26 November 2007

As if Sudan didn't have enough problems...

Sure we aren't out of the woods yet and there's still a lot of nutcases out there who want to burn witches for teaching evolution, but at least in the USA you don't get arrested and have your school shut down because some first graders named their class's stuffed animal "Muhammad.":
The BBC's correspondent Amber Henshaw said Ms Gibbons' punishment could be up to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine.
The school has been closed until January for fear of reprisals.
Fellow teachers at Khartoum's Unity High School told Reuters news agency they feared for Ms Gibbons' safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held.
Seriously, how f'ed up is a country when a first grade teacher is in danger of being lynched over the name of a teddy bear? Reminds me of the scene in Monty Python's The Life of Brian where the man's getting stoned to death for saying the name "Jehovah."

I'm entertaining reasonable suggestions for why religion dominates Muslim countries the way it does (and yeah I know the whole thing about graven images and blah blah blah...I'm asking for reasonable suggestions).


Lonnie Bruner said...

Islam is the worst of the world's monotheisms mainly because of the extreme imperialist nature of the Koran coupled with the constant reinforcement of hatred for infidels throughout its texts --- including the Hadith.

And more importantly, Islamic countries never went through an Enlightenment like Christianity and Judaism did. The freedoms from religion we currently enjoy are due to long and hard fought struggles that lasted for centuries. There hasn't been anything like that in the Islamic world. Many liberals tend to think of Islamic fighters around the world as some version of 1980s Latin American Liberation Theology but it simply isn't, in my opinion. Islam is a destabilizing influence to civilization everywhere and sadly it's only going to change from within. (Of course, this isn't to excuse US violence around the world either).

Reya Mellicker said...

It's the stuck in the past aspect of Islam that seems to be causing so many problems right now - though - I know Islamic people, including my fabulous Sufi acupuncturist who are not extremists, have open minds and senses of humor.

So much of what we humans decide to do comes from a place of fear. Fear is not a great foundation for sound decision making. What a shame.

cuff said...

LB, Reya: You guys are great. Thanks for the responses. I guess the Enlightenment was a long time coming and we've had several hundred years to build off that. I'd also imagine that the vast majority of educated and middle class (in other words, economically stable) Muslims are like the vast majority of their ilk in the Christian and Judaic traditions: normal people who identify culturally with a religious history and mythology, but really don't get too deep into it.

Lonnie Bruner said...

I do business with many Muslims in Indonesia who work alongside sales people who are Christian (and ethnic Chinese). I admit that I was treated very well when I was there --- some of the nicest people I've met --- but that says nothing about the fundamental flaws of their religion.

Indonesia is considered a moderate Muslim country, but reliable polls indicate overwhelming support for suicide bombings "against unarmed civilians in defense of Islam". The numbers are high enough that it would include millions of "moderate" Muslims who support that "defense". Sam Harris has talked a lot about these alarming polls (Read The End of Faith).

Also, contrast Islam with what's considered an "extreme" version of Christianity in the USA: the Southern Baptist Convention. I spent many days doing a sales promo tour of Texas with an ordained Baptist minister and we discussed the SBC's interpretation of the Bible. There is a real split and discussion within the SBC on how it should be interpreted --- all the way from "we have no idea if there was a virgin birth" to "it's very unlikely that there was a virgin birth" to a literalist interpretation of everything in scripture.

Now imagine that happening with Islam. NO WAY. It's either "the Koran is the perfect word of God" or you're an apostate and should fear for your life in many countries.

People should keep that in mind when making comparisons between world religions. Even as an atheist I'm informed enough to admit that Christianity in 2007 is wonderful compared to Islam.

Lonnie Bruner said...

One correction: I don't recall the exact numbers of support in that poll, but the support for the suicide bombings were not "overwhelming" as I said in that previous comment. I believe in Indonesia the support ran like 35% or something which still comes out to like 87 million people! And of course, people might even be lying to the poll takers so you don't really know. But let's say half are lying --- 42 million "moderates" support it. Yikes!