Letter to the Editor: Both west, and muslims, hurt by terrorism

In the Oct. 11 issue of The News, graduate, donor and longtime supporter of Northeastern Irving Levine commented on Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about Islam. Although I disagree with his opinions on this matter, I still want to thank Levine for his continual donations in support of Northeastern and hope he continues to do so as an alumnus.

Because the first victim of war is truth, it is necessary for those with knowledge of any sort to lay it out on the table so that we can draw up more educated theory about “what is truly happening in the world,” as Levine puts it. Levine suggested that Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks regarding Islam as a violent religion should be saluted. He expressed regret that people do not recognize that “terrorism emanates from ‘radical Islam,’ and not Christianity and Judaism.”

If Islam is and always has been a religion of terror, why have we not seen similar and constant acts of violence throughout Islamic history, which spans 1,400 years? What happened in the last few decades that caused terrorism to be associated with Islam? It is forbidden for a Muslim to kill a Muslim. Yet Muslims died when the Twin Towers collapsed. Why would Muslims kill Muslims? If you wanted everyone to accept vegetarianism, would you kill those who are already vegetarians?

I wonder if we can call the perpetrators Muslims or just terrorists. Unfortunately, extremists killed a nun in Somalia in retaliation against Pope Benedict’s comments. Levine classified this as “a typical Muslim response.” If you replace the word “Muslim” with any other word describing your ethnic category, for example, “a typical black, white, Asian, Jewish, Hindu or Christian response,” that statement would be taken as an extremely offensive stereotype and unreasonable opinion.

One Muslim extremist does not make all Muslims extremists. Levine also mentioned the lack of rights for women, homosexuals and others in Muslim countries. I don’t deny the injustices that go on in Muslim countries or anywhere else in the world. However, after analyzing the historical, social and political roots of those injustices, it will be evident that Islam can not be considered the sole cause of all these injustices. For Pope Benedict XVI, an internationally recognized spiritual leader, to make such comments can open the floodgates to increased political tensions in the world.

Extremists in both Islam and Catholicism can use these to harm world peace and increase prejudice on both sides. Although freedom of speech should be encouraged, it is essential to take the current situation of the world into consideration before making such comments. Terrorism has no religion. Terrorists don’t burn only churches. Mosques have been demolished or attacked in different parts of the world, such as the Palestinian territory, India and the U.S., by different people and out of blind patriotism, hatred or revenge for claimed offenses. Ironically, most people affected by terrorism in the last 20 years are Muslims.

Two Muslim countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, have been invaded. Almost five years have passed since the invasions, yet the new government – supported by the U.S. has not changed the number of children that die every day, according to the Revolutionary Afghani Women’s Associations (RAWA) website.

According to a UNICEF report, over 500,000 children died in Iraq between 1990-1999. Since 1990, out of the 175,000 people who have died as a result of terrorism (not including the civilian deaths in Iraq), only 4,000 were Westerners. “Is a westerner’s life more precious?” asks Professor Rik Colsaet the author of Al Qaeda, the Myth, Belgian Director of Security and Global Environment at the Royal Institute for International Relations. Over a hundred Iraqis died last week as a result of civilian violence; the numbers of those who are dying because lack of food, water and medicine are not known yet since mainstream media places more importance on one or two Western deaths caused by “Islamic violence,” as though no other form of terrorism exists.

– Esma Yucel is a senior English major.

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