January 5th, 2011
03:14 PM ET

Opinion: Resist terror with more houses of worship

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

With the recent deadly attacks on Christian churches, the maniacal terrorists of al Qaeda seem to be aiming at unraveling the neighborliness among Muslims, Jews and Christians throughout the Middle East that has existed for centuries.

In Baghdad, 58 people died in a bomb attack on a church; in Alexandria, Egypt, 21 people were killed and about 80 injured in another bombing.

Of course, al Qaeda has not limited its attacks to Christianity. Before its attacks on churches, al Qaeda was targeting mosques all around the region.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Christianity • Egypt • Houses of worship • Iraq • Islam • Judaism • Mosque • Opinion

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. John from Ohio

    We live in a complex and dangerous world. That being said faith means many different things to all of us. Where we choose to place it has been the a bone of contention since human culture appeared. That some people feel so threatened in their faith that they feel the need to lash out at anything that appears different is both tragic and a troubling. Boiling it down to its basics, this is simply a matter of wills. Whose will break first, those terrorizing or those being terrorized. Unfortuanatly it means alot of innocent people will be injured, but I hope that for those being terrorized your faith leads you to stand tall, even if you have to stand alone. Don't give in be able to make your own choice as to what and who you put your faith in, don't be silenced or forced by fear into hiding your belliefs.

    January 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  2. Reality

    Muslims demonize themselves via the history of Islam as seen in their founder, an illiterate, hallucinating, warmongering, greedy and lust-filled, long-dead Arab. As long as the Worst Book Ever Written aka koran is the operating manual of Islam, Muslims of any stripe cannot be trusted. And this ladies and gentlemen is why Islam will crash along with its mosques someday in a whirlwind of common sense and rational thinking.

    January 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Neonix

      I can see two big hurdles on the path to lesser conflict. You and the extreemists you battle with your keyboard.
      You seem to have such an easy time grouping all Muslims into one catagory. Isn't a human being a little more complex than "all'yall look the same to me"?
      What you offer isn't a solution, it perpetuates conflict. Additionally, it's lazy and as a final point, it's cowardly. Anyone can spew rhetoric.

      You said: "Muslims of any stripe cannot be trusted."
      Honestly, I don't trust you. People with your line of thinking make me wonder why I put my uniform on every day. You just make me work even harder toward an already difficult goal.

      January 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Mark from Middle River

    "More houses of worship? No. More places of learning inclusive to all. Yes. "

    A school or univerisity? What about all female universities or all male ones? Should they be required to close up shop for their lack of being inclusive too all members of society?

    Last point to question your comment is that I do not remember a entrance exam or a requirement of paying a tuition to get into a house of worship.

    Frogist, you are giving examples of insitutions that are more selective on who they let through the door than any house of worship. If you do not think a certain way, in some cases be the right gender or "pay to be there"....than you can not come through the door.

    Until the day that universities do not cater to the rich so to implement and further a two class society, where the rich can have their children educated for the better paying jobs in society and the poor are stopped at the door.... that day your argument might hold to be true.

    January 6, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Mark from Middle River

      You said: "Until the day that universities do not cater to the rich so to implement and further a two class society, where the rich can have their children educated for the better paying jobs in society and the poor are stopped at the door.... that day your argument might hold to be true."

      Then I assume you will be voting for the Dems in 2012.?

      Curious in Arizona

      January 6, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      If Boehner does not run..... and Hillary whoops Obama's rear end in the primaries.

      Truthfully, us Republicans .... we are split and we are just waiting to see what Sarah does. So get back to me on that at the end of the year Davey πŸ™‚

      January 7, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  4. Frogist

    More houses of worship? No. More places of learning inclusive to all. Yes. The only way to counter ignorance and fear, which are always behind violent acts like these, is through education and understanding. So unless the churches, synagogues, temples, mosques are going to be multicultural, interfaith places, a school or university is a much better idea.

    January 6, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Frogist

      @Mark: It's often quite funny what you extrapolate from my posts.
      I don't know anywhere in my post that says anything about closing any places of learning. Or indeed closing churches.
      Also, are you telling me that a bunch of speciality churches who teach their members to shun their fellowman is more likely to prevent violence than an all inclusive learning facility? The fact that the the rich get advantages as a deterrent to offering education is preposterous. Especially in this situation. The rich get advantages everywhere, even in your churches. If that were the determining factor, no solution would be available. But at least an all inclusive school won't teach that your religion is better than another person's, and therefore they are lesser people for it and less worthy of life. Sure, there are issues with making education available for all. But that does not mean those obstacles cannot be overcome or that education is worthless.

      January 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "But at least an all inclusive school won't teach that your religion is better than another person's, "

      Hi Frogist.-
      The problem your continue to duck around is the point that until tuition is free to all then it can not really be called all inclusive.

      Additionally, the "teach that your religion is better than another person's, "... Well as a person who had to take a women's study and leisure class and also a psychology class taught by a known feminist , I will report to you there is enough "I am better than you" just within the same classes. I won't even touch upon the Black Empowerment classes they offer.

      The question is that I have been going to my church for almost all of my life and I have had the chance of visiting everything from Catholic to a Alternative lifestyles church in New York. I have yet to ever hear a pastor or minister ever preach how our denomination was better than another. I must take from your comments that you experienced such a sermon before in your life?

      Lastly, education, service to a community and people gathered in the name of God, to me all have purpose if used in a responsible manner. Each can be corrupted when the desire for power eclipses the desire for duty. To me a power hungry pastor that holds a grip over his congregation is no different from a college professor who holds the grips of power over his students.

      January 7, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • Frogist

      The point of the article apparently is "More religious inst!tutions = less violence". Except if the violence is caused by religion, you cannot solve it by increased religious presence. It's obviously not working now. How is creating more divisions going to solve violent opposition between religious groups? It's not. Unless, like I said before, your churches etc are non-sectarian, interreligious organizations and would include a mixing of the people. Not something the author prescribes and something very few churches here are willing to do, let alone in the Middle East.
      A school that leaves religion behind and puts all people in the same classroom, or campus would do more to promote understanding between groups than persisting in keeping them separate. Not to mention help pull people out of poverty by giving them more opportunities and a broader viewpoint. A free educational system would be fantastic. But if that is not available, how do you pay for it? Maybe the way this country helps pay for it – grants, aid, loans etc. It won't completely level the playing field, but it's a start.
      So no, it's not completely all inclusive. But certainly more so than any church or religion. It seems, with very rare exceptions, each religion teaches it is the best one, or the only one. That specifically means "I'm better than you." And no challenge is ever issued to such belief, because those who attend a church are there to follow, not question. This is the opposite of a school where debate is present and welcomed. You say power will corrupt anything. True. But this idea of "one true religion" is not a corruption. It is the mainstream of most if not all religions and a leading cause in division and between religious people leading to the violence we see in situations like these.

      January 7, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  5. OrthodoxChristian-J

    First of all, I agree that we need to build more places of worship. I truly believe that prayer can go a long way, so we must prevail and pray for peace in the world. NOTHING is impossible with God. He is why we are on this earth. We all have an important purpose in our lives, find out what it is and DO IT! Living without God brings no meaning to life. Read the Nicean Creed.. We fall down many times but must get up !Closing churches is NOT the way to go. God is testing us in this situation to see what we would do and perhaps he is also asking each one of us, how we feel about Him.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Peace2All


      So... when you say, "more places of worship," should I assume you mean– More Mosque's, Synagogue's, Buddhist Temple's and Monastery's, Church of Scientology locations, along with, more Churches...?

      January 6, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  6. CatholicMom

    During this advent season what could we want more than peace of earth and good will towards all people?

    January 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Only an idiot would believe that peace and goodwill will result from any amount of religion.

      January 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Gary

      @ catholic mom....nice post! I agree

      January 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Jeff

      @HotAir – you don't appear to exhibit any goodwill, and yet you're not religious. Hmm... logic fail.

      January 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hi CMom...

      Personally, I wish for world peace and goodwill towards all... regardless of 'any' particular 'religious season.'


      January 6, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • Nonimus

      Hear! Hear!
      (regardless of the season)

      January 6, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • HotAirAce


      But then I'm not a religion, am I? I have lots of goodwill – just zero for religion. Hate the sin, love the sinner!

      January 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Your name says it all…all the time! Yes, I did not mean that we should only want peace on earth and goodwill towards all people during advent but since advent is here, let's begin now!

      January 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  7. Gary

    Mark from Middle River..lol..lol lol Reality is awesome I love and agree with all his posts!

    January 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  8. Mr. Sniffles

    Believing that more religion will cure religious violence is like believing more drinks will cure drunk driving.

    January 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  9. Reality

    "Insti-tute for Social Policy and Understanding" ???? As per http://www.guidestar.org, the directors and CEO are all Muslims which definitely does not agree with the topic commentary by Mr. Iftikhar.

    What said group's policy and understanding should be:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" should converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired. Ditto for houses and classes of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues. Our policy is to make it so!!!!!

    January 5, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You are missing your normal 8 paragraph post.

      January 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  10. Mark from Middle River

    Cmon enough and Davey....as was said ...it is 2011. Its time to stand on the side of those that are willing to work, live and coexist together. To say closing of churches is all that is needed is close to saying hang all blacks and gas all Jews. It is time to drop the fear guys of those that look differently and believe differently than ourselves on all sides of the equation.

    Its time to evolve guys. πŸ™‚ There will never e a world where everyone will believe the same or look the same. Time to get over your hangups and just live your life.

    Peace dudes. πŸ™‚

    January 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "To say closing of churches is all that is needed is close to saying hang all blacks and gas all Jews."
      "close to"? only if you burn the churches with the people in them.

      In what world is closing churches anywhere near genocide?

      January 6, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Mark from Middle River

      You said: "Its time to stand on the side of those that are willing to work, live and coexist together."

      I believe it would be much easier for people to work, live and coexist together, if they didn't have religious dogma dividing them.


      January 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  11. Lex

    I whole-heartedly agree. I think it is only by demonstrating our faith (whatever it may be) can we show terrorists that they cannot destroy our beliefs though they may destroy a building. In the same way we should encourage faiths of all kinds to be present on our community, this would smother the terrorist sentiments right out of our communities.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Just curious but, aren't the terrorists just "demonstrating [their] faith"?

      January 6, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  12. had enough..

    cmon on people its 2011!! All religions are absolutely absurd and it would take extreme egotism, delusion, arrogance and stupidity to subscribe to any one of them wholeheartedly. One only has to think about the countless cultures around the world that developed gods independently of each other long before humans began to travel globe to realize that all gods are a result of mans ego, fear and lack of understanding. More places of worship is the last thing the world needs..

    January 5, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  13. David Johnson

    Let's think outside the box!

    Instead of opening more houses of worship, let's close all of them!

    We will confuse the hell out of the terrorists.


    January 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.