P. Edronkin

Islam Can Improve Its Public Image Worldwide

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In the last few decades new and renewed conflicts arouse in the Middle East, and most of them have something to do with Israel and the United States in relation to Muslim countries: other conflicts were and are related to oil production, or are provoked by religious issues settled in violent ways. Putting aside who is right and who is wrong, such conflicts are always represented by the leaders involved in such situations when they make public appearances. Thus, we hear the official word of the U.N. when its secretary general, an official or an ambassador speaks.

We learn about the points of view of Israel or the United States when a president, prime minister, ambassador or minister speaks openly too. But more often than not, we get word of the opinion among Muslims whenever a religious leader speak on each matter; this is quite uncommon in other societies, and not only in the case of Western nations: in countries like China, Japan, Taiwan exists a separation between the state and religion which is quite similar to what can be observed in predominantly Christian nations. What happens in the case of Islamic nations obviously denotes that religion has a central social and political role, but in the long run history has proved that such a thing is counterproductive; very hard lessons in the case of many different cultures and ethnical groups proved more than once that religion and state should remain separated, and the worst possible damage that a religion could suffer is when it becomes associated with violence. And the fact is that in many cases, Muslim clerics of various extractions appear on the media speaking of politics, war and violence, call it "resistance," guerrilla or terrorism. It suggests that among Muslims there is no other way of solving disputes other than spilling blood.

This is most regrettable both for Muslims and non-Muslims because that great religion is slowly becoming associated with violence. Any religion exist for the fulfilment of the human spirit; Islam is one of the largest religions in the world along with Christianity, and such a magnitude imposes certain responsibilities that go beyond pure belief; thus, those who have leading or power positions within these two great religions must act responsibly and giving an example for others to follow. In past times Christianity has suffered from those calling for Crusades and burning witches and heretics: today within Islam, holy wars and the execution of infidels, even in front of TV cameras play a similar role and indeed, history proves that such actions lead to awful roads.

In the long run, such practices could provoke disturbing geopolitical conflicts, and pretending to ignore or tolerate such deeds - something that happens quite frequently among Muslims these days - constitutes a very serious and profoundly dangerous historical mistake. Muslims should learn in this regard from the mistakes of Christians and their consequences: in Western nations, religion still does not recover from those mistakes occurred centuries ago, less people go to pray and the Church as an institution has lost a lot of power. That's were meddling with politics and religion lead to.

Mistrust is a common thing among humans and there is a lot of that between Muslims and people from other cultures, mainly Jews and Christians. Being perceived as promoters of violence doesn't help and indeed, even that perception alone might just cause a conflict. The unconventional warfare tactics that have become commonplace among Muslims, like guerrilla warfare and terrorism have been promoted since Arab armies lost the Yom Kippur war, in 1973.Since then, some neighbours of Israel, like Jordan and Egypt, opted for peace and to settle their differences without violence: other Muslim nations did something similar, albeit in a more discrete way. But a considerable number of Muslim nations simply changed their strategy without rejecting violence.

On the contrary: militias of all sorts, specialised in guerrilla and terrorist warfare have sprouted into existence all across the Middle East, and let no one say that this nation or that one "provoked" them into that: that's a childish argument. Moreover: such a strategy is difficult to contain or counteract but it is possible to do so indeed, but it requires a very harsh response, and that is why Israel has been so relentless with those militias or nations with which it has any sort of violent conflict. The saddest part of all this process is that people around the world are beginning to associate violence with Islam, and that's the worst that could happen to any religion. So it is in the interest of Islamic cultures and Muslims in general to change that perception by changing the way in which their societies often attempt to solve differences among them and with others.

We have our hands full with corrupt and violent politicians across the world, an religion should set an example of how things should be instead of going along with the bad things in life: Clerics speaking of blood, death and violence on TV and in mosques is something that should not happen anymore. That's not to play nice with Western nations, but to improve conditions within Islam. Many times, Muslims protest against arguments such as this one that I am suggesting now by stating that the feud was initiated by the Jews or Christians: could or could not be, who knows? After all, in any conflict both sides have some solid reasons.

However, by acting in a violent way and exactly as what they pretend to criticise, many Muslims put their own arguments at the same level that what they allegedly reject, and that puts them, by definition at an equally low or even lower level, for having seen something worn, instead of improving thins they embrace destruction.

And this is a problem for all, and it is not a game to gamble on: in countries that have embraced Islam violence provoked by this kind of people is the same as what Western countries receive. Just look at Iraq or Afghanistan, where the issue is no longer against invaders, but Muslims against Muslims. On a worldwide scale, let's not forget, is humans against humans, and this has to stop.

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