Thursday, July 21, 2005

blaming religion

From the Independent via Selves and Others:

What do Kenya, Tanzania, Bali, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Turkey have in common? The answer is that they're all part of a litany of countries where bombings took place before Britain joined the US in invading Iraq, and are now being learnt, parrot-like, for every minister to recite when asked about Iraq's connection to the London bombings.

To which one can only put one's head in one's hands and weep. If this is really what Tony Blair and his government believe, then there is no hope of their ever understanding what happened.

We all know why they're doing it. It’s political convenience. It suits Blair to say that the bombs are all down to an "evil ideology", because that way you avoid totally any connection with British policy abroad or at home.

It's equally convenient for the middle-aged mullahs meeting the Prime Minister on Tuesday, since blaming all the violence on radical young clerics enables them to reassert their authority over their communities and to sweep the problems into a corner marked "brainwashing of the young from outside".

But you can't divorce religion from politics, belief from circumstance. Read the ancient historian Josephus on the Jewish revolts against Roman occupation. Look today at the manipulation of religion in the violence at Ayodhya in India or the Christian-Muslim clashes in Nigeria. Religion has always been as much the effect as the cause of fervent political feeling.

Nor do you need religion to persuade young people to sacrifice themselves for a cause, as the history of the Red Brigade and the Tamil Tigers would show. Blaming it all on mad mullahs makes it easier to "do something" in response - close down mosques, refuse entry to preachers, gather a chorus of rejection from community leaders - but it doesn't begin to get to the root of the problem....

keep reading...

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