Time to Change the Digital Dialogue on Religion and Violence
In preparation for writing this blog I scanned the Internet looking for images – and came across the horrific news of the Ethiopian Christians killed by ISIS in a newly released video.
As I struggled to digest the recent news from ISIS, I tried to determine what I wanted to emphasize most in this new blog – and although history seems to continue to repeat itself, one thing that is left out is the reality of the situations – religion does not justify the killing of others.Throughout history we have seen the repeated loss of innocent lives in the name of one religion or another – during the crusades, many Muslims lost their lives at the hands of Christians. Yet at no point in time have these values of death in the name of god held to the true message of religion – peace, alms for the poor, and understanding of the plight of others.
Baghdad was once known as the ‘City of Peace’ (Madinat al-Salam) – but that was in another lifetime. And today, even with the trillions of images that exist online, one would be hard pressed to find any images representing Baghdad and peace.Our media perpetuates so much information about the Islamist terrorists whose campaigns are sweeping the Middle East and North Africa – but what is often left out of the media is the distinction between Islamism and Islam. One of the first things that is important to understand about the Jihadi Salafist ideology that is sweeping the world today is that this is NOT true Islam.
In an effort to illustrate that Islam is at its core a religion of peace, I attempted to find images to display this for my blog – I was truly shocked at the dearth of imagery available to illustrate this point. One of the few stories available in the “recent memory” of the Internet that truly illuminated Islam and the peaceful nature of the religion came out of a period of turmoil – the Arab Spring. During the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, while Egyptians rallied together,Muslims stood guard to protect the Coptic Christians from violence during prayer – and the Copts did the same.
Every time an image of a group like ISIS or Ansar Al Sharia is reproduced, or clicked on, it only feeds the propaganda machine these groups are trying to proliferate. As they bastardize religion by using it as a justification for violence, they are at the same time killing the true peaceful nature of that religion in the minds of those outside of it – feeding the Islamaphobia beast – and furthering their cause against those for hating Islam.
Let’s stop giving them free propaganda. Send the ArchaeoVenturers Project your images of how Islam represents peace. Let’s change the dialogue together.