The world’s leading powers have made grave mistakes when dealing with ideological conflicts, playing into the hands of extremists. That’s why it’s time for an international treaty to ban the political use of religion
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The Independent Voices
It is an understatement to say that the political use of religion has had a corrosive influence throughout human history. It continues to ignite and sustain the most intractable global conflicts. Unfortunately most of the worst abuses of religion in politics today are carried out in the name of Islam, but the political use of any religion has led – and will always lead – to the same results.
The theocratic revolution in Iran, which is centred on exporting sectarian ideology, was a turning point: it has ignited, over four decades, the rise of dark forces across Middle East and beyond. The situation has only got worse since the destabilising of Iraq by the American-led invasion in 2003 and the subsequent uprisings in many countries in the region in 2011, which opened a Pandora’s hox, as any anarchy always does.
The trend towards theocracy is taking hold in countries including but not limited to Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Nigeria. And it holds a significant influence over social groups and individuals across the world, including western nations. It’s easy to place all the blame on exclusionist, impetuous regimes, but that would ignore the way the world’s leading powers have regularly made grave mistakes when dealing with these ideological conflicts, playing directly into the hands of sectarian and extremist groups.
The international community is dedicating enormous effort and resource to dealing with the consequences of the political abuse of religion. But it could be much more effective if it orchestrated a meaningful, global response to the root causes.