Saturday, July 30, 2011

In defence of the Muslims

This is an anti-religious blog.  I don't like religion.  But as one of my readers recently mentioned in a comment, sometimes atheists are forced to be the referee between two or more groups of religious people in a dispute.  And in this case, that puts me in the position of having to stand up for a religious group on my atheist blog.  That group would be the Muslims, once again.

I've been reading a lot of anti-Muslim comments on the internet lately.  Notice that I didn't say anti-Islam, but anti-Muslim.  These comments are arising in the wake of the mass-shooting in Norway, in which a white, Christian, native-born Norwegian shot a lot of people and blew some shit up.  Curiously, some people online are still blaming the Muslims for this attack because the maniac was anti-Muslim.  Forums discussing the events have turned into a war of words between Christians and Muslims, with Christians mostly attacking and Muslims mostly defending.

Among the comments I've read are (paraphrasing):

"Muslims are all terrorists."

"If any non-Muslim goes to any Muslim country, they will be beheaded."

"Non-Muslims are lower than dog shit to a Muslim."

etc., etc.

I am currently traveling in a Muslim country.  To be more specific, I am in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.  This place is known in the Western world for primarily two reasons.  The first is that it was the hardest-hit place in the entire world by the Great Asian Tsunami of 2004.  About 160,000 people died here during that event.  The second reason is that it is an almost entirely Muslim area and is under a form of sharia law.

Now if you mention sharia law in Western society, the reaction will likely be nothing other than horror, disgust, fear, etc.  People picture an Afghanistan-like state with acid being thrown in the faces of school girls, beheadings of white people, etc.  So I'm going to write about some of my observations of this place so far, which may surprise even people who haven't been watching Fox News.

1.  Everybody has been very friendly.  They smile a lot.  They try to speak English to me.  I've been getting a lot of looks, smiles and giggles from the young women, and my girlfriend has been getting a lot of polite greetings from the men.

2.  We went to visit the big mosque here and the Indonesians began to gather around us, asking for pictures of themselves with us in front of the mosque.  So we posed as a tourist attraction for a while so they could bring in their families and take photos.

3.  Girls go to school.

4.  Women apparently do not have to wear headscarves, but most do.

5.  Judging from a person we saw publicly practicing a different religion, it would appear it is not illegal to do so.

6.  They have a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Pizza Hut and an A&W.

7.  They listen to Western music.

8.  They are extremely grateful to the world for the help that was provided to them after the tsunami, and they have built a big green space in town dedicated to that sentiment.  The park contains a walkway with a separate monument and plaque for each country that helped them during their time of need.  These countries include both Islamic and non-Islamic countries including the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, etc.

9.  I have not yet been beheaded.

So what's the point? Hate Islam as much as you hate any religion, but don't hate Muslims.  There are over a billion Muslims in the world and the vast, vast majority of them are decent people.  And to all religious people, show some fucking maturity and stop fighting over your imaginary friends!  The rest of us are getting pretty sick of it!


Anonymous said...

Totally agee with you there.
Also, thanks for the phrase of being anti-islam but not anti-muslim.
Always had problems making my position on that clear.

Jim said...

I noticed a few things the first time I was in Iraq as well.

1. Contrary to popular belief, not every Muslim is a practicing Muslim. In fact, for the two years I was over there, I did not ever see one person get down and pray when the call to prayer was played over the loud speaker.

2. You can have a valid, reasonable debate with a Muslim over religion, and they will not try to call you names or insult you. In fact, I found the ones I spoke with to be more accepting of atheism and other religions than Christians.

3. They hate terrorists as much as we do. Probably more. This is because a handful of terrorists pretty much brought down a shit-ton of hate and death to Muslims a hundred-fold over what the terrorists ever accomplished in America or Europe. Imagine one of your friends said he was sticking up for your ideals and killed some people. And a couple years later, you find your entire country invaded and over-run, your economy is worthless and tens of thousands of your countrymen lay dead. Who do you blame? The people reacting, or the guy that started everything?

Andy said...

"9. I have not yet been beheaded."

Are you sure? I think you should check every now and again. Maybe they snuck up on you ;)

Anonymous said...

I can't stand religion and I can't stand people trying to force their religion down my throat. Having said that, I have grown quite weary of the self righteous in this country and many other countries that want to build up a frenzy of hatred against muslim. It is just another example of how people let religion blind themselves to truth.