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London bombs terror attack The Times and Sunday Times Times Online:
"'I urge you, my nation, to stand up and wage jihad against extremism and to stand up against those who spread hatred and chaos in the society,' said President Pervez Musharraf in an hour-long televised address."
Just for the record.
In my view, the prevalence of extremist elements in Pakistan are of much more relevance to the spread of Islamic terrorism than Iraq ever was, in particular, the madrassas, the religious schools. Because while I'm sure that not all the religious schools are teaching hatred of the west in the guise of religion, I can assume that some, if not most are being used as tools for political power.
It should go without saying that a good public school system with a curriculum of tolerance and secularism would go a long way towards tempering the fundamentalist's power. We've all seen what prosperity and education can do to reduce the appeal of fundamentalist religions in people's life, especially those that prey on people's sense of powerlessness.
(In fact, many of the right-wing cultural warriors make the case that our own society has strayed too far away from our own "traditional" values. Hence the whole push to insert more religious symbols into public life. Ironic huh?)
The President also announced measures to increase government control over unauthorised weapons and provocative literature designed to spread religious hatred. He also promised that prohibited militant groups would not be allowed to re-organise under new names or to raise funds.
Now, whether Musharraf will succeed in curbing the power of fundamentalists in his country through suppression remains to be seen. I'll assume that this is going to backfire. Even in our own country where people are perfectly free to attend the church of their choosing, express their religious beliefs on their cars, on their lawns, on the radio and around their necks they still talk about being persecuted. People tend to fight back when they are threatened. Its why you never back a dog into a corner.
I can only hope this doesn't turn out badly. Because while I'm encouraged that Musharraf is taking responsibility for his own country's role in harboring extremism, I'm not so excited by his proposed methods in dealing with it.
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