Re: “A firmer perspective on religious violence”, Have Your Say, yesterday.
Generally Islam has been a tolerant religion. Ayah 256 of the Al-Baqara chapter – a well-known verse in the Koran – includes the phrase “there is no compulsion in religion”.
In the 6th century Arab conquest, people were left to follow their own religion. The harsh rule of the Byzantines meant people in their former lands were happy to accept their new Arab rulers.
Islam was spread in Southeast Asia by Arab and Persian traders, not by the sword. While forced conversion has occurred, notably in India, it is by no means unique to Islam.
It appears the modern rise of extremism is something welcomed and applauded by some in the West as part of a political agenda.