Religion & violence [2 of 3]

Europeans swooped down on the East, as well the Americas and found rich pickings everywhere. The idea of spreading Christianity was the inevitable excuse, but that did not keep them from using all kinds of measures and subterfuges, immoral in their own books, to subjugate the natives.
The English and other immigrants- economic, religious, and political refugees, escaping starvation, discrimination and destitution in their home countries, were welcomed by the American natives, given shelter and food, and paid the debt back by gifting small pox infested blankets to their hosts.
Power and dominance lend legitimacy. No one talks about the genocide perpetrated by the English. It barely merits a footnote in history.

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POST WWII: BRITISH PASS THEIR LEGACY OF DIVIDE AND RULE TO THE US

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by Dr. Syed Ehtisham

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Europeans swooped down on the East, as well the Americas and found rich pickings everywhere. The idea of spreading Christianity was the inevitable excuse, but that did not keep them from using all kinds of measures and subterfuges, immoral in their own books, to subjugate the natives.

The English and other immigrants – the economic, religious, and political refugees, escaping starvation, discrimination and destitution in their home countries, were welcomed by the American natives, given shelter and food, and paid the debt back by gifting small pox infested blankets to their hosts [i].

Power and dominance lend legitimacy. No one talks about the genocide perpetrated by the English. It barely merits a footnote in history.

Europeans captured vast colonies and exploited the resources for their own ruling class. Remember, even at the height of their power, the ordinary British citizen often went without a job, food shelter or protection under the law. Debtor’s jails were bursting at the seams. Malnutrition was common and child labor universal. Twelve-hour days, six and a half days a week, was the norm. Bonded labor and serfdom were accepted facts of life; the lord of the manor owned the peasants body and soul, often taking his pleasure in female (and male) bodies. Prostitution was rife; physical punishment, beatings were permissible[ii].

The British were, and are, past masters at the art of divide and rule. They had honed their skill during European wars, and patronized Hindus and Muslims in turn. After the crusades, in which the British had played a leading role too, it was they who used the religious divide as an instrument of policy. They also promoted Shia-Sunni conflict[iii].

They had left festering wounds behind.  Chronic infections metamorphose into cancer. Kashmir and Arab-Israeli conflicts no longer need promotion and have spawned generations of “terrorists[iv].

Post WWII, with the Empire gone they passed on the “torch” to the USA.

Advent of oil and the consequent dependence of capitalist economy on it, catapulted Middle Eastern countries into a position of consequence. These countries happened to be Muslim. The rulers, creations of colonists[v] one and all, were all too amenable to foreign control.

But winds of nationalism were blowing across the globe. Among the Muslims, Arab satraps were all too ready to fund extremist elements to undermine the movements, with Pakistan’s Jamaat e Islami, among the chief recipients.

They had aided and abetted the creation of Israel, the chief patron being none other than King Abdullah of Jordan, the current Abdullah’s great grandfather. They used the Muslim Brotherhood to undermine Nasser.

The mullahs of the other sects, Ayatollahs of Iran conspired with the CIA and MI5, and the Iranian establishment to overthrow the nationalist government of Muhammad Mossadeq, whose main ‘crime’ was nationalization of oil companies.

In Afghanistan, later in the 1970’s, a few adventurers in critical positions of authority with an organized political cadre backing them, though lacking popular support, yet decided to take over the Government.

They could not stand on their own. The USSR had to step in to prop them up. The USA saw it correctly as a chance to avenge their humiliation in Vietnam.

In any event, Pakistan as conduit of military, financial and intelligence aid, got its cut, came out of economic depression and worked hand in hand with its patron in supplying the resistance fighters with materiel and training.

Their patrons, in their glee at Soviet discomfiture, and with exhaustion of their old foe fervently anticipated, glossed over the fact that they were nurturing a serpent in their sleeves. They were in cahoots with Taliban[vi], the most virulent variety of fanatics.

Ben Laden’s Al-Qaida emerged as an international movement. Starting with the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center its operatives started attacking western interests.

In due course Taliban made short work of all the other groups. They were especially brutal in suppressing Shias. In the town called Mazar Sharif they killed thousands of unarmed men women and children after tempting them to surrender with an offer of amnesty sworn on the holy book. They went on to unleash an unprecedented reign of terror and misogyny. Western powers only made pious noises as a matter of form.

Come 9/11, Bush, without any clue to the genesis of the outrage, had to declare an all out war on ‘terror’.

All it achieved was enhancement of recruits to fanatic groups and wanton destruction of Iraq.

The pundits of all hues, leanings, and national origin are busy explaining the genesis of terrorism. The Muslim baiting cadre attributes it to their different values, hatred of Judeo-Christian ethos, lure of paradise with nubile and willing virgins, and all kinds of thinly disguised racist attitudes. Others dwell on desperation, reaction to historic injustices, after effects of colonialism, legacy of the Soviet Union, poverty, lack of education, indoctrination, reaction to Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is an element of truth in all the proffered reasons. Not all suicide bombers are illiterate. Many come from affluent households. The TV pictures of Madrassahs (seminaries) with children reciting the Quran, which they obviously do not understand, would not appeal to an educated person. The recent London subway suicide bombers were born and brought up in Britain. That country offers free health service, nearly free college education (completely free in Scotland), and a decent welfare system. One of the bombers was teacher of children with learning difficulties.

He was well respected and had to be a sensitive and considerate person to be able to cope with his job. It is argued that but for religious indoctrination, they would not have suicide bombed London tubes and bus system. All 9/11 hijackers were well educated and lived a fairly affluent life. But they conveniently forget that George Washington and his fellow leaders of the American war of independence were wealthy landowners.

Apologists lament that Islam does not sanction mindless killing, that suicide is a sin in Islam etc. But the promoters of the acts of terror appear to have equally valid authority to back up their claim that suicide bombers are fighting injustice and killing for a good cause.

I have dwelt at some length on a historic review of violence and the thread of religion running through it. Secular fundamentalists attribute it entirely to exclusivity of faith. It is true that all religions teach that followers of the particular creed are on the right path; only they enjoy divine favor and all that goes with it. Non-believers will never be forgiven and burn in hell forever. Except for Hindus and Jews they lay great store by proselytization, though this abstinence has not kept the two peoples from mayhem and murder.

Atheists compare religion to a poison. They say that if you leave cyanide around children would eat it. It is not just that the attitude is crudely elitist, but also it is impractical. You cannot hide all the poison in the world. Some poisons do have medicinal value and are used in industry. 

The alienation of well-placed and prosperous Muslim expatriates deserves a careful study and analysis.

The solution is not to destroy all venom, but to spread the knowledge of its lethal qualities and above all to work towards and found an equitable and egalitarian society.

Contd…

Next:  Pakistan’s Drift towards Theocracy

Pages   1   2   3  

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[i]  This was the first recorded use of Biological warfare, and that too on non-belligerents. The natives not having been exposed to the virus before, had no immunity and died in their hundreds of thousands.

[ii] Please read Charles Dickens and Somerset Maugham, especially the latter for a description of the pathetic state of the working class in early twentieth century England. If the ruling class treated their own kind this way, you do not have to stretch your imagination too far to make an educated guess of the treatment meted out to the “natives”.

[iii] In the nineteen forties one of their paid agents, a Maulana Abdul Shakoor of the Frangi Mahal – a renowned house of Muslim Scholars of Lucknow – wrote a pamphlet in that it was the Shias who had martyred Imam Husain!! He insisted on taking out a Madhe Sahaba (adulation of the first four caliphs of the Prophet of Islam procession through Shia localities. He rode in a palanquin, a Maulana from Lahore Ataullah Shah Bukhari followed him on an elephant. The British gave permission for the procession to parade through the route. Quite a few Shia-Sunni riots ensued. Insiders let the cat out of the bag. The Frangi Mahli Maulana had been gifted a printing press by the British administration and was on a regular, and generous stipend.

[iv]Terrorist label, like most other labels invented by humans, has an unpredictable shelf life. Only the other day, a true blue American observer pointed out that fathers of this nation were dubbed terrorist by the British. In more recent memory, Menachim Begin, one time PM of Israel had a price on his head, after he had blown up King David Hotel in Jerusalem, and sent a number of Britishers to an unscheduled meeting with their Maker. He shared a Nobel peace prize with Saadat of Egypt. Yasser Arafat after heading the list of “terrorists” for a considerable time was feted at the White House. He also won the Nobel peace award. US officials are trying to open lines of communications with the insurgents in Iraq.

[v] Before WWI the British and the French had suborned Arabs to rebel against the Turks. After the Turks lost the region they divided it into respective zones of influence. Satraps were imposed on countries created by artificial lines. Kuwait had been part of Iraq and Syria and Lebanon were one country.

[vi]Literally seekers, in common usage, of education, they were indoctrinated in religious seminaries in Pakistan. To add to the missionary zeal and to give it an International color* (remember all Muslims, in theory, belong to one Ummah -Brotherhood, comrades in arms, it is difficult to translate) were the cohorts of Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida.

          The policy was akin to lighting slow fuses to widespread ammunition dumps.

Al-Qaida developed in the fashion of hydra heads. It is no use cutting one, another, nay be many, will grow to replace it. It was only a question of time, before it would garner adequate resources, technology and men to hit at the vitals of the “infidel”.

Source

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