From The New York Times International Weekly that came with the papers today…
CAIRO—The rush of horrific attacks in the name of Islam is spurring and anguished debate among Muslims here in the heart f the Islamic world about why their religion appears cited so often as a cause for violence and bloodshed.
The majority of scholars and the faithful say Islam is no more inherently violent than other religions. But some Muslims argue that the contemporary understanding of their religion is infected with justifications for violence, requiring the government and its official clerics to correct the teaching of Islam.
“It is unbelievable that the thought we hold holy pushed the Muslim community to be a source of worry, fear, danger, murder and destruction to all the world,” President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt lamented in a recent speech to clerics of the official religious establishment, calling for a “religious revolution.”
Others, thought, insist that the violence—such as the recent massacre of a dozen people at a French newspaper’s offices and the killings of four shoppers at a kosher grocery store in Paris—is caused by alienation and resentment, not theology. They argue that the authoritarian rulers of Arab states—who have tried for decades to control Muslim teaching and the application of Islamic law—have set off a violent backlash expressed in religious ideas and language. Promoted by groups like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, that discourse echoes through Muslim communities as far away as New York or Paris, whose influence and culture still loom over much of the Muslim world.
“Some people who feel crushed or ignored will go toward extremism, and they use religion because that is what they have at hand,” said Said Ferjani, an official of Tunisia’s mainstream Islamist party, Ennahda, speaking about violence in the name of Islam.
Khaled Fahmy, an Egyptian historian, was teaching at New York University on September 11, 2001, after which American sales of the Quran spiked because readers sought religious explanations for the attack on New York. “We try to explain that they are asking the wrong question,” he said. Religion, he argued, was “just a veneer” for anger at the dysfunctional Arab states left behind by colonial powers and the “Orientalist” condescension many Arabs still feel from the West.
Only a very small number blame Islam itself. “What has ISIS done that Muhammad did not do?” an outspoken atheist, Ahmed Harqan, recently asked on a talk show here, using common shorthand for the Islamic State to argue that the problem of violence is inherent to Islam.
His challenge provoked an outcry from Islamic religious broadcasters. Salem Abdel-Gel-il, a scholar from the state-sponsored Al Azhar institute, fired back with Islamic verses about tolerance, peace and freedom. Then he warned that the public espousal of atheism might land his opponents in jail.
Steven Fish of California, Berkley, sought to quantify the correlation between Islam and violence. In his book, “Are Muslims Distinctive?,” he found that murder rates were substantially lower in Muslim-majority countries and instances of political violence were no more frequent.
In the Muslim world, however, the debate over Islam’s connection to violence has been given new impetus in recent events: the military ouster of the Islamist elected as president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi; the deadly crackdown on his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood and a retaliatory campaign of attacks on security forces; and the rise of the bloodthirsty Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Mr. Sisi, a former general, led the ouster of the Islamic president in 2013 and the suppression of the Brotherhood on charges that it was a violent “terrorist group.” (The group has denounced violence for decades.)
Intellectuals supporting him have applauded his efforts and called for the state of lead a sweeping top-down overhaul of the popular understanding of Islam. “Religious thought, or religious discourse, is afflicted with backwardness,” Gaber Asfour, the minister of culture, declared.
Many pro-government intellectuals consider the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood an aspect of that awkwardness and argue that all such Islamist political movements are inherently violent—even if the groups publicly disavow violence. “Their task is not becoming modern; it is become hegemonic again, making a new world in which Islam will be on top again,” argued Sherif Younis, a historian at the Helwan University here.
“Every fundamentalist has in mind a counter-regime, even if he does not know how to use a knife,” Professor Younis said. That includes the mainstream Islamists of the Brotherhood and the ultraconservatives known as Salafis, as well as the overtly violent jihadist groups like the Islamic States of al-Qaeda, he said.
Others argue that the state control of the Muslim religious establishment only reinforces the problems. Some say it is also naïve to expect unaccountable governments like Egypt’s that cannot provide a healthcare or education to do a better job leading religious reform.
“In an authoritarian society, there is no room for reasoned debate, so it is not surprising that irrational religious discourse is going to flourish in certain quarters of Egypt or the Arab world,” argued Mohammad Fadel, an Egyptian-American Islamic legal scholar at the University of Toronto. “But the answer of these governments has been to double down on repression and that is only likely to increase the extremism.”
And so, the CORE of the Islamic being viewed as violent is totally BULLSHIT!!! There are just a few of the members from the whole pool of the public that are acting out violent, and, we, in the modern and civilized world start labeling the REST of the population as way too M***ER F***ING violent? C’mon, where’s the TOLERANCE? Oh yeah, I forgot, because I wasn’t the one who got ATTACKED, so, I wouldn’t KNOW how those who were attacked or know those who were attacked feels like, right??? Think again!!! I mean, I HAVE the empathies, but, do you???