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Fight Ignorance, not Islam

Here we go again. Killing Mali tribesmen to prevent them creating safe-havens for Al Qaeda - all dressed up as defending villagers from the imposition of Sharia law - as if we cared. Easy to get involved, difficult to withdraw - and leaving what? Countless fathers and brothers grateful to you for killing their sons and relatives? Genius chum-making tactics. Let's get rid of a hornets' nest by kicking it. They'll be ever-so grateful - especially the bit where we say "Right, we've got rid of all the baddies, so we're off. Now here's a piece of paper for something called voting which means you'll get them back shortly when you can't find a bunch of blokes prepared to abandon their tribal demands and work out how to build a country not driven by corruption, greed and ignorance. Cheerio then, and thanks for the oil."

So assuming it is a good idea to stop fanatics becoming jihadists, but that shooting them is not such a good idea, what should we be doing to a) prevent them wanting to hurt us or at least harbour people who want to do that, and b) improve their lives so they don't turn in desperation to their religious leaders for solutions to problems caused by poverty and ignorance.

Instead of killing a bunch of guys (and anyone standing near them when the drones strike) whose minds are crammed with fairytale bollocks which they're prepared to die for, and which were in turn rammed in there by equally bollocks-crammed mullahs who believe they're defending the word of their prophet/god, why don't we give them something they will value more than their guns and irrational trust in fairy tales? How about a future for their children? So lets use the money we would have spent in killing them, to educate their kids. The cunning plan is to pop things into their heads which will encourage them to think: "Wait a minute. Mr Mullah says this is the right answer. But Mr Einstein has worked out he might be wrong.... Hmm. Is it remotely possible that books written hundreds of years ago by people who thought they knew the answers to life's mysteries, would be different if written today? And is Mr Mullah right about not letting my sister go to school? And what's wrong with music anyway? Miserable beardie. I'm going to think for myself in future. Why should I die for what he believes. I'd rather live for what I now believe. Perhaps being an infidel is not the evil that our self-protecting beardies demand we believe."

But simply saying here's a book about biology or here's a YouTube video that will explain Higgs Bosons is clearly not the way to start the process. They have had generations of parents and tribal 'elders' spouting on about what's 'true' and what's therefore not. How do we open up their minds to the possibility that perhaps those authorities - the only ones they've ever had ... ever - just maybe don't know very much about how the world works? How can we do this without infuriating them and claiming that we're destroying their culture while trying to impose our own? How do we encourage them to re-assess many of their values in the light of scientific evidence that previously simply didn't exist?

The answer is step by step. Build trust with their parents by paying for teachers in their madrassas. By honestly teaching sciences, albeit in the context of brainwashing religious schools, we can at least provide children with sparks of rational thinking that we can only hope will light fires of enquiry and questioning as well as a passion for learning how to think for themselves and not grope for answers in antiquated anachronistic texts served up by brainwashed beardies.

So if you agree that educating their children is the most valuable ambition we can have. Then shouldn't we be beating swords into internet terminals (so they can learn how to make their own ploughshares?!) and teachers? In other words spend less on bombs and drones etc, and more on educating Jonny foreigner's kids. Not only will we slowly wean them off the teat of ignorance, we'll also be building friendly relationships for generations to come. Beats trying to bludgeon deep-rooted ideas into submission, and in the process cementing them in place.

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