Beauties and Bloodshed

  Because of a controversial beauty contest in Nigeria, 220 people are now dead -- brutally, senselessly slaughtered. The blood began flowing first in the Muslim city of Kaduna, later spreading to the capital, Abuja, where the Miss World pageant was scheduled last week. Mercifully, the event was moved to London. Nigerian Muslims were first offended by the contest itself, featuring a bevy of scantily clad women. Insult turned to outrage when Nigerian editor, Isioma Daniel, wrote that Muhammad himself would have added some of the beautiful females to his collection of wives. I'm not going to join in that argument, because it pales into insignificance beside the 220 charred corpses littering the streets of two cities -- most of them innocent of any wrongdoing. News accounts, as they seem to do these days, carefully muted the most salient fact. We read of "battles . . . between Muslims and Christians" and of "long-standing hostilities" between the two groups -- as if both are to blame. But deep in the bowels of the story we come across the key to the trouble. We learn that the riot began when "Muslims gathered after prayers . . . and then stormed through town, burning cars and assaulting bystanders they believed to be Christian." There's no honest way to hide the unpleasant truth. These crimes were fueled by Muslim hatred for Christians. In their mosques, chanting their "prayers," these Muslims whipped themselves into a murderous frenzy. Their spiritual leaders egged them on until they went out to kill, maim, and destroy. Some Christians fought back, and some Muslims were also killed -- some as a result of self-defense, some by police, and some in retaliatory anger. Sadly, several mosques were burned to the ground. After all, it's a tragic fact that violence begets violence. But it's crucial to identify who unleashed the initial massacre: It was Muslims, filled with rage and willing to blame Christians for any and every social ill, real or imagined. To date, Muslims in Nigeria have vowed to cut of the heads of the sixteen journalists covering the story. We must call Muslim leaders to account, for these kinds of things are happening all over the globe. And Muslim leaders can't condone hatred and killing. What kind of god would command and applaud random murder and mayhem in his name? Maybe the Miss World contest rouses some lustful thoughts and even immoral activity that no one would condone. But beauty contests shouldn't generate a thirst for blood. I understand and agree with our national leaders who are doing their best to avoid blaming all of Islam for terrorism. We must avoid a confrontation between civilizations. We must keep the rhetoric cool. But at the same time we can't ignore Muslim persecution of Christians in Nigeria, Indonesia, Sudan, Pakistan, and much of the Middle East. William Buckley, Cal Thomas, and others have noted that, so far, we've heard no apologies from Muslim clerics for the constant outrages Muslims are perpetrating around the globe, no condemnation of radical Islam as heretical and blasphemous. These leaders need to stand up and condemn these crimes and criminals. If Islam wishes to be welcomed as a peaceful religion, it must demonstrate a peaceable spirit. For further reading and information: Andrew Sullivan, "Beauties and the Beasts: Islamists vs. Miss World," Salon, 28 November 2002. Timothy George, Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?: Understanding the Differences between Christianity and Islam (Zondervan, 2002). Timothy George was recently interviewed on "BreakPoint This Week," during which he discussed the differences between Christianity and Islam. Cal Thomas, "'Moderate' Muslims need to step up," Jewish World Review, 4 December 2002. James Q. Wilson, "The Reform Islam Needs," City Journal, Autumn 2002. Daniel Pipes and Jonathan Schanzer, "Militant Islam's New Strongholds," New York Post, 22 October 2002.


Chuck Colson


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