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."
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.