John Lennon in his popular song Imagine had asked to imagine a world without religion and country. That may just be a world to imagine but in that world there would rightly be nothing to kill or die for. Don’t get me wrong. I am a Muslim and my faith is strong but I must also confess that faith has scared me immensely because of the deeds of misguided people. I have a simple question: what right do I have as a Muslim to see people of other faiths as misguided? Does seeing other faiths as wrong and misguided make my faith complete? Am I really standing on such weak and bigoted foundations of my faith?
In Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, a bunch of indoctrinated young men who happened to be sons of a rich businessman killed people because of their Christian faith. Many believed that the attack came partly in retaliation for the Christchurch attack in New Zealand where a white supremacist attacked a mosque, killing innocent people. Now, the Sri Lankan terror attacks sound outdated because a different Abrahamic religion has already scored a goal against another Abrahamic religion. Last Saturday, a Christian teenager in Poway, California, attacked Jews in a synagogue. It was the last day of Passover, a Jewish religious holiday celebrating liberation from slavery. This week, a former US army soldier’s attempt to bomb a rally organised by a white nationalist group in Long Beach, California, was thwarted by the FBI. We are getting new episodes of terror weekly.
An individual growing up with a sense of victimhood stemming from a variety of reasons eventually becomes a serial killer. When a group of individuals live with the same sense of victimhood, it develops hatred. The hate expresses itself in horrific ways. When such groups of individuals with a shared sense of victimhood shop for ideology; hate groups, either religious or racial, present themselves as attractive umbrellas to come together under. Ku Klux Klan, al Qaeda, IS, white supremacy, and so forth are some examples.
White supremacists hate Jews because they see them as people destroying their race and identity. That’s not, by the way, seen by Israel as anti-semitic but criticising Israel’s policies is seen as anti-semitic. Strange logic. White supremacists love Israel for their model of expelling Muslims to preserve their identity. Islamic radicals loathe Jews because they were told to hate them and also they believe the poor condition of Muslims around the world is because of a Jewish conspiracy. I remember a Valima dinner in Peshawar where a young man tried to talk me out of drinking Pepsi with my food because, he advocated, the drink was made by Jews to destroy Muslims. I let the Jews destroy me anyway because I couldn’t resist the sugar water.
Islamic radicals hate Israel for its illegitimate existence. Europeans and Americans tap Israel on the wrist for its treatment of the Palestinians. Many left-wing politicians associate Jews with failing capitalism and that Jews control the global economy. White supremacists, including the Christchurch attacker and the Poway synagogue attacker, share a deep reverence for Donald Trump. Ironically, Trump’s son-in-law who is literally the Secretary of Everything, is Jewish. Somehow the hatred is reserved for the simple worshipers.
The California shooter is also believed to be linked to a nearby Masjid arson a while ago. To preserve the local, they go international in their expression of hatred. People of faith are in danger because of the corrupt and wrong interpretation of faith. Places of worship are under assault because of fear and loathing stemming from a feeling of victimhood. Sri Lankan attackers’ feeling of victimhood also stemmed from violence against Muslims by Buddhists, who view Muslims as threatening Buddhists’ demographic supremacy with their higher birth rate.