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The Politics of Fear
As we in the West watch events unfold in the Middle East we must hope that for the peopleís sake in those countries, oppressive secular regimes are not replaced by even more oppressive Islamic republics. In all countries there should always be a distinct separation between the State, the Law and Religion to the extent that even all the schools should be non-religious although in this country we cannot, apparently, afford to do that. However whereas other faith schools such as Catholic, and Jewish teach love and tolerance towards their fellow man, many Islamic schools teach hate and ignorance even in this country. Children, from a very early age, are forced through physical fear to learn the Koran by rote, sitting, rocking backwards and forwards, repeating the same monotonous phrases over and over. It is a barbaric form of brainwashing which should be outlawed in the West; a crime against children.
People are the same all over the world, they need to eat and drink and make ends meet. When I have lived in Islamic countries, the ordinary people have the same concerns as people in the West, are just like us, in that they worry about work and money or lack of it, about bringing up their children and aspiring to a better life. They like a drink, having a party and a good time. They are good and very friendly people who we can all learn from. Most people I met were not particularly religious, if at all, but they were certainly afraid of the local religious fanatic, and there was one in every street, who given the slightest excuse would report them to the Authorities. Similar to the party official in Communist China now or under the old communist Russia, a busybody neighbour that spies on everyone for the Government.
There are always people in every society no matter how free that society is that want to jump on the fanatics bandwagon. It gives their sad, ignorant lives a focus; it gives them some semblance of importance, a way of raising themselves above their neighbour. Western societies are no exception, instead of these extremists using the opportunities available to them, which are not available in any Muslim country, they want to tear down the democracies that provide for them and create a state where they wear the jackboot and everyone bends to their will.
Ideologies such as Communism, Fascism or Islam operate through fear Ė if you donít conform you will be beaten, locked up or killed. If these ideologies were a force for good for the people who have to live under them, then the Governments would not need to use fear to control the population, they would be able to survive criticism and become stronger by it. Through fear the ruling elite remain in power, living the good life while the people suffer.
Democracy is the opposite, its strength and success comes from tolerating opposition, being all encompassing and allowing everyone to have a say. In Western democracies you can criticise the government and religion without being locked up. You can live much as you want; you can believe what you want and say what you want, all without fear of the state, as long as you do not infringe other peopleís liberties. There is freedom of the press and habeas corpus as a guarantee. Democracy, freedom, is the only way forward for all peoples of the world. It is not perfect but we can all contribute to improving on it.
Islamic fundamentalism is like a cancer that casts a shadow over all Muslims. The cancer must be eradicated without harming the main body. In these dangerous times in the Middle East we in the West must administer our medicine carefully if we donít want the whole body to become infected. Poverty, ignorance and lack of education are the recruiting sergeants for fundamentalism; aid money should be spent in tackling these issues and not in providing weaponry to corrupt governments.
If we had taken this approach decades ago we may not have had to engage in expensive wars in the Middle East and many of the countries may have become democracies of their own accord. In the future we should insist that our Governments to do provide any military aid to any country that is not democratically elected and any non-military aid that is provided is spent at a local level for the improvement of the people.
At this critical time Western Governments must tread carefully so as not to crush these early flowerings of Democracy.