Terror comes in many forms. There is state terror; organised terror which is not state-promoted (NGO terror if you like); and individual acts of terror which are nevertheless encouraged by religion. All of these have one end: to reinforce the patriarchy’s grip on society and they are almost all sanctioned by religion. While a half-century ago, Communist terror was a problem, with the collapse of the Soviet Union that died away: nearly all terror, in every form, present in the world today, is inspired by religion.
Individual acts of terror are where one or a small number of individuals, usually from a majority of some kind, kill, maim, beat, insult, deny service to or otherwise harm persons of another group in order to intimidate them. A good example would be violence against LGBT people. This is frequently a spontaneous act of terror by private individuals with little or no coordination. Yet it causes the deaths of hundreds of transgender women every year. We see the same in beatings of minority races, persons of colour and those who dare to speak out for freedom.
Most of this terror is encouraged by the rantings of deluded religious demagogues preaching hate against gays, trans people, blacks, Jews, women, you name it. What are the recent atrocities carried out in France but religious terror designed to suppress legitimate criticism of Islam? We saw it in Charleston but lately. We see it in the killings of doctors assisting women to assert their rights over their bodies. It is pervasive and religion is the cause of it.
In Muslim families, even in the UK, girls are terrorised from birth. An estimated 1200 forced marriages are carried out in the UK every year, with the mainly female visions of this abuse being told that to resist would mean beating, torture and death — for compromising the ‘honour’ of both her own and the groom’s family. And in these cultures, gay men are sometimes forcibly married, in order to ‘turn them straight’ — with the same caveat: to resist is to dishonour and for that you will die. And this makes no mention of the horror of circumcision, where children’s bodies are mutilated by adults in the name of religion.
We usually forget that 26% of the world’s population is under 15, with no vote, precious little representation and almost no defence against religious terror. This is inflicted directly by parental beatings, usually administered by men, absolutely mandated by religion, and through bullying by peers, acting on the same vile impulse. Taken together with women, we find that a majority of the world’s population are subject to terror by men on a daily, routine basis. Terror is a part of the lives and upbringing of most of the world’s population in other words, and it is sanctioned by religion. Islam even gives instructions as to how to beat and inflict terror.
Children are religious terrorists’ first victims, whether by mental abuse form pulpit or mosque, religiously sanctioned beatings or mutilations. Religion is the herald and enforcer of the patriarchy; terror is its stock-in-trade and violence, mutilation and killing are its tools.
Non -governmental, organised terror covers everything from the KKK to ISIS and all points in between. While maintaining shocking levels of individual terror within the group — witness the defenestration of gay men by ISIS — it promulgates terror against people outside the group. It includes Hamas, Al Qaeda and Boku Haram; but on the other hand we have the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Church and many others. Only this week we have seen a Baptist ‘pastor’ incite his followers, yet again, to murder LGBT people. In Africa, the Anglican Church ha actively been promoting terror against the same group. And the Catholic Church continues its suppression of women by denying them the right to divorce abusive husbands. Terror being used to keep people in lione.
Remember Rwanda, where the terrorism was promoted by Christians and Srebrenica, where 8000 Muslim men and boys were taken out and murdered by Bosnian Serb nationalists, just because they were Muslim.
Just over the last month, we have yet again, in Northern Ireland, seen the UK’s largest sectarian organisation, the Orange Order, attack and attempt to intimidate Catholics — provoked by Protestant pastors. So far this year there have only been serious injuries but these include a little girl being driven over by an alleged Protestant in his car. She was trapped under it after he appeared to deliberately drive into a crowd of mainly Catholics (she survived, he was arrested.) The Orange Order has never hesitated to proclaim the religious justification for its violence towards and intimidation of anyone who opposes it. It is by definition a terrorist organisation and it is staggering that it has not been banned.
In Africa, Boku Haram has regularly shown the depths of its terrorist depravity, every last bit of it religiously inspired. Yet it is not alone. All across sub-Saharan Africa, religiously-motivated bigots with guns and no education, kill, beat and displace others, while death-squads from the same source terrorise LGBT people.
The appalling brutality of ISIS, ISIL, call it what you will has but one inspiration — religion. Its stated purpose is to fulfil the religious obligation placed on Muslims by the Qu’ran and turn the whole world into the Caliphate: and make no mistake, it will not stop until it is eradicated.
Why did Al Qaeda murder 4000 Americans on the 11 of September 2001? In the name of Islam. Just this month, 30 tourists were murdered in Tunisia — in the name of Islam: which its apologists call, lest we forget, the ‘religion of peace’.
Religiously-inspired state terror is widespread and commonplace. It includes killing, torturing and imprisoning LGBT people in Africa, the Islamic world and elsewhere. Throughout the Islamic world, women are routinely terrorised. Women in Iran are attacked, have acid thrown in their faces, are arrested and imprisoned — for not wearing the veil, the symbol of female subjugation in this miserable culture. This is pure terrorism.
In Saudi, women are subject to similar abuses, and are commonly beaten and executed, as are a whole list of persons who dare to oppose the state-backed religious hegemony in any way. To be LGBT in these terror states is to live in constant fear, and all because of religion. In Indonesia, special police squads enforce Shariaa on Muslims, imposing terror on anyone who has an Islamic name — even if they themselves have never been Muslim. Every nation where the evil code of Shariaa is in place and enforced, or even tolerated, is an example of religious state terror.
Despite the vociferous attempt by misguided liberalists to condemn Israel, its actions, even if they could be described as terror rather than the legitimate self-defence that they are, pale into insignificance compared to the Indonesian government’s actions in East Timor, for example, which was entirely a religiously-inspired state terror against Christians by Muslims. There is evidence of state-sanctioned terror against Muslims in Burma.
The United States, along with many other developed nations, has exported terror across the globe. In the 1970s and 80s, for example, the CIA, with collusion from the administrations of the day, supported fascist dictatorships in South America, and we now know, actively assisted their death squads in selecting and capturing their victims. This may not have been in the name of a specific religion, other than the extreme worship of capitalism, but behind it lies a core of religious justification that it is done in the name of ‘God’ and country.
But let’s look further back: what was Hitler’s principal justification for the Holocaust? Religion. Hitler was a lifelong Catholic and he knew that killing Jews would make him popular with Catholic Germans. This most egregious of terrors was perpetrated in the name of religion, and for his anti-Semitism, Hitler was warmly congratulated by the Pope.
Over the centuries, from the Muslim invasions of Europe and Asia to the Christian ones of the Americas and Asia, the brutal exporters of religious state terror all carried in their vanguard the crosses and crescents that justified the trail of blood and horror that they blazed.
In 1683 during the Siege of Vienna, the Muslim leader Kara Mustafa ordered the execution of 30,000 Christians who had been taken hostage. In the name of Islam.
In South America, rivers off blood ran as the Conquistadores imposed Christianity on a terrified population, using all the brutality of an imperial war machine. Exactly the same was done in the Philippines. Neither Christianity nor Islam have been spread by love, but by the sword and by religious terror that left countless dead.
But to come back to the present. There is one category I have not mentioned, did you notice? Rape is the most common form of terror on the planet. A woman is raped every six minutes in the USA. Worldwide the toll is astronomical and nearly all of it has some religious cause. Rape is not about sex, it is about subjugation — subjugation of women to men and society to the patriarchy, which has always used religion as its preferred method of control. We can’t have pastors out there raping women but they can, and do, impute that women, especially those who do not behave or dress in the ways they specify, are legitimate targets.
There is no doubt that Islamist terror is a major problem in the world today, and has been for decades. This cult of violence is probably the most important single promulgator of terror on every level, today.
But let’s not imagine that lets other religions off the hook. They are all, at root, social control systems that never hesitate to use violence and terror to further their ends. Underneath the smiling velvet glove of Islam — the ‘religion of peace’ and Christianity, ‘the religion of love’ is the iron fist of pure coercion through terror.
It will be a great day for humanity when they are all — every one — forgotten.
Many of these points are explored more widely in Why Men Made God.