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Published on February 28th, 2012 | by Glenn Coleman-Cooke
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[caption id="attachment_8347" align="alignleft" width="201" caption="Hamza Kashgari"][/caption]
Tempted as I was to continue my previous rant about anti work experience hysteria, sometimes one encounters a news story that puts things in perspective. For while we might argue on here about how the country is run, we can be reasonably sure that were not going to be arrested, let alone executed for our postings, regardless of who we mock or criticise. People in some of the less civilised parts of the world however cannot take this for granted, as highlighted this week by the case of Hamza Kashgari, a young Saudi gentleman who has received the standard barrage of death threats for tweeting about Mohammed, not only from the usual madmen with appalling beards, but also from his own government . While this story has already been picked up by far better bloggers than I, it seems important that we should remember just how lucky we are to live in this part of the world. Knowing the attitude of many of his countrymen to informed and enlightened religious debate (some aren’t fans, apparently)  he rather sensibly fled to New Zealand, but rather less  sensibly booked a flight that stopped in Malaysia, another Islamic country with a, shall we say unequivocal, view of religious law.  As a result, he was immediately sent back from whence he came and now faces the very real prospect of finding his head some considerable distance from his body. Now at this point some may be thinking that, barbaric as such blasphemy laws are, if you live in a country run by religious lunatics it should not come as a surprise when saying something insulting about Mohammed doesn’t go down well, as they are known to be touchy about such things. So what then was this horrifically anti Islamic piece of writing that left a man in fear of his life and thousands baying for blood?  (Not to mention sparking an amusing, if creepy, bit of melodrama by a mad old man) Was it an edgy new piece of erotic fiction featuring the prophet, in the style of Brokeback mountain perhaps , or a recipe for “Mohammed’s ultimate bacon sandwich” Well no, not quite. These are the three tweets in question; “On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you” "I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you," “I won’t bow in front of you, I won’t kiss your hand. Instead I will shake it as an equal” This would seem to suggest simply that Mr Kashgari is not only someone who favours reasoned enquiry over blind adherence, a quality that would most likely be considered advantageous in a society not blighted by religious laws, but also someone with a great deal of respect for the historical figure of Mohammed, who is simply unsure about his divinity. In Saudi Arabia, however, as in other countries where religious institutions and government are one and tolerance is a dirty word , a difference of opinion is simply not allowed. Most of us in Europe and America (thankfully) find it difficult to comprehend the idea of someone being murdered by the state because of a religious view or opinion, believing such things to be positively medieval, and confined, with other examples of human savagery, to a past Epoch. While many may admire the Saudis robust punishment of those who truly deserve it, such as thieves and drug runners, murderers etc., the problem is that it is also doled out to innocent people like Mr Kashgari. This episode should remind us then how backward a place the world can still be, of the evils committed in the name of piety, and how very lucky we are. P.s If you want show your support, there is a Facebook page, for all the good it will do.

1

The Wilder Shores of Islam

Hamza Kashgari

Tempted as I was to continue my previous rant about anti work experience hysteria, sometimes one encounters a news story that puts things in perspective. For while we might argue on here about how the country is run, we can be reasonably sure that were not going to be arrested, let alone executed for our postings, regardless of who we mock or criticise.

People in some of the less civilised parts of the world however cannot take this for granted, as highlighted this week by the case of Hamza Kashgari, a young Saudi gentleman who has received the standard barrage of death threats for tweeting about Mohammed, not only from the usual madmen with appalling beards, but also from his own government . While this story has already been picked up by far better bloggers than I, it seems important that we should remember just how lucky we are to live in this part of the world.

Knowing the attitude of many of his countrymen to informed and enlightened religious debate (some aren’t fans, apparently)  he rather sensibly fled to New Zealand, but rather less  sensibly booked a flight that stopped in Malaysia, another Islamic country with a, shall we say unequivocal, view of religious law.  As a result, he was immediately sent back from whence he came and now faces the very real prospect of finding his head some considerable distance from his body.

Now at this point some may be thinking that, barbaric as such blasphemy laws are, if you live in a country run by religious lunatics it should not come as a surprise when saying something insulting about Mohammed doesn’t go down well, as they are known to be touchy about such things. So what then was this horrifically anti Islamic piece of writing that left a man in fear of his life and thousands baying for blood?  (Not to mention sparking an amusing, if creepy, bit of melodrama by a mad old man)

Was it an edgy new piece of erotic fiction featuring the prophet, in the style of Brokeback mountain perhaps , or a recipe for “Mohammed’s ultimate bacon sandwich”

Well no, not quite. These are the three tweets in question;

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you”

“I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don’t understand about you,”

“I won’t bow in front of you, I won’t kiss your hand. Instead I will shake it as an equal”

This would seem to suggest simply that Mr Kashgari is not only someone who favours reasoned enquiry over blind adherence, a quality that would most likely be considered advantageous in a society not blighted by religious laws, but also someone with a great deal of respect for the historical figure of Mohammed, who is simply unsure about his divinity.

In Saudi Arabia, however, as in other countries where religious institutions and government are one and tolerance is a dirty word , a difference of opinion is simply not allowed. Most of us in Europe and America (thankfully) find it difficult to comprehend the idea of someone being murdered by the state because of a religious view or opinion, believing such things to be positively medieval, and confined, with other examples of human savagery, to a past Epoch. While many may admire the Saudis robust punishment of those who truly deserve it, such as thieves and drug runners, murderers etc., the problem is that it is also doled out to innocent people like Mr Kashgari.

This episode should remind us then how backward a place the world can still be, of the evils committed in the name of piety, and how very lucky we are.

P.s If you want show your support, there is a Facebook page, for all the good it will do.

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  • Ernesto

    An interesting article that certainly demonstrates the case for a separation between religion and the state.

    Bringing things back to the uk, I worry about the Conservative flirtation with the religious movement and fear this will be a detrement to our liberal values – Baroness Waisi visits the Vatican and complains about ‘totalitarian secularism’ – oh the irony!

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