June 27th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

"Punished mercilessly" – Is this Islam?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/24/iran.tolerance/art.ayatollah.afp.gi.jpg caption="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. Paulie

    Keeping things in context the Koran was written for Muslims and to Muslims so the Mullah calling for the merciless punishment of Iranians can be considered wrong unless these people have forsaken their god.

    If they have forsaken their god then they would no longer be considered Muslims but infidels. The Koran calls for the death of the Infidel which includes anyone who is not Muslim. You, me?

    So when the Koran speaks of mercy and goodness it is speaking in reference to devout Muslims, not to infidels. Is there mercy for the infidel.

    God is God and there is no other.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  2. Bill Foster

    Well written...but I fear you are only flashing in the pan. What you said is thougthful and articulate..but with celebrity deaths you'll be pulled away and care little for this topic in a matter of days.

    It seems like the definition of modern journalism is to run everywhere to cover everything for a moment and then to flit off to the next new thing while not thinking very much about any of it. There doesn't seem to be any triage of what matters and what doesn't. Hence your producers have chosen to fill your web pages with Michael Jackson today.

    I commend the amount of coverage the Iranian election has had this week. The fact that despots rule under a guise of faith that they openly abuse needs to be illuminated. A nation whose leaders have expelled you should be remembered for doing that the next time they say something like "we're only developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes".

    Have a memory...and act upon it Anderson.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  3. Stephanie Anderson

    The Koran states, and this is what the cleric is basing his words on, :
    Koran 5:33 "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;"
    Since the supreme leader rules through Islamic law, and sharia is the law of the land in Iran, the protestors are "waging war against Allah" and therefore prone to sharia punishment.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  4. Mary Oney

    We are watching an age old story play itself out yet again.
    the Catholic church did almost the same thing back in the dark ages when it declared the pope to be infallible.
    Once the pope is infallible he speaks with God's voice and it bacomes blasphemy to criticize him. How convvenient, and familiar. How can you argue with someone who claims to speak with God's voice I wonder what God thinks about that?
    The same brutality was played out then. People were tortured, beheaded, burnt alive, ostensibly in the name of God (He must hate that!) but truly in the name of greed, power and politics.
    Women who had once had an active part in the church (there was even a female pope) , all of a sudden became the instrument of Satan. The church taught that women were responsible for original sin.
    the Council of Trent declared that women had the mind of beasts and should not be educated. It was illegal to teach women to read.
    And of course I don't have to go into the obscenities of the crusades. Is there any more blatant an oxymoron than "Holy War".
    I have a vision of Jesus and Mohammad standing shoulder to shoulder in heaven and weeping as they watch what we idiot humans have done with the tremendous gifts they left us.
    Why is" Love one another" such a difficult concept. From what I can see religion is an instrument of the Great Deciever. Satan is the Pince of Lies. How delicious it must be to him to see how the Word of God has been turned into Satan's most effective weapon.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  5. Iman

    Islam means Peace not surrender. Surrender means istislam, while Islam is derived from the word Salam. Islam is not based on hatred. There are many verses in the Quran preaching forgiveness and mercy even for enemies. That's what we were taught in school over and over again. I don't know where those haters and carriers of hate messages sprang up from. They are using Islam for their own agenda, but they will not last. I think the will of the Iranian people is stronger than those dictators.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  6. Stephanie Carlson

    I don't know here else to go to vent my frustration, so if this is the wrong place, I apologize. I think the crisis in Iran IS the story we should be talking about, not Michael Jackson. Is there anything you can do? The attention of the world was focused on the plight of the Iranian people until MJ died and now they are a small news caption on every web page. Today, I was watching CNN and they interrupted their 24/7 news coverage of MJ's death, autopsy, child custody, etc. to spend exactly 30 seconds updating the world on Iran. It is SHAMELESS! Let's get back to showing the people of Iran that we support them in their efrorts for democracy and that we are not that easily distracted!
    I respect you and hope that you can get the message through that the real news is Iran, N. Korea, nuclear weapons, global warmning, and although it is sad, 3 days of coverage of the death of a pop music star is ridiculous! I am furious!

    June 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  7. A friend

    It is tragic to see how some will pretend to be called by god to excert violence just to stay in power. History repeats itself. Very transparent and incredible. All they achieve is to move a large part of the population away from what they want to make them believe. It does not matter how many people they now imprison, beat up, or kill. The damage is done.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  8. Mike Lowe

    This is an example of the danger of having a government composed of religious extremist, be they Islamic, Christian, or Hindu.

    As a committed, Born-again Christian who has studied Church history for more than twenty years, I find it is just too easy for those in leadership to rationalize and justify their actions in the name of 'God'. Especially since in their eyes "my God" is the only true god and my interpretation of God's word is infallable. Based on that, then anyone who as a different opion is a heretic.

    Also be forewarned, this is not just a Islamic problem. the great and respected John Calvin once had one of the men who had worked with him for years drowned because the man came to believe that immersion was the only proper form of Baptism. And I quote, "So, he wants to be baptised by immersion. Then wrap him in chains and 'baptize' him in the center of the lake."

    I conclude as the words of the song 'One tin soldier' echo in my ear, "do it in the name of heaven, you can justify it in the end.'

    June 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  9. Ali Amhaz

    As we all know, there are clerics on both sides of the issue (Ayatollah Montazeri, Ayatollah Alikhani). The Quran is not a constitution and Iran's current system of government is not outlined in the Quran. Iran's governing system bears more similarities to Plato's Republic (e.g. philosopher-king) than it does to Islam.
    Muslims and non-Muslims alike should be aware that many things are labeled “Islamic” without question. Take for example Iran’s execution of adulterers (though that punishment isn’t specified in the Quran).

    The Taliban claim women may not receive an education or run their own businesses. The former assertion has no basis in Islamic scripture and the latter is rebuked through Khadija (the Prophet’s wife who also happened to be a businesswoman).

    Those who attack Islam should instead target ignorant Muslims specifically and not make general statements on 1.3 billion people as “John Fullerton” has done.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  10. Dennis

    "Moderate" Muslims claim that the "radicals" are only a small percentage of Muslims.

    I disagree, unless this "small percentage" controls the rest as appears the case in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and anywhere "sharia" law prevails.

    How is it that the vast majority of Muslims have allowed whole governments to be handed-over in this way.

    Of the governments based on sharia, which allow human rights?

    June 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  11. Edahn

    First off, "show off" should be "show down."

    Second, and on a less annoying note, I think trying to distinguish brands of Islam as "true" and "not true" are futile. There is no such thing as a "true" version of a religion because religion is memetic. It exists in the forms of packets of ideas and principles that are transmitted from person to person. The memeplex (aggregated set of memes) "Islam" varies from person to person, even though there may be some overlap. Islam, therefore, is whatever someone labels as Islam and believes it to be. This nonsense about true and untrue is the same rhetoric the fundamentalists practice to try and sway believers to adopt their views. It's pointless and misses the point. Until we really look at what religion is and stop trying to frame it to suit our agenda (even if our agenda is praiseworthy) no one will really wake up and see what's going on.

    I think the best you can really say is that this brand of Islam - this collection of ideas labeled "Islam" - has strayed far from the original memeplex we called "Islam." But if you are going to make that argument, you need to do a little better than defining the word Islam and discussing one aspect of it. I think you're right, that submission or surrender has to do with NOT trying to control people and NOT trying to push your ideologies on them, but it needs to be better defended. The Sufi tradition of Islam would be a good place to look because their brand of Islam has to do with kindness and mercy, and meditation. If you can tie that to the original Islam-memeplex, you may be able to get somewhere.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  12. Thomas Walker

    John Fullerton you are more than wrong. There are 2 billion muslims in the world who practice their peaceful religion correctly. By stating such stupid remarks on websites like this you only serve to deepen the divide between two populations of people who CAN co-inhabit the world in peace. What the leaders of Iran practice is not representative of the greater muslim faith. Id be surpirsed if you engauged with anything but main stream fire brand ignorant american media that also serves to deepen the gap between two reasonable groups of people.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  13. Elijah

    The particular structures in Shi'a Islam focus power on the individual clerics and hold up Imams as beings with with divine authority.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  14. Coo from Ashland

    The statements of vile retaliation prove to the world that the holy leadership of Iran are not God fearing and obedient men. To the contrary they are nothing more then greedy old men who are in fact losing their grip on "their" people. It is obvious they exploit the Islamic faith to control, coerce and manipulate the good people of Iran to keep them empowered and make them wealthy. It's not about God or Islam.

    If they were about God or Islam, they would extend the olive branch to the opposition and resolve their difference peacefully. That is what God would want and we all know it!

    June 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  15. Leslie Whelchel

    Agree with John Fullerton. What amazes me is that so many have bought into the "peace" lie. Isalm is a religion of the sword. The true message of Islam is one of takeover, one way or another. Americans have been foolish to believe that Islam is a peaceful religion- especially against non-muslems. The jig is up-or should be.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  16. paul in USA

    elisha: these clerics are the formal, public face of islam.
    I WILL judge a religion by the words and actions of those who preach it and practice it.
    I get sick of the claims that islam is such a loving peaceful faith when all the while the clerics and adherents spout and practice hatred, vengeance and violence.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  17. leo

    Islam is brutal and the sooner the media stops explaining away the transgressions committed by those practicing that religion the better.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  18. Brian

    The sad reality is that there is a huge gulf between what is stated in the Koran and what is practiced by people in power in the Islamic world. That Khamenei is distorting the preachings of the Koran should be no surprise. In the Islamic world, people are subjugated ruthlessly, rights taken away, women vilified and freedoms denied. People like Khamenei rule by decree and use the idea that they speak for Allah to do whatever they want.

    Truth be told, the lethal speech of the Islamic cleric hand puppet of Khamenei in Friday's prayers shows just how afraid Iran's ruler is of his own people. He is trapped in a mistake of his own making. Behind the scenes, his very legitimacy is threatened by debates among the grand ayatollahs taking place across the country. Rather than to back off, Khamenei is digging an even deeper hole for himself and his trusted followers.

    In any revolt, youth will eventually triumph over age. The Basij can continue to beat, torture and kill. But if the mullahs own the watches, the people have the time. And eventually, the time of ruthless dictators like Khamenei will run out.

    A generation of Iranians have been taught to hate Americans. What is fascinating is that in these past few weeks, Americans and other non-believers from across the world have shown a compassion for the Iranian people that their leaders have denied them.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  19. loughreagal

    And another thing – when was the last time you heard of a Christian or Jewish woman being stoned to death or beaten or shot because someone thought she might have glanced at another man? Maybe in the year 200 B.C. But these barbarities happen every day in Muslim countries.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  20. Robin Soper

    John Fullerton comment reads: "Islam is a religion built of hatred . .". I am sorry he was unable to understand the message that Octavia Nasr was trying to convey. Fundamentalism exists in all the world's religions, ideologies and belief systems. Unfortunately it has taken root in Iran's supreme leadership regime. Uprooting it will take time and courage on the part of the Iranian people. Hopefully the international community will speak in one voice in support of them. I am so relieved that we have a thoughtful, articulate president who knows the value and power in building a unity of purpose. There is ferment in Iran and the world is aware and watching.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  21. Chance

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is a coward of the first order. I hope he spends the rest of his life hiding from the vengence of his own people.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  22. shirikodama

    from revolutionary to reactionary in 10 easy minutes.

    just goes to show that this wasn't about Shah, Islam or anything else other than naked, brute power.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  23. HM

    Yes, that is correct Islam. Islam calls for fitna (schism) mongers to be punished severely. The cleric is directing his wrath on those people who are trying to create "fitna" (schism). Even after the votes have been recounted and proved that there was no irregularity there are people who just want to create disorder. Take for instance Mousavi. Until a few years ago this same man stood for the same principles which now he is opposing just for the greed for power.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  24. Tirdad from Toronto CAN

    These mollahs hiding behind Islam to advance their personal gain, they deserve a court date in Haig, Netherland for human rights violation.

    June 27, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  25. michael

    Dear John,
    You are probably not Muslim. You may not be Christian. You are certainly neither the judge, nor the savior. Please respect the fact that most believers in all faiths try to practice true charity and seek peace.
    – with proffered love and forgiveness, Michael

    June 27, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  26. Herold

    Islam is a religion based on mercy and compassion. You cannot attack
    a religion based on some misguided folks. What about the rascists who
    claim to be christian or the crusaders who massacred thousands of
    innocent people. We have to think first and not lash out at a particular religion because some people are msguided.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  27. Maziar M.

    What the Islamic regime is doing in Iran is not yet the "true Islam". It is probably still one step or two below the true Islam, which the Taliban implemented in Afghanistan before, and are trying to implement in pakistan too.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  28. Apatheist

    A religion is defined by how its followers manifest its philosophies in their actions, not by words in books. At every turn, evidence of what Islaam truly is can be seen through the actions of those who claim to be its holy men. Repeating to oneself at every opportunity that Islaam is a religion of peace does not make it so.

    The US has a short history as a nation, and one where violence has been used as a means to an end from its very inception. The fact that politican after politician has written that the US is a peace seeking nation set on bettering the world for all humanity does not negate the actions the nation takes to meet its own interests.

    Judge people and ideologies by action, not words. Self-delusion will solve nothing.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  29. Parker

    I like their Allah, but not their Mullahs.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  30. Jon

    I think this is Islam. According to the cleric rioters have disobeyed Allah and therefore must be disciplined. sounds like Islam to me.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  31. Kevin

    Thank you, Ms. Nasr. This has been exactly my question and way of thinking as well.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  32. Jane

    While I appreciate Ms Nasr's perspective, I am more inclined to agree with the comment by John Fullerton. My respect and compassion lies with those protesting in the street, but surely they must see that dictatorship is the true foundation of Islam. Freedom of expression is completely contrary to Islam.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  33. Salauddeen

    So Elisha the Maldivian is practising Takiya here!

    25% of the population of the Maldives consists of skilled ex-patriates working to make the Maldivian econony tick along. Yet these workers are denied the right to practise their religion – because in Maldives only the Maldivian form of hardline Sunni Islam is tolerated!

    I have studied the Kor'an (as well as the Siraat and the Hadiths) and can say without reservation: the sooner this religion of an immoral dead Arab is consigned to the dustbin of history the better!

    June 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  34. M. S.

    This is religion in it's purest form. Dogmatism of this kind is inevitable when one boils religion down to it's purest form. This sort of behavior is what one would expect when we take a medieval religion and follow it. Fundamentalist behavior and this kind of knee-jerk attitude is what can only be expected from religious persons. Why should this surprise us? Why do we look for mercy in a religion? "God's" will is only being carried out. It's patently absurd to think that religion of any kind is expected to behave mercifully.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  35. TD

    I lived in the Middle East for 13 years. What you see is what you get. Islam is cruel, brutal and treats women as slaves. I will never go back to any "Islamic country" again.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  36. Ghazalan

    Unfortunately, in these times, most people recite the Shahda with hollow cynicism and irony. It is used to punctuate a tragic event or random act of violence, perhaps to placate what the reciter secretly feels to be merciless and unjust.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  37. chris

    thats ok, im sure obama will denouce that kind of rederick from the cleric as being inapropiate, and then proceed to cut back door deals with him. go team obama!!

    June 27, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  38. Mehdi

    The problems in Iran are not about relgion or some fanatics. People of Iran made a choice in 1979 to put themselves in this prediciment, a wrong choice I must add. As an Iranian and a Muslim it saddens me to see what is going on there in a country that was once the pride of the Middle East. But what hurts more is to read comments such as the one posted by our friend John Fullerton. Ignorance is the biggest problem in the world and unfortunate events like what is Happening in Iran give some people the opporunity to spread the hate for Islam. Dear John Islam is not about hate, death or lack of respect for human life. What you percieve as Islam is unfortunately false. As a muslim being married to a Christian and having my longest lasting friend being Jewish I find myslf once again trying to educate people like you. Im not defending Islam as I don't believe religion needs to be defended and I most certainly am not going to defend the actions of the government of Iran as I believe it is an illigitimate government not chosen by the majority, but hope that you have the opprtunity to educate yourself about Islam and Muslims around the world and not judge a book by its cover. May the lord bless you with more patience and tolerance as the people of the world rely on individuals such as you and myself.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  39. Sir Craig

    Whether this is Islam or not is irrelevant – the result would be the same if it were some severe form of Christianity (so get over yourself, John Fullerton). The issue is not religion, but the cowardice and weakness of the Iranian leadership. If a governing or religious body was truly strong enough, protests would do little more than provide discussion/debate material. The governments of most Western nations are strong enough to endure protests without resorting to the government-sanctioned thuggery we see being done in Iran, Burma, Zimbabwe, etc.

    Weak governments, as well as weak religions, rely on threats and violence to persevere. That is why what is happening in Iran is so important: It is exposing the weakness and highlighting the will and strength of a people who seek change. We should encourage them to continue to fight for their rights and not break this issue down into some kind of introspection of religion.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  40. Ron Bennett

    Here is a couple of Tweets I recently posted on twitter sounding off on this ominus threat we will soon have with Iran.

    Watch out good hearted Obama the Iranian Supreme leader thinks you are weak, another Jimmy Carter??

    Iran don't sound happy "I ask the Judiciary to deal firmly and mercilessly with the heads of the riot,whose heads are in the U.S. and Israel"

    Will Iran let loose of their terrorist now just to get in another war so they can divert attention away from their murderous regime?

    Iran’s Supreme Leader is a liar, cheater, thief, woman beater, and murderer to his own people just think what he will do when he has Nukes.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  41. El Es Jardine

    This is human beings being human beings. Only thing relating to religion, as happens in any abd all religions or ideologies, those who hold the reins of power or sit on the throne, regal crown or turban upon head, is that some of these sorts of humans get to thinking that they are their interests are god and divine.

    LSJay de PAWA

    June 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  42. Steve Pounds

    I am the way the truth and the life. Jesus said these words. Only Jesus and the Christian faith offer forgiveness and mercy even to those that do evil to them. The evil that men do prove more than ever the love of Jesus. Yes there is only one God and if you want to call him Allah or Jehovah that is of no import. Mohammed was a great warrior and a great leader of the Arabs but he was not the Son of God and his preaching was that of a nationalist not a savior of the souls of men.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  43. Maureen Mower

    Funny, but the same could be said about many Christians in America. Those who subscribe to the fundamentalist view in particular, and their leaders (Pat Robertson, as one example). These are the people who keep claiming that America is a "Christian Nation" (thank whatever God you pray to that it ISN'T, lest we become just like Iran!), who think it's okay to take one life to "save" one that hasn't even been born yet, who think the war in Iraq is a "holy war", who call homosexuals "abominations", etc.

    If anyone wants to know why some of us fight so hard to maintain a "separation" between church and state in this country, just watch those videos from Iran. Do you want those to be YOUR streets?

    June 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  44. Submission or else

    I am aware that the word "islam" means submission. I picture that word in the context of the merciless armies swept out of Arabia, commanding submission to their new religion or death.

    That is why there is today a swath of "islamic" countries that still mark the extent of the Islamic army's march of conquest and terror. That is why half of black Africa lost its own religion and culture to a foreign Arab culture. That is how the ancient Egyptian culture was replaced by Arab culture. That is how the ancient and proud Persian culture became he Arabized "Iran" that we know today. That is how half of India became Pakistan. That is why the beautiful culture of Bali has been over-run by foreign Islam.

    The list goes on, and it goes on precisely where a murderous imperialist army marched, screaming "Submission or Death!"

    June 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  45. al

    A reasonable person would not agree with this Cleric. However, it should be remembered that America's government has occasionally shown brutality toward Protestors in America in the last 50 years. Americans have been beaten, jailed and killed in that period without cries emanating from foreign governments. Protestors at Western government Summits have been beaten, jailed and injured in the last 50 years. Only 6 months ago Israel slaughtered 1500 people, mostly women and children with only a mild rebuke from Western government leaders. What did CNN bring us about that? Nothing similar to the Iran reports and accusations. The Iranian protestors throw stones at the militia and similar to what Israel does to child stone throwers in Gaza, they are shot at. So let's forget the Holier than Thou rhetoric. There is a difference between peaceful law abiding Protest and violent Anarchy where property is damaged and people on both sides attacked. I am for Peaceful resolution to differences whatever the country.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  46. Jordan

    Are these the leaders that obama believes we can negotiate with? Our president needs to wake up. He is being looked on as a weak leader by the North Koreans and Iran.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  47. Analyst

    The more you try to insult Islam, the more it will make people to accept it. If, you want to learn Islam then go to the right sources. Not to the controversial figures from amongst the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. Soon, Jesus Christ will descend and explain the true religion of Islam.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  48. Zuhayr

    I believe the people who were demonstrating peacefully should not be punished at all. The people who rioted, they deserve punishment according to the law.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  49. Tim

    Religion has been used by extremists for eons to make excuses. This instance is no different. Just like the right wing here in America, the extremist Israeli groups and also the Islamic extremist groupss – the 'absolute word of God' (as they see it) is used as an excuse to further their agenda and oppress.

    Sad that we're still living like primitives and without rationale thought. What God would want mindless automatons?

    BTW. Funny you never hear of Buddhist extremists. I guess because it's based on being enlightened and not fear.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  50. emzee

    To John Fullerton: so does Christianity advocates the "Holy" Inquisition, Hiroshima-Nagasaki and the Holocaust? I don't think it would be fair or reasonable to believe that these historic genocides perpetrated by Christianns have anything to do with Christianity. That you make the same generlization and hold on to the same kind of stereotype about Islam is only unfortunate, resulting from either ignorance or arrogance.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
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