The idea that strapping a bomb to someone so that he may enter a marketplace crowded with unarmed civilians and blow himself up is so disgusting to me that I have never understood how any person of any faith could possibly support it. Innocents are harmed, maimed and killed -- many of whom may have no part in the underlying conflict other than living on the wrong side of town. There seems to be few acts of cruelty that can compare when considering the random nature of the people killed and the extent of the harm inflicted. Yet, I have been surprised that many in the Muslim world have either supported or, at minimum, said nothing against this horrendous tactic.
Now, however, good news seems to be developing in the Muslim world: public opinion amongst people of the Islamic faith is turning against suicide bombings as an acceptable tactic. According to A Rising Tide Lifts Mood in the Developing World there has been a sharp decline in support for suicide bombing in most Muslim countries. The most major exception? The Palestinian territories.
Among the most striking trends in predominantly Muslim nations is the continuing decline in the number saying that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are justifiable in the defense of Islam. In Lebanon, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia, the proportion of Muslims who view suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians as being often or sometimes justified has declined by half or more over the past five years.
Wide majorities say such attacks are, at most, rarely acceptable. However, this is decidedly not the case in the Palestinian territories. Fully 70% of Palestinians believe that suicide bombings against civilians can be often or sometimes justified, a position starkly at odds with Muslims in other Middle Eastern, Asian, and African nations.
The decreasing acceptance of extremism among Muslims also is reflected in declining support for Osama bin Laden. Since 2003, Muslim confidence in bin Laden to do the right thing in world affairs has fallen; in Jordan, just 20% express a lot or some confidence in bin Laden, down from 56% four years ago. Yet confidence in bin Laden in the Palestinian territories, while lower than it was in 2003, remains relatively high (57%).
This is a mixed bag of news. The fact that support for these heinous attacks is down significantly (40% in Lebanon!) is great news. But the data also shows that in most Muslim countries between 18 and 26% of the population remains supportive of suicide bombings as justifiable in defense of Islam. That's between 1 in every 6 and 1 in every 4 people finding this action to be somehow justifiable. In Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Mali and Nigeria, the percentage supporting random violence through suicide bombing remains between 34% and 70% of the population. That's really sad.
Christianity, as taught by Jesus, does not call for anyone to bomb their neighbors. It does not call for anyone to kill innocent people in random acts of violence. Certainly, Christians (even well-meaning Christians) have, at times in history, perverted the teachings of Jesus which has led to vicious acts being performed in the name of Christ. As Christians, we have to stand up and point out that we find those actions orchestrated by men were wrong. But Christians have, for the most part, now recognized that Jesus didn't teach that we should convert the world by force. Jesus didn't teach anywhere that we should randomly kill human beings. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is brought to earth by love and the spreading of the Gospel through peaceful means. This is very, very different than the approach being advocated or approved in these polls of Muslims.
To the Muslim people who found it somehow acceptable to kill and maim innocent people in the name of Allah, I ask that you reconsider your support for this tactic in any form. If your beliefs can win the hearts and minds of the people by no other means than acts of random violence designed to instill fear then there is something seriously wrong with your beliefs. Certainly, it appears that the majority of Muslims feel that this type of act is not consistent with Muslim beliefs and practices or the acceptance of these tactics would not be shrinking.
Suicide bombing is wrong. It needs to be rejected and denounced loudly by all Muslims.