|Pamela Geller exhibiting hate speech (from LA Times)|
On Sunday morning at my church, Dr. Arik Greenberg, professor of New Testament at Loyola Marymount University, spoke about the need for tolerance among people of the Abrahamic faiths--Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
On Sunday evening near Dallas, Texas, an anti-Muslim group was hosting a speaker from the Netherlands who had tried to get the Qur'an banned in that country.
Organizer Pamela Geller claimed her event was all about free speech--though the speaker wants the Qur'an banned and though her group had tried to stop Al Jazeera news from broadcasting in the US.
To celebrate free speech, they were holding a contest of anti-Mohammad cartoons.
One of the cartoons showed Mohammad urinating and defecating on a Qur'an.
Is anyone surprised that two young Muslim men from Phoenix, after seeing the ads for this event, drove to Texas to shoot whomever they could find there?
These jihadis were almost gentle--they shot a security guard only in the leg before being killed themselves.
They wanted to affiliate with extremists somewhere else in the Muslim world. According to a Facebook post, what they cared about most was Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians.
Apparently Geller's activism is also rooted in decades of war between Israel and Palestine. She had put ads on New York City MTA trains saying, "Support Israel, defeat Jihad."
Thus this shooting in Texas had roots in Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as I explained to students taking my course in Women & Religion who wanted to know why they had to learn about this to pass my course.
Here's why: because gender and religion become tangled up in international struggles over land, resources, and power.
The Council of American-Islamic Relations condemned the attack, saying "Violence in response to anti-Islam programs like the one in Garland is more insulting to our faith than any cartoon, however defamatory" (as quoted in today's LA Times).
"It's one of those awful moments when there is no one to root for on either side," concludes Christopher Knight, art critic:
See also Dr. Greenberg's Institute for Religious, Tolerance, Peace, and Justice.