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Showing posts from September, 2013

Women in the Koran: a statistical analysis

Earlier I looked at what Islam says about women in the Classic Manual of Islamic Jurisprudence (Umdat al-Salik).
But I keep hearing in the media that Islam is not misogynist, that Muhammad and his Koran marked a liberation for women.
So I thought I'd do a statistical take, looking just at the Koran this time. (*)
My own analysis was to do a search of "women" in Koran online translations.  I chose the translation by orthodox Muslim Yusuf Ali.
The result are in PDF and Excel.
I classified the verses with the word "women" in them into three categories: P = Positive, N = Negative and O = Neutral
Of course there's my bias in making the decisions on which category each verse should be placed. I've tried to avoid my bias by being rather generous to the "Positives" and only classifying a verse as "Negative" when it's abundantly clear that the verse is a definite negative for women in Islam.

The results are:


Verses % POSITIVE 7 13% NEGATIVE 29 …

A remapped Middle East

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THE map of the modern Middle East, a political and economic pivot in the international order, is in tatters. Syria’s ruinous war is the turning point. But the centrifugal forces of rival beliefs, tribes and ethnicities — empowered by unintended consequences of the Arab Spring — are also pulling apart a region defined by European colonial powers a century ago and defended by Arab autocrats ever since.A different map would be a strategic game changer for just about everybody, potentially reconfiguring alliances, security challenges, trade and energy flows for much of the world, too.Interesting article, by Robin Wright of the Institute of Peace at the Wilson Centre. Click for the rest.

It's Existential, Stupid!

The grand wave of Jihadism across the world -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, Philippines, Kenya, Mali, you name it -- is existential, not grievance based.
By that I mean this: that it's not a reaction to various Muslim grievances, from Palestine to Kashmir.  It's part of the Islamic push to install Islam throughout the world. It is existential: that is, relating to the existence of Islam, which requires, in authoritative doctrine, that it be the only religion in the world.
That's not to say that grievances play no part.  Of course they do.
But they're not the main reason we see the chaos of Islamic murder across the world. And if the west were to sort out every grievance in the world, there would still be Islamic aggression.  If we were to sort out a Palestinian state, pull out all infidel troops from the Middle East to Afghanistan, if India were to give Kashmir to the Muslims, if the Philippines were to give the Moro rebels their Islamic state and Thailand give its south t…

Emeritus Papal gymnastics: open mouth, insert 86-year-old foot

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"He's back!", screams the headline in The Telegraph.
"We've heard very little from Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI since his retirement..." says Tim Stanley, the columnist here.
If only it had remained so.  If only we'd continued to hear little from Benedict (aka Ratzinger)
In his ill-thought out urge to take down science, Ratzinger quotes from Richard Dawkins' book "The Selfish Gene".
He has the gall to call it "science fiction":
"I quote", he says, "'The emergence of tetrapod vertebrates... draws its orgin from the fact that a primitive fish' chose 'to go and explore the land, on which, however, was unable to move except jumping clumsily and thus creating, as a result of a modification of behaviour, the selective pressure due to which would have developed sturdy limbs of tetrapods.  Among the descendants of this bold explorer, Magellan of this evolution, some can run at a speed of over 70 miles per hour&#…

Debate proposition: "This House believes the burka should be banned"

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Below are some links and arguments, as background to a school debate at a UK public school -- as in the title above -- sent to "J", who is taking the positive side of the Proposition in the debate. [LATER: the debate was won by the  side supporting the proposition: that the burka should be banned...]
Hi J, a few quick thoughts about the issue.  Good luck with it. I'm expect you'll have the Hall on your side.  
BTW, I use the word "burka" (also can be spelled "burqa" -- neither is more correct than the other) to cover both "burka" and "niqab": see picture below.  Sometimes I use the word "veiling" on the understanding that I mean burka/niqab and not something like the hijab.

Reasons not to like the Burka
It's a mediaval abomination (Rooshanie Ejaz)  [she's a serious honey...]It is hated by liberated Muslimwomen, and non-Muslimwomen. Yasmin Alibbai-Brown finds 16 reasons to object to the burka. Julie Bindel wonders

China: good news bad news

I'm occasionally taken to task for being "too positive" on China.  Oh well.  I do know the downsides of the place; but also its upsides.  As Walt Whitman might have said of China: "... very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes".
The bad news on China remains the bad news: corruption that is not simply endemic, but ubiquitous -- everyone is on the take. Pollution is horrible.  There are crazy clampdowns on free speech: vide the Plan 9, I wrote about.
But the thing is that all these are pretty well covered in the media.  Everyone knows that many a thing is crook in China.
Less known are the positive things that are happening.  That's why occasionally I do trend a touch upside-ish about our "motherland".
And so does Chandran Nair.  He writes a good piece in the South China Morning Post,  "Distorted view overlooks its many positive achievements" [pdf]
Summary:
1.  Pollution: government aims for 20% renewable ener…

America's mainstream press are the real Islamophobes

A site I've just come across, NewsBusters.org, does an analysis of headlines in the top 10 US newspapers by circulation.  They found that 90% of the reports on the Nairobi Muslim Mall Massacre did not mention "Islam" or "Muslim".
This is particularly egregious, as the Shabaab ("Youth") murderers could not have been clearer about their Islamic intentions: they called on Muslim hostages to stand up and -- after a simple Islamic test -- to leave the mall, as the only ones they wanted to murder were non-Muslims (aka "kuffar").
This makes those newspapers the real "Islamophobes": that is, they are scared of Islam; they live in fear of it: this being the proper meaning of a phobia.
They are so scared, these media folk -- of retribution from Muslims or being called "bigots" and "racists" or "Islamophobes" by non-Muslims -- that they don't mention the single most salient fact in this latest round of Musl…

Kenya Westgate Muslim Massacres

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Cameron buys into Kenya Muslim Massacre of non-Muslims...

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... and Daniel Greenfield does the best takedown:
"Announcing that what happened in Kenya has nothing to do with Islam makes as much sense as saying that the USSR had nothing to do with Communism". For it's a nonsense to say that the murders were done in the name of terrorism.  Terrorism to what end? There has to be an aim, for all terrorism.
In the case of the Westfield massacres the killers did so on specifically religious grounds. The Guardian claims that it was all part of a power play. No doubt.  But power play to what end.  It turns out that even the Guardian had to admit that it was all around the issue of what form of Islam one followed. For the al-Shabaab killers, the terrorists, it's about following a more fundamental form of Islam. Not one that's more "extreme", or "nothing to do with Islam", but one that hews more closely to the literal tenets of the Trinity of Islam.

China's Mooncake economy

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There's been quite some reporting recently of how Mooncakes, our current mid-Autumn festival's cadeaux du jour are used as more than nosh.  To get around crackdowns on corruption and too-obviously lavish gift-giving, people have been giving moon cakes in their packaging just like normal moon cakes, but made of solid gold!
There's a fascinating report and nice lot of piccies 'n things at the TeaLeaf Nation blog here.  
Including the fascinating fact what China spends every year on gift-giving would buy twenty Nimitz Class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers!
Maybe a little golden cake ain't so bad, if ramping up the arms race is the alternative...
[h/t to my 1970's China Students Facebook group]

The Silence of the Secularists

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Richard Dawkins tweets this link, from the Trending Central blog.  Disturbing stuff, about the Left's alliance with Islamism, especially as Battle Junior thinks of applying for the London School of Economics, whence the article tweeted.
I could say pretty much as Dawkins says, namely "having voted Left all my life", when I've voted in Oz (not sure I would now, but that's another matter. I'm in Hong Kong, so for the duration am not obliged to vote in Oz).
But as to Dawkins wondering "why" the Left supports Islamism, there are books on this.  I have three in my Library: Unholy Alliance, by David Horowitz; United in Hate, by Jamie Glazov; and The Third Reich and the Ivory Tower, by Stephen Norwood.
The last title is interesting as it chronicles the cheerleading in the 1930s by US universities of Hitler's burgeoning Nazi party. Given the similarities of fascism with Islamism -- "Islamofascism" it has been called -- we now have the same c…

The Repentant Radical

This makes an interesting read.
Akkari concludes: "...Today I appreciate the idea of having a society like Denmark, where people can go to a religious place, the pub, sit by the beach [or] do whatever they like. That’s pretty rare out there in the world.”
Live and let live then.  Like it.

What's wrong with Shahan Mufti?

He sets out what he thinks is a moral conundrum, in his "The Grand Mufti of Google".
But it seems to me it's pretty clear, as I said in my comment, [just published]:
Pretty simple, it seems to me. You are a "Mufti" in name only, literally. Why be bound by the arcane strictures of a medieval belief system.There's clearly a crime -- forgery -- and a moral wrong -- deception -- about to be committed here by Tahir and his mate. You have a chance to stop it. Do that.Go ahead and do what you were about to do -- the thing that your natural moral compass led you to: Say: "don't do it"..

"The Burka: trapped in a mobile prison"

A bit of light relief from the daily shenanigans on Syria.  The Burka has raised its ugly slotted head again in the UK.  One of the best comments comes from a Muslim woman, Julie, writing on the Humanitarian Intervention Centre site:
The Burka: trapped in a mobile prison Progressive Muslim women speaking out against a culture of oppression, whilst privileged Western men defend it or hide behind dubious double standards, naively fooling themselves into thinking they protect something noble I wore a burka only once and would not wish it on my worst enemy. I borrowed it from an Afghan friend whose mother fled from the wrath of the Taliban when she was forced to ditch her Western-style school uniform for a black prison garment which covered her from head to toe and erected a wall of withdrawal between her and the rest of society. From one day to the next, she was deemed a second class citizen by reactionary, fanatical zealots. A burka obstructs the most basic interactions and natural sense…

"Muslim Husbands Must Hate Non-Muslim Wives"

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“Often translated as "Loyalty and Enmity," the little-known Islamic doctrine of wala’ wa bara’commands Muslims never to befriend or be loyal to non-Muslims, while being clean of, disavowing and ultimately hating them. “During a question-and-answer session at an Islamic conference, the full extent of this divisive doctrine was given full expression (see video; also posted below).  Popular preacher Dr. Yassir Burhami, the vice president of the Salafi party in Egypt, explained how Loyalty and Enmity must be upheld at all times—even with a Muslim’s wife, if she happens to be a non-Muslim....”
More here, from the ever-reliable Raymond Ibrahim, translating Islam from Arabic for we infidels.  Warning: there's a lot more yuck there from the egregious grinner Burhami.
Related: Loyalty and Enmity in Islamic filicide.

"Muslims are the new Jews": an argument that should just die

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John Quiggin talks of Zombie ideas: those that rise from the dead, and just won't be killed.
But what about ideas that ought not to be born, but are. That ought to be dead, but aren't?  Ideas that are instead very much alive, thriving and replicating.  I think I'll call them Zombie ideas anyway, for zombies are ugly creatures, and ought to be dead.
One such Zombie idea is the claim amongst Muslim and non-Muslim Islamopologists  that "Muslims are the new Jews".  This trope is trotted out whenever they feel a bit threatened and rather than face and counter valid criticism, resort to this rather feeble ad hominem. It's a counter that tries to shut down conversation: for we wouldn't want another "Final Solution" on our hands, would we?
We are supposed to think that valid criticism of the ideology of Islam is somehow morally equivalent to Nazi calumny, that  critique (they call it "Islamophobia") is one step from a holocaust.
It's a Zo…

The Religion of Peace trumps all others in terrorism charges and arrests

From the UK Home Office Data, released on 12th September 2013, some selected statistics for the period 2001 -- 2012 in the United Kingdom:
More than 57% of arrests for terrorism offences were Muslims. The figure is certainly more than 57% because there is an "unknown religion" category of 36%, which presumably includes some of the Islamic faith. (Table 3.2).More than 73% of those sentenced to prison for terrorism were Muslims. Again, the figure is certainly higher as it includes an "unknown religion" category of 9%. (Table 4.1). Need I state the obvious?  The figures put the lie to the notion of a "Religion of Peace" and to the claim there is only a "tiny minority of extremists".  Given that Muslims in the UK are 4.6% of the total (Pew Research), they're certainly, as Rod Liddle says, "punching way above their weight"...
[As a by-the-by, it's rather interesting, perhaps surprising even, that the figures should be official UK go…

Richard Dawkins: By the Book

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The author of “The God Delusion” and “An Appetite for Wonder” doesn’t care for “Pride and Prejudice”: “I can’t get excited about who is going to marry whom, and how rich they are.” The interview with Richard Dawkins, by the New York Times Sunday Book Reviewhere....
I particularly liked the following bit, as he mentions two others of my favourite public intellectuals, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens...
SBR: You have written several books on science and secularism. What other books on the subject would you recommend?Dawkins: Look at the list of those who obsessively attack Sam Harris and you’ll get an idea of what a dangerously effective writer he is: clear, eloquent, penetratingly intelligent, suffers no fools. Much the same could be said of Christopher Hitchens, and the attacks on him have increased now he is no longer around to fight back. Less well known, but very good in their different ways, are J. Anderson Thomson’s “Why We Believe in God(s),” a psychologically informed…

Challenging Extremism -- promoting dialogue

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From the Clarion Project:
Dear Friends,
From Syria and Iran, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey and Gaza, political and religious extremists are gaining the upper hand and suppressing the forces of moderation. In the wake of this mounting intolerance, there is increasingly widespread abuse of women, the slaughter of Christians and other minority groups, abhorrent human right abuses and growing global terrorism.
To raise awareness of the dangers of extremism and to promote tolerance, the Clarion Project produces award-winning documentaries and runs the leading news analysis site addressing the threat of radical Islam.
We are currently producing two feature-length documentaries on mass human rights abuses taking place across Muslim-majority societies.
We have recently upgraded our flagship website, www.clarionproject.org. In the last year alone, close to a million visitors have sought out the site which features news analysis, alternative Muslim voices, blogs and videos, a…

"Universal vote desirable but no panacea"

My letter published today, in South China Morning Post Universal vote desirable but no panacea Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee says that universal suffrage, though necessary, is no cure-all ("Governance in the time of chaos", September 1). I think she may be right in that. We recently had a family discussion on that very issue. Our son - born and brought up in Hong Kong and now studying in the UK - said that Hong Kong already has so many positives: free media, freedom of speech, clean government and judiciary, law and order with low crime rate and so on. He claims these areas are at least as good as and in some cases better (for example, lower crime rates) than in Britain. He asked in what way would any of these be improved by universal suffrage. My answer was that it ought to be a universal right and would lessen the need for people to take to the streets over every grievance. But still, my son's point stuck in my mind: what, precisely, would be improved in today's Hong Kong …

Protecting Radical Islam

Only a couple of hundred have seen the vid above, but more should.  I've seen similar stats -- including police stats from Norway and Denmark -- that confirm the substance of the video.
More here.

China's Guangzhou to empty labour camps 'by year end'

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A positive story out of China...
The last 100 inmates are to be released from labour camps in one of China's biggest cities, Guangzhou, by the end of the year, state media report. More.
(Hat tip to Paula from "Foreign Students in China 1973-79" Facebook page)

"Australian Islamic Cleric Incites Violence"

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An online video of an Australian Islamic cleric calling for Hindus and Buddhists to be killed is under investigation by South Australian police.  Read the rest... The article ends by suggesting  "...the inevitable outcome is that the incitement issue is soon sidelined and the focus shifts to police fearing for Sheikh Sharif Hussein’s safety"....

Or with chants of "Islamophobia" for reporting the Sheikh's threats.  After all, "Islamophobia" is a successful defence in Australia, for at least one Muslim gunman-terrorist who tried to kill two police officers....

"You only live twice"

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A thoughtful article, by Michel Gurfinkiel, via 3 Quarks Daily, in the Mosaic magazine, August edition.
Vibrant jewish communities were reborn in Europe after the Holocaust.   Is there a future for them in the 21st century? Samuel Sandler, an aeronautical engineer and head of the Jewish community in Versailles, France, announced a few weeks ago that he’d had the local synagogue registered as a national landmark. “My feeling is that our congregation will be gone within twenty or thirty years,” he told friends, “and I don’t want the building demolished or, worse, used for improper purposes.”
Once the seat of French royalty, Versailles is now among the tranquil, prosperous, and upscale suburbs of Greater Paris. Among the townspeople are executives employed in gleaming corporate headquarters a few miles away. They and their churchgoing families inhabit early-20th-century villas and late-20th-century condominiums set in majestic greenery. Among the townspeople too, are a thousand or so Jews …