I have to admit to you that my anger boils when I hear about these situations and my mind goes to "Muslims!" The terrible extremism of Islamicists leads me toward the irrational and unChristian condemnation of all Muslims, including those in our midst, rather than focussing on the the perpetrators of these acts. And I figure I am a tolerant and even welcoming guy, having reached out to Muslim congregations in several communities in which I have lived.
I have found it really helpful to read Doug Saunders' book The Myth of the Muslim Tide. Saunders lived in an area of London, Great Britain that was "taken over" by Muslims. Except that he didn't see it that way. He decided to do his research about the wave of immigrants and it is fascinating. Saunders is not religious at all, and has no opinions about Islam as a religion. He is deeply concerned about Islamic extremism and views it as a real threat.
Still, he wanted to explore whether our concerns and fears are grounded. He discovered that in most Western countries Muslims quickly adapt to the cultural norms, usually within a couple of generations. The size of families decreases, children avail themselves of education, attitudes toward women change. While there are extreme religious leaders, in the majority of cases tolerance and compassion are expressed values within Muslim congregations.
Saunders discovered that much of the overheated rhetoric of anti-Islamic writers is just that. Rarely is the fear-mongering supported by statistics or sociological studies. Claims that Europe will be more than half Muslim in twenty five or thirty years is not supported in any way by population growth projections. It will be more like six to eight percent, depending on the country. He points out that much of the concern over "breeding like rabbits" and threats to values is eerily like a similar movement in America in the 1950's. Then it was directed toward Roman Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Europe.
Am I still shocked by attitudes toward women in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries? Yup. But I realize that many of the worst atrocities are committed by those whose hatred of the West is motivated by ideology rather than religious tenets, even though they claim to be devoutly Muslim.
Do any of you struggle with the dark side of responding to these extreme acts? Have any of you read Saunders' book?