I’m writing this after another weekend spent reading horrific news stories on the events in Syria and Iraq…
It seems that not a day goes by without some atrocity or news of unthinkable acts of violence being carried out reaching our news bulletins, and I am becoming increasingly frustrated about the reaction..or lack of it..from certain quarters.
Having lived and worked in several Middle Eastern countries, I am aware that Islam is a peaceful religion, practiced for the most part by many millions of law abiding decent citizens in many different parts of the world.
Sadly, and it has to be said, (and like many other religions), there are a minority of extremist people who misinterpret the true meaning of their religion to suit their own often politically motivated agendas.
Having said that, what I find difficult to understand throughout this latest and most worrying spiral of killings, beheadings and summary executions, is the lack of public denunciation from influential Muslim leaders in countries such as UAE, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Indonesia, etc.
As I said, I know that Islam is a peaceful religion, and the fact that there are something like almost 50 countries where it is the predominate religion, followed by (I have read) 25% of the world’s population tells me that there should be a much much bigger outpouring of concern and condemnation of those who are doing so much killing in the name of Islam.
There are always differences of opinion on matters, and perhaps none more so than when it comes to the sensitive topic of religion. What cannot be right though, however you view it and whatever religion you may practice, is the current wave of violence and barbaric violence at that, perpetrated by people who do so simply because some people hold fifferent views to their own.
There are complaints from the more radical elements that behaviours and policies of Western governments are the cause of much suffering to their people, and there can be no denying that this is indeed a valid argument.
This is something which needs to be addressed, but addressed in a clear and balanced way.
What cannot be right though, is the one sided argument currently at the cause of much of these atrocities, which seemingly says if you do not follow my beliefs then it is acceptable for me to either cut your head off, or gather you in your hundreds and execute you. ‘Just’ for holding a different view? Or ‘just’ for belonging to a different sect or division of Islam?
This is the ‘my way or now way’ mentality that can only ever lead to disaster.
I feel that whilst all Muslims love their religion, not enough of their leaders are standing up and making it clear that whatever their differences might be, it is simply and inexcusably wrong to use violence to try and suppress an opposing view.
When we hear of hundreds of men being rounded up, marched in their underwear through the desert and then executed, when we hear of so called ‘non believers’ being captured and beheaded, and when we hear of places of worship, Islamic mosques, being destroyed, and all because of somebody holding a different view to that of the people carrying out these acts, then I ask myself, where are the spiritual leaders of this religion which these acts are carried out supposedly in the name of?
With Saudi Arabia being the birthplace of Islam, and the entire population being Muslim, where is the voice of the religious leaders from there, who watch these acts like the rest of us, in an appalled state of total disbelief?
The religious leaders of Iran have for many years been very vocal in terms of their disdain for the West, but why are they not making very loud noises condemming the violence and barbaric behaviour which is causing so much harm to the already jaundiced view held by many of their religion?
And why do the leaders of all these countries, both politically and religiously, not come together and put the message out to these murderers, that they are not representing Islam, they are not living their lives in accordance with the teachings of their Prophet, and they are seriously undermining any hope of their often misunderstood religion ever being understood for the right reasons?
I do not pretend to know the answers to such questions, but I do know that there are far too many influential people, and far too many countries, who right now are watching these events and avoiding the responsibility to condemn these acts and preferably with a united and powerful, multi national voice, to let these people know that enough is enough, they will not be allowed to further tarnish the name and image of such an important religion.
That is all I ask.