While I was reading an article by the Independent I was informed about the Buddhist extremist attacks towards Muslims in Sri Lanka in 2018. This shocked me, as a Sri Lankan since I believed Buddhists to be a very peaceful religious group, and I assumed Sri Lanka was a diversified, culture accepting nation. Although Sri Lankan Muslims have had a past with religious extremism while they were colonized by the British, Sri Lanka had been more open to other cultures since 1972 after Sirimavo Bandaranaike announced that the country would be a republic and changed its name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. However, not all Buddhists in Sri Lanka feel this way; in the Sri Lankan capital, Buddhist Monks have gathered to rally against the anti-Muslim riots in the capital city. The country has since recovered from the incidents but this raised my interest in how far people were willing to go to defend their religious beliefs and faith. I wanted to know if the reason behind people acting out in the name of religion was the same in all cases or if past experiences and current circumstances influenced the behaviour of the people.
The Main body (762)
The most infamous case of religious extremism was in Nazi Germany during WWII. At the time of World War II, many people began to promote Anti-Semitic beliefs. A German journalist Wilhelm Marr had begun by publishing a pamphlet called “The Victory of Judaism over Germandom.” He spread Anti-Semitic propaganda using the pamphlet claiming that the Jew-controlled the media in many places and was sneakily conquering the world while in actuality they had no control over the press anywhere. In his view, the Jews were not only dangerous but also alien and powerful. He created a group called the “League of Anti-Semites” to fight against the hazard he believed they created but was unsuccessful in getting many followers; however a Protest specialist named Adolf Stoeker had much more luck and managed to convince the German people that ‘modern science’ proved that they were dangerous and should be treated differently. In Nazi Germany prejudice against Jews had originally started off with just the Jews being asked to wear tags that had the ‘Star of David’ on them but eventually, people stopped giving them business and by the end of the war 6 million Jews were killed. Out of this 6 million 1.1 million were killed in Auschwitz, a German concentration camp in Poland which was being operated by Nazi Germany. The government created an environment in which the people were far too scared to be able to try and take any action for fear that they might be killed in the process of helping others. This proves that the circumstances are influential on the behaviour of people and whether they decide to help or fight against others.
The UAE has tried to promote a more tolerable and inclusive view of other cultures and religions. They have had conferences about how to tackle and prevent things like religious extremism in the ‘the Emirates Encircles Extremism’. His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces created the ‘Moral Education’ initiative to help fight against any and all forms of extremism and to help the students in the UAE be more empathetic to each other. In ‘Moral Education’ students are taught about how to interact with different cultures and religions. The ‘Moral Education’ initiative is taken very seriously and often the Ministry of Education comes into schools to ensure that the teachers are all guiding the students in the right direction and they check to see that everyone is implementing the etiquette taught in the books. This helps them ensure that the country will have a more peaceful and open-minded set of students who will be less likely to fight over small issues that may just be differences in culture. The UAE is a prime example of a country that ensures that all of its citizens are able to be comfortable with their cultures and religions.
Surveys conducted by the Sri Lankan government in 2011 provide substantial evidence which states that 70% of the Sri Lankan population follows the Buddhist religion followed by Hinduism at 12% and Islam at 9.75. Although there is currently a huge margin, Islam is believed to be able to pass the Theravada Buddhists and become the most common religion in Sri Lanka. Muslim leaders cannot take action against the country because they make up a very small portion of the Sri Lankan economy; however, the Muslim Sri Lankan population is expected to grow to be the major religion by 2050, as stated by Khaleej Times. This may prove to be a problem because Buddhists and Sri Lankan Tamils believe that they should be the main religions of Sri Lanka, not Islam. Sri Lankan Tamils and Buddhists both believe that the country should belong to them. Sri Lankan Buddhists have faced a similar issue in the past where other religions rose to dominance leaving the cultural roots in history. The rise of Tamilians in Sri Lanka was something that led to war for almost 2 decades and resulted in massive amounts of casualties from both sides. Sri Lankan Buddhists have been very conscientious about how they keep peace in their country while maintaining Buddhism as the predominant religion in the country. Since we are aware that the people in Sri Lanka did protest against the Anti – Muslim riots in the capital we know that because they did not feel the pressured to fight with the other Sri Lankans because the government and other forces had not tried to force them to do something they did not wish to do.
Key issues (225)
One of the key issues about the beliefs of people is that if they are being forced to act a certain way they cannot show what they truly feel and we can see this in World War 2 because many people did not agree with the discrimination against Jews but by the end of the war it was almost considered an ordinary thing and the German People did not feel that it was unusual or unfair. This is an issue because people are being treated unfairly and unjustly due to the forced beliefs of others and this leads to them not being able to be accepted. If the Nazis had been stopped earlier on when they had first begun to discriminate against Jews then they would not have gotten to the point where they made the concentration camps for Jews because the government would realize that the people did not want that to happen. If a government was to try and establish an open-minded community in terms of religion and beliefs then this would help them keep peace and it would help them counteract religious extremism while keeping all of the people in the country safe and secure. This would prove that when the circumstances change the people are all able to react to how the truly feel and do what they believe they must do.
I believe that some people are willing to go very far with their actions and consider extremism to be the correct way of solving issues while blaming their views on subjects such as religion. I believe that people should be allowed to spread and speak about their beliefs but they should not be able to target and attack others in the name of these beliefs because it is morally depraved or corrupt to abuse others. If people are allowed to speak of their views in an open and accepting community then they will be more comfortable and if people were to acknowledge and resist others who are trying to get other people to be more prejudiced towards others then it would also be easier for the country to control the amount of extremism that happens within it. If more countries were to begin teaching children about being fair and respectful to each other then it would be easier to control extremism because those people would know how to react when someone is being rude or mean and they would be able to stop and contain the extremism themselves.