Monday, September 04, 2006

Dirty Rotten Muslims

Recently a non-American friend sent me some pictures of Muslim protests held earlier this year. They were sent without any commentary whatsoever and so I do not know the depth of her opinions on this matter. Indeed, the pictures were part of a forwarded e-mail that she was simply passing on. I've always known her to be a balanced and even-keeled individual and I've no reason to doubt that now.

The images are legitimately terrifying. They were taken in February during a London protest by Muslims angry over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in Scandinavian periodicals. One cartoon showed Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Another depicted him telling dead suicide bombers that he has run out of virgins with which to reward them. For Islam, any portrayal of Muhammad is idolatry and therefore blasphemous. For their part, the Europeans thumbed their noses at concerned Muslims and fell back on freedom of speech.

In these images, some of which I show here, Muslim protesters carry placards denouncing the West, championing an Islamic overthrow of Europe and, in fact, calling for the destruction of all who stand in their way.

Doubtless, whoever originally started these series of pictures on their way through cyberspace wanted to expose Islam's decidedly barbaric nature.

Whoever they are, they have a point. I'm sure these images constitute the feelings of the overwhelming amount of Muslims the world over. Obviously Islam is reprehensible and truly barbarous, a hateful, murderous and insidious religion.

Nothing at all like Christianity which preaches love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.


Anonymous Calvin said...

Touche! The Father pours out his blessings on the righteous and the unrighteous just the same. Therefore, be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. Be a blessing to everyone you see.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said and depicted my friend.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous POD said...

Personally, I don't understand what you are implying here, Brandon. The signs depicted with the "Islamic" group depict threats of a real and calculated violence whilst the "Christian" group just come across as a bunch of kooks.

I put the words "Islamic" and "Christian" in quotations on purpose because in my opinion, what you are implying from this blog entry is a bit too simplistic for my tastes. The real enemy of both Muslims and Christians alike are those who take their religion to their extreme.

However, I have to admit that I am a true hater of Islamic fascism. It is a tangible and real threat to the world - until I see a group of "Christians" carry out an act of terrorism on the scale of 9/11 in the name of Christ, I cannot accept an argument that Islamic/Christian extremism are equally dangerous.

I do not wish to sound unfair, but I do not make any moral equivalencies when comparing modern Christianity vs Islamic extremism.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous nate said...

Gotta go with POD on this one.

The mainstream Christian community has roundly and loudly denounced that extemist group as kooks.

The mainstream Muslim community's denunciation of the cartoon-protesters, while it does exist, has been decidedly sotto voce.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Cory said...

Wow...that's the first time anyone's ever called me "balanced and even keeled". Thanks!

When I first saw the pictures my first thought was to verify they were genuine and recent. They were sent with no pertinant information, like when and where this happened, and definitely not why. When I checked out Snopes, I at least found the location and date. Thank you for delving a little deeper and finding the cause. Only after I validated the pictures did I first delete any fear-induced comments about how scary these people are, and then send them to select friends who aren't the "God hates everything
non-American" crowd. My purpose was not to inflame hatred but to bring to attention something that concerned me, and possibly encourage people to share their opinions. Looks like it worked!

As for the second group of pictures in your blog...the one fact that strikes me every time I see anyone from this group is how they know absolutely nothing about God. Every time. I remember one speaker at CFNI said "Don't blame the King for something the stupid jester did."

Unfortunately the sheer number of jesters running around - not to mention the fact that the jesters are loud, colorful individuals who love having the attention on themselves by being jackasses - drown out any clear minded, rational thought. I would never affiliate myself with any church who held even moderately similar views.

Feel free to respond any time I send you something controversial. As you know, I'm Canadian - and a woman - and therefore love to exchange thoughts and words!


6:30 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Thank you POD and Nate. You've just proved my point.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

I don't understand for I am very stupid. Help me out.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

It was not my intent to compare Islam with Christianity or even to equate one message of hate with another. I was, I think, trying to address the simplier issue of extreamism itself and our lack of self-reflection in responding to it.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous nate said...

Maybe, but some reflection is in order. A lot of extremism lately gets more of a free pass than I would like from MY end of the political spectrum, out of some form of misguided correctness. Why would someone like me, who generally identifies with more progressive beliefs, be so aggressive in this stance? Because I don’t play favorites when it comes to human rights, including rights to self expression and freedom from oppression.

All religions have extremism. I get that point. Christianity itself may be responsible for more deaths than other religions when world history is taken as a whole. I get that point too.

But you seem to be equating these two groups: The “God Hates Fags” group and the “We will Burn Your Cities If You Dare Depict Mohammed” group. I, as POD suggested, it is dangerous to simplify the difference, whether you admit that is what you are doing or not.

Even extremists have differences; in this case the difference being the level of effectiveness. In this corner we have an ineffectual, freak sideshow cult based in a small Kansas town. In the other corner we have a very scary, very effective large group of people spread all over the globe, who have actually taken decisive actions.

One group is easily dismissed and laughed at, but the other has cowed the entire American media machine into submitting to self-censorship when it came to simple images of their prophet. The God Hates Fags group doesn’t even have enough members to even have anything resembling a riot. The extremist Muslims, on the other hand, beheaded Theo Van Gogh for making a film critical to Muslims, and shut down the city of Amsterdam for a time. (For this disagreement, I think it’s important not to get into the War on Terror mess, or anything to do with America’s foreign policy, but that we stick to simple conflicts between freedom of expression on one hand –something I cherish – and religious dogma on the other – something I abhor.)

Don’t confuse “extremism” with “aberrant cult.” Both groups are apart from their respective mainstreams, yes, but the militant, zealous wing of Islam is too large, to entrenched, to geographically diverse, and too successful to be a cult.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

To put it another way, if one cherishes universal human rights, one should point at, laugh at, and dismiss the Muslim extremist groups as easily and quickly as we do the God Hates Fags group.
But we don't, do we? We usually allow that the former has maybe some sort of grievance, that maybe we could address if only we "won their hearts and minds."

And if you balk at that, ask yourself why. Because maybe they do real damage?

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Well, I don't think that I have yet agreed with nate, until now. (By the way, I mean this playfully, not with any bad intent. Nate has never met me, so I do not want to give the wrong impression. I would love to meet him.) The muslim extremists/fascists are a murderous culture. They do not respect life and know nothing of the love of God. The "hate gays" portion of the Christian community is, thankfully, a small group that does not represent the beliefs of hardly anyone in the Christian commmunity. As opposed to the muslim extremists, who represent the beliefs of a large portion of the muslim community. Also, the bombers of abortion clinics, and those who harass doctors who perform abortions, are routinely denounced by the Christian community, as they should be.
To compare these 2 groups side-by-side is to make a HUGELY DISPROPORTIONATE comparison. I do not think that it is open-minded to make comparisons like this. Rather, I think it denegrates a large portion of Christians who truly endeavor to live authentically the love and truth taught to us in the Bible; and that is what we teach to our children. And what we are teaching to our children is light years away from what the muslim extremists are teaching to their children.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

I just wanted to make a couple other points as well. The first is a point made by Dennis Prager that went something like this, "How many people died in the Christian rioting that occurred after the "piss christ" painting was displayed? O yeah, zero, because there were no christian riots after that."
Point 2: I believe that our culture is in a very serious danger of losing freeedom of speech. A valedictorian cannot say Jesus in a speech. One class resorted to a ruse, the valedictorian sneezed in the speech, and the class all said, "God Bless You". Liberal papers and newspeople were wondering after the muslim riots over the inflammatory comics in Denmark, maybe the piss christ picture was'nt appropriate. I thought, you're kidding me, how bigoted. It never occurred to you how offensive it was to christians to display that, but when the muslims riot and kill people, you just now start to wonder about it? Now the new media shrinks from printing inflammatory anti-muslim material. I do hope that we can be decent to each other, even in the media, but I do not want to give up freedom of speech. Let the valedictorian express themselves in whatever they want to. If someone publishes inflammatory material, it says more about them than it does us. If we deny them that right, what does it say about us?

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

radical islamic terrorists are to islam like ? is to christianity

abortion clinic bombers or the pictures in your blog

every group has it's nuts

Thanks Brandon-well said

10:48 AM  
Blogger Grinth said...

Forgive me if I am reading things wrongs...I'm rather tired at the moment....but it seems to me that people seem to be focused entirely to narrowly on the "god hates gays" signs etc, quickly dismissing the idea of christian extremism being relegated to purely that aspect, and purely 'that small kansas group'.

The god hates gays extremists are not limited to just the kansas group. It is actually widespread, going as far as large megachurches run by leaders who believe that gays should be executed (these same leaders are in regular contact with George Bush as he seeks there advice).

But beyond that and more to the point is that there is a variety of areas that qualify for christian extremism which is something most people are not even willing to consider.

One need look no further than Colorado Springs own New Life Church to find messages being delivered about the upcoming war that must be waged against Islam before they take over France and the rest of Europe. And while in general christian extremism doesnt manifest itself in direct violence like in Islamic extremism (something that itself has traditionally been extremely isolated, until recent world events) it instead manifests itself through suppport/pressure on our government to do their dirty work for them.

If our goverment was powerless to stop the restriction, removal, or modifcation of your religious beliefs and freedom....what would you do to prevent it?

(To clarify I am not suggesting that that is what is actually being done in the Middle East at the moment, but for sure that is how more and more people in the Middle East seem to feel...I would point to the starkly drastic difference in numbers of suicide bombings before and after US intervention....nor am I condoning or excusing the violent acts by Islamic extremists).

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brandon~ It seems, if you just wanted to raise some ire and be provocative by putting forth a too-quickly "argued" and unsupportable sort of position, you've done it here by the illegitimate contrast portrayed (although one could draw certain contrasts and comparisons about these two groups that would be supportable). However, I hope that was not your aim, especially as such approaches are usually entirely ineffective in actually changing hearts and minds.

If you were wanting to challenge people to think a bit more thoroughly and solidly about what "true" Islam is, or to think in a bit more of an informed fashion about the whole (global) Muslim population, rather than to have only the kind of information that the images you posted portray...a way that could be more effective would be to post quotes from Muslim leaders, scholars, and followers from around the world that clearly diverge from the violent, extremist version of Islam that has taken hold of so much of the world (and that is currently overpowering moderate and liberal Muslim views in many countries via sheer violence--as in Algeria, for one horrifying example).

A host of such quotations and views (of the Mulsim moderates, liberals, and mystics) are available. Conversations with Muslims from various regions of the world is fascinating and important (e.g., to see the diversity of their positions and experiences, their many ways of understanding the Koran, and their understanding of the "West," the Middle East crises, etc.).

I also think it is a beautiful thing to have dialogue between adherents of the three Abrahamic faiths, to find points of connection from which to build understanding and, even, community. More and more in the "West," those from the three faiths are standing together to oppose the Muslim extremists. There are many, many examples of such convenings and statements here in the U.S. that you could highlight...

Daria : )

2:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Must say another thing: Nate's comment about the nature of extremist Muslims as a *global population* is very, very important--and it's why the comparisons that are made between your two sets of pictures must be very precisely, carefully, thoughtfully defined (which they were not).

Being a political activist, having worked in the fields of domestic violence, human services, and science policy, and working with churches now around mental health issues, I am under no illusions about the particular dangers and wretchedness of the various kinds of "Christian" extremists that are, admittedly, more pervasive within the U.S. than we would like to have to admit.

However...let's get a grip as far as seeing what's going on globally, and understanding the political landscape that is unfolding in this age. As Nate said, the demographic (and thereby, the consequences) represented by the first set of pictures you posted is on a vastly other scale than that of the second.

That recognition does nothing to minimize the disgusting nature of the second group; the two acknowledgments are entirely separable.

Know what I mean?

Daria ; )

3:13 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Well this has been fun. My brother told me the other day that not a lot of people leave comments anymore and I needed to write something really provocative and controversial to draw people back in. It looks as if I unintentionally did just that.

Contrary to what many of you have argued, I never intended this post to be a perfect one-to-one correlation, a mirror, if you will, of wretchedness. I was never trying to compare radical Islam with kooks from Kansas.

I think perhaps, that I really should have included bits from and address parts of the original letter that I was sent, in which the first writer took these pictures and attributed the will and intent of the entire Muslim world on them.

His/her contention was that all Muslims just want to convert us or cut off our heads. The part I found reprehensible about his claims was that he/she was choosing radicalism as their definition for the mainstream. Thus, I chose pictures of radical Christianity (what I assume to be his/her cultural and "national" religion) as an example of how dangerous it is to define an entire group off of the actions and representations of a splinter group that is justifiably looked down upon by the majority within the movement.

As such, I feel I made my point just fine and the argument still stands as I wrote it. It is, quite simply, a commentary on extremism. Pure and simple. Oddly enough, I think many of you have tried to either read too much into it or over-analyze it. Not that your arguments were not valid--they definitely were and the points were absolutely solid with peripheral links that certainly touched upon the core--they were just misdirected in terms of what I was trying to achieve with my original post. I do hope that my irony and satire was not taken for serious comment.

To take a majority of people and base all of their beliefs on the actions of a radical few is dishonest and stupid. Like I said, pure and simple.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

~that sounds like something Jonathan would say. ; )

What some of us were trying to point out is that you are not speaking of a "splinter group" of a radical "few"--which is the difficulty.

It's hard for those without any contact with non-extremist Muslims to know anything about what the majority of Muslims believe, because the (substantial) minority is an ever-increasing geo-political power that is far more visible and vocal. Well...and because it's just so much easier not to think and wonder and investigate how many of the world's billions of Muslims actually believe like those vocal extremists.

So, redux:

Muslim extremists = powerful, growing, global force despite being a minority in the Muslim population

millions of Muslims deplore the extremist position and actions--and more and more of them are falling prey to violence and subjugation from their extremist counterparts
(i.e., Muslim countries around the world need our help in reducing the swell of fundamentalism--> one way to do this is to invest in aid/development, since poor male children are targets of radical Muslim schools)

Christian extremists of the type mentioned = splinter groups of "nuts" whom most everyone disparages and understands have nothing to do with Christ

Maybe post a "what the majority of Muslims actually think and feel" kind of thing? eh? ; )

[if you want any info on things related to Sufism, for ex. (admittedly a very small but beautiful minority), Anita's your source--oh, she can also keep an eye/ear open for housing for you, if you like]

Daria : )

7:28 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

It could be pointed out that Daria's definition of Christian extremists could be considered highly innaccurate seeing as our government is run by more than one.

Granted they are not the ones holding signs like those in the pictures provided, but then when you are that helm, you don't really need to be protesting in the first place...

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Grinth-- I agreed with you in an earlier post that there are, sadly, various types of yucky Christian fundamentalism and that such yucky types of thinking are far more widespread in this country than some want to see--as you pointed out.

Bush seems to be in a different and far more powerful group of yucky-thinking types than the people depicted in Brandon's post. [I was referring *only* to those pictured--thus the all-important little caveat in my post about to whom I was referring. ; ) ] Whereas that small group is apparently into "God hates America," Bush and his henchpeople clearly rank in the "God loves (only) America--that is, me and all my wealthy American buddies" crowd...or something along those lines. ; )

I confess I have not heard of megachurches in which parishioners are hearing from their pastor that gays should be executed. : ( : ( That is indeed horrifying and chilling. Clearly, there's a lot of work to be done in the Church...

I always think of how it must be in God's "heart"--all these things that are so far from how they were meant to be--what kind of ongoing tragedy it must be for the Creator.

I have to ask repeatedly, "How is this worth it to You, this wacky, tragic plan to create humans?" All I know is what Alyosha from "Brothers Karamazov" knew: the Divine is beautiful, riveting, reconciling Love, even if all around is splintering hell...

Daria :)

1:33 AM  
Anonymous POD said...

What the hell is going on here? How did an otherwise provocative, yet oversimplified post about the similarities of Islam and Christian extremism turn into a Bush-bashing session?

Might I add on this 5th anniversary of 9/11, that it wasn't a group of Christian extremists that flew those planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon... and you will never, NEVER see a group of Christian kooks conspiring to do the level of damage that those terrible people did 5 years ago! Brandon can tell you this firsthand, and I can vouch for it second-hand because the sound that Brandon heard when the third plane crashed into the Pentagon, was also the sound of an ex-colleague of mine getting killed.

And to equate Bush with this type of extremism... man! It is revolting, despicable, and frankly offensive. Goddamit, I'm fucking steamed...

5:10 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Perhaps it is time to give everybody something else to talk about. I think I'll compose a new, hopefully less controversial post now... ;-)

3:32 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

I would like to clarify that nowhere in my post did I mention Bush, yet it is interesting that Bush is what people immediately gravitated to.

As I said "more than one" referring to our government in general....

What the terrorists did on 9/11 is despicable and a tragedy that no one denies.....

However to do what we have done in the middle east, specifically Iraq, when the president himself has admitted there is absolutely no connection between Iraq and 9/11, all the while claiming it is the will of God qualifies as religous extremism in my book.

Is it equatable...thats debatable...does it make it any more acceptable? That is another question entirely.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

No new discussions! Let's keep this one going!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...


POD, whatever your political leanings, you must admit that, as abstract as it may be, some of the comments equating leadership to rabid followership is viable. If you say that amans in the Middle East stir their people up for terrorism (which they do), does it not leave our leaders to just as focused a scrutinizing and possibly, some level of complicity? That it was not the intent of the original post does not make it any less credible, no?

9:50 AM  
Anonymous nate said...

I just didn't want this thread to go cold. I want to respond to a few more things, but I've been so busy lately. Perhaps tonight?

11:48 AM  
Anonymous nate said...

For now, here are a couple audio NPR pieces I heard that apply to this discussion:

The first is about a Muslim leader who actually speaks out against extremist violence. So there's one.

And this one is about radical Islam as a political movement.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous POD said...


As far as the original intent of the post was meant - I appreciate and admire its form and the provocation that it stirs. However, the content of the post is something that I cannot avoid responding in any other way than what can only be described as purely viceral.

To put it bluntly, I draw a line in the sand when it comes to Militant Islam, Islamic Fascism, Islamic Extremism, or whatever anyone wants to call it. I see those pictures and it turns my stomach the same way that the photos of Nazi aggression that we saw with our own eyes at Dachau.

With that being said, I find the comparison/contrast to Islamic extremism and Christian extremism to be fairly inaccurate - because the actions of the multitude of their respective communities could not be more contrasting.

Please excuse me while I go into caps because I have to stress this - ISLAMIC FASCISM IS EVIL. It is born of the same type of evil that circumstances that created fascism in the early 20th century, by the exploitation of a disenfrachised people, veiling itself in the cloak of legitimacy, and then lashing out on whatever enemy -whether it be anti-Semitism or some beef with western civilization - it can get to. It is born of exploitation, pure and simple. And in my opinion, it is not something that can be negotiated with or dealt with on civilized terms. Its oppressive, exploitative, totalitarian, and most of all imperialistic nature has to be dealt with. And fortunately, we are dealing with it. Not perfectly, but we are dealing with it. And fortunately we are dealing with it in other parts of the world besides America.

(That was the easy part... what I mentioned above is fairly easy to agree with - let's push on, shall we...)

Now for the second part of this post and probably is what is going to provoke the most ire and it does stray from the original intent of this post. And it deals with my Bush comment earlier.

I find myself at a loss of how to describe this, but to make the comparison that Bush, or anyone in his administration for that matter... that they can just be lobbed into the same discussion when making comparisons to what IS an evil entity - is folly. And it doesn't matter who's in office. I refuse to concede that America can produce itself into an evil entity - until I see us as a country doing something truly evil. It may be as a surprise to some of the readers of this blog, but (excuse me, I have to go into caps again) AMERICA IS NOT AN EVIL COUNTRY. And to compare our current administration to that type of evil manifested in Islamic Fascism - or to some type of kooky Christian extremism - Bush invoking war in the name of god and such or whatever. I'm sorry, that type of reasoning doesn't abide with me very well. There's just too much at stake for our civilization.

Oh and Nate, nice oh-by-the way on the NPR posts - it is hopeful to find that there are actually Muslims out there denouncing terrorism - and being reported. I might also add the the recent remarks made by the former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami have been heartening as well.

And with that being said, one last comment...

See how much a simple photo can invoke a thousand words?

(I just need to end this on a positive note. God bless you all - and buy me a beer the next time I'm in your town...)

Hey, maybe I should start my own blog... interesting...

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Must Read Article! My thoughts EXACTLY.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous nate said...

Oops. Let's try this again:

Must Read Article!

1:32 PM  

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