Instant Debate – Mention Islam to Europeans

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It is certainly no new discovery, but as you can see from my vlog entry about the far-right demonstration in Brussels, a sure way to get people commenting and yelling (well not really yelling) at you is to defend people’s right to be muslim. So while I’ve lots of other issues I’d like to bring up, I’ll first come back to this one. And I should mention I do appreciate all comments and I especially appreciate criticism and debate that is carried out in such a way that is not insulting or name calling, but rather about saying I disagree, and here is why. So thanks to all of you who continue to do that.

There were a great deal of comments, including some heartfelt ones from a good friend in Chicago who is originally from Lebanon. (hi dear!) The underlying theme was that I shouldn’t be so in favor of welcoming all things islam into the social and political stage in Europe because, as many people insisted, it is a religion that seeks the joining of church and state, that excludes women, that refuses democratic principles etc, etc.

Now I must state here, because going any further, I don’t claim to know the muslim faith. I’ve never read the Koran or lived in a country where it was the dominant religion. So I don’t honestly know how it all works and what the ultimate goals are, etc. Some of you say you do, and that is good, I’m a big believer in learning, researching for yourself and understanding. All I do is study history, closely observe the present, and learn from my interraction with those in my daily life who I know are of the muslim faith, most of whom I have a great deal of admiration and respect for as kind and honest humans trying to live their lives.

>Here comes something I rarely reveal on the blog, overall, religions and their power over people, scare me. All of them. Places of worship, religious leaders, the artifacts and traditions in general.. I don’t much care for them. HOWEVER. I realize that lots of people do. I see the importance they have in people’s lives, the positive aspects, and I try to respect that. I have a curiosity and a desire to learn from the past, including time honored traditions… because maybe many of them have something to teach us. There are plenty of traditions that I don’t like, and even some I would consider flat out wrong, where humans are tortured or killed for example… I try to draw a line there. You might draw the line somewhere else altogether… fine.

But here’s my little conclusion for today. Generally speaking, the greater the amount of poverty, desperation, and lack of education, the higher the level of religiousity and especially of the irrational fundamentalist kind. In many countries in Europe we see empty churches and few people willing to go to war on the whims of the pope or if someone insults the Catholic or Protestant faith. But a few hundred years ago, those two religions wielded tremendous power and did terrible things in the name of their god. So when people start touting all the dangers and problems of the growth of another religion in Europe, I don’t see it that way. Rather than talking about stopping or in some way stemming the growth or influence of islam in Europe, why not look at the conditions people live in, especially in terms of economics and social mobility. Are people from certain countries really seen as equals and able to have the same access to power and wealth as the “native” population? Are we doing all we can to provide a solid education and social services to people regardless of what neighborhood they live in or their class? I say, learn from history, address these issues, and no matter what your background or your religion, Europe will have a bright future, with civil and healthy disagreement and debate.