Sunday, 9 January 2011

What price peace ?

Post by Ash
It was depressing to read of more acts of violence carried out in recent weeks in the name of religion. Two weeks ago 60 people were killed in an attack on a church in Baghdad, contributing further no doubt to what the UN Refugee Agency described as a `slow but steady exodus` of Christians from Iraq. On New Year`s Eve in Alexandria, 21 were killed in a similar act of carnage against a Coptic Church. On Tuesday last the `liberal -minded` muslim Governor of the Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered by his own bodyguard.He had been attempting to change his country`s blaspemy laws in an effort to spare the life of a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for insulting Islam.

That fact that these are examples of attacks by alleged Muslims upon Christians is almost incidental. We all know of examples of Christian intolerance and violence toward other Christians.The advantage of historic hindsight also reminds that the Crusades were hardly the most glorious moment in European religious history. More currently it`s hard not to be acutely aware of the negative perception of the `Christian` west by Afghani`s and Iraqi`s affected by the odd stray warhead. Not for them the rationale of `collateral damage`.

All right-thinking people know that to persecute others, let alone commit atrocity in the name of religion is quite simply an abomination.Individuals and groups that carry out such despicable acts often do so quoting scriptures and mantra as justification. They conveniently ignore the overwhelming and noble truths in all the great religious texts about peace, love and justice.

Contemporary critics of religion frequently use such excesses to remind of the irrelevance, indeed latent dangers of `belief`. Hopefully those of us who accept that there is an important spiritual aspect to all life will counter this. We have a responsibility to condemn such irrational acts of violence and to help keep some sense of perspective. The perpetrators are not representative in any way of their majority communities.They seek bloodshed, mayhem and division for selfish, one-eyed gain. We must seek benevolence, mutual acceptance and peaceful co-existence.

The United Nations Declaration On Religious Tolerance (1981), subscribed to by over 300 nations , states that "everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" . It would be hard for any caring person,and in particular for an individual true to their particular faith, to disagree with this.


  1. It would appear that The Sudan is about to be split on religious grounds - Islam in the north and Christian in the south. This follows years of persecution by the Arab pro-Muslim government against the African Christians. Nothing new here though - think of Southern Irish Catholics suffering second class citizenship in Northern Ireland and the creation of Muslim Pakistan from Hindu India.
    Will humankind ever learn peace and tolerance ?

  2. The trouble with Islam is that although it is supposed to be tolerant of other faiths, it has in fact become radicalised by extremist factions who wish to dominate every country where they have a foothold ( and that includes the UK)
    Unfortunately, the moderate majority prefer to give tacit support rather than openly oppose them.

  3. From Ash

    Thanks Free Spirit and Cynic for your comments.Yes, the Sudan is most definitely a powder-keg. Add political manipulation and oil resources to the existing religious divide, and there`s a humanitarian disaster in the making.As you state, `will humankind ever learn`? I agree also that the `moderate majority`can unwittingly be too obliging. I believe we must guard against that as well as avoiding unguarded reactions to provocation from unrepresentative and twisted minorities, whatever their background, creed or colour.

  4. It seems to me that people of violence will always find an excuse to justify their actions. Religion is a convenient excuse because it divides people in to those following the religion and the "other". Once someone is "other" it becomes easier to dehumanise them. Greed, hate, and love of violence are unfortunately all too common. Violence is one tool used by those who crave power to obtain it, or to keep it. Economic control is another.

    The fabric of society is based in control of the many by the few. Until the many decide they will no longer play their game, this will continue. Note I don't say rise up, as this only succeeds in replacing one controlling group with another.

  5. Don't quite get that Ian, - if 'the many' don't take some form of action the 'few' will continue to control.
    In any case, someone has to be in charge and with democracy you can't please all of the people all of the time.
    What do you suggest 'the many'should do ?

  6. @Cynic: If I knew how to quit the game, I'd be doing it. :)

    In essence, what would be required is for people to decide that the societal structure that is in place is no longer for them, and for them to come up with another structure that suits them better. Once critical mass is established, the current societal structures would collapse.

  7. in other words, an uprising by the great 'silent majority' !!!

  8. More like a mass walkout ... ;)

  9. We now have events in Eqypt to ponder over.
    When we see on TV the masses pouring out of the Mosques to join the mass demonstrations against Mubarack, does this mean that they want 'democracy'only in order to gain a mandate for turning Egypt into an Islamic State - complete with Sharia law ??
    If so, Israel will feel even more threatened than it is now.
    What price peace in the Middle East then ??

  10. Thanks Roger.

    Change breeds uncertainty and thatunderstandably can be threatening to many.My fervent hope is that the Egyptian people will develop a much freer society than the one that has subjugated them for the last 30 years.If that is Islamic or `other`, then so be it,as long as it represents the democratic choice of the Egyptian people.Many forget that Turkey, for example, has significant Islamic democratic representation within the government, and a largely liberal outlook upon the world.Egypt has the same potential.

    As for Israel well yes, your observation in my opinion is corrct. There will be short-term problems at the very least; but this also may be a catalyst for more realistic dialogue on both `sides`. There has to come a time when neither side has a vested interest in perpetuating the historic hatreds; a `democratic` and strengthened Egypt could be a lead player in such a move.