When it comes to the pernicious influence of religion, I consider myself fortunate to live in the western world.
I get to write about the Evansville crosses without any fear of Christian mobs administering a beating.
I can say what I want about the disgusting and disgraceful practice of ritual baby-penis-sucking among Hasidic Brooklyn Jews, and no armed posse of YHWH fans is going to come to my home to teach me a lesson.
Whenever anybody raises the argument that Islam, at its current stage of historic development, spawns more violence than other faiths, the criticism is usually that terrorism is deplorable but understandable payback for Western aggression. We hear that the U.S., in particular, has invited the bloodshed upon itself through foreign interventionism and wars. There’s some truth to that (certainly, I’m a longstanding foe of the arrogant U.S. foreign policy that holds that we should be able to barge into any sovereign nation if it serves the so-called national interest).
But it’s easy to short-circuit that kneejerk response by pointing out that rather a lot of the terrorist bloodshed has little or nothing to do with U.S.-led military aggression. What I’m talking about are acts perpetrated by radical Muslims against people (including other Muslims) who dress “immodestly,” or who joke about Muhammad, or who make a movie that’s insufficiently deferential to Islam, or who believe in equal rights for gays and women — and in education for all.
There is no current equivalence for these attacks in Christianity; Islam is demonstrably more of a threat to classical-liberal ideals, and to the Enlightenment, than any other religious belief system (one problem is that Islam has morphed into a political movement in addition to being a popular faith).
No organization drives home the point quite as well as the degenerate Nigerian group Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful.” So Boko Haram’s fighters love targeting schools and students, in a series of loathsome acts not seen since Muslim terrorists killed almost 400 pupils and teachers in Beslan.
Accountable to no one but Allah, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau nonetheless felt compelled to explain himself the other day. In a 15-minute video, he had this to say:
“Teachers who teach western education? We will kill them! We will kill them in front of their students, and tell the students to henceforth study the Qur’an.”
And that’s no bluster. The video was released some days after Boko Haram’s horrendous nighttime attack on a Nigerian boarding school that left 46 dead. Most victims were students.
Survivors being treated for burn and gunshots wounds say some students were burned alive in the pre-dawn attack on Government secondary school in Mamudo town, Yobe state, on Saturday.
To Boko Haram, that’s success:
Crying over the bodies of his two boys, farmer Malam Abdullahi swore he would withdraw his three remaining sons from a nearby school.
They may well join the killers, whether they want to or not.
Boko Haram’s… recent spate of attacks on schools is part of a two-pronged strategy that plays up the extremists’ ideology against western institutions while also providing a stream of potential new recruits as frightened parents pull their children out of education.
Unschooled and unemployed children are increasingly being recruited — sometimes forcibly — to fill the ranks of Boko Haram and unleash violence against their peers… Witnesses say many are plied with dates stuffed with tramadol — a narcotic used to tranquilize horses — before being sent on missions… More than 300 classrooms have been torched in the remote, arid state since 2009, according to official counts.
There’s probably nothing that religious fundamentalists fear quite as much as young people learning (see also Malala Yousafzai). One day, education will be more than a speed bump for ruthless theocrats — it will be their death knell. That day can’t come soon enough.
(image via the Guardian)