The papers are full of the story of Gillian Gibbons, a 54-year old mother and teacher, who was jailed for several days in Sudan for allowing the children in her school class to name a teddy bear ‘Mohammed’. She was shopped to the authorities by a fellow school teacher. But that was only half the story: the local imams were calling for her execution and inciting crowds of people to demonstrate for the death penalty. Shamefully, the Sudanese government seems to have decided to play the situation for all it was worth, now deciding to release Mrs Gibbons to general grovelling and bowing from the British MPs who went to Sudan to beg for her release.
The subtext to all of these shameful shenanigans is the central issue of “respect” for Islam and its related superstitions and cultural hang-ups. Ms Gibbons was quoted as saying, “I have great respect for the Islamic religion…”. Quite. She knew that at heart the issue was about paying due respect to the authorities in the Sudan.
And all of this follows hot on the heels of stories about a rape victim being given 200 lashes as punishment for her part in her own gang rape.
No right thinking person can have “respect” for religions that rely on bizarre and draconian laws to enforce their will. No one in the West can truely respect their attitudes to women, homosexuals, science, apostates, writers or artists who “defame” Islam, and myriad other groups of unfortunate minorities. While doing all of this, Islamicists simultaneously adopt the endless mantras: that Islam is a religion of peace; that Islam respects women; that Islam is a force for good. Yada yada.
It is not a force for good. It does not promote peace. It is backward, medieval, stupid, crude, fanatical, and plain wrong on just about everything. They keep their subject people’s in thrall using propoganda, mass brain washing, the execution of apostates as a matter of policy, and extreme laws. Rule through ignorance and fear.
I may be accused of Islamophobia. If that word means, literally, “fear of Islam”, then I am guilty, I am Islamophobic. If it means that “I hate Islam”, then I am also guilty. But I am not personal about it: I pass Muslims in Dublin everyday of the week. I buy food in their shops and coffee in their cafes. I neither bear them a grudge or harbour a hatred of them, as people. Indeed, I have found them to be uniformly helpful and friendly. But their official religious beliefs are what horrify me.
And it goes without saying that I do not, i) demonstrate in the street for the murder of Muslims, or ii) advocate that they be killed, or executed, or otherwise punished for their beliefs, or iii) that I advocate any kind of cultural war or West vs. East WWIII kind of situation.
But I do think it is high time that Western culture stands up for itself and stop the hand-wringing and apologies and showing “respect” to Islam. We’ve given the world everything from classical music, Shakespeare, the mobile phone, the Internet, the chip, television, democracy, modern laws, freedom of speech, women’s emancipation, soccer, and the car. And what do we get from Islam? Everytime that question is asked, there follows the usual litany of medieval architecture, Islamic art, mathematics and chemistry (via algorithms and alchemy, both Arabic), and so on. But all of these developments happened hundreds of years ago. What have they given us recently? Nothing but fatwahs and death threats and repressive governments and mass killings on September 11th. Their culture is bankrupt. They cannot lead the world on any science or art or music or literature, because it is bankrupt of new ideas.
So before we go further, let’s ask the Muslim’s themselves what they’re about. Find out what they do with apostates, or raped women, or evolution (that last is no more whacky or ridiculous than Christian creationism, but so what?).
The basic truth is that any paternalistic, medieval, book-based religion is bound to be wrong on just about everything that matters. Life is too complex to be looked at through the prism of a book of inherently obscure writings handed down through the generations from revered prophets. When combined with poverty, exclusion, and the sense that their culture is headed for oblivion, it is a toxic brew. It is a disaster. The only hope is for a gradual period of containment followed by the slow withering and dying out of these beliefs. Otherwise, the world may have to confront the ultimate threat of nuclear war with fanatics, from Iran, Pakistan, or some other nuclear-armed regime in the Middle East.
Worst of all, it makes me feel like George Bush or Dick Cheney. And that is awful.