The very fact that critics often point back to the horrors of the Crusades and Inquisitions, both of which represent horrific aberrations that did not begin until more than 1,000 years after the time of Jesus and which have not been repeated for centuries, is a reminder that violent and murderous acts in the name of religion have not been the norm for Christianity.
Could it be that the example of Jesus was radically different than the example of Muhammad?
Last week, video footage surfaced of a Catholic priest in Syria having his head cut off (slowly) by Muslim insurgents – in other words, the side we are backing – as a crowd gathered to record the event on their cell phones as they chanted “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”). Such images have become increasingly (and disturbingly) common in recent years. In contrast, with more than two-billion professing Christians in the world, where are the videos of Christians beheading Muslims while chanting, “Jesus is Lord”?
The Religion of Peace website helps us put things in perspective:
· More people are killed by Islamists each year than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined.
· Islamic terrorists murder more people every day than the Ku Klux Klan has in the last 50 years.
· More civilians were killed by Muslim extremists in two hours on September 11th than in the 36 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.
· 19 Muslim hijackers killed more innocents in two hours on September 11th than the number of American criminals executed in the last 65 years.
This same website keeps a running count on Islamic acts of violence, offers these figures from the last week:
· 2013.07.06 (Lahore, Pakistan) - Four people, including a child, are blown to bits by Muslim bombers outside a restaurant.
· 2013.07.06 (Potsikum, Nigeria) - Islamists massacre over forty students and teachers at a school, in some cases burning children alive. [According to AP figures, “Islamic militants from Boko Haram and breakaway groups have killed more than 1,600 civilians (in Nigeria) in suicide bombings and other attacks since 2010.”]
· 2013.07.06 (al-Arish, Egypt) - Islamic gunmen murder a Coptic priest.
· 2013.07.05 (Baghdad, Iraq) - A Sunni suicide bomber manages to take out over fifteen Shia worshippers at their mosque.
· 2013.07.05 (Uruzgan, Afghanistan) - A dozen souls in a dining hall are taken out by a Shahid suicide bomber.
· 2013.07.05 (Samarrah, Iraq) - A Shahid suicide bomber detonates near a rival mosque, incinerating four worshippers.
In many cases, it is Christians who are being slaughtered by their Muslim neighbors; in other cases, it is Muslims who are being slaughtered by their co-religionists. And so it goes on in country after country around the world.
Ironically, while the modern state of Israel is often blamed for conflicts in the Middle East, it can hardly be blamed for this widespread, chronic pattern of Muslim violence, as Yitschak Ben Gad pointed out in his 1991 book Politics, Lies, and Videotape: “The history of the Arab world since 1948 is marked by murder, subversion, coup d’etats, persecutions, civil wars, hatred, and bloodshed. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs were murdered by fellow Arabs. Many hundreds of leaders, presidents, king, ministers, religious leader and other dignitaries were assassinated. At different times, the Arab armies fought one another and caused tens of thousands of casualties.”
The roots of violent factionalism run very deep in Islam.