by Martin Accad
The Middle East is in turmoil! That’s a bit of an understatement. Are you feeling frustrated and helpless about it? This has been an ongoing feeling for me since ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) hit the headlines and invaded our private imaginations relentlessly through Facebook, YouTube and other social and conventional media throughout this past summer.
So about a month ago I decided to do something about it. Something small, I admit, but I just could not bear to remain a victim of their assault. So I set up this Facebook page called TReCooL, which stands for ‘The Religious Coalition of Love.’ It is a simple act of resistance to the lethal polarization that ISIS and other religious fanatics keep pushing our world into. Simple but cool! They want Christians and other ‘numeric minorities’ to feel that they don’t belong in the Middle East, to reach the conclusion that we have no future.
I confess that, even as someone who views myself as a lifetime student of Islam, as someone who believes in my mind that the religious fanatics represent the minority voice, as one who is constantly involved in interfaith dialogue and who views multifaith society not as a problem, but as a source of strength, I am having a really hard time maintaining a balanced perspective. I refuse to buy into the growing popular narrative that says that ISIS represents the majority voice of Islam. What we need now is not a reactionary agenda, but creative, constructive, and proactive initiatives.
I imagine a multitude – millions of people – networked together through Facebook, Twitter and smartphone apps, who have joined a ‘coalition of love,’ simply in protest against the violent extremist religious narrative.
Imagine with me – being part of a movement of people who recognize candidly that all religions have the inherent potential to produce peaceful and loving individuals.
Imagine that we, as a movement, would affirm that individual religious people don’t need to defend or justify themselves or their religion, when bloodthirsty and hateful thugs commit atrocities in the name of that same religion as theirs.
Imagine joining thousands of others who simply want to affirm that they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha’i, Yazidi, or just of no explicit faith, and that they hold on to love and peace.
Imagine being part of a movement of millions who are religious, as well as both peaceful and loving, a movement called – say – TReCooL, ‘The Religious Coalition of Love.’
Imagine joining this movement simply as a protest against all of today’s abuses committed in the name of your religion or that of your neighbor.
By simply clicking here and ‘liking’ the TReCool Facebook page, you will be increasing the number in this network. TReCooL has no other agenda than simply affirming that WE, you and I, are the Majority, and that religious hatefuls are the minority. That’s what our world needs to hear and know today.
If you want to be stimulated to think more about this issue, why don’t you watch my talk in the video below, which I gave last month at an event organized by the Baptist Mission Society (BMS) in the UK, entitled Catalyst Live? And then please join the conversation in the comments section below. Share your views and perhaps other simple initiatives that could push towards a paradigm shift in our thinking about this majority/minority thing.