Archive for the “World Politics” Category

World-wide politics

Bangladeshi students block the road and stage a protest in Dhaka April 7, following Samad's murder. / CNN photoI’ve blogged a few times about how perilous it is to be an outspoken secularist or even atheist in Bangladesh. It seems al Qaeda has joined in with this fierce Islamofascist crusade; CNN reports that al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the latest such killing (WebCite cached article):

Ansar al-Islam, the Bangladesh division of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS, has claimed responsibility for the recent killing of blogger Nazimuddin Samad, the jihadist monitoring group SITE reported Friday.

Machete-wielding attackers in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka killed Samad, 26, the sixth secularist writer or publisher to be killed in the city in the last 14 months.

Police said the attack late Wednesday on Samad, a master’s student at Jagannath University, was planned.

“He was on his way back home from his evening classes when he was circled by a group of three to four people,” said Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Nurul Amin of the Dhaka Police.

“First the attackers hacked Samad with machetes, then shot him.”

Police said the attackers then fled the scene on motorcycles. No arrests have been made.

Bangladeshi students took to the streets to protest against the brutal killing.

While I appreciate the protests (and this certainly isn’t the first such occasion), what’s disturbing is the reason they occur: The government of Bangladesh doesn’t really do much about these killings. They largely view the killing of outspoken secularists as a natural and understandable consequence of their outspoken secularism. In response to Samad’s assassination, as the (UK) Daily Star reports, a Bangladeshi minister has decided to investigate his writings rather than his killing (cached):

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal today said that the write-ups of the slain secular activist Nazimuddin Samad are needed to be scrutinised to see whether he wrote anything objectionable about religion.

He underscored the need for scrutiny in an interview with BBC Bangla Service while asked about possible cause behind the killing.…

“I cannot say right now why it happened or what exactly happened. I need to gather information first,” the minister responded, when asked about the murder that took place Wednesday night.

“It is needed to see whether he has written anything objectionable in his blogs.”

They do this because they’d rather pacify the Islamofascists than stop them. This is actually a very common response to militancy of any sort, because after all, it’s easier to capitulate in the face of violent bullies than it is to stand up to them and even fight them if needed. In the case of secularist bloggers being killed, it’s easier to blame them for their deaths than it is to go after their killers. That this “strategy” (which really isn’t any strategy at all) allows militants to take over, doesn’t seem to occur to anyone.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: CNN.

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Aftermath of Brussels airport bombing / (UK) IndependentThis morning, we Americans woke to some terrible — but not entirely surprising — news. The “religion of peace” has struck again. As numerous outlets, including CNN, report just now, three blasts rocked the city of Brussels, Belgium (WebCite cached article):

Three explosions that ripped through the Belgian capital of Brussels on Tuesday killed at least 28 people, according to Belgian media, and raised the reality of terror once again in the heart of Europe.

“We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters.

Belgian federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was too soon to know exactly how many people died in the bombings. Yet the Brussels Metro Authority reported that 15 died and 55 were wounded in the subway station blast. And public broadcaster VRT said at least 13 more were killed, and about 35 were injured, in the two blasts in the Brussels airport departure hall.

Of the two explosions at the airport, at least one was a suicide bombing, Van Leeuw said. A blast happened there outside the security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check-in counters, an airline official briefed on the situation said.

It’s not yet clear which exact Islamist-terror organization was behind these attacks; there’ve been no claims of responsibility and officials are only just gathering information.[Update 1] At this point there doesn’t appear to be much to say that hasn’t already been said many times already. So I will close with what I said after the Paris attacks last November:

Clearly, the “Religion of Peace” has shown its true colors … again! … even if, by now, no sane person actually needs such an illustration. Predictably, Muslim leaders and organizations around the world have condemned the attacks on Paris, but let’s be honest: Those condemnations will accomplish nothing whatsoever. ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck and all its ilk will continue their barbaric terror campaigns, and they’ll keep attracting Muslim recruits from around the world. It’s not going to stop just because some scholars of Islam mouth recriminations against Islamist terror. The Islamists already don’t give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks, and they’re not going to, ever. Mere words don’t matter, and have no discernible effect on them.

The sooner the world’s Muslims begin actively (rather than just verbally) dealing with the festering sore deep within their religion, which these violent barbarians believe grants divine sanction to their savage terror campaign, the sooner something can actually be done about it. But sadly, I just don’t see that happening. Not enough of them have the courage to do so.

Nothing will change, I’m sure … just as nothing was done in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. It never does. I’m reminded of this classic Bible verse:

That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

P.S. Christianists had best not use this to get on their high horses and start bellowing out their usual sanctimonious Neocrusading crap. Right-wing (and yes, Christian!) terror exists, and is a greater danger to Americans than Islamists’.

Update 1: Reuters reports that ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever has, in fact, claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks (cached).

Photo credit: (UK) Independent.

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Supporters of Mumtaz Qadri during his funeral. Photograph: Anjum Naveed/AP, via The GuardianJust a little while ago I blogged about protests in Pakistan following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who’d assassinated Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer, an opponent of blasphemy laws. Pakistan, you see, is still full of howling barbaric Islamists who like blasphemy laws, because they grant them an excuse to take out their rage on anyone they think dissed their religion.

Even so, these hordes of infantilized Pakistanis managed to outdo themselves, when — as the (UK) Guardian reports — some 100,000 of them showed up at Qadri’s funeral (WebCite cached article):

An estimated crowd of more than 100,000 people have attended the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri, in a massive show of support for the convicted murderer of a leading politician who had criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

The vast gathering on Tuesday centred on Liaquat Park in Rawalpindi, where a succession of clerics made fiery speeches bitterly condemning the government for giving the go-ahead for Monday’s execution of Qadri, a former police bodyguard who became a hero to many of his countrymen after he shot and killed Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, in 2011.…

Many people had travelled from around the country to attend the funeral, and crowds spilled out of the park on to the adjacent thoroughfare where throngs crushed around the flower-strewn ambulance that eventually brought Qadri’s body to the event.

Some of the all-male crowd wore “I am Qadri” signs around their necks while others held up the front page of the Ummat newspaper for bypassers to kiss, which was entirely covered with a photo of Qadri’s dead and garlanded body.…

Sajjad Akhtar Abassi, a lawyer wearing the black suit and tie of his trade, condemned the supreme court for upholding Qadri’s death sentence last year.

“It is a court of law, not a court of justice,” he said. “Islam is a religion of peace and harmony but it does not allow anybody to use wrong words against the prophet or any other holy character.”

One must see the vast turnout for this funeral — and Pakistanis’ support for this vile assassin — to believe it:People crowd around the ambulance carrying the body of Mumtaz Qadri during his funeral in Rawalpindi. Photograph: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters, via The GuardianYes, we get what you’re saying, Mr Abassi. Islam might “a religion of peace and harmony,” but only so long as everyone belongs to the same sect of that religion. For anyone who’s not, there can be no “peace” nor “harmony,” just endless harassment. Because Islam, I guess.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Top, Anjum Naveed/AP, via The Guardian; middle, Faisal Mahmood/Reuters, via The Guardian.

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Protests such as this one in Lahore took place in several major cities / AFP/Getty photo, via BBC NewsSome five years ago I blogged about something that, I suppose, could only have happened in Pakistan, which is home to millions of howling barbaric Islamist fundamentalists. One Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri had killed Punjab’s provincial governor, Salman Taseer, because the latter had supported repealing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

To give you an idea of what sort of lowlife Qadri is, he’d been Taseer’s bodyguard! And to give you an idea of what sorts of primitive religionist savages Pakistanis are, a bunch of their lawyers showered Qadri with flowers when he arrived to a court appearance, back then.

I bring this up because the machinery of Pakistani justice eventually held Qadri accountable for his crime, and he was executed. But as Religion News Service reports, Pakistanis showed their true colors, by protesting (WebCite cached article):

Pakistan on Monday executed a man who killed the governor of Punjab province over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws that carry a death sentence for insulting Islam.

Street protests broke out within hours by supporters of the killer, who consider him a hero for defending the faith. The head of the Islamabad Bar Council called for a day-long strike of lawyers in protest against the hanging.…

Protesters briefly blocked the main road between Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday after news of the hanging broke. Police later dispersed them and closed off the road to prevent more demonstrations.

Chaudhry predicted larger demonstrations coinciding with Qadri’s funeral, which his legal group said would be held on Tuesday.

“From what we are seeing, this protest movement is only going to increase,” he said.

As is usually the case when such things happen, I will simply point out that blasphemy laws are ridiculous and childish. Blasphemy harms nothing and no one, ever. If a religion has any veracity, no amount of “blasphemy” can change that. If a deity has power, no amount of “insults” can take it away. Blasphemy laws only serve to infantilize people and prevent them from hearing something they might not like. Boo fucking hoo.

Photo credit: AFP/Getty photo, via BBC News.

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Donald TrumpSince entering the presidential primary, Donald “it’s my own orange hair” Trump has railed against a lot of people. These range from John McCain to Mexico (and Mexicans and generally) to Megyn Kelly to NBC Universal to Fox News to Jorge Ramos to Jeb Bush to Megyn Kelly (again) to Ted Cruz to Fox News (again) … and on and on and on and on. Hardly a night goes by when Trumpie isn’t on Twitter ranting furiously about something or someone. At any given moment he’s engaged in some kind of tiff with at least 4 people.

Well, today he found a new enemy to trade harsh words with … a person one wouldn’t have expected to mix with anyone, let alone the angry, perpetually-lying real estate magnate. It was, as CNN reports, none other than the Jesuit Pope Francis (Webcite cached article)

The Pope, who was traveling back to Rome from Mexico, where he urged the United States to address the “humanitarian crisis” on its southern border, did not tell American Catholics not to vote for Trump.

But Francis left little doubt where he stood on the polarizing issue of immigration reform.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” the Pope told journalists who asked his opinion on Trump’s proposals to halt illegal immigration.

The infantile little boy Trumpie, of course, would have none of it:

Trump immediately fired back, calling Francis’ comments “disgraceful.”

“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” he said in statement.…

“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president,” Trump said.

Wow, gotta love Trumpie’s “appeal to ISIS/ISIL/IS” as some sort of “proof” of his own righteousness and veracity. That’s just laughable. Note, too, an additional little plaintive whine:

Trump added that the government in Mexico, where Francis spent the past five days, has “made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope.”

Oh, the poor little thing! Why, people actually complained about him to each other! What a fucking little crybaby. I mean, come on, little Trumpie. Act your age, fercryinoutloud!

Now, the Pope’s declaration that Trumpie is un-Christian wasn’t unprovoked, as CNN explains:

The tussle between Trump and Francis — two outsized personalities who seldom shy from speaking their minds — seems to have been building for some time. Before the Pope traveled to Mexico, Trump cast the pontiff as a political naif who “doesn’t understand the dangers” at the U.S.-Mexican border.

By calling the childish little Trumpie un-Christian, then, the Pope was giving as good as he’d gotten. It’s also interesting to see him playing a role in the US presidential election. It’s not as though he could make it worse than it already is, and at least he seems to have thought out what he said, unlike others — in the race — who just spout off angrily all the time like juvenile little twits, spewing a steady stream of outrageous lies in the process (cached).

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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Patriarch Kirill, pictured with Russian President Vladimir Putin, claimed he was not surprised that 'honest' Muslims are flocking to Isis' quasi-religious state / Getty Images, via The IndependentRussia — once the majority component of a superpower that collapsed under its own weight — has become a backward country in more ways than one. In particular, the Russian government under Vlad “the Impaler” Putin has become repressive in several ways, and has been particularly harsh toward gays. Russia faces many issues, which are hard for Putin and his buddies to solve, so instead of doing that, he’s going after dissidents, critics, and LGBT folks, as if they’re the architects of Russia’s misery. (To be clear, they’re not.)

Now that Russia has inserted itself in the Syrian Civil War, it’s facing an enemy it hadn’t had to deal with before, i.e. ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood. That’s put them on the radar of Russian society.

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Vlad’s friends, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and head of the Russian Orthodox Church, decided to toss some of Russia’s bogeymen into the same basket with ISIS/IS/ISIL/whatever. As the (UK) Independent reports, the Patriarch blamed the rise of ISIS, and its ability to recruit, on gays and “godless civlilization” (WebCite cached article):

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has partially blamed an increased acceptance of homosexuality for the rise of Isis.

Patriarch Kirill claimed he was not surprised that some Muslims are flocking to Isis’ quasi-religious state as a way of escaping the “godless civilization” that celebrates events such as Gay Pride.

In an interview published on the Church’s official website [cached], Kirill said: “[Isis] is creating a civilization that is new by comparison to the established one that is godless, secular and even radical in its secularism.”…

Kiril [sic] said because the “godless civilization is reaching maturity”, it should come as no surprise that those who are opposed to liberal, secular ideas end up joining terror organisations.

Kirill’s description of the dangers posed by “secularism” are very similar to what one often hears from the Religious Right, here in the US:

“If you call non-traditional relationships a sin, as the Bible teaches and you are a priest or pastor, then you risk not only your ability to serve but you may be sent to prison,” he said.

There is no such effort underway anywhere I know of — especially in Russia — but as with the American R.R., that reality didn’t prevent Kirill from saying it exists.

Also, the Patriarch characterized ISIS recruits as “honest” and “truly religious.” I’m not sure how well that will go over with the majority of the Muslim world, which opposes ISIS.

In general, I love when puritanical people open their mouths. Almost universally they can’t keep their rotten, stinking, scum-coated feet out of them.

Photo credit: Getty Images, via The Independent.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

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Shams ud-Din Tabriz 1502-1504 BNF ParisI bet you had no idea the game of chess … you know, the ancient game played with special pieces on a checkerboard … was profane in the eyes of the Almighty. Yeah, I know, it was news to me too. It took an Islamic scholar to figure that out. As the New York Times explains, that scholar is no less than Saudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric (WebCite cached article):

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has declared the playing of chess “forbidden,” calling it a waste of time and money that creates hatred between players.

In a fatwa, or religious decree, issued in response to a question from a caller to a Saudi television show, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh said that the game was “the work of Satan,” like alcohol and gambling, despite its long history in the Middle East. Chess is played across the Arab world.…

In his statement on the show, the grand mufti equated chess with gambling, which is forbidden in Islam.

“It makes the rich man poor, and makes the poor man rich,” he said. “It causes hostility and wastes time where it should not be spent.”

I suppose people can bet on chess matches, but as a game, chess doesn’t involve any gambling. So I’m not sure what Al-Shiekh’s beef is really about. It seems nonsensical.

Ironically, it was Arabs’ embrace of chess — which had originated in India, then moved on into Persia — which carried the game to the western world. As the Times reports, it remains popular in the Arab world, and this fatwa isn’t likely to accomplish much of anything, since people will continue playing chess in spite of it.

The lesson here is that religionism leads to all sorts of adsurdity. It grants undeserved authority and influence to dolts and clowns with the power to promulgate rulings and doctrines based on ignorance and idiocy.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

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