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Politics Religion and Stupidity
As I have related here before my political views are far to the left of center. As a consequence I rountinely read the very left on line news letter Counterpunch.

Something I expected, because of the riots in Eygpt and elsewhere caused by a movie in apprent poor taste (think "Life of Brian" but more insulting and more serious), including the murder of the US ambassador to Libya, occurred and in fact continues to occur on this news letter. Apologists on the left try to make the totally outrageous religious reaction by Islamists as political in nature and understandable in that way.

I understand and agree with completely that western, particularly US foreign policy has been detrimental to Arab, particularly Islamic nations, OK fine.

But to suggest that the insane ravings and actions of people obsessed with any religion can be understood because of the political oppression of that Group is absurd. It has equal validity with the argument that killing of abortion doctors can be understood when one considers how oppressed fundamental Christians have been.

Religious fanaticism is that. Suggesting that it has a political nature is false. I expect better analysis out of people I generally agree with but that is hopeless. They like others allow their political beliefs to color their thinking.
Edited by JohnH on 10/08/2012 20:46
Having been raised in a nation where separation of church and state is the norm, I can't claim to have a very good grasp of how easily it might be to tease apart religion and politics in the middle east. I can imagine that if religion and politics are sufficiently conflated, then limiting one political vision (through official suppression, or merely the loss of an election) could be indistinguishable from religious oppression.

I do imagine this is how some Christian conservatives in the US see things. This is relevant, IMO, because if I'm right and they do, how much easier must be to think like that in a nation were separation of church and state doesn't have such deep roots?

Doesn't make it right there anymore than here, but as a way of understanding things, it's a good place to start, maybe.
I think you have to consider circumstances in the Middle East. They look at the State of Israel as being propped up in that region purely for religious reasons an they can't help but look at the displacement of locals caused by the Israeli state as religious oppression. Add to that the fact that the US propped up various petty dictators in the region for the better part of a century and no one should be surprised that they might conflate politics and religion.

We have fundamentalists in the US who proudly announce their support of Israel purely because they think that their religious belief in armageddon can only be fulfilled by war between Israel and the Muslin world. Israel gets away with all manner of violations of the human rights of Palestinians and there is no reason not to think that the Western world's willingness to overlook those transgressions has something to do with religion.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
My work have asked me if I will go to Israel...

I view them as a terrorist state.

For the average man on the street burning effigies (women are safe at home, covered up) I doubt politics has entered their minds at all - for they would have been protesting non-stop for the last 20 years.

It is religion as JohnH says, but as the later comments make, the Imams and other leaders communicate their anger (over the way the western world has treated them) through religion, as did the human rights activists of emancipation in the US by the likes of Martin Luther King.

For a population that cannot achieve education due to oppression, or through lack of infrastructure, that One Book can be binding.
TE - You made a great point that I think people tend to overlook. Many, though certainly not all, in the Middle East are poorly educated.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
Where many work in the fields still, subsitence living, book learning isn't too important either - getting to know your land and crop is.

Maintaining good relations with your neighbours is also important, so it is not hard to see why a reasonable man in Iraq would join what the US/UK would term a terrorist organisation if he whitnesses a bomb drop on his neighbours house, without explanation.

The US/UK (and others) have provide some 100,000 (conservative estimate) reasons for surviving neighbours in Iraq / Afghanistan to do just this.

And as community is centred on religion, an insult to their religion is an insult to their community.

The other point that is, how do they all find out about the insult in the first place?

That is the political aspect of it, there must be imams/religious leaders who sit and search for any hint of blasphemy so they can stir the people.
I owe those who have made reasonable and valid responses to my original post some sort of response. I am currently travelling and find long responses difficult. I would like a few more days.
I don't think that will be an issue, John.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
We all joined up in 2008 - I dont think we have scratched together an Answer for any topic yet!

... other than to the question: Do you hold a belief in a god?
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