‘Education is sin; it is forbidden…women must go and marry’. These are the words of Abubakar Shekau, professed leader of Boko Haram, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nigerian terrorist group, whose name loosely translates as ‘Western education is sinful’.
The abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls for sale into slavery by Boko Haram is a further sign of the barbarity of radical Islam, now so prevalent internationally. Such was the publicity generated by this latest act of terror that it forced a response from the international community, with several countries (including the USA and UK) sending specialists to help find the missing girls.
Unfortunately, whilst an extreme case, many Muslims now share Boko Haram’s violent and destabilising strain of Islam. In every Western country, clerics preach hatred against the people that offered them sanctuary, whilst the media and politicians stand by helplessly, terrified that any prohibitive action will lead to them being branded as racists.
The impression generated is that Islam has not evolved, both in its religious teachings and its code of laws (which gains significance given that many Middle Eastern countries have no separation between church and state). From child marriages to the murder of polio vaccination workers to the indiscriminate use of violence, Islam is stuck in its own Dark Age, one comparable to that of Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.
Between the 5th century and the onset of the Renaissance, Europe in general experienced a period of intellectual and economic stagnation (obviously with some notable exceptions), encumbered by the overbearing influence of a militant and fear-mongering church.
During that same period, Islam flourished from its 6th century origins. The Middle East, North Africa and Moorish Spain became centres of learning, spurred on by a cultural freedom not yet bound by the manacles of a cult-like religion.
The final capitulation of Moorish Spain in 1492 to Ferdinand and Isabela’s reconquista saw the smashing of an aesthetically-pleasing and intellectually-challenging empire by an expansionist Catholicism. Nonetheless, despite the undoubted religious zeal of late 15th century Spaniards, the years of Islamic influence had paid off and a cultural and economic renaissance was underway.
Islam, rather than opening our intellectual horizons and broadening our understanding of the modern world, has become a danger to international security and well-being. Because the Islamic world has yet to undergo the secularisation experienced throughout much of the Christian world, its fundamental principles (many of them corrupted versions of Christian thought) disseminate intolerance and putrid hatred to any nation with large Muslim populations.
As with religion in general, the many are led by the few. In the case of Islam this proffers a very real danger, not just in far-flung backwaters but in every modern capital city. The sooner international governments recognise this danger, and dismiss their ridiculous concerns over political correctness, the sooner this urgent issue can be addressed.