Danny Yee >> Diary

September/October 2001

Terrorism and Religion - 13th September

First we had the Tampa refugee affair, which brought out latent anti-Islamic bigotry of the worst kind within Australia. And the appalling terrorist attacks in the United States have unfortunately reinforced that. So I feel obliged to attempt some public education.

First of all, religious terrorism occurs on the fringes of all major religions. Juergensmeyer's book Terror in the Mind of God: the Global Rise of Religious Violence is a good recent survey. The record of violence carried out in the name of Christianity is too extensive to need arguing, while anyone who thinks Buddhism is inherently "peaceful" should look at Sri Lanka (or the bloody, centuries-long war fought between the Buddhist kingdoms of Siam and Burma).

Secondly, the Islamic world is incredibly diverse. To start with, most Muslims are not Arabs - they are, among other things, Indonesians, Turks, and Bengalis, and the Taliban themselves are mostly Pushto speaking Pathans. Even if we look only at Arab Islamic "fundamentalists", we find that label used of an amazingly diverse range of people and movements.

Finally, a look at Islamic history reveals long and outstanding traditions in law, art, science, and other fields - and high civilization when Europe was in the "dark ages". The relative poverty of most Islamic countries at the moment is the result of the economic history of the last few centuries, of geopolitics and imperialism, not of any kind of "racial" or religious inferiority.

So those who say things such as "Arabs are lazy" or "we shouldn't allow fundamentalist Muslims to immigrate, they are too violent" are only demonstrating their own ignorance. As for the people lynching Arabs and Muslims (not to mention Sikhs and Hindus!) across the United States - they are nothing but terrorists themselves, just on a smaller scale.

Some other comments and stories:
- Usman Farman (a Pakistani survivor)
- Shabana Mir (an anthro-l participant)

I was particularly outraged that prime minister John Howard, when interviewed after the United States attacks, said that extra protection would be provided for Jewish synagogues in Australia - when anyone with a clue would know that it is Muslims and Islamic sites within Australia that will need protection. And what do you know? Threats are flying and a busload of Islamic schoolkids in Brisbane has already been stoned - [DEAD http://www.smh.com.au/breaking/2001/09/13/FFXMPLZFJRC.html].

Disparities - 19th October

Sometimes adults have to use force against children, but if their friends praised their strength and valour for doing so, lined up to join in, and discussed at length details of the instruments of violence involved, that would be more than a little bit odd. But somehow it's acceptable to fetishise military hardware and cheer from the sidelines while the richest and most powerful country on the planet lays into one of the very poorest...

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