Thursday, 6 March 2008

Segregation 2

A follow up on Obama's adviser's idea of promoting segregation in order to prevent violence: a New York Times article earlier this week reported on a decline in religious belief amongst young Iraqis as a result of the sectarian violence. It included stories of increased religious repression within both Shia and Sunni communities as they became more segregated. A sample: 

It was just as bad, if not worse, for young Sunnis. Rubbed raw by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence says is led by foreigners, they found themselves stranded in neighborhoods that were governed by seventh-century rules. During an interview with a dozen Sunni teenage boys in a Baghdad detention facility on several sticky days in September, several of them expressed relief at being in jail, so they could wear shorts, a form of dress they would have been punished for in their neighborhoods. 

here and also here

It doesn't seem hard for me to imagine that promoting segregation could actually make things worse, not just between communities, but also within them. If religion is encouraged as the primary identity of people it just gives more power to religious leaders, and religious leaders have obviously a vested interest in building the power of their own sect rather than in developing a tolerant open society. That was certainly the view I came away with from growing up in Ireland, and I wouldn't wish such a situation on anybody.

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