Alan Henning was moved to try and make a difference. He gave up Christmas with his family that he might take supplies to help people suffering in Syria. Yesterday it was reported that ISIS carried out their threat to execute him.
On Eid Mubarak they sacrificed a man that had dedicated himself to humanitarianism. He is not the first, nor it seems will he be the last. Militarily this is a tactic to reduce aid to besieged people. ISIS make great play that they can provide for people in their terroritry. How much easier to make cities fall to them, because aid agencies dare not operate?
That we are being taunted, manipulated and terrorised by ISIS is unmistakable. Their desire to have the international community turn on them to rally people to their cause is not the only thing. They want Muslims and non Muslims to turn on each other. The reason for a caliphate to be made stronger by us turning on the wrong people.
I will not let such evil people treat me like a puppet on a string. Yet when discussing such matters on twitter it was clear people wanted to say Islam was bad. Unlike Christianity. The Koran promoted violence against infidels. The bible does not.
We then have such articles like the review of Karen Armstrong’s new book “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong, book review: Neo-cons, prepare to get angry”
The review in The Telegraph had this quote I mentioned in a tweet, which missed what Jesus is supposed to have said:
Related article: The Truth About Religion and Extremism
The problem is the reader taking from “their Book” the permission to do violence, slavery, and rape. While these verses remain, evil people will use them as stated, out of context or not in relation to other commandments and commentary, to carry out religious zealotry.
The Spanish Inquisition was religious. The belief that they were saving souls by consuming the flesh with fire, or purifying via torture was not a cover for psychopaths and sadists. They believed it. For the sufferings on earth were nothing compared to the eternal torment of everlasting hellfire. (I have not read Aaronovitch’s review but suspect he makes a similar point from his tweet).
Just as Karen Armstrong makes light of the religious aspect then, she and others are doing so with ISIS now. Some will be doing this to prevent the hatred and persecution they fear Muslims would suffer in the UK. Others that religion is always peaceful, and violence when committed has nothing to do with it. That it is a smokescreen for other motives.
A nuanced position recognises that the chicken or the egg debate to the scripture/violence link misses that both feed into each other in their own ways. Breaking the cycle matters more than blame games, apologetics, and false statements as I debunked above.
ISIS really do believe they are fulfilling a religious edict to create a caliphate and that their means are sanctioned by defensive Jihad. A counter narrative is useful, but do not for one second think they are insincere about this. They are in deadly earnest.
What helps is seeing the bigger picture. Religious extremism is on the rise. Together we have to tackle it. Let us start by being accurate about the problem.
Do not give in to terror. In memory of Alan Henning remember that compassion can also move humanity.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
2 responses to “Alan Henning and Violence In The Name of God”
In defense of J Sargeant’s quote: http://christianpacifismblog.wordpress.com/
My problem is that a lot of Euro-Americans seem to have a disproportionate reaction to violence in “the name of religion”. I understand that this is most likely due to the fact that it’s been a few centuries since this (religious conflict) was a factor in most of Europe and it now appears very alien and strange. Where the problem comes in is when this starts to shade the way certain events are read. For example, Assad’s regime has killed and raped tens of thousands more than ISIS and yet you don’t see the Bill Mahers and Richard Dawkins of the world get upset about that. Why? Just because they’re not doing in the name of religion? That doesn’t seem very moral to me.