Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Christianity/Islam Civilization Clash? Is a Quarter of Humanity Wrong?

Whether we like it or not, whether we label it a conflict or clash of civilizations, the fact remains that the banning of the burqah and the internationalisation of Dutchman Geert Wilders’ Stop Islam movement are producing hot debate in Europe, as indeed was the case with yesterday’s article Islamophobia Sweeps Europe in PRAVDA.Ru.

Not wishing to flog a dead horse, after writing about the burqah and after deriding Wilders as a dangerous xenophobe, I had intended to move on today to another topic. However such was the debate produced on our front page, I feel compelled to address some of the issues.

Firstly, Pravda.Ru front page is a place for open debate, dialogue and discussion and people’s opinions are welcome, whether they agree with the author’s personal opinions or not and I thank you all for having your say, whichever side of the argument you supported. However I would request in future that the vitriol released did not include swear words and would thank the readers for respecting this.

Secondly, while there were several important issues raised in the debate (World Section, above, right-hand side, “Islamophobia Sweeps Europe”), it becomes so apparent that people have been misinformed about Islam (not to call the opinion writers plain ignorant) that I felt the need to take the debate to the Opinion section.

The main issue here is whether Wilders is right or wrong in claiming that Islam poses a threat. There are those who claim he is not a racist, however he declared openly that he defends that he has a problem with Islamic ideology and culture. If he is not a racist, then he is a bigot. Who is Wilders to have a “problem” with a religion, a culture and a way of being, well over a thousand years old and followed by 1.5 billion people, nearly a quarter of the world’s population? It would make far more sense to state that collectively, we have a problem with Wilders because Europe has seen this sort of demagogy before.

For those who refuse to draw parallels between what Wilders says about Moslems and what Hitler said about Jews, the similarities are as obvious as they are crystal clear to see. Here is a man espousing the notion that European values are different from Moslem values, that Islam and Moslems produce a threat to the European way of life. And that they are dangerous. Remember the Baltic States declaring themselves Judenfrei?

How many of those who screamed invective after reading my article yesterday have been personally harmed by a Moslem or by Islam? It is more probable that they have benefited, for the fourth pillar of Islam is Zakat, alms-giving. It is not a voluntary charitable act, it is a religious obligation.

Come to think of it, how many Christians have been killed by Moslems/Islam and how many Moslems/followers of Islam have perished in, say, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years? Or throughout history? What were the Crusades, if not acts of State Terrorism in the Name of the Cross? What is the difference between the murder of a civilian in, say, New York and the murder of a civilian in, say, Baghdad? Because one murder was committed by a terrorist and the other by a pilot? Are the families supposed to cry any less?

And here is the crux of the matter. Wilders and his odious followers are fundamentally wrong, in that they confuse Islam with Islamist fundamentalism. On 9/11 the Twin Towers outrage came about not because of Islam but because of Islamists, coupled with several degrees of covert, passive or active cooperation from persons inside the USA, which investigations in the near future are bound to reveal.

Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. When a Moslem greets another fellow human being, he says “As-salamu alaykum”, (Peace be with you). For those who have some idea that Islam is about sword-wielding savages braying and baying for blood, how many have actually bothered to read and interpret the Koran?

As regards the statements that Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacy, only twenty per cent of Moslems are Arabs and around 50 countries are Moslem-majority states, which stretch from the Atlantic Ocean on Africa’s west coast, across to the Middle East, Central Asia to the Pacific Ocean in the Far East.

Claims in the comments that Pravda.Ru should be ashamed to have an Anglo-Saxon called Bancroft-Hinchey are other knee-jerk reactions based upon supposition. For a start, suppose this was merely a pen name and suppose the writer behind it was in fact a Russian? And so what if she wasn’t? Or he?

Then come the claims that Russia and Russians have problems with Islam. Russia and Russians do not have problems with any religion because in the Russian Federation today people are free to practise whatever religion they choose. Russia is and has always been a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society where hundreds of languages are spoken among the hundreds of traditions, customs and lores which make it such a wonderful place to be.

The cherry on the cake of ignorance was the despicable mention of Beslan, as if that disgusting outrage not only against Russians, but against common human decency, was perpetrated by Islam. Does the fact that a gay bishop is ordinated in Canada or the fact that a Catholic priest is caught with thechoirboy mean what all Christians are homosexuals or paedophiles?

Beslan was not perpetrated by Islam or by Moslems any more than 9/11 was, neither are they one and the same thing. Beslan was carried out by evil, demented child-murderers, 9/11 had Islamist fanaticism behind it, along with hatred and mass-murderous tendencies, the result of warped sick and downright nasty little minds and other vectors which seem to have been hidden so far. Both are as far removed from the fundamental precepts of Islam as Wilders and his followers are from the truth.

So, a quarter of humanity is wrong and Geert Wilders is right?

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY

PRAVDA.Ru