I think all of us have those moments, where we're just completely flattened by other people, either positively or negatively. I had one of these experiences of the less pleasant kind the other day when I was browsing around on my facebook news feed page and came across a new album labeled "Muslim". It was more or less a photo documentation of a little boy having his arm crushed by a car as punishment for stealing some bread. I agree that this punishment is totally cruel (if it was real at all, since an oftentimes omitted seventh picture identifies the scene as a stunt and shows the boy completely unharmed afterward); what I deeply disagree with, and what had me fuming was the ensuing bashing of Islam by people who claim to be Christians but never even read the bible and talk about Islam and its values without ever having read a single page of the Koran. Even as an atheist I can say that I've read the bible and the Koran is actually fairly high up on my to-read list, just to be informed. This person has been known to criticize everything non-American without actually having traveled enough to be able to compare.
I am well aware, that Islam is by far not the most peaceful religion out there. The Koran explicitly states that the new religion should be spread, if necessary by conquest. While the Judo-Christian religion does not favor violent conversion itself, it clearly says that genocide to clear the country out of foreign faiths is the way to go (see the Old Testament, the story of King Saul). Given that Jesus had probably no intention of his teachings becoming such a world-wide hype, he would be outright appalled if he knew that people were killing and oppressing others to spread the faith (let's think back to the crusades and the missionaries in Asia). Even today, atrocities are committed in the name of Jesus. Let's just think of the current Iraq war; ex-President Bush claims that God himself ordered him to attack Iraq, which is probably the greatest crap I've ever heard (my personal theory is it was Chaney via the White House intercom system; Bush is not known for his high IQ after all). Thus, thousands of modern-day crusaders march out under the blue-red-and-white banner of their leader to invade and Americanize yet another country that does not bow to their demands (as we all know, the USA is God's chosen country, right?). Atrocities such as the torture of innocent people in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and the rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, who was attacked repeatedly by several GIs before being executed along with three of her family members.
But these incidents are conveniently ignored when it comes to bashing the obvious enemy: Islam. Cruel punishments that are executed by a backward government or even just lynch justices under the cover of Islam are dragged into the spotlight to denounce the whole religion. That similar punishments are written down in the bible are again ignored. It is further ignored that only about 150 years ago in Texas people were hanged for stealing a horse, and only during this past century people were killed for loving someone of a different skin color (even if the pictures portrayed what the anti-Islam league claims it is, it would look like a rather unofficially lynch practice rather than a punishment handed down by the government).
So my question now is: Do the atrocities committed by US soldiers in Iraq not count because it affected only brown people who are not Americans anyways and cases like those of the little boy are dragged in the spotlight to denounce a whole faith? Definitely seems like it. I know several Muslims myself, as well as Christians of different faiths, Buddhists, and people from all corners in the spectrum of atheism and agnosticism. And believe me or not, there are good people among all of those groups, as well as bigots who abuse religion as something to hide behind. Even though I am an atheist myself, I see all people for who they are, no matter their faith. I don't see their every actions as based on their religion, but as coming from their own free will.
Does the Koran say that for stealing a loaf of bread your arm shall be crushed by a car? I don't think so, since cars were't quite mainstream yet when the Koran was written. Actually, the maximum penalty for stealing under Sharia Law is the amputation of the hand, but this sentence cannot be handed down to a child, and not if something inexpensive was stolen, especially if food was stolen due to hunger (get your facts straight before speaking up!). Does the Koran have some punishments that are completely out of proportion under today's consideration. Definitely, just like some of the punishments in the Bible (which also supports mutilation for theft!). Do some backward people still apply them today to portray their power? Sadly yes, and this applies for both Muslim and Christian societies. The only way to get away from this kind of society is continued developmental aid in form of infrastructure and offering alternatives. But sadly it seems as if it is in the interest of the World Police to maintain the status quo in those countries, which then leads to complaints that those countries are the breeding ground of fundamentalism and terrorist activity (see: vicious circle).
PS: I also love the bigotry of certain people, who love to stress at any occasion how great and free America is just to turn around and oppress other people's opinion (= Freedom of Speech). I'm off now!