When there’s no democracy

Thanks for your thoughts on Islam and violence in my previous blog.

One thing I have often noticed is that we are quick to blame Islam for everything bad. That’s understandable, given what we have seen in the Islamic Republic, and numerous terrorist acts by Muslim radicals for many years.

But the problem is not religion. It really isn’t. If you think only Islamists have been prone to violence, think again. ALL major religions, past and present, have resorted to violence to kill or dominate other believers and non-believers.

For centuries, Christians, Jews and Muslims have fought and killed each other in the millions, if you add them all up. Religious leaders from each group have used their holy books to justify murdering infidels and enemies.

The problem we face today is not Islam, its prophet, or the Qoran. The problem is that the separation of state and religion has been slow to develop in Muslim-majority countries.

In democratic countries, where freedom of thought and religion have become institutionalized, religious extremism is at its weakest.

In Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia where democracy is stronger than other parts of the “Islamic World”, radical Islamic groups are a small minority.

On the other hand, it should come as no surprise that nearly every “Islamic” terrorist act in the past three decades or so has been carried out by individuals from largely non-democratic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco…

So the problem is not religion. The problem is that religion becomes a tool for violence where authoritarian regimes do not allow the people to think, speak and act freely.

These are just my observations as a journalist for the past thirty years or so.

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