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."

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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.

Sudanese refugees

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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.

Some of the “lost boys of Sudan”

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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