Archive for the “Islam” Category

Muslims and their religion

SiegeOfAcre1291For almost a year now, I’ve said the movement I call “the Great Neocrusade” — i.e. an effort by fierce Rightists in the US to eradicate Islam from their precious “Christian nation” — turned violent. There’s been a lot of vigilante “justice” meted out, over the last year, to various Muslims (and to non-Muslims who were assumed to be Muslims). The Neocrusaders would say this is just a counter-Islamist-terror campaign, except for the fact that none of the victims were terrorists, and hadn’t said or done anything (aside from appearing Muslim) to make anyone suspect they were terrorists. They simply happened to cross the path of one or more sanctimoniously-enraged Neocrusaders.

The reality is that — notwithstanding events like the San Bernardino, Boston Marathon, and Ft Hood massacres — Islamist terror is still extremely rare in the US. Americans are more likely to fall prey to domestic, Right-wing terror, and vastly more likely to be victimized by ordinary, simple, mundane sociopaths not motivated by any religion or particular ideology at all. So really, there’s no reason for Neocrusaders to stomp around beating up on random Muslims — even if they view it as justified in order to save Americans from terrorism.

You’d be surprised where Neocrusaders are lurking. There are more of them than you think, and not just in cosmopolitan parts of the country (i.e. big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.) where one expects to find Muslims and other foreign faiths. They can be found even among the reserved, quiet, pious folk of “middle America.” An example of this, as KWCH-TV in Wichita KS reports, is a plot the feds recently broke up in the “heartland” town of Garden City, KS (WebCite cached article):

Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 51, and Patrick Stein were all charged with domestic terrorism.

Beall said the three were planning to bomb an apartment complex and mosque in Garden City occupied by a Muslim community of about 120 Somali refugees.

Beall said the men planned to carry out the attack on Nov. 9, the day after Election Day.…

Beall said the men wrote a manifesto, which they wanted published after the bombing.

According to an affidavit, the were a part of a group called the Kansas Security Force and the Crusaders.

“These are militia groups whose members support and espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs,” read the affidavit.

Beall said the men’s arrest is a part of an eight month long investigation.

For the last year, the Right — led by GOP presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump — has blustered and fumed over Muslim refugees living among us, and how horrifically dangerous they are. Supposedly. It’s only natural, after all, because isn’t it obvious that all Muslims everywhere are terrorists, bent on killing “infidels” wherever they may be? Wouldn’t it make sense, therefore — according to Neocrusaders’ thinking — that it’s better to kill them before they kill us?

Fortunately for the country, but unfortunately for the Neocrusaders, those Somali refugees in Kansas aren’t very likely to become terrorists … but sanctimonious Christianists don’t let little things like “facts” get in the way of their towering fury.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Peter the Hermit Preaching the First CrusadeAs I’ve blogged quite a bit, the “violent Neocrusade” continues apace. That’s my name for an ongoing campaign by sanctimonious, Islam-hating Americans to (attempt to) purge their precious “Christian nation” of all of its Muslims. Their tactics amount to a kind of counter-terror: Since there are Muslim terrorists, Neocrusaders feel entitled to employ terror against Muslims in return.

The problem is, a lot of the time — in their ignorance — they end up picking the wrong targets. CBS San Francisco reports on the latest example of this phenomenon (WebCite cached article):

A Richmond man identifying as Sikh was attacked Sept. 25 in what he describes as a violent hate crime, the Sikh Coalition said Friday.

Maan Singh Khalsa, 41, was driving home from work at 9 p.m. when he was stopped at a red light near Hilltop Mall Drive in Richmond, half a mile from his home, according to the Sikh Coalition.

The article describes the attack, bolstered by a recorded 911 call. Accordingly, police have taken this report seriously, making two arrests and seeking three other men.

For some reason, many Americans confuse Sikhs with Muslims. But their religions are different — and very much so. About the only thing both religions have in common is that they’re monotheistic. Otherwise, they’re completely different. Islam is an Abrahamic faith that originated in what is now Saudi Arabia; Sikhism is a Dharmic faith founded in India. The former descends from the religion practiced by ancient Hebrews of the Levant; the latter descends from the Vedic faith practiced by Indo-Aryans. Americans, especially of the Neocrusading variety, are ignorant; when they see a Sikh man wearing a turban, they often think, “Muslim!” when in fact that assumption is usually false.

As I’ve said so many times when addressing the lunatic rage of Neocrusaders, I have to say: I get it. Really. I do! I capisce. Yes, there are Muslim terrorists in the world. Too many. They’ve attacked innocent Americans unjustly and savagely: At Ft Hood, the Boston Marathon, in San Bernardino, in Orlando, in Paris, and elsewhere. These — and many more such barbaric attacks around the world — are undeniable examples of how “the Religion of Peace” is no religion-of-peace at all. But, what Neocrusaders in the US don’t realize is that Americans are vastly more likely to be killed by ordinary, non-Muslim (and non-religious) sociopaths (cached), and also more likely to be killed by home-grown Right-wing and/or Christian terrorists, than by Islamist terrorists. The danger of Islamist terror is real, but it’s overstated, and the risk won’t appreciably be reduced even if Islam were outlawed tomorrow and every Muslim in the country deported. It just wouldn’t make a dent in the violence that occurs daily around the US.

The solution is for Neocrusaders to grow the fuck up, for the first time in their lives, and deal with their irrational fears, rather than lashing out like toddlers throwing a tantrum. There are ways to deal with the dangers that exist, without stomping around as part of a latter-day “People’s Crusade.” I should point out — as someone who studied the Middle Ages — that the original People’s Crusade didn’t end well for those who led and participated in it. American Neocrusaders would do well to take note of the rashness and irrationality of their medieval predecessors.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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BlasphemyUnbelievably, it’s a crime in many countries to “dis” a religion or any aspect of one. Of course, this makes no sense at all … since offending a religion causes no harm to anyone or anything. The religion will remain what it is, and its followers will continue to follow it, in spite of that disrespect. Nothing changes, just because someone “blasphemes.” Not. One. Fucking. Thing.

Despite the fact that many places have such laws on the books, very often this is still not enough for some truly sanctimonious folk. They feel a compulsion to take that blasphemy law into their own hands. An example of this, as the Associated Press reports, just happened in Jordan (WebCite cached article):

A prominent and outspoken Jordanian writer on Sunday was shot dead in front of the courthouse where he had been on trial for posting a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam on social media.

A Jordanian security official said the shooter was a former imam, or prayer leader, at a local mosque, and said the man had been motivated by his anger over the cartoon posted to Facebook by writer Nahed Hattar. The shooting was the latest in a string of deadly security lapses in Jordan.…

Jordanian media, citing anonymous officials, identified the shooter as Riad Abdullah, 49, a former imam in northern Hashmi, a poor neighborhood in Amman. The reports said Abdullah had recently returned from a trip abroad, but gave no further details.…

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the suspect said he was motivated by the cartoon, which depicted a bearded man, smoking and in bed with two women, asking God to bring him wine and cashews. All physical depictions of God or the Prophet Muhammad, even respectful ones, are forbidden under mainstream Islamic tradition.

While the government of Jordan condemned this vigilante killing, Hattar’s supporters contend the government actually had put him in jeopardy, by having charged him with “blasphemy” in the first place. And lots of Jordanians are happy that Hattar had been gunned down:

But on Sunday, social media accounts of prominent Islamists in Jordan and elsewhere were celebrating Hattar’s death, saying he deserved it for blasphemy.

I expect the killer in this case to be showered with praise, as happened to a Pakistani who assassinated the governor of Punjab in the name of protecting that country’s blasphemy law.

Killing people over “blasphemy” is the height of foolishness … because as I pointed out at the start of this post, mocking, criticizing, or disrespecting a religion quite literally cannot harm it or any of its followers. A religion is a collection of ideas, and as such, can’t be damaged by disparagement. Its followers will continue to believe in it, and it will endure irreverence. The only reason to act out violently over “blasphemy” is immaturity. It’s long past time for the world’s religious believers to grow the fuck up, get over themselves, and accept that not everyone loves their faith (whichever one it may be).

Photo credit: Silly Deity, via Flickr.

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Afghan protests against the burning of a Quran in Florida. (AP photo, via Politico)Yeah! Let’s hear it for “the Religion of Peace” (as people like then-president George W. Bush like to call it)! This weekend we were treated to a sampling of that faith’s approach to life in the form of several terror attacks.

One of these took place in St Cloud, MN, for which ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood claimed responsibility (WebCite cached article). That one ended with the terrorist being killed.

Then there was a series of bombings and attempted bombings in Seaside Park & Elizabeth, NJ and in New York City. The suspected terrorist in those cases was caught and wounded in a gun battle (cached).

Despite the obvious terrorist angle to all of these stories, officials spent the weekend tap-dancing around the issue of whether or not these were terrorist attacks. For instance, in this New York Times story, we read (cached):

Officials said they did not know of any motive — political or social — for any of the attacks.

Really!? I’m no expert on terrorism or crime, but it was pretty fucking obvious to me that a bomb placed in a trash can near the finish line of a race is almost certain to have been a terror attack (cached). Feigning befuddlement over motive in cases like this is — in a word — inexcusable. It’s fucking absurd!

I grant that America’s Neocrusaders will jump for joy, again, over these attacks and attempted attacks. In their minds it will “prove” how horrific Islam is, and that it must be outlawed and all Muslims banished. They’ll also see it as “proving” their own religion, Christianity, is virtuous and perfect.

What they will forget is that Christianity is far from perfect. There is such a thing as Christian terror, as I’ve blogged previously, and that has maimed and killed Americans too … even if not many people wish to admit it.

It’s long past time for believers — in all religions — to own up to the extremism that lurks deep inside religions generally. It’s true that not all Muslims are terrorists like the cretins in Minnesota and New Jersey. It’s also true that not all Christians are clinic bombers and doctor killers. In fact, the majority of Muslims and Christians are the opposite. Nevertheless, their religions have produced those terrorists. People who followed those faiths, having read their sacred texts and having followed their teachings, became violent militants.

That doesn’t happen by accident. It also needs to be fixed. And only believers can do that.

Unfortunately, too many of them don’t wish to do so. They’re too busy waving off events like this, saying “Those terrorists aren’t ‘Real’ Muslims” or “‘Real’ Christians” or whatever. They don’t want to deal with the problem of religious militancy because they’re too infatuated with the presumed virtue of their religion to do so.

More’s the pity. Because as I’ve said many times: If the followers of a religion don’t respect it well enough to police it and control the militants within it, then they can’t reasonably expect outside observers, like myself, to respect it, or them for following it.

Photo credit: Associated Press, via Politico.

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Husité - Jenský kodexI’ve noted some time ago that the Christianist trope I call the Neocrusade has gone from a mere propaganda campaign to get Islam abolished in the US, to a violent movement that’s victimizing Muslims all around the country. It hasn’t abated; if anything, it’s gotten much worse, as all these recent stories make evident:

  • According to WNBC-TV in New York City (WebCite cached article): A Muslim woman was set on fire by a stranger on a midtown street, according to the NYPD, prompting an investigation into whether it was a hate crime.…

    The 35-year-old woman, a tourist from Scotland, was window-shopping on Fifth Avenue near East 54th Street Saturday night when she suddenly felt heat on her arm and noticed her blouse was on fire, police said.

    She noticed a man standing next to her with a lighter in his hand, according to police. He ran away eastbound on East 54th Street, not saying a word.

  • According to CNN (cached): A woman yelling anti-Muslim sentiment allegedly attacked two Muslim women as they pushed their children in strollers in New York, authorities said.

    Emirjeta Xhelili, 32, allegedly tried to rip the hijab from the women’s heads during the attack in Brooklyn on Thursday.

    She struck the women in the face and body, and repeatedly shouted, “this is the United States of America, you’re not supposed to be different from us,” court documents allege.

    Xhelili allegedly told the women, “get the (expletive) out of America (expletive), you don’t belong here.”

  • According to WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach, FL (cached): A fire overnight heavily-damaged the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, a mosque once-attended by the Pulse nightclub killer and another American terrorist.

    The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said later the fire is the work of an arsonist.

    Investigators say the person involved is shown on surveillance video.

    The video shows a man riding up to the mosque on a motorcycle, possibly a Harley-Davidson.

As I’ve also said many times, I get what the problem here is. I get that Muslim terrorists attacked Americans in Boston, in San Bernardino, at Ft Hood, and on September 11, 2001, among other times. I get that there are barbaric Islamist terror groups at large in the world, including al-Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/whatever, Boko Haram, the al-Nusra Front, al-Shabaab, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and many more. They’re all around the globe, and they maim and kill almost at will. These groups have even managed to “inspire” attacks by Muslims who don’t even belong to them. Islamist militancy is dangerous.

But what the Neocrusaders don’t comprehend is that none of this means every Muslim is a terrorist. What’s more, even if Islam were eradicated from the US, there would still be shooting sprees and other sorts of horrific violence. Some of it would even be Christian-generated (even if Americans tend to ignore Christian terrorism). And they don’t seem to notice the obvious irony of victimizing innocents in the name of — presumably — preventing innocents from being victimized.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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A PNG image of Pikachu, arguably the most recognisable Pokémon.This is another of those times I’d never expected to blog about a topic, but find it necessary to do so. Most of you have heard, by now, of the suddenly-wildly-popular mobile game Pokemon GO (why it’s “GO” and not simply “Go,” I have no idea, but that’s how marketing works, I guess). What you probably haven’t heard is that Pokemon is un-Islamic. Yep, Saudi Arabia’s Islamic police decided that, many years ago. As Reuters reports, the popularity of Pokemon GO inspired them to re-issue their fatwa against it (WebCite cached article):

Saudi Arabia’s top clerical body has renewed a 15-year-old edict that the Pokemon game franchise is un-Islamic, Saudi media said on Wednesday, although the fatwa made no mention of the successful new Pokemon GO mobile game.

Nintendo’s augmented reality app, in which players walk around real-life neighborhoods to hunt and catch virtual cartoon characters on their smartphone screens, has become an instant hit around the world.

The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars said it had revived a 2001 decree against a Pokemon card game in response to queries from believers.

The Council argued that the mutations of the creatures in the game, who are given specific powers, amounted to blasphemy by promoting the theory of natural evolution.

“It is shocking that the word ‘evolution’ has been much on the tongues of children,” the fatwa read.

It also said the game contained other elements prohibited by Islamic law, including “polytheism against God by multiplying the number of deities, and gambling, which God has forbidden in the Quran and likened to wine and idols”.

The reissuance declaration even accused Pokemon of promoting “global Zionism” — whatever the hell that might be. A lot of people accuse parochial outfits like the Council of Senior Religious Scholars of being out-of-touch. That, clearly, is not the case here. These guys definitely are in touch with what’s going on in the world. It can’t be mere coincidence that — at the very time Pokemon GO has gone viral to the point where it’s making headlines — they reissued their anti-Pokemon fatwa. They’re much more clued into the world than would otherwise seem to be the case.

Back in the day, I used to laugh at evangelicals who condemned Dungeons & Dragons as “Satanic” and claimed that players conjured up demons (cached). This kind of bullshit pronouncement is really no different, other than the religion that made it. It’s every bit as irrational and asinine.

Photo credit: Ken Sugimori/Nintendo, via Wikipedia.

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

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'100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter' (English translation) / Charlie Hebdo, via Huffington PostOnce again, the world has been treated to yet another example of how “the Religion of Peace” conducts its affairs. By now you’ve no doubt heard about the attack on a church in northern France, in which a priest was killed (WebCite cached article):

Attendance was sparse at the 9 a.m. Mass on Tuesday at the Église St.-Étienne, a 17th-century church in a working-class town in Normandy. Many parishioners were on vacation; so was the parish priest.

Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead as they emerged from the church.

The brutality in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France, was the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry. The Islamic State took responsibility for the killing. Two of its “soldiers,” it said, had attacked a church “in response to the call to target Crusader coalition states.” By killing a priest as he celebrated Mass, the group framed the assault as an act of religious war between Muslims and Christians.

This New York Times article also rather “helpfully” pontificates:

Whether [the attack] will be perceived by the French as a struggle between religions and cultures is less clear. For now, some French politicians seemed willing to take the bait and use the language of sectarian and cultural division.

This little tidbit is in line with what a lot of “experts” have said about ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/whatever-the-fuck and its ilk … that they’re using terror attacks like this one to cause non-Muslims (especially Christians) to go on a raging crusade against Muslims, who — they presume — will then suddenly and magically flock to their banners, converting to their jihadist version of Islam. This thinking has driven the Obama administration’s approach to Islamist terror, as well as that of many other governments, and it explains their relative passivity in light of it all.

I concede Jyllands-Posten Mohammad Cartoon / 'Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins!' / via AINA the US and many other countries have engaged in military action against ISIS for nearly 2 years. While that’s all well and good, the problem with it is that it has done nothing to curtail ISIS. That savage brood remains free to train and ship vicious jihadists to many places, and even by mere “inspiration” launch attacks all around the globe. Two years of airstrikes have been absofuckinglutely useless in this regard. ISIS is as free as it ever has been to command or inspire primitive savagery throughout the world, and nothing the US or any other member of the anti-ISIS coalition is doing, is preventing it. It’s time for them to review what they’re doing and work to stop it.

A first step, toward that end, would be to recognize the role religion plays, here. As much as a lot of the world’s leaders would like it not to be the case, Muslim religiosity is the impetus of Islamist terror, especially where ISIS is concerned (cached). The role of various Sunni states in promoting Salafism around the world — including our putative ally Saudi Arabia in places like Kosovo (cached) — is something that must be dealt with. So long as outfits like ISIS has a pool of potential recruits either to bring aboard and train in their own territory, or merely inspire as “lone wolves” wherever they happen to be, they will remain a threat. What’s more, it turns out that a lot of recent attacks, in the US and Europe, were carried out by apparent “lone-wolf” jihadists who were on officials’ radar … yet those officials took no action whatsoever to stop them. Ignoring the threat these jihadists pose no longer works — telling others to ignore it won’t, either.

Note: Even with all of this having been said, I don’t approve of going on a rampage against all Muslims, which is what a lot of folks in the Religious Right — whom I refer to as “Neocrusaders” — advocate. Not all Muslims are terrorists … which goes without saying. To condemn all Muslims because some of them are terrorists, is irrational and even childish. What’s needed is to be pragmatic about it: Where there’s something to watch (for example, when someone’s co-workers report he’s mouthing off like an angry jihadist) maybe it’s best to pay fucking attention to what they’re telling you, instead of looking the other way (cached). I dunno, maybe I’m just being too rational and everything … but strangely enough, that seems quite obvious.

As I often do where militant Islamism is concerned, I’ve decorated this post with images intended to offend the extremists.

Oh, and, just a little obligatory note to all you Christianists out there: Don’t pat yourselves on the back over stuff like this. Your own religion has triggered some terroristic violence of its own. “Christian terror” exists, even if most folks would rather not know about it.

Photo credit: Top, Charlie Hebdo via Huffington Post; middle, Assyrian National News Agency.

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