Wednesday, September 13, 2006

German Minister Urges Islam Recognition

By Ahmad Al-Matboli, IOL Correspondent


VIENNA — German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called on Monday, September 11, for a state recognition of Islam and teaching the Muslim faith at schools as part of a state-backed curriculum, while unveiling plans to toughen the country's anti-terror laws.

"Recognizing Islam in German will pay off as the government will be able to groom home-grown imams and preachers instead of resorting to foreigners," Schaeuble told the German Radio in an interview.

He noted that the number of Muslims in Germany, standing at some 3.4 million people, is growing steadily.

Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.

Schaeuble said Islam will then be taught in state schools under the supervision of the government.

He also underlined the need for Muslim "representative organs" beyond those that presently exist.

The interior minister said Muslims have become an integral part of German society and are welcome "but they have to behave according to certain rules."

The Interior Ministry has called for a conference on Islam this month, bringing together representatives of the Muslim ethnic mosaic in Germany.

Schaeuble said the meeting would look into how Muslims accept German values like equality between men and women and separation between that state and religion.

"It is unacceptable to take Shari`ah as a law in Germany."

The interior minister hailed the Austrian example in recognizing Islam, saying it led to effective integration of Muslims in the country.

Anti-Terror

Schaeuble, however, defended amendments to the anti-terror law, in force since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

He said measures adopted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks protected the country by facilitating tracking bank accounts and flight data.

"It is high time we amended the existing anti-terror law to be more effective," he noted.

Under the new measures, the interior minister added, more closed-circuit cameras will be set up in railway stations.

Schaeuble said he was following in the footsteps of his predecessor Otto Schily, who had been a staunch supporter of tightening security measures.

He further revealed that a huge database is being established to be at the disposal of security agencies in line with constitution and relevant laws.

"This database covers basic and detailed information of suspects like name, address, religion and profession."

Under the new measures, the government will have the right to accept or reject post-graduate requests of foreign students based on an invitation from a relative or a friend in Germany.

The proposed measures, however, were criticized by the opposition parties.

The Greens said Monday that the measures are unconstitutional and trample on civil liberties, asserting that the 2001 anti-terror law addressed security lapses.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

We Are All Human Being, Brothers and Sisters

I want to thank Salim for the help offered and the links to find the information that helped me in understanding the differences in Islam and Christianity and this comment that I have posted. Again Thank You Salim. I have felt and thought the same things. I have posted this on my blog but thought that others should also see this.

See we are all human being, brothers and sisters, so we are one family, white, black, red and yellow.We all came from one father (Adam) and one mother (Eve), why we ignore this fact?!!!

God of all of us is one, whey we do not search who is he and we confirm that?!!!

We have same beginning and will have same end, why we do not like to set together and to find the correct way to survive?!!!

We have been brought for same purpose, but not for killing each other!!!

Our main enemy is same; Devil (Iblies), why we let him creates problems between us?!!!

Any human may have problem/s with another, why we do not set and sort out our problems by discussion?!!!

Until when will continue in this very bad situation?!!!

Until when the war will continue between west and east?!!!

Until when will keep thinking that I have all the rights and never they have?!!!

When will ask other to tell us what good the have, because they mite have something better than what we have?!!!

When we will stop our selfishness and will start to think about other as we like them to think about us?!!!

The time did not come to set together and to solve all the issues in between?!!!

What you think the main reasons of the problems in between?

What things we can do in this regard form your view?

Many times I set with myself thinking how we can open our heart and listen to each other and to start practicing all the ways to understand each other without any intermediates and to stop fighting. Salim


- Chet

Monday, April 17, 2006

Moderate Muslims Seek Help From the Dalai Lama

Article taken from the Dalai Lama's website...

San Francisco, USA, 16 April 2006 (By Louis Sahugan, L.A. Times) – Prominent Muslim dignitaries on Saturday met for the first time with the world's most influential Buddhist, the Dalai Lama, enlisting his help in quelling fanatical ideologies within Islamic communities and improving the faith's declining image in the West.

The summit was a measure of the desperate concern among moderate Muslim leaders and scholars about religious extremism and increasingly negative views of their faith arising from Western concerns about terrorism. Indeed, Islam traditionally has not recognized Buddhism.

"The main issue of this conference is to provide a platform to teach that there is no room today to say or invest in anything but love," said Imam Mehdi Khorasani of Marin County, who had extended the invitation to the Dalai Lama. "We are happy and grateful for His Holiness' decision to lend his energy to this cause."

Appearing comfortable and jovial in his maroon and saffron robe before a crowd of about 600, the Dalai Lama, 71, was true to his image as one of the world's most avid advocates for peace.

"Some people have an impression that Islam is militant," he said, seated in lotus position on a center-stage baronial chair at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel. "I think that is totally wrong. Islam is one of the world's great religions and it carries, basically, a message of love and compassion." He pointed to his homeland of Tibet as an example of a place where Buddhists and Muslims have existed together in peace for centuries.

In an interview earlier, the Nobel laureate and religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism said, "Promoting the genuine message of Islam and the proper impression of the Muslim world — that is my hope.

"Some of my Muslim friends have told me that those people who claim to be Muslims, if they create bloodshed, that is not genuine Islam," he said. "Those few mischievous ones do not represent the whole Muslim community."

Some of those in attendance suggested that the open display of mutual support might not play well with more extreme members of either Islam or Buddhism.

"It's a brave thing for imams to reach out to the Dalai Lama — it's likely to be seen in some circles as an act of weakness and undignified of their own traditions," said Caner Dagli, assistant professor of religion at Roanoke College in Salem, Va.

"The Dalai Lama is also putting himself out on a limb by standing with his Muslim brothers and sisters," he said. "But I'm happy about all that. It's right that they should be allies."

One difference is that although the Dalai Lama holds an unquestioned position as spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, Islam has no similar central authority uniting its members. Hence, Muslims around the globe interpret the faith quite differently and are more divided among themselves.

That the meeting came together at all was remarkable, coming near the date of the prophet Muhammad's birthday, as well as during Passover and Easter weekend. It also followed the release last week of the recorded sounds of struggle and panic when Sept. 11 hijackers took control of United Airlines Flight 93 and screamed, "Allah is the greatest," as the plane went down.

But the Dalai Lama, who normally books his appearances seven years in advance, and the Muslim leaders and scholars from around the world broke their holiday commitments to attend the hastily organized event.

"This meeting had to happen," said Dan Kranzler, a philanthropist and one of the gathering's sponsors.

"The 90% of the Muslim world that is moderate and peace-loving wants to overcome the radical ideologies of the rest," said Kranzler, who is Jewish but refers to himself as a "universalist." "If there is anyone in the world who can cheat the odds and make that happen it's the Dalai Lama."

Organizers called it an extraordinary convergence.

Essentially, Muslim leaders were seeking the Dalai Lama's rock-star status, broad appeal and skills as a neutral conciliator in dealing with divisiveness within their faith, deepened by worldwide media attention. Even moderate Muslims, who make up most believers, are not united enough to impose their visions of peace and tolerance on those who are intolerant or promote violence.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, founder of the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, which is dedicated to reviving the sciences of classical Islam, pointed out another reason for wanting the Dalai Lama on their side.

"Buddhism gets the best press of any religion in the world," he said. "Islam gets the worst press because it's associated with war and belligerence.

"When a recent Gallup Poll asked Americans what they respected about Islam, 38% answered not a thing, and 12 % said they weren't sure," he said. "Yet one-fifth of humanity is Muslim.

"So we are delighted that the Dalai Lama wants to understand how we view this situation and assess what his own community can do to alleviate the problems," he said.

Under tight security, the Dalai Lama initially met privately with 40 leaders, including Mahmud Kilic, a professor of Sufism and president of the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul; Sayyid M. Syeed, head of the Islamic Society of North America, the largest umbrella organization of Islamic centers in the United States; and Ahmad Al-Hashimi, president of the Ihsan Muslim Heritage Society of Ontario, Canada.

One proposal that emerged from the discussions was a possible visit by the Dalai Lama to Saudi Arabia.

Later, on stage, he was flanked by religious leaders and scholars including Huston Smith, emeritus professor of religion at UC Berkeley; Thomas Cleary, a Harvard professor whose interpretation of the ancient Chinese "Art of War" became a bestseller; and Robert Thurman, a Columbia University professor known as the Billy Graham of Buddhism.

In an interview, Smith said the meeting was in direct response to the violent exploitation of one of the great traditions.

"The world is in flames. We are at war with Islam," he said. "The Muslim leaders here wanted to talk to the Dalai Lama about what they could do to persuade terrorists that their terrorism only increases terrorism."

Though Muslim leaders called for the gathering, it was organized and funded by a coalition that included film producer Steven Reuther and Kranzler, who made his fortune in the computer software industry.

In an effort to make Muslim guests feel as comfortable as possible in their daily prayers, the organizing team determined the exact direction of Mecca from the Nob Hill hotel — 15 degrees east of north. Receptions were alcohol-free and vegetarian, in keeping with practices of Islam and Buddhism. Dozens of participants wore white scarfs that had been draped around their necks by the Dalai Lama in private sessions.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Working Together

What began with a discussion last March has transformed into a local program in which people of Jewish faith work with those of the Islamic background for the good of their community.

The North Hudson Friendship Council, which started as a way for leaders of different faith organizations in North Hudson to get together, has since sponsored events, such as a fundraising dinner organized by 10 Jewish teenage girls from Bergen County and 10 Islamic girls in Hudson County. That fundraiser resulted in more than $11,000 in proceeds all going to the Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation (PERC) homeless shelter in Union City.

David Kronick, the former state assemblyman from North Bergen, is a representative for Temple Beth-El in the township. He was one of the founding fathers of the North Hudson Friendship Council.

In the beginning, Kronick got great responses from other spiritual leaders in the North Hudson community, like Yousef Abdallah of the Islamic Educational Center of North Hudson, which is in Union City.

Others who joined the coalition included Rev. Gary Kugler of the St. John Lutheran Church in Union City, Rev. Douglas Shepler of the Grove Reformed Church in North Bergen, Rabbi Aaron Hirschman of Union City, and Rev. Will Henkel of the First Reformed Church of Secaucus.

"We invited different members of the clergy from all different faiths to come together with us," Kronick said. "What we've accomplished over the past year is a better respect and understanding of each other's religions.

We've become friends. We've broken bread together. We've developed a fellowship, a sense of trust and definitely a friendship."

All of the organizers agreed that the best way to develop a kinship between the different faiths would be to include the youth of the community.

"We wanted to get our young people involved," said Abdallah.

Ethnic food at the shelter

So in the first few weeks of the NHFC, Abdallah sent some of his teenaged contingency to the PERC shelter to serve the homeless their daily meals.

"At first, we had about six or seven kids who went there to serve and they really enjoyed themselves," Abdallah said. "They had a sense of giving. They went every other week."

Then, one week, the teenagers decided to cook a meal themselves and serve it to the needy. Sure enough, they prepared food of their Islamic background.

"It was the food of our culture, but it was a hit," Abdallah said. "The people there all loved it. They were surprised how much the people loved the food. It was a bit of a change for them."

After volunteering their time at the shelter, the idea came about - from the teenagers themselves - to hold the fundraising dinner.

"It was a three-month project, but they did it on their own," Abdallah said.

"When the idea first started and they had the first meeting, you had the Jewish girls sitting on one side and the Islamic girls sitting on the other," Kronick said. "You didn't know if they would ever get together. But then they got into it and friendships were formed between the girls. They came from different connections and had no connections before and they became friends, all for one common goal. That was the best story to come out of this connection. It was quite an accomplishment."

Abdallah said that the goal of the NHFC is to reach the youth.

"It's something we're very proud of," Abdallah said. "We have to tackle the new generation. If we can't fix this generation, because of all the hatred and stereotypes out there, then at least we can build the new, give them a basis of understanding and respect. We have layers of hate and misunderstanding that have been built up for years. The best way we can break down those barriers is through the youth."

Amal and Hanukkah

Kronick said that he was moved in January when Abdallah's wife, Amal, went to the Temple Beth-El in North Bergen to take part in Hanukkah celebrations.

"To my knowledge, it was the first time anyone of Islamic faith came into this temple," Kronick said. "I know our people were appreciative. They gave her a standing ovation."

Last October, Kronick attended the Islamic Educational Center's celebration of Ramadan at Schuetzen Park, where the Islamic people share the spirit of Ramadan with members of the community. Some of the people who also attended that celebration were West New York Mayor and former State Assembly Speaker Albio Sires and Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio.

"We all sat down and broke bread together," Kronick said. "I think it was a sign how we're progressing."
The group will hold a meeting shortly to discuss other ideas for 2006 and how to get other ecumenical groups involved in the North Hudson Friendship Council.

"Hopefully, we can include more members of the community, like the Indian community," Abdallah said.

"We have a lot of things to look forward to," Kronick said. "We're getting more involved in each other's lives. I think we've been successful, but I'd like to see more. We can't rest on our laurels."

Did Abdallah think he'd ever see the day where he would be so friendly with a person of Jewish faith?

"To be honest, no, I didn't," Abdallah said. "It's amazing how all of this has happened. But we're all Americans and we should all be friends, working together. It's so very rewarding that we can walk away together after a worthwhile event, an interfaith event."
North Bergen Reporter article

This shows that people can work together and get to understand and respect others religions.

This article was contributed by the amazing Chet

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Islamic Preacher Ripped for Reform Push

Popular Egyptian televangelist tries to bridge Islam and West

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 Posted: 0016 GMT (0816 HKT)

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Islamic televangelist Amr Khaled is young, smiling, teaches love and mercy and is so popular he's credited with inspiring thousands of women -- turned off by dour, traditional clerics -- to take on the veil.

Now he's putting his popularity on the line by trying a new role, as a bridge between Islam and the West at a time when many are talking about a clash of civilizations.

In the process, Khaled is sometimes telling the faithful what they're not used to hearing from clerics -- that Muslims aren't blameless in tensions, that the West is not always bad and that dialogue is better than confrontation.

"A young Muslim goes to Europe with a forged visa, takes unemployment insurance there, then goes on TV and says, 'We're going to expel you from Britain, take your land, money and women,'" Khaled said recently on his weekly program on the Saudi satellite TV channel Iqraa, trying to explain mistrust of Muslims in Europe. "It's a rare example but it exists."

The 38-year-old Egyptian raised a storm of controversy when he attended a March 9 dialogue conference of European and Muslim leaders in Copenhagen -- the capital of Denmark, which has been the focus of anger across the Islamic world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed first published in a Danish paper.

Some in the Arab world saw his attendance as a surrender and branded him a traitor and an opportunist.

This week, Khaled is headed to a gathering of Islamic clerics in Bahrain that begins Wednesday, aimed at considering the next step in the response to the prophet cartoons. The conference is organized by one of Khaled's most vocal critics, hard-line Sheik Youssef el-Qaradawi.

Many Muslims saw the caricatures -- which depicted their beloved prophet as violent and backward -- as an intentional insult and reacted with a wave of protests. In the West, the outrage was seen as an attack on freedom of speech and only deepened anti-Muslim sentiment.

For Khaled, the controversy underlined what he has seen as a need for a new approach by Muslims, one of reform and dialogue with the rest of the world.

"For the past three years, with youth across the Islamic world, we've been working for a faith-based renaissance in this region, which will not take place by clashes but by coexistence," he said in an interview with The Associated Press in Cairo.

He said he had expected the criticism over his new campaign. "An initiative by definition is something new, and I represent a school that has opposing schools of thought," he said.

Khaled is not the only Muslim religious leader promoting dialogue. But he has become one of the most outspoken.

And he brings the huge fan base of a pop star: young people, women and the middle and upper-middle class.

He built his popularity over more than 10 years of preaching, with a style far from that of traditional clerics, who are distinct with their beards and robes and whose sermons often emphasize the demands of Islam and the threat of damnation and hellfire.

In contrast, Khaled is known for his stylish suits and his broad smile. In his sermons, he has avoided politics and stressed God's mercy, seeking to show how one can be a good Muslim while still enjoying the activities of modern life.

That message instantly appealed to the young -- particularly the well-off, looking for a version of Islam that suited their lifestyles. Educated as an accountant, not a cleric, Khaled began preaching as a hobby in social clubs, but then vaulted to television. Thousands packed mosques where he preached.

"He is a very simple, moderate, humble man, easygoing. He makes you feel like you are his sister," said Zeinab el-Sherif, 32, a wealthy, veiled Egyptian businesswoman who has been a fan since hearing Khaled at her club a decade ago.

"He is so tolerant and friendly, he makes you feel good about your religion and yourself," she said.

The Egyptian government, apparently nervous over his popularity, pushed Khaled out in late 2002, banning him from giving his sermons at Egyptian mosques.

He moved to London with his wife and son Ali to pursue a doctorate in Islamic studies. His thesis: "Islam and coexisting with the other."

The time in London "has resulted in a mixture of maturity and seeing the other better and readiness to coexist," he told AP. "It also made clear the common values as well as the differences that can't be overcome."

Khaled's program on the Iqraa channel continued, and now Egypt -- perhaps seeking to encourage a moderate Islamic voice -- has been more welcoming, allowing him to hold a large conference in Cairo last month. He is back for good in Egypt.

Many clerics criticized Khaled in the past, particularly for his lack of religious training. But the controversy has heated up with his campaign for dialogue, which represents a new foray into the realm of politics. Egyptian newspapers have been sharply divided over his visit to Copenhagen.

But Khaled's supporters appear to be sticking by him.

"I loved the idea of the Denmark conference, and I don't know any of Amr Khaled's admirers who don't," said Riham el-Demerdash, 35, a veiled mother of three in Cairo. "Those who are against the conference are those who don't like Amr in the first place -- or are clerics who are jealous."


Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Original post taken from CNN

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Borrow a Muslim from the Library




Say what you want about the cartoons, but this idea is at least original. I found this article in Swedish, but no English version, so I will paraphrase it as well as I can, with my own commentary mixed in. The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported on March 12, 2005, that the
Blågården library in Copenhagen has started a program inteded to explain misunderstandings and promote cultural exchange, through which a Dane can go to the library and, in essence, check out a Muslim for an hour (over coffee paid for by the library). Although the program advertises this service in a tongue in cheek humoristic way, the intent behind it is rather serious.


For Scandianvians, strangely enough, this is probably a good option. Although the Danes are considered the more extoverted than other Scandinavians, the lot of them are usually a bit reserved. On top of that, it is pretty common that Scandinavians and immigrants live in almost separate spheres of existence within the same country. (Of course, individual cases are different, but on average, especially places like Finland). This library system seems to bypass both of these problems. Danes can ask questions and find out more about Muslims and Islam from a real-live Muslim, without having to go through formalities of small talk, afraid to offend. The point of the meeting is education, question, information, view-points, so things go straight to the point. It makes it easier to actually, meaningfully have a discussion with a person you might not otherwise be able to meet, or be shy to ask questions of.

"I believe I have gotten many to let go of their prejudices," says Ali Nicolaisen, 35, the resident Muslim at the library.

"He is tops," said the library chief Ågot Berger. "He is more popular than our most checked-out books...There was such a high demans especially on muslims, that we have had to contact several more to participate." The library also plans on loaning out a Swede, a policeman, a Danish priest, an Arab etc., but the Muslim is the most sought after so far.

Concluding thoughts: Just as Muslims on the extreme fringe get all the publicity, so do the crazy right wingers in Europe. The rest of us, however, can check each other out at the library.

via Scandarabia

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Answers to Dennis Prager's Questions

Not very FAQ!

Or: “Everything you always wanted to know about Muslims, Christians, Jews or Atheists but were afraid to ask…”


This week a special NVFAQ, dedicated to Dennis Prager's important questions.


Dear Dennis,

In your comment at
Global Voices you posed five sincere questions to us, which you felt that law-abiding Muslims needed to answer, for the sake of Islam.

Stellar, Omar and Ishan are members of Bridge the Gap in Blogspace and are very familiar with the Muslim and with the Arab world. Stella for instance is a Mulsim woman, while Omar is an Arab. I myself am not a Muslim either, I had a Christian upbringing and I live in Holland. Whenever I felt I might contribute something, I added my two cents as well.

They have taken up your questions and have tried to come up with answers as best as they could.

We have had some discussion about whether or not to try and answer your questions.
Not because we do not want to, but because our image of American radio-personalities is for the most part based on Howard Stern, the only one we know of around here. However, we felt that this one example would probably not be indicative of the discussion-ethics of every radio host in the States, and believe that most are open to honest and respectful discussion.

Stellar, Omar and Ishan speak for themselves, since they cannot claim to speak for a large majority of Muslims. This in contrast to extremists that usually seem to get away with it as well...

However, they feel that the moderate view of the Islam and the Sharia that they adhere to, is supported by a much larger following than the views that are daily expressed on News-stations by old fashioned reactionary and extremist Mullahs.
Just like most Christians in
America do not spend their days bombing abortion-clinics and killing abortionists, despite what the 'Army of God' would like us to believe, for example.

However, since the Mad Mullahs have instant access to TV-camera’s whenever they decide to voice their opinion by setting fire to something, Stellar, Omar and Ishan find it is almost impossible to let those moderate voices be heard.

Please accept that these questions may not totally satisfy your answers. However, we hope that they may lead to an ongoing dialogue in which both your questions as well as theirs may eventually become clear by mutual understanding.

(1) Why are you so quiet?
There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam?

Ishan answers:
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a lot bigger then merely about religion! The fact that the majority of Palestinians are Muslims does not automatically give this conflict any religious base.
In other words, this conflict is not “Islam Vs Judaism” or “Islam vs Christianity”.
This is Palestine VS Israel. Let’s get that problem solved and let us make sure that all UN-motions are heeded and all people in the region are free to seek education, housing and employment. Because only under such conditions can and will all violence be firmly condemned.

Nico adds:
The fact that most Palestinians are Muslim should not be important. Nobody ever turned to explain the fierce fighting by the rebels in
Vietnam or Cambodia by pointing at Buddhism as the culprit. Everyone recognized that those fighters where merely inspired and trained by Chinese agents, and nobody ever suggested holding the Dalai Lama accountable for spreading a dangerous religion. Except for the Chinese government that is…
Nor did anyone blame the Pope for what was going on in those Latin American countries that were in the firm hand of bloody dictators in the 70’s through the 90’s, even though these countries are predominantly Roman-Catholic. Or for the atrocities committed by the IRA for example.

I myself have found out on my own Blog that even objective criticism of the State of Israel, will immediately bring out fierce accusations of anti-Semitism. This does not help the debate.
It is a debate about territory, not about religion.

Omar Adds:
Well, aside from the demonstrations against the Iraq war in the United States, how many demonstrations did we see demanding thorough investigation in the Abou Ghareeb prison's scandal, or in the Guatanamo bay human rights infringements.. How many demonstrations went against the bombing of Al Rasheed hotel in Iraq, and against the illegal arrest of all Middle Eastern looking American citizens and residents in the name of national security? I know that there were many protests and voices.. but knowing that the population in the US is closer to 300 million.. don’t you think that you guys have been “Quiet” too?

Ishan adds:
Why Muslims are not demonstrating for the killing of the Israeli’s? I would say, for the very same reason they are not demonstrating against the killing of Palestinians EVERYDAY! I think it does not make a sense to see a demonstration in
Jordan, for say, asking Palestinians to stop killing Israelis, at the time when nobody is telling Israelis to stop killing Palestinians.

Nico adds:
As a Dutchman it is not easy to come up with a correct frame of mind to assess whether or not I would even dare take to the streets if I would live in say,
Syria. But when I look at the websites of the Israel Defense Forces, as well as The Palestine Red Crescent Society, it strikes me that the number of casualties on the Palestine side are disproportionately much higher than those on the Israeli side. There are so may more other casualties to protest against, it would be pointless to protest just one Nationality of innocent victims…

  • 3,438 People killed since September 29, 2000 (892 Israelis and 2,546 Palestinians)
  • 29,903 People injured since September 29, 2000 (5,973 Israelis and 23,930 Palestinians)
  • 2,203 Homes destroyed since September 29, 2000(1 Israeli home and 2,202 Palestinian homes -14,436 partially destroyed)
  • The Israeli unemployment rate is 9%, while the Palestinian unemployment is estimated at 25-31%.

These figures still can never be used to rationalize the killing of innocent people, but they may give a valid reason for having a frame of mind not very receptive to much feelings of sympathy with the ‘other side’. When even the most basic human needs are not met, it is very hard to be motivated to take to the streets.

And what sort of emotions would you have to be dealing with, Dennis, if these statistics would have been those of American casualties in any conflict around the world


2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?

Our guess is that the answer is hidden within statistics.

The percentage of radical extremist in every faith is incredibly small. So you need Large Critical Mass of an active religious following for these probabilities to finally come together and start generating extremists. Christians make up just a very small fraction of the population of the
Occupied Territories. So the odds that eventually a Christian Palestine extremist will blow himself up on a Jerusalem bus, should be at least not be much higher than the ratio Muslim/Christian Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Which are probably not very high.

Added to this, the fact that a large religious community by sheer numbers alone might make it harder to spot extremists, making it easier for them to radicalize unnoticed. Maybe the Christian community in
Palestine is not large and anonymous enough to allow these processes to happen. In the US however, the Christian majority has probably reached the critical mass to also sprout extremists, judging from the murders on abortionists as well as ongoing attempts to legally ban Darwin’s Theory of Evolution from classrooms. Besides, in recent years Lebanese Christians have not shown themselves to be of the ‘Turn-the-other-Cheek’-variety either…

Currently, we do not have these numbers at hand. But if you do, these might form the bases for an informed discussion about this question.

Omar Adds:

Based on these numbers:
http://www.israelipalestinianprocon.org/populationpalestine.html#graph2
and these:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_West_Bank
The ratio of Christian Palestinians are less than 5% of the population… now if you look at the latest Palestinians election results in here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4650788.stm#results
You will see that there is real support for Hamas as the makers of the ideology that agrees to the majority of voters.
Now, to quote Dr. Naeem Ateeq from his article here:
http://www.sabeel.org/old/news/cstone25/suicidebombers.htm

The suicide bombings become a more powerful phenomenon when their religious underpinnings are emphasized. According to Hamas leader, Khaled Mash’al, there are three main reasons, namely, the religious, the nationalist or patriotic, and the humanitarian. The latter means that the suicide bomber sacrifices himself in order for his people to live. [..]
A variant Islamic view is expressed by Khaled Mash’al, one of the leaders of Hamas. In the same interview on Aljazeera satellite TV station on June 29, 2002, Khaled said that had the international community done justice to the Palestinians, there would have been no reason for it to resort to martyrdom operations. He considered these operations as very effective. He mentioned several reasons. The cumulative number of casualties and losses which Israel cannot continue to sustain; their impact in causing the emigration of Jews out of Israel; the rise of the unemployment rate in Israel and the worsening of its economy; the low morale of the people; but most of all, the fact that the Israeli army does not have a weapon that can match these operations.
In other words, militant Islamic groups saw the suicide bombings as a powerful weapon that inflicted not only a heavy human toll but also a psychological trauma affecting a large segment of Israeli society and exposing Israel’s vulnerability


Which (I guess) shows why they elected this sort of resistance… detailed description can be found in the artice.
This is by no means justifying the suicide bombings, it is only highlighting reasons that might have escaped the un-involved observer.


(3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?

Helena replies:
You quote Freedom House as the source of this information, which is indeed a widely used and respectable source. However, since up to 35% of their funding comes from the United States Government, we should be cautious in using this as our only source of info.

It is probably all a matter of definitions and interpretations, but this quote from a
Carnegie House discussion regarding the article "Arab, Not Muslim, Exceptionalism" by Alfred Stepan in the Journal of Democracy - Volume 15, Number 4, October 2004, pp. 140-146 points at a different yet plausible interpretation of the facts.

  • “The Columbia political scientist Alfred Stepan wrote an important article in the Journal of Democracy, where he tracked and disaggregated the political systems of different Muslim majority countries. Revising his data and analysis slightly, I would put it this way: There are 43 countries in the world that have an unambiguously Muslim majority, a few others that are disputed. Twenty-seven of these 43 lie outside the Arab world, and their average freedom score on the seven-point Freedom House scale is almost an entire point better than the average score of the Arab States.
  • A quarter of the 27 non-Arab Muslim-majority states are democracies, and none of the Arab Muslim majority states are.
  • Moreover, Stepan finds that an unusual number of Muslim-majority, non-Arab states are “great electoral over-achievers. They have levels of democracy far beyond what you would predict from their level of economic development.
  • This is a controversial statement, but nevertheless the facts speak for themselves. Democracy is present in every major religious and philosophical tradition, in countries that are predominantly Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian and Muslim.
  • This is a controversial statement, but nevertheless the facts speak for themselves. Democracy is present in every major religious and philosophical tradition, in countries that are predominantly Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian and Muslim. “

Furthermore Dennis, when you suggest that there is this strong positive correlation between the predominant religion of a country and the human rights situation, how would images of the Abu Graib prison system, which is run by a predominantly Christian country on the territory of a predominantly Catholic Carib-Commie island? Or what does Russia do for the image of the Atheists in that respect?

Omar Adds:
According to the Washington-based Freedom House. Is America free? Is the Patriot Act a demonstration of freedom? Is the arrest of Steve Kurtz a demonstration of freedom ?
(read here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1236288,00.html)
How can a non-free country decide who is free and who is not?

4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?

Stellar replies:

Those terrorists have misconnected verses in the Qur'an, caused by ignorance and lack of getting deep into the meaning and reasoning behind each verse.

Surely, Muslims are against and condemn any violent act towards any living creature including animals. It is a serious insult to Muslims to allow innocent blood spill on earth in the name of Islam.

Killing is a serious offence in Islam. Furthermore, genocide on Muslims and Non-Muslims alike is also strongly condemned. On that level the
Palestine conflict also causes a lot of indignation in the world.

I'll just say that for now because I could write a long article answering this question.

If you would like to discuss this further, please let me know...


(5) Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?

Stellar replies:

Every person has the right to freedom of conscience and worship in accordance with his religious beliefs.

No one shall hold in contempt or ridicule the religious beliefs of others or incite public hostility against them; respect for the religious feelings of others is obligatory on all Muslims.

  • "Say (O Mohammad, it is) the truth form the Lord of you (all). Then whosever will, let him believe, and whosever will, let him disbelieve…" (Holy Qur'an, Al Kahf 18:29)

The Qur'anic principle "There is no compulsion in religion" shall govern religious rights of Non-Muslims minorities.

In a Muslim Country religious minorities shall have the choice to be governed in respect of their civil and personal matters by Islamic laws or by their own laws.


Post Scriptum

Dear Dennis,

We realize that these answers can never completely satisfy your questions in one sitting.
We acknowledge that this might actually be the hallmark of both a good question, as well as that of an answer which is aimed at inviting people to an open debate and respectful discussion.
We realize that your experience and way with words might make us easy targets for your ridicule if the answers are not what you had hoped or expected, but we think it is more important to try and open a debate, than it is to never run the risk of being mocked…

Your response is eagerly awaited,
kind regards,


Nico Moenens
On behalf of all at Bridge the Gap in Blogspace