Overheard at Ali’s Diner on Arab Street

“You hear about that massacre in Norway?”

“Awful.”

“You know about the guy who planted the bombs and did the shooting?”

“What about him?”

“Christian.”

“Figures.”

“It can’t just be a coincidence that there’s so much terrorism associated with Christians.”

“That Bible they have, it’s all about war and killing. So no wonder they’re always shooting each other.”

“Religion of my peace, my fetoosh.”

“Onward Christian soldiers…”

“Turn the other cheek, so you can shoot somebody else.”

“That Norway guy says he was trying to start a war.”

“Boy, they sure do have a knack for it. Whether it’s Jerusalem with the Crusaders or Iraq and Afghanistan, they keep doing it and act like there’s nothing wrong with it.”

“Because it’s what the Bible tells them to do, I guess.”

“Or maybe it’s what Jesus would do.”

“You know, I don’t get that whole thing with Jesus. Is Jesus the same as Allah, just with a different name?”

“I’ve read about this on the internet. It’s completely differently. We have one god. They believe in three gods, or a god with three heads…”

“So Christians don’t worship the same god as we do?”

“No, they don’t. A lot of people don’t understand that. But this thing I read on the internet explains it. It talks about them drinking blood at their services, too, and a lot of other interesting stuff. I can send you a link.”

“Thanks. There’s a lot of disinformation out there. It’s really important to understand who your enemies are.”

“These hardcore Christians, they say they’ve been born again and that…”

“What the hell does that mean, born again?”

“Beats me. And don’t say hell around them.”

“Yeah, right. They’ll put out a fatwa on me.”

“Those Christian fundamentalists, they believe that every word of the Bible is true, literally. They don’t even want schools to teach about evolution, since that’s not what the Bible says.”

“Do they know it’s the twenty-first century?”

“I’m sure they know – they just don’t care. They’ve been arguing about evolution since the nineteenth century, and they still haven’t resolved it. These fundamentalists are also against homosexuality, premarital sex, smoking…”

“If you live like that, then being dead would seem like paradise.”

“They do this chanting and stuff, then they say that the spirit of their god inhabits their body and they speak in all these strange languages and stuff…”

“You’re joking, right?”

“No. It’s the truth.”

“Man, they’re so different from the rest of us. No wonder they keep to themselves and don’t want anything to do with other people.”

“That guy in Norway thought Muslims and Christians couldn’t live together, so he had to kill the Muslims.”

“Well, he certainly wasn’t looking for them in the right place. I mean, Norway.”

“Maybe he got confused because of the oil there.”

“Why do they hate us so much?”

“Well, this guy was convinced Muslims are invading Europe.”

“Yeah, right. That’s why they’re banning alcohol and churches… Oh no, wait, it’s the Europeans that are banning the head scarf and mosques.”

“And you’ve got all these Muslims invading countries, sometimes with their armies, and trying to convert everyone… Oh, wait, that’s what Christians do.”

“I’ve always wondered about that. Why do they want to convert everybody?”

“They believe Christians are the only ones who go to heaven.”

“So?”

“Out of the Christian goodness of their heart, they want everyone to go to heaven. That’s why they go running around everywhere converting people, whether they like it or not.”

“What if you don’t want to convert?”

“Then they have to kill you for the sake of your soul.”

“They have to kill you in order to save you?”

“Well put.”

“Then they go building churches everywhere as a sign of their conquests.”

“That’s the way they are. They really believe that’s what they need to do.”

“But because they really believe it doesn’t make it right.”

“Of course not. But more important, they think anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe is an infidel and needs to convert or die.”

“In this day and age, it’s hard to believe there are still people who think that way.”

“And that’s why they’re so casual about killing people, why they don’t value human life the same way we do.”

“That old guy in Rome, what do you call him, the pimp?”

“The Pope.”

“That’s right. You never hear a peep out of him when Christians kill thousands of people. But some Muslim wackos kill a few Christians, and the old guy goes all batfish.”

“Yeah. You hear these Christians say that it’s just radicals who do this killing and all the other bad stuff, and they don’t represent the true meaning of Christianity. But you never see these mainstream Christian leaders standing up to denounce Christian extremists.”

“Right. When we start seeing moderate Christians out in the street condemning the murderers and bigots in their midst, then maybe we can start taking their claims about wanting peace and pluralism and tolerance seriously.”

“Amen, brother.”

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie. See his biography, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com.

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4 Responses to “Overheard at Ali’s Diner on Arab Street”

  1. ‘Ali’s Diner’ reaches 3Quarks semifinals « Muhammad Cohen on media and more Says:

    [...] to your support, Overheard at Ali’s Diner on Arab Street has reached the semi-finals for the 3QuarksDaily Politics and Social Science Prize. The article [...]

  2. ‘Ali’s Diner’ reaches 3Quarks semifinals « Speak Without Interruption Says:

    [...] to your support, Overheard at Ali’s Diner on Arab Street has reached the semi-finals for the 3QuarksDaily Politics and Social Science Prize. The article [...]

  3. Dave Says:

    I love you Mr. Cohen, but is the inference that an atrocity committed by a “Christian” somehow alleviates the overwhelming propensity for such actions to be in the name of Islam? I’m sure your many readers are wise enough to see the distinction between a rogue Scandinavian and the institutional efforts of Muslim extremists. They also compare the institutional condemnation from Christian groups with the telling non-response from Islamic groups. You misspoke by the way, the Pope (and virtuallly every other Christian leader) specifically denounced the Norway idiot and all “religiously motivated terrorism”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xUKmW8GWa0

    Isolated events don’t change how you pitch to somebody. He’s called Bucky “F’ing” Dent because it was a shock. It doesn’t mean that all 165 lb, .240 hitting shortstops are a threat. Teams still feared Reggie Jackson more-it’s statistics not discrimination.

    • Muhammad Cohen Says:

      Dave,
      Thanks for the note.

      Yours is the reaction I feared. I hate to pull back the curtain, but the point was not that Muslims or Christians or [fill in the blank] are more prone to violence than others. I was trying to point out that – present company excluded – pinning the actions of a nut or five or thousand on some larger group they belong to quickly descends into caricature, fractional truths, and parroted disinformation. I hope that readers will remember the next time labels start flying.

      To try to use the baseball analogy – you may say “Yankees stink” or worse and mean it, but you would gladly let Jeter, CC, Texeira, Cano, the great Rivera and others play for your team if you had the chance. The label on the group doesn’t fit the more nuanced reality of the individuals within it.

      As my grandmother used to say, “There’s good and bad in all kinds.” I’d like to think that the good outnumber the bad, but anybody’s bad can do an awful lot of bad.

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