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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Medieval and contemporary acts of torture, genocide, war crime, ethnic cleansing and crime against humanity through religion (part 5 )

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 Russians turn in this savage cycle came in the late 1800s. The czars, threatened by growing mutiny among peasants and workers, sought to divert the people’s unrest by helping anti – Semitic groups rouse Orthodox hatred for Jews. Three waves of pogroms ensured: in the 1880s, just after the turn of the century, and during the Bolshevik Revolution. Each wave was increasingly murderous.

The Armenian horror – human conflicts can be complex, rooted in tangle of religion, politics, language, nationalism, race, ethnicity, international power grabbing, or other causes. That’s how it was with one of history’s little known tragedies, the Armenian horror that killed more than one million Christians and Moslems during World War I.

Historically, Armenia, a tiny country on Turkey’s northeast edge, was an enclave of Christians in a world of Muslims. It has been part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire since the 1300s and contained many followers of Muhammad. Strives between the two faiths was frequent.

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The Holocaust – the most heinous butchery in human history, the Nazi Holocaust, wasn’t religious. And yet it was, as for century after century, the Christian church had designated the people to be despised: the religious believers called Jews, the “Christ – killer”, the “enemies of God”. This is what was largely believed to have inspired Hitler for the perpetration of the scourge of the holocaust.

Dharmklara – a unique word of India, meaning ‘religious violence’, the word is demonstrative of the never ending hate between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.

During the colonial era, when British guns held India captive, antipathy between the faiths was suppressed. It is profoundly ironic that one of history’s great pacifists, Mohandas Gandhi, by finally succeeding in removing British control; inadvertently opened a floodgate of religious murder.

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During the 1930s, when the Hindu Gandhi began winning concessions from the British rulers, India’s Muslims felt excluded and demanded privileges. Lethal Muslim – Hindu riots broke out in many cities. After World War II, as Britain prepared to free the colony, disputes over Hindu and Muslim authority in the new government flared out of control. Rioting verged on anarchy. It was that simple liberation would bring civil war. In 1947, Britain created India for Hindus and Pakistan for Muslims. Massively, Hindus the living in Pakistan began an exodus to India, and Muslims in India did the opposite. By the month of September 1947, more than four million migrants crossed the border. Religious hate between the passing processions exploded in massacres. The death toll of ensuing violence reached as high as an estimated 1 million. Gandhi himself was killed by a Hindu who thought him too pro–Muslim. In recurring violence, more than two hundred were killed in the Moradabad region because a pig walked through a Muslim ‘holy ground’. Muslims accused Hindus of driving the “unclean” animal (a pig) into their sacred spot, and a wave of riots ensued.

India’s greatest horror in the 1980s stemmed from attempts by Sikhs to create an independent theocracy, Khalistan, “Land of the Pure”, in the Punjab region. Many followed a fundamentalist preacher, Jarnail Bhindranwale, who taught that Sikhs have “a religious duty to send opponents to hell”. They began a terror campaign, systematically killing unarmed Hindu families.

In 1984, the extremists barricaded themselves in their holiest shrine, the Golden Temple at Amritsar, while colleagues outside continued terrorism. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent troops to free the temple, and 1,000 died in the fighting, including Bhindranwale. Then Sikhs among Gandhi’s personal guards assassinated her with a fusillade of fifty shots.  Her death sent India’s Hindus on a vengeance rampage that killed 5,000 Sikhs in three days. Mobs dragged Sikhs from homes, stores, buses, and trains, slashing and pounding them to death. Some were doused with kerosene and burned alive. Sikhs boys were castrated. 

Sikhs terrorism didn’t cease. Bombs were planted on Air India jetliners and random killings of defenseless Hindus continued. During the first months of 1988, extremists killed 1,168 in ambushes of Hindu weddings, holy festivals, and family gatherings. They seized the Golden Temple again. They killed at least 300 moderate Sikhs who disagreed with the strategy of employing murder to establish “the land of the pure”.

Muslim Indonesia invaded the Catholic island nation of East Timor in 1975 and killed hundreds of thousands of residents during the next year and a half. 

Africa’s largest nation, the Republic of Sudan, became second country to plunge into a religious bloodbath after British military rulers departed. 

Ever since the 1980s, when the self-proclaimed Mahdi, “The Divinely Guided One”, caused ghastly religious warfare, the British had governed the Sudan and kept peace. Finally, Britain agreed to free the country in 1956, setting the stage for conflict between part Arab Muslims of the north and Christian and animists tribes of the south.

The southerners feared that the northern majority would impose Islamic strictures upon them. They began rebelling in 1955, even before the British withdrew. The outbreaks turned into a holy war that raged for seventeen years, killing an estimated 500,000 civilians and leaving 750,000 homeless. A truce finally was achieved in 1972.

Then in 1983, it began all over again, largely because President Gaafar Muhammad al–Nimery subjected the whole country to harsh Islamic religious law, the shari’a which mandates that thieves shall have their hands or feet chopped off, that unmarried lovers should be stoned to death, and that other offenders should be flogged.

During the next eighteen months, 400 thieves were axed with ceremonial swords. The pathetic cripples began begging in the dusty streets. For calling for the repeal of sharia Mahmoud Muhammed Taha, head of a sect called the Republican Brothers, was convicted of heresy and hanged in 1985 before a chanting crowd of 2,000 Muslims and his sect was outlawed.

The shari’a produced grotesque scenes. Amputation days were advertised in newspapers, drawing large crowds to Kober Prison in Khartoum, with audience chanting Islamic slogans while prison attendants waved aloft severed hands and feet. Possession of alcohol was punishable by flogging, and one visiting Italian Catholic priest was beaten in public for having sacramental wine.

Islamic police patrols at roadblocks watched for adulterers. Married couples began keeping their wedding documents in their cars to avoid detainment. Some men traveling with their teen – age daughters carried the girls’ birth certificates to avoid accusation of adultery.

Imposition of shari’a sent the south Christians and animists back into full revolt. The death toll to civilians was horrible. The Christian – led rebel army often captured villages and confiscated all food leaving the inhabitants to starve. Then government Muslim troops recaptured the villages and burned them to the ground. 

In 1985, Nimery was ousted and replaced by Sadiq al-Mahdi, a great grandson of the historic Mahdi. The new Mahdi promised to abolish shar’ia but hardline Muslims in the government refused. 

The civil war was worsened. In 1988, Mahdi ordered Unicef to stop shipping food and medicine to the ravished south. Relief workers estimated that 250,000 southern Sudanese starved to death in 1988.

In 1989, Mahdi was ousted and thrown into prison with his cabinet. New leader Omar el-Bashir once again promised to repeal shar’ia and begged for a halt of the fighting.

During 24 years, the recurring religious war in Sudan has killed more than a million people.

Religious tribalism, segregation of a society into sectarian camps, produced horrible results in Lebanon. The nation was laid wasted by endless senseless slaughter between Sunni Moslems, Shi’ite Moslems, Druze Moslems, Alawite Moslems, Maronite Christians, plus Jews from neighboring Israel. For at least 15 years, daily news reports were filled with accounts of “Christian snipers” and “Shi’ite militia attacks” and “Druze machine gunners” and “Sunni suicide bombers” and the like. The death toll has passed 130,000, and there is no end in sight.

The Dutch film producer, director, Theo Van Gogh, columnist, author and actor was on 2 November, 2004 assassinated by a Dutch–Moroccan Muslim Muhammad Bouyeri in broad daylight in the streets of Amsterdam while cycling to work for only having to have worked with the Somali born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the film Submission which criticised the treatment of women in Islam.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Dutch women’s rights and atheist activist, writer and politician famous for her views against female genital mutilation and Islam is also pressured with death threats while a Dutch parliamentarian and until this day for having written the screen play for Theo Van Gogh’s movie, and is subjected to living under the protection of constant personal body guards while in Holland and even currently in the United States.

The 30 September 2005 (Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten) Muhammad cartoons controversy which the newspaper announced was an attempt to contribute to the debate about criticism of Islam and self-censorship, also led to violent demonstrations, protests and riots in some Muslim countries by intolerant Muslims who described them as Islamophobic, racist and blasphemous.

Northern, northeast Nigeria’s Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks on the civilian  population of northeast Nigeria, particularly Christians may largely be political, but the group is increasingly seemingly leaning on the religion of Islam to impose shar’ia in northern Nigeria in its claim for an autonomous state. Boko Haram is generally known for attacking Christian worshipers in churches, killing school children at boarding schools and other camps of higher institutions of learning, bombing a bus station killing and wounded many, and recently having abducted hundreds of school girls who are auctioned to marriage slavery in Cameroon and Chad for US$15 each. Boko Haram is increasingly associated with Islam with the name its members are constantly referred to by the press; “Islamic militants”. In fact the name Boko Haram is loosely translated to mean “Western education is a sin”, but not what the group actually calls itself. The official name being ‘Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’  wal Jihad, meaning “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”, and the group is known to have earlier pledged allegiance to Bin Ladin’s Al-Qaeda. 

During her organisation and the Child Protection Alliance’s solidarity “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign courtesy call to the Nigeria High Commissioner to the Gambia, Dr Isatou Touray of Gamcotrap asserted: “We have observed the escalation of this phenomenon, which started from 11 girls progressing to over 200. We also realised the impunity of the Boko Haram militants in further capturing another 8 girls and also 300 more without paying heed to the public outcry and condemnation coming from all corners of the world. This should be a cause of concern for all of our countries. No country should remain complacent given the current trend of abuse meted on girls in the name of religion. These girls have been subjected to various forms of abuse including but not limited to sex slavery, forced marriage as well as selling them out as mere commodities. The leader of Boko Haram said: ‘I abduct your girls, I will sell them’. This is a serious breach of the principles on which Islam is founded upon. Islam respects the dignity of the person, especially women, and it is certainly stipulated in the Holy Qur’an”. But generally, the taking of women and children and selling them into slavery and as booty is not new with jihad of Islam in the past. 


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