Condemn only the extremists
by: John Tyrrell
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We can have legitimate concerns about religious extremism, we can abhor it, we can condemn it, and if genuinely threatened by such extremism, we reasonably can take a pro-active role in defending ourselves against it.
But we should not allow our feelings about extremists to affect the way we act towards those of the same nominal religion who only wish to live their lives in peace.
Yes, there are Islamic extremist organizations which should be opposed, but that does not legitimize blanket condemnation of all Muslims
There are also extremist Jewish organizations but that does not legitimize blanket condemnation of all Jews.
There are extremist Hindu organizations, but that does not legitimize blanket condemnation of all Hindus.
There are extremist Buddhist organizations, but that does not legitimize blanket condemnation of all Buddhists.
There are relatively extremist Christian organizations, but that does not legitimize blanket condemnation of all Christians.
There are even amongst us, atheists and agnostics, some individuals expressing extreme views about various religions (particularly Islam right now), but that extremism does not legitimize blanket condemnation of all non-believers.
One of the factors in feeding religious extremism is a sense of grievance, of being suppressed or discriminated against because of religion. Such grievances may be real or imagined. But when we issue blanket condemnations of a religion and all its followers - when we lump the moderates and the extremists together - when we lump the liberals and conservatives and radicals all together - we exacerbate that sense of grievance, and consequently we push more individuals into the extremist camp.
I would suggest that one of the driving forces behind the truly gruesome current activities of ISIS is to encourage anti-Islamic feeling in the West; to make us increasingly discriminate against the followers of Islam who have chosen to live among us. It is a conscious and deliberate strategy by ISIS leadership. The more we fall into the ISIS trap by blaming all Muslims for the activities of the few, the more alienation will be felt by the Muslims among us, and the more their tendency to gravitate towards extremism.
It's a vicious circle - and we have to break it. Yes - we should be appalled at terrorist acts, but we should limit condemnations to the terrorists alone.
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