Karima Bennoune shares four powerful stories of real people fighting against fundamentalism in their own communities — refusing to allow the faith they love to become a tool for crime, attacks and murder. These personal stories humanize one of the most overlooked human-rights struggles in the world.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Is religion or religiosity strictly the problem? To the extent it does not stay a strictly private matter for individuals and families and forces its way into relations between individuals in society in strictly temporal transactions, it will always be.

    The West really is involved in the Middle East because of the events of 9/11, and before that because it was, like any Third World region, an arena of the Cold War. There is today not one state in the entire stretch of the Earth between Pakistan and Morocco that can be called a stable, safe, free, democratic society. No, not even Tunisia. Democracy, or as they understand it, majority rule, in any of these countries would sound the death knell for the minorities in these countries, which is why it is in the interests of the minorities to continue to support the dictatorships. In truth, the region is much more “modern” under dictatorships than under what could be called popular governments. It is a sad choice to vouch for.

    And before you say Israel and blame all of Middle East’s problems on it, let it be reminded that it is a tiny stretch of mostly desert land. It is an ethnic state and its democratic credentials are alternately questionable. But it is the only functioning non-despotic state in the entire region. And the Palestinian cause, as dear as it is to region, is not the biggest item in state expenditures. It probably points to the very Middle Eastern practice of scapegoating – anything is responsible but the main perpetrator.

    There seems to be a struggle in Islamic societies all across the world to graduate it from clerical societies to non-clerical societies. In Europe, similar struggles led to the Thirty Year’s War. Who knows, we may be witnessing the Thirty Years’ War of our time.

  2. The problem with Islam is that it has married spiritual goals inextricably with political goals. Jihad or holy war is a fundamental tenet of Islam which has, objectively, zero spiritual reasoning and 100% political ambition. The proclaimed superiority which Muslims express over their God over others naturally leads to resentment, intimidation of others and violence when the opportunity arises. The distinction between Dar Al Islam and Dar Al Harb is also a political distinction.

    This marriage between religion and politics, fundamental to Islam, worked for it when their earthly conquests were on the ascendance. Now it has come right to bite them in the rear end. Similar is the case with Christianity and Communism as well. The danger to Islam is that, the backlash against its political aims will end up throwing the spiritual part of it into oblivion as well. The fundamental problem with Islamic societies today is that they are based not on mutual trust between individuals but on a doctrine. The political aspect and the spiritual aspect of the doctrine act as a sort of cover for each other, feeding off of each other when the time so demands. The lack of a spiritual angle to communism is why it folded so fast, historically speaking. Sans a spiritual angle, Islam would fall today as rapidly as Communism.

  3. There is a reason for the name ‘Boko Haram’ – it literally means books are forbidden. I suppose in a benign world they’d be calling for a paperless world but no, these guys are anti-education. All that funding terror, kidnapping girls, armed jihad all against the basic idea of children going to school and reading.

    The best response to Boko Haram – books are forbidden – would be a reading movement called Boko Tamam – books are excellent!

    There is little point struggling against fundamentalist Islam without questioning the very tenets of the doctrine – any doctrinal creed, be it a monotheistic one or a socio/communist one, will have the same outcome. God is really not the problem here.

  4. God has made life sacred. Killing is absolutely prohibited except for self-defense and to fight back oppression:

    [Final Testament/Quran 17:33] You shall not kill any person – for God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder; he will be helped.
    [Final Testament/Quran 4:29] O you who believe, do not consume each others' properties illicitly – only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. God is Merciful towards you.
    [Final Testament/Quran 2:193] You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship God freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.
    [Final Testament/Quran 8:39] You shall fight them to ward off oppression, and to practice your religion devoted to God alone. If they refrain from aggression, then God is fully Seer of everything they do.
    [Final Testament/Quran 2:191] You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.

  5. the only thing she fails to talk about is that the US fundamentalism is its own oil and other power related sources that so far have been oversees

  6. listen to the woman, she has a point
    but no violence can be resolved by violence, we of the Viking nation know that to well
    You have to sit down and listen to one another, note I did not say talk but listen

  7. OK the definition of fundamentalism is actually religious manipulation for political means. Wasnt that done since ancient times ?

  8. How does this woman reconcile the leader of the faith beheading his enemies and sleeping with little girls?

  9. The "Fundamentalists" are adhering to the Fundamentals of Islam,
    i wouldn't have a problem with a Buddhist or a Jain fundamentalist

  10. True Muslims who understand what real Islam is are the most hurt by terrorist acts..People blame Islam when Islam is the first victim 🙁

  11. I got 5 mins in and was overwhelmed by the groundwork this islamopheliac apologist was laying for the barbaric  savage cult she is still very much a part of..   she is nothing more than a PR guru for islam and the hate and destruction it evokes and just because a few ignorant sheeple in the middle east are still clinging to it like a rafter from a sinking ship because they have neither the moral compass nor intellect to discard it  we should applaud them for there piety.. the only way to combat islam is to accept the truth about it and that is that for 1400 years it has brought nothing but death and destruction to all it touches..

  12. My full respect to the great speaker Karima Bennounce who has the knowledge, experience, and honesty in presenting conflicting thoughts and insights.

  13. The most powerful antidote to  muslim fundies AND christian fundies is the spread of education. We don't need more "boots on the ground", we need more books on the brain!

  14. For the record: I don't think that muslim culture is inherently violent, but I do think that islam is inherently violent. Many muslims keep their humanity against the islamic tenets, but when fundamentalists take it to the letter of the religion of war and subjection that islam is, it does get violent. Therefore it is very import to make people aware of the fact that islam is a religion that glorifies violence and makes it a holy right or duty. As long as people do not understand that the islamic religion itself encourages violence, nothing can solve this problem.

  15. The leaders of the fundamentalist bloodthirsty FIS where protected and sheltered by the US,France,UK ,Saudis…. during the whole period(90's) when their troops where committing unprecedented crimes .History keeps on repeating itself ,doesn't she?!

  16. as Lenon say imagine not religion too, religion is not the root of all evil, but is the root of a lot of evil, and drag a lot of people in to ignorance and despair, religion poison everything.

  17. With all due respect i strongly disagree that there is nothing inherently violent abt Islam or any other religion for that matter. It's not surprising that beheading and stoning are punishments for doing rather menial tasks like picking up sticks on a wrong day, anybody with a sane mind could tell that these "books" came from a 6th century goat herder who did not have the privilege to know and understand the world like we do now, thanks to modern science we now have much sophisticated ways of dealing with things but it's sad to see that people choose to stick with their dogmatic beliefs rather than take the risk of eternal damnation, this fear is what these extremists feed off and use it for their own geopolitical and monetary gains, terrorism is a way to keep that fear alive in hearts of masses. They guarantee a happy after life if you listen to them cus if u dont well you are pretty much screwed for eternity and if that does not scare you they drop bombs and fly planes into skyscrapers .So to all you 'good' religious people out there YOU are their target audience because they think that you would belive just about any thing so quit fighting over trivial issues like who's fairy tale is more real or who's leprechaun is more divine, take the trouble of thinking for yourself and critically .Science is still trying to answer the most bending questions that religion pretends to answer. Biggest problem with any religion is that it demands faith which is another way of saying "just belive it, dont ask any questions".Yes, world without faith becomes infinitely complex and exciting which makes us curious and curiosity is mankinds first step towards a better world.

  18. Karima is good to draw our attention to the brave opponents of extremism. However, these people were ineffectual. And now they are mostly dead. The intolerant ones dominate the faithful main stream and set the agenda in Islam-dominant lands. Karima complains that critics think something's inherently bad about Islamic teaching — well, there is, and critics who read those teachings are not shy to say so. She says critics are wrong to think most Muslims are fundamentalists, as in "extreme right wing." Well, by design, definition, and fact Islam is indeed a retrograde system. Not merely conservative and reactionary, it seeks to roll back the clock, rejecting innovation or reform by law. The fantasy of a Golden Age and a Caliphate are textbook reactionary examples. Islam is bad for the world. The proof of this is abundant. It's a variety of fascism, disguising itself as a "religion." What to do? Take the piss out of it. Use humour, scrutiny, and ridicule. It's the right thing to do. These are not hostile methods, despite foul claims. As for the window-dressing rituals (bending over, rinsing feet, shuffling around a black box, reciting memorized incantations to hex the proverbial outsider), no one cares about these — though I hate the ritual slaughter of goats. It's just plain sick, obviously. And it is sooo Iron Age.

  19. I stopped listening at 2:30 when the speaker decided to show women's portrets only as the martyrs. Thats blatant femiscist agenda to show the faces of women only whereas they were undabtedlu a tiny minority among the martyrs.

  20. Yes, and no. I think the speaker sees Islamic culture as a subculture within dominant Muslim culture. And so has grouped together all religiously based groups as right wing and fundamentalist. They are not. Therefore, she cannot bring herself to call secularism in the Middle East, a fundamentalist movement. Merely anti-democratic. When it is inherently right wing, and religious fundamentalism merely takes on right wing appearance, when they could be socially leftist. And it is the right wing nature of secular suppression of religious and political differences, that resulted in the right wing response of fundamentalist religion. That's not apologising for terror. That is highlighting the social roots of terror. Often, the people she praises are fortunate beneficiaries of elitist structures.

  21. Wow, so much ignorance and bile.

    It seems the bulk of respondents here didn't bother viewing the video.

    A couple of points.
    1. Jews, Christians & Muslims worship the same God.
    2. Jesus is a prophet in Islam (Mary/Maryam's virgin birth and all)

    Don't believe me? Check it out before telling me you know better.

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