Editors, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Islamic group says media is unfair," Oct. 12, 2000
Achkewich's article is very well written and makes the important point that western media outlets tend to highlight the negative over the positive when treating the topic of Islam. However, if violent groups that victimize civilians in India, Algeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Israel, Indonesia and the Southern Philippines, for example, identify themselves as Muslim defenders of the faith, then what is the media supposed to call them?
As to the statement that "Islam advocates tolerance of other religions and races," all one needs to do is ask a Coptic Christian in Egypt, or a Buddhist Monk from Indonesia how much intolerance they experience to know such a statement is not entirely accurate. Discrimination on the grounds of religion in Islamic states is common and often violent. Refer to the Ottoman Turk genocide of one million Armenians (late 19th century), and the present Iranian persecution of Jews and Ba'hais, and the Islamic government of Sudan's war against the southern Christian population because of their unwillingness to accept Islamic Shari'a law.
Western people must understand that Islam is both a religion and a political ideology that can never be completely separated. To most practising Muslims an Islamic state is the ideal society. Unfortunately non-Muslims, for the most part, are not permitted to play an equal part in such societies whether Islam "advocates tolerance" or not.