The other day, I told a stranger about my plans to move to Greece to work at a safe house. “You be careful,” he said. I get this a lot, so I hummed in appreciation/agreement without getting into why it’s dangerous to live anywhere. But then he continued, “You’re brave to live in a Muslim country.”
“Oh. Well. Greece is a Christian country. Greek Orthodox? Christian,” I explained. I was totally thrown by his assumption that Greece was an Islamic country. He was equally thrown that it wasn’t. “Well….good luck,” and he was gone.
What I didn’t
say, partly because my brain was shutting down in confusion, and partly because it wasn’t 100% relevant, is that I’ve already lived in a Muslim country, and I don’t think I was particularly brave for doing so. Never once did I fear for my life while I spent five months in Senegal, except maybe when I took a moto taxi with a twelve-year-old driver. But what do I know?
I know what that guy meant. There are Islamic countries that I do not want to visit, not now, because I would be scared for my safety. But those places are dangerous not because they are Muslim. They’re dangerous because scary people found some power and they used that power for oppression, persecution, and death.
The difference between Christianity and Islam is not that one is dangerous and the other isn’t (people have committed atrocities in the name of both religions). The difference is that Muslims believe they can please Allah by doing good and living moral lives while Christians believe they can please God by trusting him and having faith in his grace to make us good.
I loved living in Senegal. I loved my friends who are Muslim. By and large, I found that we had far more in common than there were differences between us. And they never made me feel unsafe. So PLEASE, stop assuming all Muslims are dangerous or evil or whatever. It’s an insult to my friends. Be specific. Don’t generalize your fear to an entire group of people.