Islam is going trough similar convulsions and wars that plagued Christianity centuries earlier when thousands of Christian “heretics” were burned alive on the orders of the Pope or corrupt and despotic bishops.
Islam did not experience similar convulsions in that period. The wars within Islam are happening centuries after the Christian wars, and far more more deadly because of the easy availability of sophisticated weapons, mobility of people and finances, conditions that did not exist even just a few decades ago. Social media brings into our living rooms, coffee tables, bus rides, images of the killings perpetrated mostly by Muslims against Muslims.
Time and again violence will be brought home to the streets in the US, Europe, and other Western cities and homes. The scale of violence may very well escalate and may happen more often, brought in by groups emanating from the Middle East or generated locally among the alienated youth in suburbs of US and European cities. Some, maybe even many, will be the work of lonely individuals; some will be part of well organised extremist groups.
But they will be defeated. Not by force. To neutralise these elements or groups more resources have to be mobilised, better trained and equipped special police forces; better intelligence; etc. But in the end, this is a battle of ideas, a battle of modern, humanist Christianity within itself not to return to the middle ages of intolerance; it is a battle within Islam between the forces of 21st Century liberal humanist tolerant Islam and the extremist medieval ideology of the suni salafists and others.
Christians and moderate Muslims, moderate Hindus and Buddhists will win this battle against the extremists if they do not succumb to despair and fear that often lead to overreaction and violence. They must display and practice tolerance and compassion as in fact Europe has done for decades in hosting millions of people from the world over who fled poverty, wars and tyranny.
Europe was and has been generous but never too enlightened in managing and nurturing diverse ethnic and religious diversity. Opportunist politicians of the far right do not bother to look for answers to their countries’ social and economic malaise in their own obsolete political systems and policies that tend to disfranchise and alienate too many.
Is there hope?
I believe we will witness years of convulsion and violence. We might even witness biological warfare unleashed by extremists. But in the end, good will prevail over evil…as long the good do not descend to the same level of barbarity of the evil.