Bahai News - Intolerance: What's the cure?
Intolerance: What's the cure?
Source: The Charleston Gazette
Publication date: 2001-05-10
Arrival time: 2001-05-11
LAST week, President Bush spoke against cruelties that are inflicted on
religious minorities in many places around the planet.
Addressing the in Washington, he recounted how Orthodox Russians massacred
Jews in pogroms at the start of the 20th century. He said President Theodore
Roosevelt sent Russia's czar a telegram so stinging that the czar refused to
accept it. When some complained that Roosevelt's rebuke was too strong, the
president "replied that there were crimes so monstrous that the American
conscience had to assert itself."
"And there still are. Such crimes are being committed today by the government
of Sudan, which is waging war against that country's traditionalist and
Christian peoples. Some 2 million Sudanese have lost their lives; 4 million
more have lost their homes. ... Aid agencies report that food assistance is
sometimes distributed only to those willing to undergo conversion to Islam.
"Iraq murders dissident religious figures. Iran systematically maltreats
Jews, Christians and adherents of the Bahai faith. ... Afghanistan's Taliban
government has horrified the world with its disdain for fundamental human
freedoms, epitomized by its destruction of ancient Buddhist works of art."
President Bush's message is exactly on target: Members of underdog
religions often are victims of persecution, usually by adherents of dominant
faiths, but also by secular governments such as those in communist China.
But simply criticizing the cruelty doesn't end it. Curing the age-old menace
seems almost impossible. How can outsiders go into brutal countries and tell
majority believers to stop hurting minority ones? Nobody ever has found a
solution to this problem.
The endless Sudan war began mostly because Muslim rulers in the north tried
to make Christians and animists in the south subject to the Sharia religious
law, which requires chopping off hands and feet, and stoning unwed lovers to
death. Afghanistan likewise enforces this law, with even more severity.
What can the democratic community of nations do to prevent such horrors? If
the United Nations were to mandate human rights and personal liberties for all
minorities, the action would, in effect, tell those oppressive governments
they can't apply the religious law they have chosen.
However, decency requires the world community to do whatever it can to protect
minorities from murder and oppression. Therefore, we hope the United Nations
redoubles its efforts to shield underdogs. And we hope that Bush's speech
signals increased U.S. backing for this cause.
©Copyright 2001, The Charleston Gazette
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