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Center For Reduction of Religious-Based Conflict Winter Update 2010_2011

Center For Reduction of Religious-Based Conflict Winter Update 2010_2011

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Published by Jaakko Wallenius
Center For Reduction of Religious-Based Conflict
Center For Reduction of Religious-Based Conflict

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Published by: Jaakko Wallenius on Dec 21, 2010
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12/21/2010

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CENTER UPDATE
“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the onlything that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead
Vol. XI No. 1 Winter 2010/2011
FROM THE DIRECTOR 
 
T
en years have now elapsed since we publishedthe first issue of the Center Update. Though the worldhas not significantly changed insofar as religious-basedconflict goes - in fact as we have continuously observedthat it is still increasing - (nor would one expect it to bedecreasing so early in this new cycle), the people surelyhave become more aware of the problem and of the factthat tolerance alone can never solve it. And, awareness isthe first step to solving any problem.People have become more aware that we must go beyond tolerance to reduce the problem of religious- based conflict.The phrase “religious-based conflict” (heretoforeunused and mostly unknown) now has become commonin many vocabularies. Before 2000 the phrase“religious conflict” was the precept. This phrasedifference is not only significant, it is necessary in order to truly define the problem.Many now believe for the first time that we must notonly attack the “effects” of the problem, but must nowseriously search for the “causes” in order to seriouslycombat them. 
W
e can only attribute this beginning of a newawareness to our Center and its efforts, since we are theonly organization which has as its sole goal to reducereligious-based conflict as well as the only organizationoffering an approach which goes beyond tolerance. Aswell as being the organization which introduced the phrase “religious-based conflict” to the world. Interestin the work of our Center as well as readership of thisUpdate has soared in the past 10 years. This Update isnow read in more than 23 countries, and we daily receivethoughts, comments and requests for assistance frommany of them. A good start on a long journey - onewhich we all necessarily must take.
 ____________ 
PROS AND CONS OF BEING UNIQUE
O
ne of the beauties of conforming, doing andsaying what everyone else does and says, working inknown areas of business and on known projects, is thatone’s viewpoint is quickly comprehended and understood by others, since such an area does not require thought or investigation to follow and grasp - to agree or disagreewith. Not so with being unique. 
W
hen a unique product or idea surfaces, thedisadvantage is that more often than not, without costlyand substantial marketing taking place, it cannot be easilyunderstood or accepted,. Short of that, investigation, andthought must be given - an activity which is somethingmany people do not have the time or inclination to perform. This is the downside of being unique - as withthe Center. There is nothing with which our work can becompared. It is new; it is thinking outside of the box. For some it may be too “radical” to consider that tolerance isnot the answer to reducing religious-based conflict - thatwe must consider other avenues of approach. 
T
he obvious advantage to being unique is, that if one has a new idea or product which will produceadvantages or benefits, it will become known andaccepted. We feel our “product” - offering a solutionthrough education of people and their governments toreduce religious-based conflict which goes beyond (butdoes not condemn) tolerance - can only be of benefit tothe world. Indeed, until or unless a better approach isfound, do we have a choice? And, as more and more people and governments become aware of our work, our uniqueness will become less and less a disadvantage becoming better understood, and even better appreciated.
 Terry O. Trowbridge 
 
HOTSPOTS
Dublin
 
I
n late October last, Irish Republican Armymembers planted a car bomb in a parking lot at BelfastInternational Airport but it failed to detonate, police in Northern Ireland said. British Army experts were able todismantle the device before it exploded. They determinedthe bomb was made basically of drums of fuel, notconventional explosive, but was viable. 
S
everal days later, police seized another IRA bomb planted beneath a rail bridge. The bomb was packed in a beer keg and contained 40 kilograms of explosives. 
I
RA splinter groups seeking to undermine Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant government havedetonated half a dozen car bombs during 2010 outside police stations, a courthouse, a bank and the NorthernIreland base of the U.K.'s MI5 spy agency.
Maiduguri
 
A
rash of killings by gun-wielding motorcycleassassins of policemen, politicians and others in this cityin Nigeria near the desert has led authorities to declarethat a radical Islamic sect thought to have been crushed by Nigerian troops last year has been revived. Thisviolence in the north comes at a delicate time for Nigeria,one of the world’s top oil producers and a major supplier to the United States. Though the nation remains stable, itis struggling to organize elections next year that will testthe capacity and, ultimately, the legitimacy of its youngdemocracy. 
T
he Nigerian government also faces a renewedthreat from Islamists in the oil-producing south, whoclaimed responsibility for a deadly bombing during itsIndependence Day celebrations in the capital of Abuja,last October. They have been waging an insurgency for years against the oil industry, but the bombing was thefirst time they had struck so directly at the heart of  Nigerian power. 
A
dditionally, the national vice chairman of theAll Nigeria People’s Party, Alhaji Awana Ali Ngala, waskilled in his living room on Oct. 6. Three days later,Sheik Bashir Mustapha, a prominent Islamic clericcritical of the movement, was killed while teaching in hishome. This revenge and violence goes on.
Azerbaijan
F
our Baptists in Azerbaijan were in October given five day jail terms after a police raid the same dayon a Harvest Festival celebration in a private home.Around 80 Baptists were present when police raided.Police first turned off the gas and electricity to preventchurch members from preparing a festive meal, and thenrecorded the names of all those present also photographing and filming them. After a late night closedcourt hearing, home owner, Ilgar Mamedov and threeothers – Zalib Ibrahimov, Rauf Gurbanov and Akif Babaev - were given five-day prison terms.
P
olice insisted that there was nothing unusualabout a late Sunday evening court hearing, claiming that"it happens". In a separate case, a court in the capital of Baku handed down a large fine against a Jehovah'sWitness to punish her for offering religious literature onthe streets. Azerbaijan has also rejected re-registrationapplications from many religious communities, after itmade unregistered activity illegal. Asked about this, anofficial claimed: "Even our enemies admit that Azerbaijanis a religiously tolerant country".
Iraq
 
B
aghdad's Christians continued to come under attack as a coordinated series of roadside bombs blew upin predominantly Christian neighborhoods, killing five people. These blasts came less than two weeks after insurgents besieged a church and killed 56 Christians inan assault that drew international condemnation. Policesaid at least 11 roadside bombs went off within an hour inthree predominantly Christian areas of central Baghdad.Four of the blasts hit houses belonging to Christians, andtwo mortar rounds also struck Christian enclaves of the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Dora in southBaghdad. Two bombs planted in deserted Christianhomes in western Baghdad destroyed two houses. 
I
t was the third attack targeting Christians sincethe church siege last October 31
st
. A series of bombs hitthree empty houses belonging to Christians in westernBaghdad but no one was hurt. An al Qaeda linked groupclaimed responsibility for the church attack andthreatened more violence against Iraq's Christiancommunity. 
T
he new attacks struck as Iraq's minorityChristian community was still in shock over the massacre
 
at Baghdad's main Catholic cathedral, Our Lady of Salvation, likewise on October 31
st
last. Even for a nationused to daily violence after years of war, the killings atthe hands of Islamic militants shocked Iraqis. It was theworst attack against the Christian minority since the 2003U.S. led invasion had unleashed fierce sectarian fighting between Shiite and Sunni Moslem sects that killed tens of thousands of civilians.
""""
 
POTPOURRI
(
What you may not have read or heard in the news)
Tashkent
 
U
zbekistan continues to imprison devoutMoslems for long terms and equally devout Christians for shorter terms. For instance, a court in the capital of Tashkent imposed three-year jail terms on seven Moslemmen for holding unauthorized private religion lessons.The judge in the case, Rahimzhon Aliyev, stated that threeyears in a labor camp is "not a severe punishment".Pressed on why courts, including his court, have givensuch severe punishments to Moslems and not Protestants,Judge Aliyev said that it is "because of Uzbek law".Another court in the Tashkent Region gave five-dayadministrative detentions to two Protestants for unregistered religious activity, with two others beingfined. Earlier in 2010 Uzbekistan had also deported twoSouth Korean citizens for alleged "unauthorizedmissionary activity".
""""
 
COSTS
A
s those of you who periodically visit our website know, we have a digital counter on the Iraq pagewhich shows the financial costs to the United States aloneof the Iraq and Afghan conflicts as they continue toaccrue; and are conflicts which are listed as two of our Hotspots of religious-based conflict. In the Afghanistanconflict, for instance, the USA itself spends more than$250 billion a year including military costs and civilianaid. While this and the Iraq cost, both of which change by the second, may not be 100% accurate, and whilesome may disagree with these totals or the way they arecalculated, it is fair to say that they are astonishing. Andthey certainly, in general, adequately reflect the costs of these conflicts borne solely by the United States. As of December 1
st,
, 2010 this cumulative cost to the UnitedStates alone was more than $760 billion, up from $743 billion in September, 2010.
ABOUT THE CENTER 
 
W
hat the Center, as a totally independentinstitution, does is unique. No other such organizationhas as its sole goal the reduction of religious-basedconflict through a practical and specific approach whichgoes beyond tolerance. We believe this problem is larger than religions themselves, not within their total control,and cannot be solved by them alone. They need our help. Non-believers and governments alike must work tosupport them - as well as us - in this effort. 
I
n this respect, the Center’s primary mission iseducation. To educate, we must first publicize the problem of religious-based conflict and show how itaffects all of us - either directly or indirectly; either  physically or financially - and in many instances, both.We then educate by offering an approach towards itsreduction not heretofore recognized, showing how wemust go beyond tolerance, the current mantra for its so-called resolution, if we are to succeed. We describe thisstep in practical, realistic, not altruistic, terms.
T
he Center does not purport to be able to
resolve
 this problem; rather we show how the people and their governments can approach it and eventually cause changein the direction of its reduction. Since humans areimperfect, we cannot expect to totally resolve the problemof religious-based conflict, but we can, through thismethod, substantially reduce it - to at least manageable proportions. 
Y
ou can help reduce religious-based conflict inthe world – probably more than you think you can. Eventhough individuals have limited power when acting alone,when they act as part of a group with a common purpose,this power increases geometrically. By supporting theCenter – morally, actively or financially, you do just that – have more impact. For those of you who provide youmoral support, we thank you. For those who either asformal Volunteers or as individuals discuss with othersthe Center’s work, we cannot be more appreciative. For those who have the financial means and make charitablecontributions, we are forever grateful to you.
O
ur cause is unique. Our message is spreadingdaily to more and more people and governmentsthroughout the world. Our work continues to receive praise from those who know of it.
B
ut we must reach more people and moregovernments in order to increase our impact. And in this

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