Of crusaders and mujahideen

Kenya woke up on Saturday morning to the shocking news of the grisly, cold-blooded execution of travellers in Mandera, served rather unpalatably by a very unrefined media corps. Showing some pictures and saying some words in some contexts isn’t always appropriate, and our media should realise that the sooner they become more polished in the way they deal with sensitive news, the better it will be for all of us, and then they can take an active role in the development of this country. Right now, they are just one more element in its degradation.

My disgust at the media aside, the al-Shabaab-claimed attack was an unfortunate event, to say the least. Last week, Michael Cook, a blogger with MercatorNet, wrote an article comparing the Teutonic Knights with ISIS — the terrorist group currently holding a large chunk of Northern Iraq and part of Syria hostage — and the treatment of both by the authorities of their respective religions.

Without delving into the contents of the article, and exhorting my readers to look for it and read it for themselves, I borrow from it in submitting that the problem we face with religious terror groups results from the inadmissibility of philosophy and rational theology from some religions and sects, with particular focus on Islam. When reason is abandoned, it is almost impossible to condemn atrocities committed in the name of religion.

Attributing the attack to their fighters, the al-Shabaab spokesman referred to the victims as ‘crusaders’ and the killers as ‘mujahideen’. This is the card they always play, from al-Qaeda to al-Shabaab, to ISIS, to the Taliban… all the terror groups that have menaced the world with their fundamentalist and deficient interpretation of what religion is all about.

It is always the righteous against the infidels (that one is particularly painful, being called an infidel in your own country), without regard for the fact that all people are deserving of human treatment. It is a fight against people who have rejected God, and haven’t become Muslim. It is a card that always works for those looking for a quick excuse for their crimes.

It would appear a genuine summary of the reason for their deaths, if it weren’t true that the victims had nothing to do with the crusades, probably had never heard about them. They only crusades they probably knew about were those held by some pastor in their neighbourhood, with loudspeakers and vigorous dancers and a few verses of the Bible.

Maybe they didn’t know that the crusades were organised to free Christian people and territory occupied and despoiled by fundamentalist Muslim hordes, were carried out by European (not African) armies, and that all the wrongs that were committed in their pretext, which were due to human error and not religious exhortation, have been apologised for.

But then again, forgiveness doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of these monsters. Leaving aside the fact that they aren’t the ones who were wronged in the first place, and pointing out that the crusading wrongs aren’t, in fact, the reason for their attacks, they have taken upon themselves the seat of judge and executioner, and have transformed long-dead ghosts into weapons against the living.

They repeat the same line always. It is now stale, and we would ignore it if it weren’t causing us such great pain as a country. As it is, we can’t. However, all of us have to be very guarded and thoughtful in our reaction to the latest event.

Blaming Muslims isn’t going to solve the problem. On the contrary, it only portends an aggravation of the situation. Many have taken this line, that until Muslims and Islam are eliminated from the country, we will not have peace. This is an immature and short-sighted claim. It is a claim that smacks of the same impunity that the terrorists treat us with.

Holding this view makes us play right into their hands, then their reasons would be genuine. It is a proposal that does not take into consideration the inherent dignity of each person, no matter the characteristics that set them apart from others.

The solution to our problems lies within individuals, and the enormous power of reason. As long as humanity subsists on planet earth, different religions will also exist. True progress will lie in how we harmonise this situation. To quote President Obama, in his speech against ISIS, religion shouldn’t be used as a tool to separate, but rather as glue to bind.

The survival of civilisation rests on this eternal truth, that all people, despite their differences — which are bound to exist — are equal. God, since we are ultimately talking about him when we mention religion, wouldn’t be worth the 99 names Mohammed bestowed on him if it were at his bidding that the Mandera atrocity was carried out.

Feature image: Photo by Fred Moon on Unsplash.

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