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There was no warning. Suddenly hundreds of people poured out on to the streets of the city. The noise was ceaseless and loud. They waved banners and held placards high for all to see. They began singing the anthem of their cause. Parents with little children wearing the colours of their warriors were right there in the midst of the demonstration. Some of the shouting was directed against their opponents. Threats of revenge against their traditional enemies were unmistakeable. What I was hearing was the battle cry of a passionate army.

What I was seeing was the face of fanaticism....... and it was not a pretty sight!

It was the end of the football season and Grand Final Day had arrived!!

In the above parargraph I am describing a group of football fanatics who are so committed to the success of their team that they wear the team colours, chant the team song, attend team training sessions. Every other team is a rival. They are the "enemy" and their defeat is the only thing that matters. Only if they defeat this enemy can the fanatics say they have triumphed. I might well have been describing a violent street protest

While I can appreciate and even enjoy some of the light-hearted expressions of football fans who dress "over the top" in their team uniforms, I can recall a number of occasions when those fans got too carried away in their passion and loyalty. Suddenly the fans became fanatics. Rival loyalties clashed in such a way that community facilities were vandalised, personal property was damaged or destroyed, physical injuries - minor and serious - were inflicted on those who supported the opposition.

Like I said, it was not a pretty sight.

Now, add to that football scenario the dynamics of politics or religion and the scene takes on a  frightening new dimension because the stakes are so much higher. Even the most ardent football fanatic will, in his or her saner moments, acknowledge that football is only a game and the results hardly have the capacity to change the world.

That cannot be said when religion and politics are added to the mix.

The face of this world is always being shaped by the forces released by religion and politics. Wars have been fought and won or lost because of religious and /or political fanaticism. Every generation has been witness to this reality. Our present generation is no exception.

The power and influence that is exerted by the fanatics is quite disproportionate to their number. The reason for this is not hard to find. If we had some way to separate the fanatics from the rest of the population, that's what we would have left....the rest of the population. These are the people we call the "silent majority". They are the "moderates".

To use the football analogy again, these moderates are the people who might attend a game now and again. They enjoy the contest but they don't get angry if the team loses a match. After all, it's only a game, isn't it? To the fanatic, such a statement is tantamount to blasphemy!

My real concern these days is with the moderates. It is this silent majority that empowers the fanatics.

Some time back I offered on this website an article called "Shari'a Law - Yes of No?" I would encourage to read that article in conjunction with this one. www.barnabasnetwork.com/muslim-law

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