Kill for the Religion or Kill the Religion?

 By Ahmet Abidin Ozbek:

‘Give them the hope or occasion of a massacre, they will follow you blindly’.E. M. Cioran

Whilst the ISIS name is everywhere, most people have already forgotten the deeper crisis in Islam and Muslim society. Unfortunately, if we look closely at history, we can see that every religion (particularly Islam) creates more problems than it solves. Paradoxically, we are all responsible in the matter of the terrorist ISIS. Why? First of all, we human beings have become ignorant and do not try to understand what’s happening next door. I remember what one writer said, years ago, about Hitler’s fascism. Most groups ignored it at the beginning. And each group didn’t realize that fascism would also come for them. That’s exactly what is happening today.

In general, religion has caused a lot of problems in daily life. J. Krishnamurti (1) said, “The religions that are established in the books became bigoted, fundamentalist. They became terrorists of the world”. Essentially, the coexistence of religion with science, humanity and secularism is very difficult. It is difficult, not only for Islam, but also for Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and so on. However, today it is more difficult with Muslim society than any other. It’s true that a lot of Muslims have become victims of hate crimes committed by others, for example, in Bosnia, Syria, China, Myanmar and other countries.  However, it is sad but, if we look at the statistics, even more crimes have been committed by Muslims in Muslim countries or in those where they live. More people have become the victims of Muslim sectarianism and radicalism. The punishments, executions, pogroms, hatred, revenge, massacres, assassinations, gender discrimination, racial and ethnic hate crimes, and so on: today these occur more often in Islamic countries  than in other religious societies.

The recent ISIS attacks on Yazidi Kurds should be considered very seriously and seen as a critical development. It shows again that if Islamic society and Muslim people are not willing to accept democratic, secular and humanist values, things will become even more terrible in future. It is also true that the developed countries have helped cause the situation.  But it is clear that few Muslim people today are interested in democracy and secularist rights.

I observed that little protest or help came from Muslim countries for the Yazidi people after the brutal attacks. It is very upsetting because it was as if a majority of Muslims approved the crimes. Every human life is important. Everyone has the right to live freely and equally, whether they are Muslim or not. We can’t solve problems by creating more hatred, discrimination and pogroms. Revenge becomes almost a part of daily life. Everyone has enemies. Our nationalistic, religious or ideological beliefs do not allow for humanistic ways to solve problems. Once we are trapped in a violent circle, we always try to exit with another violent act. Unfortunately, it is mostly innocents who pay the price. The people in ISIS or any other fascistic organization enjoy the killing. The killing is a kind of spiritual, ritualistic or satanic lodge or cult for them. They enjoy any kind of killing.


ISIS fanatics enjoy the killing

Let’s look at the complicated picture of the Middle East today. Saddam massacred millions of Kurds, Shiites and oppositionists. Assad and his Baathist regime used their power and killed Kurds, Sunnis and others. In Iran, both the Shah and the mullahs did the same. The Turkish state has oppressed and killed the Armenians and Kurds. Each regime has created its own enemies. Iran has maintained a totalitarian Shiite regime that is against almost everyone. Israel, powered by the Zionist idea, started to expand and targeted especially the Palestine people. They didn’t mind terrorizing the entire Palestine population with their violent state politics. While the Kurds have helped the Palestinians in the past, the Palestinians didn’t mind dealing with the butchers of the Kurds, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Iran, etc. When the Palestinian people didn’t fight against Israel, they enjoyed killing each other. Almost nobody at all objected to killing civilians. Most of them became obsessive about power. The governments, organizations, lodges, secret services, militaries, paramilitaries and parties are havens for violent acts against humanity. They became authoritarian forces in the circle of violence. Besides this, the Arabs became more divided on the issues of sectarianism, secularism, human rights and democracy. The dictators in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Iraq, Jordon or the Arab emirates have only created more problems, nothing else. In almost every Arab state, the class differences became critical. While a minority were almost sleeping inside gold mines, the majority got poorer every day.  Each state claimed to be more religious than the next. Religion became the main tool to use for political power. Again, as J. Krishnamurti said a long time ago: “There are many causes, but there is essentially one cause; each one of us is egocentric”.

The tragedy is that most Muslim people and countries are ignorant about non-Muslim – or even non-Sunni or non-Shia – people. A massacre is a massacre. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. Unfortunately, the map of Muslim, and particularly Arab, countries depicts disasters. The undemocratic and fascist regimes are only interested in their own benefits. There is no value for a human being; humanity has no value at all. They are even ignorant of their own people.

So, their ignorant, backward and feudal regimes, oil and weapons corporations became the main sources for the ISIS fascists. Of course there is no question that ISIS was not without some support from developed countries. But, the main enemy is inside. If we look really deep, we will see the enigma from thousands of years before. What is very astonishing and hard to understand about the massacres, pogroms or killings of the masses? Let’s take the example of ISIS. Young and old have joined the one group. Those individuals have brains to think but seem to become mentally paralyzed by brainwashing. But how can their minds be manipulated so easily? How can some leaders easily gather the assassins together and motivate them to obey orders. What are the orders? Orders to kill, massacre, destroy, etc. If the members of the victim groups then have a chance, will many of them do the same? The answer is yes.

As a humanist I have a practical approach to understanding the massacres. ISIS members are killing others wholesale. Everyone is an infidel or non-believer if they do not belong to the Sunni-Muslim sect. What kind of minds do these people have? What is the very essence of these people? How do they become killing machines? How are they recruited to become killers? Is the Koran really telling them to do all these things?  Should we call for reform of the religion and Koran for the 21st century? How can Muslims learn to live with or believe in democracy, while they keep their faith?

I mean, how we can stop the wholesale massacres or killings in the future? As you see, it is very difficult and complicated. It is not easy to answer these questions. But I believe there is a lot of work that can be done. For example, we can build special hospitals to learn to understand the mechanism of the killers. This kind of hospital might need a lot of different experts, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, humanists, physicians, sociologists, etc. The members of ISIS have come from almost all over the world. This is such an international gang, supported financially from many radical sources. Let’s say if we capture some ISIS militants alive, we should take them, not to prison, but to these centers. This is because we need to understand the state of their minds and how they became killers. It could be many factors, including religion, experience of civil wars, poverty and family pasts.

These people came and joined the movement from different parts of the world. The cold reality is that Islam today can’t deal with critical issues, such as human rights, democracy, freedom for other ethnic or religious groups, freedom of speech and freedom from absolute poverty. In these very corrupted, sectarian, fascist, totalitarian regimes, Islamic institutions control almost the entire society. Overall, a majority of people are poor and treated as second class citizens, or slaves, in most Muslim countries. Democracy or human rights are not on the agenda at all. It is almost impossible to see any kind of reform or progress in Islam.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising to see the development of fascist states or organizations such as Al Qaeda, GIA, Boko Haram, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Nusra, or ISIS. As a humanist, I will not defend the corrupted and invasive policies of the developed countries towards the Middle East. But, it is also very essential that every Muslim should ask themselves today: What’s going on in our religion? Why are secular and democratic institutions so weak in Muslim society? Why do so many Muslims kill others in the name of religion? Why are secular or democratic-minded people scared to live in Muslim countries? It is not time to reform our religion or else the blind and brainwashed people will continue to kill?

Finally, I like E.M. Cioran’s (2) words. He said: “Everything depends on the moment when he kills; crime in full glory consolidates authority by the sacred fear it inspires. The art of making oneself feared and respected is equivalent to the sense of opportunity.”

  1. J. Krishnamurti. 2011. Where Can Peace Be Found? Shambala Boston & London. ISBN 978-1-59030-878-3.
  2. E. M. Cioran. 1960. History and Utopia. Seaver Books. New York. ISBN 0-8050-0391-6.

Ahmet Abidin Ozbek was born in Ankara, Turkey and resides in Florida, USA. He is Kurdish and Alevi, has a Masters Degree in rural planning, agriculture and ecology from Turkey and Spain and was an active member of the Student Associations. He writes for and has written for the Kurdistan Observer and He is also a freelance photographer and is writing a novel.

One Response to Kill for the Religion or Kill the Religion?
  1. kuvan Bamarny
    September 28, 2014 | 13:57

    The root cause of all problems in this world is the lack of justice.
    Since people have become different in their culture ,religion and in general in their personal opinion and beliefs,there must be a power that would make them to co-exist peacefully, and that power is called justice.That is what has been missing in troublesome parts of the world. And why justice has been missing? It is because of greed, false pride,selfishness,arrogance, hate ,and discrimination.

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