A recent article in The Conversation by Milad Milani Lecturer, History and Political Thought at the University of Western Sydney, claimed that anyone can draw any conclusion about Islam, Christianity or Judaism as to whether peace or violence is promoted.
Can that general claim be tested? How many times have we heard a politician tell us that Islam is a peaceful religion? Is it the media's fault that we don't we hear loud and clear the moderate Islamic leaders publicly condemn the Jihad violence we see around the world or are they deliberately being silent?
Indeed many are what The Conversation calls "Cultural Muslims" and quotes number of these cultural Muslims who says - "What's faith got to do with it" - its about culture and family, not die hard religious belief.
These cultural Muslims may well be in the majority but sadly they do not control the larger militant agenda.
This is where a recent report and book by Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennels, an expert in working with Muslim youth criminal offenders, comes into play – he has written a new book entitled "Among Criminal Muslims".
In an essay supporting the book, A Psychologist's Experience from the Copenhagen Municipality, claims that devout Muslims were more prone to violence than the non-Muslim participants in the study - and states "Islam creates monsters" and in a study out of Germany supports Sennels' statement.
In my view, this is very difficult to "comment-upon" as the cultural Muslims are clearly unable to control the agenda in either Denmark or Germany.
The question posed – is what do we as a society do about this? We're living with - in our city's suburbs - a section of the community, unlike any other, out to do harm. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has at least said that any that go overseas to fight Jihad will not be allowed back into Australia and now new laws are being introduced to this effect. That's one solution. Exile.
Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennels in his report says Islam is different from other religion because the way it is taught to its youth in association with violent messages (in Australia we see such messages portrayed through our media). The claim that Parents inflict 'political violence' on their children repeatedly, and at the same time, deliver religious ideology has been laid claim over and over. Therefore, he says this behaviour makes Muslim extremists far more violent than extremists of other religious faiths.
I'm commenting on an international report and it seems a little harsh - that this is the 'norm'? Nancy Cobrin as just one example, questions these links.
With the Government now withdrawing (at this point in time) any changes to 18c of the Racially Dissemination Act, as promised prior to the election, it seems to me that such a report as this .... would it even be allowed to be published in Australia?
This is a perfectly reasonable question after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's speech at the Australian Christian Lobby annual gathering last week where he said he is a Christian that but that does not mean anyone one of can can vilify anyone else. Under Labor could a report as this - ever be published in Australia?
Facts are not an excuse to say, broadcast or publish. The Victorian case of the two Pastors illustrated this. But the report I'm commenting on is an International report, it is in the news and today's climate - it's in the public interest. This is so as ISIS is on the rampage - and the Australian Government is now front and centre against this radical Muslim ideology – even with air force raids.
Now the Canadian situation with the murder and attack on its parliament (seat of Government) has increased the drama of this entire situation even further. I'm not sure what Bill Shorten means by not vilifying anyone? I'm not a little frightened by what I am or not - allowed to write.
This International report
The brainwashing, as Sennels terms it, begins very early on in a child's life, and religious messages are repeated vigorously along with a heavy dose of physical discipline. It is this combination of pain and reinforcement, Sennels claims, that creates Islamic "monsters" who then feel justified in torturing and killing innocent people.
Sennels points out that parents want to indoctrinate their children into the religion as early as possible so that the kids will remain Muslim instead of looking to another faith—under Sharia law, turning against Islam is a crime punishable by death.
Sennels says constructive criticism doesn't exist
He goes on to point out that Muslim culture lags far behind in the "understanding of human development," and therefore, the techniques that Westerners would call child abuse are deeply ingrained and normalised among Muslim parents as correct child-rearing strategies.
Sennels says that in Muslim culture, the idea of "constructive criticism" doesn't exist, and any criticism of Muslim identity will result in extreme anger and quite possibly, physical violence. The Quran itself, Sennels claims, does not allow for the idea of tolerance, and calls for Muslims to separate from non-Muslims and view people of other faiths as inferior. This, in turn breeds hatred, Sennels claims. He explains:
The cultural and psychological cocktail of anger, low self-esteem, victim mentality, a willingness to be blindly guided by outer authorities, and an aggressive and discriminatory view toward non-Muslims, forced upon Muslims through pain, intimidation and mind-numbing repetitions of the Quran, is the reason why Islam creates monsters.
Yet this flies in the face of so many moderate Muslims, most of whom are cultural Muslims who live peaceful lives wanting to get on with things: earning a living, caring for their families, educating their children, and the rest of it.
Supported by larger German study, BUT
The report says that Sennel's remarks have stirred up a great deal of controversy, but a large study out of Germany, involving 45,000 teens, seems to support Sennels' claims. In that study, a strong link between the level of religious Muslim belief and the willingness to participate in violence was revealed.
Notably, the study's author undertook the project hoping it would prove the opposite outcome. Christian Pfeiffer, a scientist who works at the Criminal Research Institute in Saxony, said that he has been active in opposing any campaign to denigrate Muslims or other foreigners, and he was disappointed by the study results.
Studies and the opinions of experts like psychologists that show a correlation between Islam and violence are widely criticised by supporters of Islam, and are often described as "Islamaphobia" no matter how scientific the claim. My original source for this information came from UCI, then I tracked it back to the links above..
Not meant to be a pacifist religion
Supporters of Islam say that it is a religion of peace, and that it is no more likely than other religions to cause violent behaviour. In a paper put out of the University of Notre Dame, author Rashied Omar says that Islam is not meant to be a pacifist religion and simplistic definitions of the faith are reductive. Despite the fact that Islam is not meant to be a pacifist tradition, Omar says, "the history of Islam has certainly not been witness to any more violence than one finds in other traditions."
Islamic studies professor Waleed El-Ansary in an interview with NPR stated that the Quran forbids the killing of innocent people and sets clear distinctions between Jihad and terrorism. Jihad is considered to be legal war with set parameters and rules, while terrorism is expressly condemned by the Quran, Ansary says.
Muslim scholar Anas Hlayhel, an imam dedicating to eradicating Islamphobia, states that the Quran dictates peace toward those who also show "an inclination for peace" and forbids any violence toward innocent civilians.
In Denmark local jihads are welcome back and go for counselling and offered training in the trades and business as many have returned from ISIS disillusioned. The problem is that each successive year, like young Australians going to the UK as a rite of passage, so too these Danish young jihads are going off to kill and knowing they will be welcomed back.
More studies less clarity
The report says this is a debate which shows no signs of slowing down soon, and one that many feel - requires additional scientific study. But the more scientific studies inevitably will illustrate similar results and the same denials by Islamic academics.
The west for the large part had remained in denial until the recent ISIS crisis in Iraq (now all Christians have left Mousol – the former Ninevah). The Syrian authorities gave ISIS a strong military response and curtailed their destructive theocracy, resulting in their move across the border to a weaker Iraq - and have now established a very public Caliphate. Watch this space! Perhaps Andrew Bolt tells it like it is!
But is all this true in Australia?
2.2% of the Australian population are Muslim? There are more people in Baptist churches on a Sunday than this, but is the Baptist political voice reported and given media attention? What of the Hindu's and the Buddhists in Australia? On Facebook last week I saw Buddhist protesters marching (not sure where) and one had a sign: "Muslims are not only ones who live here"!
This is where the Christian community need somehow to step in to the breach as it requires a different approach that develops relationships while not becoming an accidental and incremental party to 'political Islam'. Christian wisdom is both love and strength and genuine and smart.
Then we hear 17 year old Sydney lad Abdullah Elmir turning up in a propaganda video for the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL, after disappearing from his Bankstown home in June, saying he was going fishing and some of the Sydney Islamic community distancing themselves from all this.
Next day on ABC Radio National's Encounter program we hear many from Sydney's moderate Islamic community saying it's not us, but then one young man says he is not going to change in any way: "Australians need to accept me as I am, that's multi-culturalism". In effect, this means the rest of society needs to conform to his version of Islam. For most Australians multi-culturalism infers give and take. It's this intransigence and no-compromise attitude that becomes so very repulsive.
It seems to me that we're hearing two very different Australian Muslim voices. But there remains a problem. This story illustrates the difficulty.
A couple of years ago now, I was on a Sydney suburban train and sat next to a Muslim gentleman. We got on well and he was polite and considerate as was I. But he was insistent that the Australian society gave his children at school such discrimination he needed to leave the country. No positive suggestion to find a solution was acceptable and nor would it ever be.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html