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Extremism is a plague for humanity

Feb 24,2015 - Last updated at Feb 24,2015

Extremism was not absent on the day Cain killed his brother Abel. But today it is persistent.

Humanity finds itself face-to-face with new and rising waves of extremism. The war against extremism is twofold. One part is a military battle, which depends on the political, military and sovereign decisions of the participating countries.

The other is intellectual and extends far beyond the military.

In Jordan, we experience the two wars and the two battlefields. Not a day goes by without receiving one invitation or more to take part in a demonstration, a forum or even a conference which calls for “fighting extremism”, blocking its emergence or even extirpating it.

Extremism and its offshoot — hatred, terrorism, bigotry, narrow-mindedness and attempts to eliminate “the other” — are merely a thought before becoming a practice. They are mentally created before becoming a tangible act.

Accepting this premise, the current stage calls for pooling together social, scientific, cultural, religious and political endeavours to cleanse the human “brain” of dysfunctional thoughts, and destructive and debilitated mentalities.

The road is undoubtedly long and arduous.

A motley of groupings and alliances have been formed recently. This is good. But we have not yet reached the stage where we concluded a “working document” that scientifically unveils the kinds and shapes of the extremist mentality, as well as the ways to confront it scientifically, intellectually and through educational practices.

Issues that are currently taken into consideration include reforming the religious discourse to adapt to the people’s prevalent conditions.

The call made by the Egyptian president recently, that “it is time to present religion in a more humane way rather than ‘stuffing’ the human mind with victories of the past and the impression that it is always victorious and superior to others”, had global reverberations.

This “renewal” does not necessarily imply abandoning basic tenets. It implies presenting everything in a modern and more humane way, as well as avoiding to present religions as needed by those fearing hell and desiring the bliss of heaven.

The love of God expresses itself through brotherly love, namely love of God and love of a relative or of the neighbour.

It is time to give precedence to law and accept citizenship based on respect for the Constitution, rather than insist on minorities and majorities.

It is important to reform the education curricula in a way that nurtures generations with the culture of humanity, respect for others, love and cooperation.

In the wake of Muath Kasasbeh’s tragic martyrdom, we have to stand firmly by each other in confronting extremism and in facing those attempting to eliminate others, particularly in the intellectual field.

The first fight concerns the military institution, for which we harbour respect and appreciation. The second involves diverse components of society, with no exception. 

The writer is the general director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media in Amman. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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