STOCKHOLM - In a frightening display of rising sectarian violence, an atheist suicide bomber blew himself up on a busy street in Stockholm three days ago; killing eighteen agnostics and wounding over thirty. Members of the 'Swedish Atheistic Liberation Front' (SALF) have claimed responsibility for the bombing. Declaring the attack as revenge against the explosive agnostic riots, which, last week, hospitalized several atheists and terrorized the atheistic community.
Swedish authorities have so far failed to stem the rising levels of violence and growing sectarian divide. The prime minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt, himself an agnostic, strongly condemned the attack, yet also called for restraint among the broader agnostic community. In an impromptu speech, the prime minister called on agnostics to not contribute to the violence, or launch vengeful vigilante attacks, saying that the proper authorities would see justice done.
Yet Mr. Reinfeldt's message seems to be falling on deaf ears, prominent agnostic leaders and bloggers have already began urging retaliatory attacks in what is an ominous sign for the future of sectarian violence in Sweden. Sectarian divisions and violence have been increasing ever since the breakdown in talks between the mostly agnostic Government and the violently separatist SALF.
SALF, and the atheists they claim to represent, believe that there is no god, agnostics believe that there may not be a god. To outsiders, this difference in doctrine seems almost irrelevant; to believers it is a question of life or death. Therefore, such a small difference in doctrine can create such explosive hatreds, divisions and violence.
The spiraling violence has already purged once religiously diverse neighborhoods into homogenous sectarian strongholds of either atheists or agnostics. Strongholds, which, since the latest SALF terrorism, have begun exchanging nightly mortar fire in the escalating conflict that Swedish authorities seem unable to contain.
So far the United Nations response has been limited to broad condemnations of the violence from both sides; while Norway and Finland have been preparing for an influx of refugees and planning for the creation of possible peacekeeping buffer zones within Sweden in case the rising violence transforms into the civil war many expect. The United States, for all its Innate Exceptionalism is afraid of being embroiled in a long intractable conflict and have thus confined their involvement to verbal support for moderates on both sides of the sectarian divide. At this point, all one can do is put in concentrated thought that Sweden's Atheists and Agnostics can reconcile before civil war breaks out and, together, realize the dream of one united Sweden.
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