Thursday, November 7, 2013

NY Times article reverses causal relationship between restrictions on religion, and rise of Islamic extremism

The below NY Times article (from last year) presents much interesting data, yet constructs around it a false narrative, because of the West's innate bias towards the religious equivalency fallacy. The false idea that Islam is inherently a peaceful religion, and that all we need for peace to flourish in the Muslim world is less heavy-handed autocrats, and greater inclusion of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and the Taliban in order to help them become partners in democracy, directs all U.S. and Western foreign policy.

My comments interspersed.

Restrictions on Religion Are Tightening, Study Finds
By Adam Nossiter — NY Times — 9/20/2012

DAKAR, Senegal — Government restrictions on religion around the world were highest in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in the period before the Arab Spring uprisings, a new study has found, underscoring a factor that fueled hostilities in the region and led to the rise of political Islam after the revolts.

[Actually, political Islam was kept in check for decades, however imperfectly or aggressively, by authoritarian leaders like Mubarak in Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Qaddafi in Libya, and Assad in Syria. Because of authoritarian rule, Christians generally fared far better under the despots (in spite of outbreaks of persecutions), than they have since the Islamists have taken over.]

The study, by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, said that in 2010 government restrictions on religion were “high or very high” in most of the Arab Spring countries, where suppression of Islamist movements contributed to the uprisings and spurred subsequent incursions of Islamists into political power.

Restrictions in Tunisia went from “high” in mid-2009 to “very high” a year later, the study found. The uprising there began at the end of 2010.

[Here again, Nossiter has it backwards. The restrictions on Islamist groups were ramped up due to heightened security fears over jihad threats following Obama's empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2009. The Islamist threat was always there; reduced restrictions would have enabled the Islamists to make their move earlier.]

In Egypt, restrictions were already high and edged up further between 2009 and 2010, the year before the country exploded. And in Yemen, where there also was an uprising, restrictions increased sharply over the same period.

[Precisely because of Obama's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist groups.]

Over all, the study found a worldwide rise in religious restrictions. It measured two basic yardsticks: a government restrictions index, and a social hostilities index. Government restrictions include moves by authorities to ban faiths and conversions, and to limit preaching. Social hostilities encompass mob violence and “religion-related intimidation or abuse,” such as harassment over attire.

The study found 15 countries with very high levels of social hostilities in 2010, up from 10 in 2007, with the new additions being Egypt, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Russia and Yemen.
It noted that “in Nigeria, violence between Christian and Muslim communities, including a series of deadly attacks, escalated throughout the period.”

However, in Nigeria at least, the religious dimension is often superseded by, or a mask for, more complex underlying factors — elements not noted by the broad-brush, numbers-based Pew study. In the central region of Nigeria, for instance, where much of the ostensibly Christian-Muslim violence takes place, the mutually hostile groups are often motivated as much by disputes over land and longstanding ethnic friction as they are by religion.

[Here we see the typical Western spin regarding Muslim attacks on Christians in Nigeria. Nossiter basically jettisons the Pew Study, interpreting it according to the Western Media paradigm, which always morphs Muslim attacks on Christians into "mutually hostile disputes."  A review of Raymond Ibrahim's monthly reports of Muslim Persecution of Christians clearly shows the one-sided nature of Muslim-on-Christian violence. This is especially pronounced in Nigeria, where the Boko Haram Islamist group casts their jihad against Christians and all Western influence specifically in religious terms, and is now training rural herdsmen to attack their Christian neighbors.]

The study found that increases in religious restrictions outnumbered decreases in all five major regions of the world, with sub-Saharan Africa scoring the largest share of countries with significant increases.

Over all, countries with “high or very high restrictions” rose from 31 percent of the total in 2009 to 37 percent in 2010. The Pew study found that 63 percent of countries had “increases in government restrictions” from 2009 to 2010.

Separately on Thursday, United Nations human rights investigators in Geneva said that more than 300 Christians had been arrested since mid-2010 in Iran, where, they said, churches operate in a “climate of fear.” Iran is given a score of “very high” on Pew’s Government Restrictions Index.

The Pew study found that restrictions also increased in Europe, like the Swiss ban on construction of minarets, and in the United States, noting a rising number of instances in which people were prevented from wearing clothing or beards, and problems in building places of worship.