I did not know any of the South Africans who died senselessly in Afghanistan. I do not know how they viewed Afghanistan and the Muslim faith. I DO know though, that the Muslims I know are ordinary peace loving people. Ordinary people like me – a Christian. I live in a community where Christians and Muslims live in peace and harmony in everyday life.
I am not a fundamentalist Christian and I believe that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and agnostics have the right to believe whatever they want to believe and that ultimately religion is a historical phenomenon, i.e apart from the fact that people WANT to believe in something bigger than themselves. Strangely enough, everybody who supports religion or atheism agrees that people should live in peace. That is clear from the debates on News24.
Nevertheless, the very fierce Christian/Atheist debate on News24 leaves me just a tad cold. I don’t understand how Christians can be so intolerant as to judge atheists etc. And I do not understand how Christians and atheists can be so intolerant of Muslims.
My very personal experience of Muslims are that they are tolerant. My very personal experience of Jews are that they are tolerant. The Israeli/Palestinian debate is separate in my view. In my mind it is a historical debate, mostly about territory. And a dispute which only became intense after the interference of fundamentalist Christians. The fierce battles in the Middle East in the Middle Ages were not between Jews and Muslims, but between Christians and Muslims.
What I cannot stand in the 21st century, is that so-called Christians go out of their way to insult Muslims by depicting the Prophet Mohammed. I know what I am talking about because I grew up in a Christian church where it was not acceptable to make images and pictures of God or Jesus. It was regarded as blasphemous.
Why do the Christians and atheists of this world have to mock the Prophet Mohammed and the Muslim faith?
These South Africans died because of religious fundamentalism. I believe that the strong atheist beliefs on News24 is also a form of religious fundamentalism.
Be that as it may, let us as South Africans not be guided by the American-led view of the world. 9/11 was not a tragic event in the “history of the world”. It was a direct result of American interference in the affairs of the world – it was the result of Americans supporting regional groups and forces, as and when it suited them, the Americans.
Let us not fall into the trap of American anti-Muslim sentiments as we fell into the trap of McCarthy’s Communist fears which were ultimately unfounded. The power of the Communist Eastern Block was a falacy. As is the American anti-Islam campaign.
Ultimately, the US, the British and the Russians should not have stuck their noses into the affairs of Afghanistan. Read the history of the world and respect the heritage of the people of the world – a history which is essentially steeped in religion. Sorry atheists, you are the minority :-)
But let us not disrepect each other to the extent that numerous countries of the world experience violence and senseless deaths because of disrespect to a particular religion or the beliefs of people in a particular region. I, as a well-read Christian who have have been in the Middle-East, can tell you that Islam is not a violent faith. My daily life is surrounded by peaceful Muslims.
But why do people, religious or non-religious want to insult Muslims deliberately by making images of the Prophet? It is wrong. It is disrespectful. It is anti-choice. It is anti-peace and it is intolerance.
The video which caused these South African deaths was so amateurish that the intent was clear: to insult. It was not a real movie. It was not art. It was an act of hatred.
As a Christian, I call on South Africans of all faiths, including the atheists, not to be led by the disrespect of Americans and the British, who was in control of 25% of the world a mere 100 years ago. I am not anti-British and I love the English language. But we must resist cultural, political and religious imperialism. Let us all respect each other.
Let peace and respect prevail.