In March a Daesh (aka ISIS) suicide bomber walked into a football stadium and killed at least 32 people. The carnage was comparable to the attack in Brussels a few days earlier, but you may not have seen anything in the news about it. It happened in Iraq, so it wasn’t important.
The top six countries for number of terrorist attacks in 2014 were Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Syria. Iraq is far out in front with 3,370. That’s 3,370 attacks, not people killed. The country’s death toll was 9,929.
US politicians tell us that terrorism represents an assault by Islam on Christianity. Several presidential candidates have proposed religious restrictions on immigration. What we’re really seeing from these attacks though, is a fanatical form of Islam that attacks everyone that doesn’t agree with it, starting with all other Muslims. A United Nations report cites Daesh targeting of Shi’ites and Kurds, violence against mosques and shrines, and killing of imams in Iraq.
The biggest center of fanaticism is the Wahhabi sect, which Saudi Arabia’s government firmly supports. Its adherents consider themselves the only true Muslims. Osama Bin Laden was a Wahhabist. Al Qaeda and Daesh grew out of the Wahhabi doctrines but broke away from Saudi control.
According to numbers from Amnesty International, three of the four countries with the largest number of executions in 2014 were Muslim nations: Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. The large majority of those killed were Muslims. Saudi Arabia sentenced Muslim blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam,” i.e., advocating reform.
In the bad old days, Christians killed other Christians for adhering to the “wrong” flavor of Christianity. The Bible is full of God-approved killing: the entire populations of Jericho and Ai, the priests of Baal, forty-two children who laughed at Elisha. The difference today is that governments in predominantly Christian nations usually operate on secular principles, while the governments of mostly Muslim countries rarely do.
Let’s remember what “secularism” really means. In spite of the rants of religious fanatics, it doesn’t mean atheism and it isn’t a religion. It’s simply the principle of putting religious issues aside when governing a society. We haven’t fully achieved that ideal in the United States, but putting “In God We Trust” on the currency is minor compared to flogging people for heresy.
When religious authorities rule a nation, one sect is in control and others find themselves subjugated. Any difference in belief becomes a basis for strife. The United States set up an Islamic Republic in post-Saddam Iraq, and Muslim sects have been battling for control of it ever since.
The path to secularism will be a difficult one for the Muslim world, but until they find it, any peace will be fragile.