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How do we kill 'islamophobia' and 'anti-Semitism'?

Why does 'islamophobia' and 'anti-semitism' even exist? is it due to lack of knowledge about islam and the jewish religion? but now that it is present and here, what are the steps that needs to be taken so that it will all stop?

Topics: Islam jew peace
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    May 13 2011: "How do we kill 'islamophobia' and 'anti-Semitism'?"

    Evolve beyond religion.
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      May 15 2011: or devolve to its common roots in compassion, peace and charity that bind all of humanity and have done so for most of our time on earth.
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    May 18 2011: A nice documentary that gives a more nuanced picture of Islam than often is portraid in the media.
    http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/inside_islam_what_a_billion_muslims_really_think/

    I also think that highlighting Islamic role models would help. If everyone associates Islam with Bin Laden, I think Islamophobia isn't very strange. But what if we associated Islam with Muhammad Yunus[1] instead?

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Yunus
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      May 18 2011: Or Yusef Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), Muhammed Yunus' good friend.

      That's pretty good, Kristofer!
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      May 23 2011: Kristofer. The documentary was fascinating. Thanks for posting.

      I did find it to be a bit of religious apologism however. They tended to gloss over some of the negative aspects of the results. The fact that 7% of the muslims surveyed felt that 9/11 was justified is a bit startling. I doubt there is any other significantly sized group of people which have 7% believing that killing civilians to make a point is acceptable.
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        May 23 2011: Maybe it is a bit of apologism, I don't know. But I find it to be a good antidote to much of what I hear in daily discussions. And I do think that starting from a view much closer to that portrayed in the documentary, acknowledging that there are many healthy ways to practice Islam, and from there critizise the more extreme versions of it is much more constructive than to be outright "antiislamic".

        Most of my own critique of religion is in the same way as you expressed in another thread based on what I have seen in my daily life where I have had many Christian friends and once had a personal belief too. I were allways critical to how it was practiced and teached in a way that made people not think for themself and base their actions on irrationality, and I do see the damage this does to society.

        But even though I have lost my own belief, I don't think being rightout anti-christian would be very constructive because it would alienate me from the people around me and destroy the possibility of a healthy dialouge. In dialouge with Crhistians I rather find it much better to acknowledge that I still find very much of Jesus moral teaching very appealing, and from there explain what problems I have with it and how it is practiced. In the same way I think it is very important to approach Islam like this, and maybe even more so for Islam as I think many Christians already are accustomed to being questioned.

        Regarding the 7%; I do think that even here on TED the number would be higher than 7% if we asked if it is acceptable that civilians sometimes do get killed in war, rather than completly banishing wars. Framed slightly different, I think it would sound as outragous to many muslims as killing for getting a point across does to us.
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          May 24 2011: That's really a rationalization on the 7%.

          We are talking about the act of directly attacking civilians with the purpose of killing innocents.

          A belief system which considers that acceptable needs to be confronted.

          btw: I think the US spending on defense is also an outrage with inevitable negative consequences.
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          May 24 2011: Kristofer's view on how to handle people of faith is one I share. I really love of the idealized form of faith. I love the belonging, some of the ritual, the call to be an accountable person who is willing to invest in other lives and yet- I can not personally make it work within instituationalized frameworks and I cannot make it work within my own head to form a consistent logic. Believe me I tried.

          Having said that, I do not find any grounds to treat any person with anything less than kindness. I do not think that further alienation of people serves any purpose. Finding common ground is necessary for us to talk our first steps on that walk that William Ury suggested.

          Kristofer- I had seen the Haidt video before but the refresher reminded me of some of the reasons why alienating people just doesn't work. If many of our political beliefs and tendencies toward faith are based on innate personality characteristics. We are not doing battle with just ideologies but rather with modes of thought processes. You cannot scare or bully a person with very little 'openness to experience' (one of the 5 basic traits) into being less conservative. Their brain does not work that way. You get flowers to bloom with sunshine and warmth.
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        May 24 2011: Tim, my meaning was not to argue that it not has to be confronted. What I mean is that even though there are some realy bad stuff that falls under a certain label, we have to be willing to listen and consider also other aspect of it even if that which we dislike about it hasn't been solved.

        My comparision with war was not meant to put the two issues on equal footing or compare them on some moral scale. Instead I intended to say that if I at the moment I hear about inocent being killed in war turn a deaf ear to any other information about it until no civilians are killed no more. Then my ideas about what will be the right or wrong thing to do will be utterly flawed. And if I engaged in any discussion with a soldier that have returned from such a war and who joined the military with very noble intentions, I would certainly be quick to alienate myself from him if all my discussions with him would revolve around what I percieve to be the only side of war.

        But no questions about it, bad sides of serious issues has to be confronted.

        Debra, I simply agree with you. (But have reached the weekly thumbs up limit. Isn't it monday?) =D
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    May 18 2011: Here is an amazing TED talk which tells us how to find common ground between Islam and the world. It was an exceptional talk and a very loving Abrahamic approach.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/william_ury.html
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      May 20 2011: That was very interesting Debra. Walking together, side-by-side, we come to accept each other as human beings. Like it. Let's start hiking.
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      May 23 2011: This talk is fantastic, as is some of the comments throughout this thread. This conversation inspired me to create a more general conversation[1] aimed at exploring what is agreed upon by all people. I think finding such common ground is essential for combatting any culture related phobias, beacuse it concentrates on our similarities rather than differences. And I do believe that as humans we have more similarities than differences, but that we often fail to see this because our discussion very often revolves around our differences.

      [1] http://www.ted.com/conversations/3058/finding_common_ground_what_do.html
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    May 15 2011: Hi Debra, I understand your feelings.How can you not be scared if someone told you that you are denied of your rights? It is undeniably unjust.I have to admit that I am a feminist.So was the prophet himself during his time.I was shocked myself when I went to Mecca for the Umrah to see that women were deprived of their rights.Don't you worry.Islam is not like that at all.I can assure you that these things happen due to the influence of their culture.You could trace the history of pre-islamic days of Arabia.They kill their baby daughters because to them having girls in their houses is like having bad luck.Prophet Muhammad forbids such killings.So do you think the prophet would've allowed such things they call as "honour-killings"? I don't think so.
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    May 22 2011: There is no easy fix for this, because we cannot control other people's thought and fears. We can only be responsible for our own thoughts a feelings.

    I think a part of the answer is time- this cannot happen overnight, it will take generations. A part of the answer requires individual acceptance. Part of the answer is social connection (preferably real interaction, but virtual interaction is the next best thing) so we can see for ourselves. Part of the answer is voting for people who aren't fear-mongering war leaders... sooooo I guess democracy is also important.
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      May 22 2011: I think another part is really seeing that the 'other' is a human being worthy of your honest inquiry and careful listening. One branch of psychology that was trying to get rid of a lot of mumbo jumbo of its early years advocated that if we want to know what someone thinks - why not ask them?
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    May 20 2011: There is a difference between anti-Semitism and islamophobia. One is a rational response and the other is not.

    Racism, in general, is not based on anything. It is just like saying "My hypodermis is better than your hypodermis" and so on so forth. The differences between races are negligible and is not something that affects anybodies life. In a society like this we are more focused on what the person is capable rather than what his genes are.

    Islamophobia, however, is the fear and/or opposition to the islamic dogma. While we all know that each race is not very different from any other and we have good reasons and evidence for that, the islamic ( or, in my opinion, any religious dogma ) is not reasoned or based on any real foundation.

    First of all, islamophobia is a fear/opposition to an idea/dogma while anti-semitism is the intolerance/hate for a class of people. Ideas are not one and the same with people. Ideas should be subjected to scientific inquiry to see if they hold. The absurdities that exist in most religion dogma is corrosive to a society that needs to adapt.

    The way to distinguish fact from fiction is by dissecting each idea to see if it is real or just imaginary. Anti-semitism has a more ethnic connotation while islamophobia has an ideological one.
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      May 21 2011: Hold on now Loop Johnny, I wish to challenge your lines of dissection.
      The person who framed this question is not a native English speaker and was trying to equate religious intolerance that both faiths tend to have to deal with.

      You suggest that all there is to antisemitism is race and that is just not accurate. Many people have equal fears for both religious perspectives based on religious ideologies- not race. The fact it that their texts have a good deal overlapping and it is those particular texts and their interpretions that strike fear into some hearts.
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        May 21 2011: Anti-Semitism has a racial layer to it, over the ideological one. Islamophobia is mostly centered around religion and the dogma. Anti-Semitism is a broader term.
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          May 21 2011: I can acknowledge that position but racial profiling would argue that the Islamic people are an even more recent example of the point you are making on behalf of the Jewish nation. For the purposes of this discussion would you agree that the questioner can frame the issue as he chooses to illuminate the potential for finding common ground and working toward peace?
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        May 22 2011: @Debra

        Peace and dogma usually don't go well together. I do not discriminate for race. I just cannot tolerate ideas that are irrational and without foundation.
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          May 22 2011: I really believe that human beings just tend to get educated on one prejudice (or even shamed into not doing it because it is politically incorrect) and then they take that negative energy and move it along to the next hated group. Today that means it is OK to hate (or at least intellectually distain) Muslims and fat people. When we are enlightened on those two- which do you think will be the next two?
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    May 20 2011: Hi Zainal , you can make a difference here (even its samll) =)
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    May 15 2011: Here's the pastor's joke:

    A husband and wife go to the doctor to investigate the husband's failing health. After the exam, the doctor asks the wife for a private conference regarding her husband. He says,

    "I'm afraid it doesn't look good. Your husband is going to die, very soon, unless you listen to me very carefully and do exactly as I say."

    Wife, "okay, I'm listening"

    Doctor; "Every morning you need to get up very early. Don't disturb your husband, let him sleep as long as he wants. Cook him a good hearty breakfast. Then let him take a mid-morning nap. While he is napping, prepare a tasty lunch as he does as he pleases, then after lunch do all the errands, keep the house clean, the kids quiet, and above all don't require him to do anything strenuous or stressful. It's very important his mind is a peace. Cook him a hearty, well-rounded dinner with dessert, and afterwards turn down the sheets, fix him a drink, and make sure you demonstrate your love for him every night *wink wink."

    When the conference is done, the wife and husband walk out to the car and the husband asks with concern,

    "so what did the doctor say? Is there something wrong with me?"

    And the wife replies,

    "Your going to die."
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    May 15 2011: dear debra, from what i heard, honour killings is a culture that is not to be mistaken for religion.If it is Islam that you are talking about, woman are not denied from their rights.These cases that you heard about is not religion at all.How can God create man and woman and deny the rights of one of them? Some tribes or clans in some countries have created this barbaric cultures that they say is passed down to them from heaven.The truth is its not at all like that.In Islam, woman are encouraged to get as much knowledge as possible ( you should probably read about Aisha bint Abu Bakr, here's the link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aisha ).Who says they can't drive? thats absurd! of course they drive...Take Malaysia for example, the female varsity students outnumber the males and they drive around too!!! =) have a nice day.
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      May 15 2011: Hello Muhammad, Thank you for sharing your views with me.
      I appreciate your input and insight.
      My experience is with the country that appears to me to be the foundation place of the Islamic faith- Saudi Arabia. I am shocked too because it is my understanding that the original Muhammad had wives who were highly educated, in business and considered by him to be his equals. They were under no complusion to cover themselves completely either as I understand it.
      I am sharing from one culture to another my fears in answer to the question you posed. How can you eleviate my fears? Just talk to me and tell me what you believe and how i can understand the differences between interpretations that I perceive to threaten my place on this planet.
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      May 15 2011: Muhammad.,.thank you for laying out these specifics of Islamic law,.sharia. may I be so bold as to add that .women had rights of inheritance and property rights under sharia long before western culture had that. that is why my first comment in this conversation was for each participant to get informed to..read the Qu'aran.in community.rethink history and the ways in which religion has been manipulated to carry on political, economic and exploitative action. A few winters ago we did that here on the island. At first it was amazing how much fear of muslims and muslim intentions dominated the discussion but slowly,,week by week we actually read and discussed the Qu'aran and it become more and more apparent there are no difference in the teachnigs--they are all about peace, compassion, charity. That is why I included the quote from Muhammad's last sermon. Hoping a few facts might take people out of their fear of Muslim people and consider what is really going on.
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    May 14 2011: Think Human & be Humane in practice.
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      May 15 2011: yes Salim..think human and be humane in practice..that is what is what Jesus taught, what Mohammaed spoke, what Buddha and confuscious taught, what most indigenous peoples hand down as their core values. In these values we can unite. In these values we can live in peace.
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      May 15 2011: Now that is something I can get behind! Thank you Salim!
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    May 13 2011: I see the author is a Muslim from Malaysia. I lived with a Malaysian Muslim friend of mine in college. She was always cooking something wonderful, very out-going and friendly. What I remember most was her amazing Ramadan potluck celebrations where 100+ people from all faiths and cultures came together to party.

    I recall a Swede, several Chinese and Germans, many Hindu Indians, Native American Indians, a few Japanese, a Brazilian Catholic, Jews, Italians, and seemingly every Muslim in Bozeman :) I can't forget about the South African- his accent made all the girls swoon.

    Sue served as a catalyst for acceptance and understanding other peoples/faiths, as can anyone if they make the effort. If you don't actually bring people of different faiths together (via social media as well) we never have the opportunity to realize we are all human beings with faults, desires, fears and love, etc.
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      May 14 2011: Laura! I am so enriched by your story. Thanks for taking the time to share it. I hope you email your friend and tell her she is inspiring the world today!
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      May 16 2011: Hi Laura - great - we need more of that !

      How do we get this through to so many other people who look at Muslims in a different light. I have lived in Malaysia for 2 years and love what this cultural diversity offers.

      Once we realise that we are all just people living our lives the world would be a better place.
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    May 22 2011: As far as I see it, my question here is still unanswered!!!!!!!!! come on Ted-sters !!!!!!!! Help me here!!!!!!!! =)
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        May 22 2011: Dear Loop,

        You simply don't know what you are talking about.How would you know if Islam is the worst and most dangerous religion out there.You say it without proof.If islamophobia stays, then world peace will probably cease to exist because you say it without understanding it.Please be reasonable ,Loop.You have a nice day,ok.
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        May 22 2011: The Bible is also full of violence and justification for atrocities. Some Islamic sects preach the terrible things, just some Christian sects preach violence and hatred. Ever seen the documentary, "Jesus Camp?"

        You seem to hold the very views on the subject that people like Mohammad and I are trying to overcome.
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        May 23 2011: Dear Loop,

        I hope you understand what Laura is trying to tell you. My message to you is that , no matter what your faith are, hand-in-hand, we can achieve peace together.Please put your hatred and fears away, it will set you free.Have a nice day.
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    May 16 2011: Why are we straying from the topic? I hope that all TED-sters would be kind enough to help me get the answers for this particular question.Please be open-minded and don't be scared to voice out your opinions.May peace rule the world!
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      May 16 2011: Dear Muhammad,

      These words of yours give me a lot of hope for the future!
      God himself is quoted as saying: 'Come and let us reason together' in one version of Abrahamic texts.

      Assalamu alaikum
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        May 16 2011: Waalaikum salam Debra,

        No matter what happens, I want you to know that God always love you.I am always here to be your friend.I hope and pray for your happiness.I will never judge you based on your religion, skin colour or race.I am always here if you need help.Though I am far away from you, I am always here to comfort you and push away all your fears.Have a pleasant day.
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          May 18 2011: Muhammad, I have just spent two days in a happy sense that the world will be alright because of your last few posts.

          I have a few more questions for you and they are somewhat challenging on this same topic' " How do we reduce or eliminate Islamaphobia or antisemetism" as it intersects with human rights.

          Would you rather I posted them here for discussion or that I emailed you through TED with my questions?
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        May 19 2011: Dear Debra, you can do both if you want.Which ever that is easy for you.I will check my e-mails and look out questions coming from you in TED.I thought that you have forgotten all about me since you were gone for two days.But I'm glad that you are here now and I am glad that you are happy.Have a nice day, Debra.
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        May 19 2011: How do we reduce or eliminate Islamophobia or anti-Semitism as it intersects with human rights? My answer would be to understand the teachings of the religion on a first-hand basis.Don't ever fully believe what is coming out from the news.Simply find articles or books that is related to the religion.If you question about human rights, you should probably find a book that explains about human rights according to the religion itself.Then can we fully understand why Islamophobia or anti-Semitism intersects with human rights.I really can't explain human rights according to Judaism( although I wish I could).But if it is about human rights according to Islam, I will give you the link, http://spiritofcordoba.org/articles/32-free-and-equal-under-the-quran.html .I know this doesn't fully explains what are the human rights in Islam,but do consider it as an introduction to the answer of your question.If we fully understand the explanation of the religion itself,then can we reduce the fear against it.
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          May 22 2011: Muhammad, I finally got around to viewing and reading the document you provided above. It went some way toward lessening my fears about the view of women in the Qur'ran. I really appreciate how reasonably you have dealt with me, my honest questions and my serious fears. Step by step- I guess this is the way that we reduce Islamophobia.
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        May 22 2011: Debra, I am glad that you are starting to know what Islam really is.Women are important in my religion.They should NOT be treated as if they are some kind of an animal.They have the right to live as free as possible but not doing anything against the teachings of Islam.That is what the imam here tells me.But I am still afraid knowing that many out there still believes that it is a religion of hate and war although it is the exact opposite.This makes me very sad.I am the only one here standing up for my religion.No, I am not here for war.I am here for global peace and love.But with your support, I am sure that one day, Islamophobia can be gone for good.Do help me here Debra.Tell them that peace can be achieved and Islam is a religion of peace and love.May peace rule the world.
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          May 22 2011: When we started our discussion my real experience of Islam went beyond newspapers and into Saudi Arabia. As my son and daughter-in-law lived there working for the Canadian embassy and I sent two of my other children to stay with their brother for 2 months each. Even with diplomatic immunity my daughter-in-law lost all her rights there because she was a woman. While I do not know enough to act as an advocate for Islam this is what I can say.

          What I have learned from our highly engaged discussion is:

          1) you are a kind soul with an earnest desire to live peacefully and to promote peace.

          2) There are other ways to be Muslim than is practiced by the Saudis - and that is just like many faiths where people divide themselves along doctrinal lines. There are Orthodox Jews and reformed, there are fundamentalist Christians and liberal ones.

          3) I still feel that many literal interpretations from all Holy books present a potential danger to peaceful people everywhere and most especially to women.

          4) The TEDx talk by William Ury a world reknown mediator tells us all how we can move toward peace and away from such phobias and misunderstandings:

          http://www.ted.com/talks/william_ury.html
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        May 22 2011: Dear Debra,

        I understand completely your points here.In the local newspapers today says that Saudi Arabia are one of the most strict Islamic country in the world.It saddens me more to know that people make them as the symbol of Islam.It should not be like that.There can be no one representing Islam as a whole.Then there will be justice.When there is justice, there will be peace and love.And worst is that people just can't see that Muslims are capable of advocating peace and love.I truly hope that our friendship here shows that Islamophobia is really unnecessary in today's world.Have a nice day Debra.
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    May 15 2011: Is that so Debra? Such things is not allowed at all in my country.Well, my only advice to her is to move to Malaysia! And for you, I would like to say that I understand your fears and I will pray from far that your worries end as soon as possible.I plead to you not to blame Islam for this because the laws imposed on them are not Islamic at all.Its their culture.Do take care.
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    May 15 2011: And one more thing Debra,this is what I've always wanted to share with everyone : Whenever you would want to talk about any religion, you should NOT see the ones who profess it(because they are humans and humans have flaws) ,rather you should see the religion itself first.Read the Quran if you are interested.Don't worry because I am not trying to convert you into Islam.I just hope that you will understand it better.It is so nice to be friends with you ,Debra.
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      May 15 2011: Dear Muhammad,

      I would deeply value your friendship.

      I am spooked by life in Saudi Arabis and I guess I thought it was like understanding Roman Catholisicm by being in Rome.

      My son lived there for almost four years. He is married to the love of his life. My daughter-in-law is a brilliant woman, a diplomat in her own right who has been in their profession a year longer than my son has. Even though she carries the red passport and has full diplomatic immunity- the Saudi's reserved the right to beat her just like any other woman if she did not comply with the Mullah's rules.

      YOU BET SCARED IT ME!

      She could not drive, had to cover her entire body, had to get permission from my son (a year younger in both age and profession) to travel for her job. I sent my daughter over to work in the embassy there for the summer to be with her brother and sister-in-law. When she returned she brought her abya back with her. It even had a flap that had to come down to cover her eyes if a man approached!

      So thanks for helping me address my worries and fear, I want to love and respect all people but not at the expense of all women. Women have only had rights in this world for less than 100 years. I do not want to risk what we have earned by blood and sacrifice to anyone for any reason. I see woman as not only half of humanity but as a driving force of life and love on this planet.
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    May 15 2011: one more thing that i would like to add.I speak only for Islam according to the muslim's perspective of islam in malaysia.I dont speak for any other religion or cultures.
  • May 15 2011: Much of the trend of the conversations in response to this very thoughtful and important question seems to be a well-thought out (and by well thought out I meant previously thought out) rant against religious institutions and organisations, which is all well and good for some, but it hardly addresses the question, and even may go against the substance of the problem at hand.

    The real question, as I see it, and I concede I may miss the author's intention, is about hate and fear of other peoples, cultures, and ideals, specifically of those who subscribe to the faiths of Islam and Judaism. The solution, if there is a single one, which I do not see there as being, is not to bash and dissent against the religions from which and against which such hate and fear may undoubtedly occur; it is to promote dialogue between the individuals within and around those faiths, to promote the acceptance of individuals, regardless of what position they're born in, or how they choose to develop themselves as people.

    Bombasting the institutions that traditionally have promoted violence and intolerance is not the solution, as some may believe, it's just more of the same in different guises, a wolf in sheeps clothing. Unfortunately, it is within human nature to be cruel, to do evil, to err, as all religions teach us. It is in human nature as well to overcome those features in time. Religion has many good and necessary functions for human beings. Religions teach us how to be good, how to treat other people, give us a sense of purpose and a larger place in a community.

    If individuals are to move forward towards peace and harmony, then religions must as well. It is not enough to accept people who are similar to us, be it in religion, race, nationality, or any other component that makes us who we are. We must accept individuals as they are, and treat people as persons. Only through discourse is this possible, and the knowledge that underneath the surface, we are all human beings.
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      May 15 2011: Nate, you have expressed your opinion well.
      As a person with the fears (phobias) that we purport to be addressing (actually as phrased: killing), I'd like to ask you how I simply dismss that -as you say "Religions teach us how to be good, how to treat other people, give us a sense of purpose and a larger place in a community. " when they teach that I am not fully human and do not accord me and my sisters and daughters and mothers human rights?

      Were you aware that there were 12 honour killings of women in CANADA since 2002? This attitude toward women follows relgious traditions to new places and new societies. My gender represents 50% of humanity. That is hardly a number that should be dismissed or a minor faux pas when denying us our human rights.
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        May 16 2011: Hi Debra

        How can we ever expect to help our sisters of the world when we put their societies down, this does not open the door for any dialogue and offers no where for them to go for help and support.

        I think we must put our own emotions aside and meet people in the middle. I too so believe in women's right's and have worked on and off for years in Asia, plus supporting NGO's that help women have options in their world.

        The deaths of those women or any 1 woman is real tragedy and should never be dismissed, but we must consider our approach to this sensitive subject. As we have already discovered time and time again fighting against this does not help anyone, this only put our women sisters in danger.
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          May 16 2011: Hi Christina,Thanks for taking the time to respond to me and I appreciate your sense of fairness and wish for harmony. Having read some of your other postings, it becomes clear that you consider opinons like mine to be uneducated. Perhaps as you read some of my other posts (I see also that you are new to the forum) you might see that is not quite the case.

          Putting societies down has never been my style. I do believe in engaging people where ever possible in honest- not mincing- but honest dialogue to ask the sincere and hard questions. If we cannot do so here in an open and honest fashion- we leave it to work itself out in the arena of clashing societies - and I am willing to take the issue on with honest directness in order to prevent that. If an approach by a religious group has the potential to take away my human rights or the rights of others (as in 50% of humanity)- there needs to be above board and vivid discussion of the issues. I do not thiink that cooperating with the clearly stated position on slavery that was taken by many churches and which that promoted the utter denial of human rights for that group was good either. It needed to be challenged.

          I do, however admit that my experience is with Saudi Arabia- the most fundamental version of Islam. I also admit I have much to learn- but learning starts by asking the hard questions- not by pretending that they do not exist. Your experience is apparently is of a much more moderate society where only one branch of Islam is practiced. I also sense that it is a lovely culture full of vibrancy and civility.
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        May 20 2011: Hi Debra

        The problem I see is with your approach, not that you are uneducated. Your way, the values and methods you have outlined is of course admired, respected and get results in the Western World.

        When dealing with people from outside our own culture we must adjust our approach to ensure we connect and communicate effectively.

        In Asia (in general) an expected, admired and respected approach is achieved by 'not making the other party lose face'. Which the Western viewpoint can consider as 'pussy footing around', 'not getting straight to the point' and 'wasting time'. Realistically the outcome is the same but the process is different, and with your approach I cannot see that it would benefit anyone as you will get frustrated and the other party will not be forthcoming with information.

        I have not experienced Saudi Arabia to date and yes Malaysia is a wonderful multicultural country which I have the privilege to reside in. But I have been in Asia for 14 years and with my work, travel and interest in helping others I watched many unfair practices, seeing many things regarding poverty and prostitution.

        I do not deny that these exist, I just prefer to be part of the movement that opens subjects up for discussion, offering solutions to problems from outside of the box.
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          May 20 2011: Hi Christina!

          I consider it a gift that you took the time to share your approach with me and it has much wisdom in it. You might be hearted to know that even with the approach I have taken- I have formed a fast reciprocal friendship with Muhammad Aizait based on the idea of an open exchange of ideas. Some environments allow for more direct approaches than others do and you rightly point that out.

          I am planning to move to China in the near future and I will carry your thoughful advice with me. Again, Thank you for caring enough to share your thoughts with me.
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        May 21 2011: Hi again Debra

        Thank you for your note and kind words.

        China is seriously awesome !!

        You might find this interesting as it is a very quick overview of the differences between German's + Chinese, but it could be Westerner + Chinese. It is on my website : http://www.we-are-expats.com/culture-culture-shock/cultural-differences/

        Safe travels + If you make it to Malaysia, let me know.
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          May 21 2011: Loved the video and the graphics that made words unimportant.
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      May 16 2011: Hi Nate

      Thank you for your wisdom - we are all people and it is about time that we all took a breath and started putting the human kindness back into the human kind.

      The rip - tear and bust approach is outdated and way out of line if we really want to connect to people who are different from ourselves.
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    May 14 2011: The more I grow the less respect I have for religious institutions. They seem incapable of introspection and lack the vulnerability that is needed to change and respond to change when the world itself is ever-changing. A world without religions might be the answer to a better world; a world t hat sees the totality of life without feeling the need to put it in a box and call it "the truth".
    I think sometimes that religions are to the spiritual network what facebook is to the social network - and I don't mean that in a good way!
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      May 15 2011: the keyword thereJim is "religious institutions" and I agree that is where it has all gone wrong. Ilove and will use your analogy that the church and all religious insitutions are to sprituality what facebook is to the social network..hardly enlightening or uplifting. Even individual church's seem to fall into politics, patronage, power syems, elitism, in groups and out groups..hardly a place for most of us to learn to be compassionate, charitable or live in equanimity. I do though find much value in the common denominators of all the world's great wisdom traditions.
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    May 14 2011: I want to live an inclusive and loving life. I am commited to accepting individuals as openly as I can and I live my commitments to those values.

    As a woman, however, I am fearful of having my rights (and the human rights of all women) as a human being reduced to nonexistance if and when some of the fundamentalist ideals and practices are adopted. I cannot help but wish other women had some of my rights as well. Far from being generated from lack of knowledge- my fears come from the knowledge of the texts in question and from the realities of women's lives.

    The rules for women if strictly interpretted in the Jewish religion (the Torah), the Old Testament of the fundamentalist Christian faith and in Shariah law -scare me to death.

    Can anyone help me resolve my fears which feel legitimate to me?
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      May 14 2011: It many take time, but even if we have set-backs I truly believe we are progressing toward freedom. Many Muslims, including my friend "Sue" aren't under the yolk or religious fundamentalism. The Bush/Cheney era and American foreign policy in general was a set back, as was Osama's crusade against the West. One of my favorite talks by Steven Pinker's "The Myth of Violence" and it really puts things in prospective.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

      Or, there is the quote made famous by MLKJ: "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice."

      Women all around the world are denied freedom and treated criminally. I feel for their struggle, yet at the same time I find hope in their future. I really think social media is causing, and will continue to cause, a revolution from the ground up.
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      May 14 2011: Debra: Religion as commonly defined (belief in a scripturally based belief system) is archaic and counter-productive. It needs to fade away. It will fade away. Or we will fade away.

      What is the problem with respecting people, but recognizing that their beliefs are faulty and in need of evolution?
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        May 14 2011: HI Tim,

        I guess the potential conflict is that I can recognize them but can they recognize me and respect my way of being in the world too?
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        May 14 2011: I guess the reason I sometimes prefer "teapot agnostic" rather than an atheist is because I think it is arrogant to insist on atheism, though it's what I tend to believe. I cannot be absolutely sure I am completely right.

        It's morally wrong to tell someone how to think and how to live their lives, unless they are in violation of the common good. You and I are like-minded on the more pragmatic aspects of religion that people do ascribe to today, but (not un-like many other religions) I see very positive things coming out or religion, and many practice it guided, not by dogma, but by their own hearts. Perhaps you can reduce it to meditation and social conditioning, but I tend to think that in the past, religion has in fact helped society as much as hurt it.

        I do agree most religions need to accept the terms of nature, freedom and ethics based in reality, but I don't think an atheist should be in charge.
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          May 14 2011: You make some good points Laura. I have no axe to grind against religion and I do see the beautiful things that people of faith have brought into the world. My only issue is with human rights. If some religions believe that a woman like me does not have the same rights as men do, it worries me. How can I with a voice stay silent when women have no voice because of the religion they were born into. It worries me that some faiths do not let women learn in school, drive cars, have rights to their own children, etc. - and I am not singling one out here. How can I, having proved that I am as capable as most men, and having seens that women have brilliant minds, having seen the prejudices against women even in moderate societies sit on my hands and fail to even raise the issues when women are 'not persons' in some countries today- by religious law? Not raising my voice when something goes against the Universal code of Human Rights is my dilemma. When does religious tolerance supercede human rights?
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        May 14 2011: I think it's important for individuals to feel loved, accepted and have purpose. My passion for science fills that need for myself, but that doesn't do it for everybody. You can't know what another person needs to be happy- creative expression, tackling a mountain, community service, religious devotion, educating, entertaining, etc... there is a long list of things that we require for happiness and spirituality it just one.

        Debora (it won't let me reply directly to you):

        I agree, human rights violations need to be addressed. But as Nat has pointed out, we should address the violation, not religion as whole. Whatever justification was used should also be understood and addressed, but the justifications are many, varied, and I think having less to do with religion than we might assume.

        For example, is it Islam and the Koran and the people who ascribe to the religion that cause human rights violations against women? Or is it the totalitarian governments and their corrupt leaders that prevent these issues from being adressed? I personally think it has less to do with the particular religion than the corrupt people who use the religion as justification to commit atrocities and keep themselves in power.

        I went to a Baptist-Christan wedding yesterday, and the Bible preaches that the man is the head of the household. But why is it that women's rights are far better in Western societies? I don't think it's because Christianity is a superior religion, I think it is the democratic way in which the West has run it's governments.

        Again to summarize, can we be sure it is the faith that cause human rights violations? Or is the government? Probably a combination of both (esp. in theocracies), but I think it's wiser and more plausible to address the government rather than denounce religion.

        After that pastor said the man is the head and the woman should obey... he told a joke. I'll relate the joke below, it's pretty funny.
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          May 15 2011: Nice to chat with you again Laura, You have a wonderful writing style.

          Please know that I am in utter agreement with the concepts of respect and that I am equally opposed to all doctrines which inhibit human rights. In fact, Islam granted women property rights (precisely half as much as men got) ages before any other system gave them any. On balance though, women under Shiria law have no rights of property division when their husbands discard them. They must go back to their fathers homes without anything, including their children- that is if they still have father's or brothers- can't say I would enjoy that- but it is a pretty strong tool to keep women and their thoughts in line. I seldom speak of things that I have not investigated. I even object to the new age religions which try to tell others how they must interact because I will not surrender that sort of control to another kind of religious thought!

          I find the position on Gay marriage by other religious groups to be equally offensive and it is not an issue that involves me personally in any way. I sure will not defend the treatment of women in Christian or Jewish relgions either. Fundamentalsim is a way of literal interpretation of the exact words on the pages of any Holy book. If most people in the human family remain in a very literal phase of understanding (even the estimates among educated university student indicate that up to 70% of the population cannot comprehend satire) I find the potential of those words highly worrisome.

          I liked the joke- but in the marriage ceremony - the woman still had to swear to 'obey' which is a contract to hold over her head. I do not think that the joke will hold as much weight when he asks her to do something she is intellectually or morally opposed to.
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      May 15 2011: yeah and what about the fundamentalst influence here in the states..is there none of that in Canada too threatening to undermine all our years and years of work in women's rights right here in the worlds greatest democracies. That scares me even more because it is more immediate.
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    May 13 2011: I'm in agreement that religious doctrine is a drag on all humanity; most TED contributors agree on this.

    It's like a peer group- the people you choose to be around. All of my peers (friends, bf, most co-workers) are non-religious, but outside my peer-group religion is everywhere and still going strong. Every family holiday dinner (mine and the bf's) is riddled with not only prayers and religion, but also anti-Muslim rhetoric. Similarly, outside this thread of like-minded individuals, religion and anti-other-religion rhetoric and beliefs are pervasive.

    So in context of the world we are living in, how do we solve this? I don't think it's plausible or even possible to convince the world to reject religion. Religious freedom is considered a basic human right.

    And I don't think it's going anywhere for a long time. Here's why- the process of human evolution has imprinted our subconscious with a desire for spirituality. For some this desire is very, very strong. For me, it is non-existent. For those that desire spirituality, there are many ways you can go.

    I'm a big fan of a personality typing system called MBTI. Whether you buy MBTI or not, there are clearly people who value tradition- called the Guardians in MBTI. They look to the past as a guide to the future. They tend to go with the majority because it's safe. These are your pragmatic Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, etc.

    Other groups, the "Artists" and "Idealists" probably look for less pragmatic religions, or reject pragmatic aspects of a religion, because their self-expression and inner-values are under attack.

    Finally, the "Rationals" who generally don't buy into it because of their desire for things to make sense and understand. They place their "faith" in science.

    I'll continue this later- gotta get back to work- but in the mean time help me out here. Without eliminating religion, how do we reach a place where we can live in greater harmony and respect for our fellows?
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    May 13 2011: Keeping away the word "k*ll" and taking a look to my profile could be a starting step to normalize the way of thoughts on religious views.
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    May 13 2011: 'islamophobia' and 'anti-semitism' are two almost opposite concepts, though both negative.

    Islamophobia doesn't really exist as typically portrayed... people don't fear Muslims, even when they say they do - they fear the Islam and its doctrine. This is different from anti-semitism where people aren't afraid of the Jewish religion, but from Jews.

    Anti-semitism is basically forced upon by the doctrines and dogmas themselves, as well as simple stereotyped prejudices. I am against the Jewish religion as much as I am against any religion... does that make me anti-semitic? No, because I don't mind the Jewish people. In fact, the fact they don't try to shove their religion onto others is something I very much appreciate.

    Am I an islamophobe? If that means having an irrational fear of Muslims, no, and I think people who do are as much of a minority as radicals of any kind. But am I against Islam as a religion with dogma and everything? Yes, and I think most non-Muslims feel that way, whether they're religious or not, so if that's the definition of an islamophobe, then every sane non-Muslim person is an islamophobe.

    How to stop those things? For me the best way is to ditch that part of the dogma, but many people have a problem with that, and it's the same problem as with creationism... they say "If you can ditch THAT, how much else can you ditch?", to which my answer is "all of it", but that's not an option for people who are anti-semitic (islamophobia, again, is not really a "phobia" as in "irrational fear").
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      May 13 2011: I'm a religiophobe. Does that automatically make me 'islamophobe' and 'anti-Semitic'?
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        May 13 2011: If by religiophobe you mean "irrational fear of religious people", yes. If you mean "irrational fear of religion", no.

        (as to whether "religiophobia" is really a "phobia" as in "irrational fear", that's debatable)
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          May 13 2011: Good point Vasil. What would we call a rational fear of religion?
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        May 13 2011: I think a better term might be anti-secularism. I think a fear of anti-secularists (and in "people who try to merge religious power with political power") is very rational, and that's sort of the main beef that religiophobes like you and I (assuming we're talking about "irrational fear of religion") really have, hence making "religiophobia" not really a "phobia".

        As Sam Harris once said "The problem with fundamental Islam is the fundamentals of Islam". And the same can be said of Christianity and Jew-deism. What we think of as "Christian values" is just cherry picking the good bits and leaving the bad ones, forgetting that anti-secularism implies taking the bad ones as well.
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          May 13 2011: You kind of lost me there Vasil.

          Secular means non-religious. I'm pro-secular.

          Perhaps anti-religious would be the best word. I've come to dislike the word atheist. I've got no problem with a properly defined God concept. It's those damn religions that I fear.
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        May 13 2011: Where's the difference between secularist and atheist then?

        I thought secular is an independent category, where you push religion into its own corner, and don't let it influence things that affect others. That you can have a "secular Christian" as in "A person believes the Christian stories, the Christian God and everything, has a personal belief in what is right for him according to it, but doesn't let that belief determine his decision on whether or not to support a certain legislation/politician". Europe has a reputation of being secular in this regard, but statistically speaking, we're still religious, as in "identifying with an organized religion and believing its stories and teachings", with the exception of countries like Norway or Denmark.
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          May 14 2011: I think the term "atheist" is inerpreted by many religions as their arch-enemy - to declare yourself an atheist is to (almost) align yourself with the devil.

          I think religions "cage" a person's spiritual being. No thank you!!!
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        May 14 2011: @Jim Moonan
        Yes, you're right. I've come to notice this a few times here, as well as on various other places on the web.

        I think Christopher Hitchens' "Anti-Theist" is probably the kind of demon they should really be worried about... a person who not only doesn't believe there is a God, but would definitely prefer it if that's not the case. Personally, I'm not Anti-Theist in that if there was evidence for a "all good" powerful (but not all powerful!) supernatural being, I'd like to be friend with it. It's just that I refuse to delude myself with "faith", and what the Abraham religions offer is, as Hitchens puts it, "a supernatural North Korea". If there is some sort of an all loving powerful supernatural being, I'd rather think of it as a superhero rather than an authority/father figure.

        "JesusMan! Has the power to stop poverty by multiplying loafs of bread, and heal blindness with no operational risks"... if only.
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        May 15 2011: Tim, I guess I'm a reliogiophobe too in the sense that I see much harm and damage done in the name of religion to further political and economic goals , to assert and maintain power..it is in dogma and doctrine that it all falls apart not in the fundamentals which express the same human values we all shareall over the world. That is what is being done now with Jihad. That is what was done in the Crusdaes. That is what was done in the inquistion. That is what the fundamentalists are doing in our legislature.
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    May 13 2011: It is sad that many prejudiced opinions exist.

    The news media does a lot of damage to people, countries and their cultures including their beliefs because they produce news articles that puts fear into the hearts of many. This is news !! and if it is not sensational and rare, we don't call it news anymore.

    I think people are fearful of Muslims (for example) because they believe everything they watch on TV news and are ignorant to anything else as info isn't easily available or they haven't taken the time to look into it themselves.

    The steps I think people could personally take is take is look into what we are scared of, don't like in a culture or think is just weird, then we discover what is behind those things, because there is a reason for everything.

    Once we get over that we can get to the amazing part of every race, culture and country has but often we are so stuck on something we don't like that we never explore any further.
    • May 13 2011: There is no Islamophobia there is the new deeper understanding that the religion of Islam is a doctrine, a way of life, an ideology cloaked in religious rythm that is counter to all what a modern civilized human should follow.

      The rise of the Internet has allowed the dissemination of the full and true texts of Islam and more and more people get to understand by studying these hadiths an suras just how caustic and dangerous Islam is for human development and enlightment.

      In the last 100 years we challenged Christianity and it is now nicely tucked away in dusty churces to fade away over time like the fairytale it really was.

      The same process is now starting on Islam. Slowly the "arabic" world will lean away from ideology and religious badness and embrace enlightenment.

      In a generation their children will smile behind their hands when the old people talk about muhammeds ride on a winged donkey to heaven, just as we do today when the old talk about jesus ascending to heaven and waking up from the dead.

      You should join us too.
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      May 16 2011: Christina:

      prejudice - an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.

      Is fear of religion unfounded? Is it just an opinion formed without knowledge, thought or reason?
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        May 20 2011: Hi Tim

        I still use the word prejudice as the right word as I have to ask the question: How did we originally get an unfavorable opinion ? Everything comes from something, be it info, intuition or experience.

        I don't think fears of anything are unfounded but the problem I see is, the information that we are receiving is not always the whole truth and of course most reporting can only give one side of the story.

        This is not something new, but wouldn't it nice for us humans to evolve and question the info we are being fed.
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          May 23 2011: Christina: My fear of religion is not based on reporting. It is based on what I see in the way people around me act. People I have grown up with and love. When they act on a religious basis they are acting irrationally. This is not good.