Muslim and Christian understanding: You First.

October 11, 2007

I read this article this morning. I have to say, I was pleased to see that a concerted effort is being made to build bridges, and I’d be the first to applaud anything that stops the violence between the West and Islamic extremists. I haven’t read the letter, of course, but unless I’m very much mistaken … well … I’m neither an interfaith negotiator nor an international affairs think tank contributor, but I know enough about Islam, Christianity, and the current state of the world to say a few things, like this:

It’s not going to address the underlying issues.

In my somewhat-educated opinion: what are those? Islam and Christianity, if you really believe in them, are against each other, because neither allows for universalism. And, further, the concept of Umma (that is, the Islamic society covering all mankind) and the Christian concept of “a remnant from every tribe, tongue and nation” mean that unless we say to each other “who cares?”, there can never be complete peace. That’s one.

Here’s another one. I read an amazing article a while back, which unfortunately I can’t find now. The gist of it was this: youth in the middle east are proud of their religion, proud of their culture, proud of their heritage, but everywhere they look they see Western dominance. The concept of the Umma, to one interpretation, might say that Islam should be the utopia, that the Umma should be bringing peace, tolerance, and prosperity, and to see the “Christian” West taking on that role is almost a slap in the face. Without addressing this idea in Islam’s youth, is a “détente” really realistic?

The biggest problem, though, is this.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

These guys can say that they want cooperation between East and West, but you’ve got to ask yourself the question: when are they going to start pressuring their governments to treat Christians as well as Muslims are treated in the West? Racism is certainly not absent in Europe or America, but when a Muslim missionary comes to Los Angeles, he is not going to face harassment and expulsion. He doesn’t have to hide what he’s doing, because the US Government is not going to stop him. And there’s no arguing with the fact that Muslims in the US are treated much better than Copts in Egypt. Muslims in the US and Europe are free to practice their religion, to tell others about it, to build a mosque if they choose, even (in the case of many UK mosques) to preach against their host government. Compare that to Saudi Arabia, where even foreigners are disallowed from practicing Christianity.

If this is the kind of one-sided peace that these leaders want, you have to ask the question: what does the West get out of it?

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