ROTARY – 12/2014
Looking beyond the rules of religions and cultures.
Knowledge is crucial for the understanding of the social and religious dynamics of our time. Thanks to freedom of thought and our democracy, our children have grown up open to know the meaning of the customs and traditions, handed down through the centuries, by the elders; they have acquired a rich identity that derives from the knowledge of their history without remaining caged in it. Our Western media often refer to the universal values that draw their source from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 10, 1948 drafted by the UN; a declaration unfortunately not recognized by 57 countries that are part of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Islamic states that instead apply the Sharia law that draws its source from the Koran and applies its principles.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation ICO
Our public opinions question certain ways of thinking and acting of many populations that are the source of immigration to Europe; there is a problem of understanding each other and finally of dialogue. These misunderstandings, if well manipulated, provoke violent reactions that are channelled against the West, especially towards those European countries that had colonized much of Africa and Asia, continents where almost all the countries that have joined the OIC, especially all the countries of the Arab League, are located. The Arab League is a formation that brings together countries of Arab language and culture with Islam as the state religion (with the exception of Lebanon), applying Sharia law to its citizens in a diversified way. The countries of the League are located along the southern part of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East so they can be considered our neighbours. Attacks on Europe start right from those neighbours, which are inspired or perpetrated by organisms that have escaped the control of the governments of UN member states.
Economic, cultural and demographic gap.
The source of the strength of these bodies, which we shall call Jihadists, lies in the poverty in which these peoples live. After the Second World War, the African countries started a strong campaign of demographic development with the result in fifty years of tripling the number of their inhabitants but of a growing impoverishment. In the same period Europe grew economically with an older population that did not adequately guarantee generational change. The increased availability of means of transport and communications has facilitated the emigration to Europe of young people from countries governed by laws that privilege Muslim citizens over adherents of other religious beliefs, thus forming mental prejudices in young people who arrive in Europe where equal rights and non-discrimination prevail. Citizens of the Arab world raised and educated in states where there is discrimination between Muslims and non-Muslims, a discrimination that legally favours Muslims, similar to our old fascist laws discriminating against Jews. To the demographic, economic and cultural gap is added the religious one.
Identity, citizenship and religion.
Despite the modesty of Westerners to speak of religion, we must take note that religion and civil status of the Mediterranean peoples are inextricably linked to the identity of the person; the Arab citizen feels his religious identity takes priority over his political loyalty. Despite the distancing of the main religious authorities, the disorder-makers and today the head cutters in the Middle East use certain verses of the Koran to justify their actions with a religious imprint. Poverty, ignorance, revenge against former colonizers, and lack of integration into society: they are all ingredients to become prey to violence. Until recently, there was not this range of crossbreeding of cult
ures that we find today in a given territory. In fact, until the Second World War, the regions of the globe were inhabited by people from a given territory, linked by a common denominator, the same culture, religion, belief, habits. For example, the countries of Arabic language and culture were populated by people with majority Islamic beliefs, Europe and the West by Christian majorities, etc. Each one fairly uniform within itself without the drive for revolutions caused by diversity, as was the case with the Armenians in Turkey. It can be said, for example, that the unifying element of the Arab populations appears to be the religious one, that is, the common Islamic religion within which some differentiations are inserted. I am not aware of Arab populations without a belief, without religion.
Internet, free movement, emigration
The accessibility of travel and the free movement of ideas through the internet, television, media and the like have driven many layers of the population towards Europe in search of economic improvements and political stability. Technologies have created proximity of very different peoples and it is not surprising that freedom of expression, belief or opinion will always find some body that considers itself offended and justified in using violence to impose its vision. And with deep regret that these retaliations are almost always directed against Western citizens or institutions, in the name of their religion. On the contrary, we must note that there is no retaliation against Islamic states where the faith, freedom and opinions of non-Muslims are always discriminated against in the name of identity and religious beliefs. These opposing situations must g
ive us pause for thought, and only after we have objectively recognised the problems will we be able to reason with their solution. This was recently called for by the Egyptian President before the Azhar ulemas assembly in Cairo. In fact, the current teaching in the faculties of Islamic theology starts from a literary reading of the Koran, according to which the sacred text of Islam is not simply inspired but dictated by God to Mohammed “descended upon him from heaven”. These are reflections that I offer to reason on the true nature of the challenge and what remedies to agree upon. It is clear that the best response to extremism is to create a united international front that relies on universal standards of freedom of belief and religion as an integral part of the identity of the individual.
Giuseppe Samir Eid
Free web translation from the original in Italian
The published articles intend to provide the tools for a social inclusion of the migratory flow, shed light on human rights and the condition of life of Christians in the Islamic world from which the author come from. Knowledge of the other, of cultural and religious differences are primary ingredients to create peace in the hearts of men everywhere, a prerequisite for a peaceful coexistence and convinced citizenship in the territory.