The CNN Discussion
The cable news channel, CNN, recently aired a program to explore whether, vis-à-vis other faiths, Muslim is a more violent religion.
The live discussion was chaired by Donald Davis “Don” Lemon, an award-winning journalist and news anchor at the TV station. The discussion panel comprised Dr. Tawfik Hamid (an author from Egypt who opposes Islamic fundamentalism but who once was an extremist himself), Tom Fuentes (CNN’s law enforcement analyst and a former FBI assistant director), and Arsalan Iftikhar (a human rights lawyer, an editor of the Islamic Monthly magazine and the adjunct professor of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago).
This program took place after the jihadist movement ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has shot to prominence in recent months, upon conducting lightning attacks and taking large pieces of land in Syria and Iraq. This victory was followed by brutal suppression and summary killings of large numbers of non-Muslims in the territories conquered. They also beheaded western journalists and loaded their executions on YouTube.
Two Out Of Three Said Yes
Both Dr. Tawfik Hamid and Tom Fuentes believed that that Islam is inherently more prone to violence, in a way other major religions such as Christianity and Judaism are not. According to Dr. Tawfik Hamid, this is because Islam has not been “reinterpreted” or “reformed like other religions”. Dr. Tawfik Hamid did not elaborate what he meant by reinterpretation and reform, but presumably these efforts entail updating Islamic doctrine, principles, teachings and practices to keep abreast of increasingly civilized human behaviors, customs and norms over time.
Agreeing, Tom Fuentes offered that by clinging to the religion in its original, unchanged form, ISIS could justify its savage deeds by claiming that they are merely Islamic acts, and thus religious by extension of this logic.
Begging To Differ
But Arsalan Iftikhar disagreed with his co-panelists. He pointed out that Christians are just as violent too, citing the Lord’s Resistant Army (the terrorist group in Africa), and pro-life Christian radicals who had attacked gay nightclubs and abortion clinics in U.S.
Don Lemon, the news anchor, disputed Arsalan Iftikhar’s assertion. He reminded the panel that their discussion was not about whether Islam or other major faiths practices violence, but rather which one of them was the guiltiest of this. From such a yardstick, the answer was rather clear, since the number of innocent lives that have been lost through violence perpetrated by Muslim extremists far outstripped that killed by radicals from other religions.
Think About It
Do you reckon or agree that Islam is more violent than other regions? If so, why is this so, and what can be done to de-radicalize Muslim extremists and jihadists? Is positive and peaceful engagement, such as dialogue and discussion to seek common grounds with these Muslims the way to go? Or is warfare, which a U.S.-led coalition of nations is now heading towards, the only viable solution to this problem? It is quite predictable that many lives – including those of innocent civilians who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time – will be lost when both sides fight it out. But when the dust has settled, presumably with the U.S. and its allies emerging victorious, will there be lasting peace thereafter?