The relentless and savage advance of Islamist terrorists throughout the Middle East — and especially the beheading of two American journalists by ISIS — seems to have made an impression on CNN’s Don Lemon, who on Wednesday night asked a panel if Islam is “a more violent religion than any other faith?”
“Let’s talk about it,” Lemon began, “and let’s just be very honest about it. This is a discussion that’s happening, really cross the world… Is Islam a more violent religion than other faiths?”
Two of Lemon’s three panelists — and even Lemon himself — seemed to agree with the contention that Islam is inherently prone to violence in a way Christianity, Judaism or other major religions are not.
“I believe there are certain areas in Islam that need to be reinterpreted, otherwise you will face violence in the end,” said author Tawfik Hamid, noting that Islam “has not reformed yet” like other religions. “I believe with the literal understanding of it, and with its history as written in Shari’a books, today it is more violent.”
“Yes, it must be,” said Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director. “Otherwise how could all these groups take the name of Islam to become violent and do what they do?”
“They’re the ones that call themselves Islamists!” Fuentes continued. “They’re the ones, ISIS, calling themselves the Islamic State. We didn’t pin that name on them… So if they’re interpreting the teachings of the prophet, the teachings of the Qur’an, and they’re twisting it, they’re putting it on. But the fundamental basis is that they’re calling themselves Islamic and then cutting people’s heads off.”
Only one guest, Islamic Monthly editor Arsalan Iftikhar, disagreed. “First of all, I find it absolutely astounding that a former assistant director of the FBI would say that Islam is a more violent religion than most other religions,” he began, noting “Christianist” organizations like the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa and Christians “bomb[ing] gay nightclubs and abortion clinics” in the United States.
But Lemon pushed back against that comparison. “By saying that Islam is more violent than any other religion, it doesn’t mean that other religions aren’t violent,” he explained. “We’re talking about history and the reality here. If you’re looking at the bombing of abortion clinics, you’re not looking at the numbers of a 9/11, you’re not looking at the numbers of a Boko Haram, you’re not looking at the many people who are killed from ISIS and beheaded.”
Things got heated after that, with Iftikhar accusing his fellow panelists of “feed[ing] directly into this clash of civilizations mantra, where it’s the West versus Islam.”