Sunday, February 12, 2006

They Never Expected the Spanish Inquisition

Here is a line from this AP report, it is unbelievable:
“Saudi Arabia's top cleric said in a Friday sermon that it was too late for apologies and those responsible for the drawings should be put on trial and punished.”
The history of Islam has been very troublesome for its neighbors and the above is an example of why that is so. Traditionally Islam has seen non-believers as second class citizens so it only makes sense that they also believe that Islamic law should hold sway over any secular law or non-Islamic religious law. Back in the seventies Monty Python's Flying Circus had a wonderful skit that lampooned the Spanish Inquisition; the punch line was the oft repeated “they never expected the Spanish Inquisition.” What this cleric is suggesting takes the Inquisition idea out to the neighborhood of Salem in 1692. Back when those Python shows were new it was assumed that the Spanish Inquisition was about as bad as a religious courtroom could get, we were wrong and we will likely see the live version soon. (As I was writing this the AP has reported that the Yemenis have arrested three journalists for republishing “blasphemous” cartoons. Actually they’ve been doing this sort of thing for years.) Another problem faced by those who have to coexist (apparently anywhere in the world) with extreme Muslims is the decentralized nature of that religion. “Saudi Arabia's top cleric” is not the Pope or his equivilant; whom exactly he speaks for I am not sure, but the citizens of Saudi Arabia is a good guess. Back during the summer of 2001 I read a short article in the Financial Times; it reported that one Yusuf Islam had re-issued a fatwah against Salman Rushdie. Yusuf is the former Cat Stevens, a folk singer from the seventies who had a hit song named “Peace Train”; there I go with the seventies again. Cat Stevens isn’t the Pope either, so I don’t know what the heck he was doing issuing religious death edicts. Imagine if that practice was widespread in other religions, it could wreak havoc: Bernie Taupin - “I issue a fatwah on that bitch Sir Elton”, Keith Richards – “I issue a fatwah on that gallon bottle of Jack Daniels for being empty”, Mick Jagger – “I issue a personal fatwah to be served in my hotel room on that girl, her friend and her mother”. As you can see it would be messy and I didn’t even mention Lil’ Kim or Madonna. The Rushdie situation was a precursor to this cartoon nonsense; sure Mr. Rushdie is still walking the earth, but where was the unified Western response to religious death threats made against a novelist? At the time some commentators stated that Mr. Rushdie’s book “the Satanic Verses” was an insult to Islam. If that book had been considered blasphemous to Christianity, especially Catholicism or one of the more fundamentalist branches of Christianity, many of those commentators would have praised the book for being “objective” or some other mealy-mouthed adjective. By the way, the Neo-Neocon recently wrote about Mr. Rushdie’s recent third marriage to a woman who can easily be described as “quite fetching” both here and here. A third problem is addressed by Mark Steyn in his Sun Times article this morning, Steyn points out the problem of Muslim thugs and how they use intimidation to gain power and enforce their beliefs and taboos. It has always struck me that a certain, unknown, percentage of the population can be reasonably called sadists, thugs would generally fall in that group. Sadists are critical to non-democratic governments; where would Stalin have been without people to intimidate all of the people around him, including the other intimidators?


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