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 More on the Pope and Islam 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:57 am
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rmadison wrote:
Don't answer this if you have to go googling up the info, but I wonder how many of those other countries have separation of church & state built into their system of governments?

I'm not sure if any other country has "separation of church & state built into their system of governments" along the same lines as the US does. Most other western countries seem able to avoid excessive entanglement without the need for formalised separation (but most lack the degree of religosity of the US, so the issue tends not to be so politicised). Because of this, I suspect that the question is moot (as lacking other examples, we cannot tell how this affects the probability of violence).


Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:23 pm
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rmadison wrote:
Is Muslim violence the norm in *every* culture where it is the dominant religion?

No. I wouldn't say that this is true. The countries where there is major Muslim religious violence would be definately a minority. But it is too widespread a minority for the claim that it is simply "cultural" to have much explanatory power.

A claim that majority or large-area-with-majority is necessary but not sufficient could probably be made, as could possibly a claim that minority-with-large-area-with majority is sufficient for major Muslim religious violence.


Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:33 pm
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Post Re: More on the Pope and Islam
rmadison wrote:
"Muslim anger..." that almost sounds redundant these days.

For such a peaceful religion, they sure can claim a lot of suicide bombers as their own. Say what you want, but the connection is definitely there.
You may also consider that the US is a peaceful country. But think of all the people that died throughout the world in the last half-century, at the hands of these peaceful American soldiers.

There are lots of nuances to bring to the analysis of such situations. When people are defending their land, or their freedom, it's one thing. When people are trying get hold of other countries' resources, or to occupy them physically for strategic purposes of their own, that's something else.

Whether one uses primitive armament or state-of-the-art technology to commit the same acts doesn't place them in different conceptual categories.

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Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:20 pm
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Post Another angle on violence
Seems to me that most violence is over land and resources. Religious or ethnic differences just make it easier for "us" and "them" to identify each other. Or I should say, "the other."

If people thought "we" means "all of us," I believe violence would decrease dramatically, as "all of us" tried to work out mutually beneficial solutions to scarcity.

However, that is just a fantasy at this point.


Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:11 pm
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Practically all of the violent acts that were carried out by people of the Muslim faith in recent years were political acts committed to achieve political objectives or gains.

No suicide-bomber in the Middle East has a religious motivation when he blows himself and others to pieces. He has a clear political objective, which may be to liberate a homeland occupied by an enemy.

Blowing oneself is then only a means to achieve that objective, by drawing international attention to the situation of his country, or by terrorizing the occupant, or by killing enemy soldiers. This is, in a sense, no different from the conduct of any war, or any guerilla warfare. That's what the Japanese kamikaze did in WWII, when they flew with their planes into enemy ships to sink them. Each side uses the most efficient means at its disposal to try to eliminate the adversary, given the specifics of the situation.

For example, children in Palestine conducted a "pebbles' war" against the Israeli soldiers, throwing millions of small pebbles at them during the first "intifada" (uprising), over a period of some twelve years. That strategy was "non-violent" and was inspired by all the non-violent philosophies (Gandhi, Martin Luther King...).

Like any Children's crusade, it had little efficacy. It's the same children who then turned into "suicide-bombers", because only children could go into supermarkets or buses and approach enemy soldiers without rising suspicion.

American full-fledged support of the Occupant, instead of trying to develop a middle of the road solution, derailed the conflict into the current deadend. When some terrorist acts were committed by Muslims in the US, some years ago, that was presented by their movement as a mere retaliation for the US administration's support of their adversaries in the Middle East conflict. It had nothing to do with the American people, nor with religion

Religion intervenes only because it gives the people concerned an additional spiritual touch to their earthly struggle.

This can be verified by the absence of random confrontation between Muslims and Christians in areas where these political problems do not exist, for example in the US, or in China.

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Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:43 pm
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You may as well claim, as some trolls have, that whenever atheists are in control, believers are killed.

Same thing you are doing with Muslims here.

Come to think of it....


Tue Sep 26, 2006 5:22 pm
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Hinote wrote:
You may as well claim, as some trolls have, that whenever atheists are in control, believers are killed.

Same thing you are doing with Muslims here.

Come to think of it....
If your comment has to do with my post, can you please explain what you have in mind, because I have no idea what your point is.

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Tue Sep 26, 2006 5:28 pm
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Sorry Aster, my comment was a response to rmadison's line of arguments about Muslims.

By the way, I would point out that as lcraig argued above, there is always an "other". Jews, blacks, Catholics, atheists, whatever.

Currently it seems to be immigrants and muslims.


Tue Sep 26, 2006 5:31 pm
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Quote:
No suicide-bomber in the Middle East has a religious motivation when he blows himself and others to pieces.

I'm sorry, Aster, but in order for me to believe this is true, I must also believe that certain extremists do not actually believe what they say they believe.
Now, if you mean that they may also have political motives or that their religious motivation is not the primary one, I think you may be correct. But to completely divorce the tactic from the real and believed (by some) doctrine of martyrdom, is not tenable without discounting real persons' reports of their own beliefs.


Tue Sep 26, 2006 7:00 pm
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Connor J wrote:
Quote:
No suicide-bomber in the Middle East has a religious motivation when he blows himself and others to pieces.

I'm sorry, Aster, but in order for me to believe this is true, I must also believe that certain extremists do not actually believe what they say they believe.
Now, if you mean that they may also have political motives or that their religious motivation is not the primary one, I think you may be correct. But to completely divorce the tactic from the real and believed (by some) doctrine of martyrdom, is not tenable without discounting real persons' reports of their own beliefs.


You're right that there are fights based on religious beliefs. For example, in Iraq today, sunni and shiite people fight each other periodically. But even then, the cause of the fight isn't religion. It's politics. Most of the time, it's somebody who is trying to start a civil war by killing indiscriminately members of the other community.

But the important thing to observe is that these people who are fighting in the Middle East aren't fighting for their religious beliefs. They don't expect to do anything for their religion. They're not going to convert anyone. They're just fighting an enemy, irrespective of his religion. For example, in the Middle East, no Muslim fights a Jewish soldier because he's Jewish. He fights him because he's a foreign soldier occupying his country. That's quite a different situation.

If one reads the Quran carefully, he will find in it a long list of verses which say that people who commit such acts will be sent to hell after their death. So, that's no way to become a martyr or to try to gain entrance to paradise.

But the people who are leading groups of fighters are giving them their own interpretation of islamic teachings, and twist everything to suit their objectives. In fact, what some people say in what they call fatwa has nothing whatsoever to do with islam.

But kids are taken into some special schools when they are 5 years old, and are raised in a climate of hate of some foreign countries. They are taught a very special brand of interpretation of islam, and are conditioned to do what their elders tell them to do. Those are some of the fighters today in the area.

Islam doesn't condone the action of a Muslim who kills himself, for whatever reason. Those who die as "martyrs" are soldiers or fighters who undertake a desperate military mission, during which they will die. Suicide bombing belongs to that category of missions.

In my post, I describe the general behaviour of Muslims who are fighting a foreign occupant in the Middle East. Most Muslim countries were occupied by the French, or the British and didn't become independent until the 1950s or 1960s, after a period of several years of bloody fighting, guerilla warfare, etc. What's happening today in the Middle East is similar to what happened in those countries at that time.

"Extremists" (who may be merely civilians who want to liberate their country from foreign occupation) may say or believe whatever they wish. All I'm saying is that what they say does not necessarily represent the teachings of Islam, it is the teachings of the political movements to which they belong.

The latter movements may use religion to provide motivation for action and spiritual appeasement to the people they're sending to their death. So, any verse of the Quran talking about fighting the enemy will provide justification and solace to people who are going into battle.

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Tue Sep 26, 2006 8:39 pm
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So, there are differing interpretations of Islam, and what it means to be a Muslim.

And just as it is not fair to generalize to "all Christians" from the beliefs and actions of a small but vocal minority of extremists who insist that a "true Christian" must reject modern science because it contradicts what they believe is the true meaning of scripture, neither is it okay to lump "all Muslims" in with a small but active minority of extremists who believe that a "true Muslim" must wage holy war against infidels because they believe they are called by divine revelation to do so.

I'm with you up to there.

But you seem to be saying that these extremist minorities don't even belong to the larger groups that they claim to represent, and I can't follow you there. Biblical literalists are Christian, and Islamist extremists who condone suicide bombings and other atrocities are Muslim. I am with the majority that says both groups are poor representitives of their respective faiths, but surely you can see that this is a subjective distinction.


Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:45 pm
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Aster wrote:
Practically all of the violent acts that were carried out by people of the Muslim faith in recent years were political acts committed to achieve political objectives or gains.


And? This makes it OK because...?

Aster wrote:
No suicide-bomber in the Middle East has a religious motivation when he blows himself and others to pieces.


And you'd know this how...?

It's interesting. I just read a little bit about a would-be suicide bomber. Here is what he had to say about his motivations:

Quote:
Amir believes that he was a perfect person to suit the role of a suicide bomber. “I was young, influence-liable and I never had any problems with the police. There was a hard period in my life, when my father died. They were probably aware of that and tried to use my inner state,” said he. The men also told the boy that his heroic act of committing suicide would send him to paradise, where he would stay for eternity.


And here is another bit about the motivation of suicide bombers:

Quote:
Ultimately, the suicide bomber is just another tool in the arsenal of the international terrorist groups. For the bomber, religion is the basic motivation or excuse. Their mission is legitimized by a supreme charismatic leader or Islamic cleric; special recruiters bring the suicide candidate together with the group.


So, color me skeptical Aster. I don't buy it. All the evidence I've seen leads very clearly to a religious motivation on the part of the terrorists.

Aster wrote:
He has a clear political objective, which may be to liberate a homeland occupied by an enemy.


Isn't that the party-line of the Bush admin? The U.S. is liberating Iraq from the terrorists? First it was liberation from Hussein, and now that has changed to liberation from the insurgents.

Do the ends justify the means?

Aster wrote:
Blowing oneself is then only a means to achieve that objective, by drawing international attention to the situation of his country, or by terrorizing the occupant, or by killing enemy soldiers.


So blowing others up is fair game? I mean, if a terrorist can blow up other people to achieve a political goal, then anyone can do it. Even the U.S. They blow up our guys, we blow up theirs. It's all cool. It's just politics.

Aster wrote:
Like any Children's crusade, it had little efficacy. It's the same children who then turned into "suicide-bombers", because only children could go into supermarkets or buses and approach enemy soldiers without rising suspicion.


And these children...they had a "clear political objective" in mind? Religion played *no* part in it?

I can't believe that you really believe this. I can't believe that *anyone* would believe it.

Aster wrote:
When some terrorist acts were committed by Muslims in the US, some years ago, that was presented by their movement as a mere retaliation for the US administration's support of their adversaries in the Middle East conflict. It had nothing to do with the American people, nor with religion.


Do you actually believe that? Or are you just saying, "this is how they spun their actions"?

Why go to such lengths to make it all politically correct Aster? I mean, if religion is a big factor in all this violence ~ and there is a lot of compelling evidence that it is ~ then maybe it'd be a good idea to be honest with ourselves when we talk about it.

Pretending it isn't a problem sure as hell isn't going to solve anything.

And even if we could somehow "prove" that religion was the problem...then what?

See? The point of this isn't to lay the blame on religion, but to (1) figure out how much of a role it has, and (2) figure out what to do about it.


Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:54 pm
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Aster wrote:
For example, in Iraq today, sunni and shiite people fight each other periodically. But even then, the cause of the fight isn't religion. It's politics. Most of the time, it's somebody who is trying to start a civil war by killing indiscriminately members of the other community.


Wow. Where do you come up with this stuff Aster?

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/05/27/news/sunni.php

Quote:
"The killing in Iraq now is according to religious identity," said Sheik Abdel Nasir al-Janabi, a religious Sunni and a hard-line member of the National Dialogue Council, a Sunni political group that claims to have ties to the insurgency.

"Now you're killed because you're a Sunni Arab," he said.


I've spent the past half-hour *trying* to find something that supports your position, but every time I turn around, I keep stumbling into more "sectarian violence" links.

In the process of doing this, I did find this article, which I thought was pretty interesting:

Understanding Islamism


Wed Sep 27, 2006 12:11 am
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Connor J wrote:
So, there are differing interpretations of Islam, and what it means to be a Muslim.

I'm with you up to there.

But you seem to be saying that these extremist minorities don't even belong to the larger groups that they claim to represent, and I can't follow you there. Biblical literalists are Christian, and Islamist extremists who condone suicide bombings and other atrocities are Muslim. I am with the majority that says both groups are poor representitives of their respective faiths, but surely you can see that this is a subjective distinction.
Extremist Muslims ARE Muslims in terms of the faith they profess. But if they violate one of the basic commandments of the faith, this has to be underlined. Indiscriminate killing of innocent people thru street explosions CANNOT be condoned by ANY Muslim, and it's not done by these people BECAUSE they are Muslims. It's done because that's a strategy of TERROR that their leaders have decided to apply. And IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR FAITH.

They are attributing to their religion the ideas that they want to defend, but one can't modify a religion according to his whims and political needs.

Now, of course, one can reasonably say that there are different BRANDS of islam in different countries, depending on their cultural traditions, history, etc. The nucleus is the same but all kinds of local practices and beliefs are added to it.

The religious beliefs of a particular group, in a particular place, at a particular time, reflect essentially the "interpretation" of religion that the elders of the community transmit to the younger generation. They may have rigorous bases in some religious texts, but it's still an interpretation that reflects a particular culture, at a specific time.

In a sense, it's like the US Constitution. Different Supreme Courts read it differently at different times, and give a different meaning to the same text. The meanings can be totally at odds, incompatible, but that's still accepted as normal during a time period, until a new Court comes along and gives its own new different interpretation.

For example, the wahhabite movement exists essentially in Saudi Arabia. In its beginnings, it was a "reformist" movement which claimed it would bring back Islam to its original beliefs and practices at the time of Revelation. But it developed its own idiosyncrasies and can in no way be considered as a representative of true Islam, as its adherents claim. It represents only a very conservative, medieval interpretation of islam.

There are hundreds of Muslim "sects", most of them minor in terms of numbers of adherents, which have developed very particular creeds, within the overall framework of islam. Some of them even have living Prophets.

The Black Muslim movement represents such a group, the way I understand it. Many of their beliefs are typically American and have nothing to do with Islam.

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Wed Sep 27, 2006 3:36 am
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rmadison wrote:
Aster wrote:
For example, in Iraq today, sunni and shiite people fight each other periodically. But even then, the cause of the fight isn't religion. It's politics. Most of the time, it's somebody who is trying to start a civil war by killing indiscriminately members of the other community.


Wow. Where do you come up with this stuff Aster?

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/05/27/news/sunni.php

Quote:
"The killing in Iraq now is according to religious identity," said Sheik Abdel Nasir al-Janabi, a religious Sunni and a hard-line member of the National Dialogue Council, a Sunni political group that claims to have ties to the insurgency.

"Now you're killed because you're a Sunni Arab," he said.


I've spent the past half-hour *trying* to find something that supports your position, but every time I turn around, I keep stumbling into more "sectarian violence" links.

In the process of doing this, I did find this article, which I thought was pretty interesting:

Understanding Islamism


I read the first article and I think it says the same things I say. So, I don't see where you find the difference. Shiite and Sunni people are fighting each other today, because power in the country is changing hands. So some Sunni want to retain power and try to provoke a civil war which they hope will turn in their favor. Shiite people who have had members of their community massacred by the people in power over the past quarter century try to revenge themselves as they see fit, but it's a revenge from political domination, exploitation and massacre by the troops of Saddam Hussein.

Now, Saddam didn't kill the shiite because of their religious beliefs. He killed them because they fought his power and authority.

So, for me, it's still politics all-around.

I think one should remember that, often, we use the religious label as a handy way to identify a group. For example, in Northern Ireland, there were the Catholics and the Protestants killing each other indiscriminately. But none of them really was doing that for religious purposes. No Protestand killed a Catholic BECAUSE he held a different set of religious beliefs. Each group was trying to defend what it saw as its political and economic rights, and religion was really the last thing on their mind. It was only a label to identify the different groups.

But when a Protestant killed a Catholic, of course the Catholic community was outraged and reacted as a body, because it's religion that gave it its sense of identity.

But, you'll remember that no one cared about the religion of the British troops in charge of security in the area. British troops were attacked because they were troops, i.e. an enemy, no questions asked about their religious beliefs.

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Wed Sep 27, 2006 4:59 am
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