Thursday, September 27, 2007

On Faith: Guest Voices: The Subtle, Lethal Poison of Religion

The Subtle, Lethal Poison of Religion Hitchens takes a good whack at religion.


Yet is it not positively immoral to argue that our elementary morality and human solidarity derive from an authority that we must simultaneously (and compulsorily) love, and also fear? Does it not degrade us in our deepest integrity to be told that we would not do a right action, or utter a principled truth, were it not for fear of punishment or hope of reward? Moreover, we are told that we begin sinful and must earn our redemption from an authority whose actions and caprices (arranging a human sacrifice in Palestine in which we had no say, for example, and informing us that we are all guilty of it) were best summarized by Fulke Greville when he remarked ruefully that we are "created sick; commanded to be sound". This abject attitude, of sickly love for the Dear Leader combined with dreadful terror of him, is in fact the origin of totalitarianism. And there is nothing ethical about that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

OpinionJournal - Global View

So was this Osirak II? A look at what might have happened in Syria recently when the Israelis did what they seem to do so well and may have taken out a nuclear facility.

Why Israel apparently chose to route its attack through Turkey is a nice question, given that it means a detour of more than 1,000 miles. Damascus claims the fuel tank was discarded after the planes came under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, which could be true. But if Israel is contemplating an attack on Tehran's nuclear installations--and it is--it makes no sense to advertise the "Turkish corridor" as its likely avenue of attack.

As for the North Korean theory, evidence for it starts with Pyongyang. The raid, said one North Korean foreign ministry official quoted by China's Xinhua news agency, was "little short of wantonly violating the sovereignty of Syria and seriously harassing the regional peace and security." But who asked him, anyway? In August, the North Korean trade minister signed an agreement with Syria on "cooperation in trade and science and technology." Last week, Andrew Semmel, the acting counterproliferation chief at the State Department, confirmed that North Korean technicians of some kind were known to be in Syria, and that Syria was "on the U.S. nuclear watch list." And then there is yesterday's curious news that North Korea has abruptly suspended its participation in the six-party talks, for reasons undeclared.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Freedom to Go Topless

The Freedom to Go Topless I remembered reading this a few years ago and found it again. It says the hijab is a relatively recent addition to Islam, not something they've been required to wear forever.

Perhaps it is worth recalling at this point that radical Islam's obsession with women's hair is a new phenomenon. Mussa Sadr, an Iranian mullah who won the leadership of the Shiite community in Lebanon, invented this form of hijab in the early 1970s. The first neo-hijabs appeared in Iran in 1977 as a symbol of Islamist opposition to the Shah.

By 1979 when the mullahs seized power the number of women wearing it had multiplied by the thousands, recalling sequences from Hitchcock's thriller "The Birds."

In 1981, Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, announced that scientific research had shown that women's hair emitted rays that drove men insane. To protect the public, the new regime passed special legislation in 1982 making the new form of hijab mandatory for all females aged above six, regardless of religious faith. Violating the hijab code is punishable by 100 lashes of the cane and six months imprisonment.

So by the mid-1980s a form of hijab never seen in Islam before the 1970s had become standard headgear for millions of Muslim women all over the world, including Europe and North America. Many younger Muslims women, especially Western converts, were duped into believing that the neo-hijab was an essential part of the Islamic faith.

Muslim women, like women in all societies, had covered their head with a variety of gears over the centuries. These had such names as rusari, ruband, chaqchur, maqne'a, and picheh among others. All had tribal, ethnic and generally folkloric origins and were never specifically associated with religion. In Senegal, Muslim women wore a colorful headgear but went topless.

Muslim women anywhere in the world could easily check the fraudulent nature of the neo-Islamist hijab by leafing through their own family albums. They will not find the picture of a single female ancestor of theirs who wore the cursed headgear now imposed upon them as an absolute "must" of Islam.

Jew-Hatred and Jihad

Jew-Hatred and Jihad Why they hate us, as though we're supposed to care what they think. Clearly the inspiration of Jihadism isn't really about Iraq, but about....THE JOOOOS!!

Despite common misconceptions, Islamism was born not during the 1960s but during the 1930s. Its rise was inspired not by the failure of Nasserism but by the rise of Nazism, and prior to 1951 all its campaigns were directed not against colonialism but against the Jews. It was the Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, that established Islamism as a mass movement. The significance of the Brotherhood to Islamism is comparable to that of the Bolshevik party to communism: It was and remains to this day the ideological reference point and organizational core for all later Islamist groups, including al Qaeda and Hamas.

It is true that British colonial policy produced Islamism, insofar as Islamism viewed itself as a resistance movement against "cultural modernity." The Islamists' solution was the call for a new order based on sharia. But the Brotherhood's jihad was not directed primarily against the British. Rather, it focused almost exclusively on Zionism and the Jews. Membership in the Brotherhood shot up from 800 to 200,000 between 1936 and 1938, according to the research of Abd Al-Fattah Muhammad El-Awaisi for his book The Muslim Brothers and the Palestine Question 1928-1947. In those two years the Brotherhood conducted only one major campaign in Egypt, and it was against Zionism and the Jews.

This campaign, which established the Brotherhood as a mass movement, was set off by a rebellion in Palestine directed against Jewish immigration and initiated by the notorious grand mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al--Husseini. The Brotherhood organized mass demonstrations in Egyptian cities under the slogans "Down With the Jews!" and "Jews Get Out of Egypt and Palestine!" Leaflets called for a boycott of Jewish goods and Jewish shops, and the Brotherhood's newspaper, al-Nadhir, carried a regular column on "The Danger of the Jews of Egypt," which published the names and addresses of Jewish businessmen and allegedly Jewish newspaper publishers all over the world, attributing every evil, from communism to brothels, to the "Jewish danger."