This is a horror. It must be treated with the utmost intolerance and disrespect. It cannot and must not be allowed to continue. We shrug our shoulders and blame it on extremists as though extremists appear from nowhere. Extremism is as legitimate a form of religion as any other and we don’t get to associate religion with the warm and fuzzy weak-tea-drinking meek-and-mild types and pretend that the batshit crazy ones are doing it wrong.
The moderate religious and the irreligious accomodationists enable this kind of behaviour by not attacking it constantly and relentlessly. This is a mystery to me: I rage against scientists who are credulous or who fake results or otherwise fail to live up to science’s ideals. I want to make science better by helping in my small way to weed out the crazy and unethical. I do this when I review papers that don’t live up to their claims and when I write about nonsense masquerading as science or about scientists who say silly things. I do this because I love science and I’m proud of it. I want it to be genuinely better, not to whitewash the ugly bits. Better out than in.
The religious seem to have a different approach. They can usually be relied upon to vaguely condemn extreme acts carried out in the name of religion but they never accept that behaviour as a consequence of religion. If Islam, for example, is a religion of peace, why don’t the many peaceful Muslims do more to ostracise the violent ones? Why don’t peaceful Imams discredit and discourage the ones that prescribe violence? Why don’t the many tolerant Christians rail against the homophobic ones? Why don’t the more sensible ones put more effort into ridiculing Young Earthers? Why aren’t Catholics more enraged about the widespread systematic raping of children by priests?
And why don’t friends and neighbours, holy men (and they’re always men) and ‘community leaders’ (also usually men) utterly condemn honour killings? Why isn’t the Muslim world so outraged by this case that the world’s media and the web in particular isn’t completely on fire with condemnation?
We must vilify people who do this kind of thing because they are villains. We must be especially diligent in policing our own groups and we must air our dirty laundry in public.