The Religion of Peace
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The news over the past few days has once again cast a light on the horrors of fundamentalist Islam.
As I write, the death toll at the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya stands at 62. That number will surely rise. The Somali Islamist al-Shabab movement - a Sunni fundamentalist group - claims responsibility.
The death toll in Peshawar, Pakistan stands at 81 (so far) due to a suicide bombing by the Pakistani branch of the Taliban on Sunday- another predominantly Sunni fundamentalist group - on a Christian church.
At least 96 were killed in Baghdad, Iraq when Sunni suicide bombers blew themselves up in an attack on Shia mourners at a funeral on Saturday.
In northeastern Nigeria this week, Islamist Boko Haram militants killed 159 people in two roadside attacks.
And these are the incidents with large enough death tolls to make it into the western media. You can be sure there were dozens of other deaths, mostly Muslims killed by Muslims, in numerous other incidents caused by Islamic fundamentalists.
What all these murders have in common is the ongoing attempt to impose a fundamentalist version of Islam on others.
I don't want to criticize all Muslims over this - I think most of them just want to be able to practice their own religion peacefully and privately. And that's particularly true of those that have chosen to live among us in the West.
Nearly 60 years ago when we did a brief study (too brief) of comparative religion in public school, Islam was indeed presented legitimately as a religion of peace - a religion which had outgrown its violent roots.
Unfortunately moderate Muslims have allowed the canker of militant fundamentalism to invade their religion and to increasingly infect their children. They are going to have to take their religion back. They are going to have to root out the fundamentalist preachers from their communities. Otherwise, the death toll will continue to rise, generation after generation.
Islam can once again be a religion of peace. But it is up to its followers to make it so. Failing that, they will continue to be the predominant victims of the minority that would make Islam the religion of the sword, the gun, and the suicide bomb.
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