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The Peacock Angel and the Gnostics on the Mountain
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marianneh



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:11 pm    Post subject: The Peacock Angel and the Gnostics on the Mountain Reply with quote

Mehdi Hassan has explained clearly Islamic State's policy to people who disagree with it or do not belong to it. You're either us or you're dead. So Christians are given a few hours to convert, pay an impossible tax or die.

It's even worse for Yazidis. They worship the demi-urge in the form of Melek Taus, often translated as the Peacock Angel. He sounds cool and also cute, like a character from 'In the Night Garden.' But Muslims have traditionally seen them as Devil worshippers. So, even more than Christians, they are in big trouble.

They really are Gnostics, sharing much with Sufis, Parsees and the Gnostic Christians of Medieval Europe who were known as Cathars in the Languedoc. Steven Pinker told his readers that the reason they hadn't met a Cathar is that the Catholic Church had killed every last one of them.

You can find out more about them in books like 'The Perfect Heresy' and 'The Yellow Cross'. Apparently, even people like Bernard of Clairvaux who really hated them could say nothing against them as people. They were kind, honest and forgiving.

Catholics hated them because they did not think Jesus was a flesh and blood being, believed in reincarnation, were often vegetarians and would not swear oaths. This struck at the heart of feudal society where nearly everyone was a vassal who had to swear loyalty to someone.

Apparently, some of them were forced to wear a yellow cross as a badge of shame and were finally rounded up and burnt in large ovens made for the purpose.The last Cathars were besieged in a fortress on a mountain called Montsegur. Its name means Mount Secure but it wasn't very safe after all.

Just a few Cathars called Bogomils survived in Bosnia. Most of their descendants converted to Islam. Before the discovery of the Nag Hammadi scrolls, most of what we heard about them came from their enemies.

So, Rebecca West in 'Black Lamb and Grey Falcon' said that, while it feels unpleasant to have to denounce those who have already been persecuted, Bogomils did sound like nasty little skunks. She accepted the story that they strangled people who were already on their deathbeds.

Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, on the other hand, thought Gnostics were enlightened people who emphasised feeling at one with others. Gnosticism can exist in Islam. We see it in the mystics called Sufis. But it is more what one would expect of the contemplative side of Hinduism and Buddhism.

The demi-urge is a Gnostic concept. Yazidis have a nice blend of Zoroastrianism with ideas taken from Islam and Christianity.
So now again, we see Gnostics besieged on a mountain,Sinjar, by literalist religious enemies, filled with deadly hatred.

If the siege is not lifted, and their safety cannot be guaranteed, we should consider giving them refuge in the West. We do not want to see the Cathar genocide played out in front of our eyes.

But we must accept them with some caveats . The Yazidis are not, alas, the perfect heretics. They see marrying out as a capital offence. You can see on Youtube the stoning to death of 17 year old Du'a Khalil Aswad in 2007, for the crime of falling in love with a Muslim. But I advise you not to watch.

Like Boko Haram, Islamic State has the hypocrisy to claim to be liberating women by enslaving them. Yazidi women have thrown themselves from the mountain of refuge to their deaths, rather than be taken as sex slaves by Muslims. At least that is their own choice as far as we know.

But Yazidis have now urged outsiders to bomb their own women who have already been abducted rather than let them continue to exist in a state of impurity. They do not want them back if they have been raped. They don't want them to continue to breathe. These women are between the Devil and the deep blue sea. No tolerance, compassion or even rationality can be expected on either side.

We should give Yazidis refuge if they need it. We must also sternly require them to respect human rights.This is no time to turn a blind eye to abuse in the name of cultural relativism.


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dai



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hell ... interesting post ... decided to look for references to this girl who was stoned ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoning_of_Du'a_Khalil_Aswad

" Some news agencies reported that Aswad was being sheltered by a Yazidi tribal leader in Bashika in fear of her life until her family persuaded her that she had been forgiven and could return home.[6] Other reports indicate that she was instead given asylum by a local Muslim Sheikh.[2] It is not known whether the same members of her family that convinced her to return home were responsible for her death. It is not clear from the video whether she was ambushed while returning to her home, or if the mob stormed her home and dragged her into the street. Estimates of the number of attackers range from hundreds[7] to one thousand[2] to two thousand[8] men."

... the rest of the page is indeed very distressing and speaks to me of what may be a hideously repressed and obviously male sexuality that anybody would do such a thing. Talk about sick minded people ... but surely also gives us a glimpse into the pages of European history and our own religious and political cultures' misogyny. I have to wonder as to how many murders like this are not reported ... and how many might be furtively conducted in the United Kingdom due to its political system not offering us the rule of law, of Democracy lending itself to an immoral relativism in the name of multi-culturalism and respecting other people's beliefs ? Not that I have any respect for Democracy any more because crowds stoning children is more or less a manifestation of Pure Democracy and demonstrates what the Democrats in Wales will lead our society into unless we can restrain them as Republicans in Wales -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoning_of_Aisha_Ibrahim_Duhulow

- it is a horrible subject, and it is deeply linked psychologically to the moral and ethical corruption taught by the United Kingdom through its militarism which licences any murder if you are killing whomever the Democrats in Wales and Westminster deem to be their enemies ( e.g. Republicans in Wales ! ) Obviously being born to become a woman will designate you from birth as being an enemy of anybody born to grow up into a male state ... ?

Can you buy that : by virtue of your femaleness you have been designated from before birth to be counted as an enemy of the United Kingdom ( unless you can sufficiently enslave yourself as a subject of the United Kingdom by imitating the maleness of those it deems to be its real subjects and entitled to a few crumbs of basic privileges on account of their maleness ? )

I intended to read ' The Yellow Cross ' once, ten or more years ago, but it is a trifle too thick compared to a Terry Pratchet novel : could you review it ?
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marianneh



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:08 pm    Post subject: reply on gnostics Reply with quote

I'll have to read the book all the way through first before reviewing it! I was a bit put off by the academic weightiness of it too. I'm relying mostly on Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, writers of 'The Jesus Mysteries', 'Jesus and the Goddess' et al. I forced myself to plough through 'Black Lamb and Grey Falcon' in the hope of getting some insight into ex-Yugoslavia and where Andrej was coming from, both literally and figuratively.

When I was doing Religious Studies at A level and degree, the idea was that Gnostic Christians were weird people who had the idea that Jesus was a see through ghostly hologram. But of course, that's not right. They saw him as a mythical Everyman figure who represents the divine spark in humanity. In the gospel, he says ''the kingdom of heaven is within you.''The idea is that anyone can become a Christ just as in Buddhism, anyone can become a Buddha.

Gnosticism is older than Christianity and,of course, it influenced other religions as well. Where I take issue with Freke and Gandy is the idea that a search for esoteric knowledge will make you compassionate and wise. Buddhism can make you very detached. There's that guy who said on camera,''Buddha will understand'' before shooting a prisoner in the head.

OK, there's evidence that Gnostic Christians in Europe rejected the concept that non Christians were eternally damned. They also favoured sexual equality. It's easy to see why they rejected oaths. In the gospels, Jesus says, ''Do not swear at all.''

Roger suggests that the Yazidis have lost the Gnostic trait of sweet reasonableness because they have just degenerated into tribalism. It's feasible that a teenage boy would have been treated just the same as Du'a Khalil Aswad if marrying out is always a capital offence, but I think it's unlikely it would have happened unless he was gay. There were reports that this girl had actually converted to Islam. I can't comment on the accuracy.

Incidentally, I had a preconception that it's usually people who look pathetic or ugly who are picked on. I was obviously wrong. This girl was elegant and attractive with the long eyes and strong features often see in the Middle East. Combined with her pink skin, she would no doubt have been thought to be Jewish had she moved to Europe or America.

As for the stoning to death of the Somali girl aged 13 by people she had turned to for help after being gang raped, that story threw me into such a deep depression that I questioned my mental balance. But then I found out from the internet that other people felt just the same way, even those who said they were not usually very sensitive.

It just makes you despair of humanity. We've all heard of blaming the victim but this is beyond belief. I don't know if it's the cruelty or the lack of logic that is most upsetting.


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marianneh



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:00 pm    Post subject: Further reply on gnostics and stoning Reply with quote

I forgot to say that feudal oaths and prayer were totally conflated in the minds of Christians in Medieval Europe other than Cathars. A vassal would kneel before his feudal lord with hands raised and palms together. The lord would enclose the raised palms in his hands. This is the origin of a posture we now associate with a Christian at prayer. A refusal to take oaths was heretical and also struck at the feudal glue that held society together.

Timothy Freke speaks of the feeling of oneness with the universe and other human beings that Gnosticism taps into. He says the people who are making things hell for themselves and everyone else are those who put up barriers, and do not see themselves as one with others.

Obviously, if Gnostic Yazidis are treating women -half the human race at least -as things, they haven't really cottoned on to the concept of oneness. It's said they don't accept converts either so they must have a strong concept of 'otherness'. Christians don't live up to their own ideals either of course.

Christopher Hitchens would say that it is futile to think that the wisdom of the east can save us from our brute animal natures. Only a small part of the human mind is rational. We are just animals. Our brains are quite small.

The Old Testament mandates that a 'betrothed damsel' who is raped in a built up area should be stoned to death. Unbelievably, this was a great moral advance. She was let off if it happened in the open country as, if she had screamed for help, no-one would have heard.

I can remember a time when people didn't know the difference between fashion and morality. In the early 70s, older people would moan about long hair on men although it wasn't doing any harm. They complained about the customs and appearance of their immigrant neighbours too. Then we got the message that it was racist to complain about other people's customs as long as they were harmless.

That's great, but now cultural relativism has been perverted into the sick notion that you must never complain about what a foreigner does, even if it is murder. A lady called Ilaria was speaking very movingly on the internet about the fate of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, the little girl who was stoned to death for being gang raped.

A contributor self identified as 'Laura', screamed 'Racist! Racist! Racist! I hope you die like her ...' Ilaria replied in a very sweet way. I was less tactful. I said,'Laura, I'd like to put your head in a washing machine...It's you who are racist and also sexist as you don't think the lives of black women are worth anything. Sort your warped mind out.'

Somebody else online objected to Ophelia Benson speaking with anguish on the same subject. He complained that it was an 'emotional appeal' as if that was enough to condemn it .He'd mistaken his own adolescent callousness for rationality. Of course, the people who tortured a child to death for being previously victimised were hardly acting rationally, but the contributor lost sight of that.

We need rationality in this world and we also need compassion.Al Shabaab are running on empty on both counts. You wouldn't treat a dog like they treated that child.


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marianneh



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:38 pm    Post subject: reply on sex and oppression Reply with quote

I've re-read Dai's comment, and I think one of his ideas is that the murderers of Du'a Khalil Aswad were expressing their own sexuality in a perverse way. As they obviously thought that it should be a capital offence for teenagers to have any kind of sex, this sounds extremely hypocritical, but I doubt they would even have been aware that their motivation was sexual if indeed it was.

Of course, I would raise a small cheer on hearing that an older teenager had achieved consensual sexual experience in an oppressive society. But it doesn't even look as if this is what happened here.

The story is that Du'a and her Muslim boyfriend hadn't even got round to sex at the time she was killed. Would that make these evil bullies remorseful? No. She had spent one night at least away from her parents' house. She had no right to be alive if she was not above suspicion.

It's often been speculated that during the European witch craze, people like Matthew Hopkins were expressing a kind of perverse sexuality although they didn't know it. Otherwise why did they strip suspects to search them all over but especially between the legs for a witch's mark or nipple? If they noticed their own erections, they would have blamed that on devilish witchcraft. It was not a time known for self reflection.

I hesitated to type this as it sounds as if I am being prurient about the awful death of a named person, but some commentators on the internet speculated on whether Du'a was wearing a mini-skirt or if her ordinary skirt had been pushed up to humiliate her. If Dai is right about the witch finder syndrome, it's more likely it was pushed up so the murderers could enjoy the sight of her delectable thighs.

Tormented sexuality apart, it resembles a lynching in the USA before civil rights, and functions in the same way, to keep all members of an oppressed caste frightened and humble.


Why then do people like the above mentioned Laura think they are being left wing, principled and opposed to bigotry in abusing people who object to this sort of thing? How has moral relativism become so morally vaccuous as to leave its adherents bereft of values? I suppose I'm being very unkind, but I think it's because these people are not very good at thinking.

Rationalwiki lets us know that it's not so long ago that honour killing was approved of by those of Anglo-Saxon descent.In 1970, a few days after the Kent State Massacre, a white man of Northern European ancestry, burst into a campus dormitory and blasted to death a teenage student and her four male companions. The gunman was the student's father. He objected to her hippy attire and 'living in sin.'

This character, Arville Garland, articulated the view that children were the property of their parents. It's not so odd that there should be one nutcase at large. What surprises me is that he received thousands of fan letters from parents of teenagers, approving of his behaviour. They thought it was an admirable example of old fashioned family values. I don't think this would happen now.

Returning to the Cathars, I didn't spell out above the resemblance between the yellow cross and burning people in ovens and the yellow star ditto, but I find it creepy and eerie. By the twentieth century, the average person in Europe knew nothing at all about the Cathars, and this must have gone for Nazis too. But is this resemblance pure coincidence?

Can psychopathology lie dormant in the collective psyche for centuries and then spring back to life? It's terrifying if so.


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marianneh



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 4:06 pm    Post subject: Human beings are not good but we still need democarcy Reply with quote

Since we last discussed the subject, there have been at least two massacres of Yazidi men and boys by Islamic State. It looks as if we are not going to give the Yazidis refuge, but arm them instead.

I'm now feeling it was irresponsible of me to put up the first post, alluding to honour killings as it has made Dai lose his faith in democracy. I was very upset too, when I first came across these incidents but I had acquired some emotional distance when I put up the post.

Is it democracy or mobocracy when a lynch mob turns out? The Bible is full of life destroying crap, but even that says somewhere, 'Do not follow a crowd to do evil.' Perhaps none of those individuals alone could have stooped to these depths, but they had acquired a group mentality.

I hate to say it but I too have wondered about the wisdom of having human beings in positions of power. When you hear people, not otherwise insane, expound the view that there is a concentration camp under Denver International Airport or that the world is run by shape shifting lizards, you have to think,'Oh no, these people can vote! They can sit on juries!'

But if it's not humans who are going to run the show, who can do it? There's no other species that's up to the job. No wise beings from outer space are going to come and do it for us.

A benign dictatorship can't be guaranteed to remain benign. We don't want an absolute monarchy or any other kind. An enlightened elite of liberals may not remain liberal. Who will guard the guards? Whoever is in charge will be human, so we can only have other humans in a position to replace them if they are no good.

I hate to agree with the scoundrel, Winston Churchill, but democracy is the worst form of government except all the others. It's a big problem that countries don't automatically shake down into democracy.The USA's big mistake was thinking that if they removed Saddam Hussein, Iraq would become a democracy by default, instead of a lot of warring tribes and an emergent theocracy.

John Cleese and Robin Skinner took the view that some countries are not ready for democracy. That sounds shocking, but it's true that some countries have no democratic tradition. If you hear a lot of people saying.''What this country needs is the rule of a strong man'' or ''What this country needs is rule by God'', then things aren't looking good for democracy.

We've had full democracy in the UK for less than a hundred years. I can remember my adoptive mother praising the Isle of Sark because the Sieur or Dame had absolute rule. She thought the world would be in a nice mess if everyone thought they had the right to have a say in how the world was governed.

I believe in democracy because it's less bad than the alternatives. It's not that human beings are good or reasonable or trustworthy because they're not. I always remember the words of someone who had been in a concentration camp,''I am not bitter but I don't believe in the goodness of man.'' Nor should any of us.


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marianneh



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:51 pm    Post subject: We made a wilderness and called it peace. Reply with quote

We know Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds. He also persecuted a religious and ethnic minority. I think it was the Shiites but it's hard to keep track. Then we've heard that he had it in for the Marsh Arabs too. It's apparently a myth that he invented a person shredder which worked on the principle of a paper shredder.

So, those few people who supported the Iraq war thought that he was the only problem. If he was removed, the country would be happy, well run and peaceful. But this did not come about, and it's only partly because some US and British soldiers behaved like scumbags.

Perhaps the root of the problem was Winston's folly, creating a country without taking account of the different ethnic groups and historic rivalries.The stoning of Du'a Khalil Aswad was so horrible in itself that most people who stumble on it on the internet don't read any further. If they did, they would discover that it was only the start of a series of atrocities.

Because it had been rumoured that Du'a had been slain for converting to Islam, the Muslim community was fired up with vengeful feelings.Shortly after the video of the stoning was posted on the internet, armed Muslims stopped a bus full of workers near the site of the murder. They ordered all the Muslims and Christians to leave the bus. The 23 Yazidi men faced an impromptu firing squad.

This incident, known as the Mosul Massacre was not enough for the Muslims obviously. A few months later Yazidis faced terrorist attacks in which 800 lives were lost. This was really a spiralling of injustice but it is hard not to think that if any of the Yazidi men who took part in the stoning were killed in the subsequent attacks, it would have served them right. In the video, they do not even appear to be angry, but to be enjoying themselves. But it was a very hit and miss form of vengeance in which entirely innocent people must also have been targeted.

It would be wrong to deduce that Iraqi Muslims differ much from Yazidis in their attitudes. In 2008, a Muslim student,17 year old Rand Abdel Qader formed a romantic attachment to a British soldier called Paul. They went no further than exchanging fluffy toys, but Rand's father tried to strangle her when he found out about it. Her mother Leila Hussein yelled for her two sons to come and rescue Rand. Instead they helped their father finish her off. The father was arrested, but after the police ascertained that it was an honour killing, they congratulated him and let him go after two hours. He was not charged.

This guy gave sickening interviews, bragging about what he had done, and saying how proud he was of his sons.But he added that if he found out they were gay, he would kill them too. There has been at least one gay honour killing. Leila Hussein divorced her husband and fled to a refuge. On the day she was to flee over the border to make a new life, she was struck down in a hail of bullets. No one has been charged over this murder either.

Some Iraqis welcomed the fall of Saddam Hussein with the reflection,''We've got democracy now! That means freedom! We can do whatever we like! That means we can kill our women!" Apparetly with all his faults, Saddam Hussein had been a bit of a brake on these activities.

A certain 'Eddy' puts posts all over the internet objecting to what he sees as anti-male sexism. His most ludicrous manifestation was when he took the 'Freethinker' magazine to task for getting upset about the stoning of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow. He seemed to be jealous of her or at least of the publicity she was getting.

I pointed out to him -futiley I am sure- how ridiculous he was being. But there are times when men and boys as opposed to women are treated as if their lives were worthless or at least as if they are more expendable, say as soldiers or as execution victims. We saw this with the massacre of the Muslim men and boys at Srebinica in front of the useless Dutch peace keepers. We've seen it again on Friday with the massacre of the Yazidi men and boys by Muslims.

What can be done? We could try to see everyone as equally human and worthy regardless of ethnicity, sex or religion. Also, can't people get it into their heads that there is no honour in killing their teenage children for growing up and expressing romantic feelings? It is inevitable that they will do this.

Under a theocracy, I fear things could be even worse. According to Deuteronomy, if parents have a 'stubborn and rebellious son' who will not listen to them, they should bring him out into the public square and all the people should stone him to death 'with stones.' I suppose that is specified so that they won't try to stone him to death with marshmallows.The editor of the 'Bad News Bible' joked,'That's what I call tough love.' The rabbis say it has never once happened.

I should hope not. But in the crazy theocracies emerging in the Middle East and Africa, anything can happen.


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marianneh



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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 9:24 pm    Post subject: Iraq Reply with quote

Since typing that anything can happen in crazy emergent theocracies, I've heard from reliable sources about teenage boys in Iraq being stoned to death for adopting the 'emo' look, something similar to the Goth look.

We hear constantly of gay men being thrown to their deaths from roof tops, and then being finished off by stoning if they survive the fall. In striking contrast to the usual way, it is said that a woman has just been burnt to death in Islamic State for refusing to take part in an extreme sex act. I'm not totally satisfied that this last story is true as I've heard conflicting accounts, but it might well be.

These atrocities are now daily events. We're becoming hardened to the news. As it happens every day, the horror is blunted for us.

It's an awful dilemma. The invasion of Iraq looks like a colossal blunder. We've squandered the lives of our soldiers and we don't want to do it again. If we hadn't gone in, in the first place, it's unlikely that any of this would have happened.

Yet as Islamic State gets closer to the Med and to Europe, we have to ask ourselves the once unthinkable question: Isn't it time to send ground troops in?
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marianneh



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:15 pm    Post subject: Set your watch back to 1530s Reply with quote

People who belong to other cultures may be forgiven for not understanding the attitude to sex prevailing among the leaders of Islamic State. One poor Yazidi girl was subjected to gross sexual victimisation by a devout Islamist.

He explained that as she was not a Muslim, it was entirely legitimate for him to use her for unconsensual sex. Before and after raping his sex slave, he prostrated himself and prayed devoutly. It is to be hoped that he remembered his ablutions before and after.

The only slight ray of hope is that as he felt the need to justify himself verbally, perhaps deep down he did have a glimmer of insight that he was doing something wrong. Perhaps it was himself that he was trying to convince.

It would be lovely to think so. But probably, I'm living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

After all this is a 'state' where the top dogs have no problem with crucifying people upside down if they look at them the wrong way. People have been forced to their knees and beheaded for supposedly practising magic.

Apparently the poet who described Palmyra as the 'rose red city half as old as time', thought he was speaking the literal truth; it was no metaphor.

He believed with Bishop Usher that heaven and earth were created in October 4004 BC. By that reckoning, it was, in literal fact, half as old as time.

Now we know how ancient the earth is, it doesn't really make us feel any better about the antiquities - the noble statues and other icons of purely local gods and goddesses - smashed to pieces, the temple blown sky high. I thought the worst thing I would be lamenting was the brave 81 year old academic who refused to lead the barbarians to the treasures, and has had his head torn off.

But I now have something worse to record. Today Sunni extremists in Iraq hung Shiites up in chains and set fires under them so they were slowly burnt to death. There were four victims. I think they may have been all quite young men.

It's impossible to imagine anything more horrible, but we have heard of the very same thing happening before. Thomas Cromwell, during the English Reformation enjoyed watching Friar Forest meeting an identical end. It had been Cromwell's own idea.

Something rather similar happened to Robert Aske and other leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, and the monks they tried to help. Since hearing the details I have had a loathing and horror of Henry viii, which his murderous marital junketings and his paranoid destruction of his political supporters and friends had never evoked.

I thought he was a low level Josef Mengele. The same applies here. These people are on the level of Nazis. Yet at least one policy maker in the Foreign Office says we will have to live with Islamic State.

Today, when a friend and I made less than reverential noises about Islam, Della made unhappy little mews, reminding us of how Islam was a great religion. Many Muslims are great people, but there is an Islamic exceptionalism. It's a capital offence to cease to be a Muslim in an Islamic country.

I said it was like saying the Aztec religion which mandated sacrificing people to Quetzalcoatl was tremendous. There may be some versions of Islam which are lovely or at least less unlovely, but it's ridiculous to feel the need to deny the worst aspects of it in the name of tolerance.

I spoke to a charity worker for Amnesty International last week. We agreed that Islamic State was an intractable nightmare which had emerged from nowhere. It was not recognised as a legitimate state so there were no ambassadors you could negotiate with.

The self made rulers can't even be embarrassed into good behaviour. They are shameless. They seem to think that the more heart numbingly awful atrocities they commit, the better. Far from denying anything, they film it all and post it all over the internet.

I don't know if we've ever faced a more hopeless situation. Even if we resumed hostilities, we would hear again that this is a war that can't be won in a conventional sense. The ominous words will resound again: 'There will be no Luneburg Heath.'


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:05 am    Post subject: Full of Eastern Promise Reply with quote

Phyllis Chesler was an 18 year old student when she met 'my prince' as she called the charming sophisticate from Afghanistan who would be her husband. Chesler was a first generation American. Her parents were working class Jewish immigrants from Poland.

Chesler was bookish and a movie buff. That's how she gained all her information on the world. This was the early 60s. Before she had a chance to travel, she saw other countries through a romantic filmic and literary haze.

To her, her Muslim boyfriend was like Yul Brynner in 'The King and I.' She did not then know that the light hearted movie was loosely based on 'Siamese Harem Life' by Anna Leonowens which documented the cruelty and slavery taken for granted in the east.

It's not that Anna Leonowens found Raj life among the British much more tolerable. She had gone to school in Wales, and she let people think she was Welsh so that they would accept her dark looks. She invented a birthplace for herself in Caernarvon. If she had admitted she was a mixed race Anglo-Indian, she would have lost caste.

When Chesler thought she was thinking of the Islamic world, what she was really thinking of was Rudolph Valentino in 'The Sheikh', Turkish Delight adverts, Persian carpets and cats, 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves', and the Thousand and One nights.

Abdul Kareem, her fiancé, was not exactly a prince but his father had founded Afghanistan's first modern banking system. Other students thought that in entering his homeland she was like a female version of the hero in 'The Man Who Would Be King.'

She also saw the Middle East through a haze of romantic nostalgia about her own Jewish ancestry. 'Maybe Abdul Kareem is a descendant of Joseph, that most splendid Hebrew Egyptian, a figure I adore.'

When she lands in Kabul, ' it is like stepping into the Bible. Here are the nomads, caravans, fat-tailed sheep, camels, turbans, veiled and shrouded women, a pleasant confusion of ancient dust and mingled male voices.'

Similarly, when they were in London, she was thrilled to be in ' a city of high red buses ...almost circus like large black taxi cabs, the country of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Dickens, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot and the queen'. She hardly noticed the rather seedy lodgings.

Seeing a romantic partner as an exotic accessory, the erotic equivalent of going out to a Thai or an Indian restaurant is a recipe for disaster. After all, no one is exotic to himself. You can only look exotic to an outsider. Exoticism is a mirage.

Chesler found out too late that when she was imprisoned in a harem, it wasn't like the movies. It was nasty and shocking but also mundane. The world of Abdul Kareem's parents was cruel and restricted. There were flies and rocks and religious nutters. And she couldn't get away as she had thoughtlessly surrendered her passport.

Chesler did later discover more helpful literature by Edith Wharton and Rosita Forbes. She said 'Slavery has always existed in the Islamic world. It still does. It is a taboo subject. Few scholars have dared study it. Today in our presumably enlightened and anti-racist times, neither Muslim nor secular Western scholars focus on antiblack racism or slavery among Muslims. Instead both groups focus on and condemn racism and colonialism - but only by westerners.'

It's true I met a Yemeni at university who told me he was a feudal lord in his own country. Peasants brought him offerings of video recorders. He admired western girls because he believed they all lost their virginity by twelve.

He told me that Blacks weren't quite people. He was apparently being serious. A group of British Muslims wanted a fatwa on Madonna because she had blasphemously cast a black man as Jesus in a music video. A Yemeni in the midlands who sold his daughters into marital slavery during a family holiday did so partly because he feared they might become pregnant by black men if they stayed in England.

Chesler quoted Rosita Forbes who saw slave auctions mainly of Abyssinian (black African) slaves on their way to the harems of Saudi Arabia in the 1920s and 30s. The boys were castrated. If they survived they might become men of wealth and influence.

The girls became concubines and domestic slaves. In an awful parody of modesty the auctioned girls had their faces veiled but were otherwise naked from the neck down. They would be routinely raped and battered by their owners.

Forbes was shocked that they accepted their fate 'so casually.' But she later found out that in their previous existences, they had been worked like camels and beaten like dogs. Slavery meant exchanging the mastership of a half starved husband or father for that of an owner who would at least give them food and clothes.

The Christian girls kidnapped from boarding school by Boko Haram did not even have that cold comfort. The hashtag and campaign supported by Obama and his first lady to 'Bring Back Our Girls' sounded tremendous.

Unfortunately, it has not worked. The only girls who have been liberated from Boko Haram are those who escaped by their own efforts. I don't think we can blame the campaign organisers. Perhaps it is literally impossible to negotiate with Boko Haram or to defeat them either.

On 'Question Time', Shirley Williams said she would be blunt about it. The campaign would have got off the ground much sooner had the kidnapped teenagers been boys. I've no idea if she's right.

It is certain that although we know about the taking and sale of sex slaves by Islamic State, our response has been muted. Maybe, this is because we have a feeling that there's nothing much we can do, so it's a waste of energy to kick off about it. We've certainly latterly become lethargic about the situation in Nigeria.

Perhaps it really is true that there's nothing we can do, or that any intervention will make things worse for the captives. We should do something to protect innocents in Nigeria and to prevent and punish the genocide of Yazidis in Islamic State. But 'should implies can.' Could we succeed if we tried?

One thing's for sure. If we don't even try, it's just going to get worse. I fear there's also a ridiculous fear that we must tolerate the intolerable because otherwise, we will ourselves be branded as intolerant.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 7:39 pm    Post subject: horrible Reply with quote

I did not expect to find evidence of a more disturbing atrocity by Islamists than the burning to death of the four Shiites which happened yesterday. But while reading round the subject on the net, I found a truly horrible allegation. This is said to have happened not in Islamic State but in Iran.

Apparently some Iranian schoolboys were enjoying a break at a summer camp near the holy city of Isfahan. With the teachers was a mullah, perhaps as a chaplain or to provide pastoral care.

It is said that the mullah alleged to the other kids that one of the boys, 14 year old Akbar Zargarzadeh was gay, and had done things 'worthy of death.'
Subsequently, the boy was hanged from a tree until he was dead.

With all my heart, I hope this horrific and depressing story is not true. Perhaps it is not. It has not been confirmed.

But Iran does have form on this sort of thing. Under the Ayatollah Khomeini, grown men if not boys were executed for being gay by the community having walls collapse on them.

Iran now denies that it executes boys or men for being gay. In 2005, 16 year old Mohammed Asgari and 18 year old Ayaz Marhoni were publicly hanged in Iran.

In Britain, 'Outrage' alleged that it was because they had had consensual sex with each other. The Iranian government denied this, claiming they had raped a 13 year old boy.

When the executions started in Iran for gay activity between consenting adults, a gay man in Britain said he had previously thought there was reason for hope. Now he had no feeling of hope.

It had looked as if we had made progress. In 1942, during the Abergavenny witch hunt, a 17 year old boy put his head on the track at the railway station. A train came and crushed it like a nut.

He felt he had no choice. The police had found out he was gay. He could not evade prosecution. Only 25 years passed, and gayness was legal. But progress can go into reverse just as quickly.

In Iran it is a capital offence to be 'corrupt on earth' or 'at enmity with God.' They sound like catch-alls which could be interpreted to mean anything.

A judge has no need of evidence in Iran these days. He can sentence a person to death if he has a hunch that he is guilty of something.

In 2004, 16 year old Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh was hanged for adultery - although she was unmarried - crimes against chastity, and, somewhat bathetically, setting a terrible example to other schoolgirls.

The religious judge/mullah had it in for her. He made that obvious in the trial. He put the noose round her neck himself.

These precedents do make it seem feasible that the latest story is true. The only thing that doesn't have the ring of truth about it is the suddenness and extra judicial nature of the atrocity.

It would be believable in Islamic State. But in Iran, these atrocious acts usually have at least a semblance of due process. They are dressed up as judicial procedures. They are not literally lynchings.

The story was relayed by Twitter in mid July and has still not been confirmed, officially or otherwise. I live in hope that it's a false report, the invention of someone with a sick imagination. But as we get older, we know that just because a story is horrendous, that is no reason for it not to be true.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:44 pm    Post subject: Jihadi brides Reply with quote

Why do teenage schoolgirls in the West feel any desire to go out to Islamic State as Jihadi brides? It may be a rational decision if they are unhappy at home.

British Asian parents are often like European parents in the Victorian age. It's not possible to get close to them. They often will not allow their children even the most tentative expressions of autonomy.

Their children are like unstrung puppets in front of them even as young adults. I'm generalising wildly but I know there is truth in what I say.

This is especially onerous for Muslim girls. Often boys are allowed to play in the street but girls can play only in the back yard. Then they may be told that Muslim girls should not dance or even listen to music.

As puberty looms, they are told that if they fail to conform to all the prescribed menstrual taboos they will go to hell, as they will if they marry for love as opposed to accepting the men their parents have chosen.

They are so chaperoned and stifled that life at home is like imprisonment. But if they abscond to Islamic State, they can defy their parents and achieve autonomy with no risk of hellfire. They will be gaining credit in the eyes of Allah.

It's also a way to pursue romantic and sexual fulfilment on their own terms but with Islamic sanction. The whole point is that IS will provide them with fit young husbands. The young men might well resemble the male lead in the Fry's Turkish Delight advert - full of eastern promise.

IS will supposedly give them a regular income and their own houses. What's not to like?

Muslim girls are not usually spoilt. Most of them know how to cook and maintain a house. They can look after themselves.

With their own money and in a different country, they can raise two fingers to their parents - in the holiest possible way of course. At least, that's the idea.

Recruiters go on line and trawl face book pages. If they find someone with an Islamic name, they'll say, ''Are you a Muslim?'' They get an affirmative reply, and ask ''What do you like doing?''

If the person says ''Roller skating'', they'll say, ''We've got a great rink in Mosul. If you come out to Islamic State, it'll be tremendous.''

Of course, this grooming is based on lies. When three female teenagers went off to Islamic State in February, the idea of the British government was that they were kids in need of care and attention.

But had they been a day older than 18, they would have been seen as traitors. It's an extremely arbitrary distinction.

The parents were distraught, appearing on TV with their daughters' soft toys, blaming the police and the schools but apparently not themselves. Countries near IS also blamed the British government for not tipping them off in time. It was too late to intercept them.

One British journalist was ice cold. These girls subscribed to an ideology that mandated death for gays. They weren't cute little kids who had left their teddy bears behind by mistake. Why should we care about them?

This was harsh. The danger was that they would not be given the husbands of their dreams but would be made sex slaves and shared out like smarties.

Before long, they would either be dead or wishing that they were. An escaped former Jihadi bride says that they will now have been separated from each other and married off. They would no doubt be forced to become suicide bombers.

It is not possible to evade or refuse a request by IS. You are not allowed to have a mind of your own. A third of male Jihadis realise they have made a terrible mistake and attempt to leave.

Only two or at most three Jihadi brides have returned. it is almost impossible to discreetly slip away. They are not allowed to go anywhere without a male escort, and could expect to face punishment if they do.

A Glaswegian who became a Jihadi bride was slowly radicalised at home. She had loved the Harry Potter books. But when she heard a radical preacher from Australia denounce them as promoting Paganism, she heroically gave them to her younger sister.

She didn't think it through. Logically, she should have burnt them, not allowed younger kids' minds to be contaminated by them.

Then she became filled with sectarian hatred for Shiites and deduced that they were even worse than Kaffir. She went out to Islamic State.

She is apparently still alive. Or perhaps it is someone else who is using her facebook account to recruit more Jihadi brides from the west.

Twin sisters went out to IS and showed a surprisingly casual attitude, considering the effort they had made. They were widowed at 17. They tweeted that their warrior husbands had been killed in the same battle, adding 'lol'.

Laugh out loud? It sounds a bit callous. It can't have been much of a romance in either case.

If death doesn't faze them, some Jihadi brides are jealous of the 72 virgins their husbands will get in Paradise. Agony aunts are on hand to reassure them.

They are much more interesting than houris.

These supernatural bints have had it easy. They are just spoilt layabouts in Paradise.

Do they know what it's like to drag yourself out of bed on a cold morning to prostrate yourself in prayer? Do they know the frustration of forcing themselves to submit to a husband or to stay calm in a queue in a supermarket?

Of course not. These houris, they're just not living in the real world!

It sounds like a piss take in Viz magazine. But it is totally serious.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 7:10 pm    Post subject: What should our priorities be? Reply with quote

I'm long overdue in putting up a post about Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr. He is a young man who is in prison in Saudi Arabia in expectation of being beheaded and then crucified.

What terrible crime did he commit to merit such a savage punishment? In 2012 at the time of the Arab Spring -remember that? -he took part aged 17 in a peaceful anti-government demonstration. Apparently he thought it was time for rule by absolute monarchy to end.

His mother has begged Obama to intervene. She believes that in reality her son is being targeted for his Shi'a faith. She can't conceive how anything but sectarian hatred can account for his disproportionately uncivilized treatment.

She said rightly that the sentence was 'backward in the extreme.' She thought that no 'normal person who is not a sectarian would find such a thing acceptable.'

I've been asked by an Amnesty International worker to draw attention to the plight of another young man in prison in Saudi Arabia. This is Saif Badawi who has been running a blog devoted to 'liberal thought.' This is something that Saudi Arabia really needs.

For this he has received a sentence of 10, 000 lashes - not all at once -ten years in jail and a fine of a million rial. I'm so overdue with this.

I'm afraid the 10, 000 lashes have already started in a staggered way. It's not that I thought that I personally could really do anything to prevent it. But if you have any means or any ideas about how it can be halted now, please do all you can.

As bad as these individual atrocities in the Wahabist world are, we've had to shift our priorities since the latest massacres in Paris and the big scare in Brussels. It might sound a bit hypocritical of me to even suggest this after my bleating abut Reyaad Khan in other posts.But is this our opportunity and our clear duty to pulverise and eliminate Islamic State who have, after all, claimed responsibility?

Without a two way crystal ball, I don't feel qualified to answer that and I don't think anyone is. To watch Islamic State behaving like Nazis and not lift a little finger to prevent it is like sitting back and watching Hitler take over Europe, saying it is none of our business. We owe it to ourselves to do something or Britain will be next.

But how can we know we will not do more harm than good? We can't know.

Islamic State almost certainly brought down the Russian plane over Sinai. We might initially have been glad this motivated Putin to obliterate Islamic State which would also distract him from bullying Ukraine and the Baltic States. But we didn't feel so over confident when the second Russian plane was shot down by Turkey. Who's to say Turkey will not be dragged into a Third World War?

It's impossible to foresee what will happen whatever we do. It's not even as if hearts and minds are in favour even at home.

I've mentioned on another post how I heard a white European woman sounding off in Abergavenny Library about how we were persecuting Muslims, treating them just as Europeans treated Jews on the eve of the Second World War. She refused to believe anything in the news about atrocities by Islamic State, Boko Haram or any other Muslim group. She thought it was all propaganda.

Most of what this woman said was crazy, but she did have a point about how Iraqis had suffered under sanctions and aerial bombardment during the invasion of their country. People tell me that even Tony Blair now admits he was wrong to invade Iraq. But he says that it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

That's just the problem. We all look back with sharp hindsight but forward with blind eyes.

We can't know what will happen in the long run if we attempt to bomb IS to smithereens or send ground troops in. Nor do we know what we might suffer if we don't.

Only just before the second series of atrocities in Paris this year, people were telling me that Islamic State was weak; it was on the point of collapse.

It had lost most of its territory and its fighting men. Somebody even stuck to this line after the atrocities.

He said it was because IS was weak that it was kicking off like a big bully. This may or may not be an interesting point psychologically. But on the ground, it's meaningless. If this is weakness, then weakness is as dangerous as strength.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 9:51 pm    Post subject: The Gates of Vienna Reply with quote

Dua Khali Aswad's co-religionists treated her with contempt even after death. She was buried with the carcass of a dog to symbolise her supposed worthlessness.

Then her body was dug up and taken to hospital for a prurient examination. This confirmed she was technically a virgin when she died - something that should have been nobody's business but her own.

Islamists later conquered and occupied Bashika, the city where she was stoned to death. Because the unconfirmed rumour that Dua had converted to Islam has now become part of common mythology, they saw her as a virgin martyr or a saint.

Islamists renamed Bashika in her honour. It is now called Dua which serendipitously means prayer in Arabic.

This is in stark contrast to the way Islamists think they have a right to treat Yazidi girls who have not converted. They believe that raping sex slaves does not count as adultery even if they are married. An exemption is made for captives, poetically referred to as 'those whom your right hand possesses.'

An escaped Yazidi sex slave says that her captor had had a wife with an English accent who treated her like dirt. It is believed that this was a 17 year old Jihadi bride from Manchester.

In theory Muslim girls are privileged and cannot be used as sex slaves. In practice, they have no protection either. After all in most if not all interpretations of Sharia, a man can be convicted of rape only if he confesses or if the complainant's story is backed up by four male witnesses.

Otherwise the plaintiff might be executed herself as in the case of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow. She is after all confessing to non marital sex.

When European schoolgirls abscond to Islamic State, we suspect that for all their Muslim credentials, they will become sex slaves and shared out like smarties. Rather than having Yazidi slaves to push around, too often, they will be the slaves.

Last year two teenage friends from Austria, 17 year old Samra Kesinovic and 15 year old Sabina Selimovic absconded to Islamic State as Jihadi brides. In soft focus pictures taken before they done got religion, they look beautiful in a slightly Disneyfied, coke advert sort of way.

A Viennese imam was arrested and accused of radicalising them and other teenagers. He denied it.

It is easy to imagine why they would have been wide open to radicalisation. As their names suggest, they were the children of Bosnian Muslim refugees.

They weren't even born at the time of the Srebenica massacre. But they must have heard all about it. The twentieth anniversary commemoration didn't pass off without some violence.

When Ayaan Hirsi Ali was in a Dutch refugee camp, she was amazed to hear that the Bosnian girls, with their see through tops and visible bra straps, were known to others as the Muslims. Of course, many of them were descendants of Bogomils who converted to Islam to avoid paying the Jizya tax when Bosnia was conquered by Turkey.

To them, Islam was an ethnic identity. A Bosnian might say ''I'm a Muslim but I don't believe in God'' with no feeling of being ridiculous.

When Croatia and Serbia tried to take each other to court at the Hague, cross petitioning for genocide, the court threw both cases out. The judge said it had not been genocide because it was not deliberate.

But most people would see the massacre of Bosnian Muslim men and boys by Serbs at Srebenica as genocide. A really suspicious mind would suspect the Dutch peace keepers of collusion although it looks like incompetence to outsiders.

And after all, if people hate you that much for being a Muslim, you might as well begin to take it seriously. And maybe you should fight back. Wasn't Srebenica evidence enough that Islam was under siege?

Sabina gave an interview in which she said improbably that she was free in Islamic State. She could pray as she liked. She had not been able to do this in Vienna.

Perhaps there was some truth in this. It's part of the Austrian national myth that the Turks were at the gates of Vienna in the 1600s.

They were besieged by Islam. It was hit and miss whether Austria would fall to the Turks as Serbia and Bosnia had. Maybe, the citizens of Vienna did feel uneasy with conspicuous displays of Muslim piety.

Samra and Sabina became 'poster girls' for Jihadism. We have seen pictures of them posing with Kalashnikovs in military gear with Arabic slogans on their headbands.

We've also seen them posing together in deep blue burqas with narrow eye slits like letter boxes. They were each raising an unfeasibly bendy index finger in warning and reproof.

Their friends, teachers and parents must have been all the more frantic when they saw the notes they had left behind. Making no attempt to be reassuring, they said ''Don't look for us. We will serve Allah and will die for him'.

This happened literally and straightforwardly in Sabina's case. They were both given husbands and became pregnant, but this did not stop Sabina fighting on the front line. According to unconfirmed reports, she was killed in battle last December.

Of course teenagers often have a feeling that they are both immortal and invulnerable, or if they know they are going to embrace death, they often find it exhilarating instead of petrifying. It was a bit different with Samra.

She might have been happy to die for Allah. But living for him was more difficult. The strict code of Islamic behaviour with all its restrictions was beginning to get on her tits.

She was thoroughly disillusioned and longed to come home. But Austrian policy was not going to make it easy for her - or even possible.

According to an influential Danish psychologist, these people can never be allowed back. They can never be rehabilitated.

Samra's case perhaps illustrates quite the opposite, that the heresy she had left was 'hated most by those they did deceive.' With no reasonable hope of getting back to Austria, she nevertheless attempted to flee Islamic State.

According to unconfirmed reports, she was battered to death with a hammer by Islamists for trying to escape. It's a terrible warning!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:05 am    Post subject: Sympathy for Samra Reply with quote

I'm now beginning to think that my tone was too flippant in the post immediately above this one. I've done a bit more research, and it looks as if Samra wasn't just a fickle brat who said ''Ramadan sucks.''

She was revolted and upset by the human rights abuses she saw meted out to Islamic State's victims. It was after that, that the scales fell from her eyes and she was desperate to escape from this awful death cult.

According to some sites, both Samra and Sabina were aware that they'd made a terrible mistake as long ago as October 2014. By this time they were pregnant and feeling as miserable as hell.

They managed to get messages out to their families that they wanted to come home, but ministers indicated that if they re-entered Austria, they would face long prison sentences.

They'd gone a bit wild in a paradoxical way at school. It had taken the form of haranguing other pupils about their secular lifestyle and materialistic values. They were also suspected of defacing school property with pro-Isis graffiti.

Perhaps you have to let kids make their own mistakes, but this was a terrible, tragic mistake. They've paid a much higher price than was warranted considering they were only of school age. Of course, it's a very obvious price but it wasn't obvious to them.

I have to say that Samra comes across as a more sympathetic character than Reyaad Khan from Cardiff. He never saw the error of his ways. But then, he had a man's -literally- impregnable body.

There's nothing like suffering morning sickness in insanitary conditions after the country's electricity supply and rubbish collection have been discontinued, to make you feel homesick for the solid comfort to be found in Vienna. Spare a thought for the babies.

Were they born alive? And if so, what's going to happen to them now that their mothers are dead?

I'm beginning to feel some sympathy for Samra. Let's hope this cautionary tale isn't wasted on other enterprising young girls and boys and puppies.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:50 pm    Post subject: Thou Rascal Beadle! Reply with quote

One of the few good things about the genocide and gang rape of Yazidis is that it has made Yazidis much more tolerant. Not long ago, Yazidis who married out or were even raped were put to death for 'destroying their families.'

Yazidi women who have been used as sex slaves by Islamic State have a high suicide rate. They believe that if they did escape, they would not be able to go home. Their own relatives would kill them.

But the ruling has changed. The message is that if they can find their way back to their clans they will be given a warm welcome.

I think rationality has dawned on the Yazidi community. So many of them have been raped that it is not feasible to kill them all. It would be playing into the hands of Islamic State and completing their work of genocide for them.

It's been a long trek to wisdom but the Yazidis have arrived there at last. I'm sorry I can't say the same for Islamic State. It's given its fighters the message that they can convert women to Islam by raping them.

A recent ruling means that it's gloves off where voluntary Jihadi brides are concerned. According to IS, Jihadi brides of IS martyrs are fair game if they are widowed. They can be sold on as sex slaves multiple times because they are 'only property'.

So are there no jobs left for educated women who yearn for autonomy? Yes, they can apply to join the morality police which patrols women whose burqas aren't unsightly and concealing enough.

This often means grassing up their own friends who are then subjected to 10, 000 lashes or whatever the going rate is now. The friends feel a bit hurt as they expected more loyalty.

It's easy for us to look at IS and think what a shower of hypocrites they are, committing gang rape and at the same time imposing an ultra puritanical dress code as if they were hung up about sex or disapproved of it somehow. I don't think it's contradictory but two sides of the same coin.

This is a culture that blames the victim where it comes to rape, at least when the victim is female. To be brutally punished for having a female body that isn't totally invisible is effectively being convicted for the crime of living while female.

You can't help having a body. If it arouses lascivious thoughts in others, it's no big deal and there should be no question of blame.

Serial rapists will blame the victim. That's what you'd expect. Serious recidivist criminals do not take responsibility. If they did, they wouldn't offend as they do.

In our culture, a rape victim may be blamed for how she is dressed. The defence barrister may exclaim in horror, ''Jeans! You were wearing jeans! I ask you, members of the jury, who is the victim in this case?''

Or she might be asked what she was doing in the street at eleven o'clock at night. It is like asking what Pearl Harbour was doing in the Pacific.

I remember seeing an article in the late 70s about an Anglican priest who had been unmasked as a serial sex offender. It was noted that he once had a hissy fit in the pulpit, denouncing a woman in the congregation for wearing lipstick. It should have been a warning sign but no one took any notice.

I remember a pathetic acquaintance who had been at a Catholic school and was a seriously frustrated virgin when I knew him. He told me he didn't like one of my female friends.

I asked why not. Trembling with rage, he burst out '' She's such a prick teaser!'' The friend in question was attractive. But she'd been bullied a lot and she thought she was ugly.

She dressed in a functional, understated way and didn't bother with makeup. There was nothing remotely flirtatious or provocative about her. She believed herself to be asexual.

All she had done was be alive and pretty in his presence. She was oblivious of the effect she had on him.

This exchange should have been a warning sign to me. But it was not.

A few years later he became mentor to an impressionable 17 year old boy. He infected him with his misogyny and also taunted him on his virginity. The boy went out and raped and murdered a 15 year old girl.

I've heard of an eight or nine year old boy who was raped by a Catholic priest. The priest told him in advance that he was to blame. He had sinfully aroused base passions in the man of God.

In the 70s, it was fashionable to say that men hated women and it was because of women's sexuality. I would like to think there is little truth in that, but it is true of a handful of misfits.

It's probably a fair inference that the more prudish and hung up about sex a man is on the surface, the more likely he is to be a pervert.

Historically, our society has sometimes had a glimmer of insight, as in the quote from Shakespeare: 'Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand. Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own back. Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind for which thou whipp'st her.''

Perhaps even Shakespeare wasn't aware that for some, flagellation is a substitute for sex. The term sado-masochism hadn't been coined in his day, and the practice of it was so ubiquitous, it didn't seem noteworthy.

Even in our foundational scriptures we have something about whoever is without sin casting the first stone. I don't want to be condescending but I don't think that degree of insight can be expected from Islamic State.

What a lot of tossers they are! What can we do about them?
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:03 am    Post subject: O Aisha! Reply with quote

The girls used as sex slaves by Islamic State are not always as mature as teenagers. Some are twelve. Others are eight or nine. The Daily Express - not a reliable paper admittedly - tells us of a nine year old girl who has become pregnant after being raped by at least ten IS militants.

Although the details we hear may sometimes be garbled or inaccurate, there's no reason to doubt that the broad picture is essentially true. It would be absurd to think that IS would draw the line at paedophilia.

After all religious cults are often set up partly with the aim of giving the cult leader sexual access to his followers. Jim Jones not only anally raped a young boy but persuaded him that it was for his own benefit.

David Koresh is thought to have had a sexual interest in underage people at Waco, and even married a 15 year old. Joseph Smith enjoyed plural marriage with pubescent cuties. The fundamentalist church of Latter Day Saints was an enclave which enabled older men to keep harems of underage girls until very recently.

This is certainly not a facet only of minority cults. The Catholic Church practiced both global paedophilia and also money laundering for the Mafia.

The Shiite sect allows temporary marriage with children of any age for a variety of purposes for any period from a few hours to a few years. The purpose is not always paedophilia but it can be.

The Ayatollah Khomeini ruled that children could be used for any sexual act short of vaginal intercourse but not excluding buggery as soon as they were weaned. He was astonished that some thought children were not ready for sex before puberty. After all, primary school children were allowed to listen to the radio!

This opinion was no doubt shaped by his own tendencies. One of his disciples remarked that he and Khomeini were once staying in the house of a devoted follower who had a daughter who 'although only four years old was very beautiful.'

Khomeini asked if he could borrow the child. The father assented. The disciple heard her crying and screaming in the night.

Channel 4 news had a spot called 'Fundamentally Wrong' about a fundamentalist Nigerian imam who went round preaching that children were ready for sex at six.

People can't help it if they have paedophile tendencies. It's a misfortune not a crime. The writer T H White had longings for prepubescent boys. But he knew it was wrong. He avoided them so he wouldn't be tempted.

But what is terrible is if a person is living in an enclave or country that enables and legitimises this behaviour.

Not surprisingly, when the Islamic revolution swept Khomeini to power in Iran, the minimum age of marriage for girls was reduced to nine.

Muslims who are that way inclined can justify themselves on the premise that Mohammed was the 'perfect man', and according to tradition he married Aisha Bint Abu Bakr when she was nine.

There are documentary claims to this effect quoting Aisha herself. According to this story, Mohammed who already had a plural number of adult wives, became engaged to Aisha when she was six and started 'thighing' her straight away.

When she was nine, her mother called her in from playing on the swing and told her she was now married to the Prophet. The marriage was consummated at once in her parents' house.

When she went to live with Mohammed she was allowed to play with dolls and soft toys such as a winged horse because she was below puberty. For a mature person, it would have been idolatrous and haram.

Karen Armstrong, an ex-Catholic nun and now apologist for Islam simply resorts to lying to explain away the evidence. Myriam Francoise-Cerrah, a convert to Islam, is upset by these stories. She thinks Aisha was in her late teens at marriage.

It is certainly a weak point in Muslim armour. A fundamentalist Christian preacher referred to Mohammed as 'a demon possessed paedophile.'

There are certainly some very weird stories about Mohammed in Muslim sources including stuff about farting and toilet habits. The fact is we can't know anything for sure about their accuracy because they were not written down for a long time after the supposed lifetime of Mohammed.

Ibn Warraq, the writer of 'Why I am Not a Muslim', suspects that the story about Mohammed's paedophilia was probably a later fabrication. Asked why his own followers would have made up something so negative about him, he answered that it didn't appear negative to them.

If they were themselves paedophiles, this would be a great way to legitimise their own perversion. That's why they laboured the point with stories about dolls and soft toys.

The fact is we can't even be sure that Mohammed existed. On balance, I'd say he probably did exist and Jesus probably didn't. But there can be no certainty.

Although paedophilia is detestable, I suppose we do have to be a bit wary of its being used as a tool by racists. The US writer Katherine Mayo published a ridiculous book in the 20s, claiming that Filipinos did better in exams than Anglo-Americans not because they were more intelligent but because they were less so.

They memorised facts without considering them. You could prove anything with that sort of argument.

In 1927 she wrote 'Mother India' to oppose Indian home rule. In this she castigated Hindus for practicing child marriage but pretended that Muslims didn't do that sort of thing.

She said that Hindus were unfit for home rule because they were so effete, weak and feeble as a result of being born to immature parents. This is the 'healthy mind in a healthy body' fallacy.

You can have a feeble body and still be very bright. The child of a physically immature mother -I don't know about the father - is at higher risk of birth defects, but this is not inevitable. It might be perfectly healthy.

It was a very dishonest book and it bordered on pornography. It was impossible to read it without questioning your own motives for doing so -was it to have a cheap thrill? But there was some truth in what she said.

British people including the king began to castigate Indians for child marriage. But then someone pointed out to them that child marriage was still legal in Britain!

It was very rare but in 1928, a man accused of raping a 13 year old in Britain was advised to marry her as a wife could not testify against her husband. He had done so and she had been kept starving and terrified in his house ever since.

Mainland Britain but not Ireland or even Ulster put its house in order in 1929. Child marriage remained legal in Ireland until 1972.

One Muslim lady called Zeinab was so exasperated that she put up a blog pointing out that in the Christian Middle Ages, child and adolescent marriage was 'as common as a cup of tea.' It was much more so. Tea wasn't drunk in Europe then!

For instance, Zeinab pointed out that Richard ii of England married seven year old Princess Isabelle of France. Not only did no one object. There was rejoicing as it was hoped this would bring an end to the Hundred Years War.

Of course Zeinab is quite right. But it leaves me cold as I'm not an apologist for dodgy European customs and I don't feel I have any personal responsibility for them.

I was a bit taken aback when a left wing guy said he'd always believed the ideal age for a girl to give birth is 14 as is customary in much of Africa. He obviously hadn't been influenced by the 'Girls not Brides' campaign.

Some organisations would say Britain still allows child marriage. They think that in no country in the world should the minimum age of marriage be younger than 18. To marry younger is to risk poverty, abuse and truncated education.

They have a point. All my natural aunts married as very young teenagers. Some of them had awful abusive marriages, and none were happy. I'm not totally happy with the idea that younger teenagers shouldn't be allowed to marry as I think they should ideally be able to make their own decisions. But I don't think it's a very good idea.

I don't think we should use paedophilia -institutionalised or otherwise - as a stick to beat other cultures. But we certainly shouldn't tolerate it anywhere.


Last edited by marianneh on Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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marianneh



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:09 pm    Post subject: Sue Me Saudi Reply with quote

It's no secret that while Saudi Arabia's oil wealth has dragged its economy into the twenty first century, its society is stuck in the Dark Ages. This is a country where people respond to a solar eclipse by thronging mosques and imploring Allah to let the sun come back.

It's a land where people are executed for witchcraft, and foreign workers are treated like slaves.

When rebels stormed the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979, French paratroopers were sent in. As no infidels were permitted in the Holy City, the Frenchmen were given the quickest conversion to Islam in history.

This infuriated Osama Bin Laden. To him they were still impure kaffir whose presence had polluted the Qaaba.

He was also disgusted that American soldiers including women were called on to defend Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. To be beholden to such creatures was demeaning and emasculating.

Saudi Arabia has insidiously spread Wahabism throughout the world by infiltrating schools and mosques. This radical sect is so extreme that it is self cannibalising. Lately, it's been demolishing Muslim heritage in Mecca lest veneration for holy objects becomes a kind of idolatry.

We knew that Osama Bin Laden was behind 9/11 almost as soon as it happened, and we know that his brand of Wahabism is home grown. So why did it never occur to the coalition that they should invade Saudi Arabia instead of Iraq?

It would have been out of the question. Saudi princes and oil magnates spent their petrol dollars in western capitals. The US and UK were anxious to keep in the good books of the Saudi king. I don't know the details but there may really be a close personal connection between the 'House of Saud' and the 'House of Bush.'

Whatever Saudi Arabia did, we would have treated them like allies. Forgetful of how much we needed the oil producing countries, the BBC recklessly made a documentary in 1978 exposing the dark heart of the House of Saud.

Princess Mish' al of Saudi Arabia aged 19 was desperate to avoid a forced marriage to a much older man. She bolted for the air port with her boyfriend, hoping to escape the country with forged ID.

The ruse was rumbled. She was 'cold bloodedly murdered' in a car park at the behest of her grandfather, a brother of the king.

Without bothering to deny the story, the House of Saud expressed itself insulted and peeved at this disrespectful publicity. The unlovely grovelling of the British government was parodied on 'Not the Nine o' Clock News.'

In the guise of news anchors, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith assured the audience, ''We think the Arabs are lovely people with tremendous charm and'' -sotto voce-''a great deal of oil.''

They added, ''If they want to execute their princesses, that's fine with us'', then muttered, ''You can have two of ours if you like.'' Neither Anne nor Margaret was popular at this time.

The Sauds were probably not the only family to have a paterfamilias with power of life and death. Jean Sasson claimed to have personal knowledge of an awful occurrence in Saudi in the early 70s.

It concerned a schoolgirl who nipped into her brother's bedroom in nightwear to give him a message, and was raped by his school friends. They said she led them on.

After she was ascertained to be pregnant, she was kept in chains and under armed guard in a private hospital until she gave birth. Immediately after this she was taken out and stoned to death at her family's request.

It would normally have been a case for a few thousand lashes, but the family felt so strongly that nothing but stoning would do for them. Sasson said it was a private arrangement and there was no record of it.

I thought, 'How do I know you're telling the truth then?' I didn't want to accept it was true, but in the light of other similar stories, it sounds quite feasible.

What we do know for a fact is that, a few years ago, Saudi schoolgirls who had escaped after their school caught fire, were pushed back into the burning building by morality police because they were not adequately veiled.

The morality police also physically prevented would be rescuers getting anywhere near the school.

In my naivity, it never occurred to me that Saudis would resent being likened to Islamic State. The resemblance is clear.

Saudi Arabia is less chaotic and it's much richer but there are few other substantive differences. Yet now the Saudi Justice Ministry is threatening to sue anyone who makes the comparison online. They can't take the truth.

Some westerners are not impressed with the treatment of 35 year old poet Ashraf Fayadh. He is on death row for apostacy, promoting atheism and publicly mocking Koranic verses. If the law takes its course, he will be beheaded.

The tweeters have stuck to their guns, challenging the ministry to 'Sue Me Saudi.' I would imagine that in any fair and impartial court, the defendants would win. Please do anything you can for Ashraf Fayadh.


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marianneh



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:27 pm    Post subject: Quo Vadis? Reply with quote

After the latest terrorist bombing in France, we naturally thought, 'We can't take this lying down. We must do something.'

So will we be safer now that Britain is taking part in bombing IS occupied Syria? Not if the shootings in San Bernardino are anything to go by.

If we supinely submitted, IS would see that we were weak, would perceive that they were winning, and would step up their attacks on the west. And now that we are bombing Syria, they will see that as provocation and step up their attacks on us.

With a certain kind of mentality, it doesn't make any difference how the targeted people respond. They will react with violence because that is what they do.

Hilary Benn is right that they hate us and our way of life. But can we destroy their ideology of hate with bombs? We will inevitably destroy the lives of innocent people who are already being persecuted by Isis. If we did nothing at all, the persecuted population would feel abandoned by the world.

True IS fanatics with their nihilistic eschatology won't be much fazed by bombing. They say things like 'We love death as much as you love life.' After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Madame Le Pen said France should bring back the guillotine.

I can understand the anger behind that remark. But when you're dealing with people who are seeking martyrdom, that is no sort of deterrent. A friend of mine commented that they'd say, ''Guillotine? Bring it on!''

Stephen Fry thinks we should wrong foot Isis by doing what they don't want us to do. He thinks that bombing is playing into their hands.

But I have to say I think we're in a situation where we can't do right for doing wrong. We're not in a position to do anything constructive.

I don't think we should blame ourselves. It's analogous to being taken hostage by an individual with mental health problems manifesting as intractable paranoia. Nothing you can say or do will placate them. It won't even register.

People often say you have to negotiate with terrorists, however odious they are. But this can't apply when the terrorists don't have aims that are at least in theory feasible in the real world.

Already, the House of Commons has turned to internecine strife. David Cameron has branded kind people who are bothered about the civilians who will be 'collateral damage' as 'terrorist sympathisers.' They were stung by this and are now demanding an apology.

Charlotte Church rightly urged them to stop being so uptight as to care about the opinion of 'this dickhead' as she calls him, and to concentrate on putting forward anti-war arguments. My own feeling is that it would have been absurd not to respond to the attacks in Paris, but we may do great harm and no good at all. This looks like a no -win situation if ever there was one.
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marianneh



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:22 pm    Post subject: Rights For Whom? Reply with quote

Apparently, even Abu Hamza, later known as Dr Hook, was delighted when he first came to the West by the freedoms the citizens enjoyed. You could do just about whatever you liked. It was wonderful.

He later reversed his position. He came to resent western society bitterly.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was bowled over by the freedom in the West too. And at first she felt a bit discombobulated. She had been brought up to believe that Muslims and Islamic society were superior to infidels in every way, and found it hard to deal with contrary evidence.

Her sister Haweya just couldn't cope with the limitless freedoms of the Netherlands. It was like being in a room without walls. She had been rebelling against restrictions all her life. Now there was nothing to push against.

She had never been religious before. But she became religious in the West.

Ayaan too would look at text books which explained the human condition without reference to God, and think, ''Are they trying to make people unbelievers?'

I saw a dry academic history book which recounted early Islamic battles in a detached matter of fact way. A previous reader had annotated it in angry graffiti. He -or she- crossed out the word 'invaded' when it was applied to Muslims conquering new lands and replaced it with 'opened'.

He ranted in the margin about, 'I advise everyone not to read this book. This author wants to destroy Islam.' But this was clearly not true. The writer just had an unemotional academic approach, and the Muslim reader couldn't cope with it.

In the Netherlands and Belgium the government wanted to be good people, to let Muslim immigrants have their own schools and community centres where they could keep their own values going. They had no idea that some of these enclaves were hotbeds of conspiracy theorising and hatred against the West.

In Cardiff, it is not so long ago that a mother beat her seven year old son to death because he could not recite the whole of the Koran from memory. His teachers, who thought he was a lovely boy, observed that he was often in pain but they did nothing about it.

Peter Tatchell would say that we must defend Muslims if they are attacked personally, but equally we must defend gays from Islamist attacks. We have to have confidence in our own values and not be ashamed of them.

I hope I won't fall out with Dai or Alwyn ap Huw here, but human beings have rights. Oppressive ideologies do not. Religion is in the control game. We need blasphemy.

It's not just that people who were on the point of tears about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons but were entirely callous about the massacre don't deserve sympathy. It's not possible to placate people like this anyway.

It's OK to protest about cartoons you find tasteless, but this should take the form of a letter to the editor signed 'Disgusted of Rhiems' or 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells'. There is no need for a bloody massacre in the editorial office.

Maajid Nawaz would say it is not possible to avoid blasphemy. Every religion makes claims that other religions find blasphemous.

After all, according to tradition, Abu Bakr cursed the pagans of Mecca in front of Mohammed, jeering ''Suck on Al -Lat's clitoris'', and the Prophet didn't rebuke him for it. Al -Lat was a local goddess.

If the Charlie Hebdo assassins were liasing with those who planned the kosher shop bombing, they obviously thought that those who adhered to other Abrahamic religions didn't even have the right to live, let alone have their religious sensibilities treated with kid gloves.

Similarly with those who shot up a blasphemous free speech symposium in Copenhagen then went looking for a synagogue. Perhaps they knew in advance that it had been booked for the female equivalent of a bar mitzvah.

As girls are widely believed to mature faster than boys, the birthday girl and her schoolmates were not even thirteen but twelve. Mercifully, no one but the brave doorman lost his life. Rationally, the kids could have done nothing to offend the terrorists except aspiring to grow up into adults.

To my mind, the rot set in with the Salman Rushdie affair. People who said, ''We will kill Salman Rushdie'' were invited on to TV talk shows as if they were making a reasonable case.

On one such debate, the novelist Fay Weldon turned to a uniformed policeman and gesturing to the speaker, said, ''Why don't you arrest this man? He's inciting murder!'' She had no response.

There are much worse things in the Old Testament than in the Koran. But the Talmud makes it impossible to implement the savagery by its ingenious interpretations.

There's some dodgy stuff in the New Testament. But Christians have supposedly gone through an enlightenment.



We've heard of a savage group of Christians in Uganda called 'The Lord's Resistance Army' who went around massacring with machetes villagers who worked on Sunday or even Friday - or was it Wednesday? Oliver Cromwell was inspired by the massacres in the Old Testament when he besieged Drogheda. Dominionists in America want to bring in Old Testament law and reintroduce slavery.

These people shouldn't be given any encouragement. The Welsh Council of Mosques has denounced the latest massacres in Paris as have various other Muslim organisations. These are the people we need to work with.

At the time of the Salman Rushdie affair we were astonished to be confronted with people who claimed to be very virtuous but apparently hadn't even heard of one of our most important values ie the sanctity of human life. Of if they had heard of it, they rejected it.

After we recovered from the shock some western people began to put the boot into Salman Rushdie, anxious to kick a man when he was down. They included Norman Tebbit, Theodore Dalrymple, Hugh Trevor Roper - and most surprisingly Shirley Williams. They blamed the victim.

It was not just ignoble but futile. No attempt at appeasement can ever achieve anything. After the second series of Paris bombings this year, Islamists blamed the victims at the rock concert for being decadent and pagan. The tourists in Tunisia were blamed for coming from 'Crusader' countries.

Stephane Charbonnier said he'd rather die on his feet than live on his knees. But in fact, cowardice is no safer than courage. If we sink to our knees, we will die anyway.


Last edited by marianneh on Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:22 pm; edited 2 times in total
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