A Candle in the Dark

A look on science, politics, religion and events

The Economist magazine on religion and politics

with 2 comments

I tend to view articles about religion which are printed in the press and popular magazines with a great deal of suspicion and mistrust. Therefore, it was with deep apprehension that I flipped through the set of articles in the latest Economist magazine. Admittedly, it didn’t help that the cover page was emblazoned with an ominous, monty-pythonesque hand grenade and titled “The new wars of religion“. Hm … new? The last word you’d think of, when associating the words “religion” and “war”, is new. However, the magazine seems to refer to the latest set of confrontations cropping up around the world.

Surprisingly, I found some of the articles quite interesting to read. Only moderate amounts of twisted logic, apologetics, and clichés like “secular overreach” and “sanctity of life”. Anyway, the article which deals specifically about religion and politics in India is worth a read,

For Mr Togadia, the crucial difference is that “we [Hindus] believe in peaceful co-existence; Islam does not.” But his definition of peaceful co-existence would be queried by India’s 150m Muslims, especially those in Gujarat. The state is still haunted by the riots of 2002, which began after a train carrying Hindu activists on their way back from Ayodhya caught fire in a Muslim neighbourhood, and Muslims were blamed for the dozens of deaths. In the ensuing pogrom, 2,000 people died.

In Gujarat’s state capital, Ahmedabad, many Muslims are now stuck in an eastern ghetto known as Little Pakistan. “Ayesha”, a widow housed in a gloomy resettlement complex, recalls how her family ill-advisedly took sanctuary in a local leader’s house, only for her Hindu neighbours to force their way in, “stabbing, hacking and burning”. There was so little left of Ayesha’s husband and one of her daughters that she had trouble getting death certificates for them. Many of the mob were wearing Hindutva gear—saffron headbands, or the khaki shorts favoured by those who take part in the movement’s early-morning physical jerks

Ayesha and her friends already worry that the election will be a pretext for more violence. But ghettoisation has radicalised the women in the resettlement complex. They go to the mosque more often and talk approvingly of Osama bin Laden. The otherwise mild Ayesha also praises Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader “who died for Islam”, and wishes a horrible death on Mr Modi and his friends.

The other articles range from the ongoing Turkey experiment, to the religious mess in the United States.

Finally, since this post is primarily about religion, I’ll sneak in a link to Carl Sagan’s essay called “The Dragon In My Garage” because, in my biased opinion, that’s the best essay written on religion till date.

External links and further reading
Back to the Ottomans : Why Turkey matters so much to Islam, The Economist, Nov 1st 2007
The lesson from America, The Economist, Nov 1st 2007


Written by parseval

November 8, 2007 at 7:39 pm

Posted in politics, religion

2 Responses

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  1. ‘I tend to view articles about religion which are printed in the press and popular magazines with a great deal of suspicion and mistrust.’
    I tend to view the same with great amusement. Heartless, perhaps. But the whole notion of religion and its remarkably entropic repercussions never fail to thrill my funny bone! And Sagan’s essay, to me, ranks among the very best in any genre. Hats, large-rimmed and gold-tipped ones, off to that champion!


    December 15, 2007 at 12:24 pm

  2. ‘One remarkable belief that most humans hold even today is the opinion that a supernatural power drives their universe and the lives within it. This idea took various shapes and gave rise to different sects all over Earth. Each of these tried to assert its superiority and often clashed against one another. As a matter of fact, one of them was so powerful that all of Earth adopted a system of calendar years numbered with the birth of its messiah as the reference point.’

    Just quoting from ‘Ninix’ 🙂


    December 15, 2007 at 12:26 pm

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