One of the most pernicious effects of religion is the opposition of some faiths to modern health care. I’ve posted on this frequently, especially about American religious sects which prohibit health care, vaccination, and blood transfusions for children, children who have no ability to make medical choices. As a result, many of those children have died. Although these faiths might be considered “extreme,” the rest of us have made the laws that exempt their adherents from the necessity to take proper care of their children.
Even more horrible is the tendency of militant Muslims, particularly the Taliban, to murder those who are trying to vaccinate children against polio.This is happening in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and parts of Africa. It’s not just the shots, either—oral polio vaccines are considered just as un-Islamic.
Five female health workers vaccinating children against polio have been shot dead in Pakistan in a series of attacks blamed on Islamist militants. One victim was a 17-year-old schoolgirl volunteer.
Four of the killings, which officials said were carried out by masked men on motorbikes, took place in the southern city of Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial capital, on the second day of a drive to eradicate the disease from the country.
The fifth, of the schoolgirl, occurred in the violent western city of Peshawar. According to some reports, a sixth health worker, a man, was also killed in Karachi.
It was not clear who was behind the shootings, but Taliban insurgents have repeatedly denounced the anti-polio campaign as a western plot.
The anti-Islamophobes can thus blame this on colonialism, but that’s a stretch, for anti-Westernism is a characteristic of Islamism (read The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright).
Written By: Jerry Coyne
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