After yet another terror attack on Paris, the ironic cry to “pray for Paris” could be seen everywhere. Ironic because France is famously secular, and their brand of strict secularism (laïcité) is often blamed for most of the ills of the French Republic. France’s brand of secularism is blamed for everything from racism, islamophobia, causing extremism. In short protheletizers of all stripes will do anything they can do get their foot in the door.
Ataturk made instilled a similarly secular set of values into the new Turkish state. Various outwardly religious and status symbols were officially barred from public life. Not only were hijabs and headscarves for women banned, but turbans and fezzes.Numerous attempts have been made to chip away at those ideals that helped catapult Turkey to something approaching Western standards.
Bit by bit, religion tries to bring the world backward as though nobody remembers the errors of their ways. They use their ancient texts, written by men in an age where nobody knew the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way ‘round. On the whole, the West has done a better job of just nodding and winking to affirm the batshit crazy parts of religion. Few can even quote the scary parts of the bible and tend to stick with the short bumper sticker sized lines like “thou shalt not kill.”
Just like more violence isn’t the answer to violence, more religion is NOT the answer to religiously motivated terror. Dragging out a bunch of liberal imams, rabbis and priests won’t help (unless you are working on a joke contest about who walks into a bar of course.) Many of the things that terrorists do is condoned in their books. In fact similarly reprehensible behavior is condoned in the other guys books too.
Praying for a staunchly secular institution that was attacked by religious zealots reminds me of another fiasco. A while back Mormons started posthumously baptizing Jews that died in the Holocaust. If one day a terrorist attacks Vatican City, that’s another issue. Pray away- not that it will do any good, but at least it’s not insulting the victim.
The answer is for France to stand firmly secular and not give in. The rest of the world needs to stop bringing their imaginary friends to the discussion. If you are outraged – don’t help the terrorists achieve their goals. Show your support, not only with liberty, fraternity and equality but that hard to pronounce and nearly impossible to translate laïcité!