Everbody Draw Mohammed Day problems…

There’s a great deal of excitement, fear, infringement of free speech and civil liberties, over Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. Pakistan, for example, has blocked Facebook, where the idea was first floated, and took root, YouTube, Wikipedia and Twitter.

And the originator of the idea, one Jon Wellington, has staged a retreat, saying “Ya’ll(sic) go ahead if that’s your bag, but count me out.” Bugger that, sunshine – you can’t just start a Continue reading

Binyam Mohamed – what is the truth?

Binyam Mohamed has been returned, amid great fanfare, to Britain from Guantanamo Bay. Why? He doesn’t belong here at all.

As David Aaronovitch says in the Times, today, “Mr Mohamed’s story is that, as a young Ethiopian denied asylum in Britain but permitted to remain, he led an unsatisfactory life and became a drug addict. In June 2001, in an effort to kick the habit, Continue reading

Muslims offended – shock, horror!

The Islamic world, or at least a vociferous part of it, is up in arms because Wikipedia has posted images of Mohammed.

“Why are wikipedia admins insisting on inflicting pain and hatred upon muslims?” asks one complainant, completely missing the point that Wikipedia is not inflicting anything on anybody – any pain and hatred resides entirely within the Muslim psyche.

The solution, though, is simple; if your religion has so slender a hold upon you that you fear these images will nudge you down the slippery slope to idolatry, then don’t look at them. That’s your right, just as it’s my right not to visit Islamic websites, because I know that they will piss me off monumentally. I don’t bitch and whine because they’re there, and demand they be censored. Muslims can surely do the same with Wikipedia – it’s their right to stay away from it, it’s sure as hell NOT their right to censor it.

Wikipedia didn’t create the images just to wind up Muslims (though god knows, it doesn’t take much!), they have existed in the real world for many centuries (almost as long as Islam in some cases), but I don’t hear anyone suggesting that the original paintings be destroyed because they depict the prophet (though I’m pretty sure fruitcake will have) – their existence has conspicuously not caused the Islamic world to descend into idolatry as a result, and the images on Wikipedia – which must remain in a sane world – are surely not going to change that.

It seems to me that Muslims all too often deliberately go out of their way to be “offended” – teddy-bear, anyone, or fake “Danish” cartoons cobbled up by an Imam to ramp up the savagery? – and this is just the latest example. Stick around, there’ll surely be something else along soon.

You’ll enjoy this if you’re not easily offended, or Muslim…

 

Oh dear – not the T-word!

The spirit of Thomas Bowdler lives on in government rhetoric.

Today, a new, namby-pamby, counter-terrorism phrasebook has been drawn up in Whitehall to advise civil servants on how to talk to Muslim communities about the nature of the terror threat, without implying they are specifically to blame.

Based on the government’s decision to abandon the “aggressive rhetoric” of the so-called war on terror, the guide tells civil servants not to use terms such as Islamist extremism or jihadi-fundamentalist, because this suggests a link between Islam and terrorism, but instead to refer to violent extremism and criminal murderers or thugs to avoid any implication that there is an explicit link between Islam and terrorism. But, implication or not, there is a link, and it’s rock-solid.

Give me a break – I’m not saying all, or even most, Muslims in Britain are terrorists, potential or actual – they’re obviously not, but some clearly are and, for the most part their fellows fail, miserably, to speak out against them. By the way, the term “Muslims in Britain” was a deliberate choice – they seem adamant, for the most part, that they don’t want to be “British Muslims” – and there you have one of the major problems with Islam in the west; a huge, and self-imposed, insularity.

Anyway, you don’t see Rasta, Baptist or Buddhist terrorists, do you? Nope, the only kind we have, apart from the very rare white lunatic like the Unabomber, is the Muslim variety, whether home-grown or not. Likewise in the middle east, where Islamic bombers and rocket launchers kill anyone who looks or thinks differently, and that includes other Muslim groups – at least, I suppose, they’re equal-opportunity terrorists. Oh, sorry, we’re not supposed to call them terrorists either. Damn.

At the moment, this limp-wristed guide is aimed at government and civil service spokespeople, but how long before an attempt is made to extend it to newspapers, and broadcast media? And can we expect, any time soon, the thought police to roll up and stifle barroom debate on the subject? (Well, always assuming the level of debate ever rises above the level of football, that is – time was when it did. Maybe a subject for another post – the dumbing-down of the British pub…)

In The Guardian, there’s an article, here by Jim Al-Khallili, professor of physics at the University of Surrey, about the flowering of Islamic science, and how much the world owes to it. Yes, indeed, there’s no arguing with that on any level. Well – maybe one – it was over 1,000 years ago, and pretty much sod-all has happened since. In fact, in many areas, much of Islam is still locked in an 11th century mindset, and therein lies its weakness – and its danger. The world has moved on – it’s high time Islam did too. In fact, Prof. Al-Khallili closes by saying:-

“I would argue that, at a time of increased cultural and religious tensions , misunderstandings and intolerance, the west needs to see the Islamic world through new eyes. And, possibly more important, the Islamic world needs to see itself through new eyes and take pride in its rich and impressive heritage.”

A sentiment with which I would whole-heartedly agree, though I’d delete the “possibly” – it’s a given that Islam, in general, needs a profound bout of self-examination, to maybe figure out why they are so deeply insecure, paranoid, and hostile towards anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the tenets of Islam (and even towards some who embrace a different flavour of Islam), and what they can do to change this. First, though, they have to want to. You question insecure and paranoid? Hmm… I offer you two words that illustrate these two facets perfectly – teddy bear.

Justice 2

Well now, Gillian Gibbons has received a presidential pardon, brokered by British Muslim peers, Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, which I hope will stand as an example to British Muslims.

I am, however, concerned as to whether Ms. Gibbons will leave Sudan safely – does presidential concern, I wonder, extend to providing an armed guard, something which recent events suggest may well be essential? We’ll see. I also wonder why the president didn’t see fit to intervene in this farce from the outset?

In the meantime, this affair should serve as a salutary lesson to any other Britons working, or planning to work, in Islamic countries – make sure you familiarise yourself with the foibles of Islamic culture. All of them, no matter how daft they may seem.

Update, 18.06 – Gibbons has safely left Sudan and is on her way home. Somehow, I doubt she’ll be in a hurry to venture abroad again very soon.

Justice?

In Sudan, foolish teacher Gillian Gibbons (foolish because she really should have known better, despite the fact that, from any sane standpoint, she committed no crime), has been given 15 days in jail for allegedly naming a teddy-bear after the prophet Mohammed. In a country that routinely abuses and tortures its own citizens for no very good reason, she got off unexpectedly lightly.

Concerning this case, a prominent Muslim said on Radio 2 that he’s tired of the demonisation of Islam by the West (in response to media coverage of this farce). My response to that (though it wasn’t read out on air), was that Islam doesn’t need the help of the West in its demonisation – it accomplishes that all by itself. Take the positively rabid reaction to the 15-day sentence in Khartoum, which is positively scary. What the hell’s wrong with these people – no crime has been committed and 15 days, while extremely moderate compared with what she could have got, more than purges her “offence”.

Mind you, one “moderate” British Muslim, again on Radio 2, had the temerity to say that death was a more appropriate penalty (an opinion that’s rapidly gaining ground in Sudan, according to the latest news). Give me a break – it’s a sodding teddy-bear named after one of the kids in the class, for pity’s sake.

We are repeatedly told by Islamic scholars that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and justice, but across the Islamic world there is precious little evidence of this. Where Islamic, especially Sharia, writ runs unopposed you’re more likely to get paranoia, intolerance and injustice than anything else – especially if you’re a woman.

Take Ms. Gibbons’ “offence”. She was accused of permitting the naming a teddy-bear after the prophet (who is doubtless turning in his grave at the atrocities committed in his name), but she didn’t. The bear was named after one of the kids in the class – the bear was named after him, not Mohammed the prophet (but she should still have known better – anyone with the slightest knowledge of Islam would have seen this coming) – a difference the authorities and many people in Sudan seem incapable of understanding. Or they don’t want to understand, which, I believe, is closer to the truth.