By Cofounder: Citizen Awareness Program
While liberalism has become a popular chant of the progressive aspirants and so called protagonists of human rights and peaceful coexistence of differing communities, races and religions, it is disappointing to witness a strengthening ascendance in ethnic rivalries, communal riots, and religion-related enmities.
In various parts of the world, countries are suffering through turmoil of widening ethnic differences resulting in demands for independent sovereign state. Ethnic, racial or religion-related conflicts are the souvenirs of medieval or ancient times, when humanity was regarded lesser than a man’s denomination, his caste, color or race, it is although questionable over the spread of liberal ideas which has failed to oust the notions barring psychological development of human beings to acquire a state of peace and tranquility. More ironic is the fact that such a disease is not only prevalent in “third world” or “under-developed” countries which are blamed for harbouring ideas of the backward nature producing volatile conflicts.
It is strange to study that in actual the only time when the European countries and others under the leadership of Ottoman Empire were more cohesive and peaceful than they ever were in history or they are now.
During Ottoman rule in Europe, there were as many multiple ethnicities as they are today, and alongside them were as many rivalries and differences as they are now, but what made Ottoman Empire bring them under a single uncontroversial platform?
In 1453, Sultan Orhan introduced an innovative system, at the time, called the “millet system” or “nations system” (millet meaning a nation of people).
The “nation system” allowed autonomy for non-Turk and non-Muslim groups. Back then, it was used in terms of a community or nation of people with a particular religion within the Ottoman Empire. This system gave rights to members of the “nation” to use their own languages, have their own religious, cultural and educational institutions, and have a leader who was responsible for all public affairs of the “nation”.
At the beginning of this system there were four “nations”: Christian, Armenian, Jewish, and non-Ottoman Muslims. Within time, though, the system began to change. The Orthodox, Armenian, and Jewish “nations” were reorganized from 1862 to 1866. The patriarchs were elected by members of the community who were government assembling traders, or non-religious elements, began to handle secular matters. Also, new “nations” were developed by the nineteenth century. Romanian, Bulgarian, and Serbian “nations” were formed under separate churches and gradually grew into separate nations.
The “nation” system was innovative; some see it as a factor that most probably held the Empire together for such a long time, and reduced the likelihood of conflict. On the other hand, some people see this system in the sense that it eventually became a base for the national consciousness of various ethnic groups. Either way, the “nation” system played an important role in Central European countries. See here: http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/ETHNIC-RELATIONS-AND-CONFLICTS-IN-CENTRAL-EUROPE
Also, under muslim Mughal India, hindus and other non-muslim members of the empire were guaranteed their separate identity, and their rights were safeguarded, as muslims were relatively well groomed, communal riots or inter-communal rivalries were not prevalent as they are in post-mughal India, where muslims are targeted for their religious identity, mainly because hindus were occupied rendering their religious duties entailing an rigid demarcation among hindus based on caste system, while women were treated like a slave, victimized by the famous hindu ritual of satti.
(Granting Hindus the ability to freely worship baffled many critics, including his own son Salim, who once asked his father why he had allowed Hindu ministers to spend money on building a temple. Akbar responded to Salim: “My son, I love my own religion… [but] the Hindu [m]inister also loves his religion”) See here: http://craigconsidinetcd.com/tag/mughal-empire/
Today many ethnic rivalries have risen up to the surface. South Asia in particular has been a victim of highly volatile ethnic differences which was supported by west creating excessive troubles for the victim countries, Sweden is known for supporting and funding liberation movements on foreign lands in the name of neutrality. Balochistan province of Pakistan has become victim of international conspiracy, supported by European countries. See here: http://baloch-community-sweden.blogspot.com/
As a matter of fact, muslim countries are not conflict sensitive, it is in fact the legacy of muslim empires, the capable muslim rulers who brought many differing ethnicities, religions, races under one peaceful empire, while all of them were given the freedom to perform their cultural, religious duties as they desired. It was west and European countries creating differences as the power structure shifted from muslims to west and Europe. As the world today is a picture of chaos and deepened rivalries on the basis of ethnicities, sects and religion, supported, funded and fuelled by western nations.
Today, Spain worries about its Catalonia separation, with massive protests in support of an independent catalonia some time back, while 89% Venetian people in Italy have voted in favor of an independent Venetian Republic.
“Russia’s annexation of Crimea has revealed one easily forgotten fact: The world has a lot of gray areas, and these disputed regions are worrying as their unresolved status is often a spark for conflict” – see here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/03/24/a-map-of-transnistria-crimea-and-other-geographical-gray-areas-to-be-worried-about/