Religious persecution

For discussions about religion, but not specifically Christianity.
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For discussions about religion, but not specifically Christianity. Christians and members of any faith or of no faith are welcome, provided they treat others with respect at all times. Remember that detailed discussion about the beliefs of a particular faith will be difficult if no member of that faith is available to take part.

Re: Religious persecution

Postby GregB » June 21st, 2012, 11:55 am

But unhappily, there is enough religious persecution to fill more than two threads, and I think we are all here united in our fundamental response to what we see.

If that response is repulsion, then indeed, DG! :good:

Can I just add a couple of observations at risk of repetition or over emphasis, though better described as clarification. On the question of the reasons behind many of these conflicts, my main concern is that the media often play down the Islamic element, undoubtedly for fear of being accused of 'Islamophobia'* and so they often resort to different labels and present the conflicts as being mainly socially, economically or ethnically motivated. However, whatever the reality of such factors in varying degrees, the overwhelming fact is that Muslim persecution, especially of Christians, is systemic; ie. it forms an integral part of the fundamental Muslim mindset and worldview and that is what all the cases of such persecution around the world have in common, whatever the local circumstances and variable factors. (Bear in mind once again that in the particular case of Nigeria, Boko Haram means 'Western/Christian education is evil', a religious/cultural stance surpassing any other local elements.)

That brings me to my second observation, which is that although I agree that it may be important to highlight any Christian persecution of Muslims (at least in Nigeria; it hardly occurs elsewhere), the fact is that it is a purely local phenomenon, in many cases defensive anyway, and does not, of course, reflect anything within Christian teaching or doctrine itself, unlike the Islamic attitude to other faiths, which is virtually universal.

[* The term 'Islamophobia' was coined by a small group of members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the USA a few years ago and put into circulation precisely as a 'victim culture' ploy to ward off as much criticism of Islam as possible.]
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Re: Religious persecution

Postby Sprocket » June 21st, 2012, 12:59 pm

GregB wrote: The term 'Islamophobia' was coined by a small group of members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the USA a few years ago and put into circulation precisely as a 'victim culture' ploy to ward off as much criticism of Islam as possible.
Doubtless, but that doesn't alter the fact that Islamophobia exists - the English Defence League both exhibit it and stir it up. Anti-semitism also exists, but it is also true that Israel and its uncritical supporters (who often like to describe themselves as "critical friends" of Israel, but who never in fact criticise it) use accusations of anti-semitism, and bring up the holocaust at every opportunity, to try to head off criticism of Israel.
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Re: Religious persecution

Postby GregB » June 21st, 2012, 2:18 pm

I could respond to those points (with which I largely disagree for various reasons) in several ways, but I'd rather keep the thread on track and refer DG (and others) to the main points about Muslim persecution of Christians and, specifically in this context, in Nigeria, which I followed up in my previous post.
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Re: Religious persecution

Postby different glory » June 22nd, 2012, 3:46 am

(I have taken the word "Islamophobia" to the "words, words, words" thread in Chatterbox.)

Nigeria... in fact, I believe that the Christians are under persecution there -- that it is not , or not yet, precisely a tit-for-tat persecution both ways. This story suggests that some of those claimed as Muslim dead were in fact shot by Muslims... it is very very difficult to know from outside the country just what is happening. From that report:

The series of attacks are fueling an already simmering sentiment that it is time for Nigerian Christians to fight back against their Muslim neighbors, who are seemingly given free passes to commit violence against them. “We are tired of turning the other cheek,” one Nigerian Christian explained in 2010. But others still call for a peaceful response.

Ignatius Kaigama, archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jos, appealed for calm, saying, “We have a faith that preaches the respect of the sanctity of the human life. We have a faith and have the ability to reason. So, we must not behave like those who believe they are serving God by killing others.”


The other factor is how far Boko Haram is purely Islamist -- they have assassinated Muslims in the past -- ie Muslims who did not support them, or stood in the way of their drive to power. Their motto is against Westernism, rather than Christianity per se -- rather like some Hindu groups in India.
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Re: Religious persecution

Postby GregB » June 22nd, 2012, 7:39 am

I don't think the killing of other Muslims who oppose them detracts at all from their own strongly Islamic/Islamist identity and raison d'être. Like other extremist religio-ideological movements (eg. the Bolsheviks and the Nazis in the 1930's), they will eliminate co-religionists (using the term broadly to include politicos) who do not follow or obey them or stand in their way. As for their opposition to Western culture and ideas, that is precisely because of the ultra-fundamentalist form of Islam they espouse, which is obscurantist and backward looking and the shaping force of their world-view. It has little or nothing to with their being some kind of ultra-Nigerian nationalists - after all, many other Nigerian nationalists (and those from other African states) have welcomed Western education and technology with open arms in the advancement of their own interests and that of their countries.
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Re: Religious persecution

Postby different glory » June 25th, 2012, 12:06 am

Re: the Nigerian churches and persecution. This article is an update, of sorts. Thanks be to God, there were no bombings yesterday (Sunday 24th) at Nigerian churches. However, small churches were nearly deserted -- large churches were (apparently) very full -- I guess an illogical safety-in-numbers mentality prevailed? But I'm not going to second-guess from here what the best strategy is -- I'll just continue to pray for their courage and wisdom, in the Nigerian churches.

It is notable that the article says that all sorts of groups are using the Boko Haram cover for violence with various roots (political destabilisation, simple protection rackets, maybe, takeover of property and assets). It also claims "tit-for-tat" killings took place during the week, though there is no mention of anything like targeting of mosques etc.
Boko Haram admit responsibility for some of the attacks but
deny others, and security sources and many Nigerians believe
their name is used as a cover for other groups aiming to stoke
religious tensions.

"There seems to be some political undertones because for
some time now people have been attacking the churches perhaps
with a view to getting a reaction from the Christendom so that
there will be a war in the country," said John Abuere, a
parishioner in Abuja.
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Re: Religious persecution

Postby GregB » June 26th, 2012, 7:16 am

Actually, DG, to be strictly correct, the article says that "many Nigerians believe their name is used as a cover for other groups", which is not quite the same (ie. there is, as yet, no definite proof of that.) Even so, the core of the group are certainly Islamist extremists who target Christians and Christian churches out of religious motives.

Below is a recent profile of the leader of the group. Notice how he is described as a 'theology student', the meaning of the Pashto term 'taliban' which is used for his counterparts in Afghanistan. (Strictly speaking the word just means 'student' but all they ever study is theology anyway.)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18020349

It might be worth noting tangentially that in Mali, the huge country to the north-west of Nigeria, Islamist Tuareg rebels affiliated to Al-Qaeda Mahgreb (ie. North Africa) have taken advantage of the political upheavals in the country to seize control of the entire northern part of the state (an area the size of Spain) where strict Sharia law is already being applied. In the Ivory Coast, which borders Mali to the north, after last year's civil war and ousting of a nominally Christian president, an Islamist regime under the former vice-president has taken power. While religious persecution is not a potential problem in Mali, it may well be in the Ivory Coast where around 70% of the population is divided almost equally between Muslims and Christians. (The question of persecution apart, we are witnessing a disturbing extension of Islamist power and influence throughout North Africa and the Middle East.)
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