Muslims should declare a new kind of holy war

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2002

It is high time Muslims across the globe declared a holy war -- of words and peaceful actions, this time -- against the extremists in their midst who are at war against Christians and Jews.

No more excuses. No more insidious insinuations that Christians and Jews are asking for it. No more racism. No more religious hatred and discrimination.

And no more killings.

It's a tall order, to be sure. Religious intolerance and racism, which are problems the world over in one degree or another, have been elevated to an art form in many Arab and Muslim venues. A recent report, for instance, noted that in Saudi Arabia, there are no churches; Christian worship is driven underground and is not allowed to be seen in public; all citizens must be Muslim; non-Muslim worshipers, according to the U.S. State Department, "risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation and sometimes torture ..."

And if you're a Jew, good luck even gaining entry.

This is the kind of religious and racial hatred that encourages clerics such as Pakistan's Afzar (who uses only the one name) to incite violence against Christians. "It is the duty of every good Muslim to kill Christians," he told his congregation. "You should attack Christians and not even have food until you have seen their dead bodies."

Not surprisingly, after Afzar's urgings, Christmas worshipers near Lahore, Pakistan, were attacked with a grenade by people hiding under the burqas that women are often made to wear to cover their bodies and faces.

Three girls -- ages 6, 10 and 15 -- were killed in the cowardly, hateful attack.

They join a growing list of more than two dozen Christians killed for their faith just in the past year.

Certainly, world peace is everybody's responsibility. But given the hatred, intolerance and violence flowing from much of the Islamic world today, Muslims have a particular obligation to act.

We implore our reasonable and rational Islamic and Arab friends around the world: Stop the hatred. Fight the fanaticism. End the bigotry and the bloodshed.

Make it your holy war -- with the emphasis on "holy."

-- The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle - Dec. 28



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