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The Worst of Both Worlds?

Reader comment on item: The Middle East's Tribal Affliction
in response to reader comment: Why Islam does not prevent destructive tribalism.

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Jan 26, 2008 at 11:42

While I thank Duane F for taking the time to comment, I'm not sure what his precise point is.

It seems to me that what Islam has historically accomplished is the very worst of both worlds. On the one hand, it failed to transcend any of the worst features of tribalism, as they appear to be described in Salzman's book - the tribalism Duane agrees is still there at the heart of Arab societies. While on the other hand it has added the peculiarly virulent and inflammable fuel of intolerant monotheism to that tribalism - which Duane also seems to acknowledge, as the reason for Islam's explosive growth. (I don't wish to ignore the fact that for over 500 years - say 1095 to 1648 - violent, intolerant monotheism was at the heart of European Christian societies)

But is there anything good to say about tribalism and Islam reinforcing each other? Especially in terms of the current turbulent and destabilizing role Islam is playing on the world stage as well as in the lives of all Muslim societies and states. And in particular in the fact that Islam's clerics and most of the religion-intoxicated masses are violently and unconditionally opposed to Democracy and the rule of Secular law anywhere?

Perhaps the single most amazing fact about the worldwide Islamic response to Bush's reckless invasion of Iraq has been the utter absence of any protest to the murderous, senseless Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence. I have been astounded and dismayed that there hasn't been a single street march or protest anywhere in the Muslim world about what the Sunnis and Shiites are doing to each other. No signed petitions, no protests on el-Jezzira. Nothing.

Don't both these behaviors, the indiscriminate attacks of Iraqis on each other, often directly targeted at women and children, and the stunning non-response to those attacks by any organized Muslim opinion anywhere in the world, either State or private, tell us all we need to know about whether islam has any claim to being a peaceful religion?


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