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My Take: Why Islam needs Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert at the 'Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear' in Washington in October 2010.
April 15th, 2011
12:57 PM ET

My Take: Why Islam needs Stephen Colbert

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Quick question: When you think of Buddhism, whose name comes to mind?

What about Islam?

A few nights ago, I spoke at the University of North Alabama on an interfaith panel that included a rabbi (Micah Greenstein of Memphis, Tennessee), an imam (Sheikh Ossama Bahloul of Murfreesboro, Tennessee) and a Protestant minister (Bishop William Willimon of Birmingham, Alabama).

During the spirited dinner conversation that preceded the event a group of us got to talking about the important role that high-profile public figures can play in breaking down religious stereotypes.

At the local level, for example, getting to know your town's rabbi can undercut prejudices you may have toward Jews. Having dinner with your Muslim neighbor can debunk stereotypes about Islam. At the national level, though, public figures control the conversation.

One reason Buddhists are accepted more often than they are feared in the United States is that when we think of Buddhism we think of the Dalai Lama and his trademark smile.

When we think of Islam, however, many of us think of Osama Bin Laden and his AK-47.

As aficionados of The Colbert Report have doubtless heard, Stephen Colbert has given up Catholicism for Lent. He became a Jew for a while but he liked that so much he guilt-tripped himself into giving up Judaism, too.

So a couple weeks ago he invited me onto his show to serve as his personal religion shopper.

I told him a little (you can't get too many words in edgewise) about Quakers and Hindus and Shakers and Jains, but when I tried to sell him on Islam he responded, “It’s got kind of a PR nightmare on its hands.”

Last week, however, Colbert converted to Islam in an effort, he said, to prove that moderate Muslims really do exist. It’s a gag of course, and he’ll be back to being one of America’s most beloved Catholics as of Easter.

But this gag does raise a serious question: where are the Muslims to whom Americans can look without fear or trembling?

There is Muhammad Ali, of course, and Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) but their heydays were in the 1960s and 1970s. And there are some current NBA players and international soccer stars who practice Islam.

But these are all B-list celebrities, at least in the United States. There isn’t anyone here like Stephen Colbert (who, by the way, has probably done more than any other celebrity, to repair the public image of Catholicism in the wake of the sex abuse scandals, at least among young people).

Until there is, Islam will continue to suffer from its "PR nightmare."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Interfaith issues • Islam • Opinion • TV

soundoff (369 Responses)
  1. Yakov Jagov

    In Islam, car-bomb drives you...

    April 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Yakov Jagov

      Is this on?... is this thing on?...

      April 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Chut Pata

      Hey what drives a Catholic? Why does a Catholic priest like twenty eight year olds? Cuz there are 20 eight-year olds!!!

      April 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  2. mikeaceshado

    All religions are about power and control created by men. There is no personal God. Only the Energy in the Universe. What you sow is what you reap in this world.................once you kick the bucket.............there is no one to shake your hand. Wake up suckers!

    April 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • B-52s

      You're living in your own private Idaho...

      April 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  3. conradshull

    A rabbi, an imam and a minister walk into a ... wait, stop me if you've heard this before.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Kyl See Ya Later!

      Incoming scuds!

      April 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  4. Dave

    There are hundreds of millions, if not more than a billion Muslims in the world.
    it's the ridiculously small minority who commit heinous acts in the name of their religion who make all Muslims look bad.

    Many of us non-Muslims, especially in major metropolitan areas, encounter Muslims in our daily lives and don't even realize it beause, Surprise! they act like "normal" people.
    There needs to be more condemnation from the general Muslim community. Instead of simply saying "that's not the majority of us" or "we are a peaceful faith," how about really condeming terrorist acts?

    April 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  5. kevin

    The TRUE FACE of a religion is the belief system and how the members of that faith reflect those beliefs in THEIR ACTIONS. Taking the modern use of a "pitch man" or "face" to associate a religion with is BEYOND IDIOTIC. I didn't even know Colbert is a catholic...AND I DON'T CARE. the writer of this article is a doosh.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  6. Chut Pata

    "There is Muhammad Ali, of course, and Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) but their heydays were in the 1960s and 1970s." If there was a Muhammad Ali in the 60's and 70's, there is Bernard Hopkins, Hasim Rehman, Amir Khan and many other boxing world champions. If there was Cat Stevens in 60's and 70's, there is Jermaine Jackson, Everlast ("Hey Now" etc) etc. As an added bonus, you have Dave Chappelle, Asef Mandvi, and Aziz Ansari etc as comedians, Jaleel White, Faran Tahir etc as actors, Fareed Zakaria and Riz Khan as TV anchors, and the list goes on and on.

    There are more Moslem celebrities today than there were on the 60's, but Islamophobia hides them well.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Kyl Driver

      Yawn....

      April 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • kevin

      actually...low ratings combined with little talent is a quicker way to keep an entertainer hidden from the public eye than "islamophobia". Everlast – good one... How bout the members of Third Bass – wonder who they pray too...oh wait...no one cares.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Bruce Stringbean

      All in the holy name of the "Profit"

      April 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  7. Brian Arthur Brown

    Mat I simply nominate the Aga Khan as the peaceful Muslim and completely reasonable fighue so needed in the world.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  8. johnrj08

    When he first converted, Cat Stevens got pretty radical. He hated the West. As he's aged, he's gotten mellower and has returned to music.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Gomer Kyl

      The name is Yussuf... Islam Yusuf

      April 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  9. Ryan

    So let's put a clown face on a religion so as to mask what it really is? It has a PR problem for a reason, and until someone of actual Muslim faith steps up to the plate to show the 'real' side of Islam I don't see that changing. Colbert can show the lighter side but that doesn't last.

    I feel like the author is still basking in the glow of being on the show.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Chut Pata

      Actually there are many more Moslem comedians than you realize e.g. Asef Mandvi who comes in Jon Stewart show. Aziz Ansari and Dave Chepelle have their shows. Plus US does not allow famous Canadian Moslem comedy "Little Mosque on Prairie".

      However you can not see them because then it will disturb your Islamophobia that you have acquired by watching evangelists and zionists, and would not want to lose this treasure of hate.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • kevin

      hey chut – we don't care how many comedians may know the cardinal direction of mecca while on stage as they shuffle for a laugh- something about your holy book espousing slavery or death to non-believers is really more the point of contention.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Chut Pata

      @kevin: You are confusing me with a Moslem. I am a former Hindu and passionate atheist, which became after learning all religions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All of Islam's barbarism comes from Torah. Go to the root cause. Go further back. The root cause is the belief in god/gods

      April 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • kevin

      well chutty - oh where to start - if you don't beleive in god, fine... then don't...i don't beleive in mermaids, but i don't espouse my non-belief as "passionate"....nor do i denegrate those who may believe in mermaids with derogatory labels like zionist or evangelist... if you don't believe in god, then your belief in your fellow man should be a little stronger than having to slap labels on them.... or perhaps your belief in yourself should be even stronger than having to walk around and labeling yourself. but hey – some people need labels so they don't have to think for themself.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  10. Sad but true

    It's all funny until some Cleric says that Colbert must pay with his life for his 'gag'. Islam kinda' takes care of itself in terms of PR; don't worry about it. Stick with 'green jobs'.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  11. Sean

    Buddhists don't commit acts of violence for their faith, eh? Someone should tell that to the Tamils :).

    April 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • stejo

      Fact check...most Tamils are Hindus. The Tamil "Tigers" actually attacked several Buddhist shrines in the late 90's, and really, really don't like the Muslims, but the Hindus and Muslims haven't gotten along since Britain left the area.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Chut Pata

      On tell that to the victims of Pearl Harbour. LOL.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  12. oj

    the solution is simple, a muslim only airline...

    this would solve alot of problems

    April 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Seig Kyl

      I'm Allah, fly me....

      April 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Me

      (and Christian day care centers!)

      April 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  13. WVLady63

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE LET THEM HAVE HIM!!!!!!!!

    April 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  14. Sidsid

    and you seam to suffer from you ego nightmare and you sandwich it with you intellect ... 🙂
    But you have a point there. Should know that Muslims are "raised" to be upfront and true to their intentions.
    Don't know ask Hamza Youssef he is good but I doubt he will accept for the reason I mentioned above.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  15. Why Am I Hre?

    Another fluffy Stephen Prothero flop: nothing to say but he said it anyway. Stephen, you don't have to write this as if it's an article in an airline's in-flight magazine.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  16. Tanzil

    Every human has its rights to do anything with his or her own knowledge. As far I know my religion Islam does not oppose that. All mankind has given power to make their own judgment and decision and Islam does not force anyone to obey or to force anyone to become Muslim. Koran and hadis is knowledge and information with our power and knowledge we should understand the beauty of Islam and its logic behind it. True way to become Muslim if you willing to submission yourself to Allah and truly understand Islamic way of living.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Seig Kyl

      Blah, blah, blah... talk to the hand!

      April 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • BG

      More mystical generalizations and convoluted, va gue, self-serving, propagandist bull-crap.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • BG

      Hey, Kyl, you don't mind if I use this, do you?

      #IntendedToBeAFactualStatement

      April 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Seig Kyl

      BG, be my guest....

      #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement

      April 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • bob

      go back to your desert towel head

      April 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  17. GSA

    HAHA! He said B-list celebs and that Colbert is an A-list celeb, I can't stop laughing. Him and whoever else think Colbert is some big celeb must be a bit mental.
    @Can You Hear Me Now – Actually @jedipunk listed a lot of athletes/musicians/celebs known worldwide. I have relatives in India, England and Italy that have heard of these ppl. Colbert is nowhere near these ppl when it comes to celeb status, unless he meant old, white men that think politics and bad humor are what life is about. I'm sure Prothero and @Can You Hear Me now also love watching Mad About You, haha.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Artist

      I know, I had to look up who Colbert was. LOL

      April 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Sean

      You are so clueless. At least do some research before you spout. Colbert has a unique place in our culture. He has a disproportionate influence on some sectors and you are foolishly ignoring that because of your prejudices. Get over yourself and look at the situation objectively.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  18. Artist

    No offense but is this the best story you could come up with. Another several minutes I will never get back in my life.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  19. jedipunk

    muhamed ali's daughter laila ali, dave chapelle, mos def, mike tyson, kareem abdul-jabaar, shaq, fareed zakaria.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Can You Hear Me Now

      What are you listing, more D list losers who are Muslims?

      April 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The Dalai Lama leading all those that follows his lies to the eternal flames, blotted out, no eternity for him or any of them that don't repent, ask Jesus for forgiveness and sin no more by following false religions.

      Amen.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Roth

      The Dalai Lama has done great things for this world, and doesn't need your bogus Jesus.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • MS

      @whoever

      I'd hardly call Dave Chappelle a D-list loser. The man was behind the most popular variety show of my generation.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Ralph

      That's great news for the Dalai Lama, HeavenSent! The highest attainment in Buddnism is to transcend the painful recurring reincarnations and just cease to be.

      And if you can judge which religion is right based on causing the least amount of war and oppression and torture, if it can be judged by which religion's adherants treat each other with the most compassion, peaceful coexistence, and cooperation, then you had better convert to Buddhism, because Christianity is a flopperoo in those regards.

      If Buddhism is correct, then Christians must reincarnate as annoying mosquitos.

      Yes, we all know it was meant to be your usual hate-filled poisonous Christian spite, the kind that gets people like you into heaven.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Eric Cartman

      @HeavenSent....... your religion wants you to perform sodomy to young boys. There by creating hell on earth for those boys.
      Amen my ass.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • stejo

      ah, Heavensent, your god (little "g") is such a f**ckng a–hole.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • EnochLight

      ..all B-list and "used-to-wassies"... Next!

      April 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  20. George

    I think the author fundamentally doesn't get it. Take, for example, this quote:

    "One reason Buddhists are accepted more often than they are feared in the United States is that when we think of Buddhism we think of the Dalai Lama and his trademark smile. When we think of Islam, however, many of us think of Osama Bin Laden and his AK-47."

    Wrong. The reasonss that Buddhists are more accepted is that they don't commit acts of violence in the name of their religion. The Dalai Lama is just the most famous face of this religion, that truly is a religion of peace. Islam, on the other hand, is violent and many Muslims are violent. When I think of Islam, I don't think of Osama Bin Laden, I think of the countless violent acts committed by the followers of Mohammed that continue to this day.

    Islam's problem is Islam; the public perception of Muslims is just the personification of this. Islam has never been a peaceful religion and that's why people don't like it. The only way it will be accepted is if Muslims renounce violence. Given that the religion was founded and spread by violence, I'm not holding my breath for that one.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • BG

      @ George

      I have nothing to add to your comment other than... VERY well said.

      But, for the 'author' of the article, I offer...

      Hey, PROTHERO - You can't keep your foot out of your mouth because you're a muslim mouthpiece, therefore it's a natural fit there. Give it up, Einstein. We've figured it (and you) out.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • MoHamMad

      CNN has become Al-Jajeera of US. Everyday you can see more and more appeasing to muslims.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • DaLe

      "they don't commit acts of violence in the name of their religion"

      No one does [commit acts of violence in the name of their religion]. There is violence in the form of corporal punishment (by law, in school, and in homes). And there is violence in the form of mostly criminal acts including what are considered terrorist acts.
      The perception of laws given by religion (broadly) or G-d exists, and there is perception of forgiveness for sins (or the possibility thereof when eg. a suicide bomb act is done as ritual), nevertheless the act of violence itself is done as reaction to something (corporal punishment), or as an attack against someone or something.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • shutupidiot

      Nobody has been as violent as European descents. Europeans killed Native Americans, Native Australians, caused ww1,ww2 (killed their own kind like no other), killed Mayans, killed Jews(holocaust), killed about every race on earth, slavery, bombed vietnam, laos, cambodia, multiple south American nations,African Nations, kill millions in Iraq, Afghanistan with carpet bombing, cluster bombing, napalm, drone bombing and Im not going to go to colonialism for centuries. Other people did kill but sorry the euros are a 100 fold ahead. I wonder why people dont classify them as the most vilest????

      April 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • shutupidiot

      1000 fold***

      April 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Greg

      When will the moslems start hunting down these al qaeda dogs? We should not have to do it!

      April 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • JRev

      Um, you have conveniently left out that Christianity is at the very top of the food chain with regards to violence towards other religions. That is quite a selective historical memory you have there.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • cpc65

      Buddhism is more of a philosophy than an actual religion. In fact, you can be, say, Christian AND Buddhist. A number of the major religions have even accepted this as you're not actually worshiping Buddha, just following his examples and teachings as to how to be a better person in life.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • EnochLight

      @ George: you're being way too single minded here. The fact is that organized religion in general and the people who follow it are responsible for 95% of the worlds ills, including corruption and murder. This is fact, as proven by history.

      It will never end, as it is in human nature to destroy and find blame in something other than themselves. Religion is just the blanket in which humans operate to give some sort of meaning to the insanity.

      Go figure!

      April 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • TorontoR

      George,

      You are a totally uneducated bafoon who has likely been fed anti-muslim propaganda from Faux News. History did not start when the discourse on muslims got highjacked over the last couple of decades by Terrorists. Look back into history beyond 1980 and see the mayhem, mass killings, genocide committed by "Christian" Europe.

      You sir, as do most Americans, need an education. You sir, are one of the reasons why the US is declining in its greatness.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Harlequinn

      Why is it that wen Christians committ heinous acts of violence (and many, many Christians have, for centuries) they are called "bad people", but when Muslims commit heinous acts of violence, Islam is called a "bad religion"? I really wish that people would take a look at all religious texts critically rather than emotionally – you would find that the Qu'ran and the Holy Bible both say MANY of the same things. Does the Qu'ran say some wacked-out things? Absolutely. But, then, so does the Bible. Do people misuse the Qu'ran to justify their bad behavior? Yes. Just like people misuse the Bible, the Torah, the Book of Mormon and Dianetics, etc., to do the same thing. The problem is that very few people what to have this rational discussion – they want to have an emotional arguement and play a game of "my god is better/kinder/bigger/badder than your god.

      As to Islam being a violent religion , I say there. Yes, there are some things in the Qu'ran that can be INTERPRETED as inciting to violence. Does that make it a violent religion? Only if the instances in the Bible where people are incited to violence makes Christianity a violent religion. (Leviticus, for example, offers you average adherent to the Bible offers many occasions where smiting or stoning your neighbor is an appropriate course of action).

      And just so anyone doesn't have to wonder, I am neither a Muslim, Christian, Jew, Catholic, Agnostic, Buddhist, Jainist, Mormon, Wiccan, Episcopalian, Raelian, Scientologist, Atheist, Anti-Theist, or practioner of any religion or organized non-religion of any kind.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Sean

      @ George
      I’ll add another, well said

      @DaLE
      Respectfully I have to disagree. Seeing as the person committing the act states they are in FACT committing the violent act because of their religion. Ala Akbar

      @Shutupidiot
      Please take your own advice. The article isn’t about race or nationality. It’s about religion.
      Also see my comment for JRev.

      @JRev
      Pointing your finger at another group / person is the tactic of a five year old. /Timmy .. yes mom I broke the vase but its only because Jimmy through the ball! /points at Jimmy.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • alboze

      By George!, you hit that nail smack on the head. Well said!

      April 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Dorianmode

      @shutupidiot,
      1. European "descents" ? LOL Ya mean the Europeans that "went down" something ? Did you mean decendants ?
      2. "the most vilest" ? LOL Did you mean, "the most vile" ?
      Your grammar is "the most vilest". LOL

      April 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Marmack

      It is all a matter of perception and ignorance. Ignorance itself is not the problem, however the arrogant adherence to ones ignorance is a problem we like to call bigotry.

      Facts:

      – Muslim fundamentalists have killed people in the name of their religion.
      – Christians have also killed people in the name of their religion (crusades etc..)
      – Buddhists have also backed and taken parts in wars and killings and been the instrument people in power use to force people into wars. (http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Sociology/Religion/?view=usa&ci=9780195394832) (http://www.amazon.com/Zen-at-War-Daizen-Victoria/dp/0834804050)

      Poor people fight for beliefs. Rich people fight for dominance.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Robert

      @DaLe, how can you say no one commits acts of violence in the name of their religion when there are plenty of examples of Muslims not only shouting "Allahu Akbar" when committing their violent acts but also justifying those actions based on Islamic texts?

      @TorontoR, Islam has a 1400+ year history of violence against non-Muslims. Perhaps you need an education.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Rick

      George, Thanks for proving once again that internet comment posts consist primarily of nonsensical garbage. Bravo Georgie Boy! Kudo's to you too, Rosstrex! Keep the crap coming...

      April 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Robert

      @Harlequinn, to Muslims the Qur'an is the exact words of Allah and is not open to INTERPRETATION.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • DaLe

      "Nobody has been as violent as European descents."

      Would you be able to name, without looking it up, at least a single event or person from non-European history (without European involvement nor from as-sociation with religion)?

      April 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Gbird

      Personally, when I think of Buddism I think of the Fighting monks of Shaolin. But if, as you assert, that the public perception of Muslims is the personification of Islam, why doesn't Islam rule the world? There are about 1.57 billion Muslims in the world and growing. Total world population is just over 6 billion. So you are saying that just under a third of the world's population is violent and dreligiously bound to jihad, but they're just really bad at it?

      April 15, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Sean

      @ Harlequinn
      For the record I’m an Atheist.

      Why is it Islamic apologist immediately start pointing fingers at Christianity? There are hundreds if not thousands of religions in the world.
      I agree Christianity as a lot to answer for. But in what way does this excuse the ongoing and near daily attacks made in the name of Islam?
      Both the Bible and Qur’an have scriptures that do indeed instruct their follower in violent acts. However when is the last time you heard of a terrorist committing his acts in the name of Christianity?

      P.S
      See my above comment to JRev

      April 15, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • eddy

      I believe that the real problem is not the religion, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and so on. The real problem is how people live them in a wrong way and we instead of learning the religion from their holy books try to understand from the people who claim they are doing it for one religion. Islam is a religion of peace and it is a very big sin to kill. Not only killing a muslim, killing another person is also a big issue in islam. Because in islam, it is told that killing one person is equivalent to killing the entire humanity as Christians and Jews also believe. But yes there are people in muslims, they are killing innocents and harming others, as there are Christians and Jews. These people are exceptions there are billions of Christians, Jews and Muslim but overall there are maybe several thousand of them are terrorist. So let's be honest and justify by using every bit of knowledge. We are all brothers and sisters, we are humans, we need to be unify it does not matter the religion, race, language, etc. Lets work it out and accept that there are bads but good will be the winner in the end. Thanks...

      April 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • TinKnight

      Bravo Harlequinn, just bravo.

      Seriously, nobody can name an act of violence by Muslims that isn't easily matched or surpassed by an act of violence perpetrated by a person acting in the name of Christ.
      Try it.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Cyrus

      George:

      I have to respectfully disagree with you on various counts. I am an American non-practicing Muslim, who have never committed any acts of violence against anyone and nor do I plan to. I am not a statistical anomaly. There are millions of Muslims around the world who read the same book, eat, pray, and mind their own business. They have nothing against people of other faith, nor do they plan to impose Shariah Law. Modern Islamic extremism comes from Wahabism, practiced in Saudi Arabia and propagated around the world by the Saud family, with whom, incidentally, our government(s) are pretty chummy. Evangelical Christianism or Mormonism are not the whole of Christianity, and Hassidic or Ashkenazi Jews don't define Judaism.

      Islam's problem is not Islam. Islam's problem is lack of education. I am doubtful that you are aware of this, but Quran requires every Muslim to believe in Jesus, Moses, and all the prophets going back to Adam. It's one of the fundamental tenets of Islam. Someone who speaks against Jesus (Christianity) and Moses (Judaism) and do not hold the Bible and Torah as God's words are prohibited from calling himself/herself a "Muslim". It's a requirement. Period. End of Story. But what you see and hear from the extremists is not about Islam, it's about the politics of Islam. It's about power, control, domination, and ergo, oppression.

      Some of the readers mention that moderate Muslims are not fighting the extremists. I would respectfully request you to travel and read about how millions of men and women fight Talibanism, Al-Qaeda, and their franchise in other Muslim countries. Our media, both liberal and conservative, have sensationalized extremism and the public distrust is mounting. When a 1,000 idiots on the streets of Pakistan dance after 9/11, that becomes news. When 100,000 Muslims rally to voice their support for America after 9/11, that doesn't get covered by the media. That's the nature of the beast. It sells and we feed on it.

      George, there about 10,000 Muslim men and women who are in our armed forces, and many of whom are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, defending our ways of life. It's rather uneducated if you criminalize all these people with a simple brush stroke, don't you think?

      One last comment. Quran says, "La Kum Deen-e-kum, walia deen". It roughly translates, your faith is yours and let others believe in their faith. Most Muslims don't impose their faith on others. That's why there are Hindus, Christians, Jews and Buddhists, still living and practicing their faith in majority Muslim countries. Islam is not Saudi Arabia. Islam is not Iran. And Islam definitely is not Osama and AK-47.

      Peace be upon you all.

      April 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • DaLe

      @Sean – Did you ever what they actually mean by that?

      @Robert – Well, they are not shouting "Islam Akbar", are they? Which islamic texts?

      April 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • DaLe

      @Sean – Did you ever ask what they actually mean by that? *

      April 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Robert

      @DaLe,

      the Qur'an and Hadith

      April 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Islam is a religion of peace and it is a very big sin to kill.

      Islam is not a religion of peace. What's the penalty for apostacy again? And how is that punishment peaceful?

      Please.

      April 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • DaLe

      @Robert
      eg.
      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/12/how-the-bible-was-used-to-justify-slavery-abolitionism/

      April 16, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • Anastrophe

      What was thew reason for the civil war in Srilanka? The Buddhists' oppression and attempted genocide of the Tamilian Hindus. The IRA used explosives in London in the 80's and killed many Brits. Colbert was right: if no Americans are harmed, it is not terrorism.

      April 17, 2011 at 12:30 am |
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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.