Blaming Islam In the incendiary aftermath of last week’s terrorist attack, the glowing embers and coals of simmering hatred landed on human kindling have begun to fan the flames of religious bigotry. People go out of their way in the United States to avoid discussing religion, but its underlying involvement in the acts of war against the United States is undeniable. Islamic extremist executed a precision attack killing thousands people, shredding the hearts of thousands of families and friends and, finally, reaching into the darkest dungeons of American hearts where hatred is hidden. Those who planned the attack are sure that God has granted them a great victory, while many here wonder why God turned his back and allowed such a terrible thing to happen, but the real truth of the matter is that God had nothing to do with the events of September 11. Last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks were the work of people, just as the lapse in security is a result of people ignoring world events, the world around them and taking their freedom for granted. Naturally, there are those who are quick to condemn Islam because of this dastardly attack, but Islam is not the problem anymore than Christianity is the problem in Northern Ireland or Judaism in the Middle East. The problem is people. However, the culpability of religion cannot be ruled out. Throughout the history of mankind, religion has been a mixed blessing dividing the world into “True followers and infidels” thereby providing the groundwork for division and hatred. However, it has been people who made those distinctions and people who fell on the outside of those who believed they were the true believers have been murdered, tortured and exterminated, including members of the same faith. The concept of a Holy War is nothing new to religion and although Islam is in the spotlight now, other religions have a long history of intolerance and fanatical fundamentalism including Judaism and Christianity. Christianity had The Inquisition, The Crusades, witch trials and played a major role in American slavery. For all the good that religion has done, much of it is outweighed by the tonnage of carnage committed in its name by—people. That is the key. Once it becomes clear that religion is the façade for the bristling ambitions and fanaticism of misguided people, then, some sense can be made of last Tuesday’s horrific crime against mankind. The role of religion in creating unrest throughout the world must be acknowledged as intolerance and injustice have led to rebellion and retaliation making any chances of reconciliation nearly impossible. Each day hundreds of people are dying in religious conflicts, some which have lasted so long that few remember why they are fighting and are only fueled by hatred and a tradition of fighting. Religious Wars A fragile peace settled on Bosnia after U.N. troops broke of the fighting there between Serbian Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Roman Catholics who have been at each other’s throats for decades. U.N. Troops are also helping to keep a shaky peace in Cypress where Christian Greeks and Turkish Muslims continue to fight. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in India have been fighting for years and show no signs of quitting. Muslims and Christians in Indonesia have made a shambles of the land where 20% of the population has died by starvation, disease or murder. Even the holocaust of a nuclear war has done nothing to quell the violence between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir. In Kurdistan, Christians and Muslims continue to bomb each other while Jews and Muslims can find no peace in the Middle East. This religiously fueled unrest has reached into Africa where Yoruba, Christian and Muslims are locked in a complex religious and ethnic conflict as the once Muslim dictatorship begins to fall. Religious conflict has wracked the Sudan where slavery is still practiced while Christian and Muslims make war. Other sites of religious strife include Tibet, Sri Lanka, Serbia, the Philippines, Pakistan, northern Ireland an, Thailand and Bangladesh. Throughout history, religion has been used to justify the unjustifiable. It has been used to breed hatred, fuel contempt, encourage sexism, support racism and encourage violence in the name of God. Part of the fault lies with the sacred texts of these various religion which were written during a time when the world was different and warring tribalism was the best of civilization. Still, no matter how much one might be tempted to blame it on religion, at some point it must come back to its genesis—people. When it is all said and done, men do evil and pretend that it is good. Men kill other men and say it was ordained. Men twist words and blind themselves to reality, saying they do the work of God. Then why all of the hatred? It is simple. Narrow-minded and ignorant people despise those who are not ridden with guilt, envy and the shackles of the a 14th century mind. They hate those who are free to speak, to challenge and to worship as they please. They are nothing more than bigots who invoke the shield of religion to hide the darkness in their souls. In the end, we see that it is people who commit these heinous acts and it is people who must eventually bring an end to it. It is people who must recover, rebuild and be willing to stand against those who hide behind religion, tarnishing its name while killing indiscriminately. In October of 1999, a group of religious leaders met in Geneva, Switzerland and issued the Geneva Spiritual Appeal. The document asks that political and religious leaders and organizations ensure that religion is not used to justify violence. Unfortunately, no one paid attention.