Okay, I think I'd like to join this discussion, as it touches upon things that are troubling me currently.
I am (at least I think so) a naturally understanding and tolerant person, so I have long opposed the views that some of my acquaintances are espousing: that Islam is dangerous, that it's a threat to European values etc. I've long said the same things that are being said on this thread: that you shouldn't judge Islam by the acts of the extremists, that most of the Muslims aren't a threat to anyone etc. I really, really wanted to believe this. But lately? I really am not sure I can subscribe to that view anymore.
For once, we have the issue of ISIS, which is currently committing horrible atrocities against Christians and other non-Muslim minorities in Iraq. We also still have the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan - who were very oppressive, too. We have Saudi Arabia, which is very conservative country, too. We have situation like that recent one, when a woman was sentenced to death by, supposedly, committing apostasy from Islam. We have women getting stoned to death because of having been raped. We have the issue of female genital mutilation and of honour killings. Not too long ago, a man was decapitated in Britain in broad daylight by two guys yelling "Allah akhbar!"... And these days, in Germany, there actually are "Sharia Police" groups walking around towns, promoting Islamic law...
With all due respect, that quite a lot of scary things happening in relation to one religion...
The example of Westboro Baptist Church was raised... But that's too easy, I think. WBC is an extremely minor group with views that no other Christian group shares. Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands people fighting for ISIS. The Taliban were powerful enough to rule a country. Saudi Arabia *is* a country. And there seem to be other countries... full countries of people... who seem to believe that stoning women for being raped or killing people for changing their faith is okay.
I mean, if there were whole countries that subscribed to WBC's ideas, you surely would say that they represent Christianity to some extent? And that Christianity has some sort of problem?
Also, it was said on this thread that Christianity isn't innocent, either. Right, but... honestly, what's the worst thing Christians do these days? Are there any examples of Christians decapitating people on the streets? Are there Christian countries that sentence rape victims to death? Are there Christian countries where stopping being Christian is punishable by death? More importantly, are there *any* Christians who actually subscribe to such ideas? And are there any organizations out there that are currently trying to build a Christian-only state by force?
I live in one of the most conservative countries in Europe, so I know what conservative Christians tend to do. And, as much as I disagree with them and am annoyed by stuff like the Catholic Church influencing politics, I must say the thing radical Christians do is nowhere near the things that radical Muslims do.
Also, I disagree with the notion that all the awful happenings in relation to Islam happen because of poverty etc. From what I know, there are Europeans fighting for ISIS - are they victims of poverty, too? Also, I've talked to some Polish converts to Islam - people who definitely weren't impoverished. And they *shared* some of values of radical Islam, like their belief that law should be dictated by religion. I'll repeat: these are the ideas of Polish-born people, who grew up in reasonable living conditions and in a democratic society! Ideas these people got because of converting to Islam!
Overall... as I said, I really would like to believe that Islam is harmless. But there's really a lot of bad things happening in Islam's name. So, I really can't help wondering (although I *hate* this possibility) if, maybe, there really *is* something in this religion that promotes violence and tyrannical attitudes?