Not in connection with the recent terror attacks, but Western world as a whole has been intolerant to a large extent.
At first you colonised the whole world, sucked all their resources and got your ‘developed nation’ tag, when nothing was there to juice, you formed a United Nations to preach ‘democracy’ to the colonies and again took a higher moral ground of establishing democracy all around.
But it did come with certain side effects as well. The core belief of imperialism, apart from making money, was spread of Christianity as well. It was almost in the same way as Islamist invaders did a few hundred years back.
In their case they settled in the countries they looted making them follow Islam, almost everywhere but India. But in case of European powers, you carried all that you could back to Europe after sowing the long-term seeds of Christian missionaries and propagating false histories.
As a by-product of imperialism, many wealthy people chose to settle in Europe for a better life and scores of labourers were taken as slaves, domestic helps for the masters’ comfort. As the world economy opened, again as Western economies were on decline after draining all their own resources, movement of people gathered momentum. They settled as industrialists, investors, students and as citizens by applying for it.
Pluralism, almost nonexistent, in Europe and America became prominent. But the society which thought Christianity as the supreme religion and had historically looked down on other faiths couldn’t accept it.
Issues of colour, race, communal tensions ought to have started and they did.
As champions of democracy, although a borrowed idea, they had to put up a brave and secular face. However, secularism of West does come with riders. One could exist and practice the faith but according to the state.
Acts of terror, prominently from Islamic supremacists, gave them a reason to ban several symbols and practices sacred to different religions such as Sikhs’ turbans and Muslims’ hijab.
To add to that, in the Internet savvy world, it was so easy to propagate hatred via lampooning other religions. Making short films, cartoons, posters, trolls a hate campaign started from West (empowered with Internet and digital tools) to East which has blindly accepted anything Western as superior.
Use of terrorists as political tools, like Al Qaeda by the US, later backfired and the whole world is still reeling with it. This gave birth to several other radical organisation who thought this situation could be exploited for their good in the name of religion.
So, the ‘religious’ people made organisations in the name of avenging the people who ‘disrespect’ their faith by any means, be it war on terror to find and loot oil, cartoon, anti-Islam propaganda etc.
Several terrorist attacks later, the religion became a synonym of terror in cultures and societies across the world as International media and powers wanted it to be. In a Christian world, a wave of Islam, the fastest growing religion, was looked as a threat and nothing but painting even a small act of a murder by a Muslim as ‘Islamic terror’ was a good tactic.
A Caucasian killer spraying bullets in schools, parks, theatres in white population is almost every single time termed to be mentally ill but a coloured guy is a black drug addict, a Muslim is a terrorist who ‘slaughters humanity’ in the name of Allah.
When played in loop, any sane mind would tend to equate and relate a religion with terrorism. At the same time, these radical Islamic supremacist and terror organisations dreaming of Caliphate are much more responsible for a world where hundred kids are shot in head, a thousand are bombed and dozens die on every day basis. And almost all the time there is a flag that has ‘Allahu Akbar’ written on it.
Intolerance is from both the sides. Christian societies must accept that there are several other religions which preach differently and people want to follow it. This is a very difficult situation for the masters who ruled these colonies being challenged. Their societies are no more closed to one faith and Church doesn’t run democracies and economies.
Muslim nations producing oil are a challenge to their economies and surge of Islam in past decades is a challenge to their religion which they painstakingly propagated under the cloak of ‘white man’s burden’.
It is not as simple an issue as it might appear. It can not be dismissed as only Islamic terrorists are at fault. The root cause has much to do with Christian and white societies of West. Christianity must realise that in an open world societies would keep on evolving.
Talk of democracy can not be limited to politics alone, religions must be democratic enough to stand and debate with each other. We are at a juncture where terror and intolerance has become a circular issue. Some intolerant Christian cartoonists ridicule Ganesha, Moses, Christ and Mohammed in a sexual act, and a whole society pays for it.
The action-reaction cycle needs to stop somewhere. I have no idea when and how, but it must.