Religion is not evil; practitioners of religion can be evil.
Recent events around the world have caused people great distress, but some are directing their fear and hate on the wrong thing: Islam.
After the attack on Charlie Hebdo, along with the continued appearance of ISIS in the news, people are using the opportunity to place the blame on Muslims as a whole.
Many argue there have not been extremists in their religion willing to commit murder. However, it is important to consider that not everyone sees a religion the same way.
The Ku Klux Klan consider themselves a Christian group but have been involved with bombings and murders, especially during the Civil Rights Movement in the ‘60s. These practices are considered evil in Christianity, but the KKK viewed the religion in a different way and ignored the actual teachings.
There are several cells of the KKK still in operation today, and though their methods are less extreme, their message of white supremacy remains.
Similarly, a person can be evil without religious justification. For example, Joseph Stalin believed communism could not be fully achieved without removing religion, and his name has become synonymous with oppression in modern society.
There are non-extremist Muslims. Malala Yousafzai is a Muslim woman who, at the age of 17, was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She rose to fame as an activist for women’s educational rights in Pakistan. The Taliban attempted to murder her, leaving her in critical condition, but she never gave up on her beliefs.
“I want education for the sons and daughters and all the terrorists and extremists,” Yousafzai said at a United Nations speech in 2013. “This is the compassion that I have learned from Muhammed, prophet of mercy, and Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha.”
Muhammed Ali is also a Muslim and arguably one of the best boxers in history. Since his retirement from the sport, he has been chosen as a UN Messenger of Peace for his work in developing countries and has raised money for many causes, including the Muhammed Ali Parkinson’s Center.
Despite these positive examples, there are those who believe all Muslims are evil. There is, in fact, an anti-Muslim movement.
Pamela Gellar, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, is one of the first people to pop up when you search for anti-Muslim activists. The AFDI has constantly made the news for their anti-Muslim advertisements placed in mass-transit areas. According to CBS News, they have appeared in Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. One ad called Israel’s enemies “savages” and another drew parallels between Hitler and all Muslims’ treatment of Jews today.
There have been several terrorist attacks in the news lately, but they are just that: terrorism. Not every Muslim has a connection to every radical terrorist in ISIS. They did not blow up that building or murder that hostage, and they shouldn’t be held accountable or blamed for the actions of others.
These actions of terror are both horrible and evil, but innocent people should not be blamed for them because of their religion. The terrorists are using their religion to justify murder, instead of following the religion.
“It’s hard to believe that anyone would take their beliefs to such an extreme that they’d kill someone over it,” said junior computer science major Sean Waters.
It is hard to believe, and it should be fought. The important thing is directing frustration appropriately. Intolerance over religion or race is not what the future should hold. Regardless of religion, skin color or political affiliation, we’re all human.