Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Injustice

A 75 year old widow who lives in Saudi Arabia asks the nephew of her late husband and his friend to bring her some bread, and, when delivered, she gets busted by the religious police. She was convicted of mingling with the opposite sex, not her close relatives, and sentenced to 40 lashes and 4 months in jail. I'm quite speechless to the lack of understanding and extreme rigidity in this religious law, let alone the relatively barbaric punishment ... to a 75 year old! Money quote:
"Because she said she doesn't have a husband and because she is not a Saudi, conviction of the defendants of illegal mingling has been confirmed," the court verdict read.

Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islam prohibits men and women who are not immediate relatives from mingling. It also bars women from driving, and the playing of music, dancing and many movies also are a concern for hard-liners who believe they violate religious and moral values.
I am generally concerned with the mainstream media's reporting on stories like this, because I think they unfairly and poorly characterize the Islamic religion as a whole, like all Muslims are overly fanatical in their religious interpretation; not all Muslims are Wahhabi-ists; most Muslims are peaceful, thoughtful, and compassionate people, like you and I. With that said, I think it is important to speak truth to power and speak out against this type of injustice and oppression.

(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

14 comments:

Kent H said...

Drew, respectfully, I am concerned that so few Americans respect and understand the diabolical nature of the Islamic faith in power. I do understand that most Muslims are not this severe in their interpretation of the Quran. But I also understand that where Islam is in the majority, there are nearly no moderate governments. Turkey, Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc. all represent nations where Shariah law is practiced and these types of attrocities are much more common than the western media can report. Egypt and Jordan are stark minorities (being more secular Islamic states - as was Iraq).

Islam is the fastest growing faith in America. Their numbers now equal to Jews in the U.S. (5 - 6 million). The number of mosques has doubled in the past 20 years from 600 to 1200. About 135,000 Americans become Muslims each year, including about 35,000 from the prison population alone. Frankly, I think these numbers relate to other your story on the evangelical church. But more alarmingly, history shows that once the Islamic adherents are somewhere near half of the population, their demands get stronger and their oppositions to a non-Shariah government get more hostile. Islamic governments nearly never allow for religious deviation from Islam (punishable by death) and women are treated as property (eg. the man last week who made his wife read passages of the Quran while he strangled her).

Call me whatever, but history shows a nearly unanimous pattern of total intolerance and violent tyranny under Islam. May it not happen here.

Darren Staley said...

In which Kent makes a teriffic argument for separation of church and state.

Katie said...

Kent, I'm trying to understand your comment about the influx and growth of the Muslim community in the United States. Would you say that this quote reflects your position?

I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. ...[I]f American citizens don't wake up and adopt [my] position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.

Virgil "build a fence to keep the terrorists out" Goode said that. So... look alive, America. Them savage Mooslims are coming to kill your family. You betcha.

It is truly, to use your word, "diabolical" to suggest that Islamic rule is any more cruel and unflinching than for example Christian rule. It's a tired example, but how about we start with the Crusades, take a look at the Spanish Inquisition, then maybe hang out with some Conquistadors to finish off? I'm sure they would love to talk about showing the "savage" indigenous peoples of the Americas the path of righteousness or the business end of a weapon.

The danger is not in Muslim rule. The danger is in any religious rule which would persecute its detractors. History has shown clearly that Islamic culture is far from the only guilty party in that regard. To suggest otherwise is an exercise in ignorance and selective memory.

Kent H said...

Katie,
You are precisely accurate. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The difference is simply this. When Christians are the predominant faith in a nation, they do not demand a theocracy - violent uprisings are never (as far as I know) Christians demanding political prominence and theocratic rule. We have had a lot of religious liberty friction in America, but never a theocracy - and never demands for one. In nearly every known example, Islam eventually demands Shariah.
Your use of the Crusades and Conquistadors is a sad (and old) attempt to paint Christianity with a brush that is not relevant. First of all, neither of your examples reflects governmental action. The Crusades were primarily power grabs by "Christians" in the sense they weren't Jews or Muslims (not true believers in other words). Conquistadors, with their original intents, came with desires for gold - came from "Christian" nations with riches - not evangelism on their mind.
You are quite mistaken on your last paragraph. Muslim rule is a major danger. Go spend some time in Yemen and see how your life goes. The Shariah is based on their holy book. Read the Kuran! It is not a misapplication of some vague passages. Muhammed demanded his followers conquer and subjugate whatever people they could under Shariah. My point in the thread was to point out that we are heading the way of Spain, France, even Britain who are already seeing the result of an Islamic population beginning to demand its religious views be accepted and practiced.
No your quote does not reflect my view, because I simply have no answers to offer for the storm I see brewing. My issues with weak immigration enforcement are on different grounds.
Maybe my second paragraph didn't belong in this discussion. But the article of the injustice against the elderly woman under Shariah could be written a thousand times a day if the American press had its finger on the pulse of Islamic regimes.

Drew said...

Kent, historically speaking, don't you view America as the exception to the rule in regards to Christianity and theocracy? Western Europe followed our example, but almost completely secularized, there is no import to Christianity in Europe as there is in America. Christianity has had a long history of governmental control, from Constantine until our Constitution.

And like you and Katie admit, there is an over-used example-ship in the Crusades, Inquisition, etc. But I do believe, like Katie, that they are worthy examples, however, historical. During these times, the nations were dominated by the will of the Church. The Pope said jump, the kings and princes asked how high. Invade a country, done. Take back the Holy Land, done. Kill Spanish Muslims and Jews, done. All of those examples did involve governmental action, albeit, through the commandments of the Church. The government was the sword of the Church during the Middle Ages and pre-Enlightenment.

Also, all Muslims live under Sharia law. If you are a Muslim, you follow Sharia. But, like the Bible, there are progressive, moderate, and conservative interpretations, but the point remains, all Islamic nations have their own version of Sharia law. It is a central tenet in Islam, both on a national level (if the country is Islamic) and on an individual level.

And, I wouldn't subscribe ulterior motives to the immigration of Muslims to Western countries, especially in Europe. Compared to Islamic countries, there is economic opportunity in more developed nations. Couple Western Europe's population decrease, net loss of population growth, and it is a simple movement of people moving to fill a void. But, I wouldn't say, that they are infiltrating Europe to set up an ultra-conservative Islamic rule. I don't think that is fair. And people demanding their rights be respected is normal, not evil.

I just don't see Islam as a threat to America or Christianity. I do, however, think that small fringe groups, who grossly misunderstand the Qu'ran, do have evil on their minds. But we cannot and should not generalize from these extremists that the religion as a whole, or that Muslims as a whole, is/are evil. We are better than that.

Kent H said...

Drew,
Your point is taken that there have been a number of governments throughout history that were weak to the point they would accept demands from the RC church. But even those were marked with conflicts, etc. because they were not theocratic in nature. Kings would assert themselves and rights were sujectively enforced.
Constantine was already the king when he professed (later) a belief in Christianity and decided to conquer under the banner of the cross - after a vision told him to.?! (Probably some bad chicken).
The larger issue is that no right-thinking Christian could stretch any claims or commands of Christ to say we are to conquer or subjugate every other person in a society under the ruling thumb of the church. We are to render unto Caesar, etc. But the Quran (and Muhammed) commands the subjugation of cultures and establishment of Shariah law. Islam is a peaceful faith until it is in charge -- then it is tyrannical and brutal.
Go take another look at the videos from last year in Spain, London, etc. "Islam will rule the world" banners everywhere. "We are here to rule." These are not a few fringe nuts in Islam. These are the rank-and-file who are simply doing as they were told.

Kent H said...

Drew,
P.S. I do recognize that there have been a number of church/state combos that make for problems like Katie and I have bemoaned. My issue in short is that now we see the violent demands of Muslim groups to shariah that have never been seen to any degree among those holding to a genuine Christian faith in governmental affairs.

Drew said...

Kent,

I think it important to admit my relatively elementary knowledge on Islam; I'm no expert. But several things you state clash with my education. Yes, it is true that there is a commandment to usher in dar-al-Islam, the world of Islam, in the sayings of Mohammed. But, like I mentioned earlier, this is subject to interpretation, as many Muslims don't take this literally and imperially.

I also must object to your point that this is one religion trying to subjugate the world. The acts of a few, do not speak for an entire religion, culture, or people. The media gives voice to these small fringe groups, and we believe that they are a large segment of the population. This is incorrect and irresponsible on the part of the media. Most Muslims are peaceful, thoughtful, and compassionate. Let's understand these extremists and terrorists in the same light that we understand abortion-clinic bombers or the wackjobs of Westboro Baptist Church (the jerks who protest the deaths of American soldiers, etc.); a small group of religious fanatics that does not represent or speak for an entire faith.

Kent H said...

Drew,
I really appreciate your willingness to see the good and compassionate in everyone. It is just a little naive. Those who study the Muslim faith for its totality in the world understand that Islam is not a religion. It is total hierarchal system (financial, religious, military, cultural). I'm not terribly concerned about those who do not interpret the Quran the way I've outlined. I'm concerned about the enormous percentage who do. Check out:

http://perfectlyhuman.multiply.com/video/item/8


Kent

Drew said...

Kent, Islam is a religion. I think it is very important that we do not employ our church/state lens onto other religions and countries in different parts (read: non-Western) of the world. The separation of church and state (your hierarchical, economic, religious, military, cultural qualifications) is distinctly American and, therefore, Western. Islam is not, and, to me, it is erroneous to project our lens onto another culture. If the lines of church and state are blurred (let's not import a value statement here), then it makes sense that a religious government has control over military, economic, and cultural systems. That seems self-evident to me.

Just because their understandings of the relationship between church and state isn't American, doesn't mean it is bad; it is just un-American, yet value-neutral. And, just because they aren't like us, doesn't mean they are evil and conspiring to do us harm. You call me naive, and I'm okay with that. But the other side of that same coin is cynicism, misappropriation of the opposite kind.

And, I have studied the role of Islam in the world in it's totality. I guess we just got taught different perspectives. I think our quibble here is over the percentage of people who wish us harm; you believe that number is high, I believe that number is low, though loud and significant. And our understanding of this percentage correlates with how we view the religion as a whole, and negatively correlates with our belief in the percentage of people who are good and compassionate. Is that a fair representation?

Drew said...

p.s. While the video you linked discusses many of the points we have discussed here, the video itself was an exercise in alarmism, flawed logic, ignorance of the underlying nature of global conflict, and a seeming generalization of Wahhabism (the most fundamentalist and literalist sect) to Islam as a whole. Sorry.

Kent H said...

Drew,
In an attempt to shut it down, I would simply say that your perspective or mine really do not make or determine the truth of the threat of Islam.
You say that the video was "flawed" etc. but you give no actual, factual examples.
The fact remains that when men like Robert Spencer or Emir and Ergun Caner write books critical of Islam, their lives are threatened daily and they must employ around the clock security. At the same time, an anti-Christian book comes off the press (seemingly) weekly and no one thinks a thing about it. Anti-Christian authors don't questions their own safety.
By "those who study the Muslim faith," I meant those actually digging into the very deepest research available (not you or me), and they are much more concerned than you are. I'm just saying that those with the most information are the ones crying wolf on this one. Thanks for ablidging the scuffle.

Kent H said...

P.S. Oh, getting back to a previous post. I honestly don't understand your reference to abortion-clinic bombers or Westboro (apples to oranges). You're right about their nutty views. But, the fact is, no one of those ilks has ever asserted control of the government but your so-called "radical" Wahhabists rule in more than 10 national governments in the Muslim world. Minority or Majority, they hold sway when they get a chance.

Drew said...

Kent,

Thank you for your willingness to discuss this with me, I appreciate it.

Forgive my lack of documentation of logic flaws in the video, I didn't want to weigh down my comment with citations in order to get to my larger point. But to answer your question, there is no justification to believe that a small immigration of Muslims to our country will yield a catastrophic take-over of America. Our laws prohibit it - laws, freedoms, and opportunity that inspire the immigration in the first place. And the uprisings of violence are minority not majority. Finally, when discussing the countries with the largest percentage of Muslims, they used the most extreme theological viewpoints and generalized them to the other, more moderate and progressive nations. The video formulaically said this will happen when Muslims have this percentage of population, provide a list of nations fitting this percentage, without giving a proper socio-historic context is just crazy. At best it's slippery-slope logic, at worst its deceitful.

I think there is a danger to subscribe evil motives to all Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, and any line of logic that gives a skewed voice to the extremists is both unjust and unfair. And, it exacerbates a friction and misunderstanding between the two religions, squelching dialogue and peaceful co-existence.

To your last comment, again Islamic sects don't assert control over governments. We cannot employ our understanding of the seperation of the church and state to the rest of the world. All Muslim nations, by definition, have a blurred understanding of church and state ... so no Muslim sect seeks control over a government.

Finally, I used the examples of abortion clinic bombers and the Westboro Baptist Church as examples to show how a small fringe group can make loud noise in the media, but not speak for the religion as a whole. These examples are relatively, but not completely, comparable to the extremist sects in Islam. Small groups bent on harm and destruction, psychological or physical, are not representative of the religious norm. They do not speak for Islam nor, using my examples, Christianity. So when discussing groups with extremist behaviors, those that wish harm, we should be mindful of the minute size, popluation-wise, to the religion as a whole.

I hope that I have answered all of your questions and push back. If not, I would be happy to re-respond. Thanks again!