Posts Tagged “religious violence”

Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. Bloomington police Chief Jeff Potts said Saturday that investigators are trying to determine the cause of the blast. Authorities say the explosion damaged one room but it didn't hurt anyone. (David Joles, Star Tribune)The movement I’ve called “the Great Neocrusade” — made up of Religious Rightists who object to the existence of Islam, and want it abolished in the US and then eradicated from the planet — became violent quite some time ago, and it continues apace. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, a Bloomington MN mosque was bombed early Saturday morning (Archive.Is cached article):

A blast caused by what the FBI called “an improvised explosive device” rocked a Bloomington Islamic center before dawn Saturday, just as a small group of Muslim worshipers had gathered for the day’s first round of prayers.

The blast was reported at 5:05 a.m. as about a dozen people gathered in a room nearby for morning prayers and jolted awake many residents of the neighborhood. Congregants and neighbors expressed relief that there were no injuries, but also reacted with shock and dismay.

As I’ve said many times in the past, I understand the motivation behind the Neocrusade. Really, I do. I get it. I know all about the September 11, 2001 attacks; the Fort Hood shooting; the Boston Marathon bombing; the shootings in San Bernardino and in an Orlando night club; not to mention the attacks in Paris; and many other terror attacks around the world. I know them. I do. Honest! Really, I get it. I know Islamist terror exists and that it has caused much mayhem and killed many. I definitely am not unaware of the danger posed by Islamofascism.

What I don’t see, is how bombing mosques in the US is a valid or useful response to Islamist terror. Truthfully, Americans are in much greater danger from mundane things like automobile accidents, drug overdoses, and violence at the hands of ordinary, everyday sociopaths and criminals, than they are from violent Islamist terrorists. Responding to the irrational, sanctimonious violence of some Muslims with yet more irrational, sanctimonious violence against all Muslims, simply will not help. If anything, it will make the situation worse.

Besides, most Neocrusaders are Christians, who’ve been explicitly ordered by the founder of their religion never to be violent:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” (Luke 6:27-29)

Christians are, quite simply, not allowed to be violent. And that includes in self-defense! I admit this kind of pacifism is a counterproductive and potentially perilous philosophy, but those are the words early Christians included in the scriptures they wrote, and which Christians today claim to venerate; making sense of them, and following them, are not my problem. Christians chose their religion, and should just fucking follow it, fercryinoutloud, instead of conjuring rationales for evading the clear instructions they’re supposed to obey.

Photo credit: David Joles, Star Tribune.

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Comments Comments Off on The Violent Neocrusade is On in Minnesota

A police officer helped an injured man. Gay rights marchers said priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church led the charge past police cordons. Reuters photo, via the New York Times.A couple of weeks ago, in Tbilisi, the capitol of the country of Georgia, a gay-rights rally was held. But it seems the Georgian Orthodox Church would have none of it. They’d prepared for it, and as the New York Times reports, launched a massive attack on it: (WebCite cached article):

A throng of thousands led by priests in black robes surged through police cordons in downtown Tbilisi, Georgia, on Friday and attacked a group of about 50 gay rights demonstrators.

Carrying banners reading “No to mental genocide” and “No to gays,” the masses of mostly young men began by hurling rocks and eggs at the gay rights demonstrators.

The police pushed most of the demonstrators onto yellow minibuses to evacuate them from the scene, but, the attackers swarmed the buses, trying to break the windows with metal gratings, trash cans, rocks and even fists.

Here’s the Youtube video that the Times linked to:

First, I have to make this observation: These Georgian Orthodox priests needed to gather up thousands of supporters, in order to take on some 50 gay-rights marchers!? Seriously? What sniveling little crybaby cowards they are!

Lest one think this is just a case of a handful of rogue priests operating outside the sanction of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the leader of that organization made his opinion of gays clear:

In a statement Wednesday, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, compared homosexuals to drug addicts and called the rally a “violation of the rights of the majority” of Georgians.

Hopefully I understand this correctly, Patriarch: It’s an unacceptable violation of your rights for a handful of gays to stage a march, but not a violation of their rights for your own priests to lead a mob to attack them? Did I get that right? I really want to be sure I understand this, because obviously it’s very important to you. So please, correct me if I haven’t gotten it right. Still … somehow, I think I’ve hit the nail on the head. Religionists typically see themselves as being the only ones with “rights,” and believe others have none at all. Even though this is a remarkably evil point of view, it’s actually very common.

Let’s also not assume the Georgian government didn’t play any part in this. The police who’d ostensibly been there to protect the gay-rights marchers, didn’t exactly do much to stop the priests and their mob, in the first place:

In a telephone interview, Mr. Vacharadze of Identoba said that priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church had led the charge that broke through a heavy police corridor.

“The priests entered, the priests broke the fences and the police didn’t stop them, because the priests are above the law in Georgia,” he said.

Sure, police did try to help the marchers … but they did so only after they’d been attacked. Even now, the Georgian government’s non-response is chilling, as the Times has reported since (cached):

Some of the priests leading the rock-throwing throngs who stormed past police cordons could be seen participating in the melee; one repeatedly slammed a stool into the windshield of one of several minibuses trying to carry the marchers to safety, while another punched marchers and tried to drag a driver out of a bus. Some gave their names in interviews.

But as of Sunday, the Georgian police have made no arrests, and there are few signs that the investigation is moving forward.

And Georgian Orthodox hierarchs are defending the assault:

Instead, a bishop who helped to organize the mass turnout — ostensibly a counterprotest — said from the pulpit that while the violence was “regrettable” and those who committed it should be punished, the Georgian Orthodox Church was obligated to protest the gay rights rally and would “not allow anyone to humiliate us.”

So in the name of not permitting the Georgian Orthodox Church to be “humiliated” at the hands of some 50 protesters, it was apparently necessary for tens of thousands of angry Georgians led by dozens of sanctimoniously-enraged priests to attempt to kill them.

I’ve previously blogged about the immature tendency of Muslims in certain parts of the world to riot, rage and even kill over things that bother them. Here, then, is an example of this happening, but among Christians instead. Georgia is, indeed, very Christian … that land was converted to the faith back in the 4th century, and it’s by far the dominant religion there. Here we have incontrovertible evidence that religiously-motivated violence is not solely triggered by Islam, and cultural immaturity isn’t limited solely to primarily-Muslim countries. Despite the fact that Christians market their religion as “the Religion of Love,” it’s clear that Christians limit their “love” only to those who think like themselves and are willing to strictly obey their dour doctrines.

Photo credit: Reuters, via the New York Times (cached).

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Comments Comments Off on Georgian Orthodox Priests Attack Gay-Rights Rally In Tbilisi

Pakistani police officials examine the burnt out houses of members of the Christian community in Lahore / AFP/Getty Images, via The IndependentOnce again, I have to report on yet another example of “the Religion of Peace” displaying its true colors for the world to see. The (UK) Independent reports a mob of Muslims — enraged by the possibility that someone had dared dis their almighty prophet — threw a colossal, violent tantrum, ripping through a neighborhood in Lahore, Pakistan and burning down a hundred buildings (WebCite cached article):

Hundreds of people in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore ransacked a Christian neighborhood today and torched dozens of homes after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam’s prophet, said a police officer.…

The incident started yesterday when a young Muslim man accused a Christian man of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the prophet, according to Multan Khan, a senior police officer in Lahore.

A large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the Christian man’s home last night, and Khan said police took him into custody to try to pacify the crowd. Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight.

Khan said the mob returned today and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze. He said no one in the Christian community was hurt, but several policemen were injured when they were hit with stones as they tried to keep the crowd from storming the area.

I must congratulate the world’s Muslims on their ability to keep up their angry, violent religionistic immaturity. It’s an incredible achievement. Well done! You all must be so proud.

Oh, and it’s behavior like this that makes the rest of the world sleep so well at night, knowing Pakistan has nuclear weapons at its disposal. Yep, it’s positively heart-warming and reassuring to know this. No doubt!

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images, via The Independent.

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Comments Comments Off on Religionistic Immaturity Rages On In Lahore, Pakistan

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images, via the New York TimesIt’s been in the news all day … rioting at the U.S. embassy in Cairo (cached), and a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya (cached), all supposedly because of an anti-Islam movie produced by someone in California. The trouble with all of this news is — it might not be so. News outlets like the New York Times are beginning to report that at least the Benghazi murders might not have been caused by the inflammatory video, after all (WebCite cached article):

The Obama administration suspects that the fiery attack in Libya that killed the American ambassador and three other diplomats may have been planned rather than a spontaneous mob getting out of control, American officials said Wednesday. …

The attack at the compound in Benghazi was far more deadly than administration officials first announced on Tuesday night, when Mrs. Clinton said one American had been killed and one injured.

Another of those killed was Sean Smith, an information management officer who joined the Foreign Service 10 years ago, Mrs. Clinton said in a statement. The State Department did not identify the other two, pending notification of their relatives. Mr. Smith, who was a husband and father of two, previously served in Iraq, Canada and the Netherlands.

This is in contrast to the rioting in Cairo which may actually have been triggered by the video’s insult to Islam and its founding prophet:

The protesters in Cairo appeared to be a genuinely spontaneous unarmed mob angered by an anti-Islam video produced in the United States. By contrast, it appeared the attackers in Benghazi were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

I have no doubt that America’s Neocrusaders will use both the murders in Benghazi and the riots in Cairo as “evidence” that Islam is violent, evil, and must be stamped out. They’ll say, “See? Islam isn’t ‘the Religion of Peace’ after all!” The trouble is … that’s precisely what this movie was designed to do! It was purposely incendiary, and even some of those involved in making it claim they’d been deceived by its producer (cached). And his biography appears to be leakier than a sieve (cached).

Let’s be brutally honest: It doesn’t take rocket science to realize this Youtube video would send some Muslims up in flames. After all, the mere threat of burning copies of the Qur’an had caused thousands of Afghans to fly into a murderous rage. We already know Muslims aren’t culturally mature enough to handle any kind of critique of their religion. We didn’t need this movie to prove it. So what, then, did this movie accomplish?

Abso-fucking-lutely nothing whatsoever! All it did was cause raging and rioting that need not ever have happened.

But while the producer of this movie bears at least some moral responsibility for this … since it appears he went into this expressly desiring this particular result (cached) … it’s also true that no one can incite a riot unless there are other folks ready, willing and able to take the bait and start rioting. In other words, this “Sam Bacile” did not put a gun to the heads of these rioters and force them to go on a rampage. The rioters in Cairo went and did that, entirely on their own. On the other hand, they could have chosen to act differently; they could have had the maturity to understand that not everyone else in the world loves their religion or its founder, and that once in a while one of those people is going to insult Islam.

There’s only one phrase to describe all of this: “Religionistic immaturity.” Immaturity on the part of America’s Neocrusaders, including “Sam Bacile,” who can’t handle the fact that Islam exists and who feel the need to throw tantrums over it; and on the part of the rioting Muslims, who can’t handle the fact that people of other religions might say something bad about Islam and who likewise throw tantrums of their own.

Folks … the human race can no longer afford this kind of deeply-ingrained, culturally-perpetuated immaturity. Muslims need to fucking grow the hell up and deal with the fact that not everyone likes their religion. By the same token, Christians need to fucking grow the hell up and stop being enraged that other people have rejected their faith. This kind of wanton childishness in the name of God really needs to stop.

Just. Fucking. Stop. OK?

Update: In their ongoing effort to show how childish they can be, rioting Muslims in Egypt have entered the U.S. embassy compound tonight (cached). Well done, Muslims. You’re on your way to invading and capturing yet another American embassy. Yessirree, everyone is now sure to conclude that yours truly is “the Religion of Peace.” Yep. No doubt about that! You all must be so proud of yourselves! </sarcasm>

Photo credit: Agence France-Presse / Getty Images, via the New York Times.

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Comments Comments Off on Raging, Rioting, & Murdering Over Insult To Islam? Maybe Not!

Gustave Doré (1832-1883), The Crusaders war machinery, via Wikimedia CommonsThis issue isn’t really new. Wired magazine has been reporting on this particular issue for quite some time (cached). It seems anti-terror instruction in the US military has been taken over by Neocrusaders who’ve made any number of outrageous claims about Islam as a whole and are trying to inculcate hatred of Muslims generally among the ranks. I blogged about this particular influence within the FBI when Wired reported on it last year. But the influence of the Neocrusade in the military seems to be worse, more pervasive, and more extensive.

Last year the Pentagon began a review of its anti-terror training materials, and the results of that review are starting to emerge. MSNBC elaborates on an Al Jazeera report on aspects that have come to light already (WebCite cached article):

As the Pentagon reviews all military classes following the disclosure of one that advocated “total war” against Muslims, the news website Al-Jazeera reported Saturday that it had received materials from a similar course and that both were put together by the same group, a nonprofit that offers classes and workshops to military and government officials.

Al-Jazeera said [cached] it received course slides from an unnamed military officer who said “this bigoted conspiracy cabal is both disgusting and so deeply un-American.”

The slides leave the impression that Hamas extremists have infiltrated the U.S. government, media and education via U.S. Islamic groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Al-Jazeera said. …

The documents indicated the two courses were prepared by the consulting firm Strategic Engagement Group, Inc., Al-Jazeera said. The website for Strategic Engagement [cached] does include statements similar to those in the materials cited by Al-Jazeera, msnbc.com found.

I decided to nose around in Strategic Engagement’s Web site to see what they offer. The first link I clicked on was this PDF version of a Powerpoint presentation entitled “CAIR Is Hamas” (cached). It didn’t take long for me to discover that these people are spewing factual errors. For instance, slide 3 of the presentation says:

In the 1920’s, after WWI and the Turkish Revolution, Mustafa Kemal “Ataturk” became the leader of the new nation-state Turkey. He dissolved the nearly 700 old Islamic State (Caliphate) known as the “Ottoman Empire,” outlawed the wearing of hijab, the growing of Islamic beards, the call to prayer, replaced Arabic with Latin, did away with Shariah (Islamic Law) and replaced it with secular law, and built an army to protect secular Turkey.

First, while it’s true that Ataturk did establish a new, and secular, government in Turkey, his new state did not encompass all of what had once been the Ottoman Empire. That dismantled state was succeeded, in those other regions, by other less secular states, or they became colonies of western powers and only later became independent states. So it’s factually incorrect to state that “the Ottoman Empire” was succeeded uniformly by the “secular” state of Turkey.

Second, the Ottoman Empire was not really a “Caliphate.” While some of its rulers did use that title, sporadically, even when they did, it was not universally recognized across Islam. Moreover, that they did so, doesn’t really mean a lot: Ottoman rulers sometimes arrogated other titles, such as “Roman Emperor,” and that’s also difficult to take very seriously. The title that best applies to the Ottoman rulers was “sultan,” not “caliph,” making the Ottoman Empire a “sultanate” rather than a “caliphate.”

Third, Ataturk did not “replace Arabic with Latin.” Within Ataturk’s new state of Turkey, the dominant language had been Turkish, not Arabic, and it remains so. While Turkish had long been written mostly using the Arabic alphabet, it was less than ideal; Ataturk did encourage the use of a Latin-based alphabet instead. But it is simply not true that Turkey went from speaking Arabic to speaking Latin.

I hardly need to investigate these Neocrusading wingnuts any further, given their loose command of basic history. Listen, I get it. Really I do. I get that the United States has been attacked by Islamic terrorists who feel compelled to kill others — and themselves — out of a violent religiofascistic impulse. I also get that there are immature, violent Muslims who are prone to explode in insane fury at the slightest provocation. I concede there are still some dangerously fanatical Muslims out there who think their religion orders them to maim and kill. That’s very much in evidence, and only a fool would say otherwise. What concerns me are these two basic premises of the Neocrusade:

  1. Islamofascist terrorists are not the “fringe” of Islam, they are its heart; which means that all Muslims, not just some, are murderous fanatics.
  2. Only Islam has any murderous impulses; other religions, particularly Christianity, do not.

The former premise is just not true, as witnessed by the fact that there are plenty of “moderate,” non-terrorist Muslims around the world, who at this moment are fighting the terrorist element of their religion. And other religions, including Christianity, most certainly also have their own terrorizing, murderous extremists. Eradicating Islam completely — which is the Neocrusade’s ultimate goal — cannot and will never end terrorism. To assume so is not only irrational, it’s delusional. The cold fact is that nearly any religion, anywhere, is capable of inciting violence and even terrorism in its followers. None is immune to it. The sooner we understand this, the better off we’ll all be.

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Comments Comments Off on Neocrusaders Have Taken Over Military Anti-Terror Education

US-FBI-ShadedSealI’ve complained before about pseudohistory in many venues. Most of the time it’s merely annoying, and rarely does it have any serious, direct consequences. But recently, Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog revealed that there’s more than a little pseudohistory lurking deep in the heart of the FBI’s counter-terrorism training program: (WebCite cached article):

The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”

Note that all three of these notions are typical “talking points” which comprise part of the continuous mantra of the Religious Right’s Neocrusade against Islam. More specifically, though:

At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.”

These are, of course, completely unlike all those fundamentalist Christians here in the US who claim their Bible is the “unalterable word” of their own Christian God. Got it. Personally I don’t see any real difference between the two, but there must be one, because the FBI’s counter-terrorism trainer, William Gawthrop, says it, so it simply must be the case! Somehow. Some way.

Wired snagged a printed copy of some Powerpoint slides that purport to show that, from their birth to the present, both Christianity and Judaism have become steadily more peaceful and less militant, while Islam has never been peaceful and remains nearly as militant as it was in its first decades (cached). The whole thing contains a number of historical lies, nearly all of which are evident in this one slide:

Printed copy of slide 10 from Powerpoint presentation 'Militancy Considerations' / FBI training materials via Wired

Printed copy of slide 10 from Powerpoint presentation 'Militancy Considerations' / FBI training materials via Wired

Here are a few of the historical untruths contained in this slide:

  1. The Torah was not written in 1,400 BCE. Its sources were written during the period of the two kingdoms, and it was compiled into something near its present form, sometime around the middle of the last millennium BCE.
  2. The Christian Bible was not written in 3 BCE. Its Old Testament already existed, to be sure, but the earliest New Testament books — the 7 “genuine” Pauline epistles — weren’t written until the middle of the first century CE. The rest of the NT books weren’t written until decades later, starting with Mark in the early 70s CE.
  3. Neither Judaism nor Christianity began in states of “maximum militancy & violence.” In particular, the very first Christians were decidedly non-violent; violence didn’t really creep into that faith — as far as we know — until Christological conflicts arose in the late 2nd century.
  4. Neither Judaism nor Christianity went steadily from maximum militancy to non-militancy. Their levels of violence and extremism rose and fell along with their environments and as they progressed.
  5. The Christian graph line should instead look like a very large wave, with a long plateau at maximum violence, stretching from the late 11th century through the 16th.
  6. The Islam graph line should also be different; Islam did experience some periods of lower violence; it has not remained steadily violent as this graph suggests.

Lastly, I’ll point out something I’ve said before. Within all religious traditions — Judaism and Christianity included! — it is always the case that the militant extremists at the fringes of a faith are accommodated, to one degree or another, by more “mainstream” and less violent adherents. Militant adherents generally find it easy to intimidate and bully their co-believers. The reasons for this are myriad. Sometimes it’s because the militants will go after anyone who opposes them and “mainstreamers” are, basically, afraid of them. Other times it’s because the “mainstream” adherents have some sympathy for the extremists. Still other times it’s because even the “mainstreamers” would secretly like to see the extremists succeed. To assume this is only true of Islam and not of Judaism or Christianity, is foolish in the extreme. The political successes of the Christian Right in the US and ultraconservative Orthodox Jews in Israel, clearly demonstrate this is so.

At any rate, there are a number of demonstrable factual errors in this Powerpoint presentation, and there’s no reason the FBI should be relying on it. Yet apparently — to the country’s detriment — they are.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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