Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘Nigeria’

Religious Intolerance – Deja Vous Again and Again

Intolerance in the name of God has been around for centuries. For example, between 1095 and 1291 and then to a lesser extent for the next three centuries, intensely pious and fanatical Roman Catholics, led by their Popes and with the cross as their standard, fought “Just” and “Holy” wars throughout Europe and the Middle East.  While forcefully converting whole nations to the Roman Catholic church, they killed, looted, tortured and raped Muslims, Jews, believers in the Eastern Orthodox religions and other “heretics” and pagans (believers in pre-Christian religions), throwing a significant portion of the world into the Dark Ages.  Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades and http://wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Christian_thought_on_persecution_and_tolerance.

Today, from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania, Muslim fanatics emulate their crusading forebears. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has described their murder and torture as a “bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other.” Http://thebea.st/11KT9YQ. We see the violence born of intolerance  in the vigilantism of radical Muslims attempting to establish Sharia in Nigeria. As a result, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has warned that “some of the greatest dangers to [Nigeria’s] democracy and freedom are shrouded in the perils of ethnicity and religious intolerance.” http://bit.ly/17VgzkK.  We see the violence born of intolerance in the Sunni Muslim government’s decades-long persecution of Sudanese Christians, culminating in the genocide at Darfur.

Although violent religious intolerance occurs for a variety of historical, political and cultural reasons, monotheistic teachings seem to play a role. The concept of the all-powerful, omniscient and omnipresent One True God means, for the fundamentalists, that all gods other than their god are false, that all holy books other than their holy book are bogus, and that all believers in religions other than their religion are damned for eternity. For the fanatical fundamentalists, it is one short step to the principle that only they, who follow the One True God, are moral, good, righteous and holy enough to inflict His vengeance on all believers in the “other”.  Seehttp://bit.ly/17KsGOw,   http://www.humanreligions.info/fundamentalism.html and http://www.humanreligions.info/violence_and_crime.html.

It is impossible to know with any certainty what Allah would think about the death and mayhem being committed in His name. From just two of the lessons of Muhammad, we can, however, make an educated guess. He taught that “the greatest crimes are to … murder your own species” and  “if people do you good, you will do good to them; and if they oppress you, you will not oppress them.” Fanatical believers have yet to learn some of the most basic lessons of the Prophet.

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Photo Courtesy of: http://www.mitchellteachers.org/WorldHistory/RiseofIslam/Crusades.html

“No one is free until everyone is free.”

Photograph of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni ...

Photograph of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni being prepared for the execution by hanging. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although we have made great strides recently, America still has a long way to go before gays and lesbians have full civil rights. Yet, we are one of the more tolerant countries in the world. While we debate whether gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, in over 70 countries homosexuality is a crime. It’s a capital offense in seven of those 70. Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and Somalia all punish homosexuality by death. One’s life is an extreme price to pay for one’s sexuality.

  • In 2005, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, two gay, Irani teenagers, were executed by hanging because of their sexuality.
  • In 2008, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh warned homosexuals to leave Gambia, “a country of believers,” within 24 hours or else suffer decapitation.
  • In 2005, Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for “gay conduct.”
  • In 2005, a 50-year-old Nigerian man was stoned to death after admitting he had committed a homosexual act.
  • In Kabul, Afghanistan, the Taliban, using a tank, buried an 84-year-old man under a stone wall for engaging in homosexual acts and did the same for the same reason to three men in Kandahar.
  • In 2000, the Saudi Arabian government sentenced over 100 men to prison and floggings for attending parties with same-sex couples.
  •  In the Sudan, lesbian women have been flogged and buried to their necks and then stoned.
  • In 2011, gay activist David Kato was beaten to death in Uganda.

Http://www.ranker.com/list/7-worst-capital-punishments-for-being-_illegally_-gay/joanne, and http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/homosexual.htm

The 7 sited countries are located either in Africa or the Middle East where the Quran and the hadith (Muhammad’s words and actions) are used, many say wrongly, to support the ultimate persecution of gays and lesbians, as the will of Allah. So strong is this religious belief that it permeates the culture in each of these 7 countries as well as in other countries in the region that criminalize homosexuality, making it near impossible to change attitudes. Liberia’s President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, admitted as much, when responding to a Liberian newspaper’s demand that she uphold African values and her “African womanhood” by ceasing to seek justice for gays and lesbians. She said that to decriminalize homosexuality would be counter to cultural tradition. Http://www.dallasvoice.com/countries-homosexuality-illegal-punishable-death-10107063.html.

Government-approved atrocities against the LGBT world community are vicious and widespread, but the numbers are dwarfed by the personal, ad hoc, rampant acts of hatred against the community. Yes, America has come a long way, but America’s journey is only a miniscule part of the whole story. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized, “No one is free until everyone is free.” Americans must remain vigilant against intolerance and inequality until the LGBT community is treated fairly not only in America, but in every other country on earth. See, http://caraobrien.tumblr.com/post/409268731/homosexuality-punishable-by-death-in-7-countries, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory.

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