Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hirsi Ali Row Brings Down Dutch Government

The Dutch government is resigning after losing the support of one of its coalition partners, says Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

D66, the coalition's smallest member, withdrew its support in a row over Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.

Ms Verdonk had threatened to strip former politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali of her Dutch passport because of false information she gave in 1992.

Mr Balkenende said he would tender the government's resignation on Friday.

The D66 party pulled its support because Ms Verdonk, known as "Iron Rita" for her tough stance on immigration issues, refused to resign over her treatment of Ms Hirsi Ali.

Ms Hirsi Ali, 36, wrote a controversial film about the treatment of women in Islam, which was directed by Theo Van Gogh, who was later murdered by a Muslim extremist.

Mr Balkenende's announcement came after two days of debate in the parliament, where Ms Verdonk had done a U-turn on her stance on Ms Hirsi Ali, claiming she had found a legal loophole that would allow the Somali-born woman to stay.

The resignation of the government could lead to new elections in October.

This is what happens when people follow liars and anti-Muslim rabble rousers: chaos. Why the Dutch people allowed their country to be used by Ali is beyond me.

There are many practical lessons to be learned from this debacle. One of the most important is that a country of laws cannot allow politics and the shrill cries of attention seeking dissidents to trump its legal precepts and principles.

Lying on an asylum application in Holland is illegal and results in the offender being stripped of citizenship and deported. This is the law. Regardless of Ali's supposed value to Dutch society in her vehement denunciations of Islam, the rules cannot and should not be bent towards her will.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Getting Ready For Armageddon

The apocalyptic activities of John Hagee, a popular evangelist, as well as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have caught the eye of a reporter in the Los Angeles Times:
For thousands of years, prophets have predicted the end of the world. Today, various religious groups, using the latest technology, are trying to hasten it.

Their endgame is to speed the promised arrival of a messiah.

For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon.

With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus' message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a far different vision. As mayor of Tehran in 2004, he spent millions on improvements to make the city more welcoming for the return of a Muslim messiah known as the Mahdi, according to a recent report by the American Foreign Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.

To the majority of Shiites, the Mahdi was the last of the prophet Muhammad's true heirs, his 12 righteous descendants chosen by God to lead the faithful.

Ahmadinejad hopes to welcome the Mahdi to Tehran within two years.

Conversely, some Jewish groups in Jerusalem hope to clear the path for their own messiah by rebuilding a temple on a site now occupied by one of Islam's holiest shrines.

Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple — along with two 6½-ton marble cornerstones for the building's foundation.
It seems like even scientists like Hawking are planning for the end of the world.

John Hagee says a lot, as well as his Jewish allies:
"I truly believe John Hagee is at once a daring, beautiful person — and quite dangerous," said Orthodox Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, vice president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York.

"I sincerely recognize him as a hero for bringing planeloads of people to Israel at a time when people there were getting blown up by the busloads," Hirschfield said. "But he also believes that the only path to the father is through Jesus. That leaves me out."

Meanwhile, in what has become a spectacular annual routine, Jews — hoping to rebuild the Holy Temple destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 — attempt to haul the 6 1/2 -ton cornerstones by truck up to the Temple Mount, the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock shrine. Each year, they are turned back by police.

Among those turned away is Gershon Solomon, spokesman for Jerusalem's Temple Institute. When the temple is built, he said, "Islam is over."
Big statements.

Actually, from what I understand from the Qur'an, the Prophet Muhammad's prophecies, and even Biblical ones, Islam will be far from over. A quick Muslim layman's outline for the end times:

- Wars and rumours of wars (WWI and WWII).
- Other signs such as natural disasters and social behaviour changes (Raunch culture, SSM).
- Jews brought together (ie. in Israel).
- Crusader war between Christians and Muslims ("War on Terror?").
- Al-Aqsa Mosque destroyed, temple rebuilt = more war with Muslims.
- One world government formed by "Kings of the North" (EU, UN, neo-Rome).
- The antichrist or dajjal will rule.
- Antichrist will enslave the worlds people with "mark of the beast" (RFID chips?).
- Muslims will be the only ones to resist under leadership of Mahdi.
- Muslims will be surrounded, on the verge of defeat in Syria.
- Jesus will return, lead the Muslims.
- Armageddon in Israel, Jesus will kill the dajjal then abolish the cross.
- Muslims will conquer Rome, Jesus will live out the rest of his natural life.
- Things will fall apart after Jesus dies.
- Muslims will die out from disease, Qur'an will disappear.
- The Gog and Magog tribes will lay waste to what's left of the world.
- God will destroy the earth while those left on it will bear witness.
- Judgement Day!

Whew... Are you ready!?

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Beef-eating Hindus Censor Own History

Hindus in India have deleted references in textbooks which show that Hindus used to eat beef:
Victory for Hindu fundamentalists
Education council unhappy with move
Jun. 20, 2006. 01:00 AM

Calcutta—References to the beef-eating past of ancient Hindus have been deleted from Indian school textbooks following a three-year campaign by Hindu hardliners.

For almost a century, history books for primary and middle schools told how in ancient India, beef was considered a great delicacy among Hindus — especially among the highest caste — and how veal was offered to Hindu deities during special rituals.

"Our past" chapters in the texts also detailed how cows used to be slaughtered by the Brahmins, or upper caste Hindus, during festivals and while welcoming guests to the home.

The passages that offended the Hindus, who now shun beef, have been deleted from new versions of the books delivered to schoolchildren last week.

However, the National Council of Educational Research and Training, which is responsible for the texts, now seems unhappy with the changes that were agreed to by a former council director.

Council lawyer Prashant Bhushan said ancient Hindus were indeed beef-eaters, and the council should not have distorted historical facts by deleting the chapters.

Noted Calcutta historian Ashish Bose added: "NCERT has committed a mistake by dropping those facts from the textbooks. It is a victory for Hindu fundamentalists who have lodged a misinformation campaign. Historians should unite against this cowardly move by the council."

Hardline Hindu activists, who consider cattle holy and have been seeking a ban on slaughter by Muslims and Christians, said the beef-eating references were meant to insult Hindus.

In 2003, when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party held federal power, the educational council decided to delete the references. Congress and leftist opposition parties protested, but the move was approved by Jagmohan Singh Rajput, then council director.

The process took longer than expected, however, and Hindu fundamentalists alleged last year that the council was dragging its feet.

Two activists asked the Delhi High Court to order the immediate deletion of the chapters from new textbooks, but the court has not ruled on the suit.

When the litigation was filed, firebrand Hindu leader Praveen Togadia, general secretary of the World Hindu Council, declared: "Most of the facts in the chapters are not true. Some low-caste dalit (untouchable) Hindus used to eat beef. Brahmins never ate it."

Accusing textbook author Ram Sharan Sharma of shoddy research, Togadia said: "The chapter is poisoning the minds of little children. They will not respect their own religion in future. They will not turn out to be good Hindus and it will cause harm to the nation."

Dwijendra Narayan Jha, a history professor at Delhi University, says there is plenty of evidence showing ancient Hindus, including the Brahmins, slaughtered cows and ate beef.

"There are clear evidences in the Rig Veda, the most sacred Hindu scripture (from the second millennium BC), that the cow used to be sacrificed by Hindus during religious rituals. Ancient Hindu text Manusmriti lists the cow as one of several animals whose meat can be eaten by Hindus. The great epic, the Mahabharata, too speaks of beef being a delicacy served to esteemed guests," he said.

Jha's 2002 book, The Myth of the Holy Cow, presented historical evidence that Hindus ate beef long before the Muslim invasions in the 10th century, and provoked such a furor it was banned. The professor, himself a Hindu, feared attacks by fundamentalists and was given police protection.

The slaughter of cattle is banned in most Indian states, but not in Kerala, West Bengal and seven northeastern states. However, Muslims — the largest minority in the country — sometimes ignore state bans and slaughter cattle, which can spark communal tension.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Media Watch: Canadian Papers Now Neocon

Its no great suprise that the National Post has a neoconservative editorial policy. It is a coming together of its pro-Israel Jewish owners and its conservative Canadian readership. The Toronto Sun is its low-brow counterpart, with nominally Muslim, "pro-democracy" columnists like Salim Mansur seemingly taking a crack at his supposed co-religionists every day. Suprisingly the paper continues to employ contrarians like Eric Margolis who dares to speak truth to the incessant barrage of anti-Muslim claptrap that spews from the Islam-bashers that sully the reputations of the respective publications.

It is with great concern that I've been noticing a very discernible neoconservative positions being taken by the editorial boards of what I once considered to be the two leading Canadian papers of our time, The Toronto Star, and the Globe and Mail.


For the last two or three days, the Globe has been bumping an article entitled "Turning The Taliban To Our Side". Even the title of the article should raise alarm bells. Since when did independent, supposedly neutral newspapers start picking sides in non-opinion pieces? I guess when you brandish an array of Islam-bashing columninsts like Margaret Wente, Marcus Gee, Lysiane Gagnon, and Marcus Gee, your editorial policy probably will not maintain the journalistic standard of impartiality, at least when it comes to Muslims.

The Toronto Star has been taking a lot of neoconservative positions, particularly when it comes to the war in Afghanistan or the democratic election of Hamas earlier this year. They've just copied and pasted an editorial from the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram about how Arabs have failed in Sudan and Somalia:
We've failed Somalia, just as we failed Sudan before it. We've failed to identify problems in their early stage and do something about them. This is something we tend to do, but nowhere more so than in the southern stretches of our world, where Africa and the Arab region merge. We get obsessed with problems on our eastern front — Iran, Iraq — and forget about the south.
What a patronizing load of propaganda.

Can the Toronto Star really, in good conscience post an editorial from an Arab country, notorious for its anti-democratic government, violence against its own citizens, and support for the most despotic regimes (including Sudan) talking about how it should deal with other's "problems." Egypt has shown nothing but contempt for its Sudanese African refugees, and now when black Muslim Somalians have taken control of the security of their own country, they have the gall to proclaim they've "failed."

The Toronto Star, mind you, is published by a Jew. There a known homosexuals on the editorial board. Not that I'm against either group, but in the context of Islam, its important to determine where the paper's sympathies lie. The one Muslim, Haroon Siddiqui is an emiritus member of the board and only writes his own columns.

Its also interesting to note that when Christian Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper announced his intention to re-open the debate on same-sex marriage in the fall, there was nary a protest from either paper, despite their editorial policies of individual and civil liberties and progressivism (The Star had a huge Gay Pride Week spread last week). They would never come out and say it but they are surely operating under the principle of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

The secularists and neoconservatives, many of them shaping the opinions and views of the Canadian and Western polity as writers, editors, columnists and authors have been engaged in a very insidious campaign. This campaign is directed at Islam specifically and religion in general. Despite the fact that the leaders of all the major Western countries engaged in wars in Muslim ones are Christian (Harper, Blair, Bush, Howard, Merkel), many of whom oppose the secularists wanton social liberalism, the secularists and neocons restrain their rhetorical barbs, in the hopes that their uncomfortable Christian allies crusade to "reform" the Muslims and convert them into pro-Israeli, neoliberal sycophants will succeed (at the barrel of a gun if necessary). After this victory, surely the secularists, militant liberalists, and neocons will turn on the same Christians they quietly supported for nothing more than believing in God, Jesus and opposition to SSM.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Women Factor Behind Somalian Islamic Militia

Islam defends the rights and safety of women:
An epidemic of sexual violence during 15 years of lawlessness in Somalia was among the factors that strengthened opposition to this city's notorious warlords, residents said. The Islamic militias who drove them out in months of recent fighting were embraced as keepers of public order, as a force strong enough and pious enough to keep Mogadishu's daughters safe.
And who were the champions of freedom, democracy, and women's rights supporting? The warlords.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Jews Are Smart

An article in The New Republic summarizing a controversial scientific study:
Utah researchers Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy, and Henry Harpending (henceforth CH&H) proposed that Ashkenazi Jews have a genetic advantage in intelligence, and that the advantage arose from natural selection for success in middleman occupations (moneylending, selling, and estate management) during the first millennium of their existence in northern Europe, from about 800 C.E. to 1600 C.E. Since rapid selection of a single trait often brings along deleterious by-products, this evolutionary history also bequeathed the genetic diseases known to be common among Ashkenazim, such as Tay-Sachs and Gaucher's.
The Jewish author, Steven Pinker, touches on some of the moral and ethical dangers in making such conclusions, especially how it relates to the perception and treatment of his people:
But is it good for the Jews? More to the point, is it good for ideals of tolerance and ethnic amity? On one interpretation, perhaps it is. Jewish achievement is obvious; only the explanation is unclear. The idea of innate Jewish intelligence is certainly an improvement over the infamous alternative generalization, a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. And attention to the talents needed in the middleman niche (whether they are biological or cultural) could benefit other middleman minorities, such as Armenians, Lebanese, Ibos, and overseas Chinese and Indians, who have also been targets of vicious persecution because of their economic success.
It seems that genetics also confirm the adage that blessings can also be curses. A mutation in African populations that confer resistance to malaria also causes sickle cell anemia.

Science cannot be a substitute for ethics, morals, and religion. Without moral directives like the Golden Rule, individuals and societies would see little value in resisting marginalizition and stigmatization of entire races because of perceived intellectual advantages or deficiencies. Genomic research and the intimate knowledge it provides presents another stern test for mankind. Do we use our genetic knowledge towards social Darwinisim, and a neo-eugenic movement toward socio-economic elitism? Or, do we use that knowledge to treat disease and uplift those who are less fortunate, safeguarding our most important moral and religious heritage?

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Islamic Courts Calm Mogadishu

After 15 years of civil war, the situation in Somalia appears to be improving after southern Somalia, including Mogadishu, has been unified by the Union of Islamic Courts.

The international community would be wise to work with Somalia's new leaders, rather than try the failed tactic of isolation and/or military intervention.

Hawking Thinks We Need Space To Survive

World-renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says human beings need to colonize space in order to ward off extinction here on earth:
"It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species," Hawking said. "Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of."

Ron Coleman on liberal blog Dean's World, doubts Hawking's assertions that humans are at risk of imminent extintion. He takes issue with Hawking's lack of evidence to back up what Coleman describes as Hawking's usual "musings."

A fun website, Exit Mundi, that playfully but comprehensively presents the lion's share of end-of-world scenarios categorizes theories into groups such as "any day now, near future, distant future, and religion."

The posting about the Islamic scenario, Al-Qiyamah, from this site is quite interesting:
Oh, that good old Koran story about the end of days! The end of times as outlined in Muslim writings is one of the very finest religious apocalyptic scenario's around: rich in detail, vivid, and far reaching in religious implications. No wonder so many Muslims are deeply convinced judgment day (`Qiyamah', in Koran terminology) will come about one day.

So here's what will happen. The Koran discernes `minor' and `major' omens predicting the end of days. Many of the `minor' omens (there are 72 signs in total) are already here for everybody to be seen. Men will behave more like women and women will imitate men. Men will dress in silk. Children will be disobeyant, and youngsters will be role-models. People who used to be shepherds will build tall buildings.

And there's more. Many will engage in dangerous sports, divorces will be a daily occurrence and people will favour their friends over their families. Liquor will be consumed in the streets, and dancing and wild music will be everywhere. Religious leaders will make worldly profits, while intellectuals rather engage in science than in the study of religion. Also, there will be the usual apocalyptic rumble-a-bumble: earthquakes, devastating wars, storms and floods. If you add things up, it looks like the end of days is quite near, don't you think?
In fact, many of the signs of the end of times are gleaned from the prophetic hadith, the sayings, teachings, prophesies, and actions of our the final Prophet, Muhammad (SAWS).

As a believer, I'm inclined to see the Islamic as the most accurate and if current events are any indication, God and his Messenger are right. Even if we wanted to colonize space, it probably wouldn't be much of a success since the nearest planetary solar system is 80 years away at a speed that we will never attain, and may not have a class G planet anyway. Terraformation on Mars? Keep dreaming. It took hundreds of millions of years to get the atmosphere up and running on this planet. Our best hope remains in God, Judgement Day, and the After Life.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zarqawi Killed

Iraqi and US authorities are jubilant at the killing of the most wanted militant leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

In Islam, we are cautioned not to rejoice over the death other persons, even if they are our arch enemies. Even so, I'm sure many Iraqis (Shiites mainly) are happy to see him dead and are giving out sweets this afternoon.

Even Al-Qaeda leaders had taken to calling Zarqawi "the Sheik of Slaughterers" for his bloody campaign of bombings and beheadings. Iraqi insurgent leaders had reportedly stripped him of his leadership role months ago, and were probably the ones to betray him to the Americans.

Zarqawi could have been a much more beloved resistance figure if he didn't display such a gory appetite and sectarian bent (such as calling for the killing of Shiite "snakes"). The Sunni insurgents are probably relieved that such a notorious, visible, and polarizing figure has been removed from the battlefield.

The Shiites are less-likely to attack fellow Sunni Muslims in return for one of Zarqawi's attacks against them. Even with him dead, it is far from likely that the insurgency will diminish, however. The triumphant rhetoric ringing across the globe will almost certainly be drowned out by the blast of roadside bombs just as it did following the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Tags: Iraq

"The Story Of God" Documentary

This is my first post on science in this current iteration of the blog. In the first incarnation, I made a pretty controversial post about how multidimensional space resulting from string theory, is mentioned by God in the Qur'an:
(God) is the One Who created for you all that is on the earth. Moreover He turned to the heaven and fashioned seven heavens with harmony. He is full of Knowledge of all things (29:2) And We have made, above you, seven tracts. We have never been unmindful of the Creation (23:17) (God) is the One Who created seven heavens one above another. Thou can see no fault in the creation of the Beneficent. Turn the vision again! Can thou see any flaw? (67:3) Did you see how God created seven heavens one above another and made the moon a light therein and made the sun a lamp? (71:15-16)
The people of Muhammad's time could not understand what the 7 heavens referred to. Even today, most people are perplexed regarding mention of the seven heavens. But God reveals meaning slowly, over time. We can see how science can reinforce faith and faith reinforce science, they do not have to conflict.

This brings me too an interesting documentary I was watching last night on Canada's CBC entitled "The Story Of God: The God Of The Gaps.". The documentary aimed to chronicle the often conflicting understandings of the universe in the Western world, from the perspective of a practicing Jewish scientist.

The narrator interviewed a diversity of figures including Christian literalists, Richard Dawkins, the atheist evolutionary biologist, and physicists at CERN.

The documentary was not that elucidative or enlightening, partly because, like most chauvinistic Western thinkers, he chose the Bible as the religious counterpoint to scientific ideas, rather than the Qur'an, which is much richer in scientific references.

What was interesting, however, was to get brief synopses of the Western scientists discoveries that countered Christian orthodoxy, yet themselves were believers in God. Men like Galileo, Newton, and even (gasp), Darwin were believers, not to mention others who were not featured including Einstein and Gregor Mendel (the "father of genetics").

Also of note was a discussion with the scientists responsible for discovering the "God Gene" (VMAT2), whose variation purportedly predisposes certain people to spiritual pursuits.

With the furor over "intelligent design" seemingly have blown over, we should always pay attention to the overlaps of faith and science. It is too often that we allow atheists to shout down religious practices like circumcision only to find out that they may have benefit after all, like the prevention of AIDS and so on.

Technorati Tags: Science, Islam, Christianity, Religion

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"War On Terror" Heats Up

According to Al-Jazeera, and relayed on Canadian news, there are reports that Canadian soldiers have been kidnapped in Afghanistan.

This on the heels of the huge story of the arrest of 17 suspects in Canada, accused of wide array of terror-related charges including plans to blowup government agencies.

The lawyer of one of the accused related the nature of one of the charges against his client:

"The allegations suggest that [Mr. Chand] would personally like to behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper"

Why this lawyer would decide to discuss this allegation with the world's media is beyond me, since it has proven quite damaging to his client's defence already.

Meanwhile, an EU report was released which detailed Europe's complicity in the extraordinary rendition, detention, and possible torture of terror suspects by the CIA. And they wonder why Muslims are so peeved?

Newseek magazine asks some probing questions about the alleged Haditha massacre by using marines in Iraq. Many have drawn parallels to the Mai Lai atrocity in Viet Nam, and conservative commentators like Pat Buchanan have suggested the "liberal media" are exploiting the case.

Finally, news that an Islamic militia in Somalia has taken Mogadishu from a "secular alliance of warlods backed by the US" has been cited as another failure in American policy and has caused consternation that Somalia may fall under the sway of Al-Qaeda.

It seems that Westerners continue to equate Islam with terrorism and raise the spectre of Al-Qaeda whenever Islam is used as a political ideology. Of course, few people are able to connect the dots when the Christianist leaders of Western countries coordinate their positions on topics such as attacking Muslim countries and banning gay marriage:
Pope Benedict XVI, Australia’s John Howard and Canada’s Stephen Harper say they oppose gay unions. But America’s Senate once more rejects a ban

Is there a conspiracy of like-minded Christianists including Bush, Blair, Howard, Merkel, and Harper? Is the "war on terror" really just a euphemism for a war on Islam? Questions, questions, questions.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Most Canadians Oppose Afghan Mission

It seems a majority of Canadians are not in favor of the Western crusade that has NATO troops killing, apprehending, and bombing Afghans.

Laila Takes On Irshad and Ayaan

Literary critic Laila Lalami takes a critical look at the works of West's two favorite anti-Islamists, Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.