Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud

A journalist has died as a result of gunshot wounds in Cairo.
His “crime”? Taking pictures from his balcony.

This matters to me for several reasons. First off, it is reported by Al Jazeera and Fox News that he was killed by a sniper from an elevated position in a nearby building. Governments have snipers, not street protestors. He was shot a few days ago (during the well coordinated attack on the protestors) when all indications are that it was a government sponsored attack using the police forces. Police are not supposed to murder citizens.

Personally, it matters in that I’ve wanted to go to Egypt for some time to tour the various antiquities. I have a significant interest in them and it would be a great trip for me. I’ve mostly not gone due to insufficient cash and a spouse who was a bit afraid (given that a couple of busses of tourists had been blow up or shot up.. I’ve forgotten which). But the fact is that, from time to time, I’ve imagined myself in a hotel in Cairo. Looking out over the city. I have something of a camera fetish. Because of this, I’ve got a lot of camera equipment, including a modestly large telephoto lens and a Nikon to put it on. It almost looks “Pro”… So were I in Cairo right now, I’d be on my balcony taking pictures. Just like Ahmad had been doing…

This, as they say, is an “issue” for me.

The other major point is that this young man was just being a journalist. Like all the other journalists there, simply letting us know what is happening. Fox News had a cameraman and reporter beaten. Al Jazeera has had their Cairo office ransacked, burnt, and closed. Other reporters have been arrested, equipment stolen (“impounded” too), and press credentials confiscated. Mubarak and his thugs are trying to blind and deafen us as these folks are our eyes and ears in Egypt.

Some Technical Issues

But it has not worked. (Indeed, it can not work. With every cell phone a camera, you can slow when the video comes out, but not stop it.) Part of the problem is technical. I now have 3 digital still cameras. I usually take all 3 with me on a ‘serious’ photo tour (and I’m an amature). One fits in my pocket. One is a fully integrated “superzoom”. Neither is much bigger than a grapefruit. My Nikon is a bit larger, and with a full set of lenses fits in a bag about the size of a medium purse or small diaper bag. ALL of them take video.

The Fujifilm (superzoom) has a pretty good zoom lens on it and will do up to 2 hours of video. If I were to have one broken or taken ‘on the street’, the other would be waiting back at the hotel. If all three were taken, even my cell phone takes decent video. The days when you could block video recording by taking the $20,000 camera that was the size of a suitcase and impounding it are long gone. Worse case, the journalist goes to ANY store that sells ANY cameras, video or still, and picks up another video capable device for about $100.

Shutting down the internet can not work. As noted in another posting, there are ways to bypass the shutdowns. But even if perfect, that just delays, but does not stop, the process. My camera can put 2 hours of HDTV Video on an SD card. I can get “mini-SD” and the smaller one… Micro-SD, adapters. That makes the “chip” about the size of a dime or a fingernail. Those WILL be taken out of the country, especially with 1000 tourists all trying to leave with vacation photos… So we’ve got about a 1 day lag, at most, if folks chose to drive it out to the next country instead of fly… but Fox was able to fly their injured reporters out “same day” they were out of the doctors office.

This is a New Video Age. One where every person is a walking talking video recorder and reporter. One where even a device 1/2 the size of a pack of cigarettes is an HDTV quality recorder. One where an iPod music player can smuggle out a TV show and cell phone can email it globally.

Mr. Mubarak: It is simply not possible to “control” the media nor to limit reporting.

You can, however, reduce the video quality a little, cause the press coverage to turn 100% against you, and be seen as an antiquated buffoon and thug world wide.

Al Jazeera has responded by announcing that folks on the streets of Cairo can submit their video to the Al Jazeera web site at:

http://yourmedia.aljazeera.net/

and tonight announced that they had many submissions coming in. They then showed video from inside the protesters group “on the ground” of the event…

What the raid on their offices, the arrest of their crew, the confiscation of their cameras, and the burning of their facilities has done is pretty simple. It has turned one professional crew dedicated to honest journalism into 10,000 camera crews with an agenda.

Friendly Fire?

That last point is something most folks could figure out on their own. What I found interesting was that Ahmad worked for a “predominantly State Owned” news organization. Was he a victim of “friendly fire”? IFF the shooter was, in fact, a government instigated sniper sent out to shoot journalists; then he shot one of his own. A reporter for the government media.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Parsifals/egypt-protests-mubarak_n_818599_76316211.html

It’s not often you are going to get Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera, and The Huffington Post all on the same side of an issue… and it’s not that often I’ll ever quote Huffington. But these are strange times. From a comment in their article:

Parsifals
“Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, a journalist working for the newspaper Al-Ta’awun, published by the state-owned Al-Ahram Foundation, died today from gunshot wounds sustained on January 28, Al-Jazeera and the semi-official Al-Ahram reported today. Mahmoud was shot by what the newspaper described as sniper fire while filming confrontations between security forces and demonstrators in central Cairo’s Qasr al-Aini area, which is adjacent to Tahrir Square. The death is the first reported media fatality during the uprising.”

Looking up the foundation gave:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ahram

Ownership and government influence

Al-Ahram is owned by the Al-Ahram Foundation and is one of the largest circulating newspapers in the world. The Egyptian government owns a controlling share of the stocks of the paper and appoints the editors. As appointees of the state, little censorship is exercised over them; it is understood that they are loyal to the state. Al-Ahram has largely ignored and trivialized the opposition parties to the ruling National Democratic Party and has not published much direct criticism of the Mubarak government.

The Anti-Defamation League, in a review of Arab newspapers in 2005, writes that al-Ahram “is given substantial leeway” by the government so long as they avoid “certain ‘taboos’.” Reporters Without Borders, in their 2005 report on press freedom in Egypt, reported that editorials in many newspapers, including al-Ahram, have become increasingly critical of the National Democratic Party’s control of the government and the corruption of the Mubarak regime. In an interview with Reporters Without Borders, Abdel Halim Qandil, editor of the weekly magazine Al-Arabi, said that the government interferes with independent operation of al-Ahram by controlling the printing presses and appointing the editors.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/04/egyptian-journalist-dies-ahmed-mahmoud_n_818988.html

CAIRO — An Egyptian reporter who was shot during clashes a week ago died of his wounds Friday, his employer said, in the first reported death of a journalist in the chaos surrounding Egypt’s anti-government protests.

Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, was taking photographs of fighting between protesters and security forces from the balcony of his home when he was shot Jan. 28, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram said on its website.

Mahmoud worked for Al-Taawun, a newspaper put out by the Al-Ahram publishing house. He lived near central Tahrir Square, the focal point of protest rallies as well as clashes this week between large crowds of supporters and opponents of President Hosni Mubarak.
[…]
The Qatar-based television network Al-Jazeera said its offices in Cairo were set ablaze, along with the equipment inside it.

Mubarak supporters assaulted dozens of correspondents with virtual impunity in central Cairo this week with little intervention from nearby military units.
[…]

It said the Ministry of Information had worked with authorities to speed the release of those journalists who were detained.
[…]

Press secretary Robert Gibbs said the U.S. government continues to receive disturbing reports about what he called a “very systematic targeting of journalists.”

On Friday, two correspondents for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who had just flown into Cairo were detained, the organization said. It said one of the correspondents who was able to speak to another colleague reported that he believed they were being held in a police station.

A Swedish TV reporter, Bert Sundstrom of public broadcaster SVT, was in serious condition at a Cairo hospital after being stabbed in the back on Thursday.

CBS News said correspondent Lara Logan and cameramen Don Lee and Max McClellan were released after being held for a day by the Egyptian military, and were headed back to the United States.

CNN had Anderson Cooper beaten by a crowd:

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/03/video-anderson-recounts-being-attacked-in-cairo/

And here is the Fox story:

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/02/02/cnns-anderson-cooper-journalists-attacked-protesters-cairo/

and there are more.

So I guess it’s not too surprising that with a ‘green light’ given to beat up journalists (via a public statement that the revolt was being stirred up by journalists who were ‘foreign agents’…) that one government lackey made a mistake and shot the government reporter / photographer… Just gives you an idea how much a target someone would be if they didn’t look Egyptian…

In Conclusion

First off, a “thank you” to all the folks covering this story. It’s quite a job you are doing under surprisingly rough conditions.

Second, the “coverage” tonight had less “live coverage” (one reporter who was live said that the ‘neighbors’ had reported the secret police trying to get in to shut him down…) and more “recorded shots”. Standard Procedure now will likely be “get a shot and scoot” before someone comes to shut you down… And there were more shots clearly taken with “variety equipment” and some that was clearly from “just folks” in the crowds.

So “coverage” has changed, but not ended. There are still plenty of cameras “getting the story”.

But what has clearly changed in the tenor of the reporters. Where before it was more “Just the facts” and “this is happening”; now it is more personal and a bit more sympathetic to the protestors. After all, they are both being attacked by the same folks. “My enemies enemy is my friend”…

It’s also pretty clear that the government in Cairo has no idea just how incredibly stupid it is to attack every single media / reporter / blogger in the country. Makes it hard to get “your side of the story” out when every reporter is against you. Even harder when you’ve shot your own reporters…

One thing I’ve found of interest is that even though Ahmad Mohamad Mahmoud was a reporter for the government run press, the other press are still treating him as “one of their own”. And well they ought. He was doing his job of getting the pictures. What the editors might do with them was beyond his control. So I join them in a moment of salute to this young man who has given his life for his trade.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Human Interest, Political Current Events and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud

  1. Thank you, thank you, for the story.

    We are all together in the battle against tyranny, world tyranny that exhibits itself in multiple oppressive forms at various times in different countries.

    The death of the journalist in Cairo concerns me too because it illustrates the depths of moral deprivation in world leaders – leaders who were seen recently united in their worldwide battle to protect citizens against “crime”, “drugs”, “global warming”, etc.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  2. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    The insight that shutting out and tormenting the professional media permits their replacement by thousands of sources who are not disinterested is brilliant. Very very good.

    The remarkable and inspiring events in Egypt may become the template and test of other oppressed – template for how and test of whether.

  3. Again: Feeding a beast turns with time against the hand that fed it….

  4. j ferguson says:

    One might follow on with the question of what could happen next? Maybe nothing?

    Suppose the technique for continuing repression is to let these assemblies occur, protect them from the thugs, let them text, video, photograph to their hearts content, and hope that eventually they’ll get tired of it and go home?

    If the army doesn’t decide the country’s had enough of this guy, likely nothing will happen. Will it?

  5. Pascvaks says:

    There are the “issues” of: who (the individual, nationality), what (his/her profession), where (setting/circumstances), when (time of day,events in the city, national/international happenings), how (snipper, mob, police, riot, accident), and the why _(?)_ of the hit. Each element goes toward building and enforcing the message.

    Lot of thought! No accident! Not about how the press will work around the ‘limitations’ they face. All about a simple message. Cost – one life and one bullet. Benefit – priceless (for the Egyptian Government).

    What’s next? Probably more of the same now that the ice is broken. Probably a Southern European reporter in a few days. Then a Brit or Yank after that.

  6. P.G. Sharrow says:

    To a sniper a telephoto on a tripod with a man behind it looks like a sniper. Snipers shoot snipers first. Get a clue, war is not a game. Undercover cops shoot undercover cops all the time. May they should wear arm bands or other colors so that they will know which side they are on. Oh yeh that’s why they are supposed to be in uniform. Cameramen wonder around looking like they are weaponized and sometimes they are attacked, stuff happens. pg

  7. Scott Finegan says:

    E.M,

    From the beginning you make assumptions… like only governments put up snipers.

    I agree with P.G. Sharrow, this is war. One always wants the other side to be the ones seeming to do the atrocities, regardless of the real source.

  8. Crawlcraft says:

    It is great to visit Egypt’s antiques but not in this period. moreover the news agencies should remove their reporters out of conflict area and not risking their lives. RIP Ahmed

  9. George says:

    Keep in mind that people in other places in the world don’t see “journalists” the same way many do in this country. In many other places they are seen basically as propagandists for one agenda or another. There is a deep distrust of them and are basically seen as “spies”. “Journalists” are expected to “spin” their content one way or another.

    Much of what is happening to journalists around the globe comes directly from their “activist” journalism. Rather than being a reporter and simply stating the facts, the journalists tend these days to want to “make a difference” and influence the world according to their own world view. This results in making enemies and putting journalists overall at risk.

  10. Pascvaks says:

    Ref – George
    5 February 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Hummmmm… that’s strange! That’s how I see most of them. Guess I was out of the country too long in my younger days. You say many here DON’T see them this way? Why? (sarcoff;-)

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Scott Finagan:

    Yes, I make assumptions. We all do. It is an essential step in any analysis. We assume the data have some validity. We assume the photos are not ‘enhanced’. We assume the laws of Egypt prohibit personal ownership of sniper equipment.

    Any, and all, of those assumptions can be wrong.

    The key is to look at the odds, the percentages, in forming a probabalistic analyisis.

    Could it be the case the The Muslim Brotherhood smuggled in a sniper team and equipment against Egyptian laws and set up in an opposing position to do ‘counter sniping’ against government agents? Yes. Though there is no evidence for it and no other reports of police killed by snipers, for example. Could there have been some kind of ‘vendeta’ against a ‘goverment reporter lackey’? Yes. Is it likely? No.

    We have a widespread pattern of fairly indiscriminant attacks on all journalists. We don’t need to go to the vendeta thesis. We have many reports of sniping from high locations aimed at the demonstrators and those thought to be supporting them. The odds that THIS one was not like all the others is low (but non-zero… so you keep this as a speculative conclusion… but still a conclusion…)

    Basically, it is all Occam’s Razor Writ Large. What is most likely to fit? That we hear hoof beats and this is a horse, not a zebra. That does not mean there will never be a zebra, only that one ought to first expect horses, and act on it until shown otherwise.

    @P.G.Sharrow:

    To a person able to put an aimed shot on a person through a sniper scope, a photographer with a camera looks like a photographer with a camera… There are some larger video set ups that look a bit like some optical missle launchers (i.e. 5 inch or so lense, big box behind it) but the report makes this sound like a regular ‘camera with lens’ of a still photographer.

    Yes, it’s a possible, but, IMHO, pretty remote. If you have a sight picture that lets you put crosshairs on the body, you can see there is no stock on the object in question, even if backlit. Could it have been a ‘direct head on’ with only lense visible? Possibly, but again very unlikely. And even then, a photographer taking pictures of a moving event does not move nor look much like a sniper.

    @all:

    So please note: I am not saying this could never have been an assasination or a covert attempt at an artificial generation of a ‘casus belli’: It could be. But I’m saying that in the context of widewpread government coordinated attacks on those seen as ‘against it’ and in the same time period as the goverment announcing that “journalists” were causal of the troubles, the odds run very strongly the other way.

    We know there were many government placed shooters (as they showed up in direct coordination with the folks on horseback and the captured folks who are reported to have had police ID on them; and the shooters left with the counter demonstrators…) We know there was a ‘green light’ on journalist attacks from the government. I saw the video of the goverment spokesman saying it. (vis the nearly complete ‘full sweep’ of every journailst agency getting grief on the same day…) and we know that this man was shot at the same time. It takes a strong leap to conclude from that “he was different”…

    FWIW, one thing that DOES argue for the “assasination” angle is that he was shooting from the balcony of his home that is near the demonstrations. It is always a ‘possible’ that he was not “playing ball’ as desired so was targeted (either by his bosses as a troublemaker to remove while ‘being an example to others’ without the entanglments of accidentally killing a foreign national…; or by the Muslim Bros. as a ‘lackey of the state’.) His known location would make him an easy selection.

    I find both of those to be very low probabily. The administration has rather more important things to do than shoot one low level camera jockey in retribution and the M.B. has better places to put sniper resources. It would be a really crappy allocation of resources for either of them.

    BTW, the “agenda driven journalism” and the “make a difference” really is a problem these days. Between government agencies with an agenda and our “infotainment empty heads” looking for “meaning and self actualization”… it’s hard to dig out the facts. That, BTW, is why I watch so many sources. The common ground tends to be the truth. And each will point at the foibles of the other from time to time…

  12. kuhnkat says:

    I am very biased against reporting in the ME so held off on spouting off. This would appear to be another distorted incident. Here are several reports on the incident.

    http://killfile.newsvine.com/_news/2011/02/07/6004518-journalist-shot-and-killed-by-a-sniper-in-egypt
    using cell phone January 29 office window (no data on “sniper”) Ahmed Mahmoud

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110204/ap_on_bi_ge/egypt_journalists
    taking pictures from balcony of HOME Jan 31 Ahmed Mahmoud

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/02/04/egypt.journalists/index.html?eref=edition
    shot January 28, snipers bullets, Ahmed Mahmoud

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/spotlight/anger-in-egypt/2011/02/201126201341479784.html
    “standing at his office window” mobile phone, shot in right eye bullet lodged in brain,

    They all apparently got their info from Al Ahram. What I am reading is that he was at his office window and was using a phone. Doesn’t say anything about balconies or telephoto lenses. The sniper quote also seems to come out of thin air. The description of the wound, in right eye lodged in brain, would seem to be consistent with a handgun round and not a sniper rifle generally in the 7.62×39 or larger range which should have blown out the back of his head with immediate death. Even a handgun round should have done more damage entering at the eye!! Sounds more like a pistol round at the end of its trajectory rather that one from slightly higher across a street. Almost sounds like an accident. Or maybe the sniper was using a silenced 9mm firing subsonic rounds? Wouldn’t be my choice but who knows?

    The stories also mention that he was yelled at to stop recording by a police official and shot immediately. If he was at an office window rather than on a exposed balcony this isn’t reasonable. Being yelled at does imply that he was exposed to the street, but, this came from “witnesses.”

    Basically a journalist was shot while apparently filming the action. There is no ballistics data other than what can be implied from the wound. Information about the incident comes from likely demonstrators who would have an agenda. If police were involved they would also have an agenda. Not much chance of finding out what really happened.

  13. j ferguson says:

    kuhnkat,
    Thanks for above. I need to be frequently reminded that anything is likely to be very wide of mark on first publication and that if it is important, something closer to the “truth” may coalesce in about 10 days.

    Maybe always wide of the mark.

  14. P.G. Sharrow says:

    kuhnkat; sounds like a spent round all right. Must have had his name on it. Thanks for the extra effort. pg

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    OK, I’m back from my road trip. Looks like most of the posting above is still correct, but the location was a workplace rather than a home and a window that may or may not have been near a balcony. The “friendly fire” aspect changes from “sniper” to “accidental”, but sill is the most likely cause; and we still have the Police trying to shut down reporters recording events.

    Interesting that it was the office. I’d been a little suspect of the “home near the action downtown” description but had gotten it from 2 different sources. The final Al Jazeera report makes more sense. Doesn’t change the sidebar analysis of a ‘potential assasination’ being based on ‘known location’ data, though (which was very low probability). So the location error is an “interesting bit” and speaks to the sloppy news reporting (from several agencies… and I’m pretty sure the early Al Jazeera TV coverage had him “at home” too).

    Much more important is the ‘bullet lodged in brain’. Even a handgun round will ‘blow on through’ (as recent events in Arizona unfortunately demonstrated…). Even a 9mm subsonic would. They are much heavier, but have about the same energy, as the faster rounds. 147 grain vs 115 grain or even 90 grain. The heavier the round the greater the pentration typically:

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/9mm_hi_power_ammo_selection.htm

    So for this to have been a ‘stop in the brain and not kill immediately’ it was either something very small ( .32 ACP is a common police round elsewhere in the world) or very slow and near the end of flight. That is not going to be a “sniper shot” unless the sniper was a mile+ away, and that’s hard to do in an ‘urban jungle’ unless in an open square or down a long street.

    This wiki has a banner claiming it is ‘out of date’ but lists this equipment on the part of the Police (I assume the military uses the nearly universal 9mm)

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

    The standard equipment for a constable on his beat is the baton which is generally made of wood. This is also his device for personal safety. Egyptian police officers generally do not carry fire-arms when on regular duty, however, arms are always available at police stations. These include .303 Lee-Enfield rifles and SKS carbines. Some special units may also have additional automatic weapons like AK-47 assault rifles, MP5 and Port Said sub-machine guns. Officers of and above the rank of first lieutenant are authorised to carry a small arm, generally a 9mm Beretta M1951 pistol.

    Note that the smallest thing listed is a 9mm. Typical “penetration” of a 9mm hollow point is 10 to 12 inches. Military ball is greater at 24 inches.

    http://www.goldenloki.com/ammo/gel/9mm/gel9.htm

    The round had lost about 1/2 of its energy (or more) to have stopped and lodged after mostly hitting soft tissues and / or thin eye socket bones. That makes it a shot from about 1/3 to 1/2 mile away (presuming 9mm and making guesses about bullet form and weight).

    At this point, the most likely scenario is still “friendly fire” but as an accidental shooting from the various military folks shooting into the air “to scare the crowd”. The early (universal, btw) reports of ‘sniper’ look to be bogus. Large caliber sniper rounds would have to be from a mile or two away to have had that little energy. At best a ‘shoot and hope’ and well beyond any “aimed fire” (unless a pro working on a dramatic near record shot… http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/sniper_kills_qaeda_from_mi_away_sTm0xFUmJNal3HgWlmEgRL )

    @Kuhnkat:

    Thanks for the digging around. I’ve been “on the road” for a couple of days so not able to do the follow up. I find it interesting that your link to the Yahoo story of the 4th has the ‘home’ and ‘sniper’ reports in it. I posted on the 5th, when the news was still reporting that. The later reports you cite are from the 6th and 7th. That Al Jazeera has it on the 6th implies to me that they sent a reporter to get a more “in depth” story and found out the details that were wrong in the news of the 4th and 5th.

    One question, though: What does “ME” stand for? I’m familiar with MSM (Main Stream Media) and presume M is for Media… but E? Media Electronique? …

  16. kuhnkat says:

    Sorry, ME is just Middle East.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    @Kuhnkat:

    Ah! Right! I ought to have picked that one up…

    Also, I just put it together that the folks giving the bogus “At Home” and “sniper” report WERE Al Ahram AND that’s the folks for whom Ahmad Mahmoud worked… so it would have been one of THEIR OFFICES he was in at the time.

    I’ve got to wonder if they were so clueless as to not know if it was their own office… or if they were indulging in “disinformation games”…

  18. boballab says:

    You might want to check this documentary out while it is still available free online: Iranium.

    http://www.iraniumthemovie.com/

    I watched it and boy did it bring back memories from 1978. Be-warned there is some very graphic material that was smuggled out of Iran dealing with such things as stoning some women to death and “hanging” of another woman (They put the rope around her neck AND THEN lifted her up).
    The crime the hanged woman committed is a classic: She was hanged for being raped.

    One thing, pointed out by one of the Professors they talk to, deals with what happens once Iran gets nuclear weapons. He says MAD will not work because the people running the show over there wouldn’t mind getting blown up as long as they take US and Israel with them. He warns about the west’s fallacy of cultural equivocation: just because we could never think of doing it doesn’t mean these guys couldn’t because they are true believers.

    Best analogy I can come up with is think of the Heaven’s Gate cult in charge of a nuclear armed country and the mothership is on it’s way. To them they got nothing to lose.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @boballab:

    I’ll take a look at the movie.

    FWIW, I’ve got a Koran and I’ve read a lot of it. It’s not easy reading (as it’s disjointed, lacks logical cohesion, and is emotionally fickle… Oh, and has a lot of hateful and violent things in it).

    I strongly recommend that anyone who thinks Islam is “Christianity Lite” needs to get one and read it.

    (And yes, The Bible has a lot of violent and fickle things in it too. The difference is we see it as ‘alegorical’ where Islam treats the Koran as literal laws from God…)

    The major things that cause Islam to be anathema to many in the west are direct orders from the Koran and are NOT negotiable. It sets the rules and they MUST be followed.

    It gives explicit direction to stone people to death, to cut off hands and heads, etc. There is no ‘cultural equivocation’ possible.

    Two particularly pernicious bits:

    1) Believers are encouraged to lie to non-believers to achieve the ends of Islam. It’s not a sin to lie to a non-believer.

    2) Death in the service of Islam is a one way ticket to heaven / paradise.

    There are other bits too. Things like “never take a Christian to be your friend” and several places where it says, in essence, you might be able to convert a Christian, but Jews? No way. Just kill them.

    Oh, and non-believers who will not convert are to be taxed nercilessly into submission, or killed.

    There are other books that add the interpretations of various Imams and Mullahs, but I’ve not gotten into them yet. Not high on my list; and I can pretty much see for myself what it says.

    One linguistic sidebar: Muslims will protest that I’m reading it in English, so it isn’t the word of Mohammed as Arabic can not be correctly translated to English, so all those things that look so nasty are really just translation errors.

    First off, remember #1 above. Go read it again. I’ll wait.

    EVERY time someone defends Islam with assertions that it’s really just warm and fuzzy and “the religion of peace” et. al.: Go read #1 again. Then pick up the Koran and read it yourself.

    THE bit of truth in the ‘non-translatable’ bit is this: Arabic has no written vowels in it. Each word is formed form (typically) 3 consonants. They make up the “root” with the actual specific word determined by the vowles you put in. Note that key “you” in “you put in”. The idea is that the experienced speaker will know what vowels are intended…

    So the same 3 consonants may mean any of several related things. Magazine, book, library (as a made up example). Or “strugle”, “holy war”, and “kill the bastards” as another. Now “all translation transforms” but mostly in the connotations. So in French the word for Ice Cream is related to the word used for glass. The connotations are more hard, sparkly, etc. whereas in English they are more smooth, creamy, etc. But the basic concept does not change.

    So it is true that two different translators might turn the same Arabic sentence into “Struggle against the non-belivers” or “In a Holy War kill the infidels”. That’s why I read a Koran translated by a Muslim Believer. If he hasn’t got it right, well… Furthermore, it’s really NOT that hard to get the vowels right most of the time. We have many Greek Classics only because they were translated both into and out of Arabic. The language CAN be reasonably well translated.

    But what is lost? IMHO it is the “multipathing”. When reading the Koran, one could easily hear several optional sentences from each sentence as you cast about for vowels. I suspect this is the effect folks speak of when they talk about the depth or richness of it Arabic. It can men “Wage holy war and slay them” or it can mean “Struggle against them and turn them to Allah” depending on your needs and context of the moment.

    I’m not the only one to think this is an issue… Muslims decided to add vowel markings some time back just to try and clear up some of the potential “issues”…

    http://www.islam101.com/quran/preservedQ.htm

    5. Diacritical marks were added for non-Arabs

    The original manuscript of the Qur’an does not have the signs indicating the vowels in Arabic script. These vowels are known as tashkil, zabar, zair, paish in Urdu and as fatah, damma and qasra in Arabic. The Arabs did not require the vowel signs and diacritical marks for correct pronunciation of the Qur’an since it was their mother tongue. For Muslims of non-Arab origin, however, it was difficult to recite the Qur’an correctly without the vowels. These marks were introduced into the Quranic script during the time of the fifth ‘Umayyad’ Caliph, Malik-ar-Marwan (66-86 Hijri/685-705 C.E.) and during the governorship of Al-Hajaj in Iraq.

    Some people argue that the present copy of the Qur’an that we have along with the vowels and the diacritical marks is not the same original Qur’an that was present at the Prophet’s time. But they fail to realize that the word ‘Qur’an’ means a recitation. Therefore, the preservation of the recitation of the Qur’an is important, irrespective of whether the script is different or whether it contains vowels. If the pronunciation and the Arabic is the same, naturally, the meaning remains the same too.

    This, unfortunately, glosses over the point that different dialects of Arabic use slightly different vowels to mark words…

    But they didn’t all chose the same thing and not all versions of the Koran are the same

    http://www.answering-islam.org/Green/seven.htm

    (C)ertain variant readings (of the Qur’an) existed and, indeed, persisted and increased as the Companions who had memorised the text died, and because the inchoate (basic) Arabic script, lacking vowel signs and even necessary diacriticals to distinguish between certain consonants, was inadequate. … In the 4th Islamic century, it was decided to have recourse (to return) to “readings” (qira’at) handed down from seven authoritative “readers” (qurra’); in order, moreover, to ensure accuracy of transmission, two “transmitters” (rawi, pl. ruwah) were accorded to each. There resulted from this seven basic texts (al-qira’at as-sab’, “the seven readings”), each having two transmitted versions (riwayatan) with only minor variations in phrasing, but all containing meticulous vowel-points and other necessary diacritical marks. … The authoritative “readers” are:

    So, OK, if you pick one of the 7, and use the vowel marked form, then you only need to worry about things like: I’ve figured out it is “jihad” so is that the “struggle” sense of the “holy war kill them all” sense? …

    Languages are very messy things some times.

    But in the end, you can measure what most Muslims think the Koran says just by looking at what their best and brightest have said it means. Look at Sharia Law. It contains stoning for women who have been raped, beheadings and cutting off hands for theft. It contains directions to take over the world via “struggle” and it advises that to lie to an infidel in the furtherence of Islam is no sin…

    I will refrain from comment on the question of if those are better moral standards than the ones of the west (where we ruin peoples lives by imprisoning them decades for smoking marijuana; and where “social diseases” kill millions). The answer to that kind of question strays a bit far from this thread. Perhaps another day…

    OK, so what does all this mean with respect to Iran and nukes? First off: They have Sharia Law. Second, the Sunni hate the Shiite almost as much as they hate the infidel. (so it’s not so clear who gets round 2 of nukes. Israel will be #1, that’s pretty clear, but does #2 go against the infidels, who the Koran advises might be converted, or against the Sunni who have shown they are recalcitrant blasphemers? Decisions decissions… )

    BTW, that is also the answer to why Muslims can kill each other even though the Koran forbids one Muslim to kill another. Each side has declaired the others to be following a false version of Islam, thus not truely a Muslim…

    So most of the time they will “get along” and will tollerate each other long enough to kill Jews or Christians. But from time to time an edict (fatwah?) is issued saying “Hey, they aren’t real Muslims, it’s OK to kill them if they won’t convert”.

    At the end of the day the conclusion is pretty simple. If one of the countries can make Israel “Glow in the dark” at the expense of their own destruction; then they will all be in Paradise and clearly blessed of God (so ‘right’). You can almost here them thinking “Last one to Nuke Israel is an Infidel!”

    In response to this connendrum I’ve proposed that instead of MAD the only reasonable solution is SAD – Swift Assured Destruction. As soon as Iran is shown to have a nuke, they would be utterly and completely oblitterated. No great accomplishment. No jihad against Israel. No path to paradise in the service of God. Just vaporized.

    I don’t say this from any personal animosity. I’ve had a couple of Muslim “friends” and they were good folks. (I put it in quotes as the Koran says “never take infidels as your friends” so I’d not want to put them in the ‘sinning’ column). One friend has a Persian wife, so I’m talking of her family too (and they are good folks). No, the conclusion comes directly from the cold calculus of logic. It’s the only answer I can find that “works”. Now you know why the name is as it is… SAD.

    In another comment I “poo pooed” the plot of “The Cold Equations” as too pessimistic and said that I always HAD to believe there was an alternative. Unfortunately, in this case, their really isn’t one that preserves western society. It is musalim (in the sense of “I surrender”) or die; or Swift Assured Destruction of the source of attack. I’m still looking for a “another way”, but it just isn’t there so far.

    So in this case I fear the only answer really is “chuck them out the space lock as soon as discovered”.

    One final point: The Koran prescribes stoning to death for an unchaste woman. What is less clear is that this can include a woman being alone in the presence of a man not her ‘responsible male relative’ (father, husband, etc.) So in theory if a woman were on a business trip and tried to take a cab (with male driver as they must be in many Muslim countries where women are forbidden to drive) she ought to be stoned to death. Yes, it’s an extreme example not true in all Muslim countries. Only in those who strictly follow Sharia Law and the Koran…

    At any rate, some day when I’m willing to be put on a “Hunt down and murder the infidel” list I’ll put up a posting going over my learnings on Islam … Sadly, no ‘smiley face’ can apply. While my beliefs are really rather tame, the simple fact is that showing a drawing of Mohammed can get you on that list (so saying things like I have above is not too far off the list…) And it doesn’t help to point out that I think Christianity has pretty much screwed the pooch on The Bible too… nor that The Bible is full of a load of hate and violence as well (and what Christians have done to Jews over the centuries in the name of Jesus makes my skin crawl and my stomach want to… but never mind that…) No, being an “equal opportunity religious ranter” does not get you off the hook…

    So I’d rather steer a tiny bit clear of the “bashing Islam” topic. At least until diagnosed with a terminal illness ;-)

    IMHO most Muslims are rather like most Catholics of the Holy Roman Empire or most Protestants of the 1700s. They truely believe they are doing good things and truely believe their religion is the best path to moral salvation. Unfortunately, the Holy Roman Empire was not known for it’s kindness ( “beheading” those who would not convert from pegan beliefs was common…) nor was the way Protestants treated slavery particularly an enlightened moment of humanity… It was the leadership that inspired those acts, just as the leadership of Islam inspires the less glorious moments for Muslims. Basically, we’ve all got plenty of “baggage” to spread around and most of it comes from the top, not from the guy driving a cab, making shoes, or farming a few hectares. (Which also pretty much sums up why I have trouble signing on to ANY “organized” religion… as “power corrupts”…)

    So I’m still hopeful that Islam can come to see the more violent parts of the Koran as ‘alegorical’ and not a strict law. After all, I don’t want to be SAD about it…

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    @Boballab:

    Well, I already like their Editor: Micah Smith ;-)

    OK, it’s an hour later and I’ve watched the whole thing.

    I’ve lived through most of that history so it wasn’t particularly news to me. It is very effectively presented and for folks who have not been ‘watching closely’ for the last 35 years or so, it’s a great bit of “catch up”.

    Possibly more important, I saw nothing in what they said that was not correct. There was one bit of minor overstatement, IMHO. That was the EMP bomb effects. They imply everything quits. The reality is that a lot of stuff doesn’t. I’m pretty sure things would not be quite as dire as they paint. (Then again, in the 20 seconds or so they spent on it you can’t really cover the finer points). But in any case, it would be pretty horrific. (Which is WHY I have 3 vehicles that do not have electronics in them and why I have a generator of my own AND kerosene lamps AND candels AND emergency food and kits and… )

    FWIW, I hope that we’ve not already bombed them due to good intel that they don’t have a bomb yet and are not close. (But “Hope is not a strategy.” -E.M.Smith) I also fear we are just whistling past future grave yards…

  21. boballab says:

    EM

    I realize that alot of it is not “new” so to speak for those that keep up to data, but keep in mind there is now an entire generation that has grown up after the 78 Revolution.

    They didn’t experience Carter or the news reports on the kids being marched out into the minefields, or just about any of that kind of stuff.

    If you think about it those kids born just prior and just after the 78 Revolution, now are of the age to have kids of there own and they are approaching their teens years and what do they get from the media: Pabulum. Alot of them were shocked by the scenes of the protests in 2009 but to us umm “more experienced fellows” it was more of: “Damm the Mullahs are getting soft in their old age, they only killed 200 or so”.

    To those people this film is nice wake up call on what Iran is really like. Playing nice, nice isn’t going to work, slap on the wrists are not going to work either. It’s time to haul out TR’s big stick.

  22. boballab says:

    EM

    I didn’t want to mix this with the other, but alot of that Christan antisemitism had more to do with earthly power then religion, for nowhere in the bible does it say to go out and hunt down Jews. Doing that is just about 180° from what is in the bible.

    As to it comes from the top, that wasn’t by accident but by design. Many people do not study early European history much any more. They much prefer to just skip over the whole “Dark Ages” thing and move straight onto the “enlightenment”, when things started to get cleaned up.

    They seem not to be able to grasp the concept that after the fall of Rome, the Church deliberately tried to keep the masses illiterate. That in turn made it real easy for the Church to pass off anything as “It’s God word because it’s in the bible” due to the fact that the majority of the people that could read were wearing the “cloth”. It got so bad that even the parrish priests were starting to become illiterate, where the only thing they could read was the bible in latin and nothing else. It ultimately failed but people keep trying the technique (think of the south and slaves in the US).

    One of the most fascinating things I could ever imagine would be able to go through the Vatican’s secret library and see what they were really thinking back then. It’s a shame one of the greatest libraries of historical documents and it’s off limits to 99.999999…% of humanity.

  23. kuhnkat says:

    boballab,

    ” (think of the south and slaves in the US).”

    There were abuses of people during slavery. There were also many people who owned slaves that treated them more like Biblical figures treated their slaves. This type of sweeping generalization is what has helped polarize the race issue so much here in the US.

    We need to take a serious look at how whites treated themselves, Africans, both natives and Muslims treated themselves, and put it into the context of the period where many people came to the US VOLUNTARILY in indentured servitude and similar contractual agreements.

    Many slaveowners tried to maximize their investment by educating their slaves so that they could be managers, foremen, accountants… Many slaves went on to use their education to be landowners ranchers, farmers, scientists…

    It is never black and white as much as my simplistic mind screams for that clarity.

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    @Boballab:

    Pretty much agree. That you could be killed for reading the Bible was, er, “indicative”… (and yes, while it wasn’t common and wasn’t for long, there WERE times and places where a layman reading the Bible was sinful to the point of death.)

    Personally, having read the thing a few times in different variations, I think they would have been more effective by assigning that folks read it from Genisis through “The Begats” ;-) (Most folks I know who’ve given up did so at the begats…)

    Oh, and while I’m pretty sure it’s clear, it bears emphasis: I’m not “anti-Catholic” or “anti-Christian” or “anti-Religion” due to anything in particular they say. I’m more “anti-Power-Structure” for the simple reason they all end in oppression and tyrany… as evidenced by even a casual observation of the history of the world…

    @Kuhnkat:

    One could add to the list of uses of slaves in America “Or marry them”. (As in ‘common law marrage’). Jefferson wasn’t the only one to have a 1/2 black family.

    Somewhere along the line I ran into a story that looked at the rate of “whitening” of American Blacks and found that it was way too much to be accounted for by anything other than a significant amount of “mixing” on the plantations. And while I’m sure some of it was forced, some other large part was voluntary. There are way too many stories of the plantation owners wife having a baby mysteriously lost in childbirth at the same time one of the female slaves was found to have given birth by surprise… as one example.

    Also, as some of my ancestors came over in The Potato Famine, our family history makes me very aware of the discrimination against the Irish and the abuses of Indentured Servitude. Yes, in theory you could buy your freedom, if you never bought anything else nor ate much… The litany of what was asserted about the Irish reads about the same as for blacks. From stupidity to lazyness to violence to… but I don’t remember blacks being described as having tails. (It was widely asserted that Irishmen had tails…) So I fully agree that slavery had more to do with power and greed than any particular racism. (Oh, and the traders SELLING the slaves in Africa tended to be other black tribes and / or Arabs – not exactly your lilly white protestants…)

    Perhaps one of the biggest truths I’ve found from history is simply that people are prone to unspeakable evils regardless of race, creed, color, or religion; and the same holds for truly wonderful acts of grace. And every race, creed, color and religion wants to erase from history their bad moments and gloss over their bad actors.

    Still makes me grumpy when someone asserts I’m a { racist, homophobe, anti-semite, anti-catholic, anti-protestant, anti-Islam, sexist, jingoistic, America-basher, etc. } simply because I peel off the varnish over the truth. “The Truth just is. -E.M.Smith”

    (The latest being the folks who felt I was goring their ox by pointing out that Facism is a function of The Political Left -as defined in America today – and a subset of Socialism. I really didn’t care where it ended up, I just needed to find its roots and see what that means for the future. And what it means is very important; especially in the context of a nationalistic tendency in communist countries on their way toward Lange Type Socialism via a corporatist route… remember your history or repeat it, simple choice, and I’d rather not repeat that part… )

    So I look at a Hugo Chavez recreating a little Nazi empire and calling it a Socialist Heaven and it now has much greater clarity of understanding. I see him cutting a mutual support agreement with Iran and THAT makes more sense now. (Why else would a nominally Catholic nation get in bed with someone who vows to “kill or convert” them? Same reason Japanese were dubbed honorary ‘whites’ by the Nazis… “my enemies enemy” outweighs “you bastard” in the minds of folks building their collectivist enterprises in the persuit of power. They both are dead set against individual liberty and freedom of free market capitalism.)

    Long way around the mountain, but I think it makes the point. Slavery was wicked, but not particularly more evil than all the other things people have done and are continuing to do. We are not special. They were not special. Those guys over the ocean right now are not special. People are “lead” by the 10% who are evil manipulative bastards bent on a power hungry driven desire for domination most of the time. Even here in the USA. It’s the rare case that peace, reason, and libery prevail. And they take constant tending.

  25. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    Your reading from the Koran is so different from mine, I’m almost provoked to re-read it. Unfortunately, the version I read is in storage and inaccessible for the present.

    Is it reasonable to ask that you identify the Sura (s) which contain the guidance you repeat in your first couple of paragraphs? I’m hoping that they are at your fingertips and that this isn’t a burden. If it is, let me know and I’ll try to find them myself.

    My conclusion in 2001 on reading a translation dating to the ’20s was that actions beyond “live and let live” are only “permitted” where the adherents and the practice of Islam are physically challenged.

    I limit this observation to the Koran since that’s the only Muslim document I’ve read.

    I confess that I’ve also read Karen Armstrong’s biography of Mohamed, History of the Middle East wrt Palestine, and history of Islam. Also Bernard Lewis’ History of Islam. I may have this list screwed up, but there they are.

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    @j ferguson:

    I’m going to give a bunch of links below. These are all the result of simply puting phrases like “Koran lie infidel” into Google. My citing them ought not to be taken as an endorsement, just an accident of Google. They do, however, have the relevant sura listed and one can find on-line Korans and read it yourself.

    http://www.quranexplorer.com/
    http://quran.com/

    and a .edu version:

    http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/

    Here is one in Flash:

    http://www.quranflash.com/en/quranflash.html

    this one is searchable but looks like it may be a work in progress:

    http://al-quran.info/#&&sura=19&aya=1&trans=en-yusuf_ali&show=both&ver=2.00

    Here’s a quick on-line A/B comparision. One site giving the “Woa… that’s pretty rough stuff” point of view, the other being the Muslim Appologist approach of ‘here is how to paper over this’:

    On “Christian and Jewish ‘Friends'”:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/524643/posts

    http://www.submission.org/christians/friends.html

    On “lying to infidel”:

    http://actioninengland.mywowbb.com/forum68/207.html

    Al-taqiyya and dissimulation are words used for a practice of Muslims blatantly lying to non-Muslims. All but some of the most fundamental Muslims consider the act of Al-taqiyya or lying to non-Muslims to be a good work. This is very important when one remembers that, in Islam, salvation is determined by good works. This means that a Muslim lying to a non-Muslim is that Muslim doing a good work to earn salvation. It is almost equivalent to a Christian accepting Jesus as his savior. One of the big differences is that a Christian only needs to accept Jesus as his savior once to become saved forever but a Muslim must do his good works consistently and repeatedly to earn his salvation with the except of the greatest work of dying while fighting
    non-Muslims.

    http://www.islamreview.com/articles/lyingprint.htm

    The principle of Al-Takeyya

    The Arabic word, “Takeyya”, means “to prevent,” or guard against. The principle of Al Takeyya conveys the understanding that Muslims are permitted to lie as a preventive measure against anticipated harm to one’s self or fellow Muslims. This principle gives Muslims the liberty to lie under circumstances that they perceive as life threatening. They can even deny the faith, if they do not mean it in their hearts. Al-Takeyya is based on the following Quranic verse:

    “Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution (prevention), that ye may Guard yourselves from them (prevent them from harming you.) But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.” Surah 3: 28

    According to this verse a Muslim can pretend to befriend infidels (in violation of the teachings of Islam) and display adherence with their unbelief to prevent them from harming him.

    Under the concept of Takeyya and short of killing another human being, if under the threat of force, it is legitimate for Muslims to act contrary to their faith. The following actions are acceptable:
    Drink wine, abandon prayers, and skip fasting during Ramadan.
    Renounce belief in Allah.
    Kneel in homage to a deity other than Allah.
    Utter insincere oaths.
    The implications of the principle of Al-Takeyya

    Unfortunately, when dealing with Muslims, one must keep in mind that Muslims can communicate something with apparent sincerity, when in reality they may have just the opposite agenda in their hearts. Bluntly stated, Islam permits Muslims to lie anytime that they perceive that their own well-being, or that of Islam, is threatened.

    And a discussion of lying to infidels as halal or haram with both sides present is here:

    http://forum09.faithfreedom.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=1683f

    keep in mind that with someone or other constantly decaring we are The Great Satan we are always ‘at war’ with some sect of Islam or another. That means that all the “ok to lie in times of war” apply to lying to the west in the Holy War for Islam…

    Per stoning to death for adultery and related, that’s a bit more complicated.

    http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/qi021.html

    makes the point that the Quran only calls for flogging or being left in your home to die and that it’s Sharia that imposes stoning:

    The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, –
    flog them each with a hundred stripes.
    — Sura 24:2

    If any of your women are guilty of lewdness,
    take the evidence of four (reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them;
    and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them,
    or Allah ordain for them some (other) way.

    […]

    All this is further complicated by the fact that in the Sharia the actual punishment for adultery is stoning on the basis of the Sunna of Muhammad and various hadiths and there are even traditions that the verse of stoning was originally part of the Qur’an.

    I’ll leave the chopping off of heads and hands for your own google…

    On the issue of a punative tax for the infidel, some folks assert that isn’t true, it’s really not a tax, it’s a tribute….

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

    “Shakir and Khalifa’s English translations of the Qur’an render jizya as “tax”, while Pickthal translates it as “tribute”. Yusuf Ali prefers to transliterate the term as jizyah.”

    Frankly, I don’t care. It’s money extracted from the infidel as a penalty for not converting.

    Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah (Arabic: جزية‎ ǧizyah IPA: [dʒizja]; Ottoman Turkish: cizye; both derived from Pahlavi and possibly from Aramaic gaziyat ) is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state’s non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria. The tax is/was to be levied on able bodied adult males of military age and affording power, (but with specific exemptions, though these were discarded at various points in history).

    From the Quran at:

    http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/009.qmt.html#009.029

    009.029

    YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

    PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

    SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

    Hope all of that answers your request for some pointers. If not, maybe I ought to open a Koran thread…

    One comment though:

    Yes, the Koran is up to it’s eyeballs in “Islam is the religion of peace” and “Islam the merciful” and … it’s just that scattered all through it are these little bits of “Now go chop their heads off, lie to them, and subjugate them. When threatened, lie cheat whatever until Islam is supreme.”

    Given the logical inconsistency of advocated positions and the need to suspend ‘logical consistency’ to accept ALL of the Koran as true, it is not surprising to me that most Muslims have a certain ‘flexibility’ of logic and reason…

    So if you read, oh, 4 or 5 chapters, you may not run into the more eggregious bits. If you read more than that your brain starts to turn to mush from the endless droning on and on and on of “the merciful” and “the great” and … so when that “OFF with their heads” moment comes along it tends to just slide on by… but it’s still in there.

    Unfortunately, if you question the meaning of one of these passages, you are “attacking Islam” so it’s OK for the Believer to lie to you about what it really means. Now it may, in fact, mean “be a nice peaceful guy” or it may mean “rape all the women and slaughter the men”, but you as an infidel poking at it will never know if you got a straight answer from a Muslim. You need to go read it yourself (and then expect to be told that you’ve got it wrong if the answer is not promoting Islam…) You will also be told that you can’t have it right as you didn’t read the orginal Arabic and it can’t be translated (fully). Both, IMHO, are just bafflegab.

    FWIW, the present actions on the ground are that “sojourners” into the land of the infidel are directed to “live and let live” and have a load of kids until there are enough of them to take over, then Sharia can be imposed (and the Jizyah on those who don’t convert). We also have a nice long history of exactly these practices in North Africa, Spain, and elsewhere. The most recent being the conversion of Lebanon from “Christian Lebanon” into a home for Hezbolla and a muslim state…

    So this isn’t exactly just me looking at hypotheticals. We’ve got about 1300 years of ‘track record’ up to and including “now”.

    So while I’m quite willing to say that the bulk of the Muslims I’ve ever met have been good and upstanding folks, I’ve not been to a Sharia country nor had to live in a place where Muslims were not behaving according to the Koran mandate to keep a low profile when a minority.

    Let me know if you would like something additional.

  27. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    Thanks much. this will be a good way to get started on this. I can readily concede that the repetition did tend to anesthetize my attention while I was reading it. maybe these are some of the alliterative things which work so well in Arabic.

    I’ll let you know what I think when I’ve compared some of these listings to what’s in the Koran that now resides on my Kindle.

    Thank you again.

    john

  28. We do not know what tomorrow’s news will be, but today it appears that Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud did not die in vain!

  29. kuhnkat says:

    I would point out that there are a number of versions of the Quran. All of the translated ones will immediately be refuted by Islam simply because it has been translated and is not the original. If you read the backgrounds of those who translated the major works, well, maybe not you, but I, got the distinct feeling that the translators were attempting apologetics by taking the less contentious interpretations.

    I found links to a Palestinian site that had multiple translations and they apprently are NOT apologetics. Thiat is the version I read. It is interesting to also make comparisons between the versions.

    The most deceitful issue is the order. The surahs are ordered by size. That means the Medenan and the Meccan sections are mixed together. This makes it appear that there is love and brotherhood scattered throughout. In reality, you can find many sites that show the date sequence of the surahs that allows us to get a full feel for the fact that virtually all the love and brotherhood for non-muslims was abandoned in the later writings.

    I think E.M. mentiond before that anything in the Quran that conflicts with a later writing is automatically abrogated. It is overidden. With the Quran in size order rather than date order it is not obvious to everyone that much of the peace, light, and friendship type of stuff is abrogated.

  30. E.M.Smith says:

    @kuhnkat:

    Linky linky?

    I’m a bit of a ‘collector of versions’ when it comes to historical religeous texts (having a few dozen versions of the bible in the original languages and a few modern…)

    I find if VERY useful to compare versions. FWIW, I think that a comparision of translations is even more useful in that it often forces the translator to pick the most likely or most favorable version. That way I don’t have to be an expert in Arabic or Greek to know if “Holy War” or “Struggle” was meant. Then the sporadic outlier lets you see the ‘undertones’ or other points of view…

    Oh, and yeah, I suspect that some of the English translations are ‘tidied up’ for English Infidel consumption; but not being a native speaker of Arabic I can’t put any real evidence to that suspicion. It would take an analysis by someone who did speak Arabic or a translation by a particular class of Believer to act as testimonial to the other interpretation.

    One old translation I ran into had a sura who’s number I didn’t memorize. I’ve never been able to find it since (perhaps as the translation is now cleaned up, or perhaps just as it’s hidden in the 1001 verses…) but it basically said ~”As for Christians, you might be able to convert them, so don’t kill them outright, wait until they refuse Islam; as for Jews, there is no hope of conversion of them, so just kill the Jews.” I’d still like to find that one again so I can compare it to the more modern ones.

    Nice catch on the length vs date thing. I knew about the “size matters” issue in sura order; but had not thought it through to the “older wins disagreements” rule… I don’t usually miss that kind of thing… Any pointers to a ‘date ordered Koran’ would also be interesting….

    For me, there is a fairly simple Forensic Point Of View that is helpful. To the extent someone guilty protests the evidence, that is likely the better evidence. Apply that POV to the question of Koranic Bias and it would imply that the translation most vilified by the Imams et. al. would be the best one to disect for ‘issues’. No, don’t know what one that would be ( I heard a name once a few decades back when I didn’t care much… I think it was translated by a British guy who’s last name started with P? On the “someday list” of things to look up…

    Since there seems to be interest, I’ll start a Koran thread in a few days (when I’m feeling more up to it) and put in a selection of on-line links to versions and a pointer to an interesting book I’ve got ( IFF I can find it!)…

    @Oliver K. Manuel:

    Yup. He’s now a “Martyr”… May his soul find peace in Paradise…

    @j ferguson:

    You are most welcome!

  31. George says:

    So now the same Army that installed Mubarak is back in charge. My money says they exchange one dictator for another.

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    It’s a very possible. One nit to harvest: Mubarak was over 80. Not a lot of the guys who were in the army when he was installed are still around. So it’s the same army, just all the people are different…

    I’ve go to think that the mid-ranks on down are strongly sympathetic to the protestors (as evidenced by their behaviours during this event…)

    Somehow, though, I think “the people’ are a lot less willing to let their next constitution say “and whoever the existing government picks rules” like their present constitution. I’ve already seen reports that they are demanding a constitutional re-write for more of a direct democracy… and saying they will not fully leave the square until that is assured.

    But we’ll have to wait to see what happens.

  33. George says:

    Yes, we will have to wait and see.

    Yes, it is an army with a different officer corps. The general officers today were only company grade when Sadat was killed. But nevertheless, the army decides and there will be “elections” to confirm their choice.

    Note that the unrest was more about removing Mubarak than about installing any one or any thing. It isn’t like our own revolution where the people formed a different government and declared their independence of the existing one. It wasn’t a movement “for” anything so much as it was a movement against Mubarak.

    Ok, so now they have their wish. What now? I don’t think they have a clue. The army will decide.

  34. j ferguson says:

    E.M., kuhnkat,

    My basis for skepticism of the nastiness you describe in some versions of the Koran may not be sound, but here it is.

    I read a version which didn’t have the things you quote from memory. I surely (Surahly) would have noted them.

    I do remember that the good behavior restraints were released if Islam or the Believers were under attack.

    I had also assumed (??) that the really troubling stuff was in the Hadith or Sunnah, since I hadn’t read them(it).

    Finally, and possibly most supportive of my take that the violence against the Jews and Christians was not obligatory in the Koran was the inconsistent history of the experience of Jews and Christians living in Muslim dominated societies.

    That the Caliphs of Cordoba up to the time of Maimonides (12th century) could have run the place so that the Jews of the day found it most comfortable does not suggest that the Muslims felt obliged to hassle them. When it did get bad, compulsory conversion or die, Maimonides left town for Egypt, another place run by the Moslems. Why not go to a Christian country – maybe Eastern Church? Likely because they were tormenting Jews.

    We’ve been through this idea in an earlier thread and someone named David thought I had it screwed up, but I’m not sure.

    It could be that like many things, the hospitality in Cordoba for Jews was relative and things much worse for them where the Christians were in control. At the same time, it does appear that the 5th century Church as it invented its underpinnings chased the surviving philosophers eastward (into Asia Minor) where their schools later became part of the Islamic community.

    To make it very plain. I suggest that the basic tenets of Islam do not obligate unprovoked attacks on Christians, or “People of the Book” since such attacks have not been a continuous Islamic practice. I might further suggest that the Koran suggests access to heaven for devout “people of the book” and Christians, although it does get a bit dicey if they’ve been offered and rejected a grasp of the true beliefs identified in the Koran.

    I downloaded a couple of versions of the Koran and reviewed some of the translation comparisons available in the links E.M. provided and I can appreciate how the nastiness could be there.

    But if it didn’t drive consistent behavior, can you be certain it was the understanding shared by Muslim over the years?

    It would be wonderful if a believer could help us with this.

    And thanks, E.M. for all your efforts here

  35. P.G. Sharrow says:

    It really does not matter what the various versions say. It is what the strongest preachers say it is that counts. Followers do not study the script they believe what they are told is the truth.
    Bibles / Qurans etc. are tools for control of the masses, the old way of doing things.
    The internet, wide spread education in all points of view, communication between all people is the new way of doing things.
    Wide spread communication is wonderful for organizing a revolution but it is a double edged sword. The mullas of Iran are in terror of the people communicating and organizing against them.
    The prophecies for this period are that the old ways of doing things will be swepted away when a net covers the world. Less control, smaller, local controlled government is the future. Larger, stronger, central control is the past. pg

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    @J ferguson:

    The problem with the historical contrast is that in fact Islam was much more tolerant in the past and at about the same time that Christianity was particularly nasty. So you end up using two ‘rubber rulers’ for the comparison.

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

    Franks & Alamanni

    The Franks and their ruling Merovingian dynasty, that had migrated to Gaul from the 3rd century had remained pagan at first. On Christmas 498, however, Clovis I following his victory at the Battle of Tolbiac converted to the orthodox faith of the Catholic Church and let himself be baptised at Rheims. The details of this event have been passed down by Gregory of Tours.

    The Alamanni became Christians only after a period of syncretism during the 7th century, by gradual emulation of the new religion of the Merovingian èlite. The Lombards adopted Catholic Christianity as they entered Italy, also during the 6th century.

    In the 8th century, the Franks became standard-bearers of Roman Catholic Christianity in Western Europe, waging wars on its behalf against Arian Christians, Islamic invaders, and pagan Germanic peoples such as the Saxons and Frisians. Until 1066, when the Danes and the Norse had lost their foothold in Britain, theological and missionary work in Germany was largely organized by Anglo-Saxon missionaries, with mixed success. A key event was the felling of Thor’s Oak in 723 near Fritzlar by Boniface, apostle of the Germans and first archbishop of Mainz.

    Eventually, the conversion was imposed by armed force and successfully completed by Charles the Great (Charlemagne) and the Franks in a series of campaigns (the Saxon Wars),
    starting in 772 with the destruction of their Irminsul and culminating in the defeat and massacre of Saxon leaders at the Bloody Verdict of Verden in 787 and the subjugation of this large tribe by forced population movements of Saxons into Frankish territory and vice-versa.

    and

    Unlike the history of Christianity in the Roman Empire, conversion of the Germanic tribes in general took place “top to bottom”, in the sense that missionaries aimed at converting Germanic nobility first, which would then impose their new faith on the general population: This is connected with the sacral position of the king in Germanic paganism: the king is charged with interacting with the divine on behalf of his people, so that the general population saw nothing wrong with their kings choosing their preferred mode of worship.

    Consequently, Christianity had to be made palatable to these Migration Age warlords as a heroic religion of conquerors, a rather straightforward task, considering the military splendour of the Roman Empire.

    So if you were a Jew and were looking around at the rest of Europe you had this history of imposed religion and fairly uniform requirements to ‘convert’ along with some fairly strong tribalism. Oddly, not that much different even as late as 1700… or perhaps even W.W.II

    http://www.ritchies.net/p3wk6.htm

    Charlemagne’s “conversions” of the barbarians

    a) A third kind of evangelism?

    b) Charlemagne began (or popularized) the practice of converting by the sword. For instance, he forcibly baptized a Saxon army. This brought medieval evangelism to a new low. He was reprimanded by his Anglo-Saxon advisor, Alcuin, who said that Christianity must be spread as an appeal, not as a conquest.

    c) Though Charlemagne’s reign is justly termed a “rennaisance,” this policy of conversion by the sword stands as a grim forerunner of the rest of the medieval period, including the Reformation.

    So the Moors were in Spain in about 711 AD to 1492 AD and that’s just about the time you had “Conversion by the Sword” up north under Charlemagne… Decisions decisions… (768- 814 AD ) and with some ‘carryover’ after that among those who came after him.

    What’s a Jew to do. Well, I’d pick a country with a Semitic language rather like what I already spoke and where I could pay a tax to contiue being a Jew before I’d go up and see just how serious those crazy Germans and Franks were about sharp swords and all…

    Christianity likes to forget about our “conversion by the sword” era…

    So is it obligatory for a Muslim to slaughter Jews and Christians? No, not at all. It’s just encouraged… And if Islam is the dominant culture, then it’s “OK” to leave a few around as long as they pay a special tax and act subjugated enough. Serves as a good example to others why they ought to convert quickly.

    So the basic problem with holding up Jews leaving Spain for Islamic lands as proof that Islam is just as nice and warm / fuzzy as Christianity is that the Christianity of that time was a rather cruel bloodthirsty tyranical thing about as evil as the worst of Islam today. Remember the Crusades? …

    And that is why I’m no great advocate of Christianity either.

    Frankly, if I had to rate the total damage to the world done by religion I’d be hard pressed to decide if the worst was done by Islam or Christianity. From that point on, everything else is “less” with some, like Buddhism and Hinduism, having very little evil attached to it.

    Oddly, the Jewish religion is more about tribal identity than actual ‘religion’ in the Christian or Muslim sense. One typically does not “convert” to Judaism, one is just born a Jew. It’s the book of notes of the family history and the guidance that God gave to them of how they are to live their lives. You? You go do what you want…

    Were it not for all the political baggage attached to being Jewish, I’d be more inclined to join them than the alternatives. (Besides, The Book is smaller and less to read ;-) Mostly just because they internalize the notion that “This is guidance for US and these are OUR rules. They need not apply to you.” Such understanding of just how much they ought not be dictating to others is refreshing.

    But instead I’m nore a Pegan / Druid / Buddhist blend. The world just is. There are things that are good and work well, and there is evil. Live, love, die. The wheel turns. Watch the sun tell you time and seasons. Watch leaves fall and turn to mulch on the garden path. Watch the radish burst with joy into a new spring (consuming the gift from those old leaves). Smile at a rabbit and hand her a twig of sage, while chewing a leaf yourself… Just Be.

    I think I feel a garden moment coming on… back in a few hours…

  37. kuhnkat says:

    Well no, I don’t remember the Crusades, but, I have read a little bit about them. They were driven by continued attacks on Christians by Muslims and the invasions of Christian lands by Muslims.

    Do you remember what caused the disruptions to the trading between Europe and the East?? Why Columbus and so many others went looking for long, dangerous sea routes when that straight land route was available?

    I completely agree that 1000 years ago people were typically pretty vicious when they thought they had a reason whether it was a good or bad reason. I would point out that Christianity has, in general, left those medieval ideas and modes of existance behind whereas Islam is still teaching the same Medieval Power Politics and Violence.

  38. kuhnkat says:

    Here are my links to sites with Quran translations and a few miscellaneous at the end. The first link is to a gentleman who talks about a number of different translations.

    http://www.clay.smith.name/English_Translations.htm
    about English translations of the Quran

    http://www.muslim.org/english-quran/quran.htm
    Maulana Muhammad Ali, may be the best literal translation according to above link

    http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/Surai.htm
    Abdullah Yusufali

    http://www.theholyquran.org/
    Muhammed Esed and others. linked from here: http://www.worldofislam.info/index.php

    http://www.quran-islam.org/main_topics/quran_in_english_(P1223).html
    Dr. Rashad Khalifa

    http://qurango.com/english.html
    The first one on the page is by M. H. Shakir
    The second one is actually a 3 way side by side of Yusufali, Pickthal, and Shakir

    http://www.quraninenglish.com/cgi-local/pages.pl
    Zaheen Fatima Baig

    http://www.quranenglish.com/tafheem/
    Syed Maududi

    http://quranexplorer.com/Default.aspx
    Another side by side Abdul Daryabadi, Dr. Mohsin, Pickthal, Yusuf Ali

    Click to access The_Holy_Quran_English.pdf


    Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan

    http://www.alislam.org/quran/search2/
    Maulvi Sher Ali (ra)

    Commentary

    http://www.1000mistakes.com/1000mistakes/index.php?Page=009_004_001_001

    Chronological order of Surahs
    http://www.bombaxo.com/chronsurs.html

    Comments by a scholar that researched the Quran
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2004/03/scholar-researches-
    origins-of-the-quran-fears-for-his-life.html

    Origins of the Quran
    http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Mss/vowel.html

    Origins of Arabic
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Arabic_alphabet

    attacks on Muhammad
    http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=5890

    Should Muslims Accept Peace or Not, great site explore the whole thing
    http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/peace_or_not.html

    War and Peace – and Deceit – in Islam
    http://www.meforum.org/2066/war-and-peace-and-deceit-in-islam

    Radicalization of Islam in the US
    http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=48330

  39. kuhnkat says:

    E.M. Smith,

    I just posted a bunch of links to qurans and miscellaneous. Probably in the Spam bucket as I don’t see it!!

  40. George says:

    The Jews and the Muslims lived together for many years in peace. The current troubles began with the founding of the modern day Israel. According to the Hadiths, the Jews lost Israel because they refused to follow Mohammad and accept the Qu’ran as their holy book. It is written that they would not regain Israel until that event came to pass.

    So there is a very fundamental problem. Israel exists, but they have not converted to Islam. Now there is the notion that a Hadith is an interpretation, though divinely inspired, but nevertheless an interpretation arrived at by a human being. Human beings are not perfect so while it is possible that a Hadith can be flawed, that opens up a larger can of worms. If one can be flawed, it exposes any or all of them to the possibility of being flawed. The Hadiths are one of the foundations of the religion. To open them up to question or reinterpretation would mean a potential change in the religion that those who would keep the “old way” would never stand for.

    So rather than admin that the Hadiths could be flawed, it is easier in the minds of many to simply refuse to accept the existence of Israel, refer to it as Palestine even to this day, and work to destroy those who would defy the Hadiths. In the minds of some, it is better to die on that route than to live and expose a foundational text of the religion to reinterpretation.

    That is why no amount of negotiation will ever settle the issue in the minds of many Muslims. As long as it exists without being a Muslim state, it must be opposed else one acknowledges that the Hadiths might be incorrect and potentially crack the foundation of the religion itself.

    Egypt took an interesting approach. The approach was that a secular government COULD recognize Israel. While an Islamic government can not do this while still calling itself an Islamic government, a secular government can without making any judgment of the Hadiths.

    The only way this can possibly be settled is with some sort of reformation of Islam. There needs to be a congress of scholars of all the various Islamic schools of thought and a ruling must be made concerning the Hadiths and to what extent they are literal and to what extent they are parable. This insistence that Israel can not exist while it clearly does is simply killing people for no good reason.

    Iran used to have a large Jewish population, as did Egypt and Lebanon and many other Arab countries. Reconciling that one issue, the issue of the existence of Israel with the Hadith that says that Israel can’t exist, will solve the troubles in the region and allow life to get on to more important tasks. Not reconciling that issue will result in the problems continuing forever, no matter what the outcome of various negotiations and peace talks and wars and loss.

  41. kuhnkat says:

    George,

    “The Jews and the Muslims lived together for many years in peace.”

    Please read a book called “From Time Immemorial” by Joan Peters. It is one of the best documented books I have ever picked up. Until you read it you have no idea how much that quoted statement strikes me as pure propaganda.

    Yes, for short periods in time, when it was convenient for Caliphs and other Islamic leaders, there was RELATIVE peace for Jews under Islam. It never lasts very long and always goes back to the violence layed out in the Meccan portion of the Quran which abrogates the earlier Medenan portions.

    Read the book.

  42. George says:

    I know that the policemen Lebanon were largely drawn from the Jewish population. Iran had the largest Jewish population outside of the Palestine region. Iraq had a large Jewish population. I will look for the book you mention but will also take it with a grain of salt as it might be itself propaganda.

    I know the Caliph welcomed the Jews ejected from Spain by the Christians there and gave them protection.

    In Iran:

    After the deposition of Mossadegh in 1953, the reign of shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the most prosperous era for the Jews of Iran. In the 1970s, only 1 percent of Iranian Jews were classified as lower class; 80 percent were middle class and 10 percent wealthy. Although Jews accounted for only a small percentage of Iran’s population, in 1979 two of the 18 members of the Iranian Academy of Sciences, 80 of the 4,000 university lecturers, and 600 of the 10,000 physicians in Iran were Jews.

    Prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were 80,000 Jews in Iran, concentrated in Tehran (60,000), Shiraz (8,000), Kermanshah (4,000), Isfahan (3,000), the cities of Khuzistan, as well as Kashan, Sanandaj, Tabriz, and Hamedan.

    In Lebanon:

    The Jewish community was traditionally centered in Wadi Abu Jmil and Ras Beirut, with smaller numbers in the Chouf, Deir al-Qamar, Aley, Bhamdoun, Saida and Hasbaya.

    Lebanons Jews had previously rejected approaches by the Yishuv , sending fund raisers away empty handed. In 1948 Lebanon’s Jews donated to the fight against the establishment of Israel.

    Lebanon was the only Arab country whose Jewish population actually increased after the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. However, after the 1958 Civil War, many Lebanese Jews left the country, largely for Europe and the United States. In 1971, Albert Elia, the 69-year-old Secretary-General of the Lebanese Jewish community was kidnapped in Beirut by Syrian agents and imprisoned under torture in Damascus along with Syrian Jews who had attempted to flee the country. A personal appeal by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan to the late President Hafez al-Assad failed to secure Elia’s release; finally, Elia was murdered by the kidnappers. The Lebanese Civil War, beginning in 1975, proved worse for the Jews. In 1982, during the Israeli invasion, 11 Jewish leaders were captured and killed by Islamist radicals

    I am not going to be a party to racial hatred. Sure, at various times in history various people have been attacked but there has never been any historic systemic hatred of Jews by Muslims like we see today and the reason is pretty simple: The very simple existence of Israel threatens their fundamental religious texts on which many other things are based. As long as that is so, as long as that mutually invalidating condition exists, then there will be hatred by the Muslims of the Jews.

  43. E.M.Smith says:

    @kuhnkat:

    Posting freed from the SPAM queue where things with a gazillion links end up…

    BTW, it ought to be obvious when someone one says “remember an event longer than one human lifetime ago” they are quite clearly saying “remember learning about” as opposed to “you must have a several hundred year lifespan so share your personal recolections of your time at the event”. It’s is not particularly effective to deliberately pretend otherwise.

    THE major driver of the Crusades was to “recapture the Holy Lands”. Other wars were about kicking the Muslims out of Europe. (Ask the Greeks about that… and the Parthenon et.al.) My point was a sideways reference to things like the cruelty of The Children’s Crusade and the damages done by “Good Christians” as they marched through Constantinople on their way to the Holy Land. Oh, and the various indulgences et. al. The point ought to have been obvious, but you’ve chosen to misunderstand it (or it was in fact not clear) so I’ll say it more directly:

    The Christian Crusades were as evil in effect and as bloody as the Muslim invasions. BOTH sides have done horrible and dispicable things “in the name of God” and with substantially the same ‘techniques’.

    It is no justification of the evil done to say it was in response to some other evil.

    Also, please remember the context of the point: Does “where a Jew might choose to flee” indicate Muslims were nice as were Christians? The point is that BOTH were “not nice” in that era and the hapless Jew was stuck between them. Several Popes were bought and paid for. Conversion by the sword existed in Christian Europe. And vast numbers of folks were sent off to their deaths in a mindless religion driven onslaught on the Holy Lands. (Not to mention that during the Plagues Jews were often rounded up and killed by idiots thinking it must be their fault as they had not converted so God must be mad about it…)

    Or put more bluntly:

    The Spanish Inquisition did not just arise fully formed without any precursor events that were often nearly as dire to the Jew.

    OK, you now want to swap over to “Chritianity now is pretty nice” and yes, it is. That also is simply not relevant to the point at hand. Today, clearly, Christians and Jews largely get on pretty well (modulo a few rough spots…) and Jews and Islam have more troubles. (Then again, modern Islam seems to want to pick a fight with just about everybody. From Russia to Israel to the USA to Sunni vs Shiia to Sudanese Christians to China to Kashmiri India to South Pilipinnes to East Timor to … If there’s an insergency, it’s got a very high probablity of being Muslim)

    But if you would understand the past, you must look at what it was like then not now. Today a persecuted Jew could likely hop a flight to NYC and be right at home with relatives (some of them mine). In 800 AD it was a choice of run the ox cart through Conversion By The Sword Christendom with civil wars going on, or being modestly ostracized and with a tax burden in a Muslim land. Not a very hard choice.

    Yes, it would be “a good thing” if Islam were to have a reformation. Don’t hold your breath…

    Oh, and when toting up ‘evils’ for each side, don’t forget the minor slaughter of most of the population of 2 continents in the New World (partly by accident of disease but partly by ‘devine right’…) by Christendom. Islam has a ways to go to catch up (though they seem hell bent on trying…)

    Now this is not an assault on modern Christianity. ( I’m married to a very Christian spouse and my kids are ‘regulars’ at church too.) In large part, what modern Christianity teaches does more good than harm today. BUT that does not erase the past.

    Religeous ZEAL on the part of both Islam and Christianity account for hugh chunks of our history and most of it is written in massive quantities of blood. On BOTH sides. If it were in my power to have BOTH simply ‘undone’ I’d do it in a heartbeat. (Then we’d only have the religeous wars between the Roman Empire and the Celts and Persians to undo … Sigh…)

    @George:

    When holding up Lebanon as an example of tolerance for Jews, remember it was a Christian nation until overrun by Muslim warriors…

    You may also find this of interest:

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/koranjews.html

    and this has a pretty good history of the unstable life of a Jew in Muslim lands:

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/Jews_in_Arab_lands_(gen).html

  44. George says:

    Yes, I don’t deny that Muslims have been extremely intolerant of other religions but this has varied according to time, place, and circumstance and hasn’t been consistent.

    The problem we face to day is much different, though. The concept of “multiculturalism” where an immigrant’s culture is to be revered and your own culture is to be suppressed or somehow celebrating and promoting your own culture is seen as something to feel guilty over is destroying western civilization.

    In addition, politicians of failed ideology have been, in many nations, welcoming in immigrants of other cultures for no other reason than to boost their own votes to gain office. This was revealed by the Labour party in the UK, for example, where they were on a concerted campaign to ease immigration requirements for Southwest Asians in exchange for their votes in elections. We see the Democrats doing the same thing with Hispanic immigrants in this country.

    There are several stories from several UK papers on this subject but I will post a link to two of them:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1249797/Labour-threw-open-doors-mass-migration-secret-plot-make-multicultural-UK.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/article-1250096/Using-immigration-turn-Britain-nation-Labour-voters-shameful-I-hardly-believe-it.html

    So the political left in the West has played a strategy of not only opening the doors to immigrants in order to gain additional votes that they can not get from their own population, but they have practically turned regions of their respective countries into cultural enclaves of foreign language, dress, tradition, etc.

    Allen West had the closing speech at CPAC and one of the things he noted was that we must honor our language because it is the one thing that provides a common cultural bond among our people. At the same time we see leftists doing whatever they can to break that bond.

    For example, a ballot for an election should never be printed in a language other than English. In order to obtain citizenship one must demonstrate enough of a grasp of English to cast a ballot. If we are printing ballots in foreign languages, then it would imply that maybe we have non-citizens voting in elections. Leftists oppose producing any identification for voting. As a result, we have voting rates in excess of the number of people of voting age in some districts. In elections such as that of Al Franken in Minnesota, the number of votes “cast” by dead people exceeded the margin of difference in the election and those votes were allowed to stand!

    We have a political party using “multiculturalism” in order to cheat in elections. Unable to gain enough votes from their own countrymen, they import destitute foreigners, make them promises of a path to citizenship or citizenship for their children, and then sit back and count the votes.

    This cultural weakness encourages adventurism by people who see us as unable or unwilling to resist their taking over our culture. We see demands in the UK for Sharia law in settling disputes. We see “honor” killings in the US where a father in Arizona murders his daughter, Noor, for becoming “too Western” while they are living in the US. Can’t they see the insanity of that? I will repeat it … she was murdered for becoming too American after immigrating to America.

    We need to stop that insanity. We need to stop the insanity where Democrats pay citizens to take a seat from the workforce for two years so illegal immigrants can work.

    We need to stop multilingual education. We need to stop printing ballots in other languages (a friend of mine went to vote in East Palo Alto in the last election, the only ballots available were in Chinese.). We need to stop this apartheid system where a group of immigrants can gain citizenship and live their entire life never learning English, watching TV in their own language, living in ghettos and never really integrating into the rest of the “melting pot”. These people think they are being catered to but they are actually being kept out of the mainstream by allowing them to never completely integrate into the culture. I know third generation citizens where English is still their second language. This needs to stop.

    As for Egypt, until the people there begin to move TOWARD something, until they are PRO something and their demonstrations turn from being simply AGAINST something, nothing is really going to change. They aren’t demonstrating for anything, they are only demonstrating against something. There is a huge difference.

  45. kuhnkat says:

    E.M. Smith,

    apparently I need to make some apologies. When I made fun of the term Remembered in relation to history I then turned right around and used it myself. My humor doesn’t fly with everyone.

    I am not disagreeing with the idea that historically organized religions, including Christianity, or those claiming to be Christian, were responsible for horrors rivaling that caused by modern secular movements. What I do believe is that the Islamic expansion into the European area forced conditions to be exasperated and caused worse than would have been otherwise. As with modern wars the people were roused to activity with stories that were exagerated.

    The Inquisition was a particulary ugly Church launched abortion. I need to read more about what drove it and why the Catholic Church supported it. It was also supported by the rulers and the people of Spain. Weird.

    I also agree with you that the Jews, over the years, have had few good choices. They have moved to virtually everywhere in the world and have rarely been treated with any equality. The fact that many stayed under the Caliphs and later would seem to indicate that they were happier there. Of course, it can also mean that the known evil was less frightening than the unknown evils and leaving the family home that has been occupied for hundreds of years is tough. Never the less, as you appropriately point out, they were violently attacked in most areas of Europe.

    One of the common slanders is that they are usurers. I finally found out how that got started. When you have been banned from participating in most economic activity you will do what you can. Jews were allowed few options in Europe, lending being one of them. The Lords were especially unhappy because they needed the money, yet, did not like being indebted to Jews!! Similar issues in the Caliphates. Jews often rose to prominence, even advising Caliphs, but, they did NOT like being dependent on Kufir’s especially as it gave backstabbers something to use.

  46. E.M.Smith says:

    @Kuhnkat:

    Long ago I learned to “speak a joke in an absolute monotone” before posting. If it doesn’t sound like a joke then, it needs a smiley face… My presumption is “when in doubt and there is no smiley, it was not a joke.”

    So “no problemo”, I’ve done it myself…

    Also remember that in that era you often were not free to simply move. You ‘belonged’ to the local lords and could not leave without their OK…

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