Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 26 - Let’s talk about culture ….and conflicts in the name of religion

Life has come to a standstill in Karachi after the disastrous terrorists‘ bomb attack on Shi’ites with more than 50 dead in front of a mosque two days ago. Monday was declared an official mourning day. Only this year more than 200 shiites were killed in a series of attacks. “The whole country is aflame by terrorists’ actions.” Hate is in the mind of religious and community headmen "I will make Sunnis so powerful against Shi'ites that no Sunni will even want to shake hands with a Shi'ite, they will die their own deaths, we won't have to kill them any more." Such is the kind of speech that chills members of Pakistan's Shi'ite minority, braced for a new chapter of persecution following a series of bombings that have killed almost 200 people in the city of Quettasince the beginning of the year. These were the news I read on Monday afternoon; I was deeply shocked, I had just come home from an interview with Semral Öztan, a ceramic artist in Nicosia, who has only recently returned from a ceramic seminar and workshop in Karachi. We had spent some time together going through her photos and it all sounded so good when she told me about her positive experiences with these kind people. What is happening in our world, I am asking you. We are flying to the planet Mars, try to look over the rim into other universes, invent and develop the most extraordinary things but are not able to find a way to live peacefully together. From one village to the next, on the island of Cyprus of 9250 square kilometres, around the whole Mediterranean, in Africa…just remember the war in old Yugoslavia…there are fires burning everywhere; but if we consider it well, we have conflicts based on religion since the establishment of monotheism and with its spreading around the world hate was disseminated under the leitmotiv: ‘We are the only ones, we are the better ones, we are the chosen people; your gods, your beliefs are wrong!’ - still today, after so many centuries, can you imagine? All religions have one thing in common: they all tell you to love each other! But the religious books are misinterpreted by the ones that are in power. The trouble about power is, that once you have it, you want more, power, money, and you can only get at it when you take it from others and in order to do so you have to do them down, blacken their reputation, tell lies about them so the seed of hate spreads as fast as the wind. The Word is mighty. If you are good with words you can manipulate a people to turn around and go against their own fellow citizens. What makes us think that we are better than others….that our culture is better, that the colour of our skin is more worth, who told us so? Who says that our religion is the only true one? Who makes us look down on others? What do we try to gain by it? It is not only the fanatics who do the damage, it is we ordinary people that play the game also. People have got used to make fun of the ‘others’, attack their values of culture and religion with caricatures, what for? I believe that people are afraid, they need these little games to feel better, just as they enjoy reading about accidents, deaths and other ugly events in order to feel better in the daily struggle to survive: the relativity of existence! How much could be done with this energy so senselessly used. The people in power should realize that in this way our world is being destroyed, they cut the branch we are all sitting on, but as long as they keep thinking “après moi le déluge”, nothing will change. We ordinary people should stop to play into their hands and think twice before we elect people into high positions or we should look for the truth and rather try to communicate more in order to understand each other. In medicine it is said that a body that is not in balance is sick, and our world is more than sick.

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