Religious wars

Fifteen years have passed since the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims en masse in Srebrenica by the Bosnian Serbs. Nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed by the Serbs in just five days back in July 1995. Even to this day the dead are being recovered from the mass graves dug during the Srebrenica genocide and reburied by their loved ones who survived the horror. The massacre was termed ‘genocide’ by both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It was a modern day ‘ethnic cleansing’. The reasons behind the genocide had more to do with the Islamic faith of the Bosniaks than anything else. They were as much Slavs as the Serbs, but on the basis of faith, the Serbs set off a religious war.

The roots of this faith-based conflict date back to the colonial era and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Those who opine that the rise of ‘Islamic terrorism’ is a result of the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians need to look back in history and trace the trajectory of events that led to the rise of extremist ideology in the Muslim world. The Palestinian issue is a festering wound from 1948 and cannot explain in entirety the violent extremist angle that some Muslims later turned to.

For more than six centuries, the Turkish sultanate ruled most of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. It is because of the Ottomans that there are still many Muslims in Europe who had converted during Ottoman rule. The Christians under Ottoman rule felt resentment towards the Muslims, thus giving rise to a deep-seated, lingering Islamophobia, which even the communist interlude in Yugoslavia could not overcome. The UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica were silent spectators when these gory murders were being committed right in front of their eyes. What is the logic of having ‘peacekeeping’ forces when they cannot even intervene to prevent massacres? By killing Bosnian Muslims, the Serbs made an attempt to obliterate one part of their history in a frenzy of national/religious chauvinism in the midst of the break-up of post-communist Yugoslavia. Former US President George W Bush’s policies were a manifestation of neo-colonialism. His misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq are a prime example of this ideology. Terrorism’s appeal in the Muslim world is not just limited to poverty, it has its roots in cumulative layers of resentment against western bullying and repression, not helped by provocative actions such as publishing caricatures of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in newspapers, starting a ‘Draw Mohammad Day’ campaign, banning headscarves, the controversy about the veil, among other things. For the western world, the word ‘Islam’ is by now linked with terrorism. On the other hand, many in the Muslim world look at neo-colonialism as another version of the Christian Crusades.

The response in some sections of the Muslim world has taken the form of a purist fundamentalist reaction. These extremists harp on about the millenarian ‘golden age’ in Islamic history. They wish to impose their narrow, literalist view of Islam on Muslims, in preparation for the conquest of the rest of the world in a latter-day resurrection of the Islamic empire. Islam spread because of its liberatory and tolerant principles. The Quran tells us there is no compulsion in religion. But Iran’s extremist Shia theology and Saudi Arabia’s and al Qaeda’s extremist Sunni ideas represent opposite intolerant poles of Islamic fundamentalism. If both the west and the Muslim world want peace, they have to come to an understanding that their common enemy is puritan ideology, both within the western world and Muslims.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Ammara said…
was very encouraged by reading u
keep up the work!
Anonymous said…
dont look backward history will always have grief, look forward, write something even it is small that can rekindle hope...if u write articles like these it will only add to the negative impact on the audience. Like clinton said.. you cant drive ahead looking in the rear view mirror. Portraying Muslims as victims is not helpful in any way for resolving the current issues. Studying past can offer no solution. Live in present, work in present. Have a policy of 'See no bad, hear no bad and talk no bad' ... that is the only way forwards. People think by seeing and speaking about bad things you can eradicate bad, thats not true...ignore bad things move forward with a positive frame of mind.

I have read a lot of your blogs, they are more or less balanced and good. sometimes irritating though(i will ignore it :P).
bineesh said…
Hi, I think we are not going to the certain problems Muslim counties and religion face.

May I ask you, which nations supported US in Afghanistan and Iraq, none other than Pakistan and Saudi and other gulf nations. And tell me if you take out the last 10 years, who was fighting with US against it's policies, none other than India.

Does that make sense that, it's the corrupted muslim leaders and the religious sentiments which created the banana problems we have now.

And May I ask, is iIndia on top of the 5 countries in term of muslim population, development freedom for it's muslim people and where else you have the most educated muslim than India. And in any country the majority feel, the government have minority supporting policies to an extensive level, other than India.

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