Archive for the “Islam” Category

Muslims and their religion

The folks at Charlie Hebdo … at least, those who remain after last week’s inexcusable Islamofascist massacre … aren’t caving in. No, their next issue’s cover will also feature a drawing of the prophet Muhammad. Multiple outlets report it will be as follows:'Tou est pardonné' - 'Je suis Charlie' / Charlie Hebdo cover for 2015/01/14, via Talking Points MemoAs an aside on this matter, allow me to throw out a few items for your consideration:

This wouldn’t be the disaster it was, without some sanctimoniously-angry Christofascist using it to promote his fierce, dour religionism. Enter, therefore, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, as Right Wing Watch reports with video (cached):

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer speculated that the attack by radical Muslim terrorists on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed twelve people may have been God’s retribution for the magazine’s blasphemy.

Given that the magazine, in addition to mocking Islam and Muhammad, also had a long record of running satirical articles and cartoons about Christianity and Jesus, Fischer raised the possibility that this attack was punishment for the magazine’s repeated violation of the commandment that “you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

It also wouldn’t be a Muslim-perpetrated atrocity without people jumping up to say Islam doesn’t support what the killers did. Take, for example, this apologia for Islam in Slate (cached):

In an op-ed in USA Today on Thursday, Choudary seemed to try to justify the attacks. “[T]he potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” Choudary said. “The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State,” he continued.

Choudary, radical extremists, and anti-Islam polemicists alike often resort to quoting scripture out of context, or taking advantage of transliteration, as a way to distort the messages of Islam. Sharia law varies upon interpretations of scripture—and like any religion, some interpretations are more radical than others.

While extremist governments like Iran and Saudi Arabia use the death penalty as a punishment for blasphemy, its justification isn’t found in Islam. The word “blasphemy” isn’t even mentioned in the Quran, or the stories of Mohammed and his companions that make up the hadiths, which form the basis for Islamic tradition. Prominent Islamic scholars like Pakistan’s Javed Ahmad Ghamidi have repeatedly said that “blasphemy laws have no justification in Islam.” Neither does the horrible attack that took place on Wednesday.

That piece was a response to this hateful diatribe by someone who is — get this! — a Muslim cleric and therefore a credentialed spokesman for that religion (cached):

Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.”…

So why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?

It is time that the sanctity of a Prophet revered by up to one-quarter of the world’s population was protected.

So pardon me — cynical, hateful, godless agnostic heathen that I am — for not being clear on whether or not Islam actually forbids blasphemy or “insults” of the Prophet. I guess the world’s Muslims are going to have to duke it out over that. Unfortunately, they may not leave the rest of us around to find out which side won the argument.

Lastly, I took the liberty of compiling a GIF animation of many different Muhammad cartoons to which Muslims have taken offense at one time or another. Have a blast, you little fucking crybabies:Animated GIF containing numerous Muhammad cartoons, collected from around the Internet. Original cartoons all copyrighted by their original artists and publishers.If anyone feels the need to be angry over these cartoons, go right ahead! Indulge your childish sanctimonious impulses, if it makes you feel better to do so. Far be it from me to get in the way of your pathological need to always be outraged in defense of your religion or your Prophet.

Photo credit: Middle, Talking Points Memo; bottom, PsiCop-generated GIF of pics collected around the Internet.

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Cover of Charlie Hebdo, newspaper in France. Speech bubble reads Once again, the world has been treated to a stellar example of “the religion of peace” showing its true colors. Overnight (by my clock here in the ‘States) terrorists stormed the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as the BBC and many other outlets around the world are reporting, and killed a dozen people (WebCite cached article):

Gunmen have attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring seven, French officials say.

At least two masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car.

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity”.

A major police operation is under way in the Paris area to catch the killers.

We don’t Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoon, via Assyrian International News Agencyyet know the terrorists’ identities or affiliations, but it’s safe to say they are, very likely, of the Islamist variety. Although Charlie Hebdo has lampooned many religions with its cartoons, it’s only Islamists who’ve previously objected enough to get violent about them, as they did back in 2011 (cached). Someone, please tell me again how Islam is “the religion of peace”? ‘Cause this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen just isn’t seeing it.

I wonder Jyllands-Posten Mohammad Cartoon / 'Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins!' / via AINAwhat Islamism’s defenders (e.g. Ben Affleck) will make of this? He’d probably just mumble something like the terrorists not being “real Muslims” or something … as though that sort of defense isn’t the fallacy it actually is.

As I always do when Islamists rage and fume over their religion being “dissed,” sometimes violently, I decorated this blog post with cartoons that are sure to offend them even more. Go ahead, little crybabies. Rage, bluster, and fume away!

Photo credits: Top, Wikimedia Commons; both in body, from Jyllands-Posten via Assyrian International News Agency.

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Secret of my success: I'm going to succeed because I'm crazy enough to think I can …. / Motifake.ComRep. Michele Bachmann may be leaving Congress, but she doesn’t seem to be leaving behind her childish inanity. She used the occasion of her appearance on a Family Research Council radio show to depart from Washington on what she, no doubt, considers a high note: As BuzzFeed reports, she accused President Barack Obama of supporting Muslims’ jihad around the world (WebCite cached article):

Former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann says President Obama has supported the agenda of Islamic jihad “at every turn.”

“And I have been very surprised, to answer your question, to see the president of the United States, at every turn, cut the legs off of our ally, Israel, and in fact embrace and lift up the agenda of Islamic jihad,” Bachmann said on the show Washington Watch hosted by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

As BuzzFeed explains, Bachmann interprets reports of Obama penning letters to Iran’s supreme ruler as “cutting the legs off of” Israel (cached). That set her off on this tangent:

“Now when in the world — and by that, I mean the goals of the Islamic State, the fact that they want their own state. Our president, we know now, is writing secret notes to the Ayatollah in Iran; there’s a recent report that the president is trying to have private meetings with the Ayatollah in Iran. Iran is very clear about their goal — their goal is to have a nuclear weapon. They’ve said, unequivocally, they will use it against the United States and against Israel.”

Bachmann said she used time at the White House Christmas party earlier in December when members of Congress take photos with the president to tell him to “please end their nuclear program.”

“I used that time to talk to him about a nuclear Iran, and I asked him to please end their nuclear program, because we have the capacity to end it. And I said, ‘Mr. President, this will be on your watch.’”

Like most Religious Rightists — and in fact, most Rightists generally — Mrs Bachmann has a hypersimplistic view of the world affairs and the way diplomacy works. In the Rightist mind, Iran is Israel’s “enemy,” therefore, since Israel is our “ally,” the US is forbidden ever to communicate with Iran … for any reason, ever. That this is not how international relations actually works, is something Rightists don’t concern themselves with. The US — along with the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (aka “P5+1”) — is, in fact, communicating with Iran already, trying to end its nuclear program in order to spare the rest of the Middle East, including Israel. Of course, hawks in Israel would prefer that nation bomb Iran back into the Stone Age pre-emptively, so as to physically destroy their nuclear research. And Religious Rightists like Mrs Bachmann want that to happen, because they imagine doing so will invoke a counter-attack against Israel which, they in turn hope, will trigger Armageddon and the return of their precious Jesus to finish doing whatever it was that he never managed to get done, the first time he supposedly came to earth.

Bachmann claims she told Obama to “please end [Iran’s] nuclear program” but was rebuffed by his “condescending” response. As though, prior to her saying something, it hadn’t occurred to Obama to do so. That’s ridiculous, because not only has the US been working with 5 other major nations to terminate Iran’s nuclear capability, but arguably, the US and Israel have already launched schemes to demolish Iran’s nuclear research program, during the Obama administration. Just because Obama refuses to give his blessing to Israel’s pre-emptive attacks on Iran doesn’t mean he’s doing nothing about the problem of Iran’s fanatical mullahs and ayatollahs getting their grubby hands on nuclear weapons.

Also, I find it curious that Mrs Bachmann thinks Obama supports jihad, especially since he went to war against ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood (cached)! I have no idea how Mrs Bachmann could possibly consider Obama’s campaign against ISIS a form of “support” for jihad — such a conclusion defies logic. I suppose she probably subscribes to the Religious Rightist idea that Obama is a secret Muslim (cached), so she probably considers Operation Inherent Resolve to be just a “false flag” effort meant to make it appear he opposes jihad, when in fact, the opposite is true. This kind of raging paranoia would not be unusual in a Rightist … unfortunately.

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

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Burned Quran Pages - Flickr - Al Jazeera EnglishLately it seems the stories of primitive Islamofascist barbarism emanate mostly from the hinterlands of Syria and Iraq, with ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood. And it’s true they’re responsible for a lot of it. But we can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that primitive Islamofascist barbarism can be found in other parts of the Muslim world, too. A case in point is this NBC News story about a Christian couple in Pakistan who were burned alive (WebCite cached article):

A mob accused of burning alive a Christian couple in an industrial kiln in Pakistan allegedly wrapped a pregnant mother in cotton so she would catch fire more easily, according to family members who witnessed the attack.

Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, were set upon by at least 1,200 people after rumors circulated that they had burned verses from the Quran, family spokesman Javed Maseeh told NBC News via telephone late Thursday. Their legs were also broken so they couldn’t run away.

“They picked them up by their arms and legs and held them over the brick furnace until their clothes caught fire,” he said. “And then they threw them inside the furnace.”

This is yet another example of the murderous, sanctimonious rage that kicks up within Muslim communities whenever they get the notion that someone has burned a Qur’an (or might do so, but hasn’t yet). I’ve gone on the record as saying book-burning of any kind is stupid, mostly because it doesn’t do anything except display one’s anger over something — and there are almost an infinite number of other ways to express anger, if one is convinced one must do so. But going as far as burning people alive over it is — obviously! — excessive. After all, even though it’s a useless gesture, by the same token, book-burning doesn’t actually harm anyone or anything. If one burns a copy of a book, all one has done is to burn a copy of it; the book itself, and more especially the ideas within it, remain. This is doubly true in the case of the Qur’an, one of the most widely-published books on the planet.

I’m sure Islam’s defenders will claim this heinous double murder was the act of just a “lunatic fringe” (cached), a mere handful of extremists who don’t represent Muslims generally, or even their local community. In this case, however, that’s absolutely untrue; 1,200 people set upon and murdered them, in a spectacularly savage way that none of them possibly could have been ignorant of; e.g.:

Bibi, a mother of four who was four months pregnant, was wearing an outfit that initially didn’t burn, according to Javed Maseeh. The mob removed her from over the kiln and wrapped her up in cotton to make sure the garments would be set alight.

At this point, I can’t see how anyone can rationally avoid admitting that there is quite obviously a problem within the Muslim world, if events as large and as barbaric as this can occur. It’s not really the “religion of peace” it’s frequently said to be. Yeah, I know the prime minister of Pakistan has promised “justice” in this case, but the fact that a huge mob of 1,200 people could have done such a thing in the first place is where the real problem lies; how the government reacts hardly matters, after-the-fact. Making it all worse, Pakistan’s courts have a strong Islamofascist bias, to the point I doubt much will happen to any of the folks who’ve been arrested over this incident. So the prime minister’s promises largely ring hollow.

As my own protest against this kind of religiofascistic savagery in the name of preventing “blasphemy,” I’ve used a picture of a burned Qur’an at the top of this post. If this decision angers you, that’s fine by me. Go right ahead and be angry, if it makes you feel better to do so! Throw a tantrum, if you’d like. I don’t fucking care.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Gustave Doré (1832-1883), The Crusaders war machinery, via Wikimedia CommonsThis is the second of two posts today on the subject of what I call the Great Neocrusade … i.e. the American Religious Right’s war on Islam, mostly within the US but in some cases not limited just to this country.

There are a lot of really angry Christianists in the US, and most of them are mortally offended by the mere existence of Islam, which they view as the world’s chief rival to their own religion. Many of them sincerely believe that there’s no such thing as “Islamic extremism”; in their minds, all Muslims everywhere are by definition “extremists,” so all Muslims must be put down before they slaughter everyone else. Or something like that.

That the US is now contending with the Islamofascist group ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-people-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood isn’t helping. That particular outfit is guilty of a level of savagery the world hasn’t seen much of in the last decade or so. Boko Haram’s kidnapping of hundreds of girls in Nigeria earlier this year, and al-Shabaab’s attack on a mall in Kenya a year ago, provide similar examples of the primitive barbarism some Muslims have been willing to stoop to in the name of their particular version of Islam.

While groups like this don’t represent the entirety of Islam — in fact, other Muslims are more frequently the targets of their savagery — these sorts of events fuel Christianists’ sanctimonious rage over Islam and push them to lash out as a result. Right Wing Watch reports on one such Christofascist whose shit-fit over Islam made him declare an “overwhelming Christian just war” on that faith (WebCite cached article):

Yesterday, anti-Islam activist Gary Cass, founder of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, posted a piece on his website [cached] in which he calls for Christians to prepare to wage holy war in an effort to utterly destroy all 1.6 billion of the world’s Muslims because Christians simply have to “face the harsh truth that Islam has no place in civilized society.”

Saying that there is no possibility of converting Muslims to Christianity and forcibly sterilizing all Muslims in order to prevent them from building an “Army of Islam” is impractical, Cass declares that the only solution is biblical violence, which is why Americans must now begin preparing to launch an “overwhelming Christian just war” by arming themselves and their children and forming “small cells” that will “crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus name”

I won’t quote any of this creature’s nasty screed. If you feel like reading it, you can do so for yourself. I will just point out that Cass’s group, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, is just another of many Christianist groups who presume that Christianity needs to be “defended” because it’s about to be wiped off the map. There is, of course, no effort to abolish Christianity in the US even if Cass and his colleagues believe there is. Christians are the majority in the country and will remain so for the indefinite future. He and the rest of the Religious Right have been hoodwinked by the psychopathology inherent in their own religion to want to feel persecuted for their beliefs, so they simply invent that persecution.

In any event, while the country’s Christofascists are cheering on Cass’s declaration of “just war” on Islam, I’m sure the rest of the world … especially the Muslim parts of it … aren’t entirely impressed. Cass doesn’t care about them, of course. In fact, the angrier they get, the happier he gets, because their anger only fuels his own sanctimonious indignation over Muslims’ continued insolent refusal to convert en masse to Christianity. In their minds, the only way to deal with some Islamists’ jihad against the rest of the world, is to direct a Christian holy war right back at them! In the meantime, those of us who’re neither Christian nor Muslim are watching these two groups engage in a pissing contest over whose god can beat up who else’s god. It’s all very tedious and also deadly, but since both sides are deeply mired in immaturity and anger, it’s not going to get better any time soon. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Gustave Doré, Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, via Wikimedia CommonsToday I offer not just one, but two blog posts on the theme of what I’ve referred to as the Neocrusade; i.e. the American Religious Right’s effort to outlaw Islam in the US (and sometimes destroy it everywhere else).

I’ve blogged before about Christofascists declaring that the First Amendment’s freedom of religion doesn’t extend to Muslims. Usually the reason cited is because Islam — supposedly — isn’t really a “religion” per se, but rather, it’s a political philosophy. Therefore, the reasoning goes, it can Constitutionally be outlawed. Or something like that.

Of course, I’m not sure how that works, because as far as I know, the US also has things like freedom of speech and freedom of association, which together would make it impossible for government to outlaw any given political philosophy. Maybe that’s just because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and such important sacred notions are beyond my feeble, god-deprived mind.

But I digress.

Despite this, it’s rare for Religious Rightists to just come right out and say this. They tend to keep this notion close to their vests. Even so, once in a while one of them lets it slip. It turns out that, as Right Wing Watch reports, Tony Perkins did precisely this recently (WebCite cached article):

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who now styles himself as an Islamic scholar, said on his “Washington Watch” radio show yesterday that members of militant groups like ISIS are the real Muslims who are truly “practicing their faith.”

Islam is such a danger, Perkins explained, that Muslim-Americans should not have the same religious freedoms as other citizens.

He echoed other Christianists on the subject of why Muslims should be deprived of freedom to follow their religion:

He warned that Islam isn’t necessarily protected under the Constitution because it “tears at the fabric of our society” and undermines “ordered liberty,” adding that Islam is “not just a religion, it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.”

As with other Christianists who’ve advocated defying the First Amendment in order to outlaw Islam in the US, Perkins claims it’s not merely a religion, but a lot more, thus depriving it of protection:

He warned that Islam isn’t necessarily protected under the Constitution because it “tears at the fabric of our society” and undermines “ordered liberty,” adding that Islam is “not just a religion, it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.”

I find it truly odd that a Christian like Tony-boy would condemn Islam because “it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.” After all, the Religious Right movement as it exists in the US is most certainly an economic system, a judicial system, and a military system. If we’re to deprive Muslims in the US of their religious freedom on those grounds, then by the very same reasoning, Perkins and the rest of his fellow Christofascists must also forfeit theirs.

Only a brazen hypocrite could come up with something that insipid. Perkins’s own Jesus explicitly forbid him ever to be hypocritical, of course … but Tony-boy isn’t aware of that, and not likely ever to obey that injunction even if he were to be educated about it.

To be clear, I’m no more a fan of Islam than I am of Christianity (an accusation that correspondents have leveled at me). It is, of course, absolutely correct to protect the US and American interests, and Islamic terror groups such as ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-people-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood ought to be destroyed. There also does appear to be something about Islam which allows such primitive barbarism to grow and fester in a manner not seen — at this moment — in any other religion. But even this admission doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, or even helpful, to outlaw Islam in the US or deprive Muslims here of their religious-freedom rights, merely because some anxious Christian presumes mosques here might be recruiting terrorists. Americans — all Americans, not just Christians! — have certain rights, not the least of which that they shouldn’t be presumed guilty of wanting to be terrorists until there’s reason to think they might be. This means Muslims should be left alone in their homes and mosques (which should continue to be built) until there’s information suggesting otherwise.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Police arrive after the houses of a religious minority group were torched by a mob following accusations of blasphemy in Gujranwala, Pakistan, early on Monday. Muhammad Owais/EPA, via NBC NewsThis story is one which, sadly, isn’t surprising. I mean, this is Pakistan we’re talking abouta place which is second only to Afghanistan in its degree of hyperreligious immaturity. As NBC News reports, it seems a mob of sanctimoniously-enraged Pakistanis simply couldn’t help but murder three people over a supposedly blasphemous Facebook posting (WebCite cached article):

A mob attacked and killed a grandmother and two children over a “blasphemous” Facebook post allegedly published by a member of their minority religious sect in Pakistan on Sunday. Police allege that Aqib Salim, 25, uploaded an “obscene and objectionable picture of the Kaaba [Islam’s holiest site] and a scantily clad woman” on the site.

Rehmat Ali, head constable of Gujranwala police, told NBC News that the post “angered the local community” and several people asked for Salim to be arrested. “When we insisted on a formal complaint, they took the law into their own hands,” Ali said. “What followed was unabated mob violence.” Up to 600 people were involved as the mob set fire to five homes and several shops in Gujranwala belonging to membbrs of the Ahmadi sect — which Pakistan declared “non-Muslim” in 1984 due to its alternative belief system. An Ahmadi woman aged in her late 40s and her granddaughters aged eight and seven months were killed.

Making this childish mob of c. 600 enraged Pakistani Muslims throwing a violent tantrum even worse, was that local police watched with tacit approval:

Saleem ud-Din, spokesman of the Jaamat-e-Ahmadiya, which represents Pakistan’s 700,000 Ahmadis, said police stood by as Ahmadis’ property was burned and looted.

Also, no one who was killed had anything to do with the “offensive” Facebook posting … but hey, what does that have to do with anything, when you’re an angry, juvenile mob who’s out for blood?

I assume most of my readers won’t have heard of the Ahmadi; theirs is a Muslim sect that appeared around the turn of the 20th century. It’s sort of a messianic version of Sunni Islam … although that’s an oversimplification … with some added beliefs most other Muslims don’t adhere to (although they weren’t always considered objectionable).

There are two main facts about the notion of “blasphemy” which are undeniable:

  1. It’s entirely subjective: One believer’s “blasphemy” can be someone else’s “sincere belief.” For instance, while most Christians would consider the statement “Jesus is not God” offensive, there were, and are, some Christians who don’t see it that way. So what truly makes the statement “Jesus is not God” blasphemy? In short, it doesn’t … not objectively, anyway.
  2. Blasphemy harms no one and nothing: Honestly, no one can be hurt by someone saying or doing something blasphemous. Sure, a believer might be angered to hear something s/he’d rather not have heard … but that anger is not an injury. Nor can a religion be harmed by blasphemy; let’s face it, if a religion were true, nothing anyone says about it could take away its veracity. So it causes no damage.

This is the sort of mature, rational assessment that childish little Pakistanis appear incapable of, even if they’re old enough to know better. The police and the Pakistani government indulge these folks, because pushing back against this sort of murderous childishness is tough and requires a lot of courage — not to mention a shitload of rubber bullets, tear gas and stun guns.

The bottom line is that three people died because a mob refused to grow the fuck up already, and because those who knew better were to craven and cowardly to intervene. Has anyone had enough yet of this sort of thing? I know I have. Unfortunately, no one else seems to give a flying fuck. I guess life is just too damned cheap. After all, al-Lah wills it, does he not?

Photo credit: Muhammad Owais/EPA, via NBC News.

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