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Stop, In the Name of God


By Mamoon Alabbasi 


16/09/08 "ICH" -- - A top Saudi cleric is reported to have issued a religious decree claiming that it is "lawful to kill" owners of Arab television networks broadcasting "depravation and debauchery".


Saleh al-Luhaidan, responding to a question by a caller in a radio phone-in programme regarding 'immoral' content in Arabic television, is reported to have said that if lesser punishments fail, then those responsible "can be put to death."


The issue here is very serious and goes beyond arguments pertaining to censorship, social taboos, or morality.


The decree is an example that provides further demonstration how religion can be misused to justify the killing of others in a casual way.


And this time, it is not carried out by some underground extremist desperate for support or legitimacy, but by a religious authority who is supposed to set an example for tolerance and wisdom.


Killing is not an issue that should be taken lightly.


Only few days ago, during the seventh anniversary of 9/11, we were reminded of how a group of criminals had set out to highjack Islam by murdering thousands of innocent civilians in the name of God.


Today, this dangerous trend, though by no means new, is growing internationally at an alarming rate, and it is certainly not exclusive to a few deluded Muslims. 


Earlier this month, the Iraq war, arguably the biggest mass murder expedition of the twenty-first centaury, was branded by Republican vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin as a "task that is from God."


The fervent Christian evangelist has implied that the slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, as well as the displacement of more than four million others is actually "God's plan."


Similarly, a growing number of Jewish extremists in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank are becoming more and more vocal in expressing their desire to subject the Palestinians the original inhabitants of the land to a second campaign of ethnic cleansing because God is alleged to have promised "His chosen people" the said land for them alone.


How can the message of peace and justice at the heart of the monotheist religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam be distorted in such a way that renders it the exact opposite of what was intended?


Any justification of murder, invasion, or ethnic cleaning using religion or any other ideology is something that we should be extremely worried about.


At a time when events seem to suggest that we are heading for a possible third Word War, we could learn a lot from quotes from the man who started the previous Word War.


He combined mass murder, invasions, and ethnic cleansing in the most despicable way known in modern history.


It was Adolf Hitler who was quoted as saying:


"I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator."


"What we have to fight for is . the freedom and independence of the Fatherland; so that our people may be enabled to fulfil the mission assigned to it by the Creator."


"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter."


"The national Government sees in both Christian denominations [Catholic and Protestant] the most important factor for the maintenance of our society."


"The [Nazi] party as such represents the standpoint of a positive Christianity, without owing itself to a particular confession."


If Hitler has allied himself to the religion of the symbol of peace and love Jesus then we should not be surprised to see others turn messages of peace into excuses for murder or domination. 


However, Hitler was not a madman living in isolation; he had the blessings of many churches at the time. And today, his ideas are still shared in one way or another - by many followers of different faiths and ideologies.


If the comments attributed to the Saudi cleric are true, then Muslims must protest such un-Islamic remarks.


Imposing one's own style of morality and threatening those who do not abide by it with death will not work. Ask the German who tried it before:        


 "We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit ... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess."


Morality or the lack of it should not be imposed with the edge of a sword or at the barrel of a gun, and certainly not with a gas chamber.


Isn't the sanctity of human life a moral cause in its own?


Mamoon Alabbasi is an editor for Middle East Online and can be reached

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