NI 483 - Fundamentalism - Power, politics and persuasion - June, 2015

NI 483 - June, 2015

Subscribe from $15.00

Fundamentalism - Power, politics and persuasion

A note from the editor

Dinyar Godrej

The value of doubt

India, the country I grew up in, experiences fundamentalism in tides. Upsurges are not spontaneous. They tend to be orchestrated by a particular party’s bid to gain and hold on to political power.

But then the tide goes out a bit, when the populace tires of the usual political mismanagement and the appeal to hard-core religion begins to be seen as the dangerous distraction it is. Meanwhile, the usual havoc has taken place – communities insulted, angry and driven asunder, rioting and murder, and the growth of a jackbooted assertiveness. Ready for the next eruption.

Why do people fall for it again and again? We could go right back to the colonial British administration’s policy of divide and rule. But maybe even they were only spreading a disease that already existed. When I asked one journalist what attracted ordinary people to such extreme thinking, I received the equivalent of an email snort: ‘So that they can lord it over the rest of us.’

One thing is certain, the bigotry and dogma of the fundamentalist mind takes no prisoners. Every religion is susceptible, not just those featuring in this edition, because fundamentalism is organized religion’s will to power. It is deeply political, of human rather than divine agency, and not in the least spiritual.

Preparing this edition has given me a new appreciation of the values of scepticism and doubt.

We also have two despatches this month from the fossil fuels frontier. One is a report on growing tensions in the Arctic as nations jostle to stake claim to undersea reserves. The other is on BP’s see-no-evil cosy relationship with Azerbaijan’s autocrats – what a gas!

Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

Contested territory: a Hindu nationalist raises a saffron flag atop a church in Muniguda in India’s Orissa state. Minority communities in India are regularly targeted by politically instigated Hindu groups, and churches have been burned and defaced.

Contested territory: a Hindu nationalist raises a saffron flag atop a church in Muniguda in India’s Orissa state. Minority communities in India are regularly targeted by politically instigated Hindu groups, and churches have been burned and defaced.

Photo: AP/Press Association Images

The lure of the dead-end

How do oppressive ideologies take hold despite the devastation they cause? Dinyar Godrej looks behind the news headlines.

Read this article

Consider the perplexing tale of a mass murderer who once went by the snigger-inducing name of General Butt Naked. That is perhaps the only funny thing about Joshua Blahyi, whose role in the first Liberian civil war in the early 1990s is marked by atrocity.

Claiming he had been given special powers that made him invisible by Nyanbe-a-weh, a high-ranking deity of his Krahn ethnic group, Blahyi would unleash mayhem with his gang of thugs – wearing just his shoes.

‘Before leading my troop...




Features.

Flashing a victory sign, Sana Ijaz (above) demonstrates the fighting spirit of Pakistani civil society, after being arrested for demanding the government do more to counter the Pakistani Taliban.

Take your pick

Ziauddin Sardar on the various fundamentalisms on offer in Pakistan.

Buy this magazine

Youth against fundamentalism: members of the All India Students’ Association rally against rightwing Hindu groups in Kolkata. ‘Love Azadi’ (freedom to love) counters a pronouncement by the Hindu Mahasabha organization that it would force couples to get married if they were seen together in the open – considered an indecent expression of love.

Captive to their own myths

The upsurge of Hindu nationalism in India, by Urvashi Butalia.

Buy this magazine

A comic strip from an Accelerated Christian Education schoolbook teaches girls body shame at an early age.

The miseducation of Jonny Scaramanga

His escape from fundamentalist schooling.

Buy this magazine

Not doing the Lord’s work: Pastor Martin Ssempa (wearing spectacles) blesses politician David Bahati, who introduced Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a Private Member’s Bill in 2009. The ceremony took place at an anti-gay church service at the Christianity Focus Centre in Kampala’s biggest slum, Kisenyi.

The anti-gay gospel

How foreign funds amplify hate in Uganda, by Patience Akumu.

Buy this magazine

Worshippers of the Almighty Invisible Hand

Robert W Parenteau’s satirical look at true believers in the ‘free market’.

Read this article

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper (second right), here talking to Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk, is keen to defend the country’s frozen assets.

The Arctic carve-up

Could the next ‘cold’ war be a battle for control of the rapidly melting polar circle? Kyla Mandel reports.

Buy this magazine

Out of the shadows: Azerbaijan’s oily secrets need to be exposed.

Dirty games

Azerbaijan will be showing its friendly face this month as it hosts the European Games. But it’s what is going on behind the scenes that is important, argue Emma Hughes and James Marriott.

Buy this magazine

Opinion.

YES - Simon Fairlie is a founding editor of The Land magazine and author of Meat: A Benign Extravagance (Permanent Publications and Chelsea Green 2010). He keeps dairy cows and pigs at a community in Dorset, England.

Can eating meat and dairy products be sustainable?

Simon Fairlie and James McWilliams go head to head.

Read this article

Racially offensive names and images (as on this Washington Redskins helmet) should be kicked into touch.

Let’s stop ‘playing Indian’

Racially offensive names and images should be kicked into touch.

Buy this magazine

Agenda.

Three-year-old twin Palestinian girls pose in a doorway that's still standing after Israel's bombing campaign.

Cementing Gaza's suffering

Reconstruction is being hampered by Israel, which is stopping building supplies getting through, says Abedalqader Hammad.

Buy this magazine

Sámi's diamond win

Sámi's diamond win

Ragnhild Freng Dale on a recent win and the ongoing fight for recognition.

Buy this magazine

Change postponed in Togo

Change postponed in Togo

It's more of the same in the West African country, writes Gabriella Jozwiak.

Buy this magazine

Introducing... Muhammadu Buhari

Richard Swift on Nigeria's new president.

Buy this magazine

Awards for bigots

Awards for bigots

Some light relief in Malaysia.

Buy this magazine

10 years ago in New Internationalist

10 years ago in New Internationalist

Chris Brazier reflects on the June 2005 issue on the politics of migration.

Buy this magazine

A girl attends a rally to remember missing and murdered indigenous women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on Valentine's Day, 2015.

An open wound

Janet Nicol reports on Canada's Highway of Tears.

Buy this magazine

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

Solar energy could be the answer to Shatila's power problems, writes Lydia James.

Buy this magazine

Global frack-down

Global frack-down

Claire Fauset looks forward to a summer of resistance.

Buy this magazine

Seafood slaves

Seafood slaves

Overfishing is causing marine ecosystems to collapse in Thailand, writes Jess Worth.

Buy this magazine

Regulars.

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Your feedback published in the June 2015 magazine.

Read this article

Letter from Bangui: The school of hard knocks

Education means learning your rights, not just how to write, says Ruby Diamonde.

Buy this magazine

Clockwise from top left: Burmese schoolchildren enjoy a visit to a temple complex in Mrauk U, Rakhine State; night traffic races around the golden Sule Paya in downtown Ragoon, increasingly dwarfed by new buildings; a Naga woman stands in front of her home in San Ton Village, Nagaland; a woman prays at a temple in Mrauk U, Rakhine State (recently the site of violent ethnic clashes); dusk falls at Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most important Buddhist sites in Burma.

Country profile: Burma

Facts, figures, photos and a short history of Burma.

Read this article

Open Window - Sustainable Finance

Emrah Arikan from Turkey with 'Sustainable Finance'.

Buy this magazine

Making Waves: Maryam Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

Bahraini activist Maryam Abdulhadi al-Khawaja smiles in the face of adversity.

Buy this magazine

Southern Exposure: Thana Faroq

Silent communication on a Moroccan street, by Thana Faroq.

Buy this magazine

And finally... Farrukh Dhondy

Subi Shah talks to writer and activist Farrukh Dhondy about his time in the Black Panther Movement, multicultural TV and washing his own clothes.

Buy this magazine

Film, Book & Music Reviews.

From the streets of Kinshasa – the passion, verve and urgency of Mbongwana Star.

Mixed media: Music

From Kinshasa by Mbongwana Star; Delone by Sacri Cuori.

Buy this magazine

Rare moments of tenderness in The Tribe from Ukraine.

Mixed media: Film

The Tribe, directed by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy; The Supreme Price, directed by Joanna Lipper.

Buy this magazine

Mixed media: Books

Don’t Try This At Home by Angela Readman; How Politics Makes Us Sick by Ted Schrecker and Clare Bambra; The Whale House by Sharon Millar; Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy.

Buy this magazine

Also out there...

More Film, Music & Book reviews from the June 2015 magazine.

Buy this magazine

Back