On Wednesday, al-Qaeda in Iraq made threats against Iraqi Christians, saying all “Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers” are fair game for attack.
Their justification was in order to force the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt to release Muslim women that al-Qaeda claims are being held captive because they converted as well as for the release of al-Qaida-linked prisoners held in Iraq.
Reading the comments after the news page made me realize how quickly people assume that there is now a battle between Islam and Christianity or that all Muslims or all Iraqis approve of attacking Christians in retaliation.
The story is about al-Qaeda; the group who claim responsibility is al-Qaeda. Muslims worldwide are not in support of this. There is no evidence that this outbreak of violence is extending anywhere else or that each and every Muslim has vocalized their assent.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations stood up to prove that Muslims do not support the attacks.
In a statement, CAIR said:
“We condemn this attack on a house of worship in the strongest possible terms and repudiate the groups that perpetrate such heinous crimes. The Christian community has a long and honored tradition in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. The lives and religious rights of members of that community must be protected. Threatening people, especially basing such threats on their religion, is immoral and contrary to Islamic principles and teachings about people of other faith traditions. The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘A believer is one from whom the people’s blood and wealth are safe.'”
Yet it seems increasingly difficult for people to rationalize the violence in the Middle East and understand the extent of al-Qaeda’s popularity and authority. Why do people believe they are they the official mouthpiece of the Iraqi community?
Are they the only ones speaking out because other Muslims are too afraid to condemn their actions?
I hope there are more voices chiming in, especially Iraqi citizens and other Muslims, on these events. I’m sure they are out there, but we need to find those people to help educate Western audiences about the diversity of beliefs coming from that region as well as gather up strength and overpower these radical, hurtful ideologues.