The Tactics of Bigotry

Bigotry has asserted a strong presence in the public realm as negative characterizations of Islam and Muslims are repeated daily. But how do you convince people to hate one fifth of the world’s population? Does it make sense to tell people that a true Muslim is a violent Muslim? And why has Islam become everyone’s favourite punching-bag? In the era of globalization and digital communication, it is essential to understand and interact with people of different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. As members of one large global neighbourhood, communities must break down barriers of stereotypes and build bridges of dialogue and cooperation. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today, making up the majority population in 49 countries of the world, while one fifth of the world’s Muslim population lives in non-Muslim majority countries.1Pew Research Center. http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/the-future-of-the-global-muslim-population/ Muslims are also of the most ethnically and culturally diverse groups in the world, so it would stand to reason that intelligent and thoughtful discourse about Islam and Muslims would resist tendencies to make reductionistic simplifications or gross generalizations. In the past decade, warfare and political chaos unfolding in the Muslim world have given rise to fanatical movements attempting to invoke religion to grant Divine authority to their claims. Academics have provided their opinions and analyses on the ideological and psychological origins of these fanatical movements, the political conflicts in which they are involved, the aggravating factors in the past decades which have driven the region into a chaotic bloodbath, the historical causes of instability, and so on. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with these viewpoints, such academic attention is valuable on a complex subject. Unfortunately, the...

An Axe to Grind – Does Religion Cause Violence?

Who is to blame for all the violence in the world? Haven’t there been countless wars waged in the name of religions? Wouldn’t humanity be better off without any religion at all? One of biggest controversies surrounding religion has been the charge that religions have been a pernicious forces in human history. They’ve caused more bad than good, secularists and atheists frequently argue. Many even believe that religions are responsible for most of mankind’s violence and atrocities. And if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to do away with religions altogether? The quantity question – who is the baddest of them all? The first issue to tackle is one of sheer numbers. Is it factually correct to claim that the overwhelming majority of human violence has been perpetrated in the name of God and not in the name of land, resources, power, social class, identity, or secular ideologies like nationalism, colonialism, communism, fascism or corporate imperialism? The twentieth century is easily the bloodiest century in human history. World War I resulted in the deaths of approximately 15 million, and World War II approximately 70 million, and these involved ideologies of nationalism and fascism, respectively [1]. Warfare itself is far surpassed by the death tolls from the mass murders perpetrated by governments (democide). After reviewing voluminous evidence, Professor Rudolph J. Rummel notes that 62 million were killed under the Soviet regime and 35 million murdered under Mao’s Communist Party of China [2]. Writes Rummel, “The much greater slaughter of the 20th Century occurred because of two ahistorical socio-political experiments, one fascism (especially in Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, Japan, and...