Archive for the “Islam” Category

Muslims and their religion

September 11 Photo MontageToday is the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed thousands in New York City, the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, PA. The mass media are running story after story about the commemorations and remembrances and lots of other aspects of this milestone. For me, this event provides an object lesson in human nature and demonstrates conclusively where we go wrong.

First, all the 9/11 conspiratorialism demonstrates that any event that involves enough details is ripe to be plucked by sanctimoniously-outraged paranoiacs of every possible stripe. Rick Green of the Hartford Courant ran a column the other day about one particular crank named Wayne Coste who stands on Hartford’s streets, railing and wailing like a street-preacher about how “9/11 was an inside job” (WebCite cached article). He uses the fact that he was an engineer as a kind of credential that — supposedly — “proves” his insane jabbering must be correct. But it doesn’t. That he has an engineering credential (in electrical engineering, not in mechanical or civil engineering or in architecture) does not automatically grant his conclusions any veracity. Lots of engineers and scientists have looked at the same evidence he has, but arrived at very different conclusions from it.

Perhaps the seminal explanation of how the World Trade Center came down — researched and written by engineers and scientists with the same kinds of credentials as Coste — was done by the venerable magazine Popular Mechanics. It’s well worth reading for anyone with any interest in this matter. Another source of information is the “9/11 conspiracies” entry at the Skeptic’s Dictionary; it lays out many of the screwy scenarios that have been proposed and picks them off one by one. Yet, in spite of these and many other such “takedowns” of all the lunatic scenarios, the wacky 9/11 conspiratorialism (aka the “Truther” movement) is alive and well and populated by all sorts of animated wingnuts like Coste.

What’s really happening with “truthers” is that their laughable “theories” grant them what they perceive as a moral license to indulge their juvenile impulses and paranoiac brain patterns. Telling them they’re wrong only enrages them more than they already are, causes the person telling them so to be viewed as a willing and integral part of the “wicked conspiracy,” and they just dig their heels in harder and cling even tighter to their insane fantasies. As R.T. Carroll of the Skeptic’s Dictionary puts it in the subtitle of his article on the matter, the “truther” movement is, indeed, very much a “war on critical thinking.”

A second lesson shown by Americans’ reaction to 9/11/2001 is their insular, even selfish reasoning. Too many people in the US view this country as the sole target of Islamofascist terror. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Among the other large-scale terror attacks that have taken place elsewhere in the world since then:

Note, this is only a partial list. There were many more Islamofascist terror attacks in the last ten years. The point is that none of these took place in the US, and Americans were not the targets. Other people in other countries were. The Islamofascist terrorists aren’t killing people in places all over the planet just because they hate the US and our “freedom” — or whatever. They’re doing it simply because they’re murderously religiofascist; quite frankly they don’t give a crap about anything else.

The third chief lesson of the September 11, 2001 attacks, more obviously, is that militant religiofascism can become deadly, and it must be stopped. In every one of its forms. Everywhere it occurs. All the time, every time, without letup, and without granting it any excuses. It’s one thing to have metaphysical beliefs. It’s another to believe that everyone else on the planet must adopt them. And it’s another beyond that to believe one is entitled to kill in order to make that happen. This is rather obvious; we certainly didn’t need 9/11/2001 to tell us so … but apparently there are lots of folks who genuinely were unaware of this fact — and sadly, they remain so, in spite of 9/11/2001.

A proper response to such events is for believers to concede that other people are not theirs to order around or kill because of their beliefs, and just leave them alone. What’s not acceptable is to respond to murderous Islamofascism by becoming militantly Christofascist in return and then launch a Neocrusade to eliminate Islam. This Neocrusade is merely the same sort of religiofascist impulse, just manifest within a different religion and in a different country. Of course, to the Neocrusaders, 9/11/2001 itself is the reason they think they’re entitled to destroy Islam … but this belief, while widespread, is just “two wrongs make a right” thinking and is both fallacious and immoral.

In sum, let’s all stop using events like 9/11/2001 to justify insular thinking, American exceptionalism, and “getting back at Islam” because we feel entitled to. It’s time for us all to grow up, stop “reacting” emotionally every time something bad happens, and start living like the mature adults we all ought to be. And by all means, let’s stop giving in to the idea that militant Christianism is an appropriate response to militant Islamism. It’s not. They’re really just the same thing, only packaged in different wrappers.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Egypt sectarian violence / Christian, Muslim youths clash in Cairo / A dozen people have been killed in the clashes that occurred in the Cairo district of Imbaba (Aljazeera)Hosni Mubarak may be out of power, but all is not well in the Land of the Nile. Religious violence has become an increasing problem in Egypt and its new government is having difficulty dealing with it. Al Jazeera reports on a renewed eruption of religious strife in Cairo, in the wake of a woman’s conversion from Christianity to Islam (WebCite cached article):

Egyptian troops are out in force in central Cairo after weekend riots left 12 people dead and more than 200 injured.

Clashes between Muslims and Copts have raised fears that more sectarian strife could erupt in the country which remains under military rule three months after former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power. …

The bloodshed began on Saturday evening when word spread around the Imbaba neighborhood that a Christian woman who had converted to Islam had been abducted and was being kept in the Virgin Mary Church against her will.

About 500 ultraconservative Salafi Muslims gathered at the church, calling on Christians to hand over the woman.

Both sides traded gunfire, firebombs and stones, witnesses said.

Soldiers and police fired shots in the air and used tear gas to separate the sides but stone-throwing went on into the night.

Al Jazeera offers an excellent video report, but for some reason there’s no option to embed it, so I can’t do so here.

The idea that religious conversions must be met with violence is, quite obviously, absurd. No one is required to be happy about a conversion, but to hold her in a church and then exchange gunfire and Molotovs over it, is beyond rationality. It just goes to show that Egypt has a long way to go before it matures sufficiently. That’s ironic, since her civilization is among the oldest on the planet, meaning its people have no excuse for not having grown up enough to deal with things like this.

Note that the uptick in Muslim/Christian violence predates the revolution that toppled Mubarak. On January 1 of this year, a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria was bombed, killing 21 people.

Photo credit: Snapshot from Al Jazeera video.

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In Times Square, hundreds gathered to celebrate and watch the news flash across the big screens. Credit: Michael Appleton for The New York TimesWe’re finally getting more information about the death of Osama bin-Laden. First, it turns out he wasn’t in the wilderness between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rather, he’d been living in style, deep in the heart of Pakistan, not far from Pakistani military installations, as the New York Times reports (WebCite cached article):

When the end came for Bin Laden, he was found not in the remote tribal areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border where he has long been presumed to be sheltered*, but in a massive compound about an hour’s drive north from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. He was hiding in the medium-sized city of Abbottabad, home to a large Pakistani military base and a military academy of the Pakistani Army.

This raises a lot of questions, not the least of which is how bin-Laden could have been right under the collective nose of the Pakistani government for quite some time. They are — supposedly — our allies. It’s clear they aren’t quite as “allied” to us as they might like us to think.

Pakistan is a deeply troubled country with a large number of Islamofascists … such as the crowds who gave “rock star” treatment to the man accused of killing the Punjab provincial governor because he criticized that nation’s blasphemy law.

While it’s great news that Osama bin-Laden is dead, clearly we face a continued struggle around the world, not just against the kind of Islamofascism that bin-Laden and his supporters promoted, but against all forms of religiofascism, everywhere. It will remain a problem for many years to come.

I close with this video of President Barack Obama announcing bin-Laden’s death to the United States and the world, courtesy of CNN:

* Yes, I admit it, I was one of those who believed this.

Photo credit: Michael Appleton / New York Times.

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PsiCop alteration of Dec. 24, 1998 file photo; AP Photo.At long last, after some 9.5 years of him hiding like a craven little sissyboy coward in the wilds of the Pakistan/Afghanistan frontier — being helped by local Islamist fundamentalists — the world’s current most-famous and infamous religiofascist has died. ABC News reports he was killed in a US military strike (WebCite cached article):

Osama bin Laden, hunted as the mastermind behind the worst-ever terrorist attack on U.S. soil, has been killed, sources told ABC News.

His death brings to an end a tumultuous life that saw bin Laden go from being the carefree son of a Saudi billionaire, to terrorist leader and the most wanted man in the world.

The rest of the article describes this horrific cretin’s putrid, sniveling life, but I need not go into that here. Details of this strike — or of bin Laden’s death — are also not offered, here or in any other breaking story I’ve seen so far.

This is the sort of news that speaks for itself, so that’s what I’ll let it do.

Update: My next blog post is a follow-up to this story.

Photo credit: PsiCop alteration of original AP photo via ABC News.

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Pakistani mob rioting / AP Photo via (UK) Daily MailIt seems Pakistanis are deadly fucking serious about not dissing their prophet … and I mean that literally. They’ve already killed two politicians who criticized that country’s blasphemy law. And now, CNN reports that vigilantes took out a Pakistani who’d been tried under that law, but had been exonerated (WebCite cached article):

Mohamed Imran had been accused, jailed, tried and cleared: if anything, society owed him a debt as a man wrongfully accused.

But his crime was blasphemy. He was meant to have said something derogatory about the prophet Mohammed, so in Pakistan justice worked a little differently. …

Two gunmen burst into the shoe shop where he was sat talking to a friend. Imran tried to duck, to seek cover behind the man next to him — terrified so greatly for his own life that he perhaps forgot about those around him.

But the gunmen found their target and Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws claimed another victim.

Here’s their video report:

As is usual in such cases, CNN offers the vigilantes the “poverty makes it OK” pass:

Others say that religion is all many people have, given the levels of poverty and state dysfunction, and that they don’t like it being insulted. It’s reported that more than 30 of the hundreds of people convicted under the blasphemy laws have been killed by vigilantes.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. Fierce, unrelenting, unforgiving, immature religionism is what caused these people to act. That’s the only reason this particular victim was selected. Had the motivator been mere “poverty,” someone else would have been chosen, someone in a more public place.

Do we really need any further examples of what’s wrong with immature religionism?

Photo credit: AP photo via (UK) Daily Mail.

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In Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, Afghans chanted anti-American slogans during a demonstration to condemn the burning of a copy of the Muslim holy book by an American pastor. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)In an effort, I suppose, to demonstrate to the world just how irrational and immature they can be, a mob of Afghanis outraged over Pastor Terry Jones burning a Qur’an a few days ago, killed several UN relief workers. The New York Times reports on this example of the raging, violent behavior promoted by the “Religion of Peace” (WebCite cached article):

Thousands of demonstrators angered over the burning of a Koran in Florida mobbed offices of the United Nations in northern Afghanistan on Friday, overrunning the compound and killing at least seven foreign staff workers, according to Afghan officials. …

The incident began when thousands of protesters poured out of the Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif after Friday prayers and attacked the nearby headquarters of the United Nations, according to Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman for Gen. Daoud Daoud, the Afghan National Police commander for northern Afghanistan.

After disarming or shooting the United Nations compound’s guards, the crowd surged inside. Mr. Ahmadzai said that eight of the foreign staff workers, whose nationalities were not known immediately, were killed by gunfire, and that two others were captured by the mob and beheaded.

These sanctimoniously enraged Afghanis killed the relief workers, because — as well all know very well! — it’s crucially important that innocent people die, whenever a Qur’an is burned, anywhere in the world. It must happen even when there’s a mere rumor that a Qur’an might be burned! It just has to be that way. After all, al-Lah wills it!

In the barbaric minds of primitive religionists living in third-world hovels, that is.

I’m sure that, to Pastor Jones and the rest of the Neocrusaders in the US, this is precisely what they wanted to happen, and it certainly appears to prove their point. However, I’m not sure it’s to the credit of the “Religion of Love” that its adherents were able to goad a bunch of Islamofascist lunatics into killing people.

I get Neocrusaders’ point. I really do. Yes, it’s true, there are lots of raging Islamofascists out there, willing to kill for their metaphysical beliefs. But … this phenomenon also is found within Christianity, too. Over the course of its history, Christianity has proven itself to be every bit as violent as Islam appears to be, now.

Is it really a good idea for Christians in the US to engage in a pissing contest with the world’s Muslims, to find out whose religion can be more extreme and violent? Mature adults do not engage in such behavior. Isn’t it time for the more mature Christians in the US to finally take control of their own religion?

My guess is, they can’t be bothered. They prefer to let extremists run around, absconding with their own religion.

Call me crazy, but I think the world would be a far better place, if Christofascists like Pastor Jones would stop caterwauling over the existence of Islam, and Afghani mobs would stop burning, looting and killing because Qur’ans get burned. I guess my overly-simplistic, cynical, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen mind just can’t wrap itself around the importance of such matters.

Photo credit: Omar Sobhani/Reuters via the NY Times.

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Siege of Damascus, second crusadeThe militant Christofascists at the American Family Association continue their crusade to force the entire planet to worship their Christianist religion, their way. One of this group’s leading lights, Bryan Fischer, has declared that First Amendment protections do not apply to Muslims in the US (WebCite cached article):

The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity.

That’s a curious claim, because the words of that Amendment say nothing of the sort. In fact, its words apply to any and all religions. It’s true that the various Christian denominations were pretty much the only religions in the infant United States, but if the Founders’ had intended to protect only Christianity and no other religion, they certainly could have written it that way. Instead, they referred simply to “establishment[s] of religion,” which they must have been aware could include religions other than Christianity. Note also that the relevant portion of the First Amendment is known as “the Establishment Clause,” not “the Christian Clause.”

Not content with this asinine claim, though, the Neocrusading Fischer thunders on:

Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy.

Fischer goes on to complain about what he snidely calls “the Religion of Peace,” but proves himself a poor ambassador of “the Religion of Love.” Way to go, guy. Keep it up. Continue to live down to all my expectations of militant Christian fundamentalists.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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