Christians in the Middle East and Africa are dismayed to discover that the increasing anti-Christian violence by local Islamic conservatives and terrorists is largely being ignored in the West. One of the worst examples is Nigeria where, since 2004 over a million Christians living in the Moslem majority north of the country have been chased from their homes and over 10,000 of them killed by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram. Nearly all the Moslems killed in the north are victims of Boko Haram and most of the few Moslems killed by northern Christians are Boko Haram men killed by self-defense militias protecting their homes and families.
Boko Haram literally means “Western education is forbidden” and to many Islamic terrorists nothing is more “Western” and forbidden than Christianity. This despite the fact that Christianity has been around a lot longer than Islam. Often, as in Nigeria, the first invaders were Moslems not Christians. In Nigeria the south is largely Christian while the north is largely Moslem. But for over a century Moslem tribes from the north have been moving south looking for more grazing lands and consider it an economic and religious duty to chase out any Christian tribes in the way.
While Moslems like to think of themselves as the victims of anti-Moslem Western aggression the reality is quite the opposite. Islam is, in reality, a region of intolerance and hypocrisy. In the West this is obvious, but in the Moslem world it is not. Consider the fact that Moslems demand that others be tolerant of their customs but refuse to respect the customs (or religions) of others. Thus Moslems are free to practice their religion in the West while in many Moslem countries others are not. Saudi Arabia does not even allow any religious buildings that are not Moslem. Thus there are no Christian churches, Hindu temples, Jewish synagogues or any non-Moslem house of worship in Saudi Arabia. It is against the law there. In many Moslem countries it is illegal to convert a Moslem to another religion. In some Moslem countries (like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) the penalty for any Moslem converting is death. There is a reason for all this.
The word “Islam” derives from the Arabic word “istaslama” which means, literally, “submission.” What is implied, for most Moslems, is that non-Moslems must submit as well, whether they want to or not. Refusal to submit is a sign of intolerance, religious bigotry, racism and blasphemy and most definitely against Islamic scripture and practice. For Islamic conservatives, clergy and scholars there can be no other interpretation. Westerners have had a hard time understanding this crucial cultural difference, but now it is becoming violently obvious to Moslems and non-Moslems alike, especially in countries where lots of Moslems live next to largely Christian populations..
Moslems in the West expect the locals to accommodate their religion and customs, even though some of those customs (genital mutilation, honor killings, mandatory arranged marriages, and much more) are illegal in the West. Yet Moslems have no intention of being accommodating to Westerners. Most Moslems don’t care if Westerners see Islam as a religion of intolerance, of all take and no give. To Moslems it is natural to demand submission from those with other religious beliefs and not to reciprocate or show tolerance (unless forced to).
Moslems are now being forced to confront their long history of violent intolerance. This flawed view of Islamic terrorism has lots of nasty side effects. Take, for example, the growing anti-Christian violence among Moslems. Christians in countries with Moslem majorities, or large minorities, are having a difficult time getting the rest of the world to recognize that most (as in about 80 percent) of the religious violence (not counting Islamic terrorism) in the world is carried out against Christians and most of the violence is committed by Moslems. This is because the Islamic world, while unable to do much in terms of economic, scientific, or cultural progress, or even govern themselves effectively, have proven quite adept at convincing leaders and media organizations in the West that Islam is not the aggressor and is actually the victim. For those who have spent any time living among Moslems, this all seems absurd. But this delusion is real among many Moslems.
The effort to eliminate the religion angle when it comes to Islamic terrorism is also present in the United States. For example, it’s official policy in the U.S. military to eliminate any mention of a war between Islam and the West. This policy is enforced despite the fact that Islam, at least according to many Moslems, is definitely at war with the West. The U.S. has officially maintained this illusion since shortly after September 11, 2001, despite the fact that many Islamic clerics and government officials in Moslem nations, openly and frequently agree with the "Islam is at war with the West" idea. But many Western leaders prefer to believe that by insisting that such hostile religious attitudes are not widespread in Moslem countries, the hostility will diminish. To that end the U.S. government has, for years, been removing any reference to "Islam" and "terrorism" in official documents. This comes as a shock to military or civilian personnel who have spent time in Moslem countries. The "Islam is at war with the West" angle is alive and well among Moslems and when you look at media in Moslem countries it is all pretty explicit.
There is plenty of other evidence. For example, twenty nations account for over 95 percent of terrorism activity in the world. Of these twenty (Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Uganda, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Colombia, Algeria, Thailand, Philippines, Russia, Sudan, Iran, Burundi, India, Nigeria, and Israel) all but four of them (Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Colombia, and Burundi) involve Islamic terrorism. In terms of terrorism fatalities the top four nations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia) accounted for 75 percent of the world total of terrorism related deaths. All of these were the result of Islamic radicalism, often directed at other Moslems and not just non-Moslems (infidels).
In Asia we have religion based tension between India and Pakistan. Inside India many Moslem communities remain and feelings aren't always neighborly. Indonesia and the Philippines suffer growing strife between Moslems and non-Moslems. Malaysia has fanatical Moslems persecuting more laid-back ones and non-Moslems in general. China has a large Moslem community that generates an increasing amount of violence. Russia and America have formed a curious partnership to deal with Islamic-based terrorism coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Chechnya Russia faced Islamic-inspired violence all alone in the 1990s.
Africa has long had problems with Islam, especially south of the semi-arid Sahel region. Many African nations are split by increasingly sensitive religious differences. The Moslems are in the north, Christians and animists in the south. Nigeria, Egypt, and Sudan are among the more violent hot spots at the moment. When the Moslem Somalis stop fighting each other they will return to raiding their Christian and animist neighbors to the south.
The Middle East still contains many non-Moslems. None have their own country, except for Israel. But Egypt contains six million Copts, native Christians who did not convert to Islam. Similar small Christian communities exist throughout the Middle East and growing hostility from Moslem neighbors causes many to migrate or get killed.
Moslems are particularly vicious when they turn their righteous wrath on dissident Moslem sects. The Druze and Alawites are considered by many Moslems as pagans pretending to be Moslems. Similarly, the Shias of Iran and neighboring areas are considered less orthodox, not just for their admitted differences but because many adherents openly practice customs of the pre-Islamic Zoroastrian religion. These differences are less frequently overlooked today. To survive, many Druze have allied with Israel and most of the current Syrian leadership are Alawites who pretend to be more Shia than they really are.
Even Europe has local problems with Islam. The Moslems in the Balkans (Albanians and Bosnians) have been a constant source of strife for the last decade. Moslem migrants in Europe face even more persecution because of all the Islamic violence elsewhere, and this makes it easier for radical groups to recruit and carry out their crusade against Christians. In many European cities with Moslem minorities there are neighborhoods non-Moslems are advised to stay out of.
But the Islamic religious strife is often about more than religion. A lot of it is politics. One of the reasons Islam ran out of steam centuries ago was that the Moslem areas never embraced democracy and intellectual progress. Until the 20th century most Moslems lived as part of some foreign empire, under local totalitarian monarchs or Western colonial administrators. The foreign empires disappeared early in the 20th century but democracy has had a hard time taking hold. The dictatorships are still there. And the people are restless.
Radical Islam arose as an alternative to all the other forms of government that never seemed to work. In theory, establishing "Islamic Republics" would solve all problems. People could vote but only Moslems in good standing could be candidates for office. A committee of Moslem holy men would have veto power over political decisions. Islamic law would be used. It was simple and it makes sense to a lot of Moslems in nations ruled by thugs and thieves, especially if the people are largely uneducated and illiterate.
The problem with this is that Islamic Republics don't work. The only one that has been established (not counting others that say they are but aren't) is in Iran. The major problems were twofold. First, the radicals had too much power. Radical religious types are no fun and you can't argue with them because they are on a mission from God. Most people tire of this in short order. To speed the disillusionment many of the once-poor and now-powerful religious leaders became corrupt. This eventually sends your popularity ratings straight to hell.
It will take a generation or so for everyone in the Moslem world to figure out where all this is going. This is already happening in Iran, where moderates are getting stronger every day but everyone is trying to avoid a civil war. While the radicals are a minority they are a determined bunch. The constant flow of Islamic radical propaganda does more than generate recruits and contributions in Moslem countries, it also energizes Moslem minorities (both migrants and converts) in Western countries to acts of terrorism. In the United States you find such Moslems regularly getting arrested for attempting to carry out religious violence.
Radicals throughout the Moslem world continue to take advantage of dissatisfaction among the people and recruit terrorists and supporters. To help this process along they invoke the ancient grudges popular among many Moslems. Most of these legends involve Christians beating on Moslems. To most radicals it makes sense to get people agitated over faraway foreigners rather than some strongman nearby.
Most radicals lack the skills, money, or ability to carry their struggle to far-off places. So most of the agitation takes place among Moslem populations. Any violent attitudes generated are easily directed at available non-Moslems. Thus we have all that violence against non-Moslems. But the more violence you have against non-Moslems the more really fanatical fighters are developed. These are the people who are willing to travel to foreign lands to confront the non-believers and kill them for the cause. We call it terrorism, the fanatics call it doing what has to be done.
Not surprisingly, Moslems get motivated to do something about Islamic radicalism when the violence is literally next door. That's why terror attacks in the West are so popular. The infidels are being attacked, without any risk to those living in Moslem countries. Iraq changed all that, and during the course of that war (2004-7) the popularity of Islamic terrorism, in Moslem countries, declined sharply because the terrorists were killing so many Moslems. That, in the end, is what has killed, for a while, most Islamic terrorism in Iraq. Worldwide, al Qaeda never recovered the popularity (in the Moslem world) it enjoyed after September 11, 2001. It would also be nice if the Moslem world got their act together and expunged this malevolent tendency once and for all. The Arab Spring was supposed to help but so far it hasn’t. Change is coming but don't hold your breath waiting for it to suddenly appear.