Religious extremism leads to backwardness
Stabroek News
September 25, 2001

Dear Editor,

It had to happen some time, and recently religious extremists crossed the line of rationality. The hurt and anguish felt across the globe when possibly over 6000 innocent people died within an hour in the horror of downtown New York City tests the limits of the human mind to endure suffering. No one objects to the US government categorization of the religious zealots who committed this act as `barbarians.'

Most civilised people know that the extremists' objective is to impose their own beliefs on everyone, to turn back history and recreate the world in the fantasy image of a 12th century theocracy in which irrational men rule with an iron fist which they would have us believe is the rule of God.

The enemy of this kind of mediaeval religiosity is anyone who is civilised enough to value personal freedom, anyone who believes in pluralism and in tolerance.

But as US President George W Bush said recently, civilisation will not be "deceived by the pretences to piety... Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depends on us."

Guyana is not without those who believe that everyone else should live to the standard of the religion they have chosen. A quick scan of the letter pages will reveal an astounding proliferation of writers from more than one religion all set and ready to judge any Guyanese who would seek to exercise their right of personal freedom.

Religious extremism leads to backwardness. Those foolish enough to threaten the inalienable rights of others should take note. They have been warned.

Yours faithfully,

Justin DeFreitas