It really is a cause for wonder that this news has taken so long to reach a mainstream publication. But kudos to Newsweek for finally breaking the silence last week with a feature story about what has been happening outside the west, where Islam is the majority religion. For those who have not heard about it, I encourage you to paste the link into your browser and read the report.
What Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes is not new information to many Christians living in the United States; several organizations have been vigilant about the persecution of believers in various parts of the world, including but not limited to those with predominant Muslim populations. Prayer groups have formed specifically to join with the voices of the oppressed in a united cry to God for an end to the suffering, as well as for the softeneing of the hearts toward the gospel on the part of the persecutors. For whatever reasons in addition to the two suggested by Newsweek writer, however, neither the mainstream press nor the State Department has shown much interest in the plight of those who have suffered under these officially and unofficialy sanctioned acts of violence. Considering how the plights of other suffering people groups (and animal groups) have been highlighted at various times, this is a troubling omission.
One possible reason Hirsi Ali does not specifically mention is that such reporting of Muslim-on-Christian violence does not fit the narrative of the mainstream. In some segments thereof the reigning paradigm is that all religions are essentially equal (and equally bothersome when they interrupt that narrative with what they actually believe). It wants to believe that religious people are basically all alike, that religious belief is essentially a private matter with no bearing on the public square, and certainly not on official policy; all religions may have their radical elements, but they are always on the fringe and basically cancel each other out when assessing their total impact. To report on those incidents which call this narrative into serious question would not be beneficial to that mainstream way of thinking and directing public opinion. It might even get people to think about the importance of what people believe and why it matters.
The truth about Islam is that the truth about Islam is difficult to state. The Quran has two decidely different ways of being interpreted regarding the approach to non-Muslims, both attributable to the prohet himself. One strand encourages respect toward other people of the Book, meaning specifically Jews and Christians; the other highlights the infidels, also including Christians and Jews, and encourages their destruction. Contemporary Islam is a battle for the interpretation that will guide today’s and tomorrow’s Muslims. The fact that few Muslims know their holy writings, even far less than Christians know theirs, subjects them to what they are told by thir leaders. One does not find home Quran Study Groups.
I applaud Newsweek for stepping out of the silence. And I encourage Christians to continue praying for their brothers and sisters, and perhaps even asking their congressional representatives to ask some tough questions in ploicy discussions.