Islam in general but the hard-liners in particular have not earned much of a reputation for open mindedness or respect for cultural diversity. Much like religious extremists of every stripe and in all parts of the globe, the goal is to revise history to fit the dogma of the day.
Moving past the madness of the most obvious example of Islamist extremism, let’s skip to just earlier this month and a location once referred to as the ends of the Earth; Timbuktu.
Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes have destroyed the centuries-old mausoleums of saints in the Unesco-listed city of Timbuktu in front of shocked locals, witnesses say.
What once looked like this…
Now looks like this…
So they’ve done it again, even though they are “not against culture.” What we witness whenever these Islamists gain power is the destruction of culture and distortion of history. A religion that the moderates claim to be one of peace, thanks to the likes of the Taliban, al Qaeda and a hundred other extremist groups, is being used as justification for intolerance.
The Islamists are not the only religious extremists this old world has had to deal with. Christians can be just as determined to erase or change the course of history. Take for instance Catesby’s treason, otherwise known as the Gunpowder Plot.
The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is a Baptist Christian group operating in North-East India. As terror groups go, the NLFT ranks somewhere not far below al Qaeda. In the same region of India we also find the Manmasi National Christian Army (MNCA). This tribal group is also Baptist and just as dominionist as the NLFT. Both groups are known to forcibly convert Hindus to Christianity and to murder those who resist.
And who can forget Uganda’s Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. Thanks to the documentary this cult guerrilla army is well known for such good christianlike behavior as kidnapping, forcing children to act as soldiers and sex slaves, mutilation, murder, rape and general genocidal behavior. Koni represents himself as god’s spokesman on Earth. Members of the Acholi tribe, this terrorist cult mixes Christian beliefs with tribal spiritualism, fondling rosary beads and reciting biblical scripture before going into battle.
The list of religion inspired cults and terrorists could go on almost forever. Last year we had Anders Behring Breivik in Norway combining extremist Christian beliefs with radical right wing politics, back before World War II there was the Romanian Iron Guard, Northern Ireland’s Orange Volunteers were Protestants who terrorized Catholics for years, and here in the good old U.S. of A. we’ve had enough religious oriented and political terrorism to fill several books. The anti-abortion movement alone could fill one of those books.
In every case there is the attempt to wipe out the culture and revise the history of the targeted population… conversion by the business end of guns. No religion seems immune from this dogmatic practice, but Islam seems to have the extremism thing down to a fine art.
The recent destruction of 16th century architecture in Timbuktu bares strong witness to the intent, and these acts should serve as forewarnings of Islamist determination to erase anything not in line with their extremist values. The radicals value only the dogma. History, culture and human lives mean little in the face of dogma.