OK, so nutty US pastor Terry Jones (not a Python, hilarious James Hetfield 'tache) has recanted and says he will not "now or ever" burn the Koran. Hurray. Big cheer. Once again the world is safe from religious renegades with crazy ideas. At least in downtown Florida they are.
His actions had earlier inspired thousands of muslims to gather at the Baitul Futuh Mosque, in Morden, south west London, to condemn Jones's actions. That's a great show of solidarity in the face of fairly witless intolerance (the witless intolerance of a gun-toting, self-proclaimed priest with a congregation of fewer than 50 people) but it did rather beg the question - where were the gatherings of thousands of muslims to condemn, say, Islamist terrorism, or violent extremism, or the stoning to death of women in the name of sharia, or even massive religious intolerance as practised across large parts of North Africa, the Middle East and the Subcontinent?
Except for this lot in Morden, who have previously gathered in their thousands to condemn terrorist outrages in Pakistan. But the Morden muslims belong to the Ahmadi minority sect and are considered heretics. In Pakistan, their activities are criminalised. In fact, the terrorist act they were gathering to condemn was an attack by gunmen on two Ahmadi mosques in Pakistan that killed 93 worshippers.
Maybe it's the Western media simply preferring to focus on the blokes with hooks for hands while ignoring the frequent popular outpourings of rage against the loony fringe of Islam? Nope. There are lone bloggers. And small groups of activists. And dutiful expressions of shock and horror from muslim leaders in Western nations, but it's fair to say that other than these small voices, it's either not happening or it has somehow failed to make it onto the web. And as we already know, nothing that anyone really cares about ever fails to make it onto the web.
So when muslims decry the depiction of Islam in Western media, saying things like "...the West has many stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam that are due to the media, prejudice, and ignorance. Islam is often looked upon as a "extremist", "terrorist", or "fundamental" religion..." you have to ask, is it any surprise?
Here's a thought. Perhaps Islam is viewed that way because the extremist, terrorist, fundamentalist end of the spectrum is, well, just a teensy bit more visible? It's almost like they really want it. Maybe if the moderate, non-violent, inclusive muslims decided that it was they who were going to set the agenda for their faith - you know, make a concerted effort to reclaim Islam from the foaming-at-the-mouth medievalist stoners and bombers - then perhaps those negative perceptions might begin to change.
After all, it wasn't changing attitudes in the Western media that reclaimed the reputation of Germany from the horrors of Auschwitz. It was the dogged persistence of the German people to make amends for acts carried out in their name and the repeated presentation of proof positive that while some Germans were undeniable and unutterable bastards (and we've all got those) on the whole they weren't a bad bunch
Taking a slash
5 days ago