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How Can Killing Innocent People Ever Be Justified In The Name Of ‘Holy War’?

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By Ningreikhan Wungkhai:

Many times have I indulged in debates and discussions on whether or not God shall have a different judgement for non-Christians when that day (Judgement Day) comes. Of greater concern to me is how man has misinterpreted the core of religion. Sometimes what seems complicated has the simplest answer.

I am Christian by faith and the living words of God did not teach me to condemn other religions. When man cannot even love his own kind, heaven is a far distant subject. If my propagation spreads enmity among people, let me not propagate for man living in peace is better than uninformed doctrines. Religions are sensitive stuff and when misinterpreted, it can lead to staunch fanaticism and radicalisation of beliefs.

How can one claim his religion as the most righteous of all? Before the existence of religion, man’s inner self lent credence to the idea that there must be a body somewhere in the vastness that created all things. So, in our attempt to seek an answer, religion came into being. Both the man from the far north and from the far south who had no knowledge of each other sought the same truth and came out with two different beliefs.

The concept of religion is older than the hills and it is unwise to condemn other religions unless they advocate terror, destruction, killing of innocents, and religious conflict. It’s a small world today but wasn’t yesterday. We have communication satellites and technology, but the concept of religion is older than the genius of technology.

If we critically analyse with rationality the messages of religious scripture, we will learn that it is humanity that is the greatest religion for God appears in Man. Didn’t the Bible say how God created man in his own image? It would be a disastrous interpretation if we harm another fellow being in the name of religion. Every religion instituted by man has an identical message but we tend to complicate things and breed chaos. Man is free to propagate his religion. But that doesn’t mean he should incite hatred and intolerance in the name of religion. Communalism and religion are two different things.

Misinterpretation Of Religion – The Menace Of Terrorism

There are certain forces that act as agents of destruction. We see them everywhere. We see them in Paris, in the USA, India, the UK, we see them everywhere. One never knows when the wall will collapse, one never knows when public stations and carriers will blow up. This is what terrorism has brought to this world. No man is now safe, even in his sleep, even in places of worship, and even in the womb of a mother only because the hands of terror are such that there is no place they can’t breach. There was Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and now the Islamic State (ISIS). All took pride in picking up arms and spreading global terrorism. The cycle of mass destruction never set its feet to rest. It took only a dozen to bring down World Trade Centre.

The Act Of Terrorism

9/11, the day that changed America. The worst chapter in the ‘war against humanity’ that cannot be erased, not merely from the pages of history but from the hearts and the minds of the American citizens. It shook the empire of the world largest economy so strongly that it not only forced the Americans to go to war but also left a great impact on the world economy.

The world in 2014 grieved over the killings of school children in Peshawar when the spawns of Lucifer opened fire at the children at point blank range in an attempt to restrain Western education in their province. I say, “The smaller the coffin, the heavier it is to carry,” every time killings of innocents hits the headlines. Its impact was so diabolical that every time when it’s brought up it brings tears to many.

But it is glory for the fanatics. How ignorant and evil is man in justifying the killings of thousands of innocent people? What can justify killing another man who has done no wrong to you and with whom you have never met? There is no glory in killing. It is a diabolical force that teaches fallacy and has blinded the reason of man. These jihadist fundamentalists pose a serious threat to world peace and the freedom to live.

If God appears in Man, why would a gunman go on a shooting spree that claimed 49 innocent lives and wounded several others? What has ISIS fed the man that he took pride in killing innocent people? And when will America pass a stricter act for regulating firearms? Selling of guns over the counter and easy access to firearms has cost America an inconsolable loss in recent years.

Jihad – the holy war – is a strong word misinterpreted by man. Jihad, as understood by the radicals is far beyond the understanding of regular people. Both Muslims and Christians waged wars. Christians call it Crusade and Muslims call it jihad – holy war for both. But today’s jihad is a new breed. The killing of innocent people by suicide bombers appears to be the new philosophy that contributes to mass killings of innocent people in the name of Allah. I don’t think Allah will have any interest in this ‘jihadist’ feud.

If disputes regarding trade and commerce are the main reasons for bitterness, then why do we have to bring Allah in this ‘commercial’ war? Quran is a holy book, not a compilation of war propaganda and business texts.

What is the point of spending all your life rediscovering religious teachings to be an opportunist? There’s at least one television preacher I know of who is very proud of underrating other religions by interpreting every verse from the Bible, the Quran and the Gita. Man should stop being an opportunist and manipulating ‘simple minded’ citizens.

There is a story of a man whose son was slain for being liberal. There is a story of a brother whose sister was slain for seeking education. There is a story of a mother whose son was taken away by jihadists. There is a story of a Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai. These are stories of radical fanaticism. These are stories of religious misinterpretation.

Every religion discourages killings, war, greed, savagery, but most people miss that most pivotal message it tries to convey – humanity. Humanity is the greatest religion for God resides in Man. People should have more common sense and stop being misled.

Featured image credit: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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