|Rationalism and perspective in action.|
The extremist pastor, Terry Jones, may have ’suspended’ his Qur’an burning stunt, but it hasn’t prevented fellow extremists, in Afghanistan, attacking a Nato base in protest. Jones’ plans were deplorable, of course, but isn’t it sad that hysterical overreaction from fundamentalist Islam has become accepted as a fact of life?
The Dove World Outreach Centre, which pedals Jones’ hate-filled take on Christianity, is a tiny organisation. Most sources agree that it attracts fewer than 50 members to Sunday service. Its controversial ’Burn a Qur’an Day’, scheduled for the anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Centre Attacks, which falls tomorrow, could scarcely be less well judged, but, for all the public outcry, the worldwide riots which were expected to ensue were hardly a proportional reaction.
I am no proponent of evangelical Christianity, but, if the boot were on the other foot, it’s unthinkable that the reaction would be so vehement. That’s not to argue that Christian fundamentalism is any more edifying than its Islamic counterpart, but its extremist manifestations are as rare as hens’ teeth and its influence is much less pervasive.
Western secularism may be much maligned but putting religion’s worst excesses back in their box was, without doubt, an achievement. And, whatever the whys and wherefores of the law of terror, however lamentable and widespread a tendency to demonise Muslims, the political march of Islam and the resurgence of fundamentalism in the Islamic world is an international scourge.
The fact that its malign influence now affects people in countries which, traditionally, have few cultural links to Islam is more than regrettable. The concern which it causes for secularists in countries where it is supplanting moderate Islam should never be dismissed, casually, as intolerance.
It’s sad that we live in a world where someone wants to burn a book which is sacred to countless millions of people. It’s even sadder that we live in a world where the impotent and pathetic protest of an idiot could provoke riots, violence and even death.