Muslims, Christians and maybe you
The onslaught ISIS brings holds no boundaries. Rape, murder, torture, and the kidnapping of men, women and children has become ritual of this extremist group, which resides in the Middle East and regions of Africa. More specifically, the persecution has not just been of anyone and everyone—it has been of Christians unwilling to to convert to Islam along with other minorities like the Yazidi sect.
Being in the Middle East and Africa without a Muslim title is an extremely dangerous reality. Christians are experiencing awful persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists. In February, 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded for not converting. Persecution is alive and well, even today. The World Jewish Congress has even spoken up about these mass genocides of Christians. Jews have joined Christians in Muslim countries to fight and defend persecuted Christians.
Unfortunately, the pendulum swings both ways, as Muslims have experienced experienced many acts of violence against them here in the United States. This February, a devout atheist from North Carolina murdered three Muslim college students (his neighbors at the time) supposedly over a parking spot dispute. Craig Hicks, the shooter and killer, argues so, but the father of two of the victims argues otherwise. The victims’ father shares that it was based on religion and culture, saying, “This has all the signs. It was execution style, a bullet in every head," adding, “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime.”
More pointedly, Judge Keith Rollins of Douglasville, Georgia sentenced 41-year-old Lisa Valentine to 10 days of jail for not removing her hijab in court. The Guardian magazine reports that initially, he did not let her into court. After much conflict, Valentine was handcuffed, changed into an orange jumpsuit and forced to remove her hijab. Fortunately, when her husband contacted an Islamic civil rights attorney, Lisa Valentine was released.
Some might argue that these experiences are not persecution, but just because it’s not ISIS-style doesn’t mean that it ceases to be persecution. Something is wrong here. This is not okay.
Persecution means different things in different places.
Maybe you have experienced some sort of unjustified harassment at Union, too. Whether it’s of race, sexual orientation, religious preference or gender, persecution is not okay––not at Union, not in Iraq, and not in North Carolina.
If we’ve engaged in persecution, we can say, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the hurt I may have caused you. I’m sorry for the damage I may have done. I’m sorry for the hatred I might have harbored.”
If we received rejection and pain we can say, “I forgive you. You hurt me but I will not remain in hurt. You have damaged me but I will move on. I have received your hate but I choose love.”
This world is one of bad judges, terrorist neighbors, and dangerous extremists. But, we can choose to forgive and be forgiven, because forgiveness is the bridge to a better world and a better Union.
Abner is a sophomore studying theology.