Iraq War Means Loss of Faith for Youth

The article is by Sabrina Tavernise of the International Herald Tribune.

After almost five years of war, many young Iraqis, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.

The quotations are startling. You rarely hear Muslim youth speaking this openly against Islam.

It’s a pleasant surprise to know they’re taking a stand against the faith:

“I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us,” said Sara Sami, a high school student in Basra. “Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don’t deserve to be rulers.”

Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: “The religion men are liars. Young people don’t believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore.”

“When they behead someone, they say ‘Allah Akbar,’ they read Koranic verse,” said a moderate Shiite sheik from Baghdad. “The young people, they think that is Islam. So Islam is a failure, not only in the students’ minds, but also in the community.”

“I used to love Osama Bin Laden,” proclaimed a 24-year-old Iraqi college student. She was referring to how she felt before the war took hold in her native Baghdad. The Sept. 11, 2001, strike at American supremacy was satisfying, and the deaths, abstract.

Now, the student recites the familiar complaints: Her college has segregated the security checks; guards told her to stop wearing a revealing skirt; she covers her head for safety.

“Now I hate Islam,” she said, sitting in her family’s unadorned living room in central Baghdad. “Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army are spreading hatred. People are being killed for nothing.”

The whole culture change could lead to a political change in Iraw in the future:

But a shift seems to be registering, at least anecdotally, in the choices some young Iraqis are making. Professors reported difficulty recruiting graduate students for religion classes. Attendance at weekly prayers appears to be down, even in areas where the violence has largely subsided, according to worshipers and imams in Baghdad and Falluja. In two visits to the weekly prayer session in Baghdad of the followers of Moktada al-Sadr last autumn, vastly smaller crowds attended than had in 2004 or 2005.

Such patterns, if lasting, could lead to a weakening of the political power of religious leaders in Iraq. In a nod to those changing tastes, political parties are scrubbing overt references to religion.

(via Unscrewing the Inscrutable)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Iraq War, religion[/tags]

  • I like tea

    I don’t know how many grains of salt to take this with, but if it’s any indication that Islamic cultures can move towards secularism, that would be awesome.

    Although…

    “I used to love Osama Bin Laden,” proclaimed a 24-year-old Iraqi college student. She was referring to how she felt before the war took hold in her native Baghdad. The Sept. 11, 2001, strike at American supremacy was satisfying, and the deaths, abstract.

    Now, the student recites the familiar complaints: Her college has segregated the security checks; guards told her to stop wearing a revealing skirt; she covers her head for safety.

    I can’t help but feel a twinge of contempt for this person. She’s totally cool with Islamic radicals killing thousands of civilians… until they start dictating what clothes she can war, THAT’S JUST GOING TOO FAR.

    Sigh. Oh well; whether it’s the murderous radicals or the repressive morals, there are plenty of reasons to hate Abrahamic monotheism. At least she graps some of them.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    When things get bad, humans have a tendency to seek comfort in religion. I am deeply impressed that these young people have fought off that urge.

    Hopefully this article isn’t just bullshit.

  • James

    Assuming this isn’t bullshit, this could all be just young adults being rebellious as they can be in that situation. A thought that comes to mind is that once everything is settled over there, no matter who is in charge or wins or whatever term you want to use here, the same people in their demographic will, a couple years after everything is over, go back to believing fervently as they were before 9/11. Notice they never mention that they don’t believe in a deity, just that they are not enamored with Islam.

  • Arlen

    [sarcasm]We give Bush much too little credit. What a brilliant strategy this Iraq War has turned out to be! All we need to do is make Muslims lives a living hell for long enough that they decide God has abandoned them, and then we needn’t ever worry about the threat of Islamic terrorism—there will be no Islam! Brilliant![/sarcasm]

    I would probably take this report with a massive dose of salt. History would lead me to suspect that for every kid like those interviewed here there is another who is driven by the war into becoming the very terrorists that we purportedly went over there to stop.

  • http://uncrediblehallq.blogspot.com/ Chris Hallquist

    Iraw? Where’s that? I know my geography isn’t perfect, but…

  • Darryl

    Religions thrive when times are good or when a nation goes to war and is winning. But, when times are bad, or when you’re getting your ass handed to you, then you begin to question your faith. I believe in the power of crises. The U.S. hasn’t had a good one for a while. Maybe our turn is coming up.

  • Matt

    The whole culture change could lead to a political change in Iraw in the future:

    That’s an interesting typo – cause that’s prolly how they feel right now.

    Or is that Apple’s new meat grinder?

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    In a related note, Islamic parties did not do well in the recent elections in Pakistan. I think the USA needs to stop thinking that we can “end terrorism”, especially Islamic terrorism, or that we can bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East. Those things will not happen until people in Muslim countries say enough is enough. It looks like that may be happening.

  • http://blog.lib.umn.edu/fole0091/epistaxis/ Epistaxis

    Great! … ?

  • Mriana

    I’m surprised the youth who are rebelling against Islam are not being killed. People can be killed for doing that, esp if they say the sentence and then denounce Islam.


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