Justifying violence under the guise of religion

The attempted assassination of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai is yet another example of why I cannot understand or accept the hard-line interpretation of a religious philosophy by a goal-driven group like the Taliban.

The attempted assassination of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai is yet another example of why I cannot understand or accept the hard-line interpretation of a religious philosophy by a goal-driven group like the Taliban.

Somehow the Taliban has managed to justify the shooting because they believe that the girl was a puppet of anti-Islamic forces that would harm the ultimate goal of the Taliban, which appears to be full speed in reverse to the Stone Age when it comes to basic freedom and equality.

Malala Yousufzai stood in the way of their retro movement because she addressed the issue of female education from the point of view of a young female who had loftier goals in mind for herself.

The girl also condemned the violent control of the Taliban and their rigid assertion that women should never advance out of a life of complete subservience to men.

Needless to say, this program would not play well in the Western world of 2012 — or probably 1812 for that matter.

This where I start to miss the point on extreme interpretation of a religion. How can I possibly understand the motivation behind any group that endorses bloodthirsty violence and severe oppression under the guise of religion?

Bear in mind that the idea is not completely unique to the Taliban, given the long history of religious-driven violence from other faiths, but they are the most glaring current example of a group of ruthless killers who operate under the guise of a loftier religious goal.

There is no noble cause at play here, simply the complete suppression of a large group of people by a smaller and heavier armed group of people with little reason not to shoot people from the larger group who oppose their viewpoint.

The oppressed peoples’ fear of sudden death works in the favour of the goal-driven people carrying all of the automatic weapons until they encounter somebody like Malala Yousufzai, a young girl with enough courage to speak out against the holy warriors/thugs who run the show.

Most of us in the non-Islamic world do not understand the religion very well. We assume that it is basically a religion that is largely based upon peaceful goals like every other religion in the world. We also believe that its message can be corrupted by purpose-driven misinterpretation and turned into a blunt force weapon like every other religion in the world.

The important issue at play here is the actions of the peaceful practitioners of Islam who need to exert their influence on the religious thugs who get all of the headlines.

They need to condemn the actions of the splinter groups that have declared a holy war on the non-Islamic world in the name of their religion. They need to communicate a better message of peace and tolerance toward the outside world and to educate non-Islamic people about their religion.

Otherwise outsiders will view Islam in a negative light.

They will simply see a religion that has exported terrorism and genocide to other countries under their religious banner with an insufficient response from the peaceful majority of Moslems who want nothing to do with the kind of people who would shoot a 14-year-old girl who tried to make a positive difference.

Jim Sutherland is a freelance Red Deer columnist.