GUEST COLUMN: Tackling ISIS and securing peace demands we work together, says Roy Bainton
He also added “Many of the world’s problems have been caused by superficial differences of religion.” That is the understatement of the year.
There are an estimated 4,200 religions on planet earth. In India alone there are eight dominant religions, and despite the efforts of the Chinese Communist party, religion could not be stamped out in China, which has at least five religious faiths. This all adds up to a lot of legends, myths, deities, scriptures, holy books, relics, temples, churches - and hatred.
It is astonishing that in the 21st century any expressed doubt for someone’s chosen deity can result in dogmatic hostility and even violent death. Most religious creeds proclaim a merciful God, peace, love and a tolerance for other beliefs. Sadly, in reality this professed magnanimity rarely includes ‘live and let live’ and turning the other cheek only invites yet more blows.
Like ISIS, both George W. Bush and Tony Blair believed God was on their side. In Iraq and Syria hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed. ISIS has killed more Muslims than any other group. As with Catholics and Protestants, both of whom study the Bible, both Sunni and Shia Muslims study the Qur’an. The great majority of Muslims are Sunnis and as such, ISIS believes that the Shias are apostates who must die in order to forge a ‘pure’ form of Islam. Yet they also appear to want to kill everyone else and return to the 7th century. They’ve banned music, sports, poetry, teaching evolution, and they support rape and slavery. And they pray, too.
On February 2, 1939 the Austrian Nazi newspaper Das Kleine Blatt (The Little Leaf) published an anti-Semitic cartoon depicting Jews as a colony of rats being swept from Germany. On November 17 2015, the UK Daily Mail’s cartoon echoed 1939 by showing Syrian refugees - and rats - entering Europe. Undoubtedly some murderous ISIS thugs will have slipped into Europe this way. Yet to correlate bigoted psychopaths with tragic thousands fleeing in fear only pours petrol on the fire.
The late Irish comedian, Dave Allen, would always end his act by saying “May your God go with you.” Let’s hope he does, but if the Dalai Lama’s correct, world peace demands a human solution.