Clash of civilizations intensifying in the US

By Yang Chuchu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/12 23:43:39

On Saturday, anti-Muslim demonstrations broke out in nearly 30 cities in the US, with some clashes erupting between demonstrators who were protesting against sharia law, and counter demonstrators. The demonstrations were organized by ACT for America, a group founded in 2007. The group said: "Sharia is incompatible with Western democracy and the freedoms it affords."

More Muslims are living in the US now; the Pew Research Center writes that from 2007 to 2014, the proportion of Muslim groups in the US general population has doubled. 

When Muslims come to the US, they also bring their culture, such as sharia law. However, some tenets of sharia law are considered a serious deviation from international human rights standards. Sharia law runs counter to mainstream US values, which were based on the religious ideals of White Anglo Saxon Protestants (WASPs). These protestant values emphasize the pursuit of individual freedoms, religious freedoms and self improvement.

With the expansion of the Muslim population, frictions between different religious values emerge from time to time. According to the Guardian, FBI data shows that in recent years, anti-Muslim hate crimes have surged rapidly. After Donald Trump took office, intolerance to Islamic values has risen to a new level in the US. When Trump campaigned last year, he said he wanted to test Muslims coming into America to make sure they don't want sharia law to supersede the US Constitution.

Political scientist Samuel P. Huntington pointed out in the early 1990s that clashes among different religions, instead of ideological or economic factors, would be the touchpaper for war in the future. His prediction was later proved by the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. The attack was perceived by many as attack by Muslims against the US.

Since the 9/11 attack, the US has experienced a strong identity crisis. As Huntington argued, the mainstream "Anglo Protestant" culture is what unites the diverse sub-culture that makes up American society. However with the demographic change in the US, whether the mainstream culture can continue to assimilate foreign cultures is increasingly being questioned.

Apart from the US, with the rise of terrorist attacks, the link between terrorism and religion has intensified frictions between different religions in other countries. How to properly deal with religious conflicts will be a problem the world will have to face.

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