Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Der Spiegel has a half-baked stab at the issue of the Koran burning and subsequent beheadings

An effigy of the American pastor Terry Jones burns during a demonstration in the Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday

Us and them

"Are you Muslim?" one of the insurgents yelled. The Russian, who was familiar with the Koran, lied and said he was.

"What is the profession of faith?"

The Russian didn't hesitate. "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet."

The Indian journalist and politician Arun Shourie, born a Hindu but a practicing Buddhist today, is a sharp critic of religious claims to absolute truth. The problem, he says, is the idea that those who don't recognize the truth are at odds with God or Allah. ...

They differentiate between "us" and "them," and lack empathy for those with different beliefs. Killing becomes permissable: "They are the non-believers!" Burning books (or drawing cartoons) becomes merely an exercise in free speech.

Sorry but in the free world, we all take things on the chin, a Christian can have strong beliefs, but at the same time, don't attempt to blow up an art gallery, or threaten those operating a playhouse, because they do not like the way Jesus is being portrayed within. We cannot use the idea of absolute belief ~ to forbid or ban freedom of expression. Which is what Muslims have been arguing for ~ their Islamic law ~ the world over.

US President Barack Obama summed it up well: The desecration of a holy book, including the Koran, is "an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry." But it is also shameful to kill innocent people in response.

The protest!

There is another problem ~ everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Obama can only make the sweeping statement, as to the pastor's intentions, because there is no law against the pastor's actions. The pastor put the book on trial and found the Islamic holy book guilty ~ which goes to the problem ~ via the holy book under Islam absolutism, it is readily accepted that Christians and others should be treated with less respect ~ not out of intolerance for intolerance sake ~ but because the Koran commands Muslims to do so. As a result all across the Islamic, and in many Constitution, non-Muslims are forbidden to enjoy the same rights as Muslims ~ in the Maldives, under their Constitution a non-Muslim cannot hold citizenship [that solves that]. So that the absolutism of Islam, and the 'we' are better than 'them', is not an aberration ~ it is for the Muslim ~ a commandment from God.


Muhammad's fruits!

Take a journey to the west ~ and not only do you have wide sections of the Muslim community ~ placing the 'us' versus 'them' first [huge integration problems in Europe, unlike most other immigrants] ~ there is the added extra, of the belief that they as Muslims should control these new societies, that their rules should be paramount, that as in the Islamic world there should be absolutely no questions posed about their religion, its prophet, its 'glorious and flawless' history. And indeed the same punishments or some sort of punishment should be dealt ~ for those who break these 'Islamic' laws.

Hello!!

Cartoons are satire ~ which is how it started ~ done in the western tradition ~ we have a laugh for relief and no one remembers them. How does this become the high end of hatred? If you leave Islam in the Islamic world ~ that is akin to treason ~ questioning the Prophet ~ like ~ should he have married a child ~ and as a man of God ~ should he have used rape on the battlefield ~ that is blasphemy ~ whereas the west long throw off these types of religious control. And Muslims must understand that we can't have them back.


The dhimmi delusion

The modern world ~ is no better place to highlight the Islamic delusion ~ under the dhimmi laws set out to end Muhammad's warfare against the Christians and Jews [i.e. they didn't have a chance] ~ for years in the Muslim mindset there has been a 'us' and 'them' ~ where Muslims were superior ~ not only in their own minds but under the law. Within their systems of law they kept the non-Muslims among them subjugated ~ and as with their women ~ who they teach very little and in return little is produced ~ expectations of the non-Muslim were in line with structure of the Islamic society ~ are still awe struck and overwhelmed by the success of the non~Muslims ~ where Islamic laws are virtually unheard of ~ to overcome their sense of Islamic impotence ~ they employ every method to control it ~ to put a harness on it ~ to reduce it or 'us' to the lowest common Islamic denominator. In the new absolution in return ~ words like racism and intolerance towards Islam ~ are all charges against people telling them to back off!!



Twenty people have died in the protests triggered by Pastor Terry Jones' burning of the Koran in March and more violence is likely. But both his action, and the reaction in the Muslim world share the same problematic roots: Claims to absolute truth have little place in the modern world.


The Russian head of the United Nations mission in the northern Afghanistan city of Masar-i-Sharif had fled with three colleagues into a safe room when the mob stormed their building. But it wasn't long before the assailants broke into the room.

"Are you Muslim?" one of the insurgents yelled. The Russian, who was familiar with the Koran, lied and said he was.
"What is the profession of faith?"

The Russian didn't hesitate. "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet."

It was a lie that saved his life, according to the story told by one of the Russian's UN colleagues. He got away with a severe beating. But the three UN workers he was with, a Norwegian, a Swede and a Romanian, were all killed. A report in the Wall Street Journal describes how a German barely escaped the massacre; four Nepali guards also fell victim.

This attack, along with several other acts of violence, came in the wake of a Koran burning, which took place on March 20 in Gainesville, Florida. The desecration of the holy Muslim text had originally been scheduled for last autumn, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the US. Calling Islam a "violent religion," radical American pastor Terry Jones insisted that the Koran be burned, only backing down following worldwide protests and pressure from the White House.

Sentenced 'to Death'

But six months later, Jones, together with the pastor Wayne Sapp, orchestrated a tribunal. Playing judge, the two declared the Koran "guilty" and sentenced it "to death." Sapp played the executioner, dousing the book with kerosene and setting it alight. About 30 followers watched as the Koran burned and turned to ash.

Now Jones is contending that he and his parishioners are being threatened -- and that the riots in Afghanistan prove that Islam is a violent religion. Muslims, he insists, must be taken to task. He is demanding retribution for the attacks on the UN workers and is calling for the US government and the UN to take immediate action against Muslim countries.

The violence will likely grow. At least 20 people have been killed so far in Afghanistan, 11 during the attack on the UN in Masar-i-Sharif, and 9 more in riots in the southern city of Kandahar. Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai turned up the rhetoric even further on Sunday. He demanded an apology from the US Congress and repeated his demand that the pastors in question be arrested.

In Pakistan, the opposition leader in the regional parliament of Punjab province said a marksman should be sent to Florida to take care of the issue. Protests are ongoing in both countries.

Jones says he does not feel responsible for the deaths. "We didn't call for violence and murder," he said. "We only burned a book." His parish is "saddened" by the deaths of the UN workers, he said, but it would not change anything the parish does.

It is a conflict that is being played out on a base level. Both sides carry blame: those who provoke, and those who allow themselves to be provoked. US President Barack Obama summed it up well: The desecration of a holy book, including the Koran, is "an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry." But it is also shameful to kill innocent people in response.

This is not the "Clash of Civilizations" that the late American political scientist Samuel Huntington prophesied after the end of the Cold War. Instead it is a clash of the extremes. On the one side are the radical, evangelical Christian pastors who offer blanket condemnations of Islam, knowing full well what the consequences might be. On the other side are the Muslim extremists who react reflexively and kill indiscriminately as revenge. Both sides think they are right. And they play by rules that disregard basic tenets of civilization. Man does not kill man. And man does not insult man, either.

Claiming an Absolute Truth

One could certainly pose the question: What is worse, the deaths of people or the burning of a book, even if it is a holy book? The answer should be clear to a civilized person, whether Christian or Muslim. But this question is secondary. The root of the problem is the claim made by both radical Christians and radical Muslims: that their belief is the only absolute truth.

In times when people lived at considerable distance from people of other faiths, such absolutism may not have been quite as dangerous. In those days, the conviction that one possessed the only real truth led to a stronger sense of community, of belonging. But as early as the Crusades, religious extremism revealed its shortcomings. And today, when one can travel from one end of the world to another in a day -- and people from different cultures live together -- the absolute truth dogma has no place.

The Indian journalist and politician Arun Shourie, born a Hindu but a practicing Buddhist today, is a sharp critic of religious claims to absolute truth. The problem, he says, is the idea that those who don't recognize the truth are at odds with God or Allah. Those who are so inflexible in their beliefs, Shourie says, are incapable of living in a multicultural and multi-religious society.

They differentiate between "us" and "them," and lack empathy for those with different beliefs. Killing becomes permissable: "They are the non-believers!" Burning books (or drawing cartoons) becomes merely an exercise in free speech.

Sorry ~ but in the free world

"People must develop compassion," writes Karen Armstrong, the British author and former-nun who is influential in the Muslim world. She even offers courses in compassion in Pakistan.

The Russian UN worker recognized that he could not expect any compassion. He convinced the attackers that he believed in their truth. And that is the only way he survived.

Der Sipegel

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