Freakin' Fundamentalists: Stonings Here, Lashings There, Misogyny Everywhere
"I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented"
- Elie Weisel
The freakin' fundamentalists are at it again. This time in Somalia, where the stoning of women goes on unabated. This week it was a 20-year-old divorcee who, because she had a boyfriend, was stoned to death for "adultery" (yes, these wackos call it "adultery", even if a person is divorced). Last week it was a 33-year-old man who was stoned to death for adultery and his girlfriend is scheduled to be killed the same way once she gives birth. Last year these same fanatics killed/murdered a 13-year-old girl for "adultery" after she was gang-raped. And one thousand people turned up to cheer, or at least watch, her killing.
Yeah, I know Islam is really a religion of love and compassion and all that. Only problem is, like with all other religions, whenever the fundamentalists take power, it's anything but. Believe me, love and compassion rarely have anything to do with justice in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, the Taliban-controlled areas of Pakistan, and the parts of Nigeria that have introduced sharia law.
Of course the average Muslim is anything but a fanatic. Some of the best times of my life have been had with Muslim friends in Muslim countries, such as Turkey, Syria, Indonesia and Malaysia. And some of the nicest and most hospitable people I've ever met have been Muslim, both in Muslim-majority nations, like those mentioned above, and in countries such as India and Sri Lanka and, especially, in Xinjiang in western China.
Almost all of the people my wife and I got to know in these countries were believers. But they were moderate and rational and compassionate and they sure as hell weren't into stoning people to death.
However, the fact is that much of the Muslim world is, in fact, ruled by fanatical fundamentalist regimes and I have no tolerance for such vile, some would say evil, oppression and injustice, particularly not in the name of religion.
It may not be politically correct to speak truthfully about this subject, but the truth itself is not always politically correct, now is it?
Again, I repeat, I have no real problem with your typical everyday religious believer, no matter what their religion. My problem is with any and all fundamentalists.
And you better believe it's not just fundamentalist Muslims that are messed up. Fundamentalist Jews, Christians, Hindus are all, it would seem, obsessed with medieval forms of punishment, medieval forms of human relations, and medieval forms of life. We're talking about a form of faith where hate, anger and Tarantino-esque vengeance seems to drive almost everything.
A few examples:
- Ayatollah Khomeini (and Cat Stevens, for that matter) condemning Salman Rushdie to death for a few passages in a book he (they) took to be blasphemous.
- Martin Luther, the leader of the Reformation, going ballistic with his sociopathic antisemitic ravings, best sampled in his book "On the Jews and Their Lies".
- American Evangelist Pat Robertson getting in touch with his inner misogynist while stating that: "Feminism is a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians".
- Pat's fellow Evangelist Jerry Falwell letting loose with a few beliefs of his own, these ones in the more homophobic vein: "Homosexuals are brute beasts" and "this vile and satanic system will one day be utterly annihilated and there'll be a celebration in heaven". “AIDS", he added, "is not just God's punishment for homosexuals, it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals”.
- Then there are the Jewish fundamentalists (Orthodox Jews) in Israel who take to the streets to stone passing cars and their drivers for operating a vehicle on the Sabbath.
-Or how about the Hindu fanatics in India tearing down ancient mosques and in the process igniting orgies of rioting, killing and destruction.
- Finally, in a seemingly more innocuous example, though possibly the most destructive of all, take your Catholic fundamentalists. And I'm not talking about the fringe extremists, like Mel Gibsons' dad, with their pre-Vatican II beliefs in a Latin Mass and their passionate antisemitism. No, I was thinking more along the lines of, say, the Pope.
As the population of Africa continues to grow uncontrollably, having doubled in the past 27 years to a total of one billion people today, the Pope continues to mindlessly condemn all forms of birth control, showing absolutely no concern for the coming humanitarian catastrophe. Then there's his opposition to the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS.
Now if that isn't doctrinaire fundamentalism - placing archaic, irrelevant church doctrine above all else, including human lives - what is?
If there's something every fundamentalist, no matter their religion, has in common it's an obsession with one thing above all else: sex.
And to get back to the Somali stonings, imagine killing someone, particularly in such a horrific way, simply for some consensual sex act. Or, even worse, for the "crime" of being raped. Now "barbaric" is an over-used word, but sometimes it really is the only word that fits.
It's A Man's Man's World
Of course, these same nimrods who execute people, mainly women, for "illicit" sex acts are all too willing to rape others in times of war. Though, strangely, in such cases they never seem to want to execute themselves for the crime of adultery, or even, say, rape.
Let's be clear here, Somalia is in no way an anomaly.
From the 75-year-old Saudi grandmother sentenced to 4 months in jail and 40 lashes for being alone in the presence of two men who were not immediate family members, to the death sentence handed down to the 18-year-old Iranian women for the "crime" of being raped by her brothers and forced into sex slavery by her parents, to the thousands of women wasting away in Pakistani prisons for, once again, the "crime" of being raped, horrific injustice in the name of sharia law is anything but an anomaly.
It's not just the shocking criminal cases, however. Oppression and injustice are an intrinsic part of everyday life under fundamentalist rule. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, women not only can't drive, but they can't even travel without permission from their husbands or fathers. Under Taliban control girls can't even attend school and women are prohibited from working outside the home.
Incredibly, these fundamentalist fanatics claim this is all due to the great amount of "respect" they have for women. Kinda like the "respect" the Nazis showed the Jews, and South African whites showed blacks during apartheid.
Rather than respect, I'd say the one thing all religious fundamentalists have in common is their desire to oppress women. It would seem that when it comes to being a hardcore religious fanatic, the thing that matters above all else, aside from the obligatory obsession with sex, is the absolute need to subjugate women. Ok, so perhaps the Catholic hardliners aren't really all about subjugating women, but they're certainly not about equality either.
Then there's the homophobia. If there's one thing every fundamentalist on the planet can agree on it's hatred towards homosexuals. Women simply must be kept down, but gays must be persecuted, if not killed. No religious fanatic worth their salt is going to let a day go by without metaphorically, if not literally, spitting in the face of homosexuals. All in the name of God's loving grace, of course.
Ok, some might say that for the most part non-Muslim fundamentalists are a lot less violent than their Muslim counterparts, but that's simply looking at the modern world. Take a look at history and you'll see fundamentalist Christians slaughtering so-called infidels, and each other, with glee for much of the past two millennia.
Again, all in the name of God.
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Friday, November 20th, 2009
Postscript: I used that opening quote from Elie Weisel because it fit perfectly. However, I'm fully aware of Weisel's own hypocrisy when it comes to fulfilling the belief expressed in that quote. When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he has most definitely taken sides, but certainly not with the oppressed.
For another recent piece on religion try this: Fightback & Counterattack: Vatican Says Church Sex Abuse of Kids Not Really Pedophilia
Or, if you're more in the mood for a good laugh, watch this hilarious clip: Traditional Biblical Marriage Explained (by the great Betty Bowers)
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