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World View: Concerns Raised for Safety of Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus in America

World View: Concerns Raised for Safety of Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus in America

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Kidnapped Iranian ‘tourists’ in Syria may be Revolutionary Guards
  • Relationship between Islamist radicals in Caucasus and Central Asia
  • Wisconsin’s ‘domestic terrorism’ in Sikh temple raises concerns for Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus
  • China makes armed threat on al-Jazeera ship in South China Sea

Kidnapped Iranian ‘tourists’ in Syria may be Revolutionary Guards

Syrian rebels holding kidnapped Iranians in Damascus, shown in screen grab (Al-Arabiya)
Syrian rebels holding kidnapped Iranians in Damascus, shown in screen grab (Al-Arabiya)

Forty-eight Iranian Shia “pilgrims” were were kidnapped from a bus inDamascus on Saturday, according to Iran’s state television. Hundredsof thousands of Iranians travel each year to Syria to visit a Shiitepilgrimage site, the Shrine of Zaynab, in Damascus. Free Syrian Army(FSA) rebels have claimed responsibility for the abductions in a videothat appeared on al-Arabiya television. In the video, an FSA officershowed ID documents taken from one of the men and said, “During theinvestigation, we found that some of them were officers of theRevolutionary Guards.” Iran is denying the charge, repeating that theabductees are Shia pilgrims visiting Damascus. However, analysts arepointing out that there are no women and children in the video, makingit unlikely that the abductees are tourists. Al-Arabiya

Relationship between Islamist radicals in Caucasus and Central Asia

An analysis of the connection between Islamist radicals in Russia’ssouthern provinces (North Caucasus) and countries of central Asia –Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan — reveals that there’sless going on than speculation has suggested. The two regions arehistorically connected because Josef Stalin in 1944 deported NorthCaucasus ethnic groups to Central Asia. When Nikita Khrushchev allowedthe repressed people to return, many remained behind. Thus, familialrelationships between the two regions remain to this day. During the1990s Chechen war, Islamist leaders in Chechnya established links withthe Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and several hundred fightersfrom Central Asia fought the Russians in the Caucasus. However,ethnic ties, or lack of them, have been a more important factor than adesire for “pan-Islamic solidarity,” and today there are probably nomore than a few dozen fighters from Central Asia in the currentinsurgency in Dagestan, and their importance should not beoverestimated. Jamestown

Wisconsin’s ‘domestic terrorism’ in Sikh temple raises concerns for Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus

In the wake of the attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday,killing at least seven people, including the gunman, South Asiansliving in the United States are being urged to exercise extremecaution at places of worship. The message is being directed at Sikhs,Muslims, Hindus, and other South Asians. Sikh males are oftenconfused with Muslims because they wear turbans to cover their longhair. CNN

The word “Sikhism” derives from “Sikh,” which means a strong and abledisciple. There are about 23 million Sikhs worldwide, making Sikhismthe 5th largest religion in the world. Approximately 19 million Sikhslive in India, primarily in the state of Punjab. Large populations ofSikhs can also be found in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the UnitedStates. Sikhs are a significant minority in Malaysia and Singapore,where they are sometimes ridiculed for their distinctive appearance,but respected for their work ethic and high education standards.

Sikhism emerged in 16th-century India in an environment heavilypermeated with conflicts between the Hindu and Muslim religions. Itwas somewhat influenced by reform movements in Hinduism (e.g. Bhakti,monism, Vedic metaphysics, guru ideal, and bhajans) as well as someSufi Muslim influences. While Sikhism reflects its cultural context,it certainly developed into a movement unique in India. Sikhs regardtheir faith as an authentic new divine revelation.

Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Dev, who was born in 1469 to a Hindufamily. After four epic journeys (north to Tibet, south to Sri Lanka,east to Bengal and west to Mecca and Baghdad), Guru Nanak preached toHindus, Muslims and others, and in the process attracted a followingof Sikhs (disciples). Religion, he taught, was a way to unite people,but in practice he found that it set men against one another. Heparticularly regretted the antagonism between Hindus and Muslims. GuruNanak’s most famous saying is, “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim,so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow the path of God.”Religion Facts

China makes armed threat on al-Jazeera ship in South China Sea

Two Chinese warships approach the al-Jazeera vessel
Two Chinese warships approach the al-Jazeera vessel

Three weeks ago, I reported astory that had appeared on al-Jazeera about threats by three Chinesewarships directed at an al-Jazeera vessel approaching the ScarboroughShoal. Almost all non-Chinese experts say that Scarborough Shoal issovereign territory of the Philippines, although China is threateningto annex it through its vast military force. The full report of theencounter is now available online. The video of the “101 East”program is 25 minutes long, and the encounter with the Chinesewarships is in the 4:30-10:00 period. Al-Jazeera

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