This is a very difficult post for me to write, because in the last decade, virtually every negative comment about Islam has been nothing but an outpouring of hatred against Muslims. This means that any criticism of Islam is immediately (and legitimately) suspect of being nothing but a vicious form of racism. I have lived in the Middle East, and can assure you that the Muslims that I came in contact with were, without exception decent human beings like the majority of any other people. Still, there is a serious problem in the Muslim world, and I hope I can write about it without engendering too much hatred.
Here is a map I prepared:
1. France-Repeated Muslim attacks against non-Muslims, particularly Jews.
2. Balkans- Violence between Muslims and Christians- ongoing for several hundred years.
3. Algeria- Violent conflict between government and Islamic seperatists has claimed 80,000 lives (at least) in last couple of decades.
4. Libya-Islamic violence ongoing.
5. Nigeria- endless series of vicious attacks by Muslim extremist group Boko Haram, on non-Muslims.
6. Sudan- Muslim oppression against non-Muslims has resulted in five million deaths in the last few decades.
7. Eritrea- Ongoing Muslim inspired incidents of violence in this essentially government-less country.
8. Egypt- Government fights against Muslim Brotherhood have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths in recent decades- violence continues against Copts and other non-Muslims under new government.
9. Lebanon- Endless battles between Muslim extremists and Christians, and between Sunnis and Shias continue.
10. Turkey- Muslims struggle to end the Turkish secular tradition and impose Sharia law
11. Syria- Eighty thousand killed recently in fights between dictatorial government and rebels, a large part of whom are Islamic fundamentalists bent on forcing Sharia law on country.
12. Israel- Jews subjected to constant terrorist attacks, including over 12,000 missiles shot into country, and open Muslim attempts to exterminate them.
13- Saudi Arabia- Not much to report here, except that if you are the wrong religion, they just kill you. Saudi Arabia is the world's greatest financier and exporter of Islamic terrorism, including 18 of the 19 9-11 hijackers. They mainly make sure it all happens somewhere else, of course.
14. Iran- Financier and backer of Islamic groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, which are responsible for endless acts of violence. Within the country, violent suppression of anyone who disagrees with the ruling religious orthodoxy.
15. Breakaway Soviet Republics- Frequent acts of oppression, both government inspired and independent, against non-Muslims.
16. Afghanistan- Violent repression of anything that does not conform to Islamic orthodoxy.
17. Pakistan- Also, violent repression of non-Muslims and also Muslims who do not conform to religious orthodoxy; sponsors major terrorist acts in other countries, most notably India.
18. China- A long history of violent seperatist acts from Muslim Uighur community.
19. India- Violent Islamic seperatist movement in Kashmir engages in an endless string of barbarous acts of violence.
20. Burma- Considerable ethnic violence between Muslims and Hindus- this may be one case where the other side is at least as much to blame as Muslims, who seem to be getting the worst of this fight, at least at this point.
21. Indonesia- Violent Muslim attacks against non-Muslims continue to occur sporadically, initiated in the 19th century by an influx of Wahabist clerics from Saudi Arabia.
22. Phillipines- Regular outbreaks of violence over several decades, perpetrated by Muslim separatists in the South of the country.
Well, maybe people will accuse me of imagining things, but this is just too much for me to write it off. The belief among many Muslims, descending from the words and deeds of Mohammed himself, that they have a right to violently force others to live according to their rules, is real, and it is having disastrous consequences around the world.
Yes, we have similar Christian fanatics in our country, and our public figures deserve much criticism for not standing up to their irrational hatred. Even Israel is burdened with a number of Orthodox Jews who are easily as crazy as the world's Christian and Islamic fringe. But at this point in time, Muslim fanaticism poses a vital threat to world stability; Christian fanaticism is largely a pathetic sideshow, and Jewish fanaticism is little more than a joke. I don't have a clue how the sizable fraction of the world's one billion Muslims who buy into this sort of thinking can ever be persuaded to abandon their self-righteous attitudes, but until they do, we are going to be faced with endless situations like the 22 I outlined above. And with the proliferation of nuclear weapons to irresponsible and unstable countries like Pakistan, it is only a matter of time before what is presently an irritant becomes a tragedy of truly monumental proportions.