I’m sure all of us are aware of the violent imagery that Islam and Muslims are constantly associated with – the smoking towers, masked men with AKs, car bombings, suicide vests and so on. We see it all the time on mainstream news, publications and websites. We have all seen intense discussions about violence committed by people with Muslim names, in which the question arises as to why regular Muslims aren’t protesting Muslim violence. I have seen some go so far as to make the absurd claim that the moderates don’t exist or are apathetic to violence or are complicit with the actions of the violent extremists. Like as if regular Muslims, who’s primary concerns are of family and career (like anybody else), are supposed to drop everything and go out and protest every time Muslims make the news for all the wrong reasons. For now, lets leave out the examples of Muslims fighting terrorists themselves, and helping the US track down and kill its most wanted terrorist. That’s a different topic altogether.

It seems to be a common habit to point fingers at regular Muslims for the actions of extremists, for the sole reason that they both happen to follow the same religion. But is this kind of thinking applied to all religions equally? To illustrate, we could take the examples of African children suspected of being witches, who have had acid forced down their throats as an “exorcism”. We could also take the cases of older people, in Africa again, who have been severely beaten and burned alive for allegedly practicing witchcraft. For good measure we could also repeatedly quote Leviticus 20:27 (and plenty of other verses) so as to establish that such killings and torture are perfectly in line with what the Bible calls for, and thereby concluding that Christianity, as a religion, is inherently barbaric. While we are at it, lets pretend the billion plus regular Christians who do not engage in violence are non-existent. This way, we can concentrate on holding a magnifying glass on the savagery perpetrated by a small minority who also happen to be Christian. This way, Christians can be successfully portrayed as a backwards, savage and superstitious group of people. Of course, all of this has to be done in a manner similar to how the billion-plus normal Muslims have been swept under the carpet, while only the violent ones are showcased.

One could then ask regular Christians, why they aren’t protesting the violence perpetrated by the fundamentalists among them. It could be stated that the lack of Christians protesting Christian savagery implies that they are apathetic or that they are in league with the whackos guilty of torture and killing. Something that I have observed is that in most cases, regular Christians distance themselves and their religious beliefs from the fundamentalist whackos in some way or the other. Yet, when it comes to Islam, they have no qualms clubbing in regular Muslims and Islam with the terrorists. It seems their sense of discernment only works in special cases, when their religion is being scrutinized.

Ultimately, the truth is that a witch burning lynch mob can be jut as easily be made to represent Christianity, as a suicide bomber has been made to represent Islam. It only depends on what one is inclined to focus on. But of course, highlighting the negatives to conclude a certain religion is barbaric only reveals a biased mindset. Common sense, when applied, shows that religiously motivated violence is not exclusively rooted in religion, but rather an unfortunate by-product of multiple overlapping factors such as low living standards, lack of education, political unrest, civil conflict, war, ethnic divides and so on. Religion is a factor,yes… but only a small one but it would be foolish to blame an entire religon for the acts of savagery perpetrated by a few. There is a good reason why Christians in the West aren’t pouring acid down their kids throats. Its also happens to be the same reason why Muslims aren’t planting roadside bombs in countries like Malaysia and Qatar. We see that such barbarism almost always occurs in cultures living in third world countries plagued by poverty and illiteracy / torn by conflict or both. Not in cultures where people have education, decent living standards and regional stability.

In the end, it only makes sense to factor in economical, political and social factors while assessing a report of a so called “religiously” motivated act of barbarism. Blaming it on the religion is lazy and seriously lacking in critical thinking. Accusing the regular Christians and Muslims of not doing enough to stop violence is stupid beyond words, as neither of us are in any position to be able to control the extremists.

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Video of suspected witches being burned alive(Extreme violence. Watch at your own risk.)