Friday, April 19, 2024

EDITORIAL: Religion and politics a deadly mix

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We are not going to say we told you so but there was an uneasy sense of foreboding when we saw the unbridled support given by western countries to the uprisings during the Arab Spring.
Those uprisings, which started in Tunisia and spread across the horn of Africa to the Middle East as far as Yemen, were spontaneous in nature and were lacking in  organization or coordinated leadership.
The overriding objective of the militants seemed to have been to get rid of dictators who were suppressing the legitimate aspirations of the majority of the people. Coincidentally, most of those dictators were supported and propped up by western countries.
The latest uprisings in Libya and Egypt, where the United States mission was attacked and flag set on fire in response to a “horrible film” about Prophet Mohammed, merely establish that religion and politics in that region are very sensitive issues and freebooters should desist from pouring oil on fire.
We do not believe violence should ever, under any circumstance, be a substitute for peaceful demonstrations as a means of protest, but after a number of similar reactions in recent years to depictions of Prophet Mohammed, recent developments did not come as a surprise.  
After the publication of Salman Rusdie’s Satanic Verses, the Danish cartoons in 2005 and the call for a “Burn A Koran Day” by Florida pastor Terry Jones in 2010, any sensible person would have predicted the violent reaction to this film.
Libya, a country still experimenting with elements of democracy, is in the grips of a crisis, with the killing of the United States ambassador and three other embassy staff over the film that is alleged to be blasphemous.
Despite limited success in Libya, many analysts had warned that militants from the al-Qaeda network and other terrorist organizations were being used to overthrow dictators in the Middle East and would come back to haunt the West some day.
The United States administration had been so determined to get rid of some of these dictators in the Middle East and ignored the warnings, but little thought seemed to have been given to who would be replacing them.
Well, of course, it turns out that those who took control of both Egypt and Libya have a perceptively different idea of liberty and democracy. One form of tyranny may have been replaced by another form via the ballot.
Sadly, the last couple of days have been a huge wake-up call for all of us. Though the Caribbean is not in the line of fire, this lawlessness has global security implications for all of us and we ignore it at our peril.
We need to put much greater emphasis on national security issues within the region and the time has come for intensified scrutiny for all personnel operating within our ports of entry and law enforcement agencies.
Unfortunately, religious intolerance has been able to provoke a virulent reaction at a time when peace and security across the world are quite tenuous.

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