Archive for the “Islam” Category

Muslims and their religion

jesus-with-rifle-thumbNote: My next blog post addresses a point in this one.

America’s Christians have had enough, it seems, of not being allowed to force their dour metaphysics on the entire country, and they’re tired of terrorists and criminals insolently daring to attack them (as though no one else ever gets attacked). So they’ve decided to arm themselves and take the fight to save their Jesus to the streets! I have two such stories for you:

First, a bunch of angry Neocrusaders plan to show up — some packing heat! — at mosques around the country (as Raw Story explains) to show those horrific Muslim types who’s really in charge (WebCite cached article):

Anti-Muslim conservative groups have planned at least 20 rallies this month at mosques and other sites across the Unites States in coming days.

Imagine 2050 reported [cached] this week that a Facebook group [cached] called Global Rally for Humanity had put out a call for anti-Muslim demonstrations in “every country at every Mosque.”…

According to Imagine 2050, at least 20 rallies had already been planned for Oct. 9 and Oct. 10. Some of the organizers have encouraged demonstrators to show up armed, while others urged participants not to bring weapons.

An event in Dearborn, Michigan was billed as an “OPEN CARRY anti-mosque pro-AMERICA rally on 10/10!!”

I’m not sure what the point of this is, other than simple, raw intimidation. Yeah, that’s sure to make those insolent folk want not to be Muslims any more and convert en masse to Christianity! I guess. I mean, what else is a show of force good for? Wouldn’t you want to convert immediately if you saw a bunch of armed Christian ex-military marching around your mosque? </sarcasm>

Next, according to The Tennesseean, Tenneessee’s lieutenant governor Ron Ramsey declared, in the wake of the Roseburg, OR massacre (cached), that it’s time for godly Christians to arm themselves or be slaughtered (cached):

Ramsey, R-Blountville, made those remarks in a Facebook post Friday, one day after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., left 10 people dead. The suspect, 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, reportedly asked victims to name their religious affiliation during the massacre.

In his Facebook post, Ramsey links to a New York Post article with the headline “Oregon gunman singled out Christians during rampage.” Ramsey groups the Oregon shooting with other recent mass shootings in the nation. “Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West,” Ramsey said.

You can read Ramsey’s Facebook post for yourself (cached). Ramsey, you may recall, has previously declared that Muslims don’t have any religious freedom in the US … but Christians (conveniently for him!) do.

What all of these folk forget are three very important things: First, while Islamist terror groups like ISIS/ISIL/IS and al-Qaeda certainly have gone after Christians, they also target other Muslims who don’t belong to the same wing of the same sect of Islam as they do. In fact, by most counts, Islamofascists have killed far more Muslims than anyone else.

Second, these Neocrusaders’ focus solely on Islam as the supposed sole source of terrorism in the world purposely ignores all the Right-wing and even Christian terror that takes place, even within the US! Yes, folks, it’s true: There are Christian terrorists … and for all you know, they could be your neighbors! Where’s the outrage about that? Why haven’t atheists showed up, armed to the teeth, to protest at churches? (Answer: They haven’t, and as far as I know aren’t likely ever to.)

Third, while reports say the Roseburg killer specifically went after Christians, his motives actually are as clear as mud (cached). He’d sympathized with the Catholic/Irish-nationalist IRA, for example, and had described himself as spiritual but not religious, which of course means he was in fact religious, and not some antitheist crusader[*]. What’s known about him is really all over the map, right now. It’s possible his intentions may never be discerned. At the moment, the most one can say about him with any certainty is that he was a criminal, a murderous sociopath … and that’s it.

Yet, even if it could be proven that he was a anti-Christian militant out to slaughter every Christian on the planet, he’s still the only American who’s espoused such a philosophy. That’s right: The only one! For Ramsey to tell his fellow Christians to arm themselves because there’s now some horrid campaign underway to kill them all — based solely on this one event perpetrated by one guy — is fucking ridiculous.

Yes, folks, the paranoid sanctimonious rage runs deep with these people. Watch out! These are good Christians who’ve decided enough is enough with all the “turn the other cheek” bullshit that their deity and founder of their religion had taught them. They’re not taking crap from anyone any more! They’re in charge again, and don’t you fucking forget it!

[*] The picture of the Roseburg, OR shooter just got murkier. It turns out that he may not have specifically targeted Christians, after all! See my next blog post for more.

Photo credit: Jordon Cooper, via Flickr.

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On the heels of presidential candidate Ben Carson’s idiotic Islamophobic yammering, and my release of a static page on this blog explaining what the Great Neocrusade is and what’s wrong with it, the furious Christofascist Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council repeated that Muslims don’t have freedom of religion in the US. Right Wing Watch reports on his claim, and includes audio (WebCite cached article):

On his “Washington Watch” radio program yesterday, Perkins repeated his claim that Islam is not protected under the U.S. Constitution.

While discussing GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s recent statement that he would never support a Muslim candidate for president, along with the claims of Kim Davis’ critics that a clerk would never receive such praise from the Religious Right had she been a Muslim, Perkins railed against media commentators for “interjecting” Islam “into all of these discussions.” He said that the media is using Islam as a “wedge” to divide conservatives, suggesting that Kim Davis’ decision to impose her Christian beliefs onto her county office was different because Islam is not protected in the Constitution, while Christianity is.

“Religious freedom and our liberty is ordered liberty under the Constitution,” Perkins said. “And as Dr. Carson pointed out, and I know this is driving the left crazy, that Islam is not just a religion, Islam is an economic system, it is a judicial system, it is a compressive system which is incompatible with the Constitution. That’s what Dr. Carson said and he happens to be correct.”

This isn’t the first time Tony-boy has said something like this. I noted he said pretty much the same thing just about a year ago. He hasn’t changed his tune a bit since then, I see. But just as was the case back then, Tony-boy is a blatant fucking hypocrite, decrying Islam as “an economic system” and “a judicial system” in addition to being a religion. He conveniently ignores that his own Religious Right movement is simultaneously religious, political, economic, and judicial. For Tony-boy to say Muslims can’t be granted religious freedom because their religion has certain features, but not admitting to them within his own religion — which he says does enjoy religious liberty — is hypocritical. Which he’s not allowed to do, since his own Jesus clearly, unambiguously, and explicitly forbid his followers ever to be hypocrites, at any time or for any reason. He simply can’t do it!

As I’ve noted repeatedly, the problem here is that the Religious Right views Islam as its main rival, on a global scale at least. That it’s a small minority religion here in the US, and that it does seem to have a propensity for violent extremes at the moment, makes Muslims here a convenient and ready target. That doesn’t mean all Muslims are dangerous, even though Tony-boy and his fellow Neocrusaders keep insisting that’s so. They forget there is such a thing as Christian terrorism, too. So yeah, that’s another example of Religious Right hypocrisy … condemning Islam as a “terrorist” religion, but ignoring the terrorists within their own faith. Nice, eh? Fucking hypocrites.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Godfrey in his siege tower at the Assault on Jerusalem, July 15, 1099. By Anonymous ([1][2]) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsI’ve just posted a static page on what I call the Great Neocrusade, a movement which comprises a large part of the Religious Right in the US and whose goal is to eradicate Islam from the country, and then the rest of the world. I first called attention to it — and gave it that name — some five years ago. Since then, this foolish and childish effort hasn’t abated one bit.

Along the way, Neocrusaders have done a lot of idiotic things, such as passing laws forbidding shari’a (or Islamic) law, even though the US Constitution already forbids imposing religious law on Americans. They’ve also done some much more harmful things, such as destroying mosques, and even threatening churches under construction merely because they appear to be mosques.

As a student of the Middle Ages, I know quite well how the original Crusades worked out. In short, they didn’t — at all! They were a sequence of expeditions that spanned two centuries, which collectively ended in dismal failure. Yes, I said a failure … in spite of the fact that the First Crusade had apparently succeeded, with the capture of Antioch in 1098, Jerusalem in 1099, and Tripoli in 1109. (The Crusaders also seized Edessa in 1098, but that had long been a Christian city under Armenian leadership, and they got it via betrayal rather than war. Woops!) Edessa had fallen by 1144, Jerusalem by 1187, Antioch in 1268, and Tripoli in 1289, and were at last driven from the Holy Land in 1303 with the fall of their last fort on the island of Arwad.

Undertaking a modern version of a Crusade … albeit not as overtly military as before … seems stunningly foolish — at least, to those who haven’t done what the Religious Right has done, which is to redefine the medieval Crusades as a glorious and morally-upright effort to save Christendom from annihilation (cached) by attacking Saracens thousands of miles away and who were no threat to them. Really, there’s no way a religion with as large a worldwide presence as Islam has could be eradicated from the United States. Not only is it unconstitutional even to try, it simply can’t work! No sane person ought to attempt any such thing.

But clearly we’re not dealing with people who are altogether “sane.” They’ve been driven mad by their rage, and they’re not capable of thinking clearly. They naïvely think that getting rid of Islam will get rid of terrorism and thus make them safe; but this reasoning ignores the uncomfortable reality that there’s terrorism within the ranks of Christianity in the US, which will continue even if the Neocrusaders somehow manage to toss all Muslims out of the country.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Ben CarsonThe laughable religiosity on display in the 2016 GOP presidential primary continues apace. Retired surgeon Ben Carson, darling of the Religious Right since he used an invitation to the National Prayer Breakfast to go after President Obama in person, is one of the candidates trying desperately to get ahead of Donald “it’s my own hair” Trump in the polls. Toward that end, as Politico reports, during an appearance on Meet the Press, Bennie decided to make Islam, of all things, an issue in the election (WebCite cached article):

The president of the United States should not be a Muslim, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson declared during an interview airing Sunday morning. And Islam, a faith professed by some 3 million Americans, is not constitutional, the retired neurosurgeon said.

Carson has some very high-minded reasoning for this:

Asked whether his faith or the faith of a president should matter, Carson said, “It depends on what that faith is.”

“If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem,” he explained, according to a transcript.

Todd then asked Carson, whose rise in the polls has been powered in large part by Christian conservatives, if he believed that “Islam is consistent with the Constitution.”

“No, I don’t, I do not,” he responded, adding, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Bennie went on to say — quite strangely, given the broad and dire philosophy he’d just stated about Muslims and the Constitution — that it’s acceptable for Muslims to be in Congress. Whew! For a moment there, I’d wondered if Carson would demand that André Carson (cached) and Keith Ellison (cached), resign from the House because they’re Muslims who can’t or won’t follow the Constitution.

Let’s get a few things cleared up right away: First, no Muslim is going to be elected President of the United States any time in the foreseeable future. So this is not something any American of any religion (or of none) needs to be concerned with. Period.

Next, this was clearly Bennie’s appeal to the Great Neocrusade being waged by the Religious Right. As I’ve blogged for a few years now, this is an effort to eradicate Islam from the United States, and is the result of the Christian Right’s fear and hatred of Muslims, because worldwide, their faith is the chief rival of Christianity. Of course, there’s the terrorism factor, too, which Neocrusaders use to good effect — and not without reason. But what they forget is that there’s also such a thing as Christian terrorism, some of which emerged from the ranks of their own political faction, so they’re hypocritical when they condemn Islam as a terrorism-generating religion while conveniently forgetting that their own is sometimes guilty of that, also. (That their own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously forbid them ever to be hypocritical is also something they conveniently forget.)

Oh, and as for Islam supposedly not being “consistent with the Constitution,” let’s not forget that the Religious Right is prone to treating the Constitution as fungible when it’s convenient for them to do so. Because they dislike gay marriage and say it’s against their religion, for instance, they want it outlawed for all Americans, of any religion or of none. They don’t seem to care there are religions — including some Christian churches — which accept gay marriage (cached); they simply can’t tolerate that it exists anywhere.

An illustrative parallel for the Religious Right’s approach to gay marriage would be to compare them to Orthodox Jews who want the sale and consumption of pork and shellfish outlawed for everyone, because it’s against their religion and they object to the idea that anyone might be having pork or shellfish. If Orthodox Jews were to advocate such a thing — which they haven’t, and I doubt they ever will — no one would take that effort seriously. Which is why no thinking American ought to take the R.R. seriously on this issue, either.

What’s more, a significant portion of the Religious Right — including Bennie’s rival candidate Ted Cruz, and erstwhile candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann — are dominionists (cached) or Christian Reconstructionists (cached). These folk want the federal government more or less disbanded, and each of the states converted into an Old Testament-style Christian theocracy. Maybe it’s just me — cynical, godless agnostic heathen that I am — but I don’t see this sort of thinking as being even remotely “consistent with the Constitution,” either. Guess I just don’t have all the lofty spiritual insights that would allow an insolent creature like myself to comprehend all these important, sacred considerations.

I wonder if Bennie will summon the courage to call out any of his dominionist friends over their philosophy, too? Why do I not think he will?

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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Gustave dore crusades richard and saladin at the battle of arsufA high school kid — who happens to be an aspiring engineer — crafted his own digital clock, and brought it to school to show off his accomplishment. You’d think that would be a good thing. But if you thought that, you’re obviously not in the Neocrusading town of Irving, TX. There, only certain students (read: devout Christian students who happen to be white) could do such a thing without causing trouble.

You see, if you’re a Muslim student who does that … well, obviously your digital clock must be a bomb! As the Dallas Morning News reports, a Muslim student in that Neocrusading town was arrested for having done precisely that (WebCite cached article):

Irving’s police chief announced Wednesday that charges won’t be filed against Ahmed Mohamed, the MacArthur High School freshman arrested Monday after he brought what school officials and police described as a “hoax bomb” on campus.

At a joint press conference with Irving ISD, Chief Larry Boyd said the device — confiscated by an English teacher despite the teen’s insistence that it was a clock — was “certainly suspicious in nature.”

School officers questioned Ahmed about the device and why Ahmed had brought it to school. Boyd said Ahmed was then handcuffed “for his safety and for the safety of the officers” and taken to a juvenile detention center. He was later released to his parents, Boyd said.

The whole thing about leaping to conclusions and taking draconian actions in the name of “security” is, as I’ve blogged before, fucking ridiculous. Officials need to keep their heads on their shoulders and not leap to asinine conclusions without good reason.

Here’s a thought, people: A kid who actually crafted a bomb isn’t going to waltz into school with said bomb, then proudly show it off to people! Fuck no! He’s going to hide it somewhere and hope it goes unnoticed until it explodes and hurts as many people as possible. Just the fact that he showed it to people is — all by itself! — evidence that it’s probably harmless, no matter how malicious the thing it might otherwise appear to be. Granted, the cops let this kid go … after an unstated amount of time. But there was no need for this shit in the first place. None.

Note that, while Mohamed won’t be prosecuted for his “bomb,” the school has suspended him. And the clock police confiscated hasn’t been returned to him. So officials have actively punished him for something he never even did!

Even though Irving police demonstrated themselves to be idiotic Neocrusaders, the town’s mayor Beth Van Duyne (for reasons I’ll get to in a moment) continues to insist they did nothing wrong (cached). Yes, in spite of the fact that they were, very clearly, wrong in their assumptions.

Now … there’s a reason I called Irving, TX a Neocrusading town. Earlier this year, its mayor and a bunch of its people went fucking berserk because they thought “shari’a law” was being imposed on them (cached). (That, you see, explains Van Duyne’s unwillingness to admit her police department could have been wrong to arrest Mohamed over a clock they had no valid reason to suspect was a bomb.) In truth, there had been no effort to impose shari’a law in Irving … but that didn’t do much to prevent the freak-out. No place in the United States has been made subject to Islamic law. Nor is any such thing being contemplated anywhere in the country. But that hasn’t stopped sanctimoniously-enraged Christianists from believing it’s happened and enacting measures to prevent it (even though they’re completely unnecessary).

The problem is that Christians in the US view Islam as their chief rival religion, and they’re incensed that there Muslims actually exist. It infuriates them to have to see Muslims or any evidence of Islam’s existence within the borders of their precious “Christian nation.” They can’t understand why Muslims don’t simply abandon their religion immediately and convert en masse to Christianity. They view Muslims’ refusal to do so as a direct attack upon their persons — and they fly into a towering rage over Muslims’ insolence. It’s childish, of course, but you can’t tell them that. They think they have a special religious license to remain infantile.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Slovakia Christian asylum seekers: Syrian refugees wait for a train to take them to the northern city of Thessaloniki, in Athens, Greece, August 20, 2015. / Alkis Konstantinidis, NewsweekI assume most of my readers are aware that Europe is in the throes of a migrant crisis worse than any since World War II. The European Union has been working over the summer on a plan to take some of the pressure off Greece and Italy, which are the main entry-points for Middle Eastern refugees (WebCite cached article). It’s been bandied about by member states, many of which have balked at it and tried to evade having to participate. They’ve raised all sorts of objections, some valid, some not.

Little Slovakia, deep in the heart of eastern-central Europe, decided to take a religious tactic in its effort to avoid having to accept any of the 40,000 refugees who’re covered by the EU plan. As Newsweek explains, based on a Wall Street Journal report, Slovakia will accept only Christian refugees (cached):

Only Christian asylum seekers will be allowed to settle in Slovakia, according to a spokesperson for the country’s Interior Ministry, quoted by the Wall Street Journal, who has said that Muslim asylum seekers would not feel at home in Slovakia due to a lack of mosques.

The central European country is due to receive 200 migrants and asylum seekers who are currently living in temporary camps in Turkey, Italy and Greece under an EU relocation scheme that will eventually see 40,000 asylum seekers settled across Europe, in an effort to ease the burden on Italy and Greece. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that in July this year 50,242 people, mostly fleeing the civil war in Syria, arrived in Greece compared to 43,500 for the whole of last year.

Slovakia’s Interior Ministry spokesman, Ivan Metik, told the BBC: “We could take 800 Muslims but we don’t have any mosques in Slovakia so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?

Metik makes it sound as though there are no Muslims in Slovakia at all. While it’s true that Slovakia is majority Christian by a large margin (with the single largest denomination, Roman Catholic, alone comprising over 60% of the population), it’s not true there are no Muslims there. This Slovak Spectator story, for example, mentions the small but intrepid Muslim minority there (cached). It explains the reason there are no mosques in that country … because they were forbidden to build one by the government. That makes the assertion that Muslims wouldn’t feel “comfortable” in Slovakia due to a lack of mosques, something of a self-fulfilling prophecy; the people using it as an excuse to keep Muslims out, are the very same people responsible for there being no mosques there the first place!

Furthermore, the idea that Middle Eastern Christians will automatically integrate into Slovak society without any problems, ignores the cultural and linguistic differences that will remain. Not to mention that most Middle Eastern Christians belong to denominations that don’t have much, if any, presence already in Slovakia. In other words … the hurdles to societal integration will be nearly as high for Christian migrants as they would be for Muslims.

I understand Slovakia’s reluctance to accept migrants. Other countries have simply refused to take in any migrants at all and have managed to opt out of the EU plan entirely. This religious objection is just Slovakia’s way of limiting its participation in the plan. But the excuse that Muslims wouldn’t feel comfortable in Slovakia due to a lack of mosques, so that only Christian migrants are welcome, smacks of Christianism. It also smacks of nativism, and perhaps a few other “isms” that aren’t very flattering.

Update: It’s not just Slovakia that won’t take in any Muslims. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban also said Muslims aren’t welcome in his country (cached):

Speaking outside the European Union headquarters in Brussels, he said: “I think we have a right to decide we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country,” al-Jazeera reported.

“We can’t guarantee that you will be accepted,” Orban went on to say, while defending the decision to build a fence along its Serbian border.…

“We Hungarians are full of fear,” Orban said.

A large contingent of migrants who’d entered Hungary and who’d been halted in Budapest have, in the last couple days, moved on to Germany and Austria. So they’re now out of Orbal’s hair. But others are sure to stream in.

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

Photo credit: Alkis Konstantinidis, Newsweek.

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A woman, who said she was raped by Islamic State militants, in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Mauricio Lima for the New York Times.Most readers, by now, will have heard about a horrifying New York Times story. It seems the leadership of ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood has devised an explicitly religious rationale for systematic sexual slavery and rape — almost exclusively of Yazidi girls (WebCite cached article):

In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.

“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.

Thus opens a blood-curdling story of what has rapidly become an institution within this savage outfit:

The trade in Yazidi women and girls has created a persistent infrastructure, with a network of warehouses where the victims are held, viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and a dedicated fleet of buses used to transport them.

A total of 5,270 Yazidis were abducted last year, and at least 3,144 are still being held, according to community leaders. To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.

A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.

In an ancillary story — this one offered by ABC News — it turns out that American hostage Kayla Mueller had been the property of, and repeatedly raped by, none other than the savages’ leader (cached):

Before her death earlier this year, American hostage Kayla Mueller was repeatedly raped by the top leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to counter-terrorism officials.

Mueller’s family confirmed to ABC News that government officials have told them that their daughter, who would have turned 27 today, was the victim of repeated sexual assaults by al-Baghdadi.

“We were told Kayla was tortured, that she was the property of al-Baghdadi. We were told that in June by the government,” Kayla’s parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, told ABC News today.…

The new revelations about Mueller’s long ordeal — which involved torture since the beginning of her one-and-a-half years of captivity, her family has been told by the FBI — shatter rumors spread by some officials that she had cooperated or was a willing spouse, which has deeply upset her family and many inside her case.

Yes, folks … this means Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who leads the world’s largest and most powerful terrorist organization and who’d like Muslims to embrace him as their new caliph, is nothing more than a rapist, pervert, and sexual deviant. In other words, he’s even more of a fucking bastard pig than we already thought.

The Times story explains that having forcible sex with kafirah (“infidels”) is — perversely — a form of worship, according to these savages. Now, the story also explains there’s a more mundane, even mercenary reason for this policy, which is as a recruiting tool to attract men who live in a society which is otherwise puritanical and sexually repressive. It gives them an outlet for sexuality that they couldn’t otherwise avail themselves of. Thus, a lot of kneejerk defenders of Islam will say, “You see? It’s not really a ‘religious’ thing. They’re just trying to attract guys who like the idea of being able to freely rape women.” That misses the entire point. First of all, if this had been an entirely-non-religious policy, it would not have been couched in religious language at all. Second, the fact that this systematic sexual slavery is limited almost exclusively to Yazidis — who according to Islam don’t follow a “religion of the book” and therefore are afforded no protections whatsoever — definitely points to a clear religious impulse behind it.

Most importantly, though, this defense misses the truly salient lesson here, which is that it’s possible to use the sacred texts and teachings of nearly any religion to craft policies which are convenient and utilitarian — not to mention self-indulgent. In other words, it’s possible to use and even abuse a religion in order to get whatever it is one wants! This tends to undermine the credibility of the religion in question, since if it were truly of divine origin, one would think it couldn’t be abused in such a way.

Lastly … by posting this, I am not saying all Muslims everywhere support this savage outfit’s policy, or consider it consistent with Islam as they practice it. By no means! As I said, all I’m doing is pointing out the harsh, unpleasant reality that a religion — indeed, almost any kind of metaphysics at all — can readily be twisted to suit one’s purposes. This is no less true of Islam than it is of Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or Shinto or anything else. The solution is not to get offended at this observation, or whine and bellyache that one’s religion has been “attacked” by pointing this out. Rather, the solution is to work to ensure this kind of abuse of a religion is not tolerated, and is stamped out as soon as possible. In the case of ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood, there’s been a little “stamping,” but they continue attracting adherents — both in their own theater of action and elsewhere — which tells me there has to be a whole fucking helluva a lot more stamping.

Photo credit: Mauricio Lima / New York Times.

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