I have noticed lately that many people are posting anti-Muslim news items as a result of our current conflict with ISIS. I think this needs a response. Rather than using social media to increase anti-Muslim sentiment and fear, why not use it to promote peace?
While face to face relationships are always the best environment for conflict resolution and peace-building, social media is a reality in our current world and can also be used for peace-building efforts. So here are six reasons why spreading anti-Muslim messages is not helpful.
- ISIS is a violent aberration of Islam and needs to be stopped. Persecution of religious minorities in Syria and Iraq should be a great concern and protecting the rights of religious minorities is our priority. It is better to focus on these specific problems than to condemn all Muslims.
- Spreading articles that condemn the religion of Islam is disrespectful of the diversity within Islam. Not all Muslims are represented by ISIS. Islam is very diverse. Malala, the recent Nobel Peace Prize recipient, is a Muslim. Therefore generalizations are not helpful.
- Anti-Muslim posts place Muslims in the category of “other” and reduce the opportunity to dialogue and build trust. Any initiative that inhibits relationships undermines efforts to build peace between communities.
- Focusing immediately on the differences prevents opportunities to find commonalities and build relationships. While acknowledging deep seated differences is a reality in inter-faith dialogue, building on commonalities and being stretched to understand the religious experience of the other is important in our increasingly pluralistic world.
- The Bible calls us to respect our neighbor and extend hospitality to him or her. Part of this is listening to our Muslim friends about their experience and allowing them to share with us. We then have opportunities to witness to our faith through our words and actions.
- Rather than forward posts that condemn Muslims, why not use that time to pray for them – even to pray that ISIS leaders would turn from their evil ways and come to know Jesus, the Prince of Peace.