technically has always been quite fluid) and Christianity that, based on the many populations that follow it, isn't going away anytime soon. It is my hope that in the future, the Pope and other Western leaders can pass on a message of tolerance and not one of hate. I hope I am not being overly optimistic.

-Wendi Muse

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