Springingtiger's Blog

Ottoman Tolerance, Western Prejudice, Islam and Karma.
October 25, 2013, 22:03
Filed under: Justice, Politics, Travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

I have just watched Rageh Omaar’s excellent three part documentary “The Ottomans”, he is right there are lessons to be learned. One thing that struck me was that, for six hundred years, across the Ottoman Empire,  people of different races and religions lived in peace, free from persecution. Since the western powers, particularly the English, dismantled the Ottoman Empire, for economic and political advantage,  we have had racial and religious violence across eastern Europe and the Middle East.

It is a disappointing part of Christian propaganda that Islam is intolerant and violent. If we look at medeival Islam across North Africa, in Spain and throughout the Ottoman Empire we find groups protected,  who were routinely persecuted throughout Christendom. In Muslim countries different communities lived side by side, while Christians were burning the books of all with whom they disagreed,  Muslims were preserving that knowledge for future generations. The history of both Judaism and Christianity are catalogues of religious intolerance and persecution.

The dismantling of the Ottoman Empire was largely brought about by western prejudice and greed. Sadly the Empire’s response to nationalist revolutions was violent,  frequently excessively so, however it should not be forgotten that it was a violent response to violence.  After the Great War the western powers carved up the Ottoman Empire to reward their nationalist allies from within the Empire, and to sieze the Empire’s resources for themselves. The violence in former Yugoslavia arises from the hatreds whipped up to precipitate the end of empire. The West created a number of new countries in the Middle East at first as protectorates to be exploited, thereafter these were not handed to the people, but to political groups or families who have ruled them with little regard for the wellbeing of the people.  Arabia was handed over to the extreme Islamic Wahhabi sect, who thus had a power base from which to export their extreme doctrine, but also vast resources to finance the groups promoting Wahhabism.  It should be remembered that the mastermind of 9/11 was a Saudi as were several of the protagonists. Palestine was handed to Zionists and Palestinian Arabs displaced from the homes in which they had lived for centuries. A whole region of the world with artificially created countries and governments that took no account of geographical boundaries or cultural differences.

The Western powers handling of the Ottoman Empire has left deep scars and a legacy of bitterness. I do not believe anyone deserves to die at the hands of terrorists; I do,  however,  believe that we in the west have, collectively, created the conditions for terrorism to flourish, one might call it our collective karma. We will not solve the problem if we approach it with the same prejudices, and selfishness we used to create it. Neither have we ever solved any problem with violence, at best we contain it temporarily, perhaps ultimately making it worse. I do not pretend to know where we go from here,  but putting aside prejudice, and honestly seeking peace rather than advantage may be a start.


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