The distortion of a religious concept
London - published on 13 September
Beyond Images Ref: 108
Suicide bombers, who kills dozens of innocent men, women and
children, are hailed in Palestinian and other predominantly
Muslim societies as “martyrs” (“shaheeds”).
Here a Christian Reverend, Mike Beaumont, condemns this distortion
of the concept of “martyrdom”. (The letter appeared
in The London Times on 9 September 2004, following the Beslan
“There was a time when the word ‘martyr’
meant someone who preferred to suffer death rather than renounce
his or her religious beliefs.
Tragically, it is in danger of being usurped by fanatical extremists
to mean someone who brings about the death of others, even at
the cost of their own life, in the certainty that the ‘martyrdom’
will bring immediate entry to Paradise.
Surely it is time for a clear denunciation by religious leaders
of such a travesty of martyrdom, making plain that the only
destiny for those who behave like the terrorists in Beslan –
or New York, or Moscow, or Israel – is most certainly
not Heaven but Hell.
The appalling recent events must surely make us reconsider
what a right and fitting end Hell is for those who would be
martyrs to their cause, but not to God’s. Let religious
leaders not be afraid to say so clearly. Perhaps then the terrorist-martyrs
might not be so ready to lay down their lives for their cause.”
Our comment: As this Christian cleric makes
clear, suicide terrorists are not ‘martyrs’. We
believe they are more fittingly seen as mass murderers whose
crimes are cloaked by a distorted and inhumane ‘religious’