Breakpoint Commentary #011214
Since September 11, Americans have been told repeatedly that what happened that day should not be held against the Islamic world. The president told us that the terrorist acts were a kind of "blasphemy" and that the terrorists had "hijacked a great and peaceful religion."
Now, I understand why the president and his administration say this. No one wants a "holy war" or worldwide confrontation with Islam. But Christians ought to be aware it just isn't so. And no one knows this better than Christians living in the world's largest Muslim country, Indonesia.
As I speak, 63,000 Christians on the island of Sulawesi are days, maybe hours, from annihilation at the hands of the Laksar Jihad, a well-organized, well-funded, and well-armed Islamic militia. Believers crowded into the Christian city of Tentena after their villages and hamlets were attacked and destroyed.
According to reports from the region, following the Laskar Jihad's capture of a Christian village, "houses and churches were looted then burned, Christian women raped and all those unable to flee either were butchered or forcibly 'converted' to Islam."
Tentena and it environs aren't alone in experiencing what Islam does with non-Muslim neighbors. Since September 11, "at least thirty-eight Christian hamlets, villages or towns . . . in Indonesia have been attacked by the Laskar Jihad or any one of four associated Muslim paramilitaries." What's more, the Laskar Jihad, like other Islamic groups, includes soldiers imported from other Islamic countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, even Albania and Bosnia.
And Indonesia isn't the only place where Christians are under attack by their Islamic neighbors. By some estimates, two million Sudanese Christians have died as a result of their government's attempts to impose Islamic law on its non-Muslim population.
Further south in Africa, Nigerian Christians in the Northern part of that country face similar attempts by Muslim leaders. And, oh yes, in case you were wondering, there is no place on earth where the opposite is the case -- no place where Christians are persecuting Muslims.
All of this inevitably leads to the conclusion that bin Laden and his followers did not hijack Islam, they simply took it seriously. As Harvard historian Samuel Huntington puts it, Islam has "bloody borders." Muslims are involved in a disproportionate percentage of violent conflicts between religious and ethnic groups.
All of this runs contrary to the obligatory political rhetoric of the day. Anybody who denies Islam's peaceful nature runs the risk of being called a hatemonger -- just ask Franklin Graham. And meanwhile, Christians all over the world are dying in conflicts that, according to this rhetoric, couldn't be taking place.
But they are. And that's why Christians need to lovingly take issue with our leaders. While we can understand the political reasons, we can't let the official version be the only thing our neighbors hear about Islam. And we certainly can't allow our leaders to turn a blind eye to what is happening in places like Indonesia, the Sudan, and Nigeria.
Because to do so would be to allow truth to be hijacked by the political demands of the moment.
David Warren, "Muslims Engage in Selective Outrage," Ottawa Citizen, 5 December 2001.
Copyright (c) 2001 Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.