Damian Thompson, Editor of Telegraph Blogs, raises the issue of a rather worrying development, and points out that radical Islamism appear to be fanning the flames of intolerance…
More than half the Jews in Iraq have been driven out of the country; those that remain are forced to pay a fine or leave their homes. Some are forced to marry Muslims.
In Syria, towns and villages where Jews have lived for centuries are now almost entirely Muslim; these communities have fled to safer parts of the country, where they hope to escape an anti-Semitic massacre.
In Egypt, the new regime is surreptitiously encouraging attacks on synagogues; the Jews, despised for their supposed wealth, fear that the “Arab spring” is about to release centuries of pent-up anti-Semitic hatred.
In Nigeria, Jews have been attacked and killed while studying scripture. In Bangladesh, Jewish children are being forced into madrassas. In Pakistan, the body of an 11-year-old Jewish boy was discovered this week; he’d been tortured to death and his lips sliced off.
You won’t have heard about this atrocious persecution. That’s because – forgive me – I’ve played one of the oldest tricks in the journalist’s book. For Jews, read Christians. For anti-Semitic, read anti-Christian. For synagogues read churches.
I’m not personally a believer, but I do recognize that a very basic human right is freedom of thought and so people should indeed be free to believe whatever they wish. Sadly, within many strands of Islamic thought, only they have the “truth” and so all others much convert or face the consequences. Yes yes, the Christians have the same belief and if allowed free rein would potentially behave in a similar manner.
This is of course the core problem with belief, it plays a trick on those that truly embrace the rather strange claims.
Almost all humans are driven to be decent honourable people and strive to do what is right, and those that hold an Islamic or Christian belief are no exception, even the extreme varieties. Where things go sadly wrong is when the belief hijacks this basic and very common instinct by tricking the believers into behaving in a truly abhorrent manner by convincing them that the ideals proposed by the belief are the high moral ground.
Beliefs have been in competition with each other for centuries, so those that have survived and thrived will have developed specific attributes that enabled them to do so.
- A belief that has people who breed faster than other tribes around them has a distinct survival advantage – hence we observe beliefs that oppose behaviours that might discourage this from happening. For example, there is a rather common anti-gay rhetoric that is not justifiable using either reason or logic. Another example is the catholic stance against birth control.
- Beliefs that also motivate behaviours that suppress or even obliterate and have zero tolerance for any competing beliefs will also tend to thrive.
The fact that a specific belief now dominates says nothing at all about the truth of the claims being made, but rather tells us that the belief system has simply been successful at adapting to our human psychology and so has gained a survival advantage.
The behaviours that Mr Thompson points out are not a surprise. Do not misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that any of it should be tolerated because it is all quite clearly abhorrent. If however we can throw a spotlight upon it all and highlight the fact that none of it is either moral or good, then there is hope that such fanatical belief behaviours can begin to be tamed.
There is indeed much to hope for, I note from a recent survey a rather encouraging fact buried deep in the statistics. There on page 19 within Table 8 we find that 1 in every 4 Muslims who took part in the survey identify as non-religious. In fact 3% identified as Atheist. The survey covered 57 countries and did indeed cover much of the Islamic world, so gives us some insight into what is going on out there.
What does that mean!!! … how can you be a Muslim and also an Atheist?
What it translates to is that culturally they are Muslim, they like the holidays, but they don’t buy into the religious bullshit. The open flow of information in our modern world via the Internet has changed the game and beliefs have (thankfully) failed to adapt. People now hear about and also see the things that are really going on. That exposes the truly horrendous atrocities and so people quietly drop the crazy beliefs, but also take a leaf from the belief and remain in stealth mode to ensure that they remain safe. Even today most modern Islamic scholars support the idea of death for any who abandon Islam, so many Islamic non-believers wisely don’t actually become apostates, but instead carry on wearing the Burka’s, and happily celebrate the holidays, but quietly discard and ignore all the crazy beliefs.
The survey I point to confirms that this is indeed exactly what is happening right across the Islamic world … even in Saudi Arabia, 1 in 4 confirmed that they are not actually religious. Can we trust the survey? I’m inclined to think so, it was done via a phone interview, so people were free to say what they really thought.
Now that is encouraging – 25% of the Islamic world are actually secretly secular.