Aby December 7th, 2008
Last September, a sensation was created by two major British newspapers, The Times and The Telegraph regarding Sharia civil law coming into force in Britain. In an attempt to abate the apprehension that such an alarming news could cause in Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams gave a lecture on how the enforcement of Islamic civil laws in UK is ‘acceptable’ and ‘unavoidable’. However, the lecture was met by severe criticism from several quarters of the intelligentia, arguing that the adoption of Sharia laws in British judicial system violate the fundamentals of equality in a secular nation.
A video blog by a outspoken European atheist, explaining the dangers of Islamisation in Europe.
This unfortunate trend of religious appeasement is endemic not only in Britain, but also in the rest of Western Europe. For example, in 2002, the French Minister, Nicholas Sarkozy set up the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (French Council of the Muslim Faith) which is majorly represented by an extremist and controversial Islamic brotherhood, the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF). As the current President of France, Sarkozy has also been in the news for his praises of oppressive Islamic kingdoms like Saudi Arabia. In another case, a Berlin show of Mozart’s Idomeneo had to be cancelled in 2007, for the fear of provoking a violent backlash from its 3.3 million strong Muslim population.
Such political sanction of Islam and Islamist regimes hurts not only the secular interests of European democracies, but also the integration of moderate Muslim populations to mainstream European societies. A large number of Muslim immigrants in Europe come from countries in West Asia and North Africa, where strictures of Islam are followed, that are politically and economically repressive in nature. For these people, Europe represents the hope they could not find in their countries of origin, by giving them the civil liberties that are a result of centuries of trials and tribulations that Europe went through. By legitimising the religious docrines of Islam and Islamic governments, European politicians and clergy create a sense of betrayed alienation among both the progressive Muslims and secular Europeans.
Dmitri July 15th, 2007
The attempted firebombing in Glasgow airport by radical Islamists on July 1 held the the attention of the world for the last few weeks. There were debates and then even more debates about what could have led educated doctors and engineers to an act of terrorism, though it is agreed that their religious inclination had a lot to do with it. Such religious hate and extremism is however, not limited to Islam. If trends in the last few centuries are to be seen, radicalism and intolerance exist in almost all religions be it Islam, Judaism, Christianity or Hinduism. The Islamic radicals of today, in their religious and nationalistic fervour are acting out their religiously intolerant hate against non-Muslims; much like Christians did during the Crusades and Inquisition era. A recent case of a non-Islamic religious intolerance is the protest in the US Senate by Operation Save America against a Hindu priest delivering a prayer.
An news video showing an example of religious intolerance in the US Senate (Click video to play)
One of the most significant reasons of such religious intolerance is the sense of common identity, created by a religious faith, shared by a large group of people. A strong sense of religious identity and faith has time and again been successful in grouping people to a common religious ideology, leading to violent intolerance and bloodsheds in the name of God. It does not matter to religious fanatics that the ‘others’ are human beings with common blood running through them all. All that matters is their religious difference and prescribed hate for others. Radical Islamists, Zionists and Christian extremists were grouped on a common ideology - a lack of understanding of the others’ points of view and an extremist sense of ‘identity’ associated to their religion. In such a case, their education or lack of it holds no influence on whether they become religious extremists or not - it is their faith and religious identity which rules such outcomes.
To attempt to contain religious fanaticism by ideologically attacking a particular religion is as effective as trying to contain fire by putting more fuel. Such a move gives a cause to the religionists, making them regroup in hate filled violence against the people(s) who seemingly insulted their religion. A stark reality of this was the global violent protests against publication of Muhammad’s cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (followed up by other European newspapers defending free speech). An attempt to repel radical Islamic terrorism by a newspaper using satire, unified Muslims all over the world under the common goal of ‘Islam’ irrespective of the cultural or national sides of their personal self. The radicalised Muslims then went on a rampage against the Western European secularism to avenge the ‘insult’ to their religious leader by a small Danish newspaper.
Whether it is Christian fanaticism or Islamic extremism - humanity or compassion for other human beings become irrelevant when religious identity gains supreme in an extremist way. As long as religions and blind faiths exist, religious intolerance and violence will remain a part of dark reality, whether in the secular Europe, conservative America or extremist Israel and Iran.