Meanwhile…on the road to secularism…
Few topics are as delicate as religion — especially in the Middle East.
Officially, Arab states have major Muslim populations, varying from around 60% in Lebanon to almost 100% in Jordan or Saudi Arabia. Since the countries’ religious establishments also serve as governmental bodies, governments play a significant role in religious life, as they often control prayers, media or school curriculums.
However, several recently conducted and very comprehensive surveys in the Middle East and Iran, have come to similar conclusions: They all show an increase in secularization and growing calls for reforms in religious political institutions.
Or so the Germans would have us believe!
The strongest reason to believe:
As an example, Dorsey references Saudi dissident and activist Raif Badawi, who was convicted of apostasy, or insulting Islam. Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for questioning why Saudis are obliged to adhere to Islam — and asserting that religion did not have the answers to all of life’s questions.
The US professes to allow freedom of religion, but apparently the implication is that everyone have a religion. If we can’t lose our religions, then I won’t hold my breath for religious-based governments which use imprisonment and lashes to lose theirs.
It’s always encouraging when the will strives to find a way despite all the obstacles. And some courses are rockier than others. Like a pandemic. Which can provide just the right amount of fear in people to draw them into believing in believing even when they don’t. And you have to swim like hell against the current or circle the drain with the flow.
There’s no reason to come this far only to slide back into the dark ages again. But who decides which authority possesses the yardstick of civilization? Maybe the great leap forward measures not the hand it’s in but how long the hand can hold it. If not, we may just end up shepherding someone else’s memories. Then we’re really flocked.
I really do think that religion is a wonderful tool if you want to lead an authoritarian state. In a recent separate thread there is a link to Bill Maher linking religion to a lot of the 70 million who voted for trump.
sadly, i think that there are some strong parallels between the authoritarians in the ME and the would-be, rising authoritarian movement in the US. And religious fundamentalism is strong in both situations… argh !!