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Spirits and the Cross: Religiously Based Violent Movements in Uganda
Small Wars and Insurgencies, Vol 14, No.2 (Summer 2003), pp 113-130
Lawrence E. Cline
Abstracted by: Simon Madraru Amajuru
The article provides a detailed analysis of the havoc caused to humanity in Northern Uganda , resulting from various rebellions since 1986. A combination of the doctrines of traditional and "modern" religions; ethnicity; marginalization and external forces played complementary roles in the rise and sustenance of the terrorist forms of rebel movements in Uganda . In comparing the insurgent groups of the Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) and that of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda with similar movements in other parts of the World, the article clearly portrays the uniqueness of the two movements. They used traditional and religious methods combined with violence as a method of mobilizing and indoctrinating recruits, more so from their own people. Several factors led to the popularity and rapid expansion (from about 150 fighters to almost 10,000 fighters) of the short lived HSM of Alice Auma Lakwena (popularly known as Lakwena). Ethnic solidarity that emerged out of the marginalization of northern Uganda, a legacy left by the Colonial government, played a big role in mobilizing fighters (mostly former soldiers of former President Tito Okello, an Acholi) against the government of President Museveni (an Ankole from Western Uganda). The local people already believed in Lakwena as a healer and this made it easy for her to mobilize followers towards her “vision of removing Museveni’s government and proclaiming the word of the Holy Spirit”. Lakwena instilled a strong sense of discipline in her combatants and this made her fighters more popular than the government soldiers who were involved in torturing and looting property of the local people. Therefore, the creation of a rebel movement with a strong mix of spirits and some Biblical lineage raised the moral of the Acholi fighters against the government forces. No wonder the HSM forces encountered many problems as their forces expanded to other ethnic tribes in Eastern Uganda.
The defeat of the HSM by the government was not felt because Kony swiftly took over as the leader of a more aggressive rebel movement: The LRA. Apart from using spirits and religion, this time a combination of Christianity and Islam, Kony introduced violence on the civilians as a strategy to mobilize his fighting force and sustaining them. Looting, abducting, torturing, rapping and killing became so normal in northern Uganda and Acholi land in particular. The brutality of the government soldiers on the same civilians just added injury to an already bad situation. Most of the “rebel combatants” the government claims to be killing are from among the over 10,000 children abducted by the LRA, some of whom have been killed by leaders of the LRA when ever they attempted to escape. A blessing in disguise for the LRA is the claim of Uganda government support to the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which resulted to an open support to the LRA by the Sudan government. Thus, making them a powerful force to sustain pressure from the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) and although the Sudan government is said to have stopped giving support to the LRA and allowed the UPDF to fight the LRA inside their territory, the war has not ended.
Despite the costly war, in terms of resources, suffering, and “human blood,” talking peace to end it is not an alternative being considered by both the government and the LRA. There is simply no trust between the two forces, yet they are also uncomfortable with peace initiatives from outside. The Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative is trying but there is no sign of breaking through.
Calling Upon the Sacred: Migrants' Use of Religion in the Migration Process
International Migration Review . Winter 2003, vol. 37. no. 4, pp. 1145-1163.
Hagan, Jacqueline. Ebaugh, Helen Rose
Abstracted by: Leah Persky
This article explores the role religion plays throughout the migration process. The authors believe the religious component to migration has been overlooked by most research and literature in sociology and immigration studies. They explain how religion plays a very important role in the migration process, by providing spiritual resources, informing the decision to migrate, influencing attitudes of migrants, and creating social networks. The authors study a Maya community from the western highlands of Guatemala, and their ties to Houston, Texas. Through field study in both the highlands of Guatemala and Houston , the authors have found migrants and their families to increasingly turn to the Pentecostal church as a result of the increasing dangers of migration. The town the researchers focused on in Guatemala has strong ties to Houston, as a great number of townspeople have migrated there. The cost of undocumented travel to the U.S. both in terms of expense and danger has increased a great deal in the past few years, causing residents to turn increasingly towards the Pentecostal church for counsel, prophesizing and religious services. The authors paid special attention to services called ayunos, which are informal prayer services, where pastors who lead them are believed to have the power to hear the will of God and to predict the future. Many people attend ayunos, in order to hear the pastor's final decision on if their migration should take place and if so when their migration should take place. The authors found that as undocumented travel becomes more difficult, the number of ayunos, and the people attending them increases dramatically. The authors support the idea that for many Pentecostal Maya: “The decision to migrate, though driven by economic considerations, can ultimately be based on the advice or premonitions of Pentecostal pastors. . . (and) helps the migrants and their families feel more comfortable with whatever decision is made.” (p.1152)
The authors divide the migration process into six stages: deciding whether or not to migrate, preparing for the journey, the journey, the arrival, the role of the ethnic church in immigrant settlement, and the development of transnational religious linkages. Through out the migration process, the migrants keep in touch with their home community, family, and pastors through phone calls, mail and in the later stages by visiting family in Guatemala. The concluding hypothesis the authors make is that migrants come to rely more heavily on religion when they feel little or no control over their situation, and when they must confront many risks during their journey. This being the case, the authors believe that religion will be an important component/resource for other groups of undocumented migrants around the world. They see evidence of their hypothesis in other groups such as undocumented catholic Mexicans. They briefly mention that particular religious beliefs and practices of Pentecostalism may account for the use of religion in undocumented travel, but more research across religious groups must be undertaken to test this hypothesis.
Muslim Dress in Europe: Debates on the Headscarf
Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2005, pp. 35-61
Shadad, W., P.S. Van Koningsveld
Abstracted by: Lucy Meliksetian 
Debates over the headscarf, whether it is a religious requirement of Islam or symbolizing a form of oppression for women, have raged throughout Europe since the mid-1980s. Currently, three different views are held when discussing appropriate dress for women. The first viewpoint, favored by most scholars, holds that the entire female body, with the exception of the face and hands, should be covered at all times when in public. A second viewpoint, held by a small group of conservative scholars, believes that the entire body, including the face and hands, should be covered with the exception of the eyes or one eye. Lastly is a viewpoint, held by many liberals and feminists, rejecting the headscarf altogether, questioning the legitimacy of such a covering in today’s society. Since there are a number of opinions on what constitutes “proper” female attire or whether such attire has any relevance in present times, many countries within the European Union (EU) have had a difficult time reconciling their laws on the role of the state with the basic human right of freedom of religion. In addition to the varied opinions regarding the headscarf, stereotypes propagated by the media have given the headscarf a negative connotation, which sees the headscarf as: an expression of fundamentalism, an act of religious propaganda, an act of women’s oppression, and/or a sign of the unwillingness to integrate. Because of these debates and assumptions, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and independent judges in a number of EU countries have needed to step-in to help balance the fine line between state neutrality and religious freedom. For instance, in a 2001 ruling by the Court of Strasbourg, members of the judiciary ruled against a teacher of Turkish origin to be able to wear her headscarf during class because it might infringe upon her students and their parent’s feelings about their own religion, or lack thereof, in addition to it violating Switzerland’s policy of state neutrality. In The Netherlands, the local courts have ruled that, in terms of Muslim students being able to wear their headscarf in school, students are allowed to do so if attending a public school but religious private schools can determine their own policy on whether to allow it. Additionally, in Belgium, there is no central rule with respect to students and the wearing of the headscarf. The local courts have given schools the authority to decide on the matter. Because of the debates on what role religion should play in the public sphere, the European Union has allowed for sovereign states to handle the issue and has no central policy with regards to wearing of the headscarf.