“Religion is the opium of people”, stated Karl Marx, a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary. This statement of his has been proved accurate time and again by the world.
Religion was created by our ancestors with the purpose of providing moral meaning to life, to guide us through life’s path and to keep the society in check. The scenario however looks drastically different. For centuries, we have been living in a world where desperate, aggressive, and inhuman attempts have been made by different religious groups to propagate their religion and quell the rest.
One of the most prominent and horrific examples of religious supremacy and racial cleansing is that of the Jews by the Nazi government headed by Adolf Hitler. History, however, has witnessed many such religion-aroused conflicts and massacres, the list of which doesn’t seem to exhaust.
Germany is not the only country to hear the cries of innocent civilians. The Middle Eastern nations like Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq etc, as per American Pew Research Centre, are the world’s worst countries in terms of religious hostilities. Religion coupled with politics is the deadliest combination there is. That’s exactly what is burning the Middle East into ashes. The clash between the Shia and Sunni Muslims though was born out of religious differences initially, is now more politically motivated.
Further, India too has also seen the face of some of the most gruesome Hindu-Muslim riots since its independence, the tension of which still continues to exist right below the surface. Lynching and mob attacks are common evils that prevail in the country. The conflict over demolishing the Babri Masjid has been the prime trigger of many riots that occurred in the country.
In a fairly recent time, in 2017, the world became privy to the atrocities the Rohingya Muslims were subjected to by Myanmar’s military. As a result of communal violence from the country’s military, the civilians escaped the country to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and India in order to save their lives. In 2017, Rohingya Arsa militants cast attacks on 30 police posts and an army base located in Rakhine state. As a response to this, the Rohingya Muslims, stated that the military, police as well as Buddhist mobs began to openly burn villages with Rohingya residents, and killing them. As stated by BBC, this incident was followed by 6,700 Rohingya, including at least 730 children below the age of five, ending up being killed. Women belonging to the race were abused and raped brutally.
The government and the military however refused these allegations and stated that only the militants were attacked, not the civilians. Over the past 25 years, 87,000 Rohingyas have fleed to Bangladesh alone. In 2020, the UN ordered the government of Myanmar to undertake emergency measures to protect the Rohingyas from being prosecuted and killed.
Humanity touched a record low recently when a violent fight erupted between Israel and Palestine’s militant group, Hamas, killing almost 200 people in 10 days. The fight between Israel and Palestine has been going on since the 1940s over inhibiting and controlling the Ghaza strip and Jerusalem. While Israel is majorly a country of Jews, Palestine is an Arab nation. The recent unrest began in Jerusalem when Hamas provided an ultimatum to Israeli police forces to leave the Al Aqsa mosque complex and other such locations of the city. As this ultimatum was paid no heed, Hamas and one other militant group fired 4000 rockets towards Israel who in retaliation cast aerial and artillery attacks. This took a heavy toll on civilian life. After 11 days of violence, both have agreed to a cease-fire.
These are, however, just some prominent examples. There are countless instances like these that prove how humanity always takes a step back when religion steps in. Moreover, modern-day religion-based conflicts are not just about that, but also have a heavy shade of politics and power play. Today, a communal stink lingers in the environment globally. Elections are being contested by appeasing the majority religious groups by inciting hateful feelings against those falling in the minority sections of the population.
What we as global citizens are failing to see is that these grave atrocities inflicted by power-hungry political and religious leaders are violating the human rights of those who are just as human as you and me. By turning a blind eye and choosing to be silent, we are encouraging foul elements of society to run our lives in the ways that best benefit them. Even in the 21st century, living in a liberal era, it is a shame that we let human rights be compromised by a select few, drop by drop, only waiting to see how the social harmony of the world crumbles before our eyes.