Remi Majeski’s statement about Muslims (“There is nothing to fear from Muslims,” Letters, Herald, June 25) is consistent with my own experience of having lived and worked in the Middle East for more than 19 years. Majeski’s assessment of Islam is also consistent with the best book I know on this religion: Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto.
Most “religions” are benevolent by original intent. Yet, within any religion, there are extremist factions that warp the religion’s ethos into a creed that is violently intolerant, severe and myopic. As examples, I could point to Serb Orthodox Christians – who have practiced horrific ethnic cleansing and have celebrated it in their church ceremonies. I could point to what I call right-wing Christians here in the U.S. I have heard several tell me “I have a right to kill anyone who does not believe Jesus is the son of God.”
In the case of Islam, the Sunni terrorist groups are, without exception, Wahabists – followers of the old, long-departed Muhammed Ibn Abdul Wahib, who distorted Islam into a severely extremist version that bears little resemblance to Sunni Islam as established by Muhammed (“peace be upon him”). The Wahabist terrorists are mainly represented by what we call the Taliban (“the seekers of truth”) and Osama bin Laden’s mujahedeen (“the holy warriors”).
Regarding these terrorists, we should bear in mind that we trained and resourced them to purge Afghanistan of Soviet occupation, knowing beforehand that we would have to in turn fight them. I also find it interesting that the term Allah translates into the “one true God” and that Islam has no gripe against any religion that is monotheistic.
These days, the balanced perspective that Majeski’s letter advocates is direly needed, to help us discern who our true enemy is – any intolerant extremist faction that accepts terrorism (“the infliction of violence on a noninvolved civilian population to obtain a political goal”).