I have been living mostly in the Middle East for the past five years. My home and family are in the USA. I calmly listen to the mostly uninformed opinions, both right and left, of my friends and family back home. I post my responses and my tidbits of personal experience and insight for them on social media. Their experience of the world is CNN, Fox, MSNBC, the mainstream outlets or NPR and PBS. A few of them may have ventured on vacation to a resort in Mexico or the Caribbean, and even fewer may have ever been to Europe or another country outside of North America.
There is ignorance and hate across the Middle East. Just as there is ignorance and hatred in parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, the Balkans, South America, Central America and North America, including the USA. There are groups of extremists in almost all Muslim countries. Some governments are much stricter than others. There are other Muslims that aren’t violent extremists. But they do accept what I consider to be the ignorant and superstitious Islamic beliefs that condone violence against others, including women and children and members of their own families.
I consider any Muslim that still believes in the extreme forms of punishment, or the disrespect of the rights of women and children, to be an accomplice to an ignorant abomination . . . of any religion. And actually, it is no religion at all. It is not a religion or belief system that the God I know would approve of. There are many more millions of Muslims you never hear about. They are the ones that live in the peaceful areas of many countries and they live their lives much like you and I. Without all the extreme idiocy the media is so quick to focus on. They work hard day in and day out to feed and clothe their families. And to provide a safe roof over their heads so their children can do the same for their own families someday.
Yet, we must never stop reporting on the ignorance and hatred, including the ignorance and hatred of extremist Muslims in Europe, America and other predominantly non-Muslim countries. They have to be called out every day. Most important, other Muslims need to raise their voices and communicate to the ignorant and superstitious Muslims, that Islam needs to live peacefully with all the other religions of this Earth. This must be the priority, the goal and the destiny of the religion. As it always should be.
At the same time, Western leaders should never deny the fact that there are violent Muslims and also other Muslim extremists that are a constant danger to all of the rest of the world. They must understand that when Islamic communities are isolated within Western countries and allowed to do whatever they want, there will be hatred, extremism and violence. You can not throw two radically different culturally, economically and religious groups together and expect them to peacefully integrate within a single decade. This productive peaceful integration will often take decades and in some historical cases throughout the world, centuries. Education is always the most powerful weapon we have against ignorance. Education is also the most powerful weapon we have against poverty, always.
Be always on your guard. This is not the quiet mostly peaceful world of yesterday. The media and technology have unleashed the Frankenstein of Mary Shelley’s most excellent and prophetic novel. Tolerance, freedom and liberty must always be accompanied by a very strong and intense dose of respect for others. Seek the truth.