We must talk about Islam: A faith that affects everyone should be susceptible to critique by all

Aug 5, 2015

By Jeffrey Tayler

Eight months after it suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks in French history, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo continues to provoke wrongheaded, confused and even cowardly analysis that disregards the facts and betrays a failure to understand – or a refusal to recognize — the stakes we in the West all have in what the publication stands for: freedom of expression.

Lest we forget those facts: on Jan. 7, the brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi burst into the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, and, shouting “Allahu akbar!” systematically gunned down staff members and others present.  After doing so, they announced“We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!  We have killed Charlie Hebdo!”  Their motive: the cartoonists had satirized, on many occasions, the Prophet Muhammad, whose depiction Islam forbids.  Put succinctly: inspired by their religion, the Kouachi brothers murdered cartoonists for drawing cartoons.  They murdered for Islam.

Now for the latest broadside against reason (and the magazine’s few, grief-stricken survivors) — a documentary produced by journalist Max Blumenthal and a British videographer, James Kleinfeld, called “Je ne suis pas Charlie.”  The title is meant to refute the popular slogan (Je suis Charlie, or I am Charlie) adopted by the almost 4 million French citizens, who, to defend free speech, marched peacefully across France a few days after the massacre.  (Disclosure: I have friends among Charlie Hebdo’s staff.)

“Je ne suis pas Charlie” purportedly aims to explain why not all French citizens – and in particular, many in the country’s Muslim minority – approve of the slogan.  But the documentary does something else: it delivers a strongly biased narrative of events in France after the crime that exculpates Islam, de facto inculpates the victims in their own deaths, and will surely comfort and encourage future potential assassins contemplating the execution of similar atrocities.  As Blumenthal and Kleinfeld have it, the Kouachi brothers’ crime also occurred as the inevitable, if regrettable, outcome of France’s colonial history and the marginalized status of the country’s Muslim community.


To read the full article click the name of the source below.

55 comments on “We must talk about Islam: A faith that affects everyone should be susceptible to critique by all

  • Its distressing that the whole discussion we need to be having is pre-emptively hijacked by Islam’s intolerance of apostasy and Islam’s menacing insistence that it never be criticized.

    Instead, maybe now is the time to talk about gun violence…oh, wait…



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  • 5
    Miserablegit says:

    A superbly written article in which time was obviously taken to do a point by point rebuttal of this nonsense. Sadly as we know when any organisation religious or otherwise is unable to face criticism, it will blindly lash out with claims of in this case islamophobia. One should never expect reasoned debate.



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  • All ideologies are fair game when it comes to question time. What is noticeable is that it is predominantly the Abrahamic religions that resort to killing instead of argument and even more remarkable is their vehement beligerence toward the variants in their own religions.

    Is the ‘confusion’ between race and religion ignorance or contrivance?



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  • A related question that arises is: Whether the mainstream media that condemn such massacres and defend freedom of expression would permit cartoons lampooning Islam or any religion to be printed/exhibited in their media?

    In my view, it is not enough if criticism of religion is only done by satirical papers or websites or websites like this one.

    Criticism of religion must be done at the mainstream level, by serious newspapers and TV channels. But, I suppose that is where obscurity of thought and lack of conviction lurk. The editors and opinion makers might themselves be believers. Atheism has a very hard battle to fight.



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  • Suresh
    Aug 6, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Criticism of religion must be done at the mainstream level, by serious newspapers and TV channels.

    The problem is that, particularly where there is no balanced state TV, the media is market led. Bigoted advertisers and subscribers will withdraw funding if they are told things they don’t like to hear.

    I am reminded of some creationist letters published in the National Geographic Magazine, saying the subscribers would not be renewing their subscriptions, because the magazine was “promoting evolution”!



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  • Meanwhile the religion of peace, in its various denominations, continues to spread its version of peace!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33805901

    A suicide bomb attack on a mosque in Saudi Arabia has left 15 people dead.

    A senior Saudi official told the BBC the bombing targeted a mosque used by security forces in Abha, close to the Yemeni border.

    An attack on a Shia mosque in May was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

    Saudi Arabia is also heading a campaign against Shia-led rebels in neighbouring Yemen.

    Saudi TV reports that all those killed were members of the security forces.

    The mosque was used by a Swat team tasked with domestic security, officials say.



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  • going off on a tangent. I often wonder what would have happened if Ögedei Khan had not died when he did in 1241 and had continued to devastate and ultimately overcome Europe (as is the consensus among military historians). His successor chose the Caliphate of Bagdad and wrought so much damage that the Islamic states which were scientifically superior to the west at the time and more tolerant of religious difference within it’s borders, went into terminal decline allowing Europe to gain continental and then global supremacy within a couple of hundred years (China too being knocked out by the Mongols).
    If Europe had been obliterated and Islam went onto conquer the world would it be Christian terrorists blowing people up more often and murdering anybody who insulted Christ?



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  • 12
    Suresh says:

    I have no sympathy for Christianity, but what you have said is speculative.

    In history, if Islamic nations achieved any progress in science, it is despite the Koran. A similar thing may be said about Christian nations vis-a-vis the Bible. Other religions too militate against science at some point or the other.

    I think one of mankind’s great achievements is the advancement of science, despite the weight of religion against it.



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  • Its my understanding that the golden age of Islamic science was very much like the Renaissance with nobles backing science and all that came crashing down with the fall of Bagdad. Interestingly China had exactly the same thing happening with Taoist religious authorities being the ones to apply the brakes.
    I think you are probably right, it took time for the benefits of science to be recognized as more important to the rulers than the usefulness of religion. But I think this could have happened with different luck to other civilizations. It might be speculative but thinking likes this helps you loosen your cultural biases?



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  • I suggest your understanding may be somewhat flawed here.

    Steven Weinberg’s new book, To Explain The World, goes into this period in depth. Muslim science was on the wane much earlier than the fall of Bagdad. With the insertion of what is called occasionalism. the idea that there is basically not natural process but the god does all. There was a man long before the fall of Bagdad who advanced this idea and it lead to the privileging of religion over science. The Bagdad destruction thing is something Muslims promote now days, instead of promoting science

    neil degrasse tyson on islamic science

    At youtube. Gives an idea that is fleshed out in Weinberg’s book.



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  • I’ve seen the NDT video before. I think it’s fair to say that there are lots of opinions on this. I don’t see why one argument trumps all the others (and I’m not a historian or claim to have specialist knowledge on this ). This is what it says on Wikipedia.
    “It is said to have ended with the collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate with the Mongol invasions and the Sack of Baghdad in 1258.[6] Several contemporary scholars, however, place the end of the Islamic Golden Age to be around the 15th to 16th centuries.[1][2][3]”
    In any case religious ideas permeated western science too up until the 20th century – I suspect the important thing is you need the right conditions for rational thinking to emerge. I don’t think you can categorically say it couldn’t have happened under Islam. then again science stagnated in China so maybe it would have in Islam anyway.



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  • The Enlightenment-derived language of western humanism has created abstractions, generally useful in building civil secular society, but sometimes dangerously isolated from practical realities. The term “xenophobic” and its specific counterpart “Islamophobic” villify a person believed to be infected by a fear of foreigners or a fear of Muslims. Current events more than justify European fear of the Muslims in their midst and, even absent the terrorist murders, there is ample cause for deploring the oppressive treatment of women and the general violation of human rights and liberties within Muslim communities mandated by the anti-humanist dictates of Islam.

    Islam has emerged as the new geopolitical fascism of our age, engaging in sectarian civil wars, invading territories and exterminating infidels. Fortunately for the west, the violence is mostly internecine, limited to insurgencies and carried out by poorly equipped militias and the ISIS army within the Arab Middle East and in other distant marginalized countries.

    Still simple dichotomies do not fully explain the complex interrelationship between immigration, assimilation and the host country. Peaceful Muslims seeking (as we say) a better life for themselves and their families through secular education and the work ethic while embracing the democratic culture of their adoptive country -grateful to be liberated from the yoke of dictatorships and poverty in their homeland- find themselves in an ambiguous, ambivalent circumstance. These assimilated immigrants believe that their version of Islam is a “peaceful religion” disgraced by a fanatical minority, and incorporates their right to freedom of religion; the freedom of personal conscience to practice a faith tradition.

    Understandably, law-abiding assimilated Muslims feel the endemic hostility to their “foreign” faith, culture, customs and, yes, sometimes their “race” apparent in skin color and semitic physical features. These feelings- necessarily evoked by the prejudices of the people who surround them are not appreciated by the writer of this article. It’s not enough to say that “we white secularists or progressive Christians have 20 good reasons for criticizing Islam and many more for condemning terrorist atrocities, so you have no cause for concern.” The ambiguous welter of emotions that swirl around ethnic-racial relations overrides hygienic critical thinking. All too often what rises to the surface is fear and loathing.



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  • As secularists it makes no sense at all to us when moslem devouts wish to murder when they see a cartoon of their “prophet”, but it happens and so we must question how much such an approach to freedom of expression advances the cause of reason.

    We know drawing such cartoons will cause undeserved deaths, but we also know that poking a stick into a hornets’ nest will get you stung and entering the water with a Great White Shark to persuade it of the virtues of vegetarianism will also have a tragic outcome. Surely we can find more effective and less lethal ways of opposing such fanaticism?

    Islam, the Koran, the Prophet (and the Bible) are such pathetic examples of belief and how to live your lives that we should be capable of debunking them without encouraging murder and mayhem by donating these idiots an excuse. Most of us would not deliberately offend christians by walking into a cathedral and pissing in the font even when we know the response to the offence is unlikely to be lethal, likewise, cartoons are not essential to debate however much we insist on our right to use them.



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  • I disagree with some assumptions of the author of this article but I agree with some of his considerations.

    Put succinctly: inspired by their religion, the Kouachi brothers murdered cartoonists for drawing cartoons. They murdered for Islam.

    I am not so sure that “They murdered for Islam.”

    There are some alternative interpretations.

    One of these interpretations says that somebody has prepared a play to compel us to believe that “They murdered for Islam.”

    I don’t know which version is the true version. I know only that mainstream media’s information are incomplete, full of propaganda, and, in my opinion, probably false in some parts: the strange execution of a policeman on the road; the strange suicide of a police officer; the lack of trustable information (photos) about the particulars on the bodies of those people that have been killed.

    Also the reported motivations for the attacks are various: Islamic fanaticism; a punishment to France for having recognized the Palestinian State organized by Israeli intelligence …

    Now for the latest broadside against reason …

    In my opinion, to think and to say “Je ne suis pas Charlie” is a legitimate expression of thought as another until it doesn’t imply open apology of crime. And, if we are freethinkers, we have the duty to defend also the freedom to express that opinion.

    But the documentary does something else: it delivers a strongly biased narrative of events in France …

    As I have already said there are many groups that deliver strongly biased narrative of events in France.

    Watching the documentary I have perceived the will to show a plurality of opinions among which those opinions that are ignored or discriminated by the mainstream media in France and in Occident. Maybe those ignored or discriminated opinions were expressed in a strongly partisan manner, but we have to know also those opinions because we need also them in order to have a larger vision of the opinions on that issue.

    … after the crime that exculpates Islam, de facto inculpates the victims in their own deaths, and will surely comfort and encourage
    future potential assassins contemplating the execution of similar
    atrocities.

    In my opinion, the documentary on the whole doesn’t seem to aim to potential assassins contemplating the execution of similar atrocities.

    The film turns on the semantically fraudulent bunk concept of “Islamophobia” […] It is, thus, a faith that potentially concerns
    everyone and should be susceptible to critique by all.

    Yes, I agree. If the atheists want to show to the Islamists and other religionists that “Islamophobia”, “Christianofobia”, “Hebrewfobia”, are semantically fraudulent bunk concepts, the atheists can use “atheofobia” to indicate the criticisms of the Islamists and other religionists toward the atheism. And then the atheists can try to teach to the Islamists that the little difference is that the atheists don’t kill Islamists for their criticisms toward the atheism. The atheists listen to the critics and scrutinize their criticisms to accept them, to disprove them, or to doubt of them.

    “Islamophobia” and “Islamophobic” are bludgeoning terms of political jargon wielded to suppress free speech and render Islam off-limits for
    anything but accolades, or, at least, neutral acceptance.

    Yes, I agree. But also Pope Francis and some Hebrew leaders are trying to exploit the same situation to intimidate our freedom of expression and to invoke limits: “if somebody tells bad things about my mother …” Pope Francis said.

    Those who denounce “Islamophobia” are pursuing an agenda, seeking to carve out a critique-free haven for their ideology, or else serving,
    at times unwittingly, as the “useful idiots” of such people and some
    pretty unsavory regimes.

    Yes, that is clear. To almost all the religions it likes the blasphemy-law that is the main instrument that they use to discourage criticism toward their fairytales.

    I agree with the majority of the considerations in the rest of the article.

    I would like to add that to the Islamic world it lacks something like the book The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine.

    What is necessary is a booklet that succeeds in explaining to the Moslems that the Bible (old and new testament) is a bunch of ancient fairytales, and that the Koran, even thou it is an original opera, couldn’t exist without the Bible (as well as the comment that I am writing couldn’t exist without the main article). And that the so-called prophet Muhammad has simply preached what his father-in-law had taught him. So that the persons that call themselves “Moslem” can understand that there is nothing of divine in the Koran, and that it is the time to start with “The Age of Reason on the Fairytales of Koran” so that they will call themselves “Reasonable” and will start a new season of humanity.

    I have read some booklets of formally respectful criticisms of Christianity of some Moslem authors.

    For the most part the Islamic countries forbid us to deliver our booklets of criticisms of the Islam to their people, so their people grew up with a narrow view of the world and with a limited capacity to consider the views of the others in a peaceful manner.

    The recent governments of those Islamic countries are responsible to have brought up a generation of people that have a narrow view of the world. I know by direct experience that in the past it was different. They were Reasonable-Moslem.

    Will the Occidental governments be intelligent enough for avoiding the same error in their own countries? The error is that of giving more power to the religion.

    If you like to incite the Occidental governments to be intelligent on this subject, next September in Washington, say NO to the Trojan-horse of the Vatican.

    It is not matter to prevent the Trojan-horse of the Vatican to tell his favorite fairytale to the US’s Congress. It is matter to tell to the US’s Congress that a Concordat with the Vatican, also disguised in guise of some particular scattered agreements, is a very wrong idea. It will be the Caliphate of the Occident.



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  • Meanwhile with the usual level of tolerance of people on the the list of critics of their delusions!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-33819032

    Bangladesh blogger Niloy Neel hacked to death in Dhaka

    A Bangladeshi blogger known for his secular views has been hacked to death by a gang armed with machetes in the capital Dhaka, police say.

    Niloy Neel was attacked at his home in the city’s Goran area.

    He is the fourth secularist blogger to have been killed this year by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh.

    Mr Neel was on a list of bloggers viewed as targets by the militants, the head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network told AFP news agency.

    Imran H Sarkar said the attackers entered Mr Neel’s room, “shoved his friend aside and then hacked him [Neel] to death”.

    BBC South Asia editor Charles Haviland says that, like previous victims, Mr Neel was not only secular but atheist and like two of the others he was from a Hindu, not a Muslim, background.

    Police said about six attackers had tricked their way into Mr Neel’s home by saying they were looking to rent a flat.

    “His wife was in the flat but she was confined to another room.”

    Bangladesh is officially secular but critics say the government is indifferent to attacks on bloggers by Islamist militants.



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  • 20
    Suresh says:

    These kind of incidents deserve universal condemnation. But they are only the outward manifestation of a disease that lies deeper within. Invariably, believers don’t understand that they are the victims of mind conditioning. Religious mind conditioning is one of the chief causes for such apathy and torpor against terrorist actions that target secularists. There are of course political reasons too.



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  • 22
    bonnie says:

    …critics say the government is indifferent to attacks on bloggers…

    Purportedly there is a petition to the Prime Minister – the people have spoken, but what good if it falls on deaf ears?

    MSN fleshed out their first brief article, to more like the BBC report.

    I was relieved to see that, as Niloy Neel does not deserve short shrift. Do wish though, they had included his photo (something tangible readers can sink their teeth in to); his cute face would garner more sympathy – the atheist cause needs all the help it can get.



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  • 23
    Michael says:

    About gun violence in France, France, where guns are if not outlawed, so heavily restricted that the average person cannot get one?

    OK, what do you want to talk about about a place that doesn’t really have a gun violence problem? Talking about France’s gun violence would be like talking about the Moons over crowding.



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  • BigPencil
    Aug 5, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Instead, maybe now is the time to talk about gun violence…oh, wait…

    Ah! The consequences of that other fundamentalist “right to bear arms”, dogma.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-33802026

    An 11-year-old boy has been charged with manslaughter, accused of using his father’s gun to shoot a three-year-old boy in Detroit, US media reports say.

    The boy was visiting his father in the east of the city on Monday when he took a handgun from the bedroom.

    ALSO:-

    US toddler kills himself with mother’s gun – BBC News

    US boy, three, shoots both parents in New Mexico – BBC News



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  • There seems to be confusion about what constitutes discrimination against a particular group or person and what constitutes free speech to criticise the behaviour or beliefs of that group or person.

    In relatively free societies I’d submit that the so called human right to not be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender and sexual preference, all of which are not a choice by the person concerned, should not apply to religious belief which is entirely a choice by the person. In the same way that one might choose to ostracise people who beat their wives, I see no reason why one should tolerate those who support a religion that, for example treats women as inferiors, or which allows FGM etc all of which are choices made by humans and which don’t meet modern standards of human decency but are excused on the basis of culture and political correctness. Moslems should feel the ostracism in the hope that moderate believers will reform and insist that all the anti social and inhuman imperatives in the Quran are removed so that the religion can genuinely claim to be one of peace.



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  • Another atheist blogger killed in Bangladesh today (7/8). I doubt he drew a cartoon on mo but what ever he did someone felt ‘insulted’ and thought this man’s murder an apt response.



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  • Denise
    Aug 7, 2015 at 11:11 am

    but what ever he did someone felt ‘insulted’ and thought this man’s murder an apt response.

    It seems the existence of Christians is also “insulting”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33818386

    Islamic State militants have abducted dozens of people, many Christian, from a Syrian town captured on Thursday from pro-regime forces, reports say.

    They were seized when the jihadists swept through al-Qaryatain in Homs province, monitoring groups say.

    Many of the Christians had fled to al-Qaryatain to escape fighting in Aleppo province to the north.

    Islamic State (IS) has treated Christians harshly in other places under its control.

    The group follows its own extreme version of Sunni Islam and has previously ordered Christians to convert, pay jizya (a religious levy), or face death.



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  • There seems to be confusion about what constitutes discrimination against a particular group or person and what constitutes free speech to criticise the behaviour or beliefs of that group or person.

    I would use the term ambiguity rather than confusion. An unfortunate but perhaps sometimes necessary trait of the human social animal is to paint entire groups with the same brush. We try to differentiate the sweet kind Muslim schoolgirl who is forced to remove her hijab in a French classroom from the terrorist but seeing her dark skin, her Semitic features, perhaps hearing her accent the majority has a visceral reaction recognizing her as the “other.” We know from regretful experience that if we have to go to war with an enemy that we must rain bombs down on the innocent as well as the guilty.

    The assumption that Muslims and other religious people “choose” their religions freely is largely mistaken. People are socialized from birth to internalize the cherished religion of their parents and ancestors going back 1,400 years in the case of Islam. “Religion” also incorporates a matrix of traditions that define cultural identity -dress, cuisine, dance, diet, holidays, festivals, manners, customs and a host of interpersonal relations and community activities. People do not think of themselves as separate from their cultural identities and loyalties. (Perhaps somewhere on the continuum of ‘choice’ a person who converts to Scientology may be a better fit for the generalization.)

    Moslems should feel the ostracism in the hope that moderate believers will reform and insist that all the anti social and inhuman imperatives in the Quran are removed so that the religion can genuinely claim to be one of peace.

    Here we are close to agreement. Nonetheless, If all Muslims feel the sting of ostracism, then we have defeated our purpose at the outset to attract moderate believers into an open respectful dialogue with the purpose of building a consensus in the Islamic world condemning violence and oppression. We are pandering to the racists who want a final solution to the problem by cleansing Muslims from the civilized democratic world community.

    Muslims, like all believers, know that we secular humanists, atheists and agnostics are their “enemy” but we should make them understand that our peaceful opposition is confined to an intellectual-moral worldview based on science and reason rooted in the western history of the Enlightenment. While we have zero tolerance for violence or the violation of laws enforcing civil and human rights, we support freedom of religion and conscience and recognize the humanity, rights and dignity of all people. I believe our best hope is to work with cultural trends secularizing and democratizing societies throughout the world. Overtime virulent religions will become defanged, loose their grip on governments and dwindle into the personal private realm of spiritual meditation, mysticism and innocuous aspirations for peace of mind.



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  • It is very important that people see that there is something terribly wrong when religious people say a book such as the Koran or Bible is from an infallible and unerring God when the books preach violence. If your scriptures teach violence, you must take responsibility if some members of your sect take these teachings seriously and become terrorists. Violent scriptures should not be glorified as the word of God. And the terrorists might reason, “Okay if we are wrong big deal! The scriptures command violence anyway.”

    Islam was influenced by the Christian scriptures so its violence is also Christianity’s.

    Jesus even if he did stop the stoning of an adulteress to death did not apologise for or repudiate the stoning of anyone prior to that. Jesus did not repudiate the commands his God gave demanding that homosexuals be stoned to death but proclaimed the book that made these rules the infallible word of God. If he did away with such laws, he did not clearly say so. Even if he did change the law, he did not say it was wrong before. Such laws need to be explicitly rejected and he didn’t do that.

    In fact he said the Law of Moses was written by God meaning the cruel command to stone adulterous people and practicing homosexuals came from the God (see Leviticus 20:13 where God is quoted as saying that if a man lies with a man they are to be stoned to death. God says it is an abomination to have gay sex – abomination means morally and extremely detestable) he put forward as a sign of perfection to be emulated and worshipped. He supposedly claimed to be that God!

    It is an insult to the people murdered as a result of the Leviticus law to say, “We don’t do that now so it is okay”.
    When you praise the Bible as being unerring in its teaching and doctrine, you are saying it is right to say that God commanded that homosexuals be stoned to death. That is to mention one evil out of many that it commands. This is extreme evil. Respecting and approving of it makes you no better than those who picked up the stones. To praise the Bible is to indirectly respect and approve the evil. To praise the God of the Bible is to implicitly respect and approve the evil. The evil being implicit or indirect does not make it any less bad. It is still as reprehensible and intolerable. In one way, you are worse than the killers for they had more chance of feeling bad about it than you!

    The Koran like the Bible teaches violence. In neither book is there a verse that says, “Thus says the Lord. I commanded that people be stoned to death in the past but no more.” Don’t forget that! And don’t listen to peaceful Christians/Muslims who think they interpret their religion right – the evidence has the last word not their opinions.



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  • Agreed Melvin. I covered your first point by prefacing my comment with “in relatively free societies”. In societies where intense “brainwashing” of children takes place from birth and where no one dares to not adhere to the ruling religion, a person definitely cannot be said to have a free choice, but that still does not make it acceptable. I am also thinking of the SA constitution and suggesting that is a mistake to include religious discrimination in the same context as racial/gender/sexual preference discrimination. Discrimination against people who cannot do anything about it is quite different to discrimination on the basis of what they think or believe which is a personal choice. I have no inclination whatsoever to tolerate JW’s for example when they force doctors to go to court to get an interdict to enable them to save a child with a blood transfusion. Mainstream modern human rights and ‘civilised standards’ are well known, (a bit like cruelty to animals) and those who insist on child marriages, FGM, death for apostacy , death for infidels etc need to be ostracised and sanctioned in the same way that Russia is being sanctioned for its decision to invade Crimea. The UK position as outlined by Cameron recently was encouraging. I understood him to say that while conservative Moslems claim their rights to practice their culture and historically a blind eye has been turned to blatant human right abuse like FGM and honor killing, there is a large group of Moslems in UK who actually expect the UK to enforce its rules that prohibit such things. Many Moslems choose to live in UK BECAUSE it does not officially tolerate such things and they are extremely disappointed when the authorities do not protect them because of misguided ideas of political correctness.



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  • It is extremely dangerous to leave the interpretation of life and death type imperatives in religious texts to individual discretion. While I believe and hope that religion will eventually fizzle out, an important interim step would be to lobby to make it illegal to teach children from any religious text that contains imperatives to kill or main humans. Can you imagine if other text books used in schools contained similar instructions…but because the books are religious it is allowed?!!



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  • Richard01
    Aug 8, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Many Moslems choose to live in UK BECAUSE it does not officially tolerate such things and they are extremely disappointed when the authorities do not protect them because of misguided ideas of political correctness.

    In politics and administration, “political correctness”, is frequently a screen, behind which lazy political cowardice lurks, with an air of moral superiority!



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  • Richard01
    Aug 8, 2015 at 6:34 am

    It is extremely dangerous to leave the interpretation of life and death type imperatives in religious texts to individual discretion. While I believe and hope that religion will eventually fizzle out, an important interim step would be to lobby to make it illegal to teach children from any religious text that contains imperatives to kill or main humans. Can you imagine if other text books used in schools contained similar instructions…but because the books are religious it is allowed?!!

    I think children at an appropriate age and maturity, should be taught ABOUT such historical beliefs as Aztec human sacrifices, but as examples of the abuses caused by superstition, and not as recommended codes of moral conduct.

    What is wrong about much religious teaching, is that it is indoctrination encouraging cheering for some particular religious team, who allegedly are the good-guys who can do no wrong in their abuses of rivals.

    The interests of native populations, whose homelands are used as battlegrounds for religious or ideological armies, are frequently ignored altogether!



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  • We know drawing such cartoons will cause undeserved deaths…

    No, we know that it is possible some religious nut(s) will cause undeserved deaths as a response.

    Surely we can find more effective and less lethal ways of opposing such fanaticism?

    As soon as a method becomes effective it is likely to draw the attention of the nuts and then become lethal. Malala Yousafzai seems to be effectively promoting girls education – if she is murdered tomorrow, you might say she should not have poked a stick into a hornets’ nest?

    Most of us would not deliberately offend christians by walking into a cathedral and pissing in the font even when we know the response to the offence is unlikely to be lethal, likewise, cartoons are not essential to debate however much we insist on our right to use them.

    The Charlie Hebdo cartoons were and still are very much a part of the political and social debate in France. They are a satirical magazine making use of outrageous caricatures, as is traditional in France and many other countries. They defend the right to mock and blaspheme and to ridicule religious and political figures. And remember they publish a magazine, they don’t walk into a cathedral and start drawing on the font, much less pissing in it.

    Cartoons are not essential to debate ….

    Who do you suggest be appointed to rule on what is essential to debate?



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  • Regrettably, I have not expressed myself clearly enough, or perhaps I am just wrong. What is the point of these cartoons? I would say it is to notify (mainly) non-moslems about the absurdity of Islam, at least; though not a cartoonist that is what I do towards anyone that will listen. Would I have the brazen courage to go to an ISIS stronghold in Syria and enlighten those maniacs of the cretinism of their beliefs? No, because it would be a futile gesture. Freedom of expression is a treasured freedom and should be defended, but there comes a point where such a strategy becomes too much like the pursuit of “martyrdom” and I for one do not want to take strategic lessons from these fanatics. It could be argued that publishing such cartoons in the knowledge of the predictable murderous response is a deliberate incitement that only helps the racists and our own political simpletons to stir up more tension.

    Yes we have the right to draw whatever we want. Yes I am outraged at the extremist response. But we have a problem of communication here (ref: Cool Hand Luke) and not with the extremists who are deaf to reason but to those ordinary moslems whose reflex is to leap to the defence of their faith but whom we have to convince are the real victims of Islamic fundamentalism.

    In answer to your question: “Who do you suggest be appointed to rule on what is essential to debate?”
    The answer is all of us, this is the problem of our age just as Fascism was. There is not a simple solution and any solution is going to take a long time and involve a lot of deaths. The trick is to find the solution that involves the minimum of suffering and destruction.



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  • What is the point of these cartoons? I would say it is to notify (mainly) non-moslems about the absurdity of Islam, at least;

    Their mission is to mock those institutions and individuals that have declared themselves to be above mockery. Unsurprisingly, religion is a frequent target.

    Would I have the brazen courage to go to an ISIS stronghold in Syria and enlighten those maniacs of the cretinism of their beliefs?

    First you liken it to pissing in a cathedral font and now approaching ISIS terrorists in Syria! This is a satirical magazine in a Western European city.

    It could be argued that publishing such cartoons in the knowledge of the predictable murderous response is a deliberate incitement that only helps the racists and our own political simpletons to stir up more tension.

    “It just so happens I’m more likely to get run over by a bicycle in Paris than get assassinated,” cartoonist and editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, 2013.

    So it seems they didn’t see this as a pursuit of “martyrdom”. And according to Wiki: “the publication describes itself as above all secular and atheist, far-left-wing, and anti-racist.

    The trick is to find the solution that involves the minimum of suffering and destruction.

    Your suggested response of self censorship was put to Charlie Hebdo by Chirac and they rejected it, later publishing an issue “guest edited” by Mohammed himself!

    Stephane Charbonnier said: “The only thing we have is our freedom of speech. If we give up on that, we’d need to change fields. Do other things.



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  • The author of this article writes a piece every Sunday for the website Salon. I now look forward to his articles in advance. I think that the powers that be should consider making Jeffrey Tayler a regular contributor here either as an addition or a replacement of others below on the front page. His writing is a delight to read.



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  • Then there is “Islamic education”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-33848526

    Military police have raided a house in Cameroon and freed around 70 children who were being held captive and were suffering from disease and hunger.

    Some of them had spent three years in chains and had scars inflicted from beatings, officers told local media.

    The head of an Islamic school who owned the house in the northern town of Ngaoundere has been arrested.

    The arrested man denies any wrongdoing, saying parents willingly sent their children to his “correctional centre”.

    The Koranic school master is also reported to have married two young girls who were imprisoned in the house.



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  • Meanwhile – true to form, religious disputes are out of all proportion.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33999801

    An argument over a Koran that erupted at a shelter in central Germany has led to violence in which 11 refugees and six police were injured.

    Twenty people tried to lynch an Afghan man of 25 after he tore pages from the Koran and threw them in a toilet, according to reports in the town of Suhl.

    Police were pelted with stones and concrete blocks as they tried to calm the situation.

    The migration minister in the central state of Thuringia, Dieter Lauinger, told reporters that the violence had nothing to do with overcrowding at the shelter.



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  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34016809

    Islamic State (IS) militants have demolished a Christian monastery in the central Syrian town of al-Qaryatain.

    The militants had also moved Christians taken captive in the town to their stronghold of Raqqa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group.

    IS captured al-Qaryatain from government forces some two weeks ago.

    Separately, at least four people have died in an Israeli strike on a Syrian-held section of the Golan Heights.

    Ah! The wonders of religious peace, love and harmony!



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  • Thanks for sharing that.. a good article but it could be read in different ways.. we could either focus on Islamism or on the nature of ideologies.

    I would like to investigate ideologies, to see what lies behind them? Aren’t ideologies of the past..? an accumulation of knowledge that explains what to do in order to face the challenges of living?

    Do we all see that? If yes isn’t necessary that i have my ideology and you have yours and isn’t this a divisive factor that brings conflict and war?

    If we do see it we don’t target an ideology (let’s say islamism-and accept another.. we deny ideologies alltogether.. why is an ideology necessary?

    [Link to user’s website removed by moderator]



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  • George
    Aug 25, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Thanks for sharing that.. a good article but it could be read in different ways.. we could either focus on Islamism or on the nature of ideologies.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ideology

    ideology

    A set of doctrines or beliefs that are shared by the members of a social group or that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

    The different sects of Islam are a collection of religious ideologies, representing “group-think”, as with other religious economic or political ideological groups.

    I would like to investigate ideologies, to see what lies behind them?

    When we examine ideologies, some are based on basic objectives or personal or group interests, from which deductions and predicted options are assessed. Others are based on ancient or not so ancient basic dogmas, which are taken on faith and trust from those who preach them.
    Cult ideologies frequently have memetic prime aims of promoting the ideology – often at the expense of the interests of, and to the detriment of, the individual followers.

    Aren’t ideologies of the past..? an accumulation of knowledge that explains what to do in order to face the challenges of living?

    It is the nature of the knowledge and the methods by which it is acquired which is the key issue in assessing its reliability and usefulness.

    Modern scientific methodology has many checks and safeguards to identify, avoid, and correct errors.

    Much of ancient religious mythology simply takes information on trust from books written in the ages of ignorance, or from the personal opinions of preachers – who frequently do not even understand the meanings or origins of their own holy books. It is the nature of “faith-thinking” that material is accepted with sceptical examination checking the validity of sources.

    Hence political and religious ideologies are frequently deeply flawed, in conflict with other deeply flawed ideologies, and in conflict with historical and scientific evidence.
    Where scientists wander into ideological thinking from political/financial pressure etc. , this produces flaws, which are usually identified and corrected by the later experimental work of other scientists.

    You link suggests ditching the “dead” past.
    This in some ways resembles scientific methodology which is open to new evidence, but past knowledge cannot simply be ditched indiscriminately. It must be examined for a basis of objective evidence, on which competent deductive and inductive reasoning can extrapolate and build a world-view which remains consistent with on-going objective observations.
    This is the self correcting nature of science, which is lacking from methods of simple acceptance of doctrine and dogma.
    The errors of the past are often exposed when new techniques produce data which conflicts with earlier claims.

    While Islam shares some features with other ideologies, it has some individual characteristics which need separate examination.



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  • *The errors of the past are often exposed when new techniques produce data which conflicts with earlier claims. While Islam shares some features with other ideologies, it has **some individual characteristics
    which need separate examination.

    *NOT if you are a devout Muslim- sometimes called an ‘extremist’. Recall Mehdi Hasan in debate with RD- when asked “Do you REALLY believe Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged horse and do you teach your children this?” he relied YES! RD was rendered speechless. Again, RD asking teenage Turkish girl students
    “Do you believe salt and fresh water cannot mix?”- the same response. Because it is in the Koran- so it is correct,
    no matter what science (or common sense) says. Fact has no place in Islam where it contradicts the Koran.

    ** An understatement, to put it mildly!
    More a social, political straight-jacket dressed up as religion. It comes in two entirely different versions-
    the Koran of Mecca & that of Medina. It ‘came down’ from Allah via his spokesperson, Jibreel (the angel
    Gabriel); part 1 is relatively tolerant of the Jews and Christians of Mecca; unfortunately Mohammed’s new
    monotheistic religion did not find favour. Part 2 is the opposite; once established in Medina he took to
    raiding merchants’ caravans, having become poor. His ‘converts’ learned the new version of warfare and
    terror was highly profitable and so he gained a large ‘religious’ army. Allah’s will became all that mattered.
    http://www.koran-at-a-glance.com/ is the easiest primer for Islam, putting the Koran’s verses in chronological order and omitting much of it’s
    wearisome repetition.

    Koran, Sharia, Hadiths and Sira are indivisible parts of Islam; also ‘Reliance of the Traveller’ which dictates
    everyday behaviour expected of the true Muslim.



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  • Alan4discussion
    Aug 25, 2015 at 8:40 am

    It is the nature of “faith-thinking” that material is accepted with sceptical examination checking the validity of sources.

    There is a typing error in my above quoted post.

    It should read: ” It is the nature of “faith-thinking” that material is accepted without sceptical examination checking the validity of sources.



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  • JimJFox
    Aug 25, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Recall Mehdi Hasan in debate with RD- when asked “Do you REALLY believe Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged horse and do you teach your children this?” he relied YES! RD was rendered speechless.

    The credulity and ignorance of fundamentalists is of them breathtaking!

    Again, RD asking teenage Turkish girl students
    “Do you believe salt and fresh water cannot mix?”- the same response. Because it is in the Koran- so it is correct, no matter what science (or common sense) says.

    I have cautioned posters on this site before to be careful with this issue. While salt-water and fresh water do mix slowly or quicker when stirred, there are large scale conditions where they remain stratified and separate for a long time.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2014/julyaug/16-cave-man

    Like oil on water, freshwater that seeped into the cave from the surface floats above a denser layer of saltwater from the ocean. These layers meet and mix in a lens of brackish water called the halocline. If left undisturbed, the halocline can be paper thin, yet still visible to the naked eye. Whereas saltwater and freshwater are clear, the halocline appears somewhat like a hazily defined liquid body rippling within the water. It can act like a barrier, preventing leaf litter from the surrounding forest — along with plastic bags, soda cans and other light trash — from sinking into the denser saltwater. Along with the debris, the upper freshwater layer contains more oxygen than the saltwater below, and it supports a completely different set of life-forms.



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  • I think you are giving too much credit to this mixing of water thing guys. Isn’t dismissing the gods enough? Anyway, if people will go down that route then we should look to much more simple answers and maybe assume (then study) the possible explanation of ‘hand me down myths’ from religions before the one in question, and not to take them literally. Chinese whispers down the ages.

    Look here top right hand of the page where you will find the Mesopotamian Myths of Tiamat and Apsu “They are the fresh and salt water whose mixing produces silt’ and maybe are the ones responsible for the quote in the Quran?

    By the way, ‘su’ being the Turkish word for water.



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  • Olgun
    Aug 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I think you are giving too much credit to this mixing of water thing guys.

    I was looking for the cultural origins of the claim.
    If you think in terms of some bronze-age herdsman or fisherman, throwing a bucket into an estuary or pool, there can be clear boundaries (haloclines) between areas of fresh water and the denser salt water. If the fresh water is warmer, the boundary is even more pronounced as the halocline is combined with a thermocline.
    There is a layer of drinkable fresh water on top of the salt water for many miles off the mouths of large rivers like the Amazon.
    Also I recall from the Kontiki expedition, that rainwater with a 10% seawater content remains drinkable. The goat-herders were not using laboratory measures in the Bronze-Age.

    Of course how theologians interpreted such observations, and how modern fundamentalists attempt to understand it, is another matter.
    I was cautioning Jim, because if we are arguing science, this type of oceanography, and ground-water, is tricky, so it is easy for non-scientists to make fools of themselves if they get into a technical argument.

    If you look up “halocline” on the internet, there are some quite spectacular video images taken by cave divers. There are also saline “lakes” fed by brine seeps, on the ocean floor.



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  • I have no doubt (maybe a little) that that is what the original question was all those years ago, or there abouts anyway. Not having the science, they decided the salt water does not contaminate the fresh water because of the silt, the ‘physical barrier’. Knowing how the bible put together all the myths and pagan traditions to form christianity, I can only assume that it happened over and over again for other religions that seem to have recurring incidents in all of them. Seems more important to argue these facts rather than trying to talk sense into the Quran. I know you already do this Alan but trying to tackle the issue line by line on any religious book is a waste of time, as I have said many times before.



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  • There is no peaceful way of dealing with Islam. According to Muslims, that book is the word of god. Any change to the book automatically exposes it as false. I worked in Saudi Arabia for six years and travelled to other Islamic countries. I was given a Quran by a Saudi coworker that was approved by his Imam. Anytime I brought up something negative from the Quran like, First the Saturday people, (meaning jews) then the Sunday people (meaning Christians) He would say “No, that must be a bad copy.” That practice is called Taqqiya. Lying to present a good face of Islam to infidels. I was in Saudi Arabia during the Danish Cartoon scandal. They had a look of pure hatred on their faces when I asked them why they were so angry over some cartoons. Their intolerant, militant faith mixed with the Arabic shame culture allows no dialogue about Islam. I watched the Al-Jazeera interview with Richard Dawkins about his book the God Delusion. The Muslim who was interviewing him, while speaking respectfully, exhibited aggressive and angry body language. I was hoping that when Richard was challenged about whether or not he thought the interviewer was guilty of child abuse for bringing his children up in the Muslim faith, that Richard would’ve said yes. I have been an atheist since age five, when my parents finally admitted to me that Santa was not real (I had suspected it and confronted them). At age six, I told a nun at the catholic school I was attending that I thought God was the same as Santa Claus, fake. I have been racking my brain my whole life about how to deal with religion and the people that follow it. With strict followers, a minority can convert to reason. Most never will. I have one devout Christian friend who admitted to me that she likes fairy tales. That was after I asked her “Why do u believe in something in which there is no evidence for?” How do we negate religions impact on the world? Laws are not enough. Do we engage in aggressive proselytizing like the religions do? I don’t think this will work. The concept of heaven is more comforting to people than saying “We don’t know, but we are working on it.” Maybe at the age of 40 I have become negative, but I think humanity is screwed. We are stuck with these people.



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  • I would submit that there is no such thing as Islamophobia. A phobia is an “irrational” fear of something that isn’t actually harmful. Being afraid of butterflies or other people chewing gum (chiclephobia, which Oprah Winfrey suffers from and it also nauseates me) are phobias because these things can’t hurt you.

    Fundamentalist Muslims can really kill you. Being afraid of them is not irrational. I think a better term would be Islamoreallyreallyafraidnowshittingmypantsactuallypleasedon’thackmetodeathia.



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  • Arkrid Sandwich
    Aug 25, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Fundamentalist Muslims can really kill you. Being afraid of them is not irrational.

    Not only do they kill people who draw attention to the irrational beliefs with inconvenient facts. They even destroy historical evidence of other viewpoints!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34090536

    A French satellite system has imaged the destroyed Temple of Baalshamin at Palmyra in Syria.

    The ancient building, which dates to the 1st Century AD, was blown up by Islamic State militants.

    The “before” image was acquired on 22 May by the Pléiades Earth-observation system, which is managed by Airbus Defence and Space.

    The “after” view comes from 25 August. Even with the slight difference in angle, it is clear the temple has gone.

    IS took control of Palmyra in May, sparking fears for the Unesco World Heritage site. The group’s fighters had previously levelled a number of ancient monuments in Iraq.

    The militants believe any shrines or statues implying the existence of another deity are sacrilege and idolatry, and should be torn down.

    Even historical ones which pre-date the existence of Mo!
    These vermin have no respect for people, knowledge, or history!



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  • Not all spiders are harmful but…….

    A book can’t kill you or do you believe that one read turns you into a killer?

    You quite rightly use the term ‘fundamentalist’. Fear them, the rest is irrational.



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