Archive for the “Islam” Category
Muslims and their religion
(Note as of 5/9/2011: This post is well over year old, and things have changed mightily in Egypt. Two updates are below.)
Although Egypt is a majority-Muslim nation, it has a significant Christian minority, which has been there for about as long as there have been Christians … Christians have been in Alexandria since the middle of the 1st century CE, and many early Christian document discoveries have been made in Egypt. Arguably the dominant Christian church of Egypt, known as the Coptic Orthodox Church, has a more continuous and older pedigree than the church of Rome. Even after the Muslim conquest of Egypt which took place c. 640 CE, Christianity has maintained a presence there. Depending upon whom you ask, between 10 and 20% of Egypt is Christian.
There has, of course, been trouble between religious groups in Egypt, through its history. Christians themselves were known to have committed some violence of their own (e.g. their butchering of Hypatia of Alexandria, the destruction of the Serapeum in the same city, etc.). It’s no surprise that some of that violence crops up in Egypt now and again.
Except that … if you listen to the Egyptian government anyway … it doesn’t happen, even when it does. The New York Times reports on this strange paradox (WebCite cached article):
A few weeks ago, on the day that Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas Eve, a Muslim gunman opened fire on worshipers as they walked out of church, killing 7, wounding 10 and leading to the worst sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians in Egypt in years. In the days that followed, there were riots and clashes. Stores were wrecked. Homes were burned.
The government responded by sending in heavily armed police officers, banning the news media and insisting that the Jan. 6 attack was retaliation for a rape.
“There are initial indications connecting this incident to the consequences of accusing a young Christian man of raping a Muslim girl in one of the governorate’s villages,” the Interior Ministry said after the attack.
That’s right. This may have been religious violence, but it wasn’t religious violence. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, knowwhatImean?) The Egyptian government has tried to cover up the real story:
The one thing the government would not do was admit the obvious: Egypt had experienced one of the most serious outbreaks of sectarian violence in years. Instead, it said talk of sectarian conflict amounted to sedition.
But the evidence, provided in newspapers, was irrefutable: 14 Muslims arrested, 28 Christians arrested, Christian shops burned, Muslim houses burned.
“We are now facing a sectarian society and street,” wrote Amr el-Shoubky, a political analyst and columnist, in an article under the headline “The New Sectarianism: The Alienation of Christians,” which appeared in the daily newspaper Al Masry al-Youm.
Despite the fact that pretty much everyone knows what really happened, the government still will not change its tune:
“The crime of Nag Hammadi is just an individual crime with no religious motives, just like the crime of raping the girl,” Ahmed Fathi Sorour, the Parliament speaker, said in Al Ahram, a state-owned newspaper.
Egypt’s society may look homogeneous on the outside, but as the Times explains, it is — in reality — anything but homogeneous:
In daily life secular divisions can be subtle. People work together, study together, but then go their separate ways. The neighborhoods are integrated, but private lives are segregated. Tension grows as young men talk about cellphone videos showing Muslim girls with Christian boys, or as Christian parents complain that their children are forced to study the Koran in public schools.
The group outside the warehouse slowly acknowledged that there was little mingling in Nag Hammadi. “We are separated,” said Essam Atef, 32, a Christian who manages the pharmaceutical business. “If there is a wedding, you offer congratulations, and if there is someone sick, you might visit, but we are both on our own here.”
All the men agreed.
What the government of Egypt is doing, then, is just what Egyptian society does, itself, which is to “keep up appearances.” Society pays lip-service to the notion that Muslims and Christians get along well, but in truth, they’re segregated. In the same way, the government tries to make it seem as though there is no sectarian or religious strife, when in fact, it is most assuredly there.
Update 1: The situation in Egypt has changed markedly since February of 2010 when I first posted this. The government was not able to stifle reporting on the New Year’s Day bombing of a Coptic Church in Alexandria, and the uprising which is going on as I type this has triggered changes in the Mubarak regime. See this update post for more on the changes in Egypt.
Update 2: The uprising ended with the resignation of Mubarak, but religious violence continues to erupt in Egypt. Here’s another post on the matter.
Photo credit: New York Times / Shawn Baldwin.
, coptic christian
, coptic christianity
, coptic christians
, coptic church
, keep up appearances
, keeping up appearances
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As if Nigeria doesn’t have enough problems on its hands … it being the source of many an Internet scam, as well as the homeland of an accused al-Qaeda terrorist … there’s been some fighting going on between Christians and Muslims in the city of Jos, as the Christian Science Monitor explains (WebCite archived article):
Sectarian violence continued for a third day in the Nigerian city of Jos, and appeared to be spreading to surrounding suburbs, as the state government announced a 24-hour curfew to bring Christian-Muslim fighting to a halt.
Officials at Jos’s Central Mosque, where most of the Muslim dead have been brought to be buried, say that 139 bodies have been found thus far, but other reports say that the death toll may be much higher, perhaps beyond 200. Residents told human rights workers that gunfire continued throughout the day, even after the Nigerian Army was called in to help police to rein in the violence.
This city happens to be in a middle ground between Nigeria’s Christian and Muslim populations:
Jos -– an acronym for “Jesus Our Savior” which reflects the influence of Christian missionaries –- is right on the dividing line between the northern half of the country that is predominantly Muslim and the southern half of the country that is mainly Christian. Tensions between these two communities have flared intermittently since independence in 1960, and even political parties mirror the divide by splitting primarily along religious lines.
The violence in Jos may be related to a power-struggle going on at the country’s highest level:
It is unclear how much the rioting in Jos is affected by national politics, but a political crisis in which the Muslim president Umaru Yar’Adua has spent the last two months in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, refusing to cede official power to his Christian vice president Goodluck Jonathan, cannot have helped relations between Christians and Muslims.
Many Muslim politicians say they would refuse to allow power to shift, even temporarily, to Vice President Jonathan, calling instead for a fresh round of elections in which only Muslim candidates could run. In order to keep peace, for many years there’s been an unofficial agreement to alternate the presidency between Christians and Muslims.
Since provincial authorities are mostly Christian, sending in the more-neutrally-perceived Army may actually relieve some of the tension rather than escalate the violence in Nigeria.
At any rate, isn’t it curious how the “religion of peace” (i.e. Islam) and the “religion of love” (i.e. Christianity) could produce violence of this kind?
, jos nigeria
, plateau state
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In a move that makes sense only to a mob of delusional religionists, a bunch of folks in Afghanistan — allegedly spurred on by the Taliban — launched a violent demonstration over rumors that copies of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy text, had been destroyed by foreigners. Agence France-Presse reports via Google News (WebCite cached article):
Seven dead in Afghanistan Koran protest shooting
Seven people were killed during protests in Afghanistan sparked by rumours foreign troops had desecrated a Koran, an official said Wednesday, blaming Taliban for inciting the unrest.
Investigators sent to the southern province of Helmand found that no desecration of the Muslim holy book had taken place in the military operation Monday, said Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for the provincial governor. …
Officers of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) had fired on demonstrators in self-defence after one intelligence officer was shot dead in gunfire that came from the protesters, Ahmadi said.
“A total of six demonstrators were killed and around 10 were wounded,” he said.
This protest was a reaction to rumors (yes, only rumors!) of something that had happened earlier:
The demonstrators had descended on the local NDS office after word spread that foreign soldiers had desecrated a Koran during an operation against Taliban-linked drug dealers on Monday, Ahmadi said.
The crowd attacked the building in an attempt to free the prisoners, he said, adding that the shooting started during this melee.
The investigators found that when foreign soldiers arrived on the scene they were pelted with stones by the demonstrators, but did not open fire, he said.
“The protesters fired at intelligence officials, killing one. The intelligence officials fired back in self defence,” he told AFP, citing the report.
Afghan and NATO officials insist no such desecration had taken place … but when you’re a foaming-at-the-mouth, rabid, unthinking hyperreligious nutcase, little details — such as whether or not whatever event has outraged you, actually occurred — hardly matter all that much.
If the deceased protesters are lucky … and if their ferocious and deadly version of Islam is true … then right now they’re in Heaven with 72 houris each. If not, then they’ve died for nothing.
Good riddance. It’s too bad an intelligence officer had to die because these demontrators were too insanely sanctimonious to actually stop and think for a moment before they went berserk.
, helmand province
, koran desecration
, qur'an descecration
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The Publix grocery chain is being criticized by the Right, over a free 2010 calendar it distributed over the last few weeks. Yes, that’s right … people are up in arms over — get this! — a freebie giveaway! (Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth!) You see, Publix dared include on it the Islamic New Year — which changes days, but in 2010 happens to be on December 7 — and also failed to note that day is the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The South Florida Sun Sentinel tells the story (WebCite cached article) of this nefarious conspiracy to force Islam on freedom-loving Americans everywhere:
Responding to customers’ complaints, Publix has stopped distributing a free 2010 calendar that marked Dec. 7 as the start of the Islamic New Year but excluded the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Joyce Kaufman, whose radio talk show on WFTL-AM 850 is broadcast from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach counties, criticized the supermarket chain on her show Wednesday, saying the company failed to include Pearl Harbor in a calendar that it had widely provided at supermarkets in recent weeks.
Kaufman, a Coconut Creek resident, said omitting the Pearl Harbor anniversary would disappoint World War II veterans. She told the Sun Sentinel she also considers some Muslims — only those who are “radical and want to destroy Western civilization” — as enemies of the United States.
There is, of course, a mundane, non-conspiratorial explanation for this dastardly deed. But I doubt Kaufman or her sanctimonious legions are interested in hearing it:
Since 2005, Publix has provided the free calendar, which has only marked holidays, including Independence Day and Veterans Day, [Publix spokeswoman Kimberly] Jaeger said.
The calendar also features holidays celebrated overseas, such as Puerto Rico Commonwealth Constitution Day and Haitian Flag Day.
Still, the calendar always has excluded days of observance and remembrance, including Pearl Harbor, “due to the number of holidays in a calendar year,” Jaeger said.
Meanwhile, the date of the Islamic New Year varies each year, she said. In 2010, it “happens to fall on Dec. 7,” Jaeger said.
The reasoning behind this holiday-inclusion scheme is pretty obvious: Publix lists special days that people might — just might! — celebrate with a party or some other gathering. Independence and commonwealth days are exactly the kind of thing they’d want their customers to know about since they’d like their customers to plan purchases around them. Same goes for Islamic New Year; since many Islamic holidays involve dietary restrictions, Publix’s Muslim customers would want to know about it and plan for it. Remembrance days, on the other hand, are not “celebrated” in the same way … not by hosting parties, or by following religious dietary codes. I doubt, for example, that people are going to buy deli platters or stuff their coolers with beer, for Pearl Harbor Day. Reality is, those kinds of days don’t involve purchases one may make at Publix.
In any event, it looks as if the chain used publicly-available calendar databases. And most of those do not list Pearl Harbor Day; for example, Google Calendar does not include it.
As for Kaufman’s implication — which she did not state overtly, but the suggestion is clearly there — that Muslims tend toward being “enemies” of “Western civilization,” she is correct: some of them clearly are. But so too are some Christians and even some Jews. Should we, therefore, leave Easter and Rosh Hashana off our calendars, too? Of course not.
In any event, this episode of fake outrage has resulted in Publix yanking the calendar altogether, thus preventing some from getting this thoughtful handout. Way to go, Ms Kaufman, and your hyperreligious legions. You managed, in your misplaced fury, to ruin something nice, for the rest of south Florida. For shame.
Hat tip: Snopes.
, fort lauderdale FL
, ft lauderdale FL
, islamic new year
, islamic new year 2010
, joyce kaufman
, pearl harbor
, pearl harbor day
, world war 2
, world war ii
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Believe it or not, even after more than 4 years have gone by, there remain Muslims so incensed over the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoon controversy that they continue trying to kill those involved in it. The New York Times reports on a recent — and thankfully unsuccessful — attempt on the life of one of the cartoonists (WebCite cached article):
Police foiled an attempt to kill an artist who drew a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad that sparked outrage in the Muslim world, the head of Denmark’s intelligence service said Saturday.
Jakob Scharf, who heads the PET intelligence service, said a 28-year-old Somalia man was armed with an ax and a knife when he attempted to enter Kurt Westergaard’s home in Aarhus shortly after 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Friday.
The attack on the artist, whose rendering was among 12 that led to the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in predominantly Muslim countries in 2006, was ”terror related,” Scharf said in a statement.
For those who may not have seen any of the cartoons in question — the occidental media have done a pretty fair job of capitulating to Muslims’ irrational and juvenile demands that they never be published — here is one of Westergaard’s own:
Yes, folks, this is one of the several cartoons that caused so many Muslims around the world to go ballistic enough to stage massive riots, destroy property, and attempt to kill people. Someday the world’s Muslims may grow up and accept that not everyone obeys the precepts of Islam … such as that the prophet Muhammad cannot be drawn in artwork … but it appears it won’t happen soon.
Hint to any and all offended Muslims: Ever heard of the Streisand Effect? When you rise up and rage sanctimoniously about something you dislike, you call attention to it, even if it might otherwise go unnoticed. This cartoon is here on this blog … and on many other Web sites … only because, in your self-righteous fury, you demanded it not be shown. You ended up getting exactly the opposite of what you’d wanted. Next time you’re offended by something, shutting up might simply cause it to go away and your wish that it go unnoticed, may actually come true.
Hat tip: Friendly Atheist blog.
, aarhus denmark
, cartoon controversy
, Jyllands-Posten cartoons
, jyllands-posten muhammad cartoons controversy
, religious immaturity
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Virginia is abuzz over the latest tripe that’s tumbled from the mouth of Marion “Pat” Robertson. Robertson, you see, is closely allied with Bob McDonnell, the Republican who was just elected Governor of that commonwealth. But now, Patty has said something that’s aroused people’s ire, as reported in the Washington Post:
In a broadcast of the 700 Club Monday night, the Virginia Beach pastor had some choice words about Islam in reaction to the shootings at Fort Hood. Robertson said that Army Maj. Nidal Hasan’s troubles were overlooked because of a politically-correct refusal to see Islam for what it is.
“Islam is a violent–I was going to say religion–but it’s not a religion. It’s a political system. It’s a violent political system bent on the overthrow of governments of the world and world domination.”
“They talk about infidels and all this. But the truth is, that’s what the game is. You’re dealing with not a religion. You’re dealing with a political system. And I think you should treat it as such and treat it’s adherents as such. As we would members of the Communist party and members of some Fascist group.”
I have only three words for Patty: Pot. Kettle. Black.
If Patty seriously believes that his own fundamentalist Christianity is not also a “political system,” then I guess he’s never heard of a decidedly Christian and political movement called “the Religious Right.” I guess he also forgot that he, himself — a Christian minister — ran for president in 1988. (Patty even has text of the speech in which he started that campaign, on his own Web site!)
At the moment there seems to be pressure on the McDonnell to disavow Robertson’s remarks. Whether he does or not, the blatantly-hypocritical irony of Robertson condemning another religion as a “political system” is just too precious.
As for whether or not Islam is a religion — Robertson denies it is one — I will just refer the reader to dictionary/reference sites on Islam:
I’ll let you, Gentle Reader, decide who is right here … bona fide reference sources, or Patty Robertson?
Tags: bob mcdonnell
, christian hypocrisy
, christian right
, marion pat robertson
, pat robertson
, religious right
, violent political system
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Islamism continues to make the world safe for barbarity. The latest example of the triumph of fundamentalist Islam, can be seen in this report from the BBC:
Islamists in southern Somalia have stoned a man to death for adultery but spared his pregnant girlfriend until she gives birth.
Abas Hussein Abdirahman, 33, was killed in front of a crowd of some 300 people in the port town of Merka.
An official from the al-Shabab group said the woman would be killed after she has had her baby.
Islamist groups run much of southern Somalia, while the UN-backed government only control parts of the capital.
Gee, that sounds all merciful and everything … but what kind of future will the baby have, as s/he grows up? Will s/he be “marked” for life as the product of adultery, and mistreated because of that? (I have no idea, I’m just asking the question.)
Naturally there are folks in Somalia who are trying to distance themselves from this:
Meanwhile, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has accused al-Shabab of spoiling the image of Islam by killing people and harassing women.
“Their actions have nothing to do with Islam,” said the moderate Islamist during a ceremony at which he nominated a new administration for the capital, Mogadishu.
Well, here’s a clue, President Ahmed: The reason this happened is because, for nearly two decades, the so-called “government” of Somalia (of which you are now the head) has been dithering around, unable and unwilling to control any of the factions trying to maintain control of their own pieces of the country. Instead of playing footsie with other warlords and looking to the UN to take care of it all for you — which, given its dismal track-record in creating stability, is not a good idea — maybe you should summon the courage and take measures to actually run your country? OK?
This is not an isolated incident in Somalia, as the BBC explains:
Last month, two men were stoned to death in the same town after being accused of spying.
A 13-year-old girl was stoned to death for adultery in the southern town of Kismayo last year.
Human rights groups said she had been raped.
Another man has also been punished in this way in the Lower Shabelle region.
Isn’t theocracy wonderful? Can you imagine what would happen if the Religious Rightists in the US got their way and this country became a theocracy? Oh wait, I don’t need to “imagine” it … its proponents have already shown what they want. And by all means, let’s continue ranting and wailing that only religion is capable of making people upright and moral. Yeah yeah, that worked out so well in this case, didn’t it? (Not!)
Hat tip: Skeptic’s Dictionary.
Tags: abas hussein abdirahman
, god and morality
, islamic fundamentalism
, merka somalia
, religion and morality
, religious fundamentalism
, sharif sheikh ahmed
, sheikh sharif sheikh ahmed
, un peacekeeping
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Update on my earlier blog entry on this subject: CNN reports that an arrest has been made:
An Iraqi man accused of running down his daughter in Arizona because she had become “too Westernized” is being held on two counts of aggravated assault, police said Saturday.
Police in Peoria, Arizona, say Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 48, struck his 20-year-old daughter, Noor Faleh Almaleki, and her friend Amal Edan Khalaf with the Jeep Laredo he was driving in a parking lot in Peoria on October 20.
Apparently he’d fled the country in an effort to avoid prosecution:
After the incident, Almaleki drove to Mexico and abandoned his vehicle in Nogales, Peoria police said.
He then made his way to Mexico City and boarded a plane to London, England. British authorities denied him entry into the country, and he was put on a plane back to the United States, police said.
I love how people like this are proud of committing violence in the name of their principles — whatever they are — but somehow don’t manage to be quite proud enough to allow themselves to be prosecuted for them. I could be mistaken, but that kind of behavior more closely resembles sniveling cowardice, than cultural pride.
Oh, and I love how a guy who ostensibly opposes “westernization” and “modernism,” chose to use a very modern and western-invented means of escaping justice … i.e. flying on an airplane.
, culture war
, faleh hassan almaleki
, peoria AZ
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