10 April 2006


Religions of Peace and Kindness?

I've been collecting news stories over the past week or two all relating to the sort of behaviour encouraged, and indeed laid down as law, by various forms of religious belief. (Thanks to secular newsline, the Brights, and other sources.)

First there was the appearance of Dr Wafa Sultan in webcasts on Memri TV:


Times on line reported more about this under the heading 'Women at War with the Mullahs'


Dr Wafa Sultan is a psychologist who lives in Los Angeles. She appeared on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic television network, last summer and has been receiving death threats. During that and a second broadcast in February Dr Sultan, who was brought up as a Muslim in Syria, denounced the teachings and practice of Islam as “barbaric” and “medieval”.

Here is comment in the form of a Wafa Sultan Cartoon


Other Muslim women under threat include: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch politician, who has strongly criticised Islamic attitudes towards women and the widespread practice of female circumcision in Muslim North Africa. Irshad Manji, a Canadian of Pakistani descent, whose book The Trouble with Islam Today cites aggression towards women and anti-semitism. Amina Wadud, an African-American convert to Islam, who has infuriated traditional Muslims by leading Friday prayer in New York, a role traditionally taken only by male imams. Mukhtar Mai, the Pakistani village woman gang-raped in 2002 as reprisal for alleged misbehaviour by her 14-year-old brother. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2003 for her defence of the rights of women and children in Iran. Death threats against these women are commonplace.

Then there was the case of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan:

http://tinyurl.com/kuvgn (Reuters)
http://tinyurl.com/o6cvf (Yahoo News)

He was arrested last month after his family went to the police and accused him of converting from Islam to Christianity. He has gone on trial for rejecting Islam - an offence punishable by death under Shariah law. More from Khajeel times on 'Trial by Faith':


and more from the BBC on this case


"The Prophet Muhammad has said several times that those who convert from Islam should be killed if they refuse to come back," says Ansarullah Mawlafizada, the trial judge. "Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, kindness and integrity. That is why we have told him if he regrets what he did, then we will forgive him," he told the BBC News website.

Another case of persecution is of Halabjayee, the author of a book on Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam.


"I wanted to prove how oppressed women are in Islam and that they have no rights." The Islamic League of Kurdistan has issued a "conditional" fatwa to kill Halabjayee if he does not repent and apologize. He says: "a couple of weeks ago in Halabja, the mullahs and scholars said if I go to them and apologize they will give me 80 lashes and then refer me to the fatwa committee to decide if I am to be beheaded. They might forgive me, they might not." As a result he went into hiding with his pregnant wife and three children and has fled to Sweden.

And some more stories:

Persecutions in 'moderate' Indonesia


Worshippers Kill Man for Destroying Hindu Statue


Well-known Apostates of Islam, and others are featured on this site:


There are also many Ex-Christians who discuss their problems here:


So it's well worth talking to believers. Some do eventually see sense!

Just to show that calling for violence is not absent from Christianity either. This 1998 article relates to the Chalcedon foundation:


'So it isn't murder as long as it is for religious reasons.'

National Catholic Reporter says: US Catholics approve of torture:


Finally, on 'Cultural Relativism': Butterflies and wheels has a lot of links to topics related to this general problem.


And Andrew Anthony in today's (Sunday) Observer asks if you are a Universalist or Relativist?


"This new frontline of contemporary debate runs across issues as diverse as race, faith, multiculturalism, feminism, gay rights, freedom of speech and foreign policy. In each instance, the argument eventually comes down to whether you have a universalist or relativist view of the world."

"Let's start with cannibalism, slavery and ritual human sacrifice. Do you think that they are a) unspeakable acts of barbarity? or b) vibrant expressions of a distinctive cultural heritage?"

Just wanted to let you know that Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam is now available online. A dedicated website has been created to facilitate Internet distribution of the book: Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam.

My recent article discussing this development is: Iraqi-Kurdistan: Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam published on the Internet.

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