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  • Why are we in Afghanistan again?


    by Rumbold
    1st April, 2009 at 10:30 am    

    Presumably it is to ensure that the Afghan government can pass laws like this:

    “The final document has not been published, but the law is believed to contain articles that rule women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex…

    Leaders of the Hazara minority, which is regarded as the most important bloc of swing voters in the election, also demanded the new law.

    Ustad Mohammad Akbari, an MP and the leader of a Hazara political party, said the president had supported the law in order to curry favour among the Hazaras. But he said the law actually protected women’s rights.”

    The right to be controlled.

    (Hat-Tip: Amrit)


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    Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Sex equality






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    1. pickles

      New blog post: Why are we in Afghanistan again? http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4033


    2. Afghanistan to amend rape law, probably | Free Political Forum

      [...] a law which legalised rape in marriage in the minority Shia community of Afghanistan was heavily [...]




    1. Random Guy — on 1st April, 2009 at 10:50 am  

      I wouldn’t worry about it too much Rumbold. The U.S. is already fixing up to engineer the next range of Afghan Elections as it has fallen out with Karzai (I suspect this has to do with the military escalation taking place there).

      Expect much more rhetoric in the coming months in the media about how Karzai has failed etc. as the U.S. (and whoever poodles after it) steps up its efforts.

      Business as usual then for Neo-Imperialism.

    2. NielsC — on 1st April, 2009 at 11:12 am  

      Why we are in Afghanistan
      Beceause if we weren’t, then thousands of afghans will be here.

    3. platinum786 — on 1st April, 2009 at 11:16 am  

      Karzai has failed, as has his government, replacing him with another tool isn’t going to work, the Taliban are marching to Kabul, the best anyone can hope for is the troop surge slows them down, so you can negociate a face saving exit strategy from Afghanistan, which will involve splitting the Taliban and al Queda. A lot of their “local commanders” are people put up by the pukhtoon tribes, give the tribes power and seats in power and see the presence of the “Taliban” reduce.

      The new laws are shocking. It really p1sses me off these people pass this sh1t off as Islam. Even the conservatives within Islamic society will tell you that this is not inline with Islamic rulings. Pass teh laws all you like, it’s your sh1t hole, do what you want with it, but don’t malign Islam in the process. It’s very dissapointing to see such a law being passed, by any government. Afghan culture needs to face this the same way as problems like Honour killing etc.

      Btw, some of you may be aware of the term Mehram. It’s basically someone from within your family (husband, son, father brother) who is supposed to travel with a Muslim female and accompany her if she is travelling on a journey for more than 3 days and 3 nights. That is the ruling given in the hadith. Today that is mostly interpreted as 48 miles (roughly), however it is also said that you can travel wherever you like as long as you have permission from a mehram.

      Now the logic behind the rule is from a perspective of safety etc. In the past historically there have been examples where islamic governments have altered this distance etc, due to the safety concerns of their country at the time.

      At the moment it’s pretty safe to travel around the world, airports are safe places, our motorways are not known for banditry etc, so for a Muslim woman in the UK, this hadith should not be restrictive of long distant travelling for her. However since the Muslim world has not had a single body, a single real authority in nearly a hundred years (the ottoman empire only counts on paper really, but i count it). we’ve not had a proper intellectual level discussion on it all.

    4. platinum786 — on 1st April, 2009 at 11:18 am  

      Neil, that’s actually quite funny, because due to your presence, tens of thousands of afghans have actually come to the UK as refugees…..LOL

    5. The Common Humanist — on 1st April, 2009 at 11:45 am  

      “this hadith should not be restrictive of long distant travelling for her”

      How about as a human being she can go where the feck she likes irrespective of what any man says, relative or otherwise?

      These laws are islamic - just a different interpretation to yours. Cultural islam if you will.

      Why are women so poorly regarding by certain strands of islam? Why to salsfists/ wahhabists are they baby producing property?

    6. platinum786 — on 1st April, 2009 at 11:48 am  

      It’s the rules, if you don’t like them, feel free to live outside of them. Why am I not allowed to enter private property? It’s the rules.

      Simply because some aspects of Islamic rulings don’t appeal to you or are outside of your norms, it means nothing to me. I’m not going to make excuses or be an apolgist for my religion as some people do/are.

      The fact is the law within Afghanistan is not within Islamic law, it is Afghan culture, and I protest them presenting it as such. I also don’t like their law.

    7. The Common Humanist — on 1st April, 2009 at 11:57 am  

      Or is it within Afghani Islam?

      Treating women as domestic serfs should be outside of any mans norms, irrespective of culture or religion.

    8. qidniz — on 1st April, 2009 at 12:17 pm  

      Why are women so poorly regarding by certain strands of islam? Why to salsfists/ wahhabists are they baby producing property?

      Among other things, there’s Q2:223.

      By “tilth”, there hangs a tale[*], which has raised other considerations and implications.

      Passing it off as “Afghan culture” is the usual run of denial, of course.

      [*] If the page comes up with just Arabic, there will be a toolbar item labeled “English” towards the top left.

    9. platinum786 — on 1st April, 2009 at 1:01 pm  

      prove3 it to be otherwise. christ didn’t take little boys in the backroom, some catholic priests do. Bad example I know as it’s unacceptable in any situation, but you can’t blame religion for their actions. Or are you one of those who reckons islam made 911 happen?

    10. Jai — on 1st April, 2009 at 1:16 pm  

      People make bad things happen. Blaming the ideology/theology (essentially an inanimate object), though understandable, is misguided. Ditto for adherents who behave in certain negative ways and say “It’s not me, it’s my religion which says I have to do this”, thus attempting to divest themselves of personal responsibility for their own actions.

      An ideology/theology cannot “make” anyone do anything. Somewhere along the line, the person concerned has made a conscious decision to subordinate themselves and their own independent intellect to the contents of the ideology/theology (to a lesser or greater degree), interpret them in a certain way, and then act accordingly. It’s basically a result of whatever’s going on inside their own heads.

    11. Amrit — on 1st April, 2009 at 3:23 pm  

      What I find so unbelievable about their logic is the idea that a woman will be ‘safe’ with male relatives. Er, hello, incest? Child sexual abuse?

      “Men and women have equal rights under Islam but there are differences in the way men and women are created. Men are stronger and women are a little bit weaker; even in the west you do not see women working as firefighters.”

      Akbari said the law gave a woman the right to refuse sexual intercourse with her husband if she was unwell or had another reasonable “excuse”. And he said a woman would not be obliged to remain in her house if an emergency forced her to leave without permission.

      This sort of all-in-one-breath doublethink is incredible. By that logic, Elisabeth Fritzl would never have been able to escape her father; she would’ve just been sent straight back, given that it was he who was ‘supposed’ to protect her.

      And apologies if this sounds distasteful, but it’s also a very convenient way to ‘solve’ i.e., suffocate the problem of marital rape and/or domestic violence - if the wife’s suffering and she can’t leave the house except in an emergency - great! She’ll just die at the hands of her husband, and then the authorities can go on record and smugly claim that their ‘brand’ of Islam is soooooo successful at upholding gender ‘equality’ and de-sexualising people.

      I’m sorry, but theocracy (in all its forms) can just fuck right off.

    12. The Common Humanist — on 1st April, 2009 at 3:32 pm  

      Exactly Amrit.

      Am sure Munir will be along any moment to defend this religious fascism……… he excuses every other crime committed in islams name and I doubt this will be any different.

      Wahhabism as exhibited in Ch4s recent Dispatches looks like, and is, a form of insanity - the ideological closemindedness, the paranoia, the incesscent conspiricism, irrational hatred of women and let us not forget the incessant rocking back and forth…..

      Religious Fascistic Madness, or Talebanism as it is also known, will destroy the Islamic World like a cancer.

    13. Katy Newton — on 1st April, 2009 at 3:41 pm  

      gave a woman the right to refuse sexual intercourse with her husband if she was unwell or had another reasonable “excuse”

      How’s “I did not want to have sex with him” for a reasonable excuse? Oh.

    14. Don — on 1st April, 2009 at 4:19 pm  

      even in the west you do not see women working as firefighters

      Of course you do, and not just in the west.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/herbertfernandes/2448986336/

    15. Don — on 1st April, 2009 at 4:34 pm  

      And while on the subject of the trashing of women’s rights in Afghanistan, support for Pervez Kambaksh would be helpful.

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

      http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=58129598684

    16. Verbal_Reciprocity — on 1st April, 2009 at 4:39 pm  

      @Platinum786

      “prove3 it to be otherwise. christ didn’t take little boys in the backroom, some catholic priests do. Bad example I know as it’s unacceptable in any situation, but you can’t blame religion for their actions.”

      Sure you can. Why do you think this problem is only in the Catholic sect as opposed to other sects of Christianity? It is because Catholicism does not allow its priests to marry.

      “Or are you one of those who reckons islam made 911 happen?”

      The victim culture is omnipresent in Islam, it perpetuates a sense of grievance that unlike most religions justifies the 9/11, 7/7, 3/11, and 11/26′s of the world to some.

    17. Ravi Naik — on 1st April, 2009 at 5:07 pm  

      Sure you can. Why do you think this problem is only in the Catholic sect as opposed to other sects of Christianity? It is because Catholicism does not allow its priests to marry.

      That’s rather disingenuous. There is a considerable section of the population who is not married, and that does not turn them into pedophiles. Furthermore, if you really want to get married or have sexual relations, you do not become a priest. Or you become one, and have a secret lover. Abusing children, in my view, has nothing to do with being allowed to get married.

    18. comrade — on 1st April, 2009 at 7:55 pm  

      Why are we in Afaganistan?
      We might be asking ourselfs, why we are in Pakistan in the near future. Anyway, why are we in Afganistan?

    19. qidniz — on 1st April, 2009 at 8:27 pm  

      Or are you one of those who reckons islam made 911 happen?

      Gosh, it must have been Buddhists who hijacked those planes, right? What people do for karma! *shakes head ruefully*

    20. kenni — on 1st April, 2009 at 9:52 pm  

      Hmmm…wouldn’t Afghanistan be a happier place now if they could have stayed Buddhist a thousand years ago….not that they had the option.

    21. persephone — on 1st April, 2009 at 10:09 pm  

      “it is also said that you can travel wherever you like as long as you have permission from a mehram”

      1. Whoever endorses this/the laws think a woman cannot think/decide for herself if its safe to go out despite being the exalted garden bearer of the future generation.

      2. The mere permissory word of a mehram ensures her safety - no doubt would be attackers/rapists run away in droves when they hear of it by osmosis

      Yep its the c word again - not culture but control.

      “the logic behind the rule is from a perspective of safety”

      Or from another perspective. Written by certain minded men for like minded men.

      It truly would be safety if the authorities ensured it was safe for women to go out per se. If it were from a perspective of safety do the men stay indoors too or are no men ever attacked/harassed when outside in afghanistan?

    22. persephone — on 1st April, 2009 at 10:14 pm  

      Amrit @ 11 “By that logic, Elisabeth Fritzl would never have been able to escape her father; she would’ve just been sent straight back, given that it was he who was ’supposed’ to protect her”

      Its saddening to think how many are in that position but that it is ‘endorsed’ by culture & scriptures/ rules written by some old bloke 100′s of years ago

    23. MaidMarian — on 1st April, 2009 at 10:23 pm  

      platinum786 - ‘Or are you one of those who reckons islam made 911 happen?’

      Well, who are you blaming? Bernard Manning?

      I guess that what you are trying to say is that we should consider the motives of attackers, and consider whether they may have any legitimate greviance.

      I disagree. It is valid to believe that, on principle, anyone who is intending to commit mass-murder in the middle of a civillian city has taken themselves outside what is legitimate and should be found and put out of harm’s way. These people are dangerous terrorists!

      Do you really think that there is some sort of grand Islamic bortherhood? That muslim countries do not war with each other? Islam in context is little more than a cause for the dangerously frustrated,

      The moral equivalence you bring makes things worse, because you demand the secular population of the UK understand and accept any violence dressed up as grievance.

      The root cause of Islamist terror is Islamist ideology - I struggle to see why so many want to deny that.

    24. Random Guy — on 1st April, 2009 at 10:30 pm  

      And what is the root cause of mindless wars built on lies?

      I love seeing halfwits frothing at any chance to talk about Islamic “Terror” and “Ideology”, yet I never see the same buffoons undertaking any critical analysis of all the deceit and terror their own governments are causing. It is utterly pathetic how a topic called “What are we doing in Afghanistan” transforms into “ooh look, a terribly wicked ideology!” with literally no in-between step.

      And in response to #20 - Kenni you knob, why don’t you talk about the choice that the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died in the seconf Gulf War had? Its a teeny bit closer in history you know.

      “Clean up your own doorstep before you go looking at your neighbours’”.

    25. kenni — on 2nd April, 2009 at 12:54 am  

      @ Random Guy - Relax man, I was just saying the Afghans would be more chilled out today if they could have stayed Buddhist. That’s hardly a controversial statement! I just thank the Gods that my ancestors had the balls to defeat Islam when it came knocking otherwise I would be thinking like YOU!

    26. kenni — on 2nd April, 2009 at 1:36 am  

      …and please, stop yelling neo imperialism to divert us from what is basically a seriously insane ideology. There has been more imperialism under the banner of Islam than the Romans and British put together….knob.

    27. fug — on 2nd April, 2009 at 1:51 am  

      they are there as it was a knee jerk, easy early scalp to claim post 9/11.

    28. I am a Troll — on 2nd April, 2009 at 3:44 am  

      When did Afghanistan become a safe country? While you guys are trying to make a point about women’s agency as an adult you guys dont live in this lawless dangerous country. It isnt safe for women and children to be out by themselves and they arent enough guns and pepper spray to go around to protect themselves and their children. Until then men are reponsible for the safety and security of their female members. You guys can make your points when Afghanistan has better security. Until then shut up.

    29. qidniz — on 2nd April, 2009 at 7:49 am  

      People make bad things happen.

      The issue is not making, it’s doing. People do bad things…

      Blaming the ideology/theology (essentially an inanimate object), though understandable, is misguided.

      …and ideology is often a fully sufficient explanation of why people do bad things.

      To repeat, the issue is not making and how, but doing and why. Causality is not necessarily mechanical. And religious ideology can be quite motivating. As Steven Weinberg once said, “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

      Somewhere along the line, the person concerned has made a conscious decision to subordinate themselves and their own independent intellect to the contents of the ideology/theology (to a lesser or greater degree), interpret them in a certain way, and then act accordingly.

      Not always. There is such a thing as brainwashing. It can even start in childhood. Religious indoctrination usually does. After that, susceptibility and circumstance are often pivotal. And all too often, the postulated “conscious decision to subordinate oneself” is actually experienced and rationalized as the conscious affirmation of personal goals. Commitment is not necessarily subordination, and not everyone has a secular liberal education to be even thinking in those terms.

      And the particular kind of indoctrination can make a difference. This, in fact, is the argument relevant to Islamist extremism. To quote an unpopular writer:

      the official line [...] is that “Islam is not the problem”, only a few “misguided” Muslims are. In reality, of course, the problem is Islam. Many Muslims are not terrorists, but those who are, invariably cite the instructions and precedents of the Prophet of Islam as their inspiration.

      I agree that many people are fanatical by temperament, no matter what religion they are brought up in; and that others are peaceful and tolerant, no matter the intrinsic fanaticism of the religion they are brought up in. But for many more, religious indoctrination does make the difference: good people are made to do evil because they are taught that this particular evil is the will of God. To repeat a comparison I’ve made before: some people get drunk and still drive home safely; others are teetotallers and yet are a danger on the road; but for most people, alcohol does make the difference between driving safely and causing an accident. Therefore, most acts of Islamic fanaticism [...] are the result of Islamic indoctrination, committed by people who would never have done so if they or their ancestors had not been islamized.

      The same writer also offers this.

    30. Random Guy — on 2nd April, 2009 at 7:52 am  

      Kenni @25, 26: Thanks for proving my points. With regard to your comments about Islamic Imperialism, I take it that you are against any foreign interference by any powers, in sovereign states. I refer you back to the thread title and encourage you to connect the dots in your head.

      Read Post #28 and carry on the discussion from there thank you very much.

    31. persephone — on 2nd April, 2009 at 9:41 am  

      @ 28 You missed the point which is that outside of safety its the mindset behind this. There have also been many points which you leave answered such as :

      If it is inherently unsafe for women why does permission to leave the house by a mehram make it ‘safe’?

      You assume that this is all done for the woman’s good. But have left unanswered the situations where the unsafe environment can be within the home. Read Amrit @ 11. These laws will exonerate those who misuse it

      I can see why you say leave this alone until Afghanistan is safe. But i do not believe the mindset behind this will change - I can see that after safety has been achieved, a woman who goes out alone may be branded as ‘asking for it’ should anything happen. Also the men who have right of say of whether she can go out will be accustomed to having this endorsed as a legal right and will not easily give it up. Would you say the UAE is any safer? What happens there?

      Why assume women cannot make a decision about their safety but men can? Unless it is the assumption that all women are less responsible than other genders. Also com ethe time when it is safe enough, women will not be accustomed to making decisions by themselves - where does this leave them?

      Lastly, why does this have to be enshrined as a law/stringent rule relating to women only in the first place. Why not extend a non gender based curfew as other countries have done in wartime.

    32. Shamit — on 2nd April, 2009 at 9:48 am  

      Interesting.

      I am surprised to see so many comments here that find this law acceptable and somewhat glorify it by bringing in religious and historical context.

      So, if a county tomorrow implements Biblical dictum of killing people if they worked on Sabbath would be acceptable to the same commentators. After all, the Bible said it must be done —

      Religious edicts and what is right often have very divergent paths — Defending laws such as this and claiming to have religious approval, I believe tarnishes the image of Islam.

      Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Fortune 500 CEOs, top notch astronauts, surgeons — and those who choose to stay at home are no less either. And all those who even consider supporting something that obviously states that women are lesser beings — get back to the real world folks.

      The reason women may be seen to be weak in predominantly rural areas all over South Asia is because they are not given the choices men have. And that begins before birth — abortions due to the child being a girl is still far too common in South Asia.

      And, allowing people to hiding behind culture and religion allows people apparently Good Miuslims to order the rape of a girl by many men as a resolution of some intra-family dispute. That happened in Pakistan.

      We may not be able to change all of it or sadly any of it unless the civil society and leaders in those nations have the influence and the interest in getting it done. But the least we could do is not condone it.

      But because its done in the name of Islam, that would be too much to ask some usual commentators to say this law is blatantly wrong.

      Wow — I sometime wonder what God thinks of all this? Especially its apparently in HIS name.

    33. Jai — on 2nd April, 2009 at 10:28 am  

      Wahhabism as exhibited in Ch4s recent Dispatches looks like, and is, a form of insanity - the ideological closemindedness, the paranoia, the incesscent conspiricism, irrational hatred of women

      Well, yes. It’s psychopathic personality disorders using religion as a justification. Or the particular interpretation of their religion triggering psychopathic illnesses. Take your pick. Chicken & egg etc.

      I love seeing halfwits frothing at any chance to talk about Islamic “Terror” and “Ideology”,

      IslamIST, not “Islamic”. Generally people are attacking a particular virulent ideology deriving from some people’s interpretation of their religion. They’re not necessarily attacking Islam per se.

      To draw an analogy, someone objecting to the mindset behind the Spanish Inquisition — which was conducted in the name of Christianity, by allegedly devout, pious Christians — isn’t necessarily objecting to Christians in general or indeed Christianity per se, especially the more humane (and these days, generally more widespread — KKK, neo-cons & “Bible Belt” types notwithstanding) interpretations of the faith.

    34. Ravi Naik — on 2nd April, 2009 at 10:39 am  

      I am surprised to see so many comments here that find this law acceptable and somewhat glorify it by bringing in religious and historical context.

      Er… who is actually glorifying this law in this thread?

      Defending laws such as this and claiming to have religious approval, I believe tarnishes the image of Islam.

      I think we have to stop pretending like there is only one Islam - and that the only valid version is the one that is liberal and progressive. There are many facets of this religion, like in Christianity, and what you see in Afghanistan, some regions in Pakistan and SA, is certainly one version of Islam. The fact that is abhorrent and sick in our eyes, doesn’t make it less valid.

      On the subject of this particular law, I think a more relevant question is whether women can vote in Afghanistan…

    35. Jai — on 2nd April, 2009 at 10:57 am  

      Qidniz,

      Re: #29

      Very good post, mate. You’ve made some excellent points, and I do understand what you’re saying in relation to “indoctrination” etc, along with the comments about how good people do evil things if there’s a religious reason (which, in a triumph of self-rationalising circular arguments, would result in them reaching the conclusion that these actions aren’t actually “evil” if they’re condoned by whatever deity they believe in).

      Interesting article after the URL link you’ve supplied too. I was already aware of some of it but there’s some thought-provoking further information there too. Controversial stuff.

      Anyway, regarding Wahhabism, the Taliban, and of course also Al Qaeda etc…..It’s a difficult situation to deal with. Making people aware of some of the inconsistencies, contradictions and possible fallacies within some of the “root source material” is obviously one way to make people pause for thought and hopefully reconsider their behaviour, but in other cases it’s just going to make them even more entrenched, especially if they suspect your motivations and most of all if their interpretation of their religion states it’s a grievous sin to question what they regard as their faith’s teachings and principles.

      I don’t know how accurate this is — although it would certainly make sense — but I remember reading a few years ago that one of the main reasons OBL is doing what he’s doing is because he’s terrified that God will punish him if he doesn’t do these things. You and I both know that the same mentality is prevalent amongst many other Islamists too — and indeed any other religious groups where unquestioning obedience is allegedly demanded. Fear can often be a very powerful motivator.

      There are of course going to be plenty of other people — both in the Taliban and elsewhere (including our local wannabes, Al-Muhajiroun) — who aren’t necessarily undertaking certain actions due to fear of divine punishment but because it gives them an excuse to indulge some of their worst base instincts and the nastiest aspects of human behaviour. Unfortunately, sometimes people get a real kick out of power, control, sadism etc, especially if they can find some kind of allegedly-moral self-righteous pretext. Add divine support to the mix and it’s a deadly combination.

    36. Jai — on 2nd April, 2009 at 11:00 am  

      (continued)

      Qidniz,

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are sometimes limitations to picking holes in the core ideology. Telling Hitler and his cronies that a lot of their more esoteric occult and “Germanic mythology” beliefs were complete nonsense wouldn’t necessarily have been effective in stopping them in their tracks. Neither would telling any invading Roman army that their imperialist conquering “ideology” (for want of a better word) isn’t actually being condoned by some imaginary deity called Mars. And it sure as hell wouldn’t have worked if Genghis Khan was parked outside your city with his massed army itching for a fight, displaying the “red tent”, and firmly believing that the mass murder that he would shortly unleash really was supported and “blessed” by the “Sky-Father”.

      Some people, for reasons deriving from their own psychology (or external divine intervention, if one is religiously-minded and believes in such things) will see the error of their ways, either independently or if they’re presented with enough moral and factual counter-arguments to make them change their minds. There are plenty of historical precedents for this. Others, however, will only be kept at bay due to sheer force of arms and/or vested self-interests (economic, strategic alliances etc). There are precedents for this too.

      I think that this applies to life in general — including our ordinary everyday lives (in relation to dealing with wannabe bullies) — and also to some of the problems with the Taliban in Afghanistan, both internally (such as those detailed in this thread’s main article) and regarding their behaviour towards various external forces.

      That’s my view, anyway.

    37. qidniz — on 2nd April, 2009 at 11:01 am  

      a more relevant question is whether women can vote in Afghanistan…

      Yes, they can. Women voted for the first time in the 2004 elections. (Source)

    38. Shamit — on 2nd April, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

      How can the version of Islam that accepts this derogatory law could be valid - I don`t see the reason to give it such credence.

      Even if it is valid in the eyes of some — how and why should the wider world accept is as such.

    39. Shamit — on 2nd April, 2009 at 12:53 pm  

      I would like to borrow from Jai to make my point

      ‘Well, yes. It’s psychopathic personality disorders using religion as a justification. Or the particular interpretation of their religion triggering psychopathic illnesses. Take your pick.`

      Now psycopathic individuals should not be allowed to define the true meanings of any religion. And providing them with any kind of validity does not seem to be the best course of action.

    40. Jai — on 2nd April, 2009 at 1:24 pm  

      I think we have to stop pretending like there is only one Islam - and that the only valid version is the one that is liberal and progressive.

      It depends on what one means by ‘valid’.

      There is a difference between something being valid in the sense of being authentic (ie. not a distortion of the faith’s core tenets but an accurate interpretation of the religion’s original fundamental principles & teachings) and real in the sense of genuinely being inspired by a divine hand.

      So you have a number of options, in relation to the nastier interpretations of the religion concerned (for the record this applies to any faith, not just Islam):

      - There was a distortion or fabrication somewhere down the line in relation to some aspects of the originally-divinely-inspired scriptures when they were actually recorded, subsequent scholarly extrapolations, etc etc.

      OR:

      - The deity concerned isn’t actually a particularly nice entity.

      OR:

      - There’s been a misunderstanding somewhere on the part of some people in relation to the ‘true’ characteristics of the deity concerned.

      OR:

      - The deity concerned doesn’t actually exist.

      And tying this into Shamit’s points…..

      How can the version of Islam that accepts this derogatory law could be valid - I don`t see the reason to give it such credence.

      Even if it is valid in the eyes of some — how and why should the wider world accept is as such.

      See my examples earlier in relation to the Romans, Mongols etc.

      Just because the other party believes that their nastier activities are condoned and supported by their deity (or their assumptions about their deity, or “the deity” if you believe there’s only one God), it doesn’t mean you have to give this belief any kind of validity or respect yourself.

      The priority in these situations should be how you subsequently defend yourself (and other innocent parties) against unprovoked/unjustified aggression, brutality and malevolence being conducted in the belief’s name.

      It becomes trickier when people hijack Islam and piggyback the faith by claiming that their interpretation is the “real” one, of course…..Which is why you have to draw the distinction between Islamists who are exploiting some of the faith’s teachings (or particular interpretations of them) to justify, rationalise and excuse their own bigotry and malevolence, and all the other Muslims who have a different interpretation of their religion and are genuinely well-balanced, humane, nice people by any reasonable, decent human standards.

    41. Jai — on 2nd April, 2009 at 1:35 pm  

      - There’s been a misunderstanding somewhere on the part of some people in relation to the ‘true’ characteristics of the deity concerned.

      Or a deliberate, self-serving distortion of established beliefs about the nature of the deity and/or the teachings that were inspired by it.

      Very important point. Applies to some adherents of pretty much every organised religion in existence.

    42. Niels C — on 2nd April, 2009 at 1:53 pm  

      platinum786
      Yeah, but most of the afghans I know have arrived due to the Taliban takeover of Power.
      And those old communist are really good citizens.
      If the Taliban gain power again, then you really can start counting.

    43. Sid — on 2nd April, 2009 at 2:25 pm  

      That’s Koenraad Elst.

    44. Sid — on 2nd April, 2009 at 2:31 pm  

      Well I was the first to raise his profile here and I am deeply critical of his religious right politics, as I am of any kind of religious-right politics.

      Which, if truth be told, is exactly the same politics as yours, only different religion.

    45. Random Guy — on 2nd April, 2009 at 2:37 pm  

      Munir @ #45: good point. You would wonder why the commentators on this thread are not quite so rabid in their denunciation of the same problems in other parts of the world….

      Actually, I was just being sarcastic - its quite obvious why.

    46. munir — on 2nd April, 2009 at 2:48 pm  

      Sid

      “Well I was the first to raise his profile here and I am deeply critical of his religious right politics, as I am of any kind of religious-right politics. ”

      So why did you link to the Brussels Journal?

      BTW Have really enjoyed your articles attacking the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jewish far right.. oh wait.

      “Which, if truth be told, is exactly the same politics as yours, only different religion.”

      Nope you lie about me for the umpteenth time. Im not interested in demonising minorities as Elst and Brussels Journal (and some Muslims) are -rather I strongly oppose it. Which is one reason why I oppose Islamophobia. Perhaps youd like to join me.

    47. Ravi Naik — on 2nd April, 2009 at 3:28 pm  

      It depends on what one means by ‘valid’.

      It becomes trickier when people hijack Islam and piggyback the faith by claiming that their interpretation is the “real” one, of course….

      I am not sure I understood everything you said, Jai. But when you talk about Islamists hijacking Islam, I am wondering from whom they are hijacking? From those you believe hold the true interpretation of Islam? Who can actually judge who holds the true interpretation?

    48. Jai — on 2nd April, 2009 at 5:01 pm  

      Ravi,

      I am not sure I understood everything you said, Jai.

      I was just referring to the difference between “valid” meaning “in accordance with generally-accepted interpretations of the religion” and “genuinely partly or entirely inspired by God”. The two definitions aren’t necessarily synonymous.

      But when you talk about Islamists hijacking Islam, I am wondering from whom they are hijacking?

      From the rest of the global Muslim population.

      From those you believe hold the true interpretation of Islam?

      The “genuinely more spiritual” interpretation of Islam may be a better description, ie. Bulleh Shah, Rahman Baba, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan etc, as opposed to Anjem Choudary, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, Wahhabis etc.

      Who can actually judge who holds the true interpretation?

      Depends on what criteria are involved. Possible qualified “judges” would be objective, scrupulously honest historians; or both Muslims and non-Muslims who are genuinely spiritually-enlightened enough to be able to offer an informed opinion on the matter; and so on and so forth.

      The key point is this: People from any religious background can (and do) often claim to be “real” adherents of the religion concerned if they adhere to the more ritualistic aspects involved. But whether God really does have anything to do with their behaviour is indicated by just that: their conduct, integrity and basic level of decency towards their fellow human beings.

      Which means that, despite their outward adherence to “the letter of the law” as per their own interpretations of the matter, I’m sure you’d agree that the Anjem Choudarys, Osama bin Ladens and Talibans of this world actually have far less to do with God than the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khans and Bulleh Shahs.

      Even though, of course, I expect that the former would believe that the latter fail to adhere to some of the core principles of Islam (as they perceive it) on multiple levels.

    49. Ravi Naik — on 3rd April, 2009 at 11:49 am  

      The “genuinely more spiritual” interpretation of Islam may be a better description, ie. Bulleh Shah, Rahman Baba, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan etc, as opposed to Anjem Choudary, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, Wahhabis etc.

      Why is one “genuinely more spiritual” than the other? How can you objectively measure that?

      Possible qualified “judges” would be objective, scrupulously honest historians

      Historians defining the true parameters of religion? That’s dangerous, Jai. :)

      I’m sure you’d agree that the Anjem Choudarys, Osama bin Ladens and Talibans of this world actually have far less to do with God than the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khans and Bulleh Shahs.

      Depends on what our projection of God is. Surely, in a given projection, half of these people you mention are for God, and the other against God. As an outsider, these different projections of Allah, are integral to defining Islam.

    50. Jai — on 3rd April, 2009 at 12:13 pm  

      Why is one “genuinely more spiritual” than the other?

      Because it makes them nicer people. Simple.

      How can you objectively measure that?

      Common sense is usually a good yardstick, for example. And the individuals’ own actions are a good indicator too. They have to walk the talk. No point in claiming to be divinely inspired and one of “God’s elect” if you then behave like a Satanic demon.

      Historians defining the true parameters of religion? That’s dangerous, Jai.

      Getting to the truth often is, Ravi ;)

      Depends on what our projection of God is. Surely, in a given projection, half of these people you mention are for God, and the other against God. As an outsider, these different projections of Allah, are integral to defining Islam.

      Exactly. One projection — obviously believed in by Al-Muj, OBL, the Taliban etc — essentially defines God as being a vindictive, bureaucratic tyrant.

      This also ties in to a pertinent point, and one I made on PP previously a couple of years ago: I think that people’s ideas/assumptions/preconceptions of what God is like sometimes affects how they behave themselves — they end up emulating some of the characteristics embodied by their ideas about God, especially if they think these characteristics (and the religious teachings & principles which supposedly flow from them) are divinely mandated and condoned.

      Which is why you have people like Anjem Choudary, the Taliban etc (and indeed some quarters of the commenting population here on PP) behaving the way they do towards other people.

    51. Arif — on 5th April, 2009 at 10:07 pm  

      In terms of political theory, I don’t think many of us who happen to be interested in pickled politics have much time for such laws. But Rumbold’s question raises the issue of whether we want substantive justice or procedural justice.

      In this context, we intuitively feel that procedural justice can still be oppressive. And I assume this makes us wish for a constitution which entrenches substantive social equality, not just formal political equality in Afghanistan in an unambiguous way. I don’t know what the Afghan constitution actually says or how it would be interpreted and enforced, but it will also probably leave wiggle room for such a law to get passed - just as the US Supreme Court can uphold segregation one year and decry it as unconstitutional on another.

      If we insist that justice must be substantive, rather than procedural, though, the procedure ends up being the might makes right - and that also is intuitively unsatisfactory - at least for me.

      In terms of politics, the questions for me are:

      Why was this law passed?
      Who does it benefit?
      How will it be implemented?
      Who can get it changed?
      How can they get it changed?
      What can I do to help?

      When I get to the last question, the philosophical issue for me is to ensure I promote my political preferences without being oppressive in turn.

      Well before I get to the last question, though, the practical issue is the breadth and depth of global injustice which leaves me feeling overwhelmed and paralysed.

      So the temptation to short-circuit the process by cheering on an army to sort things out to my satisfaction is great. But it might undermine any claim to believe in political equality or procedural justice.

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