Fazel Muhamad, 48, holding pictures of family members who were killed in the attack. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad; The Guardian
In the past two days I have had three “curious” replies to a post in matangmanok regarding Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist who had converted to Islam. I have approved one of the replies to show that if there is genuine discussion needed on a subject I am willing to open the doors. But the two other replies to the same post that are now pending my approval have forced me to wonder if there is a new anti-Muslim wave I am unaware of.
I would like to invite the two people who have swamped me with these strange correspondences to please understand, I prefer to keep this space open for all who wish to contribute their thoughts without attacking another person’s choice of faith.
Mr Fulgente Antonio, I permitted your initial reply to the article concerning reports by Yvonne Ridley. Your follow-up is far too long and too similar to the other person who posted a reply on the same day, forcing me to wonder if you know each other in more ways than one.
Mr Jeffrey Lang, this is how your reply started:
It is really a pity that an educated British lady converts to Islam and fails to get to know the realty of Jesus, the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. I had earlier went through the same experience of being led astray by the PROPHET OF DOOM, Mohammad, but later I realized that was stepping into hell. I would like to list a comparison between the Lord of Light, JESUS, and the Prophet of Doom, Mohammad, so that the message would be made clear to Yvonne Ridley and all misled Muslims. I would like also to note that I have returned safely to the Lord Jesus and abandoned the bleak image of Mohammad.
Jeffrey Lang (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The rest of it, I am sorry to say, will take up too much space on my blog. I will gladly forward the rest of the lengthy text to anyone who kindly requests it.
I grew up in a now predominantly Catholic country. Before the Spanish colonizers arrived it had been largely Muslim, but there were many other belief systems among the myriad tribes. The Europeans stayed for over 300 years, and in that time countless lives were lost in the effort to convert the population to the lovely religion of Christianity. Numerous rebellions took place, villagers took to the hills to avoid being forced to accept a foreign belief system.
If you look at the history of religions – not just Christianity – that tried to impose their belief systems on others, you might just find that weapons of destruction accompanied such flag-waving campaigns. In the end the “triumphant” religion seems to have taken over the pre-existing one, but in fact it often gets changed as well in the process.
The “subsumed” religion, just like any organism, seeks ways of surviving in the most amazing ways. I dare say that animism and ancestral worship continue to bleed through the bandages of the Christian faith – one has to know where to look. Though that is a matter for another time.
For now these are the things I would like to mention. It is easy to wave a flag and brand someone. With that, the flag-waver and brander calls attention to him/herself. What cause are you fighting for? What box do you stand on? Or is that a coffin? Have you measured it?
Choosing a faith – or for that matter, rejecting one or all – is a very personal matter. And so there is an arrogance that carries with it a terrible blindness when one decries a particular religion, condemning every single person who might be its follower.
A few steps away from that dangerous activity is the closing of doors to a common humanity.