Amid Mideast tensions, reject all voices of extremism

AP Protestors face-off against riot police officers guarding the U.S. embassy in Tunis on Sept. 14, 2012. This is a … Continued

AP

Protestors face-off against riot police officers guarding the U.S. embassy in Tunis on Sept. 14, 2012.

This is a sad time for Americans and global citizens who desire a more peaceful and tolerant world. The events of the past two days in Libya, Egypt, and now in Yemen, have tarnished the prospects for political stability in a region on the brink of realizing a brighter future.

The tragic death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, an unnecessary and heartbreaking consequence of unbridled anger and hatred, came amidst a wave of violence directed at U.S. diplomatic outposts in the Middle East, sparked, at least in part, by an amateurish anti-Muslim film depicting prophet Muhammad as a desert-wandering imbecile, preoccupied with homosexuality and pedophilia.

But ordinary Libyans should not be swept under the rug with the terrorists, which carefully planned and carried out the Benghazi attack.And to smear Libyans as the “usual suspects” — freedom-hating, anti-American, violent-prone Muslim extremists — is to ignore that reality and buy into the cosmic war narrative that the Islamophobes and terrorists alike hoped to spread in the first place.

Drowned out by rampant political posturing and speculation are the stories of peaceful Libyans who held up signs renouncing the violence in their country, saddened that their religion had been abused and that their faithful ally, Stevens, had been taken from them. “Sorry people of America, this is not the behavior of our Islam and Profit [sic],” read one young boy’s sign. “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans,” read another.


View Photo Gallery: The protests that started outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo have spread as far as India and Bangladesh.

Many in the mainstream media were more obsessed with tracing down nebulous links between the film and a Florida-based pastor than they were with reporting that dozens of Muslim organizations all over the world — from Minnesota to Singapore — condemned the violence in public statements or press conferences.

And, more interesting to some were the film’s supposed “100 Jewish donors” (who allegedly gave $5 million to produce the flick) than the citizens of Benghazi who were resolved in their commitment to raise money and rebuild the U.S. Consulate. While politicians tiptoed lightly around the whole affair, careful not to offend their November voting bases, Libyans declared that they would march through the streets of Tripoli to demonstrate against violence and extremism.

The voices of hate that hope to fracture our society along religious lines should have no place in our public discourse. Though they see themselves as entrenched on opposing sides of a growing faith divide, extremists of all religious faiths are actually the crack that runs down the middle, splitting a unified and united world into two warring fragments.

It is the responsibility of all peace-loving citizens to respond to this senseless division with consistent and amplified calls for tolerance and inclusion. Refusing to partake in sensational and broad-brushed narratives — and acknowledging the differences between the violent fringes and the non-violent majority — is a necessary first step. For if there was anyone who knew of the distinction between terrorists and ordinary, peaceful Libyan Muslims, it was Stevens, who in the end gave his life for a country and a people he believed in and loved.

Nathan Lean is the editor-in-chief of AslanMedia.com and the author of “The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims,” which will be released Sept. 18, 2012 by Pluto Press.

About

Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.