How to: Counteract religious strife

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Remember how Egyptian Muslims served has human shields for Egyptian Christians during this year's Coptic Christmas Mass? Here's a photo of Egyptian Christians returning the favor, protecting praying Muslims during a protest this week. (Thanks, Brian Thomas!)

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  1. If everyone was like this, the world would be a much better place. I still think believing either religion is dumb though.

    1. If you don’t agree with a particular religious conviction, it’s okay to just say so. However, to call someone else’s religion “dumb” is disrespectful. What I like in this picture and, what I think you like too, is the fact that even though they have different religious convictions, they’re respectful to allow one to practice according to their freedom of choice.

  2. Sadly we can’t see more news like this, just the news that shows people using their faith as a weapon of hate. All faiths need a bit more of this and little less ‘I’m Right and You’re Wrong’.
    Thanks for finding this and sharing it.

  3. I’ve seen this image on twitter earlier this week – it always makes me happy and a little weepy. Seeing people support and protect each other, regardless of religion, is a wonderful thing.

  4. I actually cried when I read the text to this. This is what religion is SUPPOSED to be about: loving our neighbors, no matter WHO they are.

    (makes desktop background)

  5. Said it before and I will say it again, this revolt has so much subtlety to it—true human subtlety—that it’s inspiring.

  6. Love the atheist snark. Given the usual anti-religion fundamentalism spewn across this here Boing Boing, I hope this story will spark some ideas for y’all. Atheists protecting religious people while they pray? Let’s hope for that, too. (BTW, before you snark at me for the wrong reasons, I also = not-religious).

    1. I haven’t found any credible evidence supporting the presumptive claim that the people forming the ring are Christians–and not just (or also) secular/atheistic Egyptians.

    2. Today, in Luton, GB, a loose confederation of anti-fascists, with a Marxist core, defended Luton mosque from attack by the racist English Defense League. Those Marxists will almost all be atheist but they defend people’s right to worship. standing alongside people of any and all faiths in challenge to racism and religious bigotry. It’s not just possible, it happens all the time.

  7. thank you for sharing such a positive moment within the troubled days. This symbolism of the “good within all mankind” provides immeasurably important hope and inspiration.

  8. @”If everyone was like this, the world would be a much better place. I still think believing either religion is dumb though.”

    If you’re thinking it’s dumb for others to have any beliefs, then you are just as bad as many accuse religious of being.

  9. I’m going to be a huge jerk and just take a dump all over everyones “The world is an OK place after all” moment…
    But just like brillow hinted at, these are still two monotheistic religions sharing some fundamental texts, prophets and holy sites. When they start volunteering as human shields for Hindu gatherings, gay parades and Danish cartoonists I’ll be even happier.

    And – one thing everybody seems to be forgetting: What were the Muslims originally shielding the Christians from? Religiously motivated violence perpetrated by other Muslims that has been going on for quite some time.

    1. …these are still two monotheistic religions sharing some fundamental texts, prophets and holy sites.

      So what? Most holy wars in history usually haven’t been between radically different religions, they’ve been between the ones which have a lot in common. Catholics and Protestants, Shiite and Sunnis, Trekkies and Jedi.

      I’m usually pretty cynical by nature too but I have my limits. Let’s celebrate the good in humanity where we find it!

      1. Like preemptively I said, it’s was jerk move. But I still think it is a point of view that should be mentioned.

      2. So what? Most holy wars in history usually haven’t been between radically different religions, they’ve been between the ones which have a lot in common. Catholics and Protestants, Shiite and Sunnis, Trekkies and Jedi.

        Blasphemer! Those losers Star Wars fan boys are nothing like good and proper Trekkies! Back vile Star Wars fan boys! MIDICHLORIANS! MIDICHLORIANS! MIDICHLORIANS! Does Jar Jar have midichlorians!? Tell me fan boy! AHAHAHAHAHHA! Kill the non-believers!

    2. Nestorians Copts Maronites and other Christian sects all but unknown in the West all found shelter under the Caliphs from the oppression of their Christian brethren. And that was a thousand or more years ago.

      The West is and has been playing “catch-up” with the East for many centuries now, when it comes to religious tolerance.

      1. “The West is and has been playing “catch-up” with the East for many centuries now, when it comes to religious tolerance.”

        Excuse me?
        Are you seriously saying that contemporary Europe and North America are less religiously tolerant than Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, China or whatever country you consider to belong to the mystical benevolent “East”?

        And your post in fact supports my point. Islam has a tradition of tolerating Christians (though usually as second-class citizens – admittedly a better treatment then Muslims historically received at the hands of Christians), so this is not some kind of a quantum leap in tolerance. It’s a good step forward. But many more steps should follow.

        1. When do you date the start of the “contemporary” era?

          The countries which you mention consist of some two and a half billions of people.

          I do not feel knowledgable enough to be able to term vast Nations, themselves, as “intolerant” , or “less tolerant that Europeans and North Americans”, but every person from the countries which you have mentioned, that I have had the pleasure to meet or know as ever betrayed to me any no sign of any religious intolerance whatsoever.

          I only know people: countries are an abstraction.

          An “intolerant country” can only be a figure of speech: and you’re insulting entire Nations by using it.

          Are we at least as intolerant as the Nations we are born to?
          Or is it not rather nonsense to speak of “intolerant nations”?

          I have met intolerant people, though. Way too many.

          1. If he can’t speak of nations as more or less tolerant, how can you speak of the West and East that way?

          2. So if I understand it correctly, you first state that the East has for centuries been more religiously tolerant then the West and then you condemn broad generalizations as insulting.

            Do I really have to point out that the tolerance level of a country (something I mentioned in my post), as opposed to the tolerance level of a nation or an individual (something I didn’t mention) can actually be judged by its legal order or the treatment religious minorities receive?

            And if states, nations etc. are only abstractions and what truly matters is individuals, why did you compare the East and the West in the first place?

          3. Either you are tolerant, or you are intolerant: there is no “level”.

            As to history, you are free to argue with it to your heart’s content.

            A law or a person or a ruler or a religious principle may be termed intolerant, accurately or not: but to characterize an entire country as “intolerant” ( why not some other nasty name? ) is simply bigotry.

          4. You are forcing me to repeat myself.
            According to you, the statement “Saudi Arabia is a religiously intolerant country.” is pure bigotry on my part. The fact that preaching or publicly practicing any other religion besides Islam is punishable by death is somehow not relevant and cannot be used to justify this assessment.
            On the other hand you have no problem with the statement “The East has been more religiously tolerant then the West for centuries now.” because it’s not bigotry when you say it yourself.

            You then claim that one is either absolutely tolerant or absolutely intolerant, with no continuum between the two extremes. So if I understand that correctly, since I’m not tolerant of i.a. the Hindu religious practice of Sati (the immolation of widows on their husbands funeral pyres), there is essentially no difference between me and Ayatollah Khamenei in this respect.

      2. And that was a thousand or more years ago, while the Sunni and Shia were first fighting one another. Often people care more about heretics than outsiders.

      3. Tell that to your nearest Falun Gong practitioner.

        The United States is ASTOUNDINGLY tolerant of religion compared to the rest of the world. Even as much as our politicians are so so Christian. Think about it:

        1)There is no state religion. (Unlike Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, etc.)
        2)Religious leaders are not ipso facto gov’t leaders and vice versa (such as the UK and Iran).
        2)Practicing any religion is perfectly legal (unlike in several eastern countries including China).
        3)No influential political parties include religion in their official platform (unlike Germany and nearly every Eastern country).
        4) The gov’t does not oppress any religious group at all (unlike nearly every Eastern country) including China.

        The only eastern countries which also have these provisions are (as far as I know) the most western-leaning such as Japan and South Korea!

        1. The United States of America is indeed a beacon of religious tolerance and freedom to all a the nations and peoples of the world, and long may she remain so!

          And here is proof that statement is more than just my opinion:

          http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hm/hmemb.asp

          The USA is indeed a fine exemplar in these matters.

        2. on 3: it’s true that Germany’s conservative party is called CDU/CSU (Christian-Democratic Union/Christian-Social Union, it’s only called CSU in Bavaria), so there’s the christian thing in their name, but they do have a small number of atheist/muslim/jewish members, too. Despite the name, they don’t take religion more seriously than the other parties, it’s just the usual conservative “no morals without religion” stuff.

          So except for the name I’d say they aren’t more religious than the Republicans, and certainly not as much as the truly religious parties in Eastern Europe. In fact, the Republicans have lots of extreme religious nuts, like creationists, but I don’t know of any outspoken creationists in the CDU… (there was some controversy about the president, Wulff supporting some evangelical organisation, but it’s very tame compared to what the US have…)

          But that may all just be because Germany is always a bit slow when it comes to copying the US, there is already some creationist backlash, I guess we will see a proper “religious right” soon enough…

    3. In the pic it’s Christians sheilding Muslims. Mass will be held tomorrow where Muslims will be protecting Christians. Pls dont generalise every grp manifests diff facets. Not all Muslims [1.3 billion ppl ) are the same. As for gay parades and Danish cartoonists, a. this is Egypt and follows an Egyptian agenda of what we believe works b. tolerance takes time with education and awareness. We’ll get there one day. Even we didn’t believe what we are doing now could be possible so give us a break ;)

      1. Fair enough. I would like to stress that regardless of what I said, I definitely do consider this a positive thing.
        I guess my main intention was to remind people that this gesture, as great as it is, has not suddenly solved all Egyptian religious problems.

        Other then that, my heart is with you and I wish that your country soon breaks out of its prison and takes a deep breath of freedom.
        Just remember that the road to real democracy is long and bumpy. The hardest part actually comes when the revolution succeeds, the spark of enthusiasm dies out and progress becomes a matter of everyday incremental labor. So never give up and never settle for anything less then what you as a people and human beings deserve.
        (I’m speaking as someone who has lived through the post-communist transition of my country.)

        My best wishes and good luck to you all.

  10. The West is and has been playing “catch-up” with the East for many centuries now, when it comes to religious tolerance.

    Sadly, I think you have that entirely inverted.

    The East is and has been playing “catch-up” with the West for many centuries now, when it comes to religious intolerance.

    Thank all the gods for people like those pictured, who are holding on against the tide of oil-fueled western bigotry.

  11. It’s historically documented that the People of the Book (Jews, Christians) got better treatment in the Islamic world in the Middle Ages than Jews and Muslims got in Christian Europe. Do your own research, there’s enough material out there both on and offline to prove my claim.

    I agree with vette – this is how it’s supposed to be done. For the record, I’m a Neopagan, but I’d be right there with the Christians helping protect the Muslims during their prayer. I’m with Curry For Peace, an international group that promotes interfaith and intercultural education. We believe that tolerance isn’t enough, and we work toward acceptance. It’s far too small a planet for us to be acting like jerks toward one another.

  12. The question is not, whether god exists. The question is if the answer would change your behaviour. If so, then you need a god.(Berthold Brecht I think)

    In other words, if the belief in a god makes someone behave that way, I’ll honor that, instead of telling him that his religion is wrong and he should become an atheist.

  13. I’m not an atheist. Not because I’m a theist. I just couldn’t handle being so superfuckingawesome people burst into flames when I high-five ’em.

  14. All people, everywhere, should respect every other persons religous beliefs without question, as long as they are not imposing it on them.

    1. I refuse to respect the religious beliefs of some people to rape children, beat women, murder apostates, stone homosexuals, burn witches etc.

      Religious beliefs should be held to the same standard as any belief or claim of fact. To argue a point of religion should take the same form as any other argument about the nature of the universe. I should feel and be as free to oppose religion as I oppose supply-side economics, neo-conservatism, modified Newtonian dynamics, frequentism, the teachings of Karl Popper, apparency theory, or the Tychonic system.

      Religion, and all claims of fact, should not be immune from criticism. To do so gives permission for any behavior labelled “religion.”

  15. “…to call someone else’s religion “dumb” is disrespectful.”

    No. Not if it is dumb. If you believe woman was literally created whole out a mans rib, that’s dumb. If you believe there was a total global flood 4000 years ago, survived by only 8 people and pairs of all existing animals in a wooden ship, that’s dumb. If you believe that Native Americans are actually the lost tribes of Israel, that’s dumb. If you believe the space lord Xenu brought Thetans to Earth to vaporize them with h-bombs atop giant volcanoes, that’s dumb.
    If your belief directly contradicts available evidence and you still firmly cling to it, then it simply is dumb.

    It might be socially impolite to point it out in certain situations, but I just don’t understand why should silly ideas be immune from criticism merely because they are labeled as religious.

    1. I guess one might have to be inside a religious community to be aware of all the variations of what people believe about it. From the outside, we mainly hear only about extremism and fundamentalist beliefs among religious believers. As a non-traditional Christian, I have come to know so many others who consider themselves Christian who – like me – do not literally believe those things you referred to that contradict “available evidence.” That includes not believing literally in all the stories of the Bible, and, for some, not even in Christ’s resurrection, which may well have been the most inviolable tenet in the past. Included in this emerging approach to Christianity are numerous church leaders, theologians, Bishops, as well as people in the pews. Religion for many today is not so much about the creed as the values, if they are life-giving, healthy ones. Those values could be found among atheists as well. But however one comes to embrace healthy values to live by, why knock it? And if one’s values are destructive, those are found just as easily among non-believers as religious people. We can all think of so many examples for either.

  16. “Thank all the gods for people like those pictured, who are holding on against the tide of oil-fueled western bigotry.”

    Sadly, I think you have that entirely inverted.

    What ever western bigotry is, it certainly isn’t oil-fueled. That would be Saudi Arabian and Iranian bigotry.

  17. It’s kind of sad that a some atheists can’t manage to afford the same respect to others as these religious people can to each other. People who are absolutely sure that they have all the answers and that those who disagree with them are stupid/deluded are the problem, regardless of religious belief or lack thereof.

  18. I think that this is a great example of civil society at its best. There is always going to be some discrimination in any society, but this is a great way to deal with it.

  19. @Brillow

    The United States is ASTOUNDINGLY tolerant of religion compared to the rest of the world. Even as much as our politicians are so so Christian. Think about it:

    1)There is no state religion. (Unlike Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, etc.)

    Turkey is devoutly secular (excuse the pun). The other three are the furthest of the far right and are generally considered the exception to the rule. And Christianity is the state religon for all intents and purposes, despite the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (which basically just guarantees freedom of religion). Name the last president who wasn’t a Christian in the states. When you say or see ‘In god we trust’ who are you referring to? (All bank notes, government building, police, swearing in in court).

    2)Religious leaders are not ipso facto gov’t leaders and vice versa (such as the UK and Iran).

    Eh the UK? Which religious leader is the ipso facto government leader in England, Wales or Scotland? Fair enough, Northern Ireland is somewhat of a quagmire, but thats along nationalist lines as much as anything to do with religion and religious bias is only represented in parliament.

    2)Practicing any religion is perfectly legal (unlike in several eastern countries including China).

    Again, what are you on about? Bar the Falun Gong, which is the exception to the rule again, they’re pretty tolerant. In fact, they were/are a completely atheist government up to the Cultural Revolution. Post-Cultural Revolution they guaranteed Freedom of Religion in their constitution (revoking Falun Gong status in 19

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1978_Constitution_of_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China

    Despite the fact that there is only five ‘recognised’ religions. Fair enough, Falun Gong is banned which I find appalling, along with the Tibet situation, but the other ‘religions’ banned are basically quite unstable quasi-cults like this crowd

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentuhui

    3)No influential political parties include religion in their official platform (unlike Germany and nearly every Eastern country).

    AHAHAHAHHAHAHA. 90% of Republicans. Enough said.

    4) The gov’t does not oppress any religious group at all (unlike nearly every Eastern country) including China.

    Nearly every Eastern country? A few predominantly Islamic countries and thats about it tbh. You’ve also included EU countries twice in your argument, which are infinitely more tolerant and more secular than the states.

  20. I wonder if any protesters in egypt are studying the 1986 people power revolution in the Philippines and the leader Cory Aquino. Would be nice for a few posters with Cory Aquino’s picture on it to be seen on the news

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