Posts Tagged “taliban”

Shahbaz Bhatti / Reuters via Express Tribune (PK)I blogged about the execution of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province in Pakistan over his criticism of that nation’s law against blasphemy. As it turns out, that law’s proponents weren’t finished bumping off that law’s critics. Raging, violent Islamofanatics killed another opponent of the blasphemy law, as the New York Times reports (WebCIte cached article):

The only Christian minister in the Pakistan government was shot dead on Wednesday morning as he left his home in the capital to attend a cabinet meeting, an attack strikingly similar to the killing two months ago of another senior politician holding liberal views.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister of minorities, was shot eight times by gunmen who ambushed him as he stepped into his car, police officials said. A pamphlet written by a group of Taliban from the province of Punjab was found near the scene in a middle-class residential neighborhood, the officials said.

Bhatti’s assassins haven’t been apprehended yet, so Pakistanis haven’t yet had a chance to shower them with flower petals. What a wonderfully enlightened country Pakistan is! Why, who wouldn’t want to move there and live in a hovel along with dozens of sanctimoniously-enraged murderers and thousands of their gleeful supporters? See how laws against blasphemy make societies want to live harmoniously together, Kum Ba Ya style?

Photo credit: Reuters via Express Tribune.

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Sarah Palin Promotes Bridge To Nowhere With T-ShirtAn odd story has come up, first reported by ABC News, about the militant Religious Rightist and former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, and something she did on Twitter (WebCite cached article):

In recent weeks Sarah Palin has used her Twitter page to endorse midterm candidates, offer political commentary and get out the vote. But last week, she used Twitter to list as a “favorite” a tweet linked to a photo of a sign labeling President Barack Obama a “Taliban Muslim.”

Palin posted as a “favorite” a tweet by conservative political commentator Ann Coulter linking to an image of a sign outside “The Blood of Jesus ATLAH World Missionary Church.” The sign reads, “The blood of Jesus against Obama history made 4 Nov 2008 a Taliban Muslim illegally elected president USA:Hussein.”

Here’s the picture in question:

The blood of Jesus against Obama history made 4 Nov 2008 a Taliban Muslim illegally elected president USA:Hussein.

The blood of Jesus against Obama history made 4 Nov 2008 a Taliban Muslim illegally elected president USA:Hussein.

Of course, Palin is denying she actually “favorited” Coulter’s tweet, claiming it was “accidental,” which ABC News is also reporting, since she responded to them (cached article):

Asked for comment, Palin wrote to ABC News:

“Jake, I’ve never purposefully ‘favorited’ any Tweet. I had to go back to my BlackBerry to even see if such a function was possible. I was traveling to Alaska that day…it was an obvious accidental ‘favoriting,’ but no one can mistake that Ann Coulter was obviously being tongue in cheek with that Tweet. Shall I correct this with whichever wonderful media outlet ran with this (an obviously bored reporter…since there must be nothing going on in the world today, like, um, ramifications of a shake up of power in the U.S. House of Representatives?).”

Note the requisite snide comment about how horrific the media are. For a publicity hound whose career is now built on having her face and words carried around the world by the mass media, Palin sure spends a lot of her time biting the hand that feeds her. Yep, definitely one helluva class act that woman is, no?

Quite aside from her juvenile jabs at the media … it is by no means “obvious” that this was an “accidental tweeting.” If Palin had been unaware of how to “favorite” a tweet, then it could not have been something she might have done even accidentally.

One might easily suspect that Coulter and Palin would both support the “birther” sentiment expressed in this church sign. It’s a delusion that just won’t die among the Religious Right, as I’ve blogged a number of times already. But these heroines of the Religious Right happen to have picked the wrong church to join. You see, ATLAH World Missionary Church is an African-American church in Harlem, NYC; it’s run by a crazy, (reverse) racist pastor, James David Manning; and the cold fact is that neither Ann Coulter nor Sarah Palin would be welcome there!

If you’re wondering — as I am — how an African-American pastor could oppose President Barack Obama rather than support him, on the basis of his race … well … welcome to the wonderful world of raging irrational religionism. I don’t plan even to try to make sense of this.

Anyway, I extend congratulations to Coulter and Palin. They just demonstrated their stupidity and ignorance to the entire planet, via Twitter.

Photo credit: baratunde.

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Disputed photo of Mullah Omar, commander of the Taliban in AfghanistanAn example of the problem with religion in general, has been revealed in glaring detail this weekend, in Times Square, of all places. The AP (via Google News) reports on a failed Islamist-terrorist attack in New York City (WebCite cached article):

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility in a video released Sunday for the attempted car bomb attack in Times Square in New York City.

In the 1 minute, 11 second video allegedly released by the Pakistani Taliban, the group says the attack is revenge for the death of its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and the recent slayings of the top leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq — Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri — who were killed by U.S. and Iraqi troops last month north of Baghdad.

An unidentified speaker on the tape, uncovered by the U.S-based SITE monitoring group, also says the attack comes in response to American “interference and terrorism in Muslim Countries, especially in Pakistan.”

The skeptic in me realizes this claim of responsibility has yet to be confirmed. So this failed attack might not have been their work. I admit that right up front. However, even if they weren’t responsible for it, they have been responsible for some pretty horrific terrorist attacks in the last week or so … including poisoning a girls’ school in Afghanistan (cached article). Trying to poison schoolgirls? How depraved and amoral can one get?

In any event, this is a sterling example of the problem of confusing spiritual and metaphysical beliefs with objective reality, and assuming them to be a mandate requiring one to inflict them on the planet — by force if necessary. Metaphysics has become deadly, folks … and our enslavement to it simply must end. Now. The sooner the better.

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Greetings from Amarillo, Texas (postcard)It’s often joked that the Religious Right and its various constituent groups are a “Christian Taliban,” effectively no different from their Afghani counterparts of the same name, except for 1) Their religion (Christianity instead of Islam); and 2) Their existence as a militia within a lawless country. Well, in Amarillo Texas, that latter difference no longer exists. There truly is a Christian Taliban-style militia at work there … and woe to anyone they deem “unworthy.”

Note: I’m posting this in spite of the fact that I am still not 100% sure this story is genuine. It reads too much like something from The Onion for me to be totally confident in it. Nevertheless, it’s getting some play on the Internet, and the more I hear about it, the more certain this story seems to be.

The Texas Observer reports on the the group known as “Repent Amarillo” and its activities (WebCite cached article), beginning with the protest they staged at a “swingers’ club”:

… [I]magine the swingers’ surprise when they arrived at their New Year’s Eve bash to find two dozen protesters, local media in tow, holding signs and singing songs. This was a most unwelcome coming-out party.

Some protesters, mostly young men in their teens and early 20s, wore black hoodies and military fatigues. The men, Amarillo would soon learn, were foot soldiers of Repent Amarillo, a new, militant evangelical group that advertises itself as “the Special Forces of spiritual warfare.” Their leader, David Grisham, a security guard at nuclear-bomb facility Pantex who moonlights as a pastor, explained the action. “We’re here to shine the light on this darkness,” Grisham told the Amarillo Globe-News. “I don’t think Amarillo knew about this place. This is adultery. This is wrong. There’s no telling how many venereal diseases get spread, how many abortions.” The goal, Grisham says, was not just to save the swingers’ souls, but to shut the club down.

Local Amarillo authorities have — effectively — granted this group their blessing, and will not intervene:

For the past year, this Bible Belt city of 200,000 has been consumed by a culture clash between Repent Amarillo and their targets, a list that includes everything from gay bars to liberal churches. For the Route 66 swingers, Grisham’s “special forces” have been a near-constant presence. Jobs have been lost, families estranged, assault charges filed and businesses shuttered. So far, no public official has stood up to defend these businesses, which operate legally. To the contrary, Repent Amarillo has managed to turn the city’s own laws and employees into an effective weapon. Amarillo, it turns out, doesn’t have the stomach to stick up for gays, swingers, strippers or even Unitarians. Absent a peacekeeper, the conflict might end up being settled the old-fashioned way, frontier-style. “This will not end until somebody gets hurt, either us or them,” one swinger warns.

The lax enforcement is seen in how differently local law enforcement, and Texas state troopers, handled one event:

It’s debatable whether all of Repent’s actions are legal. In January, six Repent members showed up at a weekend swingers party at the private home of Route 66’s attorney. During the party, the attorney says the group trespassed on her property and tried to block cars from entering the driveway. She called the police. Sheriff’s deputies showed up, followed not long after by a state trooper.

The two law-enforcement groups apparently had different ideas about how to handle Repent, according to a Potter County incident report. The state trooper took photographs of the Repent vehicles and filled out suspicious activity cards, which go to the state’s intelligence center. The deputies, on the other hand, dismissed the attorney’s account and left Repent to carry on.

Repent Amarillo is not backing down and is not limiting its attacks to just swingers’ clubs:

What’s next for Repent? They’ve posted a “Warfare Map” on the group’s Web site. The map includes establishments like gay bars, strip clubs and porn shops, but also the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center. Repent believes the 600-acre prairie park’s Walmart-funded “Earth Circle,” used for lectures, is a Mecca for witches and pagans. Also on the list are The 806 coffeehouse (a hangout for artists and counterculture types), the Islamic Center of Amarillo (“Allah is a false god”), and “compromised churches” like Polk Street Methodist (gay-friendly).

It is fairly easy for a group like this to operate in Texas, where county sheriffs are effectively sovereign princelings who have the power to permit people they like to operate with impunity, and who can also destroy people they dislike. So long as the sheriff of Potter county (in which Amarillo lies) chooses not to stop Repent Amarillo, they will continue their militant activities, and will ruin more lives.

I’m curious to see how truly committed these people at Repent Amarillo are, to their cause. Would they be willing to engage in this behavior in some other region where they don’t have the protection of local law enforcement? My guess is that they have neither the courage nor integrity to do so.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith blog.

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Welcome to Bristol, Virginia/TennesseeIn a development which — unfortunately — I don’t find surprising in the least, religious leaflets being distributed in Virginia are blaming the victims of rape for the crimes committed against them. The Bristol (VA) Herald Courier reports on this (WebCite cached article):

Nineteen-year-old Keshia Canter handed three burgers, fries and milkshakes to a car-load of Tuesday afternoon customers at the Hi-Lo Burger’s drive-though window. A lady sitting in the backseat leaned forward, between the two men in front, and handed her a leaflet: “Women & Girls” it said across the top.

“Even though nothing is showing, you’re being ungodly,” Canter recalled the woman telling her. “You make men want to be sinful.” …

Minutes later, Canter’s mother, Pam Yates, who owns the restaurant, returned from the bank. Canter handed her “Women & Girls” and Yates started reading.

“You may have been given this leaflet because of the way you are dressed,” it begins. “Have you thought about standing before the true and living God to be judged?”

It continues with one essential theme: The sins of men are, in part, the fault of women, specifically women in tight-fitting clothing. Yates was annoyed. Then she got to a section on page two:

“Scripture tells us that when a man looks on a woman to lust for her he has already committed adultery in his heart. If you are dressed in a way that tempts a men to do this secret (or not so secret) sin, you are a participant in the sin,” the leaflet states. “By the way, some rape victims would not have been raped if they had dressed properly. So can we really say they were innocent victims?”

The hand-out is signed “anonymous.”

In the eyes of religionists like this, crimes like rape are not the result of sociopathic thinking or criminal behavior. They are, instead, compulsions forced on unwitting men by their wily and wicked victims — sort of like invisible puppet-strings. Blaming the victim for crimes is not new, and it’s not even always religiously-motivated … but when it’s rationalized by religion, that tends to prevent people from seeing how invalid this sort of thinking is.

Note also how eerily similar this is to the mindset behind the Catholic Church’s approach to handling the abuse of children by its clergy, as I blogged previously: “It’s the kids’ fault … they — and the Devil within them — made me do it!”

Taken to its extreme, this kind of thinking leads to customs such as compelling women to shroud themselves entirely in a burqa, or even preventing them from going out in public at all, as was common in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. This robs women of any sense of identity or individuality and reduces them to the level of mere property.

Hat tip: iReligion Forum at Delphi Forums.

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In a move that makes sense only to a mob of delusional religionists, a bunch of folks in Afghanistan — allegedly spurred on by the Taliban — launched a violent demonstration over rumors that copies of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy text, had been destroyed by foreigners. Agence France-Presse reports via Google News (WebCite cached article):

Seven dead in Afghanistan Koran protest shooting

Seven people were killed during protests in Afghanistan sparked by rumours foreign troops had desecrated a Koran, an official said Wednesday, blaming Taliban for inciting the unrest.

Investigators sent to the southern province of Helmand found that no desecration of the Muslim holy book had taken place in the military operation Monday, said Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for the provincial governor. …

Officers of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) had fired on demonstrators in self-defence after one intelligence officer was shot dead in gunfire that came from the protesters, Ahmadi said.

“A total of six demonstrators were killed and around 10 were wounded,” he said.

This protest was a reaction to rumors (yes, only rumors!) of something that had happened earlier:

The demonstrators had descended on the local NDS office after word spread that foreign soldiers had desecrated a Koran during an operation against Taliban-linked drug dealers on Monday, Ahmadi said.

The crowd attacked the building in an attempt to free the prisoners, he said, adding that the shooting started during this melee.

The investigators found that when foreign soldiers arrived on the scene they were pelted with stones by the demonstrators, but did not open fire, he said.

“The protesters fired at intelligence officials, killing one. The intelligence officials fired back in self defence,” he told AFP, citing the report.

Afghan and NATO officials insist no such desecration had taken place … but when you’re a foaming-at-the-mouth, rabid, unthinking hyperreligious nutcase, little details — such as whether or not whatever event has outraged you, actually occurred — hardly matter all that much.

If the deceased protesters are lucky … and if their ferocious and deadly version of Islam is true … then right now they’re in Heaven with 72 houris each. If not, then they’ve died for nothing.

Good riddance. It’s too bad an intelligence officer had to die because these demontrators were too insanely sanctimonious to actually stop and think for a moment before they went berserk.

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I’ve blogged a couple times, earlier this year, about a then-recently-passed law in Afghanistan which legalizes the mistreatment of Shi’ite women by their husbands. President Hamid Karzai appeared to put the brakes on this law, and placed it under review, which — temporarily at least — prevented it from taking effect. At the time I suspected this “review” would be short-lived and the law would quietly take effect, with Karzai hoping no one would notice. As it turns out, I was correct, although Karzai didn’t get his wish. It was noticed, as the New York Times Lede blog reports:

Afghan Husbands Win Right to Starve Wives

Bowing to international pressure and unprecedented protests by hundreds of women on the streets of Kabul, the Afghan government promised in April to review a new law imposing severe restrictions on women in Shiite Muslim families.

Last week, though, Human Rights Watch discovered that a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, “except in extreme circumstances.” …

When the law was first approved, President Barack Obama called it “abhorrent,” but has not yet responded to reports that it has now been revised and put into effect, perhaps because Afghanistan’s election is just days away.

That the law’s proponent, Sheik Muhammad Asif Mohseni, was able to find women who supported it, is not meaningful, because the word of this women cannot be trusted as genuine … they may have been pressured, either directly by the Shi’ite clergy and their own husbands, or indirectly by centuries of religiously-enforced oppression, to say they like this law, in spite of it not being in their best interests.

Moreover, as the blog entry points out, although this law applies — as written — only to Shi’ites in Afghanistan, it nevertheless appeals to the Sunni majority, creating a danger that it will be applied to all Afghan women:

Although the law applies only to Shiites, Soraya Sobhrang, commissioner for women’s rights at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, said in April that it could influence a proposed family law for the Sunni majority and a draft law on violence against women. She told The Times in April, “This opens the way for more discrimination.”

Normally this type of reasoning would be called “slippery-slope” thinking, however, in this case it’s not entirely fallacious; such policies were in effect for all women during the Taliban regime. It’s not impossible that Afghanistan might revert to Taliban-like administration.

Makes me wonder what coalition forces have been fighting for, since the end of 2001. Sure, we toppled the Taliban regime, but Taliban sentiment is nevertheless alive and well in that backward country.

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