Why Islamists Are Sex Obsessed

May 22, 2016

By Maajid Nawaz

Imagine making a televised court appearance broadcast to the whole nation to make a humbling, humiliating apology for … showing your hair. Last Sunday, the Iranian regime carried out just such a “public shaming” of some of the country’s most famous models. 

With a black scarf and black gloves replacing the happy wedding outfits and brightly dyed blond hair to which her Instagram followers had become accustomed, 26-year-old Elham Arab confirmed to two prosecutors that modeling had brought her nothing but “bitter experiences.” She went on to warn aspiring young models that they “can be certain that no man would want to marry a model whose fame has come by losing her honor.” 

Welcome to Operation Spider 2. Yes, Iran’s War Against Hair even has a code name. In a sting led by no less significant a unit than Iran’s cybercrimes division, eight other models were arrested and charged with “promoting western promiscuity.” State prosecutor for cybercrimes Javad Babaei confirmed that his unit was focused on Instagram and is concerned with “sterilizing popular cyberspaces.” Many of the country’s leading models have reportedly suffered this clampdown. They are accused of promoting “immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity.” Another state prosecutor warned the nation’s women, “If you take part in vulgar sessions, we will publicly announce your names.”

Such is the Iranian theocracy’s fascination with female hair, that even elected officials have not been spared by the morality police. Moderate female politician Minoo Khaleghi was barred by the hard-line all-male Guardian Council from taking her seat in parliament, after images of her emerged on social media purportedly showing her without a head scarf. Prosecutor Jafar-Dolatabadi ordered Ms. Khaleghi to explain to judicial officials why the “offending” images of her existed. For her part, Khaleghi had no choice but to prop up the absurd notion that there’s something wrong with showing one’s hair by arguing that the images are “malicious fakes” and proclaiming, “I am a Muslim woman, adhering to the principles of Islam.” 

As moderate political forces continue to gain ground in Iran’s educated city centers, establishment clampdowns against “Western promiscuity” are becoming more visible, and more desperate.

Last year, hardliners warned Iranian women that they would have their cars impounded if they were caught driving without a hijab, or headcovering. And every time a woman has tried to run for president, she has always been turned down by the country’s powerful Guardian Council, which vets all candidates for public office.

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73 comments on “Why Islamists Are Sex Obsessed

  • @OP – Why Islamists Are Sex Obsessed

    Where the rich have 4 wives and the poor have none – but “adultery” is severely punished, and women are kept hidden in black bags, is it surprising, that the sexually repressed are obsessed?

    State prosecutor for cybercrimes Javad Babaei confirmed that his unit was focused on Instagram and is concerned with “sterilizing popular cyberspaces.”

    This surely is just bringing the world of Islamic cyberspace, into line with the “sterile” levels of intellect which have been forcefully maintained for centuries!

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  • I wonder what Maajid Nawaz’s mind set was in his teens and early twenties when his testoterone drip feed started to effect him; there were probably two conflicting kinds of fundamentalism effecting his life; if he’s anything like me he must have been going quietly mad; well, in my case, not always particularly quietly.

    I held back because I knew instinctively that it was wrong to impose myself on females; I didn’t need some external influence to explain the bleeding obvious.

    If he hadn’t have been waylaid by superstitious notions he would never have had to waste so much of his life on the journey back to reality.

    But, apparently he’s made it, and now we can all learn and benefit from his insights.

    But if only he could just go that extra mile and finally jettison his religious mind set!

    Who knows, he’s travelled this far, he might just manage it. But, it’s entirely up to him.

    If that last sounds patronizing I’m sorry, but I think it’s important for humanists and the like, to express solidarity with people of faith, if and when they attempt to live their lives without religion.

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  • But if only he could just go that extra mile and finally jettison his religious mind set!

    What religious mindset!!!? He is a cultural Muslim seeking reforms of/for religious Muslims, just like Namazie and Hirsi Ali. It suits his position not one iota to use the A-word in relation to his work at the Quilliam Trust.

    So, please, a tacit understanding of his position is needed not a thrashed out celebration of one more on our side.

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  • What religious mindset!!!? He is a cultural Muslim seeking reforms of/for religious Muslims

    I take your points, but Namazie and Hirsi Ali are very much ex Muslims; they have at great personal risk become avowd Apostates.

    The coda to all the statements I’ve heard from Maajid Nawaz have been that he remains an avowd Muslim.

    That was my point; but clearly, not very well put.

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  • but Namazie and Hirsi Ali are very much ex Muslims; they have at great personal risk become avowd Apostates.

    So what? There’s a billion. Smart folk get it but then what? What they are is a trivial drop in the ocean. What they do and say to the masses is key. (How will Nawaz possibly do his job with that A word hanging over him?)

    What they now do is propagandise for a reformed Islam.

    of Ali

    Her argument has evolved. And she even makes points that I believe many Muslims would agree with. For example, on various talk shows, she has said that theological reform must come from within the religion itself (something that seems to run counter to her argument in her book) and that the West must align themselves with the reformers and those that respect democratic change, rather than despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia, which exports a harmful version of Islam.

    Hirsi Ali begins her book by dividing Muslims into three categories. She describes the “Medina Muslims” as intolerant and prone to violence—those more universally described as Salafis. The “Meccan Muslims” are the majority of peace-loving Muslims who she says are mostly at odds with modernity. She defines “dissident Muslims” as both unbelievers and believers who believe that Muslims and/or Islam must change.

    Breaking the automatic link between of Islam like thus and so (or Islam at all) and identifying as a Muslim is the big political project here. Lubricating personal dissent within families and communities, building cultural pride in a history of achievement rather than a religion, matching it on the outside with an expectation that the identity “Muslim” is no indicator of what is contained within and stop atheists doing the Imams’ job of corralling all back into fundamentalism on the strength of a rediscovered faith in the power of texts.

    We should engage with fixing moral decision making before anything else. Clearing its path and encouraging all they have to make up their own minds rather than have them made up for them is our real task. Sometimes the religious are morally freer in their authorship than the irreligious beset with other ideologies. I’ll take my UK Quakers (or a goodly number of them) over quite a disappointing fraction of ideologically compromised atheists and I find the theist aesthetic, frankly, sickening.)

    (Sorry, Stafford. I saw a platform and took it. Just an opportunity to clarify my position to any passing audience. I happily understand your position.)

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  • I’d give Nawaz a bacon sarnie and a nice glass of dark ale. if he said he couldn’t eat/drink because his invisible friend wouldn’t like it, he will have failed the acid test and can be ignored for the fundamentalist apologist that he most probably is.

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  • M27

    I am sorrowful and angry at this. (I know. As a man of principle, you don’t care?)

    I simply don’t understand what you seek to achieve by it. I don’t understand what your evidence is for thinking these things about him.

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  • (Sorry, Stafford. I saw a platform and took it. Just an opportunity to clarify my position to any passing audience. I happily understand your position.)

    Well, I’m not quite sure what my position is Phil.

    Except perhaps to say that I think there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

    That’s to say, some arguing on the inside and others outside.

    I agree that the A word won’t help; it doesn’t help anyone.

    I know that Nawaz and Ali have debated, but I don’t know what the outcome was; or even if there was one.

    But I have heard Douglas Murray and Ali debating with Nawaz and a young and extremely bright American Muslim woman who’s name I can’t recall.

    The motion on that occasion was, that old chestnut: Islam is a religion of peace; Nawaz and partner for the motion, Murray and Ali against.

    The audience trounced the motion.

    Perhaps, since it’s a family affair, outsiders should just leave them to it.

    The trouble with that is that some of the family members are way out of control and beating up on everyone in sight!

    Anyway, there’s no need for you to apologize, although it was courteous of you to do so.

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  • Thank you very much for the link Phil; I think that Christopher Hitchens’s prediction that the World Wide Caliphate was on its way has at last been fully vindicated.

    Any doubts I had about Maajid Nawaz have gone.

    Together, he and Ayaan Hirsi Ali make a great team; I only hope that our elected representatives wake up to the fact; and the sooner the better.

    Although I’d be amazed if they weren’t already on the government RADA in any number of countries; some of them good, some decidedly bad.

    Thanks again.

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  • Thanks for taking the time, Stafford.

    I’ve been fighting preconceptions on this one for a little while now. A little progress is most welcome.

    I think they are a great team, probably entirely of one mind by now but usefully, strategically separated illustrating a spectrum of positions and the posibility of movement.

    More than anything I would like to see developed far more sophisticated discussion of political strategy here. The art of the possible only makes idealogues queasy.

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  • phil rimmer @ # 12.

    “I think they are a great team, probably entirely of one mind by now but usefully, strategically separated illustrating a spectrum of positions and the posibility of movement.”

    It’s a position of great strength, reached by way of rational discussion, debate and analysis, which is something fundamentalists are incapable of; all they can muster is brute force.

    I think that one assertion cuts right to the heart of the matter; just as it’s impossible to talk about Fascism without mentioning Hitler, or Communism without talking about Marks, it’s impossible to discuss Islamism without reference to Muhammad.

    I avoided seeing them on principle, but I heard Mohammed Emwazi using Qur’anic phraseology in those imfamously savage decapitation videos.

    For excample, he said: we shall strike at the neck/head/fingers of the invaders of Islamic lands; it’s been a while since I was there, but I don’t think that’s the vernacular in Queen’s Park, North London.

    Demystification of the so called prophet would be an excellent start.

    When I was telling my daughter about Muhammad’s “raptures”, where he’s said to have fallen down, trembled, perspired, rolled his eyes and foamed at the mouth, she interrupted me by saying that it sounds as if he was having epileptic fits; my daughter is a Biochemist.

    At the time of course such things as brain seizures weren’t understood, and a rapture myth could have grown up around him, which, he was in no hurry to dispel, and could even have come to believe himself. After all, it might have enhanced his image; never a bad thing if you’re an incipient dictator.

    Could that be why images of him are forbidden?

    Just a thought.

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  • Phil @ #11.
    Why angry? I am merely extrapolating his personal belief system down to a basic example of absurdity.
    And anybody who can be made to believe in an absurdity can be capable of violence based on more emotive levels of their belief system.
    I.e. if he is still a practicing Muslim then he still believes that allah hates bacon.
    if he doesn’t then he’s not a Muslim.
    he might (personally) not like bacon – but hey what are the chances of that eh?

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  • @OP – Imagine making a televised court appearance broadcast to the whole nation to make a humbling, humiliating apology for … showing your hair. Last Sunday, the Iranian regime carried out just such a “public shaming” of some of the country’s most famous models.

    This really is stretching the limits of the superficiality of the mentality of “a bad hair day“!

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  • Olgun @ 16,
    Aha but – Basically I’ll drink anything when thirsty (preferably water) and eat anything when hungry!
    I didn’t infer superiority of bacon/ale, just the absurdity of invisible-friend prohibition!

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  • M27Holts 18

    To be fair, I know what you meant but think you did it badly. As Phil has always said, we must not narrow our language and responses, as atheists, so.

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  • M27

    My Jewish friends, atheists all, observe dietary habits quite often just as a cultural identity thing. Myself my cultural food fetishes extend to not eating cute animals like puppies though I believe they’re scrummy.

    I.e. if he is still a practicing Muslim then he still believes that allah hates bacon.
    if he doesn’t then he’s not a Muslim.

    What pains me is the not noticing this attempt to get people to accept the concept of the Cultural Muslim, defined by holidays (not holy days), shared history, cuisine, fashion, art and aesthetics in general and NOT by religion (and not just by religion for those starting the journey away from it).

    Bleep its difficult.

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  • The Cultural This or That

    I understand that it seems like a good way to transition one away from religion, but it’s also problematic.
    After shrugging off the religion a person might not want to be identified as a cultural Muslim or Jew or Christian. Maybe he’s tired of the label, and doesn’t want to be looked at in that way. His tastes and habits are his own, her own.
    Can’t have it all. Take the religion away and there isn’t much left unless you want there to be.
    No one’s calling me a cultural whatever. Keeps me in the intellectual and cultural ghetto. I am a man who enjoys “culture” but not because I am from a Christian family or a Jewish family. I like what I like and other people who were born into other religions may like it too. Do you eat bagels? Is that Jewish culture or do you just like the taste of bagels?
    I like the blues. Does that mean I am partaking in black culture or do I just like the blues?
    “Hey let me have some of that chopped liver. I want to be Jewish today.” That’s offensive.

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  • Phil,
    I’ve eaten dog and I’ve eaten horse, and I’ve also eaten bush-meat (which was unidentified – probably chimpanzee – but could well have been human for all I knew)….The dog was OK, the horse delicious and the bush meat less so.
    It’s hypocritical for the apex-predator to be selective…..
    Perhaps Hannibal Lecter’s proclivities are not so far away from our human ancestors!!!

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  • And this cultural thing – yeah, I eat bagels, curries, chop suey, fish & chips in fact anything I feel like eating at any time of the night, day or time of year. I wear clothes comfortable to the environment I’m operating in. I listen to progressive rock / progressive metal music mainly but also a little bit of classical and mainstream pop!
    I fuck when I’m horny and I eat when i’m hungry and drink when I thirst. (and work to finance it all).
    Life is as simple as that.

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  • Dan 22

    I don’t want to be identified as a cultural muslim but I still love those little, strong, wrinkled olives from Cyprus where my friends prefer the huge juicy mild olives from Israel. I have a wine bottle filled with the finest black olive oil, made in a little village North Cyprus, that I hide so my boys won’t use it for cooking. It belongs on a salad and I use it like you might a truffle…a few dribbles are enough.

    Culture brings religion and is still there when religion is removed. Try to mix it all up and you end up with the mess that the Eurovision song contest is. 🙂

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  • Phil?
    Pride/Hatred/Animosity/Hubris……No struggle involved – except that childhood in the Manc suburbs was a lot more violent then than now.
    Not important.
    Whats your point?
    We shouldn’t eat meat?

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  • Olgun

    I don’t want to be identified as a cultural muslim but

    But many religious folk are religious out of mindless habit. They want congenial families they want careers and for Muslims they want to be ignored by the bullies at the gate. The smart folk prepared to sacrifice (family, career, peace) make it out. The rest don’t. Progress though is still possible.

    Its not about brave wonderful liberated smart alec us lot. Its about helping create a path. Its about not thrashing someone for taking a step upon it and not four.

    Join the Imams in criticising the step.

    Us or them, you both insist, stopping them in their tracks.

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  • Anyway, In Britain Ofsted have reported over 1000 un-registered “Madrassars” – the Muslim youth are being systematically brainwashed in the heart of a liberal country. We will soon have a Islamic state within Britain (probably called Bradistan). The UK probably has already a million people who don’t want the rule of law but Sharia instead. It’s just a matter of time……

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  • Anyway, In Britain Ofsted have reported over 1000 un-registered “Madrassars” – the Muslim youth are being systematically brainwashed in the heart of a liberal country.

    This has to stop immediately. No ifs or buts. “My policy” (ha!) has nothing to do with say multiculturalism of old and I call repeatedly for communities (non-legal entities) to be made transparent so that individuals (legal entities) and the state can see each other and their services and support can be made available without interference.

    What we have discussed about Nawaz has absolutely nothing to do with this.


    Manchester suburbs? Luxury! We had to survive Liverpudlian suburbs! It wer clogs for us lot and a whippet paw sarnie for Sunday lunch.

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  • Perhaps, but the likes of Nawaz are just a candle and the forces behind the fundamentalists is a hurricane. It’s too late to stop. It’s a bit like the terminator films – there is a storm brewing…..

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  • Phil 29

    My personal problem is that I did not grow up in a closed community so am not comfortable in the muslim culture., apart from a few foods and smells. I have recently told a few in my family that I will no longer be attending religious rituals like Mevlit before realising I cannot extend that to my English friends so had to compromise and say I will only attend the first of “anything”.

    I think leading by example, even at my small scale, can help make that difference as well and I do agree that a difference can be made and we are not doomed (^). The results can be negative as well. Pointing out the wrongs can make them look at themselves and question the tightness of their following and go backwards and suppress what little they have on that path, as the OP! Don’t know what the answer to that is?

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  • Olgun

    My personal problem is that I did not grow up in a closed community

    We each have interesting stories, but perhaps not those telling journey’s of faith transformed that Nawaz and Hirsi Ali have.

    I think leading by example, even at my small scale, can help make that difference as well

    Completely agree.

    But we have to make a judgment call in committing our entire lives (like Nawaz and Ali) to the task of effecting positive moral change, whether we need to do more than seek to catch the eye of that indifferent rump and hope. I have seen no argument yet to counter my arguments above and specifically counter the need for direct engagement with the process of personal moral authorhip by Muslims and taking better control of it (as through the Quilliam Foundation). This is a pressing need and cannot in any decency await the mass conversion of Muslims by the inspirational examples of Atheists. The bulk of the work to counter chronic sexism and the crippling of children’s futures by indoctrination needs to happen quickly by dealing with Muslims as Muslims.

    Your agenda to see the end of religion is not my agenda. Mine is more direct. It is to create more active moral authors and kick start a process of Better.

    Political realism is needed here, managed by the right people…

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  • There’s a puritan streak that wants to be strictly ruled, and have sex kept locked up and highly restricted. It’s not just muslims that have this either. Some catholics — relations of mine included — decided that the vatican had gone too soft, and joined a spin-off hard-line uber-catholic church, and raised their kids in severe puritanism (can’t imagine how they managed to have kids at all, well, it was probably ok as long as they didn’t enjoy it). Wearing cover-up “modest” clothing that rivalled the burka (actually, they’d have loved the burka), and tut-tutting over all the sinfulness of the modern world, they hid away in their own little cult. The same strain of puritanism seems to infect (at least some of) those who want to live under daesh.

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  • Phil 35

    I agree with everything you said there Phil and my entire life is dedicated by my very leaving. I have no choice because I am not coy about it.

    Your agenda to see the end of religion is not my agenda.

    Mine is to manage it, as you have said, with the final aim to see an end to it. The time to challenge is not at family religious events but at least the message gets across that I am absent for a reason. I tell them I do not belong there and my being there is an insult to them as well as to me.

    There is not much you can do when women I have seen dancing on tables, become scarf wearing virginal passive females for a few hours. It angers me. Most are not interested in what I think but I believe in seeds and plant them as often as I can. Nawaz and Ali are industrial farmers and I grow vegetables in my garden and give them to friends and family. Room for both.

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  • 39
    bonnie2 says:

    @ #37

    […]absent for a reason

    ‘Absent for a Reason’ – now that’s a clever slogan – simple, double meaning with “reason”, and open for discussion. Love it.

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  • Olgun

    I am absent for a reason.

    Yes, we do this too with the Algerian in-laws. One example, my husband and I announced that we will not attend family parties where the main event is slicing a piece off some unsuspecting nephew’s penis. My husband says that although he never thought twice about the hideous ritual in his youth (he didn’t know any better at the time), after living in the states for a few years he couldn’t stand the thoughts of it after that. He remembers his own circumcision as a hideous nightmare (because the NAfricans do this at age 3-7 ish), and to top it off, the itinerant penis chopper did a bad job and it had to be repeated a second time. When he came to the US and found that other boys of the world don’t go through this hack job he became very steaming mad about the sick ritual. That’s why he took a stand against it with his own family.

    It takes guts to make these statements that go against traditions that have been in place for eons. It needs to be done by high ranking family members of course and then it carries much weight in the family and has a wide ripple effect as well. We’ve done the same thing with other rituals they have there and I just did this with my own Bostonian family over my Dad’s funeral. When I announced that I would not be groveling around for a pastor to do the eulogy, family members, shocked, said, “well then who’s going to do it?” My answer, “ME! I’m doing it and I’ll do a damn better job than any clergy you can dredge up.” I did just that and in the end they all said it was the best funeral we could ever have had for him. My Mom, after grumbling around about my plans has now announced that she wants the same funeral that he had. Now I’ve changed the tradition over to a secular funeral but I took much flack for it in the beginning.

    People need to SEE others thinking outside the box and then see that the world doesn’t come to an end when we take on new ideas and that maybe the new idea is even better than the tired old ones.

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  • Meanwhile fanatical vigilantes are poking their noses into other people’s sex lives!

    Houses were set on fire and an elderly woman was stripped of her clothing and paraded naked through the streets of a village in Egypt on Friday.

    Inter-religious violence erupted in Minya province after rumours of a love affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman.

    The Coptic pope called for restraint.

    Coptic representatives said authorities had assured them they would “chase down the perpetrators and bring them to justice”.

    The Coptic Orthodox Church is the main Christian Church in Egypt.

    The attacks happened in Karam village in the central province of Minya on 20 May.

    Details emerged late on Wednesday in a statement from the Church, which said Pope Tawadros II was calling for Copts to show “self-restraint”.

    The Church said that after the Christian man had fled the village, his mother was beaten, insulted, stripped of her clothes and paraded through the streets by a group of people.

    Egyptian media (in Arabic) said there were up to 300 people involved.

    Muslims torched six or seven Christian homes in the village on the same day.

    Later, Christians burned down three Muslim homes. Six people were arrested.

    Christian men cannot marry Muslim women in Egypt without converting to Islam first. Sexual relations between people who are not married to each other are taboo among both Muslims and Christians there.

    Copts make up about a tenth of the country’s population of 90 million people.

    Copts claims they face discrimination and play a lesser part in Egyptian public life than their numbers justify.

    There have also been violent attacks on Copts and their churches by Islamists.

    Ah! The religion(s) of peace and goodwill – and their take on loving relationships!!

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  • Laurie

    Thanks for that and respect for doing such a brave thing with your dads funeral.

    The last circumcision I went to started out like a wedding, with over three hundred people, and ended abruptly when the news came of it going very wrong and the boy having the head of his penis taken off with his skin. That was over twenty years ago now.

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  • @ Phil 24
    (and Laurie)

    “What pains me is the not noticing this attempt to get people to accept the concept of the Cultural Muslim, defined by holidays (not holy days), shared history, cuisine, fashion, art and aesthetics in general and NOT by religion…”

    Sorry. I wasn’t suggesting that you were advocating “forcing” anyone to be a cultural anything. I was just making the point that people (such as myself) do not want to be thought of as a cultural anything. I’d love some of those olives Olgun mentioned. Does that mean that I wish to partake in Cultural Islam? If someone wants to see themselves a cultural Muslim then fine, but what for? Isn’t the food, for example, about where you’re from, you’re environment, as opposed to what religion you were or are? How are olives Muslim? How are bagels Jewish?

    I’d like to see people renounce religion altogether, and Culture should be separated from it. But that’s not going to happen for a long time, if at all.

    Cultural Muslim or Jew is a nice transition away from religious Jew or Muslim. I see your point.

    [Hi, Laurie. Where’ve you been?]

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  • @ Laurie

    “Where’ve you been?”

    P.S. Sorry about that. I forgot (for a moment) about your father. I just read your comment to Olgun. My heartfelt condolences. And I congratulate you for your bravery.

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  • Hi Dan

    [Hi, Laurie. Where’ve you been?]

    I’ve been here and there. 🙂 I’ve been reading here every day but in a shallow way. My attention span is a bit short these days. I’ve been knocked off kilter a bit after my Dad died a few weeks back. Luckily there haven’t been any trolls around that need an ass kicking, right? 😀 I am, as our favorite candidate TRUMP says – low energy. ha.

    I know you mentioned previously that your Dad died a while back and that you were involved with his end of life care so I think you know how shitty this is. Someone asked me how I’m feeling these days and I said, “I feel nothing. Just an empty vacuum where he once was.” i don’t dare to look at any pictures of him. How long will this last?

    The definition of culture that I use is one that I learned in Anthropology class. Culture is the, let’s say, umbrella term for everything that comes together to create it. I include food, music, -well, all of the arts, common history, mythology and fables – including religion, rules, values, rituals, etc. I could dig out that old textbook and get you the actual definition but as I mentioned above, well, I’m temporarily dead inside and anyhow, you’re more than capable of coming up with it yourself. 🙂

    So yes! Bagels are of Jewish culture! Apparently, so are briskets according to that Wallowitz character on The Big Bang Theory! Aren’t those putrid boiled dinners part of British culture? I only wish they kept them over there but no! – The Boston WASP culture had to carry them forward. You have no idea how many times I’ve made excuses as to why I can’t join the extended family for Sunday dinner. ~gag~

    I’ll tell you something strange. We brought the movie Fiddler on the Roof to Algeria and played it for the in-laws. What do you think happened?! They love it! Seriously, and why do you think they did? Because they recognized strong elements of their own culture in the movie! Arabs and Jews are both of Semitic culture and both groups know it when they see it. It was great. So they loved Tevya (sp?) and were upset over his problems because they could relate completely. Remember how Tevya has only daughters which is presented as a problem of course (consistent with semitic culture mind you) well one of my brothers-in law there also has many daughters and now they call him Abu banat (father of daughters) a good natured insult that came from the movie.

    On the other hand, they are incensed over the presentation of cous cous as Israeli. It is the national dish of the North African maghreb and they consider it to be the crime of cultural theft that the Israelis try to pass it off as their own. ~snort~ Cultural appropriation I suppose they would say. Ah well, they can’t have their cous cous and eat it too. They’re either both from the same culture or they’re not.

    I like to reassure myself that I’ve rejected Boston WASP culture and am now a cultural citizen of the world (sanctimonious smirk) but then I catch myself thinking thoughts that betray me. -white shoes before Memorial Day – so unbecoming. Red dress with tons of gold jewelry – gauche. A simple beige dress with tasteful pearls is what’s proper. No emotional displays please. So awkward. Oh crap. I’m doomed.

    Here is an article from the New Yorker on culture:

    What we want is for the Muslims to keep these benign items from their culture. Their cous cous, their music – Yaaaa Habibi!!! Their weird semitic ways, but like us, shove the bad old things into a deep dusty corner and let them become forgotten.

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  • @Laurie

    [Off-topic but very important.]

    Hi, Laurie

    “How long will this last?”

    That is a hard question to answer. I don’t think I will ever be the same again. But it does get better. You’ll see. Losing my father in 2014 was by far the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to me. There are things thing that give me solace, however: knowing that he was prepared gives me solace. He died at home with me, my sister, and his best and oldest friends by his side on the final night. These friends somehow all showed up that night, on his last night on earth. Extraordinary! They were all sitting around his bed in the living-room and he was happy. My father loved Bob Newhart.—One friend, a life-long friend, told him a Bob Newhart joke and my father smiled. That gives me solace. Above all I would say that knowing that I was there for him, that I helped him and did everything I could do (and it wasn’t easy), will comfort me for as long as I live.

    And I think you were there for your father. I think you will find solace in that too.

    There were a lot of very, very difficult, painful moments. (Cancer is a horrible disease.) And there were some beautiful moments. (The friends showing up was one.) Here are two more. I mentioned the final night. The next morning he didn’t wake up. He was alive but was in a pre-death state. I knew he would die that day. Something extraordinary happened. I was standing in front of him. He woke up for about three seconds and waved to me, and then closed his eyes for the last time.

    About four days before he died, someone suggested that I “talk to him.” So a day or two later I approached him, got very close to him, and told him how much he had given me. After I had said what I said he mouthed the word “Wow!” I got it out and he heard me. Nothing left unsaid.

    Are there any moments like this that you can think about?

    Culture: Bagels are a Jewish thing? Laurie, that’s very antisemitic. (Totally Kidding.)

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  • @Laurie

    My sympathies. How long, you ask? You never get over it, you just get used to it. You’ll find a way, the vacuum won’t always seem so empty, though it can never be completely filled. Peace.

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  • Bagels are a Jewish thing? Laurie, that’s very antisemitic.

    There is a cheese war going on in Cyprus right now. The Greek Cypriots call it ‘Halloumi” and the Turkish Cypriots “Hellim”. The so-called recognised government of GC’s applied for a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) with both names on the application form. The cheese probably originated in North Africa but is still very much part of the ‘Cypriot” diet and not really part of the Greek or Turkish culture on the mainland(s). Manufacture is now mainly industrialised but the best ones are still made in homes in the traditional way.

    Wherever it originated, it is now fully a ‘Cypriot” thing with Greek, Turkish and British manufacturers, who have recently, in real terms, started to produce it, protesting the PDO. Not being allowed to export our (TC) product, the world knows the cheese better as ‘Halloumi’ and Greek/Greek Cypriot.

    If the Palestinians were to apply for a PDO for bagels then, I am sure it would become a very important jewish thing over night!!!

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  • Can you send me some of those olives from Cyprus, my friend?
    I want to learn about Muslim culture.
    Actually, I like olives; but don’t you think it’s a little silly to equate things like olives and bagels with the religion and then with the culture (if you have no religion)?
    Maybe I don’t get it, but I think I might be forced to differ with Laurie about bagels being part of “Jewish culture.”
    Does one read because one is a scholarly Jew? Does one tap-dance and eat chicken because one is black? Is that their culture? and theirs only? It all leads to stereotyping, separating me from you, and is not helpful.
    Maybe bagels and olives are part of one’s culture; you could make that argument; but everyone likes olives and bagels! Pretty soon people will start wars over that shit.
    Btw, my sister’s first husband, an Athenian, claims that belly-dancing is of Turkish origin. True or false?

    -Dan the bagel-eating, hook-nosed Jew (kidding)

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  • All I know is if I don’t want to eat reheated tuff salt beef and fresh bagels, I have to go down the road to a kosher butchers on a Sunday morning.

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  • Laurie,

    I didn’t like my reply to your wonderful, nuanced, rich, and witty comments re Culture. So I asked the mods to delete it. Then I decided to let it stay, as you had already replied.

    Please tell me that the article you sent me is a joke. It’s pernicious. I am confused. (I have something like Phil’s “aspie” condition when it comes to humor in emails or posted comments. Tone-deaf, at times.)

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  • I don’t think Islamists are any more sex obsessed than anybody else. i think Nawaaz is more sex obsessed than most, he was caught at a strip club and reported in a national paper.


    he made a reply to it, but ended up looking, well, dodgy.
    Islamic fundamentalism needs to be challenged, but I don’t think Nawaaz has the credibility to do it.

    the problem that, i guess, some Muslims might say is that it is western society that is sex obsessed, and that would be true. I mean, I certainly do NOT support religious discrimination against women, but i can see that our own society is sex obsessed, there’s borderline pornography in a national newspaper like The Sun, the modelling industry and all connected with it etc. it is not really the Islamic world that is producing internet pornography is it?

    none of this means i support Iran, but ‘our’ societies are hardly perfect.

    I get the impression that Nawaz is a rather shifty character.

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  • anton #55
    May 27, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I don’t think Islamists are any more sex obsessed than anybody else.

    Much of the media in the west is obsessed selling sex, or using sex to sell, but it takes fundamentalist puritan Xtians and Islamists, to combine being obsessed with being simultaneously repressed and fixated on everyone else’s sexuality!

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  • Laurie #45

    Really sorry to hear your news, Laurie.

    This stuff never gets any easier. Loss is never really consoled, merely born. But it is why our poetry is the sweeter through poignancy.

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  • Anton #55

    Nawaaz is more sex obsessed than most, he was caught at a strip club and reported in a national paper.

    Strip clubs and lap dances indicate sexual obsession? Come on anton, cut the guy a break will you? Strip clubs are the stuff of a ninety year old guy’s dream and lap dances seem like the most benign hands off interaction that any two people could have. It seems even more impersonal than sexting with someone. Boring to even think about. So he was drunk and made a few grabs that broke the bizarre rules of lap dancing. Who gives a shit.

    What’s really obsessive is how every puritanical, hung up, narrow minded prude must have read this article over and over while fulminating about the “perverted” Nawaaz and trying to imagine the details of these actions. There isn’t anything in those pictures you linked to that are in anyway interesting. They are dull.

    The puritanical types believe it’s their duty to pass judgement on others who enjoy a good romp in the hay and who believe that their sexual activity is theirs to manage as they see fit (consenting adults only). Puritans start breathing heavily when they believe that they have the right and opportunity to inflict punishment on those who enjoy sex freely, especially on women who do so. Think about the fundamentalist Christians in the US who froth at the mouth over the availability of birth control and easy cheap abortion. Where’s the punishment for the sluts who enjoyed a wild night with no shame? No shame and no “illegitimate” offspring to carry the shame on to the next generation! Jesus weeps over the perversion.

    Muslim fundamentalists are cut from the same cloth. the problem is that they can still get away with draconian punishment for those who want to act on natural impulses. I’m not even talking about a boring harmless lap dance or a wild night with a stranger who looked good through the smoky haze of the nightclub, never to be seen again. Even a simple show of affection between two young people in love is a scandalous sin that requires swift brutal punishment. I’m sure you’ve heard of honor killing in that part of the world.

    Christian fundamentalists can’t get away with cruel punishments for their passionate neighbors anymore and even shotgun weddings aren’t tolerated by the young people anymore, thank Athena for that! When I think of the sexual freedom I had in years past and then of the absolute absence of freedom that most Muslim women have, I have to conclude that there is a vast gulf between us.

    Here’s how it needs to go; let couples work this out for themselves! We are capable of customizing our own relationships. Monogamy is not natural for us and strict observance of this causes no end of trouble. Let people blow off a little steam and come back to the relationship refreshed. Boredom is the enemy of lust and I’m not just talking about men. Women get bored too! Whatever Nawaaz’s wife thinks of this is between the two of them!

    The thing about this obsession thing is this; when sexual activity is no big deal, just casual, then it doesn’t occupy the mind with fear and build up to an approach-avoidance anxiety disorder. If I can’t get any then no one else can either!! The energy that the prudes devote to sublimating their desires for years and years and bottling up their interest in the attractive people all around them has the effect of warping their personalities. I’m not just talking about men here. Women who hate and fear sex are the same. There is an underlying cruelty to them just below the surface.

    And then what happens when these prudes sign on the dotted line one day and find themselves in bed together the next? Think it goes well? I doubt it. This is an extremely unnatural situation for any member of H. sapiens to find themselves in.

    Now which scenario is more likely to lead to the state of sexual obsession? The person who dabbles around here and there in a casual way with lovers and friends in sexual relationships that demonstrate authentic affection or the thirty year old virgin who has limited knowledge of sexual behavior and has been indoctrinated with the belief that body functions are filthy and embarrassing and frightening and that the opposite sex is to be feared and kept at a distance?

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  • Phil
    I like it and am immediately reminded of something a friend said to me years ago about a guy she broke up with; cheap with money – cheap with love. A crude limited version of Nietzsche’s quote? I laughed when she said it but then over these years I couldn’t help but notice the effect here and there. Bias confirmation I suppose.

    What I feel about those afflicted with Nietzsche’s version is initially aggravation but then it morphs into substantial pity.

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  • Alan4discussion #62
    May 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

    From the article you linked to:

    Last year a specific advert for Josh condoms was banned as “immoral”.
    Pakistan, the world’s sixth most populous nation, has a lower rate of access to birth control than the average for the region, according to the World Health Organization.

    Then there is this article link at the bottom of that one:


    From above article:

    At that time there was an outbreak of the epidemic when it was discovered that 10% of people among a random sample tested in the city of Larkana city in the province of Sindh were infected.
    The findings moved Pakistan up from “low prevalence – high risk” category to a “concentrated epidemic”.
    The epidemic is concentrated in pockets of high risk groups – including injecting drug users (IDUs), and male, female and hijra (transvestite) sex workers.

    The people are mortified at the mention of condoms (Allah forbid!) and yet their HIV rates and overpopulation numbers are rising rapidly. And still, they insist on sweeping uncomfortable thoughts and behavior under the rug. The very hallmark of puritanical assholes everywhere.

    Ignorance and cruelty. Willful stupidity.

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  • Laurie 59

    When British-Turkish-Cypriot girls were given a bit of freedom by their parents, I saw (being a young man who took his freedom rather than given it and I have to say I had an easier time of it than my two elder brothers) and experienced in the ways of the free world, a dangerous naivety in the young girls. I have so many mixed feelings about this but, they went a little wild in behaviour and dress. They shocked even some of our experienced club goers. It was pleasing to most of the men there but made me feel protective, although I never really did anything about it.

    Not really sure where I am going with this? Small changes rather than a huge jump sounds better?

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  • Olgun

    Small changes rather than a huge jump sounds better?

    Yes it does sound better. Can it be done gradually? IDK. What does gradual mean? A decade? Two?

    The social changes that took place here in the US through the sixties and seventies seem very abrupt to me and there’s no doubt that the conservative types were horrified at the goings on with the young people in those decades. Actually, I’ve heard young conservatives today say that those liberal women were taken advantage of by men in those days. When I think about the hippie women of those days they seem like peace loving, free love and flower power mamas in a sex and drugs and rock and roll subculture. I can’t judge them objectively.

    Were they taken advantage of? I won’t say that there wasn’t sexual coercion or rape, of course there was. What else is new? We’ll never be rid of that, sadly.

    I’m thinking about what happens when all of the young people show up for their first year in college. Those women who have been severely guarded by their parents in the years before that tend to show no ability to manage their new freedom and independence well at all. There is no smooth transition there at all. This is just on an individual level but if there is no smooth transition on a society level then hold onto your hat it’s gonna be a disaster.

    I took my own freedom too and never had a single regret. My goal for my daughters was to ease them into an ownership of their own bodies and venture out into the world of men and relationships with a conscious understanding of reproductive strategies – ours and theirs and a healthy skepticism of the motivations of others. It was nerve wracking for us for a few years but now they are street smart and manage their relationships with more maturity. This is all good in the context of American society but as you will know, they must be very careful when in the other country that they are citizens of! They cannot betray their Western liberal progressive opinions and behavior having to do with relationships! This could be fatal.

    What seems gradual change to us here is seen as radical licentiousness in traditional societies. It’s very difficult to know how hard these women should push for progress. I can’t stand it when there is abuse inflicted on the women who have the guts to stand up and demand the changes they deserve but then again, when I hear simpering naysayers explaining that it’s just not a good time for this and that push for action, I could strangle them in frustration.

    I’m thinking about hiring a cargo plane and loading it up to the gills with condoms, packets of The Pill and pamphlets with feminist statements and airdropping this stuff over cities in Pakistan.

    Too soon? But it’s a grand experiment that I could never resist. What will happen?

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  • Laurie 67

    My goal for my daughters was to ease them into an ownership of their
    own bodies and venture out into the world of men and relationships
    with a conscious understanding of reproductive strategies – ours and
    theirs and a healthy skepticism of the motivations of others.

    Exactly why I felt protective of girls I never knew. Knowing the history of the boys they were getting chatted up by, I wanted to steal them in the right direction. And in hind site, I suppose that was my sensitivity to what would be tolerated in the community even though I was not that much a part of it, I had sisters.

    I’m thinking about hiring a cargo plane and loading it up to the gills
    with condoms, packets of The Pill and pamphlets with feminist
    statements and airdropping this stuff over cities in Pakistan.

    Too soon? But it’s a grand experiment that I could never resist. What
    will happen?

    In my mind……… guts, gore and even more suffering with decades and decades of regret after that. When it comes to these matters, I have to admit being soft and less:



    I have to go back to planting the seeds I like. Or watch wild ones grow here and there. Ban the condom but it will live in some, out of necessity, and become an underground fashionable/necessary item. I also think there is a need those pushing for faster change serve a purpose as well but secretly (shhhh) wish they don’t get there way and another way is found.

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  • I think, Laurie and Olgun, we must pull all the levers for change at once. And now.

    What worries me about fast track levers alone is that the indifferent bulk get left behind.

    I think the levers (fast and slow) will work better together.

    What worries me also about not having a slow plan to reach the indifferent and the very deeply fearful is that we may not have the stamina for the deep cultural change that will only truly happen over generations. We have to be steady over decades and not be disheartened. Bright folk committed to reason move quickly. It only takes a moments clarity to change our lives. There will be a tipping point but that needs a genuine groundswell.

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  • Laurie

    The Nietzsche quote also reaches to death itself, I think. For progress we older folk whose ability to solve our collective problems recedes with the years, we must gracefully give up our place for the newly eager and fresh eyed.

    Knowing this, even on others’ behalfs, is how we learn to feel.

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  • There seems to be a push back against fundamentalist Muslim repression and under-cover terrorism in parts of North Africa!

    Morocco has banned the sale, production and import of the burka, according to local reports.

    Letters announcing the ban were sent out on Monday, giving businesses 48 hours to get rid of their stock, the reports stated.

    There was no official announcement from the government, but unnamed officials told outlets the decision was made due to “security concerns”.

    It is unclear if Morocco is now intending to ban the garment outright.

    A high-ranking interior ministry official confirmed the ban to the Le360 news site, adding that “bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes”.

    The burka, which covers the entire face and body, is not widely worn in Morocco, with most women favouring the hijab, which does not shroud the face.

    Women in Salafist circles, and in more conservative regions in the north, are more likely to wear the niqab, which leaves the area around the eyes uncovered.

    The decision has split opinion in the North African kingdom, led by King Mohammed VI, who favours a moderate version of Islam.

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  • I see Islamic theocracies still can’t cope with intellectual women!
    Female brains, apparently require to wrapped in fabrics! 🙂


    Indian chess champion Soumya Swaminathan has pulled out of an Asian tournament in Iran over the country’s compulsory headscarf rule.

    The 29-year-old Woman Grandmaster said the rule was a violation of her personal rights.

    “Under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran,” she wrote in a Facebook post, which went viral.

    The Asian Chess Championship will take place in Iran next month.

    Ms Swaminathan, who is ranked No 5 in India, told local media that the tournament was originally supposed to be held in Bangladesh. “But once the new dates and new venue came up, I excused myself,” she said.

    When asked if the All India Chess Federation (AICF) should have protested against the decision to shift location, she told the Times of India:

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