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June 27th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

"Punished mercilessly" – Is this Islam?

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Octavia Nasr
Middle East Affairs Editor

“Annihilate the rioters,” demanded one of Iran’s fundamentalist clerics during Friday prayer. He believes that the opposition “defied the orders” of Iran’s Supreme Leader, who “rules by God’s design.” Therefore, “they should be punished mercilessly." Either way, his words couldn’t be harsher or more extreme. Some would say those words couldn’t be more un-Islamic.

The word Islam means “surrender.” The entire religion is based on surrendering one’s self, speech, action and thoughts to god. When moderate Muslims hear what this Mullah has called for, they wonder which brand of Islam he is advocating.

The first pillar in Islamic faith is the declaration called “Shahda” that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet.

The first verse of every chapter in the holy Muslim book, the Quran, goes like this, “In the name of God, most merciful, most compassionate.” Devout Muslims start many of their activities or speech with these glorious words.

Where is the compassion in the Iranian mullah’s speech? Where is the Mercy?

He’s directing his wrath at his own people; their only crime was to ask for an honest vote and to insist that their votes counted in a timely presidential election. They are the ones who shouted from their rooftops every night since their demonstrations began, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar” –God is Great. They are the ones who were denied their legal right to demonstrate so they had to defy the regime and take to the streets anyway.

They are the Iranian opposition movement, young people, mostly students, many women who were kicked and beaten in the streets; they were shot at, detained and even killed. They were called traitors and terrorists. Despite all that, they kept going out for more show offs with Iranian police and a brutal volunteer militia known as the Basij.

The Iranian regime imposed a crackdown on foreign media which made the story impossible to cover freely. The world ended up with two views of on what’s going on: The government perspective came through the state media, radio, TV, newspapers and websites. The opposition turned itself into a media outlet where everyone with a cell phone became a correspondent. They uploaded their images to video-sharing websites and interacted with the world through social media. They provided raw, unedited picture to the entire world.

Now one cleric vowing to “teach them a lesson” is a sign of more brutality and more bloodshed to come. The only difference is that when it happens, if it happens, it will be behind closed doors. We can’t count on Iranians who turned their cell phones into newsgathering machines and became the story and journalists telling it at the same time.

What tomorrow will bring them is a mystery that no one is there to witness or report on.


Filed under: Iran • Islam • Octavia Nasr
soundoff (256 Responses)
  1. Henry Harris

    History teaches us this is no different than the history of any religion. When the Puritans settled America, they tortured and killed, as they did in Europe, for such heinous crimes as saying the Earth orbits the Sun. Historically speaking, religion has always been about lies, torture and murder, yet they claim to be about love. The truth is it's all about seeking absolute power, and we all know that the quest for absolute power always corrupts absolutely.

    June 27, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  2. Aaron

    Please someone at CNN tell me how the situation in Iran is less important than Rev. Jesse Jackson and Joe Jackson, Michael's father, talking about not having all the answers to his death. Come on CNN, get back to reporting news and let the tabloids and magazines like People and US worry about more coverage on Michael Jackson's death.

    You may have already surpassed the amount of coverage you gave to the passing of Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa or President Ronald Reagan, not to mention several other prominent persons who have passed away within the last decade..

    We are all sorry for the Jackson family's loss, but there are much more pressing issues at hand in the world. Stop going for sensational stories and put the important issues in the forefront on your web service and media broadcasts. At least have the conscience to give them equal bill.

    June 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  3. thomas mercurio

    I'm sure most Muslims are good people but I can't understand why some are believing KILLING

    June 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  4. Tamer A. Mowafy

    @John Fullerton

    I think it is better that you leave talking about what Islam stands for to the majority of Muslims. More than a billion Muslims around the world if they all send their kids to be suicide bombers the world would have been blasted out years ago. The blind hatred exemplified in your comment draws an anti-west reaction amongst ordinary Muslims who are mainly moderate and anti-violence people.

    June 27, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    The mullahs talk tough like this because they control the guns and the amunition; that's all. It's got nothing to do with islam.

    June 27, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  6. Bill Ivanoff

    Excellent post, John, thank you.

    Who are we to argue on interpretation of Islam with numerous experienced and revered Islamic clerics who instigate violence against innocent people of all religions but especially "infidels"? Any religion is defined by the people who practice it. Modern Islam is defined by a large part by terror against innocent civilians and oppression of human rights. Polls repeatedly show that there is a significant popular support for acts of terror by the general population in Muslim countries, and terror organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Taliban and their leaders are highly popular.

    As was said many times, not all Muslims are terrorists but all modern terrorists are Muslims, so there is definitely something peculiar about the religion or its widely held interpretations.

    What can be done?

    We should support modern Muslims and especially secular people in Muslim countries, decrease our dependence on middle eastern oil and wholehartedly support Israel as the major barrier between the civilized world and fundamental Islam.

    June 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  7. Hossein Ziai

    Bravo, well said. This sort of statement by the cleric during the Friday Prayer is a clear indication that what they are doing is not only un-Islamic but it is anti human. We all have a responsibility to uphold the rights of humans, there is no mercy, rahma, in their actions and words. Shame!

    June 27, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  8. Tom

    One thing the Prophet tried to do was get rid of the tribalism that fragments the people of the Middle East, especially the Arabs. He failed, and the result is that the medieval tribalism has cloaked itself in Islam.

    June 27, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  9. Sridhar

    The problem with Iran or any other Muslim country is that they take political lessons from religion. To make it worse, they follow their Islamic interretation in its purest form setting aside rationality.So its probably gonna take a few more decades for the clerics to lose their military might to the protestors and hopefully the next generation does not refer religious texts for governance

    June 27, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  10. Isaac Levy

    Every religion is shaped by its followers. One could act with mercy and compassion or one could beat people to submission.

    June 27, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  11. Amy, Texas

    Thank you for not completely forgetting about Iran in the face of Michael Jackson's death. It sickens me that a pop star could ever be more important than a whole people's life and death struggle for freedom and liberty.

    MJ was talented and had a significant influence on music, but the future of the nation of Iran as it it is being decided now will affect the WHOLE WORLD FOREVER!

    Please, please, please don't let an unfortunate (but essentially insignificant) event undermine the sacrifice and progress we've seen thus far in Iran! The Iranian people need the US and the West to keep paying attention to have any chance of succeeding in their struggle for self-determination.

    AC, Please help prove that we are not a nation of shallow, ADD-afflicted imbeciles who cannot maintain focus for longer than a 24-hour news cycle. Please go back to covering the truly important Iranian struggle, and let this unfortunate man (MJ) and his family have some peace.

    June 27, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  12. Farzana C.

    As a Muslim and as a victim of extremism I am outraged by the audacious Iranian government for claiming to act on behalf of the religion. I am equally outraged by those who say "THIS is Islam"!

    I am a Muslim woman whose father was killed by Islamic terrorists 38 years ago in Bangladesh. I blame the perpetrators and seek justice as they were never brought to justice! I DO NOT blame Islam, never did, never will and I know Allah, the most merciful and just, will punish them!

    For centuries people killed and were killed in the name of religion… for land, for political gain, for ethnic cleansing…jihad, crusade…whatever the name is! Even supposedly the most tolerant religious groups of Buddhists and Hindus have each others’ blood in their hands in Sri Lanka.

    Bloodshed is not a monopoly of Muslims. People of every religion have blood in their hands...that does not mean the religion is tainted! The sad fact is that the philosophical infancy among Muslims is lasting very very long and painfully so!

    June 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  13. Reza

    I am an Iranian, and I believe Islam has damaged Iran so much. I support free Iran without Islam. I was taught to be a Muslim, so I am not an outsider. My belief is that Islam comes with violence and terror. I have read the entire quran with the Farsi translation multiple times. I was taught Islam and quran when I was at school in Iran. My understanding is that Islam should only be inside mosques but not in politics or any other places. My entire life has been destroyed by Islam. I don't want Islam anymore. I want to be free and live with dignity. I want my fundamental basic human rights which Islam took from me. I hate religions of all sorts. Long live IRAN, may some day we clean my beloved land from Islam. Peace.

    June 27, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  14. Michael

    John Fullerton,

    You may want to open up a book about the history of Christianity before you judge other people's religions on the actions of a few.

    Kings in Europe claimed their right to rule was divine and used it to suppress their subjects, they launched a holy war against Muslims in the middle east, and more recent hate groups, such as the KKK, have use the Bible to justify their actions.

    June 27, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  15. YASHA

    Absurd. To bristle at one while apologizing for the brutality of the other is to ignore the lessons of history such that they will be repeated to the same devastating end. The central tenets of Islam and Christianity are interchangeable, and to focus on their prophets and ignore that both religions worship the same God just demonstrates the bias that becomes even more apparent when reading any other entry on this blog. In Christian scriptures God himself murders millions upon millions, including women and children by the scores. The brutality of Christian regimes throughout history have been equaled only by the brutality of other fundamental regimes. The renaissance was in no small part inspired by the libraries maintained and scientific advancements made during the Golden Age of Islam.

    June 27, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  16. Mary

    I agree with Joh Fullerton. I experienced living under secular Shah regim and also mullahs Islamic dictatorship. Islam is this. What you see in Iran and other Islamic countries.Arabs attacked persia and killed the people and scientists and forced the other people to convert to Islam. Why there is a law in Islam that you can't convert to other religions otherwise you will be punished. For me it is clear today. I am sure that Iranians will get rid of this regime and I am sure the next government will separate the religion and government. And I am also sure that most of Iranians will even go furthure and separate their lives from Islam. I hope the Europeans and U.S. will have some programs to educate the muslims (and probably the followers of some other religions) in these countries to learn about christianity. This is another way of fighting with the influence of these religions. My family converted to christianity and I think this is the best way to fight the Islamic fundamentalism.

    June 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  17. RoseParvin

    No! This is not Islam; at least not the Islam that I know and the Time Prophet within me knows; an Islam with Time Approppriate Laws of Human Rights that would not endanger or infiring upon anyone's right nor would sound arrogant and supperior to othes or be found so distaced from his own children and youth as to not take them serious! Man-made rules & man-made world & man-made god have created themselves a kind of religion that that is only catering to them and especially with this government that only moves for power! In any religion that is valid and substantial power comes form within and not atomic weaponry & freedom must be a dimension of that religion for religion of god must bring freedm for god is freedom and love and we are all born free. That is why I suggest my Universal Laws of Human Rights I wrote in my 9 books in one year in 1994 on a calling as Time Prophet & Spirit Mother to be acceted by the UN & Leadership Excellence for People Power to be enfornced for all countries especially the dictatorships such as Iran.The Iranian Youth are finally getting the message of my new psychology and world order ad new humanity of equality for all and responsible freedom! In all cities there are peaceful demonstrations to Free Iran which means putting an end to censorship in Iran and America and abroad by those who do not know what democracy means and have taken over media here to deny the source and the creator of the true revolution of compassion not the quip that was before!I rose to free the young from bondage!

    June 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  18. YASHA

    For Mr. Fullerton, I can also say that the crusador wars, inquisition courts, brutal killing of native indians in Amercas on the hands of spanish catholic Priests, Hitler and 2nd world war killing of more than 40 million lives and the recent american atrocities in Iraq and before in Vietnam and other places, are the true face of CRISTIANITY.

    would you like such conclusion which actually turned most of Western nations away from the Church?

    June 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  19. SF

    Thank you CNN for staying with this story and Octavia, you are right to say, "it will happen behind closed doors". News about Nokia and Siemens helping Iran's build a firewall/censorship monster is spreading. How can companies in the free world have such a apparent disregard for social justice and the struggle happening in Iran for basic human rights?!!!

    June 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  20. Peggy

    There are two sides to Islam. The moderate Muslims choose to "unsee" that other side. This cleric is only articulating that other side, the same side that had Mohammad eliminate his enemies to "save" Islam. It is only because this other side really does exist that Muslims are able to resort to it when they think they need to save Islam.

    On the other hand, Christians have no example from Jesus where he resorted to violence to "save" Christianity. If a Christian resorts to violence to achieve their goals, there is no possibility of being able to justify it using the actions of Christ.

    Islam is fatally flawed because of its two sides. Moderate Muslims can live in denial all they want but is that any way to live?

    June 27, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  21. Shirin e Khoda

    "Jahad" is one of the most misunderstood words in Islam. Jahad comes from Jahd, which means struggle to achieve something. ...In the course of time jahad lost its more important meaning as internal struggle and was used only to mean the duty of each Moslem to take up a weapon and fight the enemy that had attacked Moslems or to be used to destroy disbelievers.... Many leaders in Islam lost the truth that external struggle is an impossibility without internal struggle. "

    excerpted from The Holiest Of The Holies (THOTH), The Last Testament

    If a leadership is threatened, controlling, elite, money driven, power driven and isolated, it has lost the internal struggle already and its higher focus. It can no longer claim to be Godly and be good leadership.
    How different is the claim of the Iran Supreme Leader to be the spokesperson for God than the claim of the Pope to be the same spokesperson? Each of all the religions are right and wrong at the same time. Each is a part of the Truth but not all of the Truth of God.

    "It is not religions that are the source of suffering, but the way they have been interpreted by humanity. " THOTH

    June 27, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  22. Lis

    Both Islam and Christianity are well intended ideas and beliefs, Unfortunately people use them to practice intolerance, hate, and injustice both social and political. Wise, loving, compassionate people need to take a firm hand in getting their religion back from the belligerent idiots who are running the show. I honor the Iranians willing to risk their lives for their freedom. It is foolish and disrespectful to suggest that the Americans and British fomented or directed their protests. It makes the authorities look childish when they lie so blatantly. We are not fooled.

    June 27, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  23. SoCalSooner

    Seems who ever is in power at the time, always acts like the ruler that was just over thrown.

    Aren't these the same actions that sparked the revolution?

    June 27, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  24. julie

    I have been to 5 Muslim countries and have had great experiences with them as peace loving people. But, I have to say that I am still undecided on whether Islam and democracy for all can be incorporated into something better than what we see out there.

    June 27, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  25. William

    I would say this is not representative of any religion accepted by a global community. So rather this is representative of the mis-use or abuse of Islam by a group of power hungry, ruthless dictators that want to impose their view of how this small group of thugs wants things should be. Totalitarian style demons in other words.

    And the world sits and watches, spews forward a few condemnations and continues to watch.........who is worse.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  26. ivan

    There are violent and radical interpreters of Islam in Iran just as there are violent and radical interpreters of Christianity in America. With all due respect to Jackson and Fawcett, I also hope the media will put more focus on these developments in Iran. Let the Iranian theocracy crumble as people stand against it find ways to get the truth out.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  27. jd

    i think this illustrates the destructive force of all organized religions. religion is a personal thing that should be kept out of politics.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  28. Darryl in New Orleans

    These are Muslims the same way that abortion clinic bombers are Christians.

    I mean, I don't recall anyone querying "Is this Christianity?" after Abu Ghraib, or after it was revealed that there were no WMDs or when it was discovered that there was no direct connection between Sadaam and Al Quaeda. No one asked whether something essential to Judaism causes the Israelis to make T-Shirts of pregnant women in crosshairs with captions like "one shot, two kills."

    I think AC does awesome work, and being in New Orleans I very much appreciate AC's coverage of our situation here in the wake of the Storm. However, when Muslims complain of anti-Islamic bias in the west, they are referring to articles like this one.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  29. Joseph

    Unfortunately, you are correct, we are realizing this too late John.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  30. Shadi

    No, this is not Islam, this is terrorism. I do not know if this site is the right place to write this. My sister just arrived in Germany. Our 17 year old neice was one of the proters that was arrested and taken to Evin. They release her with confession and she was told not to speak to anyone after being released. My sister who lives few homes down the street had to go roof to roof from neighbors houses 2 a.m. to say goodbye to her before leaving Iran to Germany. My sister is only few years older that our niece and very close. She admitted to her that upon arresting her at Evin, they made her eat her own stool and made her say I ate s..t and will not say anything again. She is a very heavy sleeper and could not wake up and urine was thrown at her face in sleep and was not allowed to wash it up until she confesses. They told her if she does not confess, they will shoot her with 10 bullets and charge the family 30,000 dollars for each bullet to return the body. They showed her a chamber and told her that she would be hanged from the ceiling. They also blindfolded her and told her now is the time to execute you. She started to hear the gun shots and was just terrified thinking that they are shooting at her.
    I remember few years back in University protest they executer one of our very close frien's son and called the dad to come and visit the son. When he arrived there they asked him to open the trunk of his car and they just throw the bloody body of his son in the car and told him "now go and bury him" if you say one more word, your other son will have the same fate.
    This is what these murderes call islam.

    Shadi

    June 27, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  31. Lindsay

    "When The West wakes up and realizes that Islam is a religion built of hatred, death and no repect for human life the better if will be for all."

    Well said! That is, if you represent xenophobic, hypocritical, paranoid, angry Christian America.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  32. Katherine Ann Pinkston

    So, John, do you consider yourself a Christian? If so, do you support the killing (i.e. of abortion doctors) done in the name of God? Do you consider all Christians to be supporters of these extremists? What about the death penalty still practiced in some states in our country – where is the respect for human life in such a practice?

    June 27, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  33. Joaquin Torres

    While I understand the need to honor a worldwide legend, I believe stories like this one and the moment to moment happenings on the ground in Iran demand our attention. I would hope that CNN, its journalists, and producers could come together to make this story its priority. People are dying in the name of democracy. We have an obligation to watch, even if our president requests we do not interfere.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  34. Mike

    Yes, This IS islam. In the US we have failed miserably to actually understand the religion and the cultures that it has produced. The Muslim world cannot have it both ways. i.e. divorcing themselves from violence while holding to a book that clearly states to beat women that are not obedient (4:34) and make war with the "infidels" around you (9:121).

    June 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  35. johnrj08

    The problem with quoting from the Qur'an in any discussion of Iran or any other topic involving Islam is that the Qur'an is such a vague and ambiguous document which can be interpreted in numerous ways. While one may discover within its pages an Islam that is "compassionate, merciful and tolerant", another may find a manual for using violence as an effective problem-solving tool and guide for when it is acceptable to commit murder. It just depends upon which side of the fence you're sitting. For every cleric who teaches that Islam is about peace and love, there are 100 clerics who use it to nurture hatred for the West. For every mosque that is filled with kind, tolerant Muslims, there are dozens of madrassas that are turning out future suicide bombers. While it may be true that it is unfair to judge a religion by the behavior of its followers, there is no other earthly measuring stick for the qualities of a belief system. Perception is reality.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  36. Jack

    The article has an inaccuracy. There is one chapter in the Quran that does not begin “In the name of God, most merciful, most compassionate.” That is the ninth chapter. It has stern words for "idolators," e.g., verse 5 says "... slay the idolators wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and beseige them, and prepare for them every ambush."

    Within the Quran is the doctrine of abrogation, which says that when two passages within the Quran conflict, the one revealed last supercedes the earlier revelation. And since the ninth chapter was one of the last to be revealed by Mohammed, and one of the most stern, people like Osama bin Laden say that it supercedes some of the more peaceful verses, such as "let there be no compulsion in religion." Doctrinal differences like this are source of conflict between the more moderate Muslims and groups like Al Qaeda.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  37. MOHAMMAD SYED

    Blame Islam. Question Islam. Demonize Islam. Let me ask you this. If a non-muslim does injustice, do you question his religion. When will you guys learn to be professionals and fair when dealing with muslims and their religin? Why are you so intent to blame and question Islam. Study Islam and learn what it is before you question it.

    Mohammad

    June 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  38. Kevin

    John, your poorly written comment betrays your ignorance. Extremism is the problem and any person can take an idea and distort it for good or evil. The unfortunate truth is that over the course of human history, a lot of people have been killed for the honor of a deity, be it in a Crusade or whatever else.

    Your generalization of this particular brand of ideology as reflective of an entire religion is no different than painting all "Westerners" as infidels or decadents.

    Your assessment of people "who love to die" seems fundamentally flawed. You're dealing with people who may be (or not) inherently bigoted against "the West", but are more likely to be simply under-educated, under-opportuned and/or without a "healthy" family network.

    Before you suggest that I sympathize with these extremists, I'd like to state that I don't.

    Consider this: If you had nothing, and your life was miserable, you weren't necessarily taught right from wrong and someone said that you could attain a "high-quality" afterlife by doing your god's "work" at the expense of others, would you know to do the right thing?

    Unfortunately, it's not a simple equation or instance that leads such people to such an awful decision.

    Don't oversimplify and paint every person in a demographic with such a broad brush as it's inappropriate and inaccurate altogether.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  39. Mostafa

    NO Mr. Anderson. This is not Islam. This is insecurity! @John we don't talk our kids into becoming Suicide bombers. we love our kids as much as anyone else does!!!

    June 27, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  40. James Barnett

    As Mohammed is the 'ideal man' of Islam, and one who is to be looked upon as its role model, we should not forget that he was a mass murderer, and advocated stoning and the amputation of hands, feet and noses for crimes, the killing of those who refused to convert, and the destruction of the places of worship of non-Muslims . The inhabitants of both Mecca and Medina both felt the wrath of his and his followers swords when they refused to convert, as well as the inhabitants of many countries that Muslims invaded throughout history. This aggressive, murderous, intolerant stance can be seen throughout the history of Islam, the 'religion of peace'. The current social pathologies of fundamentalist and radical Muslims are firmly rooted in this religion's history, beginning with its founder. To say otherwise is politically correct whitewashing and a complete lie.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  41. alireza

    As a person who has lived 25 years in iran (up to two years ago),I can tell one thing for sure:
    YES,this is Islam when it gets the power.but at the same time this is any ideology who gets the power as we saw quite the same thing happened in china or elsewhere.
    I and a large group of young iranians hate Islam (or any other ideology) and those who use it as a justification to repress people.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  42. blank

    "This brand of Isalm is Islam."

    Sorry John, this is one interpretation, not the ONLY interpretation.

    "people that love to die"
    wrong there, no one LOVES to die. There are people (probably excluding you and me) who die for their beliefs (and that is a glorious un-cowardly act), but no one truly loves to die. That is a cliche.

    Now back to Octavia's article (hmm...): As another person said, written with passion and intelligence. Well done.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  43. Brendan

    It is Islam if Iran wants it to be Islam. They have appeared weak and now will over-compensate with their rhetoric & actions to reel in the country again. Im not sure how the USA can allow this but I also see that if we do much more than we have been, they will use it as a calling card to the Arab countries & sympathizers to galvanize more support. Its a slippery slope indeed!

    June 27, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  44. Ron

    This is Islam, precisely as it has been showing itself to everyone outside of Islam for many a year. I would be delighted if more moderate voices might prevail. But the words of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are so similar to the words of so many other voices claiming to speak for Islam, and their words carry to so many followers, that until your voices rise above theirs, then yes. This is Islam. I wish it were not.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  45. Ed DiTomas

    The hatred spewed from under the umbrella of Islam is NOT Islam. The hatred and cruelty is born from the quest for power. This is certainly not a new phenomenon – Christianity was used in a similar fashion during the Middle Ages Inquisition. Endless rulers used (and still use) the concept of "Divine Right" to justify heinous acts against those they considered their enemies.

    Blindly condemning an entire sect for criminal acts of a few merely perpetuates the hatred and distrust. Read the tenets of the Qur'ran and it is very obvious the terrorists, militants, "Speakers of God's Truth" or whatever other label used are NOT true to Islam.

    I am a Christian and strongly believe we should treat ALL people as Jesus would treat them, and that certainly would not be with anger and hatred.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  46. Tim

    I have read portions of the Koran that justify the brutality of women, that they should be beaten. (I keep my copy in my office and do not have the passages to refer to. Yet, I am sure any one can follow up with the references).

    The Koran and the Bible differ in that the manifestation of God in Islam is the Koran, whereas in Christianity, the manifestation of God is Jesus of Nazareth.

    Thus, for Christians, the Bible must be interpreted in light of the character and work of Jesus.

    There is no interpretive lens through which one reads the Koran. Therefore, violence and the second class nature of women are a glaring part of of the Koran that Muslims must accept.

    Therefore, democracy, in which races, religions and genders are equal in society is impossible in an Islamic state that fundamentally accepts the manifestation of God in the Koran.

    Though I have respect for all adherants of the Abrahamic religions that practice their religions peacefully, and respect the human rights of others, I don't see how this squares with God's manifestation in the Koran.

    Maybe someone can shed light on my predicament?

    June 27, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  47. DMR

    While I am personally a member of the Unitarian Universalist faith, I have several friends that are of the Muslim faith. This conduct is not even close to what I they have taught me about the Muslim faith. While I do not have the same beliefs of the Muslim faith I do have respect for it. What we are seeing are religious extremists that are grasping at anything to maintain their authority and control. This has little to do with the Muslim faith and much more to do with tyrants who have lost their control and try to use their faith to control their people.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  48. Lee White

    As you stated, Islam means "surrender" or "submission". This does not give you permission to do what you want. These clerics believe they are ruling by divine right. Therefore, you must submit because they are to direct voice to Allah. The paradox here is that the rulers have seen quite clearly that only through brutality, lies and intimidation can their "divine" rule continue. So, are they truly "divine" rulers from Allah? Is this what he stands for? Quite simply, according to Mohammad, yes. Mohammad was quite brutal to Jewish tribes and others who dared defy him. In the end, Islam was spread by the sword and must be adhered to by it as well.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  49. jaqasia

    I agree that this is not the Islam I would hope these people would want to portray. It is absolutely insane to think that the ruling religious leaders are calling out for more violence to force people to comply.

    This is what is wrong with Islam. Too many Leaders use it against their own people. Then they act like it is not a violent religion. Religion has a place, but not in government.

    This Theocracy is a farce, women have no rights, people are fighting for freedom and peace and they are all shot down in the name of Allah.

    One day I hope there is peace in the Middle East but not as long as fanatics are in power. Too bad these people do not have their peoples best interest at heart!

    All people want it to live life and have fun and love their families, it doesnt have to be so violent and so full of hate, thats not any way to live.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  50. Shahab H.

    Who toppled the democratic government of Mossadeg in 1953? Who removed the Shah in 1979? Who motivated Saddam to invade Iran?(the enemy of my enemy is my friend?) Who provided chemical weapons to Saddam to use against Iranian people? Who helped Saddam militarily to kill nearly one million young Iraninans during the imposed 8-year war? Who brought down the Iranian passenger airbus over the Persian Gulf ? Ultimately who is responsible for creation of this brutal non-Islamic regime in Iran today? I was there for two weeks and saw the brutality. Mr Anderson I believe that you know the answer. Please do share it with world. Neda and the rest are the victims of the same "Who".

    June 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
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