Is religion responsible for the world's violence?
As conflicts rage within Nigeria, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan and on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, we are reminded of the late Samuel Huntington's observation about the world's "bloody borders."
BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
Burma and Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody borders.”
Is such an indictment of Islam unfair? Not at all, writes Charles Krauthammer: “Is Islam an inherently violent religion? And there is no denying the fact, stated most boldly by Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations? From Nigeria to Sudan to Pakistan to Indonesia to the Philippines, some of the worst, most hate-driven violence in the world today is perpetrated by Muslims and in the name of Islam.
“In Pakistan, Muslim extremists have attacked Christian churches, killing every parishioner they could. Just last month in Lebanon, an evangelical Christian nurse, who had devoted her life to caring for the sick, was shot three times through the head, presumably, for ‘proselytizing.’
“On the northern tier of the Islamic world, even more blood flows – in Pakistani-Kashmiri terrorism against Hindu India, Chechen terrorism in Russian-Orthodox Moscow and Palestinian terrorism against the Jews. (The Albanian Muslim campaign against Orthodox Macedonia is now on hold.) And then of course there was Sept. 11 – Islamic terrorism reaching far beyond its borders to strike at the heart of the satanic ‘Crusaders.’”
Recently, the secular humanist magazine Free Inquiry, attempted to tar all people of faith with the same brush in an article “The Intimate Dance of Religion and Nationalism.” But just as all African-Americans do not have rhythm and all Chinese students are not Einsteins, all people of faith are not murderers. Furthermore, as Huntington pointed out in the 1990s, nationalism faded decades ago as the issue confronting today’s world peace.
Nowhere is this seen more vividly than in Sudan, a nation as ancient as Egypt. There, a 40-year conflict has not been fed by any nationalistic fervor to expand Sudan’s borders nor any nationalistic call to “liberate” or “restore to the motherland” those ethnic Sudanese living in neighboring Ethiopia or Uganda.
Instead Sudan’s conflict has been a vicious ethnic cleansing in which the Muslim north, populated by white Arabs, has attempted for decades to eliminate the southern blacks, who have lived there since the dawn of time – long before the Arab invasion that began in the 7th Century. The Arabs’ determination to grab the south’s rich oilfields has spawned some of the most horrific genocide in the history of mankind, particularly in the Darfur region – prompting unprecedented United Nations intervention.
“UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was plunged into the chaos of war-torn Darfur on Saturday when he was greeted in a western Sudan refugee camp by accounts of rape and murder and civilians venting their anger,” reports a 2005 article in the Pakistan Daily Times.
Stories coming out of Darfur strain the imagination – such as the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” many as young as five, who escaped attacks on their villages since they were playing in the bush or herding goats – but who watched in horror as gangs in helicopters and jeeps raided their villages, hacking their fathers to death with machetes, then raping their mothers and sisters before dragging them off to be sold in slave markets. Thousands of the boys began showing up at refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, some walking more than 1,000 miles across the desert – blurting out nightmarish stories. Some told of being forced to serve as child soldiers – pumped full of drugs and turned loose with automatic weapons on rival tribes, told to take vengeance on the enemies who had killed their families and destroyed their villages.
Others had been sold and treated worse than cattle. One ten-year-old ex-slave told of refusing to recant his Christian faith and being crucified – nailed to a wooden cross – by his Muslim owner, then rescued by a kindly Muslim neighbor who helped him escape in the night to a refugee camp, where starvation was rampant and survival difficult.
A Sudanese refugee camp inside Ethiopia
“Seven women pooled money to rent a donkey and cart, then ventured out of the refugee camp to gather firewood, hoping to sell it for cash to feed their families,” reported Alfred de Montesquiou for the Associated Press in a 2007 article. “Instead, they say, in a wooded area just a few hours walk away, they were gang-raped, beaten and robbed. Naked and devastated, they fled back to Kalma.
“‘All the time it lasted, I kept thinking: They’re killing my baby, they’re killing my baby,’ wailed Aisha, who was seven months pregnant at the time. The women have no doubt who attacked them. They say the men’s camels and their uniforms marked them as Janjaweed – the Arab militiamen accused of terrorizing the mostly black African villagers of Sudan’s Darfur region.
“Their story, told to an Associated Press reporter and confirmed by other women and aid workers in the camp, provides a glimpse into the