Friday, 2 August 2013

Islamists - why feared?

So much talk of Islamists right now ... Tunisia, Egypt ...who are these people, exactly?  

I know a great many people who are Muslims, but when do they become "Islamists"?   The Islamists in Tunisia are the elected government, my friends distrust them.   The Islamists in Egypt were the elected government, but they were deposed by the army in the coup-that-wasn't-a- coup.  As Islamists they are Muslims - but what makes them Islamists?

I am most firmly opposed to a theocracy in government - especially where not all citizens share the religion of the rulers.   The supporters of the theocracy believe that all their beliefs come from God, so how can they not be right for everyone?   Trouble is, so often these beliefs result in people being killed because they have opposing views; they think their views come from God.   Our Christian history is awash with the blood and ashes of countless martyrs, whose only transgression was dissent.

I possibly distrust "Islamists" as much as anyone, but can they be deposed if they are in the majority?   Can one get rid of a government because of its religious beliefs?   Or is "Political Islam" the problem - people who take their religion into the rule of the country?  What happens if another religious group becomes the government - do all the laws have to be changed to suit them?

Turkey used to be the model of the secular state.  Now the rulers are strictly observant Muslims and there are debates about headscarves and occupations of parks and squares.  How much of the dissent is about bad government and how much is due to opposing the religious persuasions of the government?  

Bashar Al-Assad's Syria was a fearful, repressed place in many ways, but no one religious group ruled, at least not by virtue of their beliefs.   Then came the revolution and sectarian tensions surfaced (or were prodded into life) : "Christians to Lebanon, Alawites to the Grave!"   Marriages across the Sunni-Sheite divide were well-accepted in Iraq before the latest Gulf War - now they are shunned. It is bizarre that religion, which is meant to unite people in love, becomes the very thing that separates them.

Jesus spoke of giving to Caesar what belonged to him.   Does that mean that religion has no place in government?   What if the values that the religion promotes are ignored by the government, if people are oppressed and deprived?   Are the people justified in rising up against them?   Should the government not subscribe to the same values of the Believers?  But if they do, if they take the rules of the religion into government, does this not fuel the flames of dissent?   Should there ever be a marriage between the state and the church?

In South Africa, in the 60s, the head of the country's brother was the head of the Dutch Reformed Church, and between them they ruled the Afrikaans electorate absolutely.   Using the bible, and interpreting it to serve their political ends, they imposed their devilish ideology on our people for several blood-soaked decades.  

Is this why people fear the Islamists?   Or are they being unjustly vilified?