Shhhh! We can talk today of all religions but one. We can question all religions but one today. We know that any question of Islam can be taken as a criticism, and put our lives at risk, as seen most recently in Paris with the murders of the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine. It is the only religion that people -- including the apologists for "Islamophobia" -- have to think ten times before discussing. At the same time, it is the same religion that is perpetually associated with "peace."
Why should anyone be afraid of a "religion of peace"? Because some of its supporters threaten to kill you, and often do.
Is there even one critic of Islam who has not received a threat, or been able to live freely without worrying about his or her safety? We are now living in a world where, if a prominent critic of Islam stays alive, or out of a court of law, it is considered almost a miracle -- in both the Muslim world and the West.
We are living in a world where, in Britain, Muslim rape gangs and sharia law courts abound, but where defenders of liberty, such as Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer, Susanne Winter, Lars Hedegaard or Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff are variously banned, sued or threatened with jail -- if they are not first murdered, as was Theo van Gogh or the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, by the people or groups that they were trying to warn us about. Worse yet, in a blame-the-victim inversion that could be out of Orwell, if you do speak up and are harmed, it is all too often considered your fault: if you had just kept quiet, so the thinking goes, nothing would have happened to you. Just try telling that to the aid workers beheaded in their orange jump suits, or, among many others, the victims of Britain's 7/7, America's 9/11, Spain's train bombings, Toulouse, the Jewish museum in Belgium, the Canadian Parliament, a massacre in Boston or Fort Hood, in Australia or a Parisian supermarket.
The world has turned into a place where free speech is confused with hate speech; and where people in positions of responsibility, who take that responsibility seriously, such as Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders, are bullied, marginalized and brought to trial.
Geert Wilders was brought in for interrogation by Dutch authorities, who want to prosecute him for a remark made during a March 2014 speech, in which he asked, "Do you want more or fewer Moroccans?" (Image source: nos.nl video screenshot)
The apologists for Islamophobia have many tales to tell to hinder free speech. Every time Islam is brought up, they bring up the issue of violence committed against individuals who provide abortions. But anti-abortion violence is not "Christian terrorism," and nowhere in the New Testament does a single teaching command that people who either have or provide abortions must be murdered or assaulted.
Verses of violence in any scripture that are open-ended commands to kill should, instead, like the violent verses in the Old Testament, be stories that relate to history, restricted by their historical context, not interpreted as requirements for piety. Christians no longer engage in the Inquisition.
Every time the Quran is discussed, apologists for Islam say "Oh, what about the violent verses in the Old Testament?" But there are qualitative and quantitative differences between the Hebrew Bible and the Quran, even if they do not want to see that.
The Director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam, Bill Warner, compares Islamic doctrine to other religions quantitatively and qualitatively. Islamic books are neither peaceful nor are their violent verses restricted by their historical context.
"The real problem goes far beyond the quantitative measurement of ten times as much violent material [as in the Hebrew Bible]; there is also the qualitative measurement. The political violence of the Koran is eternal and universal. The political violence of the Bible was for that particular historical time and place. This is the vast difference between Islam and other ideologies. The violence remains a constant threat to all non-Islamic cultures, now and into the future. Islam is not analogous to Christianity and Judaism in any practical way. Beyond the one-god doctrine, Islam is unique unto itself."
He notes that, "There is no admonition towards political violence in the New Testament." He might also have added that the violence in Islam remains a threat also to many Islamic sects: Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi, Ahmadiyya, Alawite.
After the Islamic State [IS] started beheading and raping innocent people wholesale in Iraq and Syria, people were so shocked that they attempted to find explanations for these vicious acts. Some of the shocked have accused the lyrics of a former rapper who later joined the IS; some accused the United States, and some accused historical British colonialism.
And another popular explanation is that Muslim terrorists in general, and Islamic State terrorists in particular, are simply the victims of mental illness . So, to a degree are we all, but not all mental illnesses are socially acceptable, and not every mentally ill person channels his mental illness through the prism of a religion that glorifies homicide.
According to this explanation, even no matter what terrorists themselves say, anything but Islamic theology seems to be responsible for Islamic violence. Even if people or organizations proclaims their Islamic beliefs for their actions, shout Islamic slogans and carry the flag of Islam, their violence always seems to have "nothing to with the Islamic ideology."
A photo that compares the Ku Klux Klan [KKK] to IS, for instance, has been shared on the social media for weeks. The photo's caption, referring to the Klan, read: "No one thinks that these people are representative of Christians." Then, referring to IS terrorists, it asked: "so why do so many think that these people are representative of Muslims?"
A cartoon referring to IS read: "This is an Islamic organization... about as much as this [KKK] is a Christian organization."
Sadly, such photos and cartoons show how theologically illiterate many people are. They have lost the ability to analyze or critique what they are observing in the face of a deadly threat -- in this instance a religion, Islamic ideology. These images, and messages like them, seem intended to mislead one into concluding that fundamentalist Islamic ideology contradicts the Islamic State's killings in Iraq and Syria, and that Islam is not violent. "ISIL is not Islamic," U.S. President Barack Obama said. That conclusion is wrong.
To determine whether a group is a terrorist organization inspired by a certain religion, what needs to be looked at is whether there is a parallel between the stated goals of the group and the teachings of their religion. The stated objective of IS is to establish an Islamic caliphate under Sharia law.
Every time Islamic terrorism is discussed, those who bring up the "Christian terrorism" of the KKK or anti-abortion violence, simply block free speech, as if deliberately trying to scramble the main topic. They seem to be saying, "Whether the Islamic State is Islamic or not is irrelevant; there are Christian 'terrorists' as well, so do not talk about Islamic terrorists."
The Quran, however, contains dozens of verses promoting violence -- at least 109 verses call on Muslims to wage war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islam. It would be hard to interpret these verses as a spiritual struggle.
For instance, the Quran commands: "If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbors in it but a little while. Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter." (33:60-62)
Such teachings in Islam sanction slaughter against three groups:
- Muslims who refuse to "fight in the way of Allah" are hypocrites and they are to be massacred (3:167).
- People with "diseased hearts" -- including Jews and Christians (5:51-52; 33:61-62).
- "Alarmists," those who speak out against Islam, should also be slain. (33:62).
When violence and domination in a religion are so deeply rooted -- and sanctioned with promises of rewards -- fundamentalists will always find people to excite and people to persecute. It is a magnificent ready-made outlet for people who desire to be violent and dominate, or identify with a cause bigger than themselves.
Worse yet, Muslims who do not join the fight are called "hypocrites" (Quran: 3:167) and warned that if they do not join the violence, they will be sent to a Hell of eternal fire. It is an order apparently intended to neutralize one's conscience, encourage and sanction human aggression, and promote murder -- seemingly why it has worked so well for so long. As the leading Sunni cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi admitted, "If they [Muslims] had gotten rid of the punishment for apostasy, Islam would not exist today."
Part of the appeal of the Islamic State to many of its young recruits seems to be this appetite for blood. It starts with videos of beheading men in orange jumpsuits, and now reasons for murder have spread to killing people for wanting to leave the IS -- not Islam, just the IS -- and, in the instance of women and girls, for refusing to marry jihadists.
On December 18, 2014, the Hindu Human Rights Group [HHR] reported that,
"Text books in Pakistani schools foster prejudice and intolerance of Hindus and other religious minorities, while most teachers view non-Muslims as 'enemies of Islam,' according to a study by a US government commission released on Wednesday."
"The findings indicate how deeply ingrained hard-line Islam is in Pakistan and help explain why militancy is often supported, tolerated or excused in the country.... The textbooks make very little reference to the role played by Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in the cultural, military and civic life of Pakistan, meaning 'a young minority student will thus not find many examples of educated religious minorities in their own textbooks.'"
As seen easily in the history of Islamic militancy in Pakistan, if the extremist fundamentalists of this religion can find any Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists or other non-Muslims, who are referred to in the Quran in less than favorable terms, the extremists target them. Sometimes the extremists kill them, and sometimes they only forcibly convert them. If they cannot find non-Muslims, they attack the believers of other sects of Islam -- as in the battles between Sunnis and Shias. If people from those sects cannot be found to dehumanize and attack, then the extremists target their own members. If supremacy, conquest, violence and forced conversion are commanded and sanctioned in a religion to such a great extent, the number of victims of that religion will naturally continue to grow.
Fortunately, of course, most Muslims do not engage in fundamentalist Islam, jihad or violence, but this still does not mean that those teachings are not commanded by fundamentalist Islamic theology. Of course, that ideology should never be confused with individuals. Muslims should never be stereotyped, mistreated, or discriminated against just because of their Muslim identity. Islam needs to be analyzed on the basis of its teachings -- not on the basis of Muslims.
But that is why Islamic theology, ideology and goals desperately need to be discussed. They deeply affect the life choices most Muslims make.
 "It turns out," he writes, "that jihad occurs in large proportion in all three texts (Koran, Sira, and Hadith, or the Islamic Trilogy). It is very significant that the Sira (life of Muhammad) devotes 67% of its text to jihad.... Now let's go to the Hebrew Bible. When we count all the political violence, we find that 5.6% of the text is devoted to it. ... When we count the magnitude of words devoted to political violence, we have 327,547 words in the Trilogy (Koran, Sira, and Hadith) and 34,039 words in the Hebrew Bible. The Trilogy has 9.6 times as much wordage devoted to political violence as the Hebrew Bible."
 Hisham Aidi, for instance, a lecturer at the School of International and Public Affairs and the Institute of African Affairs at Columbia University, argues whether extremist hip hop is helping the Islamic State. Instead, he should be asking, "are some certain Islamic teachings helping IS or why do the lyrics of extremist Muslim hip hop promote so much violence?
 For example, David L. Phillips, Director of the Program on Peace-building and Human Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, wrote that "ISIS has a legitimate grievance against Western countries that carved up the Middle East, with blatant disregard for tribal and sectarian affiliations of the local population.
 For instance: Psychiatrists Dr. Paul-André Lafleur, and Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem say that the homegrown radicalization of the two men -- Martin Couture Rouleau, who rammed his vehicle into two Canadian soldiers, killing one, and Michael Zehaf Bibeau, who shot dead a soldier guarding the National War Memorial in October -- stems from acute psychiatric problems of paranoia, personal identity crisis and possible psychosis. Rouleau, however, had called 911 during the chase to say that he carried out his acts in the name of Allah. Similarly, Zehaf-Bibeau had made a video prior to the attack in which he expressed his motives as being related "to Canada's foreign policy and in respect of his religious beliefs", according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
 On 29 June 2014, the Islamic State proclaimed a new caliphate and appointed al-Baghdadi as its caliph. Laith Kubba, the director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Endowment of Democracy, explained: "Baghdadi declared a caliphate, and anyone who knows theology and the background would realize that this declaration, according to traditional fiqh, puts an obligation of anyone who is religiously observant to declare allegiance." When the caliphate was announced, IS stated: "The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the khilafah's [caliphate's] authority and arrival of its troops to their areas."
 Other Muslims targeted in Pakistan include the Ahamdiyyas.