Saturday, October 21, 2006

1984 Inshallah

George Orwell painted a nightmare image of a secular communistic world in his novel 1984, where all actions of the citizens were controlled in minute detail.

The truth is, around the world right now, the countries most guilty of this are not secular socialist regimes, but Islamic nations where the minutae of day to day life is controlled by religious authorities.

A recent example of this has taken place in Somalia:

MOGADISHU, Somalia An Islamic court says women are no longer permitted to swim at a beach in Somalia's capital.

The court's chair says allowing women to socialize with men contradicts Islamic teaching, especially when it comes to swimming.
The ban is the latest in a string of religious regulations that have sparked fears of a Taliban-style regime in Somalia. Islamists have gained power since June. The group has introduced public executions and has publicly lashed drug users. It has also banned movie viewing. (source)
In areas where this takes place, people's freedom to choose grows increasingly curtailed by the rulings of the religious establishment. Women were beaten in Afghanistan because religious police thought they were walking too loudly. Much is done to dehumanize them and create enclaves where those in control can live the life they want to without being reminded of the existance of those they don't want to be interfered with, whether it's women or non-Arabs or whatever the local predjudice is. And it's all done in the name of God.

Behavior like this, based on fear of insulting a capricious and constrictive image of God seems to reflect the image of Man who wants to control his fellow man and excuse the behavior he prefers more than Heaven. 1984 has arrived, Inshallah.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Walking Freedom's Tightrope, and Falling Off A Lot

IT is smaller than a 10 pence piece and all but invisible to people standing just inches away.

Yet Nadia Eweida's tiny white gold cross is at the centre of a huge legal row that has engulfed Britain's biggest airline and infuriated religious groups.

Check-in worker Nadia, 55, was forced to take unpaid leave by British Airways after refusing to remove the Christian emblem. But she claims it is a clear display of double standards as Muslims can wear head scarves and Sikh males their turbans.

"It seems that only Christians are forbidden to express their faith," she told the Mirror. "I am not ashamed to be Christian and shouldn't be made to feel that way. " (source)

There is a fine line in this debate. At what point is religion acceptable? Why should one faith's symbols be ok, while another's aren't? How far does one allow things before drawing the line?

There are multiple trends going on here. One is secular post-Christian society which wants to eliminate all outward marks of religion, but ESPECIALLY Christian markers. Sometimes it seems that there is favoritism at times towards anything not Judeo-Christian in the West - Islam, neo-paganism, and other spiritual walks. Islam demands standards that create news stories when denied, and is pretty aggressive at being taken seriously, to the point that in some places there are two standards - Post Christian secular multiculturalism and Islam. This situation has to be worked out. The rising tide of both anti-Christian/anti-Semitic attacks and the growth of anti-Islamic attacks are both symptoms of a society not perceived to be providing justice on this issue. One cannot have a state that is both secular and Islamic at the same time. The balance must be established, and trying to do it by denying all expressions of faith will not work either.

Interesting times.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Youssef Ibrahim noticed about Europe's Islamic communities:

...the OIC and its Saudi patrons train, fund, and influence to promote barricaded communities inside cultural ghettos, waging war against the societies that embrace them.

For decades, these interconnected webs of mosques, Islamic schools, and imported OIC imams have used the same freedom of speech they deny others to introduce the favored OIC concept of repressed societies to the heart of liberal Europe.

Their quest has not been limited to insulating their communities from a sea of democracy. They also have sought to reverse freedoms for Western citizens who want to publish, write, make films, and read. Witness the hounding of the British author Salman Rushdie and his books, the mayhem over the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, the upheaval over Pope Benedict's critical comments on Islam, and the far too numerous attempts to ban creative works on Islam.

Until recently, Muslims were close to achieving a separate status for Islam, contravening the very essence of the secular state that is Europe's foundation.

It has reached the point that it has become impossible not to be affected by it if you live in Europe. In the desire for diversity, Europe has created a land of cultural enclaves with very little room for mutuality, and the reactions are causing a variety of shockwaves across the continent.

In the UK, we find a tidal wave of reaction about the suggestion that there is a time and a place to wear the veil (not the hajib, mind you, but a face concealing veil), and some places are inappropriate.

First Jack Straw and now David Davis have made news by the sudden realization that not all is happy in multicultural land:

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, says that Britain risks social and religious divisions so profound that society's very foundations, such as the freedom of speech, will become "corroded" and that the perfect conditions for home-grown terrorism will be created.

His stark intervention, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, represents a toughening of the Tory stance on the dangers of Islamic radicalism and follows calls from some leading ministers for Muslim women to remove their veils. It is also a departure from the "caring Conservatism" message laid out by David Cameron.

Mr Davis says he supports the stance on veils adopted by Jack Straw, the Commons Leader, but believes the wider issue is one of the "very unity of our nation".

"What Jack touched on was the fundamental issue of whether, in Britain, we are developing a divided society. Whether we are creating a series of closed societies within our open society. Whether we are inadvertently encouraging a kind of voluntary apartheid.

"At the starkest level, we may be creating conditions in the recesses of our society that foster home-grown terrorism."

Mr Davis's comments follow a series of events that highlight the reluctance among some Muslims to integrate fully into British society. Aishah Azmi, a 24-year-old teaching assistant, is taking legal action because her school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, asked her to remove her veil in front of children. Madani High School, an Islamic school in Leicester, is ordering its non-Muslim girls to wear headscarves.

An ICM poll this weekend showed 57 per cent of voters want Muslims to do more to fit in and 53 per cent agree with Mr Straw that the full veil creates a barrier between Muslim women and other people. (source)

The recent cancelling of an opera in Germany has gotten a number of people thinking in that country, with a lot of unhappiness at the compromises the infliction of tiptoeing around Islamic values is causing in everyday life. Incidents against Moslems are on the rise, no doubt a symptom of public displeasure at the behavior of people who won't fit in. In the UK, there has been at least one Imam beaten up just for being an Imam, not something I condone, but it is a symptom of displeasure. Jack Straw's popularity has shot up since he made the comments about the veil.

Robert Putnam, Harvard professor and author of Bowling Alone, a book on the disintegrating social fabric in the US, told The Financial Times (“Harvard study paints bleak picture of ethnic diversity”) that “the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor.” The FT adds that “when the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust.” (source)

This is happening in Europe, and more unrest and disastisfaction, and most likely violence will be the result. The change in tone is being noticed.

This week, the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference decried what it called the "shrinking space" for tolerance toward Muslims in Europe.

"Muslims have noted with concern that the values of tolerance are eroding and there is now shrinking space for others' religious, social and cultural values in the West," the Saudi-based OIC, the world's largest Islamic association, said a statement sent to Reuters. (source)

Don't know where this will end, but awareness of the reality of self-censorship, accomodation, the reality of what multiculturalism leads to and the truth of the way things are is dawning. It may lead to interesting times.