A Western Liberal’s Guide to Islamic Realities

If you’re an American liberal, or a liberal from any one of the other ‘Western’ nations, there’s a chance that you’ve worn out the word ‘Islamophobia’ through repetitive use.

One such liberal is Nathan Lean, who wrote an almost-horeshit article for Salon recently. “Almost” because it raises some valid points, “horseshit” because, well, it’s horseshit.

For too long, many Western liberals have acted as apologists for the Islamic ideology as a special courtesy to the Muslim minorities who, since 9/11, have suffered much discrimination. Please stop that. Recognize the difference between attacking Muslims and attacking  their beliefs, these are not the same.

Nathan Lean makes the following objections about the activities of prominent atheists, which I will respond to individually.

1) Dawkins cannot assert that Islam’s a dangerous ideology if he hasn’t read the Quran.

I liked Dawkins’ example that you can conclude that Nazism is dangerous without actually reading the Mein Kampf (this is not a correlation between the two books).

It’s evident from Dawkins’ works that he is very well aware of Islamic concepts and beliefs, even if he has not read the exact text from which these beliefs are derived.  That, and the statistical fact that religious terrorism is almost entirely a fief of Islam in today’s world, imbues some credibility to Dawkins’ claims.

2) Chomsky has criticized Dawkins and Hitchens as “religious fanatics” who demand that their followers blindly support the whims of politicians.

Chomsky’s a dick. Take it from a citizen of Pakistan, whose army Chomsky has publicly praised as highly efficient – the same organization that is accused of providing protection to Osama bin Laden (whose hideout was only a short drive away from a military academy) as well as other Islamist groups, consistently interfering in the country’s political processes, and committing unspeakable human rights violations in Balochistan.

Besides, the crux of Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ entire narrative is evidence, evidence and evidence. Speaking of which, Chomsky cannot offer any proof that these two have ever led their followers to blindly support anything.

3) Dawkins’ tweets about women in Islam

Dawkins tweeted: “Islam is comforting? Tell that to a woman, dressed in a bin bag [trash bag], her testimony worth half a man’s and needing 4 male witnesses to prove rape.”

Assuming that Nathan Lean has read the Quran, unlike Dawkins who allegedly just pulls stuff out of his behind, he should be aware of the following verse:

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And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. (2:282)
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And unlike Christians, most Muslims today take the Quran literally.

The four-witnesses rule has been followed by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan until 2006 (and still followed in certain Islamic countries). And full body covering is a common religious rule which, though not strictly found in the Quran, is followed by countless Muslims around the world in the name of Islam. These are not just actions of a “few bad Muslims”, these are hard Islamic principles.

And then there’s the objection to this tweet by Dawkins: “Next gem from BBC Idiot Zoo: ‘Some women feel “protected” by the niqab.'”. It’s an objection that makes no sense, unless you think covering your face is a harmless thing, and not a social barrier. Clearly, you’re not a feminist.

Dawkins and other prominent atheists have been just as sardonic and acerbic with unreasonable Christian dicta.

4) Dawkins lambasted UCL and the Islamic group for allowing segregation.

They didn’t allow the segregation, they enforced it. Lawrence Krauss reported that he was outraged to see some nice young people being split up and told where to sit by the organizers, which was apparently the trigger for him almost storming out.

Lean makes a fair point that Dawkins should have criticized the gender-separate seating options for orthodox Jews at the Barclays Center, New York. But it’s highly likely that it simply did not fall on Dawkins’ radar (the UCL gender-segregation incident was made famous in the atheist community because it was hosting a God debate. Also, unless you’re advocating the two-wrongs-make-a-right-rule, I think we’re done.

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Dear Western Liberals,

I’m an ex-Muslim, born and raised among the Muslims in an Islamic country. I’ve studied Islam in much detail. And unlike you, who might have done the same probably just to appear more open-minded to your liberal friends, I did it because I had very little choice in the matter.

Your apologia for Islam offends us; a personal slap to my face, and to the face of just about every ex-Muslim, every woman, homosexual, non-Muslim, freethinker and free-spirit, who has been discriminated against, if not overtly oppressed, under Islamic law.

Your fervor for defending Muslims from discrimination and wicked stereotypes is admirable, and I share this fervor as well. But I must insist that you recognize the distinction between protecting Muslims’ from bigots, and acknowledging the dangers posed by the Islamic ideology.

No, all Muslims are not misogynists or terrorists. But that is usually because they have made a conscious or subconscious decision to ignore many of the rougher, archaic tenets, or re-interpret them to become more compatible with the modern era. Otherwise, you cannot be a spokesperson for gender equality, the LGBT community, free speech, AND Islam at the same time.

Again, please stop cozying up to an obviously harmful ideology as a courtesy to the mistreated Muslim minorities in your countries.

United We Stand

Coexist

“Dude, Where’s My Foreskin?” Asks Ex-Muslim Atheist

They could not have branded a big “M” for “Muslim” on my back with a hot iron rod, so they chose the next best option: circumcision.

You may see this as superfluous screeching over the loss of a useless little flap of penile skin. It doesn’t matter. It was MY useless little flap of penile skin. And its amputation sans medical necessity implies parental “ownership” of a child, rather than “guardianship”.

Parents, it seems, are not temporary caretakers of a child’s body until he becomes mature and smart enough to make decisions about it on his own. No, they have the express authority to manipulate the body according to their own religious beliefs. Continue reading

Moderates: Fuck em’

“Moderate” is the most ridiculously overused and irritating term of the 21st century. Often, people swaying unmistakably towards the liberal or conservative side of the median, declare themselves to be “moderates” in a pitiful attempt to appear more rational than others.

In Pakistan, everybody’s a moderate! We have moderates who hate fags; moderates who are Taliban-apologists and Mumtaz Qadri fans; moderates who call you a whore for not wearing a dupatta..

..and then we have the closeted-liberal moderates – the ones who are too coward to embrace the much-sullied, stigmatized party of liberalism, and choose to describe themselves with less controversial terms like “centrist” or “moderate”.

These are the kind of people who would keep repeating the same asinine, insipid shit over and over and over and over again:
“You know, the extreme of everything is bad. So I just choose to take the middle-ground!”

Choke on a musical dildo! I insist!

Of course the extreme of everything is unhealthy (God, what an epiphany!) but unfortunately, there is no objective definition of what counts as “extremism” in this country. In Pakistan, a right-winger usually has to blow up a bunch of schools; issue fatwas against people for…I don’t know…wearing brown socks or whatever; support murderers; call for oppressive laws against the minorities…

..before he finally earns the title of “extremist”.

You know what a liberal has to do here to become an extremist? He has to support Veena Malik’s right to flash a side-boob! I’ve not met a single Pakistani liberal who isn’t mocked as “liberal extremist”, “pseudo-liberal” or “liberal fascist”.

In Pakistan, “liberal extremists” are an imaginary party created to balance out the “religious extremists”, who are the real threat to our nation’s social, economic and political stability. The worst that you can charge the “liberal extremists” with, is snobbery, elitism or perhaps, political inertness.

The middle-ground isn’t always the right answer. If the matter of protecting Ahmadi minorities from discriminatory laws comes up, I wouldn’t want you to say, “Yeah, I support the liberals, but I also think the oppressive mullahs make a good point”. I would want you to take a fucking side and stop pussyfooting around the central pylon. And learn what argumentum ad temperantiam means.

Calling yourself a moderate is “in”, because the title requires no real credentials, and makes you look smart and impervious to highly polarized rhetoric. But you know what I hear when you announce yourself a moderate? I hear a person too stupid and uninformed to take a real stand for anything.

Of course, you don’t have to pick the same side for every matter. I’m a liberal when it comes to LGBT rights, and a conservative when it comes to GMO labelling. But I’m not going to label myself a moderate or a centrist because of the 10-15% of the cases where I side with the conservatives. It is because I lean heavily towards the liberal side of the median, that I find it appropriate to label myself a liberal.

A proud, happy liberal!

Secular Groups and Intra-House Politics

It’s bad enough that the free-thinkers are among the most widely persecuted groups in the world; that many of us are forced to keep our identities secret just so we can avoid being yelled at, discriminated against, or shot for apostasy. Evidently, I need to guard my ass from factions within the secular groups too.

Pakistan Atheists and Agnostics (PAA), and countless other secular groups around the world, are not just social clubs. Our cohesiveness is a defense mechanism. This group supported me when I had to climb out of my dorm window as a mob at my university tried to attack me for being an atheist. They were there to ward off the feeling of crippling isolation I felt in the year following my de-conversion. They were there to assist me through the daily frustration of hiding my identity from everybody, including my parents.

Naturally, I feel that people who allow unpleasant experiences with group members to generate rifts within the group itself, can go fuck a jagged keyhole.

We’re not a cult, but we are a support group. And we stick together for more reasons than just religion-bashing. Atheists and agnostics who deny this persecution are invited to step out of whatever sorry Defense, Bahria or F-sector bubble they live in and smell the air of real Pakistan.

It is becoming increasingly painful for me to introduce myself as a feminist, knowing what self-proclaimed feminists they have done locally and internationally to secular groups. I sympathize with women who have faced sexism within these circles, but I have nil respect for the ass-lords who treat misogynism as a uniquely “secular” phenomenon, instead of a general phenomenon which is present among all groups including, yes, the atheist ones.

I’m talking, of course, about people like Rebecca “Elevatorgate” Watson and the Atheism+ crowd. They are the ones who have almost completely dedicated their lives to sabotaging the secular movement by portraying sexism as an “atheist problem” rather than a pandemic that’s pervading the secular community just as it’s pervading others.

While providing additional ammunition to a world that is already starkly anti-atheist, they tend to ignore the fact that atheists and agnostics are far better aligned with the cause of feminism than the general population. Without religion, we have one less excuse to support the anti-abortion, hetero-normative, “cover-yourself-in-a-trashbag-so-I-feel-less-tempted” attitude.

PAA, and I’m certain this is true for other groups too, is hounded by people who have allowed bystanding members to become collateral damage in their personal relationship battles; who have downed group websites, and threatened to rat out their fellow atheists possibly putting their lives at risk; who are engaged in a perpetual vendetta, an endless bitch-fit against an atheist group(s).

Get…a…grip!

I’m not advocating tribal mentality. Perhaps secularists in the developed world are in a better state, but we in the developing countries, particularly the Muslim world, have enough extrinsic shit to deal with without the unending intra-house politics.

Woman in Black #2

Woman in Black #2

YouTube ban unlikely to be lifted in Pakistan:
http://tribune.com.pk/story/506765/government-decides-to-continue-youtube-ban/

Woman in Black meme

Hypocritical BabeNote: Not trying to make a general statement about hijabi or niqabi women being self-righteous. Just satirizing a common attitude observed here in Pakistan.