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    » 02/11/2013, 00.00

    TUNISIA - ISLAM

    Tunisia in chaos: Why is Islam taboo?

    Piero Gheddo

    Extremism is a threat to moderate Muslims and the West, but it is shrouded by a mysterious taboo. In Tunisia, birth place of the Arab Spring, the assassination of Chokry Belaid, the non-Islamic opposition leader, has led a revolt of the population fearful of a religious dictatorship. No country with a Muslim majority government is democratic and respectful of human rights and religious freedom. The Regensburg address of Benedict XVI only path for a true dialogue between Islam and the West.

    Milan (AsiaNews) - On 6 February, the murder of Chokry Belaid, a lawyer who protested the government's human rights violations, led to a revolt of the Tunisian people, who fear an Islamic dictatorship and would like a democratic and secular government. The picture of the "Arab Spring" in Sunni countries is becoming increasingly incomprehensible, there seems to be a return to the autumn and winter of democracy in Islamic countries.

    The situation today is this: no country with a Muslim majority (and there are more than thirty) has a tolerably democratic government, many of these are in a state of civil war: Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Nigeria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, in no country with a Muslim majority is there full religious freedom for Christians and other religions in some countries where the faithful of the Koran are sizeable minority, there are separatist guerrillas and terrorism: Philippines, Thailand, India, China, Burma, Indonesia.

    We all know the latest news, the events of that day-to-day confirm this situation. What is surprising is the fact that the West does not question, does not ask itself where the Islamic world's instability originates and how it propagates, the uprisings, guerrilla warfare, terrorism that breaks out in all or almost all Islamic countries and what can be done to get to the root of this violent extremism, this loose cannon that threatens world peace. When before World War II, Nazism was already an expanding power, the free world discussed it at the popular level, studied the ideology and visited Germany, trying to make deals, it summoned international conferences for world peace. After World War II, when International Communism began to expand, from the 40s to 1989, the danger of contagion was perceptible, measures were discussed to prevent the spread of this ideology-religion, studying the roots of Marxism-Leninism and what to do to counter its spread in the free world. Communism was a threat, it was discussed a lot.

    The same does not happen with Islamic extremism, condemned by all but which remains like a mysterious object. I do not mean aversion for Islam and even less Muslims. I am convinced that Islam is a great religion that has had the valuable historic merit of bringing many people from polytheism to the monotheism of Abraham, the father of all believers and from tribalism to unity in faith: it gave divided people and enemies a Book , a Law and a community that united and joined them. Today, however, Islamic extremism has taken over the vast majority of the followers of Islam and represents a new threat to humanity and our West demonized as the "great American Satan", claimed as the sworn enemy. In short, Islam is not spoken of. Wars, revolts, terrorism, dictatorships, are all denounced but the root cause of all this is shrouded in silence in the Western press and in meetings and cultural debates. It is a taboo subject. At the most they mask the problem by writing, for example, that the Salafists persecution of Christians in Egypt, Sudan and Nigeria, "is not religiously motivated, but by economic interests," a half-truth that nobody believes.

    What can we do? Many things, but I think that in Italy there are about two million Muslim workers and students, generally good people who only seek a job, a home, the warmth of relationships, security, social peace, well-being. The theme of the roots of Islamic extremism must be publicized, discussed, debated, brought to popular attention, to involve ordinary people and Muslim guests in an atmosphere of respect and effective brotherhood. In the "lectio magistralis" in Regensburg (September 12, 2006) Pope Benedict XVI had made it clear that Islam has to deal with human reason, according to which "violence in God's name does not exist." No less than 200 imams and Muslim academics responded to the Pope saying they agreed and starting a dialogue on this crucial issue for Islam today.

    During his journey to the Holy Land as a "pilgrim of peace" (8-15 May 2009), Benedict XVI returned to the theme when he gave a clear indication of how the followers of the three monotheistic religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims could live in harmony. On the plane taking him to Jordan he said that the key of getting along is "talking to reason and supporting positions that are truly reasonable." And then, in meetings with Muslims in Jordan he insisted on this: religion is reasonably against violence. This view of religion, he added, "rejects all forms of violence and totalitarianism: not only on principles of faith, but also of right reason." The reason leads to "serve the common good, to respect the dignity of man, which gives rise to universal human rights."


    But afterwards it was no longer spoken of or discussed, not even in Western democracies where there are millions of Muslims and there is freedom of thought and of press. In a democratic and free nation like our own, there should be no taboo subjects, because they never produce any good.

     

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    See also

    06/02/2007 ISLAM
    Fr Gheddo: challenge of Islam is above all cultural, religious
    They admire scientific and technological development in the West but believe it to be devoid of a soul. Even in moderate countries, madrassahs teach about the struggle against the West and give pride of place to pictures of “martyrs of Islam”. This challenge cannot be met through solely juridical, military, political and diplomatic means.

    12/09/2014 ISLAM - CAMEROON
    Poverty, fanaticism and a desire for revenge drive Boko Haram in Cameroon
    Islamic terrorism is gaining ground not only in Nigeria. Young Cameroonians are leaving their families for a holy war. Westerners, but also local politicians are their target. Peaceful coexistence between faiths and ethnic groups is at risk.

    02/09/2013 ITALY - VATICAN
    Cardinal Martini a saint, but not soon
    A year after the death of the former archbishop of Milan, it is striking that no one has called on him the "odor of sanctity” required to initiate a cause of beatification . It is not easy to understand why, but it may be helpful to reflect on a life lived as a true Christian . The more time passes , the more Card. Martini will be understood and appreciated for his authentically missionary attitude, his dialogue with non-believers and his reaching out to those "distant" from Christ and the Church.

    01/02/2006 ITALY
    Father Gheddo's parents on their way to beatification
    For years witnesses have talked about the couple's "hunger for holiness" because of how they led their family life and how they took care of the poor. They were day-to-day heroes.

    06/05/2015 TUNISIA - ISLAM
    Huge security measures as hundreds of Jews make Djerba pilgrimage.
    Representatives from France, Italy and Britain are expected to visit the Ghriba synagogue, the oldest in Africa. Tunisia refutes Netanyahu’s claim of a "concrete terrorist threat". The country wants to reboot tourism, brought to a halt by the Arab Spring uprisings and attacks by terrorists.



    Editor's choices

    CHINA - VATICAN
    The persecution of Catholics during the Cultural Revolution

    Sergio Ticozzi

    The documentation of that violent period was burned or buried in archives. Only a few survivors speak. The persecutors are silent in fear. The burning of religious objects and furnishings in Hebei. Bishops humiliated and arrested in Henan; nuns beaten with sticks and killed, or buried alive. A persecution that "is not over yet"; Today it is perhaps only more subtle.


    CHINA
    Silence shrouds 50th anniversary of Cultural Revolution in China and in the West

    Bernardo Cervellera

    The bloody campaign launched by Mao Zedong killed nearly 2 million people and sent  a further 4 million to concentration camps. Every Chinese has been marked by fear. But today, no memorial service has been planned and no newspaper article has appeared. The Party’s internal struggles and Xi Jinping’s fear of ending up like the USSR. Even today, as then, there are those in Europe who keep quiet and laud the myth of China. Many are predicting a return to the "great chaos".

     


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