Nathan Lean does it again: Being an Apologist for a Bad Ideology

At soLean Dawkinsme point in history, the liberals in the West decided that Christianity, particularly Catholicism, was no longer beyond reproach. Since then, the religion has endured (not unreasonably so) a constant barrage of verbal and literary assaults.

And they succeeded. They dethroned Christianity and brought in, to our collective elation, the secular values that they now hold dear.

But the same must not happen in the Islamic world. When people like Richard Dawkins attempt to catalyze the rationalist uprising in the Muslim-majority countries, people like Nathan Lean insist that it’s racist. It was okay for them to pound on Christianity and rid themselves of its yoke, but we just have to find a way to get along with our Islamic oppressors.

Living as a minority in what is a quintessentially Islamic country (about 97% of the population of Pakistan is Muslim, and all laws are subject to approval by Islamic experts), I must impress on how little Nathan Lean knows what he’s talking about. The idea proposed by modernized Muslims and Western liberals is that Islam is a diverse religion, and not all Muslims believe in the same set of principles…which is absolutely true!

Here’s the thing though: if Islam is not represented by those who circumcise girls, kill unbelievers, murder my fellow “apostates”, stone and lash people to death, and allow wife-beating….

…then Islam is also not represented by the peace-loving, modernized Muslims. For them to claim that their benign version of the religion is more authentic than the Islam of the Taliban, Al-Qaeeda and garden-variety kufar-haters, would mean for them to deny the religion’s diverse nature which they always talk about.

What we do instead is look at the bigger picture; of what it has contributed to the world, and what it has stolen from it. Compared to a control group, we consider its propensity to generate intolerance, bigotry and chaos. Compared to any other literature, we consider the scripture’s susceptibility to violent interpretations. Not all its followers, not even a majority, are malevolent. But we do note the tendency of this belief system to inspire hate and malice at a rate higher than what could normally be expected.

Old Testament too has more than its fair share of abominably violent dicta, and Christianity has dealt a massive blow to science and humanity. However, it is ludicrous for liberals in the Western countries to excuse Islam’s present influence by alluding to what the Catholics did hundreds of years ago: the crusades, inquisition, witch-burning and so on. To do so, is like me telling an adult, “It’s okay if you can’t count to 20. I couldn’t do that either 23 years ago (when I was an infant).”

Many years ago, Pakistani professor, Pervez Hoodhboy, wrote an outstanding book called, “Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality”. In it, he put forth the same “racist” and “bigoted” ideas that Lean attacks Dawkins for.  It’s tragic when facts do not coincide with Mr. Leans’ sense of political correctness, but that’s really how the cookie crumbles.

In the book, he acknowledged Muslims’ (some of them were actually atheists/agnostics under Muslim rule) contribution to science back in the middle-ages….as did Dawkins in the second part of his controversial tweet, but that is largely ignored by pot-stirrers whose livelihood depends on mining quotes and presenting them in an inflammatory fashion. But more importantly, Hoodbhoy discussed in detail the crisis of scientific thinking in the Muslim world and pointed to Islam, as gently as he possibly could as a citizen of a country where blasphemy laws exist, as a hindrance to our progress.

Obviously, there are more factors at play here than just religion. Socioeconomic instability, illiteracy and political uncertainty all hinder progress, scientific or otherwise. But is Islam at least a major contributor to this problem?

Consider this: Not too long ago in Pakistani Parliament, a domestic violence bill was blocked mainly because parties like Jamat-e-Ulema-i-Islami (JUI-F) claimed that it violated Quranic law. The Quran , in one of its surahs, allows a husband to beat a wife. Moderate Muslims interpret it differently (I have no idea how, because the verse 4:34 is extremely clear about it), but the truth remains that religion was a major reason why Pakistani husbands were allowed to continue legally thrashing their wives that day.

I wonder what Lean would’ve said had something similar happened in Washington DC; if a domestic violence bill had been stalemated because of bible-thumpers? Knowing that Mr. Lean is no hypocrite, I reckon he would’ve published a tirade against the angry liberals questioning Christianity’s role in this injustice, and called them all “bigoted”.

Nathan Lean, we request you to stop.

We, the minorities/liberals/free-thinking who are hiding/suffering/dying under Islamic rule, are fed up of liberals in the West being apologists for an ideology that is inspiring so much intolerance and hate towards us.

So here’s a simple solution to help you deal with what I, as a doctor, have provisionally diagnosed as munchausen-by-proxy syndrome – the compulsion to fake symptoms of poor health in a patient, in order to get attention for yourself as the patient’s guardian.

I don’t think Islam is the greatest evil in the world, as Mr.Dawkins’s somewhat hyperbolic tweet claimed (I think it was an intentional exaggeration).  But as a Pakistani liberal and freethinker, I can say with certitude that I would’ve personally been using a much smaller dosage of anti-depressants had religion not been in my picture.

If you feel Muslims are being victimized because of someone tweeting facts (and that too, as a response to Muslims who boast how much science owes to them, because someone in the Islamic empire invented sulphuric acid a thousand years ago), you really haven’t been paying to what goes on in the name of Islam around the world. I implore you that you do.

Western Liberals Hate Persecuted Minorities in Islamic Countries

The title says it all. I’ll elaborate..

Ayaan Hisri Ali was only 5 years old when she had her clitoris snipped off in the name of a certain religion. A self-made woman, she pulls herself out of a trouble existence in Somalia, and blooms as an activist and a writer in America. She became a politician in Holland, and dedicates her life to exposing the misogyny inspired by religion, as well as other human rights violations.

The white feminist brigade now regard her as an Islamophobe. It’s a pity because, really, what has Islam ever done to her to deserve such ‘irrational hate’?

In fact, the greatest Islamophobes known to Western liberals are not just hicks from the bible belt, but the same ex-Muslims, those persecuted dissidents, who sawed off their feet to run to the more enlightened parts of the world; places where Islam would no longer be used against them. All “blasphemers” of the East with bounties on their heads, eventually become “Islamophobes” in the West.

Islamophobia is conceived as a form of racism, which is easily among the daftest ideas anyone has ever come up with. Islam is not a race. It is an idea, or a set of ideas, that has no rights.

Muslims deserve respect as people, as one can never truly deduce from one’s “Muslim” label what he/she believes. Muslims are, like everybody else, an extremely diverse group with a diverse set of beliefs.

Western liberals have already adorned the Holy Pope with a thorny crown, due to Christianity’s propensity to inspire racism, homophobia and misogynism. No liberal’s heart aches for this blatant Christophobia because many years ago, they decided that Christianity is not immune from criticism and must be called out for all the nonsense it inspires.

How American liberals and secularists deal with Christianity, is how Pakistani liberals and secularists deal with Islam; with eye-rolls, impatience, skepticism. The mention of the word leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many a non-Muslim here, as they recall the injustices they’ve suffered in its name.

Every effort by activists against minority abuses in Tunisia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran – any Islamic country – is effectively thwarted by quoting scripture. In Pakistan national assembly, a Domestic Violence Bill was shelved because it contradicted Islamic values, earlier in 2012. The bill was sent into a coma as women activists screamed for justice outside the Parliament.

Do you have any idea what it feels like, to live in a country where Islam is a constant bane for women’s freedom and equality…..and then listen to Western liberals being apologists for the ideology that’s used to rubbish all our struggles for minority rights, women rights and even social justice in general?

To come home defeated from a protest, as a mullah-ridden parliament shoots down another bill for social equality in Islam’s name….and then hear some white feminist say dumb shit like, “Islam is not the problem! Patriarchy is!”

Yes, but what of the systems, the ideologies that are reinforcing and inspiring this patriarchy? Patriarchy is not some mystical dark energy that oozes out from soil, it is a social setup maintained and upheld by certain engines. Old, organized religion is, beyond a reasonable doubt, one of those engines.

As for the Muslims, it is incorrect to stereotype them all as oppressed. But it should be noted that a large number of them have been stripped of some basic rights, including the freedom of belief and self-expression.

Most Muslims do not feel oppressed, because they never use this right anyway. What they believe and express is already in line with what the Islamic societies demand. It is the non-Muslims, the ex-Muslims, the secularists, dissidents, who feel the true sting of not having this right. And when they complain, they have their voices drowned out…every…single…fucking…time, by the Muslim majority dismissing the notion of any unusual oppression in their society.

Western Liberals, as a courtesy to the Muslim minorities in their countries, have fallen in bed with an ideology that is the complete antithesis of their own secular ideas and liberal agenda.

You don’t have to be a “Mussie-hater” to be critical of the Islamic ideology and its effects on our world. No more than you have to hate smokers to acknowledge the risks of cigarettes to our health.

Random Offensive Idea #2

17/4/13. 5:19 pm Random-offensive-idea-that-I’m-not-proud-of-but-makes-sense

In the spirit of equality, Islamic nations must implement death penalty for insult to Charles Darwin, Huxley, Dawkins and other atheist heroes, as a way of protecting atheists from being gravely offended. This shall be in acknowledgment of the fact that religious people do not have All Rights Reserved to being offended.

Furthermore, a Belieber bill must be passed to protect the sentiments of Justin Bieber fans by immunizing him from serious insult.

Should the above propositions be denied, a ‘Grow The Fuck Up’ bill must be introduced to the floor, which calls for the government to be relieved of the responsibility of safeguarding the sentiments of emotionally unstable citizens.

Inspiration: Turkish pianist convicted of blasphemy

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Note: The author neither attempts to implement, nor endorses the implementation of a ‘Random Offensive Idea’. These dramatic/violent posts are purely satirical in nature.

Random Offensive Idea #1

16/4/13. 9:07 pm Random-offensive-idea-that-I’m-not-proud-of-but-makes-sense

June marks the beginning of Hunter-Hunting Season.

It is bad enough to kill animals for food despite healthy alternatives, but inexcusable to kill them for personal entertainment, which is indicative of one’s departure from humanity. And if you’re neither human, nor endangered…

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Note: The author neither attempts to implement, nor endorses the implementation of a ‘Random Offensive Idea’. These dramatic/violent posts are purely satirical in nature.

This Blog Post is Against Our Culture (and is sponsored by Jews)

The demonic child of Mr. Nail and Madame Chalkboard is a term used repeatedly in Pakistan to justify any kind of censorship and moral policing, however ludicrous.

The term, “against our culture” is a curious little brain-bugger. What precisely is “our” culture, and who among us has the privilege to define it? Is it at all possible that your culture may be different from mine, and that it’s unfair to use your government as a platform to promote one kind of culture as opposed to the others?

I’ve frequently been mocked as “excessively Westernized”, which is now a badge I wear with some pride. It’s not that I believe the Western cultures are without their faults, but I do concede that they’re better.

Pakistanis, and I fear this is true for most third world countries, are unable to differentiate between foreign cultures and socially-advanced cultures. The Western nations are often scowled at for their acceptance of gay rights, gender equality and many other concepts that we find outlandish. And an attempt to import these concepts into countries like Pakistan, generates an abundance of angry, full-caps tweets from around the world, hash-tagged with ‘racism’.

The thing is that there’s nothing “Western” about these ideas. These nations share a horrific history of  treating gay people as inglorious HIV-dispensers, and women as decorative commodities. These nations have suffered through a plague of socially-acceptable slut-shaming (not that the disease has been entirely eradicated yet). Traditional America has been a nightmare for transgender people, so has old Europe.

What I’m saying is that what the culture of today’s Pakistan is not too dissimilar to the culture of America in the 70’s. The difference is that they evolved past the hate, the exclusionism, racism, and while they still need to evolve much further, they deserve credit for what they’ve achieved.

Meanwhile, we haven’t evolved enough. Watching the bikini-wearing, gay-accepting, alcohol-chugging and even marijuana-smoking culture of the West is, for Pakistanis, like gazing into a crystal ball at our social future 30, 50 or 100 years from now on. That is, if we survive long enough to allow the transition, and not start devolving into a complete mullah state.

Most of what we see is not a foreign culture, but a ‘developed’ culture.

..which is a message for the people of the West too. I am hopelessly in love with Pakistan’s famous truck art; the Islamic architecture; Pakistani heritage sites; our musical tablas and sitars; countless colorful, wondrous things about various kinds of lifestyles that people live in Pakistan. Just as I admire mardi gras parades, American folk music, hamburgers, European films…

But never, for a minute, tolerate injustice, homophobia, or gender inequality in the name of multiculturalism. You too must be able to draw the distinction between a foreign culture and an outdated culture. Resist the shariah court, or any other kind of religious court that delivers verdicts based on archaic laws that are an insult to human dignity.

On Nude Protests: Open Letter to MuslimahPride and Friends

Dear Muslimahs,

You deny that you’re oppressed. That may very well be true, but consider the following:

In the early 1900’s, an organization known as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOW) was operating unflaggingly to prevent women, such as your yourselves, from being able to vote. Interestingly, this anti-suffrage movement was being spearheaded by prominent women like Mrs. Arthur Dodge and Mrs. Crannell. These women too did not believe that they were being oppressed by being denied their voting rights.

Femen, or feminists in general, are not opposed to your right to wear hijab, or cover yourself up however you please. We do have concerns about this kind of self-imposed clothing restrictions that men don’t have to put up with, but forcing you not to wear such clothing would defeat the purpose of feminism. Your right to wear these garments has never been in question.

But know this..

Pardah (conservative clothing) is never really your ‘choice’ unless you have the right to refuse pardah also. Claiming that it is your choice is like standing outside a closed mall saying that you “choose” not to shop there. What other option do you have?

If a community where relieving yourself of pardah would be perceived as a green signal for harassment, or even get you in trouble with the law, you are not choosing pardah. You are submitting to it. The only question here is, are you submitting willingly or unwillingly?

Please repudiate the notion that the Western idea of gender equality is different from yours; that is is acceptable for Western women to be able to wear what they wish, but you’d rather not have that freedom because you’re Muslims. Besides, the movement is not just about you. It is about countless women out there who are forced to follow Islamic values against their will.

There’s a growing paranoia among the Muslim world that the Western feminists are marching in to rip the hijabs off your heads. That is not how this is going to be. Nobody is promoting nudity! That is simply an art of protest that screams: “My body, my choice”.

Lastly, you may be concerned about FEMEN’s alleged disrespect towards your religion. You need to understand that your religion is consistently used for moral dictatorship and causing tremendous suffering to the cultural and religious minorities in Islamic countries. It is impossible to condemn what happened to women like Aliaa Elmahdy and Amina Tyler, without addressing the ideology that inspires such problems again and again.

I acknowledge that Islam is not a monolithic faith, and that your interpretation of it may not be the same as that of the Islamists who threatened to stone Tyler to death for her nude protest. But you’re missing the point FEMEN is trying to make with provocative statements like “Fuck your morals”; it is that we should not have to debate over the interpretations of religion to reach a conclusion that enforcing our values on others is just plain unacceptable.

We, as civilized and tolerant human beings, should be able to decide upon that using our conscience alone, regardless of what your religion has to say about it.

To each, her own. And yes, this freedom is for you too.

Nude Protests: Is Feminism Different for Different Cultures?

It’s understandable why the Islamists would protest against FEMEN’s ‘jihad’ campaign. It escapes me why any educated liberal, in the Western or the Muslim world, would support the #MuslimahPride on this.

Western feminists of the Jezebel variety have, through their opposition to FEMEN, set an example that their cherished concepts of gender-equality and freedom are not applicable to the Muslim world. Being able to wear what you want is a Western-thingy, and preaching the same to the Muslim world would be “culturally insensitive”. Note that FEMEN members have employed the same tactics when protesting against the Catholic Church’s misogynistic policies.

For Western liberals, it has become fashionable to revere foreign cultures as it allows them to feel more open-minded. In their outstanding ignorance, they often become apologists for cultures and ideologies that are consistently inspiring unspeakable crimes against humanity, and women in particular.

This is but the only conclusion one may draw from the act of supporting Amina Tyler for nude protests and cursing FEMEN for doing exactly the same!

The peaceful religious people being offended by Femen’s protest are the theist apologists who do not have the decency to flatly disown a source of unfathomable suffering to the world.

It’s those who are still mucking about with translations and interpretations and no-true-Scotsman fallacy, trying to unlink themselves from all the damage being generated by the ideology they revere. Those who are more enthusiastic about defending their ‘precious little believies‘ than defending human freedom and well-being. That’s the reason the MuslimahPride group is practically teeming with self-righteous assholes, generally more concerned about women’s modesty than the suffering inflicted upon countless women like Amina Tyler.

Being an anti-Islamist doesn’t make you anti-Muslim by default. Take it from a liberal Pakistani man with Muslim parents, mostly Muslim friends, and a whole bunch of Muslim heroes, none of whom I intend to offend by my criticism of their religion.

If Todd Akin ever issues a statement, “Women are a tilth for men to plant seeds in however they please” (Quran, 2:223), heads will explode from London to New York. Nobody will excuse this incident fearing that an attack on Akin would be an offense to all his political supporters because, you know, not all his supporters endorse this statement. No liberal would defend him saying, “Oh, you’re misinterpreting Mr. Akin’s words” or “You need to read all of Akin’s statements ever made before you decide whether you like him or not”.

At least in theory, there should be no confusion among us that these are harmful ideologies unworthy of our defense. Whether we choose to tread lightly or act diplomatically to safeguard the world from them, without endangering the peaceful Muslims, is another matter.