My friend Elsa was told by some New Agers:

New Age Truth #1: You are where you are meant to be.
New Age Truth #2: Everything happens for a reason.
New Age Truth #3: You have chosen everything that happens to you.

These things were told her as ‘truths’ and, as an intelligent, thinking person, she found them, well, for lack of a softer yet sufficient term, idiotic.  They inspired this installment of “The This Is Not Reality’ show (remember the ‘Nicies’?), the ‘High Priestess’:

 

 

Pat Condell: A cure for Islamophobia

 

Dear Campbell’s Company Canada:

UPDATED BELOW!!!!

The following is a comment I have just submitted at the Campbell’s Company Canada’s contact page – if/when I get a response, I will be sure to post it here:

Hello Campbell’s!

I have always enjoyed your soups, especially Cream of Mushroom. I love cooking and used it a lot.

However, the last time I went to purchase it, I noticed that it had a ‘Halal’ certification marker on it. I am not sure if you are aware of this, but Christian and Sikh teachings strictly forbid the consumption of Halal food. Some of my Hindu friends also avoid it, because of Halal’s meat connotation of animal cruelty.

Sikh religion forbids Halal food explicitly.

Christian religion, in both the Old and New Testament, forbids the consumption of food that had been prayed over/sanctified to any religion/god other than its own. Since ‘Halal’ means ‘having been made ritualistically pure in the eyes of Allah’, that makes ‘Halal’ food sanctified to a non-Christian religion and thus forbidden for observant Christians to consume. As more Christians are becoming familiar with what it means for food to be Halal, more of them are becoming aware that it is indeed forbidden for them to consume it.

On the other hand, Sharia rules that in non-Muslim land, the consumption of Halal food is not compulsory, only recommended when easily available: ‘If no transgression is intended, then none is incurred, for Allah is merciful’.

As mine is a very inclusive home and I love cooking for my friends from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, I cannot, in good conscience, purchase Halal food and serve it to people for whom it may be religiously forbidden. Therefore, it will be more culturally sensitive for me to shy away from purchasing your brand of products from now on.

It saddens me greatly that I will not be able to include your products in my household in the future. If, however, you re-introduce your soups without Halal certification, please, do let me know and I will be very glad to become your customer once again.

Sincerely yours,

Alexandra Belaire

UPDATE:  Here are some additional comments submitted to Campbell’s:

Hello Campbell’s,

I have long been a Campbell’s soup fan.

But I have just noticed that you are doing Halal certification. As an animal lover, and supporter of the humane slaughter of animals, this means that I can no longer buy your products.

Please watch the Halal slaughter of animals. Animals that have been Halal slaughtered show high levels of stress hormones – unlike, for example, animals that have been slaughtered to be kosher. The traditional slaughterhouse methods are bad enough – Halal is far worse. Again, please watch.

Then, there are also religious reasons not to do Halal certification, as this is against Christian doctrine, and also other religious doctrines. I don’t know why you are doing something that is against Christian doctrine, but conforms to Muslim doctrine. Please let me know.

A friend who is more versed in religion has put together the following:

Christian and Sikh teachings strictly forbid the consumption of Halal food. Some of my Hindu friends also avoid it, because of Halal’s meat connotation of animal cruelty.

Sikh religion forbids Halal food explicitly.

Christian religion, in both the Old and New Testament, forbids the consumption of food that had been prayed over/sanctified to any religion/god other than its own. Since ‘Halal’ means ‘having been made ritualistically pure in the eyes of Allah’, that makes ‘Halal’ food sanctified to a non-Christian religion and thus forbidden for observant Christians to consume. As more Christians are becoming familiar with what it means for food to be Halal, more of them are becoming aware that it is indeed forbidden for them to consume it.

On the other hand, Sharia rules that in non-Muslim land, the consumption of Halal food is not compulsory, only recommended when easily available: ‘If no transgression is intended, then none is incurred, for Allah is merciful’.

As mine is a very inclusive home and I love cooking for my friends from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, I cannot, in good conscience, purchase Halal food and serve it to people for whom it may be religiously forbidden. Therefore, it will be more culturally sensitive for me to shy away from purchasing your brand of products from now on.

It saddens me greatly that I will not be able to include your products in my household in the future. If, however, you re-introduce your soups without Halal certification, please, do let me know and I will be very glad to become your customer once again.

Best regards,

Elsa [redacted], PhD

And:

Dear Public Relations,
I disagree with buying anything that is ‘halal’.  Firstly, halal is cruelty to animals and standards of hygiene are less. Secondly, part of the money paid for halal supports supremacism and misogyny.
For those reasons, I will not purchase any halal product ever and will encourage all my family and friends not to buy them as well.
I hope Campbell’s will abandon their support for misogynistic totalitarianism immediately.
Cordially,
[name redacted]

An open letter to Minister MacKay

Today, I received this email:

My other written petition was presented in the House Of Commons on March 5th by My MP Gerald Keddy of Nova Scotia. We are asking if people could send a email to get ministers to support my petition. To stop funding facilities in Canada that allow discrimination towards women in the name of religion. Pleas email Minister of justice Peter Mac Kay email peter.mackay@parl.gc.ca and mister for the status of women Kellie leitch at Kellie.Leitch@parl.gc.ca and minister of immigration Jason kenney at jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca

Thank you

Michele

This message was sent by Michele Walsh using the Change.org system. You received this email because you signed a petition started by Michele Walsh on Change.org: “Canadian Government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Protect Canadian women rights from gender based religious persecution, and stop the erosion of the most important and fundamental RIGHT that we enjoy in a free and democratic society..” Change.org does not endorse the contents of this message.

View the petition

My response was to write an email to Minister MacKay:

Dear Minister MacKay,

Canada is a wonderful place where the rights of all minorities – down to the minority of one – are protected by law, respected by society and cherished by the citizenry.
However, lately, we have seen a very worrying trend of erosion of gender equality in the name of religion.  As Asma Jahangir, while acting as the UN’s special raconteur on the status of women and religion had reported, religious minorities demand special rights/privileges for themselves and, when they receive them, they immediately use these to oppress a minority within that religion, usually the women.
This is a global problem, but one that has been creeping into Canada and that is very troubling.
Recently, a member of parliament from Nova Scotia, Gerald Keddy, presented a petition in Parliament where concerned citizens were asking you, our lawmakers, to take steps to ensure that misogyny cloaked in religious garb will not be permitted to erode our cherished gender equality.  I would like to voice support for this and ask that you, as Minister of Justice, take steps to ensure that Asma Jahangir’s sad observation will not become fact here, in Canada.
Sincerely,
Alexandra Belaire
If you value gender equality in our society, I urge you most sincerely to add your voice to this call to prevent creeping misogyny camouflaging itself as ‘religion’.

Why ‘moderate Muslims’ are silent

Sometimes, it takes me a really long time to ‘get’ even the most obvious of things – I know I am a very, very slow thinker.  But, I really ought to have seen this one clearly much, much earlier…

Like many others, I understand perfectly well that the first targets of fanatics within any group (and this applies not only to human groups) are the moderates within the ranks of that group.  This makes it that much more important for these moderates to speak up, in order to preserve themselves and protect their group from being overtaken by the extremists.

We have seen this though our history and the modern-day Muslim community is no different from the rest of us.

Yet, most of the voices we hear speaking ‘for the Muslims’ in today’s world are increasingly more and more only the radicalized ones…

In the past, I, too, have asked:  “Where are all the moderate Muslims and why are there so few of their voices being heard?”

Now, I think I’m beginning to understand…

In order to explain, please, indulge me in telling you a story or two.

When my mother was just an iddy-biddy baby, following WWII, the communists took over my homeland and stole her grandparents’ properties.  Her mom’s daddy made (and repaired) washing machines and her mom’s mommy operated a chain of stores that retailed them.  Her daddy was a top engineer at her grandpa’s factory, but had been born to a farming family.  Very successful farming family.  Her daddy’s mom was actually one of those women who went to work in the fields even in early stages of labour, went home to give birth – and returned to the fields afterwards.  No joke!  That is how hard they worked – and it showed:  the were known far and wide as THE people to go to for help with anything, without any obligations in return.

Yet, when the communists were in power, they labelled my grandpa as ‘a son of a kulak‘ – a deeply pejorative term in the 1950′s for a person living behind the Iron Curtain.

What I am trying to say is that even in one of the most industrialized countries in the world at that time (as Czech was), a country where people had unlimited ‘class mobility’ (my own grandfather had gone from ‘farmer’ to ‘engineer’ to ‘industrialist’), it took very little for his status to ‘devolve’ to that of ‘a son of a kulak’…

I must stress, before WWII, Czech was philosophically a fully ‘Western’ country, with emphasis on individual rights, even if located in Central Europe.

Yet, it took a few short years for the decades of individualism to devolve into judging a person by their parents’ and other relatives’ actions.  Guilty by blood association!

Now, please, let me jump to the second story.

This one takes place in Canada in the late 1990′s.  I had been running my own company and an ex-employee of mine approached me with a very unusual request…

When I had first hired him, I had not realized I already knew his father.  I had met him about 5 years earlier, at a party, under the table – we were both trying to sneak food to the host’s dog.  Anyhow, he was a capable young man and worked his way up, so that for about 5 years, he had been my second-in-command, and only left because his dream opportunity of working in the intelligence community presented itself.  By this point, I saw him as more of a brother to me than an employee and we not only parted on the best of terms, but remained close.

Which is why I was thrilled when he brought his girlfriend to meet me – and asked what my opinion of her was.  He thought she was ‘the one’, and I was happy to tell him I thought she was intelligent, beautiful and a perfect match for him.  They truly made a wonderful couple and I was very happy for them.

Yet, the path to their happiness was more complicated than I could have suspected!

When he had proposed to her, he came to me with a most unusual request:  would I please write a letter to the government of Iran to certify that I was still his employer, and that he had a sufficient income to comfortably support a wife and a family?

His fiance had not been born in Iran – she was born in Italy, to Iranian emigres.

Yet, if she were to get married without this certificate to the Iranian government that her fiance had sufficient income to properly support her and her children, the extended family she still had in Iran would be penalized for her parents’ acceptance of a marriage proposal without this document!!!

And, he did not want them to know of the particulars of his current work for the Canadian government, and so he had approached me for help…and as I had right away contracted him to do a ‘job’ for me, I could honestly write that letter – which I did.

Ok, enough stories…let us now look back to the origins of Islam.

Islam originated in Arabia in a deeply tribal society.

‘Right and wrong’ were not based on any absolute morality, but on tribal membership:  ‘right’ was what the leaders/members of your tribe deemed was ‘right’, ‘wrong’ was what their opponents/enemies deemed was’right’…

In such a tradition, ‘morality’ is a vastly different concept from what it is the ‘individualist’ tradition (though not nearly as different from the ‘communitarian’ tradition…which may explain the ‘socialist’ empathy for the Islamists):  rather than measuring ‘right vs.wrong’ based on some objective values (whatever their source), ‘right vs. wrong’ becomes ‘what gives an advantage to our group’ vs. ‘what gives an advantage to their group’.

In a tribal society, members of one clan/family are interchangeable for each other.

Aside:  Actually, that is where the ‘Western’ tradition of ‘bridesmaid’ and ‘groomsmen’  originates from:  if the bride or the groom were found to be unsuitable for the marriage union, the next-best-maid/groomsman’ would step in and replace them so that the clans could enter into a socioeconomic union through that particular marriage contract.

In such a society, if one member of a family/clan steps out of line, any other member of the family/clan can be harmed/killed in retaliation… because the bloodline’s ‘politics’ is answerable for by ALL the members of the bloodline.  Thus, if one of your relatives commits a crime, and cannot be caught, it is ‘fair’ for YOU to pay the price.  The ‘individuals’ are subordinate to the ‘clan’, instead of having individual rights and freedoms.

Now that I have set the stage, I need to go a bit into the history of the Koran.

Mohammed, the Islamic prophet, had, at one point, been excommunicated by both his mothers and his father’s Arabic clans.  Thus, Mohammed had been forced to seek shelter with other communities.

During this period, he had spent time with a Christian sect, and when he had been excommunicated from there, with a Jewish sect.  It was only after he had been excommunicated from the Jewish sect that his uncle had agreed to adopt him and thus gained a permission for him to re-enter the Arabic society…which is where he caught the eye of his uncle’s employer, Khadija, who then extended her protection over him by marring him (and thus defying her society’s standards).

While among the Christians. Mohammed saw just how splintered the Christian sects had become:  some believed that Jesus was the son of God who died on the cross and was bodily resurrected and lifted into heaven, others believed that he was a human who had been crucified and died on the cross, others yet believed that (whether the son of God or Man), he had escaped death on the cross (either by the use of a substitute or because he had been removed while unconscious but still alive and had then been revived by Esenne healers).  Yet other Christians believed that Jesus Christ could never ever have been imprisoned in a corporal body by ‘Rex Mundi’, but had always been a being of pure energy…

Mohammed really, really did not want his religious movement to be fractured among various factions the way Christianity had become.  Therefore, he said often that his revelations were literal and not open to interpretation – and that is why he stated clearly an openly that anyone who wishes to or attempts to ‘reform’ Islam of interpret any passages in any other way than literally is ‘a hypocrite’ and ‘an apostate’ and, according to the Koran, ‘hypocrites’ MUST be put to death…

Summary:

Mohammed decreed that anyone who attempts to interpret his teachings in any way other than literally is a ‘hypocrite’ and that ‘hypocrites’ MUST be put to death…and it comes from a tribal society which holds ALL members of a family/clan accountable for the tansgressions for all of your relatives…

Thus, if a moderate Muslim in Canada, the US or another Western country speaks up against the extremists’s interpretations of Islam, their (even distant) blood relatives who live within Islamists’ jurisdiction will pay the price for it with their lives.

It is one thing to stand up to an oppressor if it is your own life/well being on the line:  it is quite different if your relatives, even distant relatives and their children might be killed for you speaking your mind!!!

And THAT FEAR  - not for their own selves, but for the well being of their even distant relatives’ children – is why most moderate Muslims are silent…

After all, if it were not just your own neck, but the necks of your cousins’, their children, and their children’s children – how likely would YOU be to stand up to the radicals?!?!?

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 41, Ken Ham, Bill Nye debate)

 

Video dedicated to the Kenyan terrorism victims

Michael Coren & Tarek Fatah – non-Muslim ejected from University’s Muslim preaching course

 

Who are the ‘moderate Muslims’?

There is a number of questions people have been asking me about Muslims.  I’ve tried to answer some before, but, upon further reflection, there are a few I’d like to re-visit.

Here, I would like to explain why I consider some Muslims to be ‘moderates’ – but not others.

Yes, there are some who do not see the distinction, pointing out that to follow Islam, one would have to skip large bits of the Koran in order to practice a ‘moderate’ version of the faith.  True.  But that is also true of the Bible – Jesus famously claims to bring not peace, but the sword.  And it is not that many generations ago that my paternal grandmothers’ relatives were burned alive by the Jesuits for practicing the ‘wrong’ branch of Christianity.

In other words, it is not the dogma itself that makes a person a ‘moderate’:  rather, it is the bits of the dogma that one takes and ‘owns’ and lives by that makes one a ‘moderate’ or not, regardless of the faith/religion (theistic, atheistic or non-theistic alike)/doctrine/dogma.

When it comes to Islam, I see the divide as being between those Muslims who demand official recognition of Sharia (Islamic jurisprudence) and those who do not.

What is Sharia?

Books have been written on this, but, in short, it is ‘Islamic Law’.  There are 4 main Sunni and 4 main Shia schools of Sharia and they do indeed differ in some minor aspects, but, on those bits that they all agree, the ‘Islamic Law’ is unalterable.

Sharia evolved over several centuries.  Scholars studied the Koran, the sayings of their prophet Muhammed and stories about the life of the prophet Muhammed as told by his companions.  None of these were written during the life of Muhammed himself, but rather when many of his companions began dying off and the rest of the Muslims were afraid that his teachings and traditions would be lost, the ruler at the time had all the companions write down all they remembered, gathered all the materials, weeded through them to pick out the ‘most authentic’, recorded those as the only permitted version and had all the rest burned.  A lot like the role the Council of Nicaea had in writing the Bible.

So, for centuries after the Koran and the Sayings and Traditions of Muhammed were written down, jurists would look to the scriptures themselves to see what the proper sentence should be.  Not all jurists read the same things in these texts, yet, still, over the centuries, a body of jurisprudence had indeed been built up from which some rulings emerged as so common as to constitute laws.  The formal collection of these laws is called Sharia.

While it is still being added to (in the form of fatwas, or pronouncements/rulings of learned clerics on legal questions),the major body of it had been codified at around 1100 CE or so – just as the end of the ‘golden age’ of Islamic science came to its end.  Those two are closely connected, because Sharia is very inimical to any form of inquiry, including the scientific one.

It is important to keep in mind that while Sharia is based on early scholars’ reading of Koran and the life of Muhammad, it is not actually the Koran and Sunna itself.

The way Sharia is implemented in various Islamic countries does vary, even if the cores are common to them all:  the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man, her inheritance is half that of a man’s, a woman is a perpetual minor in they eyes of the law so any and all of her property is managed for her by her guardian, and this guardian is also the one who enters into legal contracts on her behalf (including marriage:  under Sharia, a woman is herself not a party to her marrige contract, only her guardian and husband have legal standing in the contract),  apostates must be put to death (though one school of thought says female apostates are only to be under house-arrest for life), and so on.

Many Muslims do not like living under Sharia and its harsh rules – or, at least, the way it is imposed on them from the outside.

Thus, they have come to The West in order to practice Islam according to their own understanding and without the straight jacket jurisprudence that is Sharia.  These are people who are happy to follow our secular laws and impose any additional religious rules onto themselves, from the inside, without compulsion from anyone else.

These are the people I consider ‘moderate Muslims’.

As opposed to the Muslims who want to live under Sharia – but to do so in our lands, in The West.

The problems with this desire are numerous – not the least of which is that in order to retain integrity and social cohesion in a land, one set of rules has to apply equally to each and every citizen.  Equality before the law is such a fundamental cornerstone of our society that to have one class of people ruled by a parallel legal system means it has already been destroyed.

Another problem with Sharia is that it is deeply supremacist.  It sees itself as above all mere man-made laws, and wherever there is a conflict between the two, Sharia demands supremacy.  And since only Islamic scholars are permitted to issue Sharia rulings, permitting Sharia in a country effectively takes the application of law from the hands of trained jurists and places it in the hands of Islamic clerics…which could, indeed be problematic, to say the least.

Did I mention that non-Muslims are not permitted to speak at a Sharia court, even to defend themselves – even though Sharia reserves the right to rule over them?

And then there are the moderate Muslims – the ones who immigrated to the West specifically to get away from Sharia…if we permit it in our lands, they will automatically be subject to it, whether legally (as in Indonesia) or through peer pressure (as in the UK).  Do we not owe them equality under our laws, just like every other citizen?

Though I have barely scratched the surface, I do hope I have demonstrated both that Sharia is incompatible with our governance and that we owe it to the moderate Muslims among us to protect them from it.

Which brings me to the other type of Muslim – the ones who demand Sharia in our lands, under the terms of ‘religious accommodation’, necessarily at the expense of our ‘freedom from religion’.

Sharia is the politico/judicial arm of Islam and not theological teachings.

As such, anyone who wishes for any form of Sharia to be implemented (accommodated is the term used, but due to its supremacist nature, in reality, this ‘accommodation’ requires putting Sharia above our own common laws) in The West is calling not just for freedom of religion, but for the imposition of Islamic law.  And not just for themselves, as an act of private worship, but as something to be imposed on the whole of society because Sharia’s laws extend to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

This, by definition, makes them Islamists and not ‘moderate Muslims’.

To recap:  those Muslims who call for Sharia accommodation/implementation in The West are not moderate Muslims, they are Islamist colonists who ought to be called out as such and resisted, if we want our culture of tolerance preserved.

 

 

 

 

First mosque planned for Slovakia

A reader sent me some interesting information…

This is very surprising because second perhaps only to Poland, Slovakia is one of the most Catholic nations in Europe.

In fact, the profound depth of the Catholic faith in Slovakia and the historically ingrained animosity towards Catholicism in Czech was one of the many factors in the ‘velvet divorce’ that saw the division of Czechoslovakia into Czech and Slovakia.

Which is why the construction of a mosque in the staunchly Catholic capital of Slovakia is so very surprising.  Emphasis added by me…

Aside:  the information was sent to me in Slovak, so if the translation is inaccurate, the fault lies completely with me.

“The citizen association ‘Islam for Slovakia’, in co-operation with Friends of Islam in Bratislava have purchased real estate for the construction of the first mosque in Slovakia.

The first mosque will be built on Kamennom Square next to the department store.

The construction of architect (?) Radoslav Abdulmesih will commence in May 2014.

Within the grounds of the mosque, there will also be created the first Muslim primary school.  It’s opening is scheduled for the 2015/2016 school year.

The name of the project:  Mosque on Kamenn (Kamennom) Square in Bratislava

Project leader:  Ing. Radoslav ‘Abdulmesíh  (note:  ‘Ing.’ denotes level of education, but not field and is often used as a title)

Lead Builder:  Jozef Nagy

Commencement of building (groundbreaking):  May 2014 (Ašhadu anna Muhammadan rasúlu-l-láh!)

“Good day, we would like to answer the most frequently asked questions which we have received from you.

The groundbreaking celebration will be held on the 3rd of May, 2014.

The grand opening is planned for the 31st of June, 2015, and the school year 2015/16 will see the opening of grade 1 of primary school at our mosque.  In accordance with what we have replied to those who have expressed their interest to us in writing, registration for grade 1 will begin on the 1st of August 2015 and will close on the 16th of August, 2015.

Instruction will follow a bilingual format where the Slovak Language, civics (incl. history and geography) and science shall be taught in Slovak, all other subjects will be taught in Arabic.  Starting in grade 3, an additional foreign language may also be selected, we are yet working on this.

Worship will be, as always, every Friday.

The Muezzin will, of course, fulfill his duties and announce all prayer times.

In the rear of the mosque, there will be a small store with Korans, prayer mats and the like.

The fact that some of you don’t agree with the building of this mosque saddens us, but, as you live in a democratic society, you ought to learn to tolerate other people’s needs, not just your own.

If you have other questions, do not hesitate to contact us.  ” ‘

 

 

 

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