That Islam is culturally and historically a religion of war is true, but then the same can be said of Christianity. Nothing of this says anything about individual Muslims or indeed Christians. Islam spread by the sword across Arabia, the Middle East, North and East Africa, into Central Asia, and even into Southern Europe. Again, Christianity did exactly the same to the reaches that it spread. Yet it wasn’t all war and bloodshed. Both religions spread in other ways too, their cultural and civilisational influences attracted people to them. Our Western media is obsessed at the moment in presenting Islam as an oppressive and violent religion, but it seldom brings the religious ideologies of George W. Bush, the US Republican Party, and the British establishment into the limelight.

Quran 2-215

Of course there are violent elements within Islam, as there are within Christianity; these global faiths account for almost four billion people, and people (without religion) are pretty good at being violent. Violent extremists are in the tiny minority within Islam and Christianity. If this were not the case we can be sure that 1.2 billion Muslims and 2.2 billion Christians – half the world’s population – would have already made the world uninhabitable. The simple truth, a truth that just isn’t bloody enough for the mainstream media, is that the overwhelming majority of Muslims and Christians are ordinary people, doing their best to get by and live in peace.

Only yesterday I handed in an essay on the targeting of Muslim women by anti-Muslim racism – Islamophobia – in Europe. To say that this was depressing research would be an understatement. Studies across Europe and North America have found that Muslim men in religious or otherwise culturally Islamic clothing don’t attract half as much negative attention as a Muslim woman in a hijab. The research shows that women are singled out more than men for racist abuse and discrimination. Even when it comes to the fiction of national security women are viewed as more of a threat than men. The entire thing is a lie. Security and the liberal nonsense about the oppression of Muslim women by Muslim men are nothing more than slightly more sophisticated ways of being racist.

After devoting a month of my reading to this subject and finally getting the paper in to college, the subject matter was still weighing heavily upon me when I happened across a group of Muslim youngsters in Dublin city centre feeding the homeless, and half of these young people were girls in hijab. I was moved almost to tears. The poverty that has been created in this city is heartbreaking, and to see another vilified group of people being so kind and loving was moving. When I drew near to ask a few questions one of the homeless men said he’d have nothing to eat if it wasn’t for these folk. This picture of Islam – Zakat – is seldom shown. It is time that we started to be more honest about the beauty of our Muslim neighbours, and the faith that inspires them.

030 029 008

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