Thursday, September 13, 2012

U.S. Embassy Protests in the Middle East

As everyone is likely, well aware, Protests in the Middle East outside of U.S. Embassy's over a distasteful cartoon video have gotten out of hand.  If you have read my previous posts, then you have probably have a sense for my feelings on the Middle East.  Like America, I have nothing against the majority of the people, culture, and religions.  There are a few exceptions, however.

Perhaps it is my privilege and bias for having been raised in a country where free speech is not only allowed, but often encouraged.  Had someone created a cartoon poking fun at Jesus, people in the U.S. would find it distasteful and offensive, but no one would lose their lives over it.  A cartoon of this genre, should not invoke deaths and violent protests, this is the fault of religious extremism, which is not unique to Islam.  Christians have had their fair share (Norway shooter, Oklahoma City bombings etc.).

Being an individual, speaking out against the majority in the Middle East, is likely to be a life threatening event.  Their culture and governments do not support individualism as it is supported in the U.S. which is why this escapade has become so dangerous, and why some people have taken such offense to the cartoon.

I am the first person to defend the majority of people in the Middle East from ridicule.  I have many Arab friends and I feel no differently about them than my other friends, but the recent deadly protests have made it difficult to defend some of the people in the Middle East.  It's easy to lump everyone in a country, culture, or race together.  I try very hard not to do this, every country, culture, and race has extremists including the citizens of the U.S.  I know that the individuals responsible for protesting and creating violence are an infinitesimally small minority of the population, but Islam all ready has a bad name for extremism, making it even harder to defend.

Religious extremism has fueled so many of the world's wars, it's saddening to watch it continue to happen in my generation.  I hear and read of people bad-mouthing Atheists every day.  I do not take this personally, I assume it is due to their ignorance and nothing more.  I would, however, take it personally should I be physically attacked and my life threatened over being an Atheist.

This has all gotten well out of hand, the Middle East has suffered turmoil for far too long.  They need calm and stability, but for that occur, the religious extremists have to be considered separately from the majority of citizens.  U.S. news agencies do a very poor job of showing America the majority of Arabs, and focus more on the intolerant and violent individuals.  I urge everyone to keep this in mind.  Arabs are not the enemy, Islam is not the enemy, Christianity is not the enemy.  Extremism is, despite it's depiction as being widespread and prevalent, the majority of the citizens of the Middle East are nothing but peaceful.

Can you imagine a world at peace?  Without religion, we could come close.

Thanks for reading,

-The Atheist Physician