Saturday, January 9, 2010

is it just me, or is there a religious war out there?

i'm reading the nytimes online today and i've already come across the following headlines:

-Churches Attacked in Malaysian 'Allah' Dispute
-Egypt: Suspects in Shooting at Coptic Church Surrender
-Anger Over Move to Bar Sunni from Iraqi Elections
-France: Imam Deported to Egypt
-Philippines: Fighting In South (Fierce fighting erupted between rogue Muslim rebels and an armed group believed to have been involved in the massacre of 57 people in the southern Philippines)

And this is just the obvious stuff. I'm not even discussing Israel vs. Iran or the United States for that matter. Not too long ago the Swiss (the SWISS?!) passed a law banning the building of any new minarets on mosques in Switzerland. Just so you know, minarets are historically where the call to prayer emanated from. They are basically tall pillars. They definitely add to the unique aesthetic of mosques altogether and in my opinion, they don't really differ from putting gigantic crosses on the top of churches.
So yes, there is a religious and cultural war going on. Worldwide. But....
I don't feel it here in Azerbaijan. I really don't. In Azerbaijan just about everyone is Muslim, but mostly this post Soviet nation is just excited about the prospect of religion. In other words, Azeris are not very open minded towards Atheists, but otherwise (from my experience) they love hearing about foreign religions. Well...monotheistic religions for the most part. They will listen to you talk about Hinduism and try to understand. I've never heard an Azeri actually criticize Hinduism, but then again knowledge about the religion hardly exists here altogether. Sometimes, I feel I disappoint Azeris by telling them I'm Jewish and not because of Judiasm per se, but because they seem so damn excited to meet Christians. But when I tell people I'm Jewish they treat me like I'm this special foreign object...but that treatment has been totally devoid of cruelty and aggressive bias. Perhaps they are silently judging? Probably some are. Why? Because, just as Azerbaijanis don't know that Americans speak English and that all English speakers are not some ethnicity called English, they don't realize that the Jewish diaspora is super strange in that it has a million different manifestations. I might be Jewish, but I'm not religious, I'm not a Zionist, and I'm not Israeli. Generally, I'd say that Azerbaijanis are not anti-Israel, but they absolutely worry for the horrifying Palestinian condition.
SO, back to the point.
There is a religious war everywhere....but somehow it isn't so present here. I recently visited a Jewish village in Quba where people actually say "Shalom" instead of "Salam". Also, for the first time, I recently saw a swastika on a wall near where I live. It sticks out. People have already tried to paint over it. When I show it to people they tell me: "Oh, I don't think whoever put that up knows what a swastika really is". Maybe they are right. After all, most Azeris do not know about the Holocaust and its association with the swastika.
All in all and if anyone actually still reads this blog, I just want to say this: peaceful Muslims exist in this world. I just hope we can continue to reach out to them before they too get absorbed in this world wide war. I guess what i'm saying is: hoooray peace corps. (i'm patting myself on the back).

1 comment:

Sharon Eilts said...

Yes, there are peaceful folks of all ilk in all religions, but they are the quiet ones.

Amy Eilts' mom