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Volume 34
Issue 48
 
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Blood on their hands - Fundamentalist Islam gets blamed for all sorts of violence, but what about the Christian variety?
Blood on their hands - Fundamentalist Islam gets blamed for all sorts of violence, but what about the Christian variety?
by Chris Crain - SGN Contributing Writer

Tick-tock. There went a few more seconds off my proverbial 15 minutes of fame.

This week Fox News, of all media outlets, has been airing a report on fundamentalist Islam in Europe that includes a brief reference to the April 2005 Gay bashing of my boyfriend and me in Amsterdam, of all places.

It happened on Queen's Day - as in the monarch, not the Queers - while we walked hand in hand down a busy street near the heart of the Gay neighborhood in that Gay-friendliest of cities.

A young man of Moroccan appearance spat in my face - not an easy shot, considering I'm 6-foot-7 - and when we stopped to ask why, he spat out a heavily accented, anti-Gay slur. Within seconds there were seven men pounding on us, and I was lying in the street with two black eyes and a broken nose, blood everywhere.

The attack touched a chord with many Dutch people, Gay and straight, because they have struggled with how to respond to second-generation immigrants from Morocco, Algeria and other Muslim countries who have rejected the Netherlands' famously tolerant culture.

It's more than a little ironic for Fox News to report the attack now, 18 months later, as evidence of a rising tide of fundamentalist Islam in Europe. I've never seen the "fair and balanced" folks at Fox take a similar interest in whether fundmentalist Christianity bears responsibility for fostering a climate of intolerance here in the U.S. that results in Gay bashings (of much greater frequency and often of much greater ferocity).

Muslim bigotry plays much better to Fox viewers, obviously, than the homegrown Christian variety. To be "fair and balanced" about what happened to my boyfriend and me, it would be simplistic to imagine our Moroccan-Dutch attackers were acting on some fundamentalist religious faith. We were bashed as we walked to our hotel in the wee hours of Saturday morning through a streetful of holiday revelers. Our attackers weren't on the corner for Friday prayers.

There are those, of course, who do engage in violence - against Gays, women and other innocent targets - in the name of fundamentalist Islam. We have become so inundated by such bloody attacks in recent years that many Westerners have come to conclude that fundamentalist Islam is an inherently violent religion.

Pope Benedict XVI outraged Muslims in September when he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor for that proposition. The pope has since apologized and distanced himself from the emperor, but the violent backlash in some parts of the Islamic world - like the violent reaction to the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed earlier this year - only seemed to prove the emperor's point.

As the pope traveled to Turkey this week, tens of thousands have gathered in the streets there to protest his visit, still angry over the remarks. The true motive behind the angry crowds is a bit suspect, since the same masses haven't felt similarly motivated to take to the streets when fundamentalists Muslims actually do engage in violence against innocents in the name of Allah. Such bloody jihadist claims do much greater insult to Islam's reputation as a peaceful faith, and yet they almost never elicit much protest.

My own view is that fundamentalist faiths of all stripes are directly responsible for a great deal of violence in the world and are indirectly responsible for an even greater amount. When fundamentalist leaders aren't explicitly condoning violence - something fundamentalist Muslim leaders do much more often than their Christian counterparts - they're fostering a culture of intolerance.

That's not the same as a jihad against Gays or women, but that's what makes it more dangerous. It flies below the radar, giving religious comfort to all kinds of cultural bigotry - including the kind that spits in the face of a Gay couple happily holding hands through the streets of Amsterdam.

Chris Crain is former editor of the Washington Blade, Southern Voice, and Gay publications in three other cities. He can be reached via his blog at www.citizencrain.com.

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