Archive for Malaysia

Police Blotter Bob and the Banning of Irshad Manji’s “Allah, Liberty & Love” in Malaysia

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by loonwatch

by Haddock

Firstly, I want to point out that I do not support the Malaysian government’s decision to ban the Malay translation of Irshad Manji’s latest book, considering I believe in near-absolute freedom of speech; and, while Manji is a sell-out and useful tool who routinely belittles and degrades Muslims for profit, she should have the right to speak her mind without censorship.

The drone-like commenters at JihadWatch have expressed nothing short of glee at the latest news that the Malaysian translation of Irshad “Muslims helped make the Holocaust happen” Manji’s most recent book, Allah, Liberty & Love was banned in Malaysia for containing words that “insulted Islam.” This supposedly “proves” how backward all 1.5 billion Mooslims are! After some political parties and organizations complained about Manji’s appearance in the country, the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) decided to review the book to find out if there was any “offensive” content. They declared that some of the material “insulted Islam”, and was subsequently banned by the Home Ministry. The Malaysian Insider quotes the Ministry,

“This is because the book which is believed to have elements that can deviate Muslims from their faith, Islamic teachings and elements which insulted Islam and has received numerous complaints,” he said in a statement here.”

And,

“The ministry had received a report from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) and based on its findings, the contents had elements that can confuse the public and contained words that insults Islam.”

The IDD felt the need to point out that they can only advise the Ministry with their interpretation of Islamic values, but cannot enact laws themselves. This doesn’t take away the fact that censorship was at play here, but it provides a nuance that Islamophobes typically ignore; most Muslims don’t believe in a theocracy. This piece to the puzzle was unsurprisingly missing from Jihad Watch’s “report.”

Police blotter Bob, barely able to contain his joy at having another opportunity to bash Muslims, writes;

“Wait a minute. Isn’t Islam supposed to be completely compatible with moderation, democracy, and so on? Apparently the allegedly mild, modern and moderate Muslims of Malaysia didn’t get the memo. Or the fact that crowds of Malaysian Muslims haven’t openly called for her death (yet) should be considered ‘moderation’.”

Yet he conveniently leaves out the fact that the publisher of the translation, ZI Publications, is taking “legal action” against the government while using their own interpretation of the Malaysian Constitution and Islam to do so. Apparently they feel that “free inquiry” is “something which Islam itself cherishes.” But what do they know about their own religion?! They’re doing something that makes Islam look good, so naturally they must be practicing “taqiyya”, or simply don’t understand how evil their religion so obviously is.

“The English version of Irshad Manji’s book, Allah, Liberty & Love, has been published since June 2011 and there has been no issue taken with the book… until we published a Malay translation of the book (Allah, Kebebasan & Cinta),” said Ezra Zaid, director and owner of ZI.” (Emphasis added)

And,

Either way, we published this book in the spirit of free inquiry – incidentally, something which Islam itself cherishes – and acting strictly in accordance with our right to free speech and expression as guaranteed by Article 10 (1)(a) of the Federal Constitution,…” (Emphasis added)

But we all know the Islamophobic modus operandi. When Muslims ban or censor a book, they’re showing their true colors, and this proves that Islam is demonic; but when Muslims say Islam does not promote the banning of books, they’re practicing “taqiyya”, so they can’t be trusted. (Ironically, you will never hear Islamophobes condemn Geert Wilders for wanting to ban the Qur’an, or any concern on their behalf when a number of books have been banned in the USA). This is why there is overwhelming silence over at Jihad Watch about this element to the story. “What?! Muslims standing up for free-speech while still practicing their religion?! This is impossible! The only Muslims who can stand up for freedom and democracy are those who oppose their own religion and sell out their co-religionists in the name of profit!”

This is why the more stealthy Islamophobes of the world love people like Irshad Manji. She says everything that they want to say, but can’t without (rightly) being called a bigot. But since she is a self- professed Muslim, all they need to do is quote her words and say, “this comes from a Muslim! One of your own people says this about you, so I can’t be a bigot just by quoting her words!”

This is one of the oldest tactics in the book. This same line was said by the more “diplomatic” American anti-Catholics of the 19th century and the anti-Semites of the 20th century; and now it is said by the Islamophobes. And since this dance takes two to tango, each era saw its share of self-declared turncoats, appeasers and traitors of their identities. But just like most of America’s famous anti-Catholics and anti-Semites have been forgotten by the public, so are its team players who played the role of the “native informant.”

Does anybody remember Benjamin Freedman? He was a self-declared ex-Jew turned anti-Semite conspiracy theorist who claimed to have been one of the most influential proponents of “Zionism” in the United States. He did not limit himself to critiques of Zionism but rather engaged in classic “Jews run the world hate-mongering,” i.e. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion shtick.

He was very popular among the anti-communist “Patriot” groups in the 1940s- 50’s because many of these people were also anti-Semitic. So to have a guy who claimed to be an ethnic Jew saying all of these bad things about his “own people” was a great thing for them since it gave their views a certain type of credibility that they normally wouldn’t have had as non-Jews. Yet today, Mr. Freedman is hardly remembered except among right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis who post some of his speeches on YouTube.

It is likely that the same fate as Freedman’s diminished remembrance awaits Irshad Manji, Walid Shoebat, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, Kamal Saleem, Ibn Warraq, and a whole list of other Muslim “native informants,” “fake ex-Muslims” and “fake ex-terrorists.”

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by loonwatch
Newsweek
February 12 Cover

Career hatemonger Aayan Hirsi Ali‘s alarmist screed in the February 12 issue of Newsweek is a jumble of half truths culled together with the obvious purpose of demonizing Muslims. Despite her agenda-driven fear mongering, Hirsi has sparked an important debate about the plight of religious minorities caught in the crossfire as the so-called “Clash of Civilizations” continues to escalate.

We previously cross-posted an article from Jadaliyya refuting Hirsi’s account, and now offer another perspective from John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University.

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

by John L. Esposito, Huffington Post

Religious minorities in the Muslim world today, constitutionally entitled in many countries to equality of citizenship and religious freedom, increasingly fear the erosion of those rights — and with good reason. Inter-religious and inter-communal tensions and conflicts from Nigeria and Egypt and Sudan, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia have raised major concerns about deteriorating rights and security for religious minorities in Muslim countries. Conflicts have varied, from acts of discrimination, to forms of violence escalating to murder, and the destruction of villages, churches and mosques.

In the 21st century, Muslims are strongly challenged to move beyond older notions of “tolerance” or “co-existence” to a higher level of religious pluralism based on mutual understanding and respect. Regrettably, a significant number of Muslims, like many ultra conservative and fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Hindus are not pluralistic but rather strongly exclusivist in their attitudes toward other faiths and even co-believers with whom they disagree.

Reform will not, however, result from exaggerated claims and alarmist and incendiary language such as that of Ayan Hirsi Ali in in a recent a Newsweek cover story, reprinted in The Daily Beast.

Hirsi Ali warns of a “global war” and “rising genocide,” “a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities” and thus “the fate of Christianity — and ultimately of all religious minorities — in the Islamic world is at stake.”

Hirsi Ali’s account, for surely it is not an analysis, mixes facts with fiction, distorting the nature and magnitude of the problem. It fails to distinguish between the acts of a dangerous and deadly minority of religious extremists or fanatics and mainstream society. The relevant data is readily available. Nigeria is not a “majority-Muslim” country of 160 million people with a 40 percent Christian minority” as she claims (and as do militant Islamists). Experts have long described the population as roughly equal and a recent Pew Forum study reports that Christians hold a slight majority with 50.8 percent of the population.

Boko Haram, is indeed a group of religious fanatics who have terrorized and slaughtered Christians and burned down their churches, but they remain an extremist minority and do not represent the majority of Nigerians who reject their actions and anti-Western rhetoric. Gallup data finds that a majority of Nigerians (60 percent) “reject the anti-Western rhetoric” of Boko Haram.

Curiously, Hirsi Ali chooses not to mention that in the Jos Central plateau area both Christian and Muslim militias have attacked each other and destroyed mosques and churches.

Another example of failing to provide the full facts and context is the Maspero massacre. Coptic Christians have a real set of grievances that have to be addressed: attacks on churches, resulting in church destruction and death and injuries, the failure of police to respond to attacks, and a history of discrimination when it comes to building new churches and in employment.

Hirsi Ali rightly attributes the genesis for the assault against Christians to the Egyptian security forces. Although some militant Egyptian Muslims did in fact join the violence against Christians, she overlooks the fact that increasingly Christians have been joined by many Muslim Egyptians in calling for this discrimination and backlash to be addressed. Thus, she fails to mention the many Muslims marched in solidarity with the Christians against the security forces and were also injured as a Reuters article dated Oct. 14, 2011 reported: “At least 2,000 people rallied in Cairo on Friday in a show of unity between Muslims and Christians and to express anger at the ruling military council after 25 people died when a protest by Coptic Christians led to clashes with the army.”

She also fails to recognize the continuing state violence in Egypt against activists and protestors regardless of their faith.

Thousands of Muslims turned up in droves outside churches around the country for the Coptic Christmas Eve mass, in solidarity with a beleaguered Coptic community offering their bodies, and lives, as “human shields,” making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and build an Egypt free from sectarian strife: “Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields.”

Ali also points to the “flight” of Christians from the Middle East as proof of widespread persecution. According to Gallup surveys in Lebanon, however, Muslims are slightly more likely than their Christian counterparts to want to flee the country permanently and for Muslim and Christian alike the reason they give is primarily economic.

More problematic and deceptive is Hirsi Ali’s charge that: “What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government’s sustained persecution of religious minorities. This persecution culminated in the infamous genocide in Darfur that began in 2003.” Sudan has certainly been a battleground for decades, but to say that Darfur is an example of the Muslim-Christian genocide is flat out wrong. The black African victims in Darfur were almost exclusively Muslim. The killers were Arab Sudanese Muslims (janjaweed) who murdered black Sudanese Muslims.

Addressing the issue of religious freedom requires greater global awareness and a concerted effort by governments, religious leaders, academics and human rights organizations, as well as curricula reform in many seminary and university religion courses (particularly comparative religion courses), to counter religious exclusivism by instilling more pluralistic and tolerant visions and values in the next generation of imams, priests, scholars and the general public. However, when lives are at stake and the safety and security of all citizens threatened, accurate and data driven analysis is crucial. Inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated generalizations exacerbate the problem, risk more strife or even violence and do little to contribute to finding a solution.

Pastor Says Yoga Is ‘Demonic’; Warns Christians To Reject It

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2011 by loonwatch
Yoga_Devil“Your Yoga Instructor For Eternity”

(via. What If they were Muslim?)

This story reminds us here at “What If” of the Malaysian Fatwa against yoga and the Islamophobes who rallied against it. Robert Spencer’s writers proclaimed:
“Why should we look for other alternatives to exercise and search for peace? Yoga could cause (Muslims) to stray from their faith because its movements are according to the style and traditions of Hinduism.”
Will Spencer and his cronies repeat the same thing in a Christian context?

Pastor Says Yoga Is ‘Demonic’; Warns Christians To Reject It

In his blog, Pastor Mark Driscoll from the Mars Hill Church in Seattle, says that “yoga is a religious philosophy that is in direct opposition to Christianity”. Because of this, he believes that “yoga cannot be simply received by any Christian in good conscious”.

Say what?

Not that this is the first time we’ve heard such rubbish about the conflicts between yoga and religion, but for the last time, can someone please tell these people that yoga is not a religion?

But even if we did tell him this (and other people have), the good Pastor refuses to believe it. In fact, he says yoga is downright demonic and he compares it to being as bad as adultery–which is nothing but a huge stretch (pun intended):

There is nothing wrong with stretching, exercising, or regulating one’s stress through breathing. But when the tenets of yoga are included, it’s by definition a worship act to spirit beings other than the God of the Bible. By way of analogy, there is nothing inherently wrong with intimacy, sex, and pleasure. But when the tenets of adultery are included, it’s a sinfully idolatrous worship act. A faithful Christian can no more say they are practicing yoga for Jesus than they can say they are committing adultery for Jesus.

Pastor Mark goes on to say that we just don’t understand what yoga really is. To which I say, do you, Pastor? Have you ever tried it? Have you experienced the true goodness that can come to your mind, body and spirit when you start flowing in some of the awesome poses and vinyasas? Doubtful, because he believes that we simply cannot get down on our mats while “ignoring the religious aspects of the practice of yoga”.

Yes, some people choose to incorporate spirituality into their practice, which is completely fine. To each yogi, her own. But since when does spirituality equal religion? Can’t we just open our hearts and our minds to the possibility that we can express gratitude and thanks and creativity and acceptance without a particular religious belief being a part of that? I, for one, have never had a yoga teacher quote from the Bible or any other religious readings during class, but even if I did, I’m pretty sure I’d be OK with that.

Yet Pastor Mark still rejects the idea that we can grow spiritually without church. In fact, he says the only real way to do so is through Christianity.

Sigh.

I say we all get down on our mats today and send some hearty “OMs” to the good Pastor.

Photo: lululemonathletica.com