I should have said something. I sat in the group listening to a retired man complain about how Muslims were taking over Europe with what he termed “the Islamic infiltration.” I brushed him off at the time.
But I saw this idea of “the Islamic infiltration” again and again, particularly in flippant Facebook posts and comments. The idea is this: Europe is being taken over by the mobs of “so-called refugees” from the Syrian civil war. They may appear to be victims, but the coverup is that the war is really a conspiracy that threatens western civilization from the savagery of Islam.
No. This is what threatens western civilization: stupid conspiracy theories that miss the opportunity to share the love of Christ with fellow human beings in need.
Here’s the situation in Syria. The country is being torn to pieces by two radical sides, neither of which are supportable by much of the western world. On one side you have an evil dictator, on the other you have the radical Islamic State. Neither should ever be in power, but they are both determined to take over Syria.
The result so far: 9 million refugees, 3 million fleeing outside Syria, 6.5 million internally displaced. Claims vary, but an estimated 140,200 and 330,380 have died so far from the civil war. To compare: we lost 47,424 in Vietnam and 3,527 in Iraq.
I’d like to challenge “the Islamic infiltration” conspiracy theory with three responses that I believe are much more rooted in common sense and dignity.
And I have some links to help.
Share the stories, not the propaganda
This is personal for me. My daughter married an Australian merchant in 2012, an immigrant from Syria. His family participated in the oldest city market in the world, the markets of Aleppo, but the city is now in ruins. His sister and her children are some of the internally displaced, trapped in Damascus, and his parents are waiting in Turkey for Australian visas. Their family is stricken with grief for their home country, and they represent millions of other families desperate for stability.
The mass media doesn’t seem to care about stories like this. Likewise, neither do some radicals wrapped up in their Facebook posts.
The next time you’re tempted to share an article about “the Islamic infiltration,” I’d like to challenge you to consider how much you’re being led by the nose. Do you know one person from Syria enough to forward on with confidence the conspiracy theory you’re reading from the media? Have you questioned much of anything coming across your media channels?
I must confess: I leaned toward this mentality…until I began listening to the stories of the Syrian people. My mentality today? I largely ignore the media. Instead, I use my personal profiles and social media channels to share stories of what is actually going on, with personal attention to Aleppo, my son-in-law’s hometown. I feel this is sharing the truth in love.
Like sharing this video. Try to watch this and then say this civil war is really a conspiracy of “the Islamic infiltration”…
Speak of solutions, not conspiracy theories
Stop thinking and speaking about how we can push back the evils of Islam, as if this “Christian soldier” nonsense ever succeeded in evangelizing the world. Instead, think and speak about feeding the orphans, supporting humanitarian efforts, and housing refugees.
The bible speaks of “true religion” in James 1:27 like this (emphasis added):
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
I can sing “Onward Christian Soldier” with enthusiasm, but I never thought this meant rejoicing in the decimation of an entire country. Some speak of the Syrian refugee crisis with a bit of snark, somewhat of a “see, I told you so” mentality toward the millions displaced. To them, the crisis is an opportunity to educate you on how the Islamic faith is not the true way. They hide behind conspiracies that say this is really an attempt for evil Islam to take over Europe.
This is anti-Christ. They’ve been “polluted by the world.”
This kind of thinking misses perhaps the most influential, successful evangelical tool in Christianity’s history: peace and goodwill toward suffering humanity — “orphans and widows in their distress.” This is “true religion,” as the Book of James explains. Swarms of people are pouring over Europe’s borders, totally desperate and in need of care, and it demands only one response.
This is pro-Christ: The opportunity to take in the suffering and provide for their most basic needs.
It is much too easy to surf the Internet over here in America and pollute our minds with conspiracies of hate and prejudice. Just stop it. Instead, support solutions that help the millions in need of love and care. World Vision is a good place to start:
Seek to understand, not indoctrinate
In the eyes of the destitute, there is nothing more nauseating than a person with a tight condition on doing that which is right and good. The thought of tying humanitarian aid to a requirement of conversion is sick.
Yet this is the mentality of some. They think they are doing the world a favor by warning everyone of “the Islamic infiltration.” As children wash up on shore and families claw through barbed wire fences, we have some people shaking their fingers at them about how screwed up their homeland is.
Do you have “friends” like this? I bet you do, and they’re nauseating. You may not be running from a decimated homeland in civil war, but you are fleeing from hardship. Their advice comes at the worst of times, “see, I told you so” when you’re fleeing from pain or heartbreak. They aren’t helpful. They are simply being insensitive and heartless. Just like those running around ranting of “the Islamic infiltration.”
So, we find themselves facing a nation of people fleeing their country. They are in need of food, shelter and care. Will Europe take this opportunity to give this to them? I hope they will. It is certainly the right thing to do.
And I’m praying for ways that Americans on the other side of the world can show the love of Christ to the 10/40 Window. We’ve been praying for ways to do this, haven’t we? Syrians have lost their homeland, and their needs are plenty.
If this is “the Islamic infiltration,” I’m up for it. The love of Christ will be my response. Not the resistance of fear, prejudice and hate.