Nov14WedNovember 14, 2012
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It appears that I owe an apology to the God-fearing, peace-loving, Muslims of Benghazi. No, I’m not kidding.
In my first article on the murder of our ambassador, written the day after the 9-11 anniversary atrocity, (see my blog at fccsobo.org) I made no distinction between the people responsible for noisy and destructive protests, and the perpetrators of a well-planned and coordinated, military-style attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Of course, that was before I, along with most of the rest of the world, knew that an Al Quaeda affiliate was responsible for the deaths. We had been told by our government that the murder was a tragic, mob-mentality induced, reaction to a little-known film that was offensive to Muslims. That story was a gross misrepresentation of the facts and has been completely discredited. Now it appears that the Obama administration knew very early on exactly what was happening and failed, for reasons that will be eternally debated, to provide the aid that would have saved those American lives.
It is not my purpose here to discuss their failure, but to discuss my own. As my Arabic, Muslim-turned-Christian friend Samer has explained, “We will not hesitate to say that the vast majority of the Muslim world condemns acts of terror and violence. There are many schools of thought in Islam with various and often conflicting interpretations of the Qur'an.” Samer is right. A conversation with him shortly after the attack helped me understand some of the divisions and cross-currents in the Islamic world. “The people throwing rocks and burning flags and stuff were just protesting,” he said. “It isn’t right that they do that, but it isn’t terribly dangerous either. It is their version of freedom of speech. But the people with the rocket-propelled grenades and military tactics are another group altogether. The first group is afraid of the second group.”
Samer explained that Muslims all over the world are at a cross roads, a great moment of decision. Many millions of cultural Muslims, the social equivalent of professing Christians who only attend services on Christmas and Easter, are being forced by the events of the “Arab Spring” to come to grips with what they really believe about spiritual things and about Islam in particular. The rising tide of Islamo-facist political parties winning positions of power in places like Egypt, Turkey, and now possibly Syria, will make life for the less-than-fanatical very difficult indeed. They will have to submit to an Iranian style theocracy or be branded apostate, with all of the legal, economic and professional ramifications that implies under Sharia law. But it also makes them ripe for the hope held out in the gospel. According to Samer, people all over the Islamic world are searching deeply, digging in to the Koran and into the Bible if they can find one, looking for answers, more open to truth that really speaks to their souls than they have been for many decades.
This then is my apology to the peace-loving Muslims who revere God enough to shout what they believe from the rooftops, and protest when they are offended, but who eschew violence. May their tribe increase! In their search for a God who can give them hope and stability may they find Jesus Christ the righteous one and welcome him as he truly is: The Son of God and only hope of salvation for all people.