The senseless rise of religious fundamentalism

  
In recent past, more people have been killed in the name of religion than for any other thing in the world. Religion has become a symbol of death, terror and agony. Subsequently, a recent Pew Research “Changing U.S. Religious Landscape” shows the decline of religious affiliation in the United States. The study finds there are more adults who consider themselves ‘unaffiliated’ with any other form of religion than those who subscribe to a certain faith. This bludgeoning disaffection and disenchantment is partly the product of what we witness in the world around us – terror in the name of religion.

“Humanitarian crises fuelled by waves of terror, intimidation, and violence have engulfed an alarming number of countries over the past year”, maintains Commissioner Dr Katrina Lantos Swett of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

In its 2015 annual report the USCIRF catalogues the horrors of religious led terror groups and their affiliates affecting millions of lives around the world. This axis of death and destruction of sheer human lives continues to haunt innocent children, women and men of all faiths around the world.

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Tackling militant Islamism means also confronting its non-violent forms

Sept 11

By Elham Manea

#Islamism #Extremism #HopeNotHate #Radicalisation #GMABlog

The call is often from a worried teacher. They are noticing changes in students from immigrant backgrounds. Before, they defined themselves by nationality, as Kosovars, Bosnians or Turks, now they say they are Muslims. Before, they took part in art classes, now they insist their religion prohibits art. Then there’s a second change: these young men and women start to talk of a war against Islam that targets Muslims – targets them.

When I listen, I remember myself as a 16-year-old, the daughter of a diplomat from a secular family, coming back to my home country, Yemen, after four years in Morocco. It was 1982 – a period that saw the mushrooming of Islamist ideology in North Yemen. I was fascinated by a religious group led by a charismatic young woman of 17. The group met in the schoolyard. I would later learn it was part of a strong Islamist movement that saw Salafists work hand-in-hand with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The sessions were fascinating. Our leader explained about the love of God. The moment we enter into Islam, she said, all our sins are washed away and we become equal. The fate of those who are not Muslims was never mentioned. She told us that we could be better people if only we embraced the message of Islam – the true Islam, not the corrupted form of our society. For a teenage girl, lacking direction, the message was mesmerising, and I embraced it wholeheartedly.

The changes in me were gradual. It started with language. Instead of greeting others with ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’, I used only the salute of Islam: ‘assalamu alaikum’, peace be upon you. Later I would learn that this salute is only reserved for Muslims. “Do not use it with non-Muslims,” I was told.

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