Monday, May 28, 2012

Tradition ... Heritage

People read the news and wonder how it could possibly be that other people, living elsewhere on the Globe, can find it possible to pick up deadly weapons and use them to deliberate effect, be they machine guns or machetes, to bloodily end the lives of other people; the elderly, women, children in particular.  It happens with grim regularity in the Middle East, in Africa.

These were, and remain, rigidly tribal societies.  Societies that imbibe loathing for other clans and tribes in their infancy through their society's cultural acceptance of suspicion and hatred for those not of their own.  Not of their own tribes, nor of their particular type of religion; or facets of worship and of symbols of a religion that has its basis in common, but not elements of its traditions.

Anything that serves to distinguish other clans and tribes from one's own and familiar rituals and values is enough to make an enemy of the despised other, always viewed as inferior, as a mortal enemy.  Each trying endlessly to gain the upper hand, by threats, intimidation, military action, and slaughter.  Children can be targeted and ruthlessly tortured and slaughtered because they are not seen as children but rather early stages of the adult that will become an enemy.

We see this happening in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Somalia, in Libya, in Ethiopia, in Sudan, in Rwanda, in Dubai, in Democratic Republic of Congo and in many other places where restive and oppressed populations rise against their tyrants to express their anger and frustration over being seen as inferior because the religion they practise is not quite right, the tribe they come from lacks authenticity.

What occurred in Norway when Hans Gustav Breivik decided to emulate the viciously violent actions of Islamist jihadists to make his wildly anxious point, was an anomaly.  Generally speaking, these are not actions that have become common fare in the countries of the West.  It is in Arab and Muslim countries where these brutal antipathies flourish, in reflection of traditions that bespeak a Bedouin society.

In the Arab and Muslim world the two main branches of Islamic devotion, the Sunni and the Shia, are stridently opposed to one another.  And they both abhor other branches of Islam, like the Ahmadiyya, the Ismaili and the B'hai, all considered by Islamists to represent unforgivable lapses in devotion to Islam, as apostate religions, insulting to Allah.

The violence in Islam, sourced from fanatical Muslims dedicated to violent jihad is endemic within that circle, determined to do honour to their faith by conquering other, lesser faiths beneath the notice of Islam, and to bring the worship of Islam to the complete international audience in a final conquest of the world order. 

In due homage to their singularly awesome and peace-loving god.

Its rabidly ferocious face can be seen in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Iran and Iraq, in Saudi Arabia and now Egypt, and in fact anywhere the "Arab Spring" materialized as a movement initiated by those in the Arab/Muslim world seeing themselves as reformers opting for freedom and democracy, giving Islamist groups like the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood the opening they have long awaited.

They will accomplish more, in the final analysis, than al-Qaeda and its many affiliates might ever have hoped to aspire to.

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