New Vision (Kampala)

17 June 2012

Uganda: Terrorism Is Hard to Nail Down

IT is unfortunate that the terrorism threats and mayhem continues.

As the world struggles with religious tensions and use of religion to meet own goals in politics and destruction, we continue to experience a growing trend of looking at the different religious teachings and how these can be used to mend relationships between the local and global divide as an organisation.

On a challenging note, I have participated in workshops on the use of religion for extremist purposes, I have seen attempts by some presenters to deny that religion is a motivating factor to terror groups.

"Motivation" and "use" maybe different words here but they have been greatly instrumental in not only brain washing but also instilling fear in many followers of the different militant groups.

To Joseph Kony's LRA followers of the Restoration of the Ten Commandments "he is the mighty spiritual warrior who will never be captured." To those of the Late Alice Lakwena of the Holy Spirit Movement "no bullet can dare kill her fighters." To Kibwetere "kill yourself and go to heaven" and to those from the Al Shabab, Al Qeada or Boko Haram groups "you are fighting a Holy war".

One can argue about the many motivating factors including money, but we have also seen children from well to do families in the US, the Middle East and Africa joining or supporting these initiatives.

The key factor here is the personal conviction drawn along global hate that stems from supernatural force of religion or faith thus whether used or acting as a motivating factor it is up to the interested leadership parties.

Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal while presenting an interfaith resolution to the UN said ......."yet the forces inciting interreligious tensions are better organised, more experienced, better coordinated, more motivated and more ruthless.

They have more stratagems, more institutes, more money, and power and garner more publicity such that they by far outweigh all the positive work done by the various interfaith initiatives.

The sad proof of this is that religious tensions are on the rise, not on the decline."

It is easy to use religion to achieve one's political or sectarian goals because of its strong self-conviction and mobilization factor. Additionally, politicising it with the aim of suppressing opposing voices reduces it to a mere political stunt than a serious issue and thereby hurting many lives.

The war on terrorism is not simple and military intervention alone cannot kill the spirit of the many sympathisers and the brain washed. Rather a comprehensive ideological strategy which includes non military and faith based aspects that many people hold dear is needed.

These groups also are very aware that religious groups are challenged by having a practical and meaningful understanding and appreciation of each other and that they covertly live under competition, pretentious partnerships, ego and hate.

The best way, therefore, to widen the gap is to use one faith against all and kill even if it means killing your own that are innocent.

As one professor once said that "there will be no peace among nations unless there is peace among religions and there will be no peace among religions unless there is dialogue among them".

In this case, this should not be mere talking among faith groups but rather strong practical strategies to promote understanding and appreciation of religious diversity and the respect for human life.

This calls for the believers to start talking beyond divides because those very faiths call for loving thy neighbor and no faith advocates for indiscriminate killing of others the way these groups continue to selfishly justify.

Writer works with United Religious Initiative

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