Wednesday 31 October 2012

Mali in the grip of that "tiny minority" of extremists

You know how it's supposed to be just a "tiny minority" of extremist elements in Islam who have "hijacked" or "twisted" the "Religion of Peace"?  It's just that there are so damn many of them..... All over the Arab world, into Pakistan, and increasingly in those "moderate" havens of Malaysia and Indonesia.  So many in the "tiny minority"....
This article in significant as it's Germany's Der Spiegel usually left of centre and therefore usually blind to the atrocities done in the name of Islam....  And, below, such is Sharia:
Northern Mali is virtually inaccessible to journalists at present. Sharia law has been in effect there since last spring, when fundamentalists took control of a large part of the country, which had been considered a model nation until then. The fundamentalists stone adulturers, amputate limbs and squelch all opposition. Read the rest of "Daily Life in Islamist Northern Mali"

"Anti-Wilders Mob Goes Mad"

The always worth-reading Bruce Bawer:
So much fury!  So many men bullying women in the name of human sensitivity!  It’s all supposed to be about “Islamophobia,” of course – about defending innocent, put-upon Muslims from their racist oppressors.  But scratch these self-styled friends of Islam and what you’ll find is the heirs to Europe’s most poisonous, dehumanizing dreams – men and women who are the sworn enemies of that messy, imperfect thing, human freedom, and who’ll never shake off their dangerous, blind faith in the utopian promise of authoritarian ideology.  So it stands, alas, in much of Europe in the year 2012.  To know anything about the history of the last few generations on this beleaguered continent is to realize that none of this insanity is new – and that every bit of it is, shall we say, profoundly inauspicious.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

A friend who acts like an enemy is an enemy

The always worthwhile read, Barry Rubin, discusses a friend who acts like an enemy, mainly Pakistan, here.
See also the excellent Christopher Hitchens' article, "From Abbotabad to worse", of July 2011, in which he argues the same as Rubin: what's the use of pumping billions into a country that acts against the interests of the west at every turn?
Rubin's difference is that he notes the bind of an American President: just how can the US extricate itself from the obligations, without making things worse.  As Hitchens would counter, how can it be worse?

Monday 29 October 2012

"Islamic finance's ethical base...", now hold it right there!

Letter to South China Morning Post:
Haslinda Amin retails the usual feel-good features of Sharia finance: prohibition of usury, "ethical" bonds that don’t invest in gambling and alcohol, and so on.  ("Islamic finance's ethical base leaves customers less exposed to needless risk", 29 October).
That's not the whole story.  Many Islamic banks promote a ban on usury as being "interest-free".  But no bank can work for free, so deals are structured with sale and buyback of artificial "assets" with profit margins at levels equivalent to prevailing interest rates.  They are an elaborate ploy of form over substance, and inefficient because of that structure: Sharia-compliant mortgages have fees up to 20% higher than standard.
The preeminent Muslim scholar of Sharia Finance, Timur Kuran, notes that all Islamic banks actually give and take interest routinely, using “ruses” to make interest appear as a return to risk.  He says the significance of Sharia banking lies in its symbolism and in the boost it gives to the global movement of Islamism.
Sharia compliant bonds (or sukuk) ban not only alcohol and gambling: they also ban investments in companies that benefit non-Islamic religions; that promote equal rights for women and gays; investments in any western books, films, media, and in any company linked to Israel.
And no, Ms Amin, we do not -- at least I do not -- make the mistake of considering this method of banking to be "archaic".  For I know that Sharia Finance was first promoted by the Pakistani Islamist Sayyid Al-Mawdudi, founder of the radical Jamaat-e-Islami, in the 1960s. Until that time, Muslims had made do perfectly well with standard finance.  Thus Sharia finance is a modern construct specifically to conjoin economics with religion.  It is promoted today by Islamists like Al-Qaradawi as being “Jihad with money” [fn1].  According to Professor Kumar again, "Mawdudi’s aim … was to reassert Islam’s importance … [to] defy the common separation between economics and religion…, to invoke Islamic authority.... [fn2].
Finally, as for Sharia finance's alleged success, I would direct Ms Amin to the Wall St Journal article "Sharia-compliant banking products a 'huge flop' in the UK". The reason for that is that it is innately inefficient and some people, at least, have twigged to this.
I don't for one minute suggest that Ms Amin has Islamist tendencies in her incomplete and glowing overview of Sharia finance.  Just that she hasn't read fully around the subject, its history and how modern Islamists view it.
Yours, etc,
Peter F. Hong Kong

"I like to call it Jihad with money, because God has ordered us to fight enemies with our lives and our money." [towards the end of the article]

[fn2] Timur Kuran, “Islam and Mammon; the economic predicaments of Islamism”.  Princeton University Press, p. 52.

Sunday 28 October 2012

"The European Left and Its Trouble With Jews"

Yay!  The "paper of record" and of the Left at that, notices...

Where is the shame and outrage over Malala?

Letter to South China Morning Post:
Hari Kumar says "This silence on their part is one reason a twisted image of the religion persists in the minds of sceptics." (Where is the shame and outrage over Malala?, October 23)
But what exactly is this "twisted image" to which Kumar refers?  Could it be the very failure of "moderate Muslims" to demonstrate against atrocities done in the name of their religion, whereas they are so quick to take offense at cartoons, teddy bears, burnt Korans and inept videos?  In which case, is this not a case of "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes"?
Surely Kumar's statement is belied by his own thesis and its headline.
As the late, great Christopher Hitchens said: "What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness."
Peter F
Hong Kong

Saturday 27 October 2012

Sean Carroll: Particles and the Meaning of Life

I really like Prof Sean Carroll. Below vid is from his blog, here.
Really worth a quiet half-hour's watch.  After all, didn't you always want to know the meaning of life?

From his blog post (the comments are educated, informative and interesting...):

There are actually three points I try to hit here. The first is that the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood. There is an enormous amount that we don’t know about how the world works, but we actually do know the basic rules underlying atoms and their interactions — enough to rule out telekinesislife after death, and so on. The second point is that those laws are dysteleological — they describe a universe without intrinsic meaning or purpose, just one that moves from moment to moment.
The third point — the important one, and the most subtle — is that the absence of meaning “out there in the universe” does not mean that people can’t live meaningful lives. Far from it. It simply means that whatever meaning our lives might have must be created by us, not given to us by the natural or supernatural world. There is one world that exists, but many ways to talk about; many stories we can imagine telling about that world and our place within it, without succumbing to the temptation to ignore the laws of nature. That’s the hard part of living life in a natural world, and we need to summon the courage to face up to the challenge.

I cook, therefore I think

According to a new study, a surge in human brain size that occurred roughly 1.8 million years ago can be directly linked to the innovation of cooking.  More....

"Working with the Muslim Brotherhood"

The on-again, off-again Roger Cohen, this time off again in his "Working with the Muslim Brotherhood". (NYT, 23 October)
The title gives it all away: get in cahoots with this gang of west-haters.
A couple of sentences jump out:
To keep doing the same thing when it does not work is one definition of madness. [para 6]
But what is the "same thing" that's been done that is the "definition of madness"?  Is he referring, perhaps, to the support of some unsavoury dictators over the last several decades and more?  If so, then at least they held a sort of peace and balance; moreover it's far from certain that their replacements will be any less unsavoury, with the admixture of virulent anti-westernism to boot.  Morsi is a case in point.  I wonder if he'd go quietly, if the electorate decided he'd done a bad job.  Somehow I think not.
But when aid is cut off, and American attention turns elsewhere, and future generals start getting their training in Saudi Arabia rather than Kansas, we know the result: Pakistan. [para 10]
This one is superficially attractive.  A version of "better have them inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in."  But what if they're inside the tent pissing in? The most important Muslim Brother of them all (founder Hassan al-Banna aside) is Sayiid Qutb.  He went to America in the fifties, and instead of being energised and inspired by it, this cramped little creep was revolted by what he saw in the US, repelled by his friendly hosts.  His was clearly a deeply repressed sexuality, which, when confronted by the open norms in the US, found outlet in spite and spittle.  This cramped, repressed, vitriolic little shit went back home to become the voice of the Brotherhood, revered to this day by Muslims worldwide.  I suggest a reading of the fellow to get a feel for what the MB is all about.
Now, what if the "future generals" were to go for training in the US and instead of going home inculcated with the values of freedom and democracy, return more Qutb-like. For the failure of Pakistan is not due just to their having training in Saudi; they too, were subject to training in the US.  Didn't help much, did it.  See the late Christopher Hitchens on this, in his "From Abbottobad to Worse".

Friday 26 October 2012

Gangnam, Ai Weiwei style

Our very own dissident artist, Beijing's Ai Weiwei..
Pretty cool, and some nice chicks....
(or view on YouTube)
Trivia: "Gangnam" means "South of the River"... 江南

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Read the "Islamophobes"!

A catch-up post, from a Daniel Pipes article.  He refers to a 65-page pamphlet from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, naming some 25 so-called "Islamophobes".

I've read works by most of these below. They are solid and knowledgable on Islam. In other words, according to MPAC, those who speak critically of Islam, but from a sound basis of knowledge and personal experience, are "Islamophobes".

My suggestion: make this a list of people to get to read....

They are:
Andrew Bostom, William Boykin, Stephen Coughlin, Nonie Darwish, Steven Emerson, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney, David Gaubatz, William Gawthrop, Pamela Geller, John Giduck, Sebastian Gorka, John Guandolo, Tawfik Hamid, David Horowitz, Raymond Ibrahim, Zuhdi Jasser, Andrew McCarthy, Walid Phares, Patrick Poole, Walid Shoebat, Robert Spencer, Erick Stakelback, David Yerushalmi and Daniel Pipes
Related: "Stop calling criticism of Islam 'Islamophobia'"

"A Year of Blasphemy"

An interesting article.

It's done a survey of how nations have treated blasphemy in the past year, with a methodology set out and aimed to be neutral.
The results in sum, re actions taken against perceived blasphemy:

  • Islam: 42 cases
  • Christianity: 5 cases
  • Other: 1 case

In the non-Islam based cases of blasphemy charges, actions taken were either denunciations or a fine.
In the Islamic cases, the actions included: arrest, firebombing, attempts to down an airplane, beheading, indictment of priests, enactment of laws to make blasphemy punishable by death.  And of course, one should include the Taliban shooting of the young Malala.

The point is rather made by that litany of insane actions against perceived criticism of one's prophet.

And yet, there are those -- exclusively of the Left -- who call for suppression of free speech to "yield to other values" and "international norms" about "hate speech".

Shame on them.  The US, and others in the west, must resist the attempt to criminalize "blasphemy".  The last time someone was executed for the "crime" in the UK, was in 1697.  And if it were on behalf of Christianity that call for introduction of anti-blasphemy laws were invoked, it would be laughed out of court.  Only because it's Islam, the "Religion of Peace", with all its bullying threats and deadly actions, is it promoted and, sadly, considered by governments in the west.

Monday 15 October 2012

UK Muslims insist Google follow Sharia law...

... Sharia law, that is, against blasphemy: defined as any criticism of Muhammad.
If Google gives in to this, it'll be more inroad of Sharia in the west.
Story here.

Thursday 11 October 2012

The legacy of a prophet

This is quite one of the most duplicitous videos on the life of Muhammad that I've seen.  Complete apologia. This is to be expected from the Council on American Islamic Relations.  But the problem is that CAIR is seen to be the "moderate" voice of Muslims in America, the go-to outfit for the US Government, and therefore seen as representative.  Few know of its links to the terrorist organisation Hamas, and of its shady past and present.
The duplicity of the video is mostly of omission than commission, in what it misses out rather than what it says.  For the benign qualities of Muhammad they quote may well be true: that he was charismatic, a good husband, father, leader and warrior. But then so were Stalin, Mao and Hitler. What they miss out is that he was also deeply sectarian, homophobic, misogynist, murderous, polygamous and pedophiliac (the last, at least in today's terms).  These are all affirmed in Islamic sources: the Trinity of Koran, Sirah and Hadith.
It's for those reasons that child brides, polygamy, death for apostates, Jihad holy war against infidels, the demeaning of women, killing by stoning and beheading, the push for Sharia, and so on and so bloody forth, are all very much part of modern day Islam, throughout the Muslim world.  Because the are the example of the "perfect man".
Those are the real "legacy of the prophet".

The New York Times advises Romney how to win...

Wow, this was amazing. In one day's edition, a few day ago, no less than three articles on the Op-Ed page seem to be coaching Romney on how to seal his debate win, with a win in the election.  At least that's what it looks like from these three articles:
"Romney's Missing Foreign Policy", by Danielle Pletka: advising on foreign affairs.
"Can I phone a friend?", by Thomas Friedman, on how Romney should govern.
"It could be his party", by Ross Douthat, on how to handle internecine intra-party battles.

Buttocks must have been tightening in the Democratic Party when they saw the Op-ed page of a friendly newspaper virtually taken over by pro-ish Romney pieces....

Saturday 6 October 2012

"Rebels Say West’s Inaction Is Radicalizing Syria"

If the West continues to turn its back on Syria’s suffering, he said, Syrians will turn their backs in return, and this may imperil Western interests and security at one of the crossroads of the Middle East.
Right, just like Libya where the west's interests and security were protected by intervening.....
Article here.

Thursday 4 October 2012

"The Neurotic Middle East"

I thought this was a great article.
I don't know who to give the hat tip to, as I'm not sure how I came across it...

Tuesday 2 October 2012

"Return of the Organic Fable"

And here he is again, the on-again, off-again Roger Cohen.  This time on GM foods, and on this one he's right (meaning, of course, that I agree with him....):
Life is a journey full of discoveries and I have added at least one important fact to my store of knowledge this year: Hell hath no fury like an organic eater spurned. [Read the rest...]

"The Foreign Policy Divide"

Roger Cohen, again.
To his credit, Obama has supported the transitions in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere. In the end it has to be in America’s strategic interest to support societies that are not breeding the frustrations that turn young people into anti-Western killers. It has to be in America’s interest to have Islamic parties like the Muslim Brotherhood dealing with Islamic extremism: The lessons of power will prove sobering.
But: I don't recall that in any of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia there were festering anti-American movements before they were sprung in the "Arab Spring".  While now they are openly anti-American, anti-free speech, murderously attacking US Consulates and Embassies.  Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia -- an alleged ally -- is the source of the worst "anti-Western killers" in the 21st century.  And yet there's no sign of an "Arab Spring" to overthrow a truly obnoxious regime and odious culture.
So, the above quote is nonsensical at best.  And is not reality, surely. This is not a paean of praise for the earlier dictators, but surely it can't be good for the US or the West to have Muslim Brotherhoods in power, given their virulently anti-western beliefs.

Monday 1 October 2012

"Living with criticism graciously"

Have had a number of emails in support of my letter of 23 September. And yesterday, a supportive letter was published in the South China Morning Post. I must say, kudos to the SCMP, for publishing not one, but two letters critical of their Editorial, which is, after all, the official view of the paper.  In the meantime, though, they did publish another editorial, yesterday, essentially calling for shouting down of what they call "bigoted and intolerant" voices.  But one person's valid criticism is another person's bigotry, to engage in a bit of my own moral equivalence.... The letter below the fold.