One of the best things I've gained from blogging over the last two years is learning from the diverse perspectives of other bloggers around the world. It's one thing to read a journalist reporting on what life is like in other parts of the world. It's quite another to get first hand accounts.
Like it or not, one of the major issues in the world today is the clash of cultures between Islam and the Christian/secular west. How much of a clash this may actually be depends on your point of view of course. It's somewhere between people from different cultures learning to respect the differences between each other and an apocalyptic battle between good and evil.
I like to think I'm capable of making up my own mind and I'm not overly swayed by the self serving braying of politicians, media talking heads and religious figures on all sides of the debate. But I remain eternally grateful to people I've met through this blog who have given me a first hand view of what it's like to be a Muslim in today's world.
While there are undoubtedly a scary number of people willing to distort their religion to justify the murder of innocent people I'm not the type to tar everyone with the same brush. I have too much Irish Catholic in me to go along blindly with that. You don't have to have a very long memory to know the prejudice and vilification the Irish suffered in the UK.
But to have the pleasure of reading the work young Muslims who are devout, thoughtful, intelligent, questioning and (shock, horror) female... well, it makes it easier to take the sensationalism of the media with a grain of salt.
So when I read an article about a right wing politician in the Netherlands launching a film critical of Islam I didn't immediately assume the worst would happen. I put my thoughts together into the following video:
The comments on YouTube were pretty much what I expected. There were more than twice as many comments as I usually get for a video which is not surprising seeing as it's such a hot button issue. Most commenters thought I was even handed but there were the usual close minded bigots who don't like having their binary good/evil worldview challenged.
It used to bug me when idiots attacked me for things I didn't say while ignoring things I did say but now I take it as a gift. Having some first hand experience of people blatantly misrepresenting my words, it's easier not to get quite so worked up by media reports. When people have their own barrows to push, the truth tends not to matter very much.