Introduction to the February 2006 edition of InterfaithNews.net, with editorial reflections on “religiously- motivated” hate.
February 7th, 2006
If I were to see a cartoon, or God-forbid an actual photograph, of Baha’u'llah in the media, I would be stunned and extraordinarily upset at a media outlet so disrespectful of the Baha’i injunction against direct portrayals of its Founder. Thus I can well understand Muslim fury over the now Europe-wide publishing of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist. What I cannot understand is the sheer rage that elicits kidnappings, flag burning, and threats of violence. Let there be no doubt that this was a grievous disrespect of a billion or so Muslims—and yet it is, was, and shall undoubtedly remain perfectly legal in any open society.
Add a fresh element to "clash of civilizations:" the cherished Western belief in freedom of speech and press versus the cherished Islamic belief in the sanctity of the Prophet. To the westerners: freedom can be a dangerous thing indeed when it flies in the face of basic and universal human dignity. You do it no honor when you blithely insult one sixth of humanity. To my Muslim friends and colleagues: do threats of violence against Danes and Westerners do anything to carry forward justice and equilibrium in your home countries or in the world?
Closer to home, a Christian seminary president in Minneapolis, USA recently said "it would probably be an overreaction to firebomb these men’s houses," referring to film directors who cast an openly gay man in the role of a Christian (and heterosexual) missionary (I live in St. Paul, the "other half" of the Twin Cities of Minnesota). Again I ask—how does this implicit threat advance your religious agenda? By this I mean the one proclaimed by Christ, the one in which loving your neighbor is the most important law after the law of loving God? To all: can we not instead focus our energies on bringing greater justice, on bringing greater love and reconciliation, to our societies?
With these thoughts in mind, the January / February 2006 issue of InterfaithNews.Net carries four articles and editorials focusing on the prospects for peace in the Middle East and the role of interfaith dialogue in getting there, as well as an inspirational letter from Mussie Hailu; a "faithful" state of the union; and a report on interfaith watchdog efforts in Africa.
Peace be with you,
Stephen A. Fuqua
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