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

Posts tagged ‘Sudan’

Convert or Face Death!

A modern-day exodus is occurring for the Christians of the Northern Iraqi towns of Mosul and Bakhdida.  “Convert to Islam, leave the city or face death” is the threat reportedly given Christians by Islamic State militants, a faction of Sunni Muslims practicing an extremist and intolerant version of fundamentalist Islam.  Christians are fleeing for their lives, leaving their ancestral homes to seek asylum in Irbil, the capital of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan, and in countries throughout the world.  It is said that the Iraqi Christian population once having reached 1 million, may now be no greater than half that size.* After centuries of wreckage caused by hatred and intolerance born from religious fervor occurring in all corners of our globe, we still bear witness to that hatred and intolerance.  We are now no closer to a world safe for people of all religions and faiths than we were in the unenlightened Middle Ages.

What is happening to the Christian population of Iraq is but the more recent horrendous face of religious intolerance.  We need not go far into history to realize that the Crusades and Pogroms of the past are alive and well in the modern era and that religious freedom is still way beyond our grasp.  We have seen:

  • the Muslim slaughter of Hindus  in India and Pakistan;
  • the German slaughter of the Jews based, in part, on the anti-Semitic teachings of Martin Luther;
  • the massacre of Sikhs as a response to Indira Gandhi’s assassination;
  • the Muslim against Muslim human carnage resulting from the Shi’ite-Sunni conflicts;
  •  the Bosnian massacre of Bosnia Muslims in the ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Bosnian Serbs;
  • the carnage in Sudan between Christian and Animist forces in the south and the Muslim forces in the north, followed by the genocide of black Sudanese Muslims of Darfur inflicted by the Arab Muslims of the north;
  • the Sabra and Shatila slaughter of mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites by Lebanese Christians; and
  • the current Islamic State displacement of the Yazidis,

to name just a few.  We have become so immune to the oh so common onslaught of violent religious intolerance that we take in the news and  go about our business believing that violent religious intolerance is someone else’s problem.  Today it is the problem of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis.  As history has proved, no person and no religion are immune.

It is time we honored and respected God’s diverse and wondrous creation. It is time we recognize that God would never require the religious to be violently intolerant of the differences existing in God’s own creation. What will it take to eradicate religious intolerance? God only knows.

*See, http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-christians-20140721-story.html., http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/06/17/whats-happening-to-iraqs-christians-as-islamists-tear-across-the-country/, and http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-northern-iraq-gains-by-islamic-state-threaten-centuries-old-christian-town/2014/07/19/7088f3b6-0f53-11e4-8c9a-923ecc0c7d23_story.html.

Christians in Qaraqosh, Iraq

Photo courtesy of : http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-christians-20140721-story.html

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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.

crusadesmainpic

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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