I was honored to take part in the launch of Freedom Matters! – “a supplemental curriculum developed to help high school students connect the foundations of freedom to today’s global struggles for liberty,” prepared by the wonderful people at the Bush Institute.
The answer to the extremism prevalent in Muslim communities around the world will not come from any allegedly “enlightened” or “moderate” set of religious scholars, but from the average Muslims’ changing attitude towards religiosity. Historical precedents have indeed shown that the religious establishment has often to play catchup with the people in this matter. In the meantime, however, establishment figures, motivated by a variety of ideological and parochial considerations, will often lead the fight against modernization using the pulpits and whatever social, economic and political institutions under their control.
Iran will never give up its nuclear program. To them, having nuclear capabilities and a few warheads and missiles on the side is meant tom inoculate them against foreign dabbling. Iranian officials believe that, unlike Saudi Arabia whose breakup will come largely due to mismanagement on part of the ruling establishment, the only way the Iranian establishment they could face serious domestic troubles will come as a result of clandestine activities supported by Western governments. Having nuclear weapons will prevent that possibility, so they think, even as American drones and intelligence operations are busy destabilizing Pakistan, which has long been a nuclear power.
- All so-called Abrahamic religions have an embedded element of disdain towards all other faith systems, one that has been clearly and unambiguously articulated in their various holy books as well as by a huge assortment of their favorite scholars and clerics, one that colors popular attitudes and feeds popular stereotypes, even among the self-declared secular segments, and inspires rejection, condescension and downright hate among a select few.
The more we learn about ISIS the more similar it gets to the Assad regime from the belief in its divine right to rule to the way it treats its opponents, including torture, kidnapping, beheading and stoning, and the way its makes money. Terrorists in Syria come in different guises, but their actions betray them all, at least to those of us who are unwilling to be willingly blind. Terror invites terror. You can ignore one set of atrocities, you endorse all.