Days of Extremism and Fanaticism / Fernando Damaso

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I’ve always deplored extremism and fanaticism, from wherever it comes and whoever practices it, because I consider that its roots are found in the primitivism and darkness, both totally alien to reason.

These days, especially in some of the world’s Arab countries, and in others where the same nationals are located the extremist followers of Allah and the Prophet Mohammed, faced with the screening of a short film of no more than fifteen minutes in which, according to them, the figure of the prophet is denigrated, have committed murder, acts of vandalism with fires, destruction of property and mass demonstrations completely out of control, against the United States and the West. It appears that the alleged offense has been well utilized by those who don’t want to lose an opportunity to declare holy wars, promote intolerance, practice terrorism, accuse as infidels those who don’t share their religious beliefs, and ask for their extermination.

Muhammad, being a human being, regardless of mystical attributes ascribed to him, shared the same physical needs of all human beings. In addition, I am sure that he accepted or even practiced, for belonging to the Muslim world, some of the customs belonging to it: discrimination against women, polygamy, inhumane punishments such as physical mutilation, stoning, beheading and others. All this is still practiced in many of these countries.

Others, more advanced, educated, difficulties, misunderstandings and tenacity, have managed to reduce and even eradicate the practice. Shocking, because it shows the human side of the prophet, it should not be cause for so much aggression. When, years ago, Jesus Christ was treated as a human being in the film The Last Temptation of Christ, although the Catholic Church protested, nobody thought to commit murder and acts of vandalism against its creators or their home countries.

These primitive manifestations, rather than uplifting the human being, denigrate and cannot be allowed in the name of any religion. Intolerance of any kind, must be combated firmly. Yielding to it led us to Nazism in the twentieth century and all its consequences. Do not make the same mistake. Everyone can have religious beliefs of any kind they desire and practice them, but there is no right to prevent freedom of expression of every human being, let alone to want to impose respect for one’s beliefs by force, by international threats and blackmail. To firmly oppose these irrational acts, in words and actions, as civilized beings, supports the religion they profess.

September 20 2012