“Marry a Muslim or You Die!” and other tales of woe

I’m getting tired of reading reports about thuggish Muslim idiots who, by virtue of having specific chromosomes and genitalia, thrust said properties into their conduct. No doubt some of you remember the Italian Muslim mother and daughter assaulted by their male side of their own family. What was the reason the men attacked their own family? Did the women run a death cult? Did they torture small animals? No, much worse: they wanted independent thinking for a Muslim woman. The daughter, Nosheen Butt, did not want an arranged marriage. So she was assaulted by her brother with a stick. The mother “did not want her daughter to have an unhappy relationship like the one that had been forced on her,” said deputy Modena prosecutor Lucia Musti, who was leading the investigation. The result: she was beaten with a brick by her husband.

A friggin’ brick.

According to Modena prosecutors’ initial findings, the father Ahmad Khan Butt, a 53-year-old construction worker, threw his wife to the ground and beat her with a brick while the brother Umair attacked his sister.

Begum Shahnaz, the wife, was murdered. She died due to the injuries. Bricks do that when used by construction workers on the heads of women.

And lately we have an actress from the Harry Potter movies who was attacked by her brother for dating a non-Muslim.

Manchester Crown Court heard Ashraf Azad launched a “prolonged and nasty” attack on Afshan Azad, who played Padma Patil in the hit films.

She was punched repeatedly and dragged by her hair after being overheard talking to her Hindu boyfriend.

Mr Azad, 28, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court previously heard how Miss Azad, 22, was branded a “prostitute” and “slag” and was told: “Marry a Muslim or you die.”

Sure, but we’re all becoming numb to these cases. And according to others, like Tory chief Baroness Warsi, it’s a bias in the media and the social environment, where there is a distinct anti-Muslim sentiment. She says:

Islamophobia has “passed the dinner-table test” and is seen by many as normal and uncontroversial, Baroness Warsi will say in [a speech].

This might be true. There might be bias in the media toward reporting loudly and proudly how these apparently backward thinking religious nutters operate, transplanting their Bronze Aged mythologies into the beating heart of secular societies; it might very well be that Muslims who are not beating or raping women, teaching nonsense to children, or threatening harmless cartoonists with death, are treated as the exception.

Of course the problem comes in when using the word “Islamophobia” – the most useless and obfuscating word of the last decade. This is where a thorough criticism of Islamic practices, like getting forced sex out of your property, I mean, wife is confused with a general, bigoted prejudice against Muslim people. It can be a form of bigotry, no doubt racism, but then let’s just call it bigotry not Islamophobia. We can all agree that bigotry must be opposed. But Islamophobia is a stupid word and phrase because

(1) phobia is an irrational fear, whereas, there are rational reasons to fear Islam’s more, um, “keen” adherents (ask Danish cartoonists, Salman Rushdie, etc.)

(2) It also doesn’t help that we are participating in a criticism Muslims themselves are part of, when taking apart extremist or Islamist views. That is, they too share our criticisms.

All that this term does is separate Muslims from non, and adds a racial element, which is strange because being a Muslim doesn’t depend on race but religion. (White people are Muslim, too, you know.) What needs to happen is to do away with this silly term and convene on a criticism which rips apart the reasons for these misogynist tendencies; we shouldn’t be numb to apparently normal boys and men who suddenly turn into bigots and thugs because of something vaguely against their faith and threatening to undo the metaphysical burqa on Muslim women (Islam allows for marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims, though there are tender ideas about conversion, especially if the Muslim in question is female).

I’m tired of Muslims playing the victim-card or the race-card or the obfuscation-card. Perhaps it will help if those of us antagonistic toward Islam – and all religions, note – could allow them to get their voices heard, too. Sure. But let’s hear those voices. Just because the news doesn’t put you on the front covers when you do something wonderful, doesn’t mean you can’t contribute and that we don’t want to hear you. I know critical Muslims are out there. My own family is one such group. But when engaging in public discussions, the most I see is the victim card and the very stupid, very perverse and horribly boring “Islam is a religion of peace”.

No it isn’t. As soon as both sides agree – and I know I do – that this is nonsense, we can go about change if not criticism. If Islam is about peace, there’s a danger that potential Muslim allies can become complacent: after all, these thugs aren’t real Muslims or are practicing a “distortion” of the faith. Come on! If that is all that “moderate” Muslims contribute, what else do they expect.

To see perverse moderate Muslim thinking in action, have a look at the Muslims in this debate. Aside from Zebah Khan being one of the worst speakers in existence (she’s very beautiful at least), she manages to show what it is that prevents her own side from actually aiding everyone in criticising Islam: by failing to understand no religion is a religion of peace or war, but that the best way to operate with all religion is to treat it as antagonistic. It is antagonistic and only becomes hollowed, peaceful, meek and mild after its stripped of all its political pretensions. When it recedes into being mere private piffle that you can practice like astrology, all the better. No problem.

Until then, monotheistic religion is directly in conflict with nearly everything contemporarily meaningful (see: science, gender equality, gay rights, etc.). Especially Islam.

Yes, I’m bored of telling you about men hurting women because they’re not being niqabots* or burqablind. But we need to be aware of how religious ideas really do impact on otherwise quite normal people. Weinberg is perfectly correct when he says: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”

Insanity or madness or psychopathy – and others – can usually explain someone turning violent. A flash of anger. A push that turns into a push back. Self-defence. Many understood, though not necessarily good, reasons for hurting for another person. But I can hazard a guess that neither brick-wielder or wizard-hater had any of these in play when committing their foul deeds. But one could argue that they were here being forced to defend something very important: their faith. Perhaps that is way to think of these scenarios. If that is the case, it seems to refute Weinberg.

However, if Weinberg is refuted, it means it is something far more troubling to think about.

____

*the niqab another traditional Muslim dress for women

For an excellent take on Warsi’s speech, have a look at Paul Sims’ piece at New Humanist.

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2 thoughts on ““Marry a Muslim or You Die!” and other tales of woe

  1. I find that Catholics in the United States respond similarly to ethical objections to their practices – immediately accusing the critic of anti-Catholic bias.

    It seems like a cheap tactic. Either the religious authorities genuinely don’t understand the distinction, or they’re exploiting the fact that most people don’t understand the distinction.

    • It reminds me of Seneca’s postulate of religion: The many think it true, the wise think it false and the powerful think it useful. So in this way, it’s both ignorance of the distinction and exploitation (the former being used by “the many”, the latter by “the powerful” by Church standards). Indeed the latter exploiting the former more than anything seems to give foundation to these reactions.

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