The State Department has released a report indicating that religious intolerance is on the rise globally. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in much of the Arab world, and anti-Islamic prejudice can be found increasing in Europe and Asia.
The report did a good job at condemning anti-Semitism. It made mention of:
An incident on 19 October when Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said “amen” to a religious leader’s call upon Allah to “destroy the Jews and their supporters”.
Government-controlled media in Venezuela, meanwhile, had published numerous anti-Semitic statements, including in opposition to a Catholic presidential candidate with Jewish ancestors.
The report also noted the Iranian government’s frequent denunciations of Judaism.
“Even well into the 21st Century, traditional forms of anti-Semitism, such as conspiracy theories, use of the discredited myth of ‘blood libel’ and cartoons demonizing Jews continued to flourish,” the report said.
The report also did a good job of pointing out intolerance by majority Muslim groups toward minority Muslim groups. Where the report did not do so well is in holding America and Israel to task. For example, it did not mention the actual bombing of Islamic countries by Israel and the US, or the stereotyping of Muslims in both countries as “terrorists.” Instead, Mr. Kerry ignored anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic attitudes in the US:
As he unveiled the report in Washington DC, Mr Kerry acknowledged that America’s own record was not perfect, but said religious freedom was a “universal value”.
“The freedom to profess and practise one’s faith – to believe or not to believe, or to change one’s beliefs – that is a birthright of every human being,” he said.
“I urge all countries, especially those identified in this report, to take action now to safeguard this fundamental freedom.”
For those willing to take off the rose colored glasses, Humboldt University has constructed a “Hate Map” of homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Islamist or other forms of hateful speech made in the USA and sent out on Twitter. (link below)
Whatever the actual demographics of hate, our only sane response seems clear enough. Those of us who are serious about lessening hate in the world can only begin with our own hearts and minds. We must purge our thoughts of that idea that we can solve this problem through violence. Violence is what has caused this insanity. Instead, we must redefine courage as the willingness to risk danger in order to establish communication with those who are different. Every person of every nation and every religion must stop believing the propaganda of its own group. We must trust that behind the frightening images our culture paints of our enemies, that underneath the differences beat human hearts just like ours.
Report by State Department