The gap cannot be jumped

In the middle of Piazza Campo de’ Fiori in the city of Rome is a statue of a hooded man, Giordano Bruno. Giordano Bruno was burned alive on that very spot in the year 1600 by the leaders of the Catholic Church for challenging their teachings, which included a belief that the sun revolved around the earth. Bruno sided with the view of the astronomer Copernicus that the earth in fact revolved around the sun.

The men who ordered Giordano Bruno burned were not defenders of the Christian faith. Bruno challenged their power and represented a threat to their dominance. To call these men religious leaders would be a fallacy and an insult to genuine people of faith. Nothing in Christian teaching calls for burning people alive. These men were simply ruthless and power hungry imposters who exploited the faith of their followers. Religion was nothing more than a tool for control.

We see today leaders in the Middle East exploiting faith in the same way, whether in Iran, Lebanon, or the Gaza Strip. They pose behind a veil of faith while they stockpile rockets and missiles in Gaza and Lebanon aimed at Israel. They are not genuine people of faith, they are not liberators of religious shrines, and they have no compassion for the innocent civilians in Gaza and Southern Lebanon who will endure the suffering when their rockets are launched.

Some argue that the actions of such people reflect a problem with Islam, but that is wrong. The problem is the ruthlessness of false faith leaders who promote horrific violence in the name of God. The solution is not changing the faith. The solution is exposing these leaders for the frauds that they are, and removing the false veil of faith they shamelessly exploit. The words Muslims use to greet one another are “a salaam alaikum”, which in English means “peace be upon you.” They do not greet others with “may a missile be upon you.”

From my childhood like others, I used to listen to teachings from preachers saying that Western society was morally collapsed. The truth, through what I witnessed and what I heard directly, was completely different. While liberal social attitudes in the West were described with contempt, my teachers preached sectarian hatred and racism. This was not religion, it was exploitation. The intent was not for peace to be upon me, it was for hatred to consume me.

Tyrants steal the future from their people. This is much worse than the socially permissive cultures they demonize. Inflaming racial, ethnic, and sectarian prejudice is much worse than the consumption of alchohol in the West. Moral superiority comes from tolerance and empathy with peoples of different colors, cultures, and religious traditions, not from intolerance and hostility.

Equal rights and duties within society, from the head of state to the lowest worker, are central to religious morality.  When a refugee comes to a new country, he often depends on the state to provide him with housing, food, medicine, and education. He is given political and social rights and accepted with dignity. The journey of many ends with acceptance as citizens of their new homes.

I was once on a tourist trip with some young people and entered the borders of four European countries. No one asked us about an identity, passport or religion.  On the way, we passed dozens of bars and cabarets. We saw the woman or man who comes out of the bar or the nightclub pass by the bird to feed him. When I visited a mosque in Germany, I watched the river running under its window and birds of various colors, sizes and types move along its banks, children coming to them with gifts of bread.

Human moral superiority is the summary of the mission of the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace (I was sent to fulfill the morals). Unless ivilization is based on a genuine system of human values ​​and morals, our societies will remain in their place where they are now ..! Not just at the tail of the convoy, but outside the convoy’s itinerary… !!!

About the Author
Bassem Eid is the founder and former director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG). He is an advocate for peace with Israel, and a critic of terrorism.