Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Friday, January 07, 2011

Salman Taseer - may he rest in peace

Just to remind ourselves that 2010 has been a year of steadily rising Islamophobia around the world. Uncle Jimmy (BlairSupporter) and the murderous scum at Bare Naked Islam have played their part in this, of course, but it's generally been a bad year to be a Muslim.

Not that 2011 has been much better, especially for one Pakistani Muslim, Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab province gunned down by one of his bodyguards. Uncle Jimmy has a post on the assassination, and I can agree with him on one thing at least: Taseer is a genuine hero. He was a pretty heroic figure in the history of Pakistani democracy before standing up to be counted as an opponent of Pakistan's draconian blasphemy law, and specifically of the death penalty ordered for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman.

What do the loony left, those who still proclaim moral equivalence of all religions, have to say about the horrific murder of one of Pakistan’s few moderate and liberal-minded political leaders? If they are what they say they are – moderate, liberal and freedom-loving – he should be their new hero. A man standing up for women’s rights, even Christian women’s rights in a deeply patriarchal and conservative Muslim country. A man opposed to Pakistan’s extreme blasphemy laws. Laws which say that execution is the penalty for insulting the name of Mohammed.

Let us note note that this deeply patriarchal country (indeed) has at least managed to elect a woman as Prime Minister in the recent past (so not perhaps the irredeemable "basket case" of a country Jimmy makes out) and that the death penalty for blasphemy has never yet actually been carried out (whether it will be for Asia Bibi depends on the bravery of the President: the huge reaction to Taseer's murder may actually have made clemency more likely rather than less). Let us also observe that Jimmy, naturally, emphasises the many voices raised in support of the murderer while downplaying the thousands of brave souls who have come out in support of Taseer and his stand. For example these, and these.

Jimmy, moreover, sullies the memory of Taseer with some sarcastic anti-Muslim digs. After all, why bother remembering that Salman Taseer was himself a good, decent Muslim when lazy Islamophobia has so much appeal for his target audience? A word of warning, though, for Jimmy. His oh-so-ironic sub-headings such as

IGNORE QADRI. HE’S ONLY DOING WHAT WE’D ALL LIKE TO DO

and

DEFEND QADRI, HE HAS ONLY DONE WHAT WE’D ALL LIKE TO HAVE DONE

are likely to be taken at face value by his new chums at Bare Naked Islam, where the commenters frequently opine that all Muslims should be killed, and where the site owner has written that no Muslim has ever contributed anything of value to any society.

And Jimmy can't resist a cheap "Nazi" slur:

QADRI IS A NAZI sorry – GHAZI (Islamic Warrior)

Interesting word that – Ghazi. Don’t you think? Wonder when it was coined?

Ooh, yes, because nothing bespeaks respect for the dead more than making fun of their language and their religion, except perhaps desperately trying to smear that religion with false associations with Nazism. Yes, Ghazi has three letters in common with Nazi. So does Zion. What larks, eh?

(Incidentally, thirty seconds with Google yields the answer to Jimmy's rhetorical question: the term dates from the time of the Samanid Empire, 819 - 999.)

Then Jimmy rediscovers his feelings of respect for the dead, because he shows a picture of people defacing a picture of Taseer and captions it "After learning that Taseer has been killed, Pakistanis abuse his picture. Do YOU reckon this is civilised behaviour? After anyone has been assassinated?"

Well, gosh, no I don't. But unlike Jimmy who never said a word of protest, I found the similar scenes after the judicial murder of Saddam Hussein equally distasteful.

And finally:

But perhaps now, or some time soon, the Guardianistos of this world, the lefty broadcasters, the so-called feminists and the so-called freedom-lovers will start to re-think their position on Islam as a concept – even as a “religion”.

I'm not sure what "Islam as a concept" is supposed to mean, far less what my position on it is expected to be. But Islam as a religion deserves no sneering quotation marks to spit on the memory of a great man, and a great Muslim. Salman Taseer: twenty times the man BlairSupporter, the blogger too cowardly to use his name let alone put his life on the line, will ever be.

7 Comments:

At 07 January, 2011 22:12, Anonymous Stan said...

Even you must admit, Rob,that this murder and the Islamic justifications for it from large sections of the Pakistani community is not the best advert for this particular religion.

If it can be interpreted so easily to excuse so many atrocious crimes and assassinations (in a way that has no parallel with other religions today) there must be something wrong somewhere, even if it's a matter of going through some kind of civilising reformation as other religions have.

 
At 08 January, 2011 00:43, Blogger Rob said...

Blimey, Stan, a relevant comment!

Fundamentalist nutters of whatever kind are never a good advertisement for the religions they pervert, for sure. I'm not sure whether Islam has a higher proportion of them than other religions or whether they simply shout more loudly (and their every pronouncement of hatred is picked up and gleefully repeated by folk like BlairSupporter). I wouldn't say they had no parallel in other religions: numerical superiority, perhaps, but think of the Jewish fanatics who still commemorate Baruch Goldstein's machine-gunning of a mosque. Do you imagine the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in Sri Lanka operated in a vacuum without support from local Hindu extremists? They were one of the world;s biggest and most heavily-armed terrorist organisation, not a couple of guys with Kalashnikovs. Plenty of Sikhs cheered when Indira Gandhi was murdered by her Sikh bodyguard, and I'm pretty sure that there are "Christians" in the USA who would be ecstatic if somebody killed Barack Obama. Every religion has violent nutters, and supporters of violent nutters, Fortunately for us all, every religion (INCLUDING Islam) has a core of decent believers who want nothing to do with them. It;s the folk who turned up for Salman Taseer's funeral in defiance of the nutters who are the advertisement for Islam. It's the thousands of Muslims who turned up to form a human shield around the Coptic Christians' Christmas service who are the advertisement, not the murdering swine who bombed them.

Reform movements aren't always the solution. Mostly they are partial failures (the Protestant Reformation gave us Luther and the Church of England, but also Pat Robertson and Oliver Cromwell, while Islam has spawned the distinctly peaceful Sufis but also the Salafis whio inspired much of today's political Islam.) Judaism probably has the best record of reform, with comparatively few of the world's Jews being religious nutters.

Where I see a glass half full, you see one half-empty. It's the crazies who want to destroy the Islamic glass altogether that I worry about.

 
At 08 January, 2011 14:48, Anonymous Stan said...

Blimey, we can actually agree that fundamentalist nutters of whatever religious persuasion are the pits.

However I think there can be little doubt that Islam has a greater share of them than most, if only because as a Muslim put it in today's Guardian no two Muslim scholars can agree on the basics of Islam and therefore any nutter is free to set up his own sect and set his followers "on any course of action regardless of all considerations of discipline, loyalty, decency, morality or civic sense".

The whole thing is getting so out of hand in Pakistan that even the Guardian has been prompted to publish an editorial about it headed "The moral collapse of a nation" http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/08/pakistan-moral-collapse-nation-pakistan

As you say, every religion has its share of fanatics but none on the scale and intensity of Islam in the 21st century, possibly because its anti-west practitioners see fanaticism and martyrdom as a path to paradise.

This really is becoming the world's
No.1 political problem. If the fanatics take over Pakistan, that will mean there could be two nuclear states with no qualms about delivering a holocaust against"the infidel" since a retaliatory response will only speed their way to paradise. At least non-religious or non-fanatically religious
nuclear states are held back by the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction.

The only answer is to stand up for those heroic Muslims who are trying to reverse the tide of Muslim extremism.

 
At 08 January, 2011 17:24, Anonymous Stan said...

I've now had a thoughtful response to this comment removed even after agreeing with Rob about fundamentalist nutters and supporting the heroic Muslim moderates resisting the extremists.

Which shows that Rob is good at dishing it out but not so good at taking it, particularly when he has no answers to the points being made.

Come on Rob prove me wrong and put it back.

 
At 09 January, 2011 04:15, Blogger Rob said...

THIS COMMENT WAS POSTED BY STAN AT
08 January, 2011 14:26 - but for some reason Blogger dropped it, and all following comments in this thread.


Blimey, we can actually agree that fundamentalist nutters of whatever religious persuasion are the pits..

However I think there can be little doubt that Islam has a greater share of them than most, if only because, as a Muslim put it in today's Guardian, no two Muslim scholars can agree on the basics of Islam and therefore any nutter is free to set up his own sect and set his followers "on any course of action regardless of all considerations of discipline, loyalty, decency, morality or civic sense".

The whole thing is getting so out of hand in Pakistan that even the Guardian has been prompted to publish an editorial about it headed "The moral collapse of a nation"

As you say, every religion has its share of fanatics but none on the scale and intensity of Islam in the 21st century, possibly because its anti-west practitioners see fanaticism and martyrdom as a path to paradise.

This really is becoming the world's
No.1 political problem. If the fanatics take over Pakistan, that will mean there could be two nuclear states with no qualms about delivering a holocaust against "the infidel" since a retaliatory response will only speed their way to paradise. At least non- religious or non-fanatically religious nuclear states are held back by the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction.

The only answer is to stand up for those heroic Muslims who are trying to reverse the tide of Muslim extremism.

Posted by Stan to Eine Kleine Nichtmusik at 08 January, 2011 14:26

 
At 09 January, 2011 05:41, Blogger Rob said...

I shall try to reply - trusting that my own comment will stay here longer than yours originally did.

I can't find much to disagree with there, Stan, just a few quibbles. You refer to two (Islamic) nuclear states, but Islamophobic rhetoric notwithstanding there is no evidence that Iran is anywhere near producing a bomb, even if it wished to. Oh, I know Tony Blair thinks they have one, but he thought Saddam had one so forgive me if I'm sceptical.

There is another nuclear state in the region, of course, and that is Israel. So far, as you say, Israel has held back from using its atomic weaponry for fear of the consequences. But with Obama being so spineless over settlements, and with the hard-liners in the Israeli government in the ascendant at present, I don't feel as confident as I used to that Israel will always be so sensible. It's not something I lose sleep over: but them neither is a global Islamic plot to destroy Western civilsation.

The nutters may not yet have taken over the Pakistani asylum but they do seem to be out of their wards right now. And I entirely agree that the brave souls who stand up to them need support. I mean the ones who put their lives on the line in Pakistan or Egypt (or Saudi Arabia, or Iran). I have a lot less time for the attention-seekers who sit in the UK and the USA claiming to be reformed ex-terrorists, or experts on Islam. As you say, anyone can claim to be an expert on Islam, and most of these guys semm to have no more credibility than the nutters in Pakistan.)

In the Islamic world there have been some - by Western standards - fairly iffy characters who have nevertheless made a stand against the extremists, and paid the price. Neither Benazir Bhutto nor Anwar Sadat was especially democratic (put it this way, I'd rather have Tony Blair as my head of state than either). Their methods, in many ways, stank: and clearly they weren't totally effective, as they were both murdered by their fundamentalist opponents. But again, it's not purely an Islamic issue: Indira Gandhi was pretty vile but tried (clumsily) to tackle Sikh terrorism. Result: she was murdered by a Sikh. Or take Yitzhak Rabin: he signed the Oslo accords and was getting ready to square up to the extremists among the settlers in the OT. He was assassinated by an extremist Zionist, not by a Muslim zealot.

I'm enough of a bleeding-heart liberals that I will always want to call these people to account insofar as they torture, murder and imprison their opponents: but if I had to choose between Benazir Bhutto and the folk who killed her (or Yitzak Rabin and the folk who killed him) my preference would be for the non-fundamentalists. There are limits: while deeply disgusted by what has succeeded him I wouldn't laud Saddam simply because he kept the lid on Muslim fundamentalism - though he did. Not do I support Islam Karimov's reign of terror in Uzbekistan.

My worry is that the broad-brush Islamophobia so prevalent around the world obscures the distinction between the murdering scum and the decent masses. What they need is what you described as a reform movement, someone to bring them to their proper Islamic senses: NOT someone to tell them that "Moslimes" are all wife-beating paedophiles who have sex with animals and commit human sacrifice to a moon god. There are plenty of decent Imams out there getting on with being Muslims and helping other to be Muslims (though not enough in Pakistan, perhaps). Their job is made harder by folk like Geert Wilders, the BareNakedIslam crowd, and BlairSupporter who cannot see the baby for the bathwater and simly play into the hands of the extremist demagogues.

 
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