Nov 282015

Waking up this morning, I find news of a terrorist incident in the US; except that it was not called a terrorist incident. It was announced as a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic. For those who are not aware, in the US, Planned Parenthood clinics sometimes perform abortions.

There are those who protest about the abortions using methods up to and including murder. And whilst leaping to conclusions is not something to be encouraged, this incident has all the hallmarks of being a "pro-life" terrorist killing.

(Image from the Casper Star Tribune)

Given that the media is quite happy to label as terrorist incidents other killings, what is special about this incident?

Perhaps it has something to do with who the perpetrators are – they are not wild-eyed revolutionaries, nor are they islamic fanatics; they are christian fanatics. And it seems that christian terrorists get the benefit of the media not labelling their outrages as terrorism. Why?

And look at some of the twitter spew :-





Nov 222015

There are approximately 1.6 billion muslims in the world today, so there are 1.6 billion different versions of islam; in most cases the differences are trivial (at least to "unbelievers").  In other cases the differences are rather more obvious.

Each muslim supposedly reads the Qur'an differently and consciously or unconsciously gives different conflicting verses a different emphasis: The obvious being :-

…slay the pagans wherever ye find them

And :-

whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.

Any normal person is going to emphasise the second verse whereas murderous psychopaths will emphasise the first.

For those who think that only the qur'an is like this, take a closer look at the bible – in particular deuteronomy 17.

As a wooly minded liberal, I have a problem with certain aspects of certain flavours of islam :-

  • Apostasy. A number of those versions of islam have no place for god in them; if you become an atheist in certain islamic countries it is safest to go through the motions. Because being stoned to death for apostasy would ruin your entire day. And atheists are the lucky ones – it is possible for us to go through the motions and pretend.
  • Women's rights. I'm not happy with anything that believes in second class citizens.
  • Criticism. I'm human and I've got a right to criticise anything which I see has issues. Calling it "blasphemy" and threatening me with stoning isn't a sensible way of facing criticism.

But the main problem is of course that a tiny number (in comparison to the total) of versions of islam support terrorism. Interestingly there are suggestions that many terrorists have an extremely limited understanding of islam.

Mainstream muslims protest that the terrorists aren't real muslims and that islam is a religion of peace. Fair enough.

But perhaps they should go a step further and declare that supporters of terrorism and terrorists are apostates, and need to talk with a qualified iman about rejoining the faith.

For those who think that this is a uniquely islamic problem, you should read up on christian terrorism

Jan 102015

(Stolen from a Facebook posting)

Sounds daft doesn’t it? Because the killers themselves would have claimed they were doing it for islam. And of course there are plenty of feeble-minded bigots who are now attacking muslims and islamic places of worship.

Now don’t get me wrong: I have no patience with organised religion and think anyone who believes in an imaginary infectious friend in the sky needs their head examining. But they have a right to believe anything they want.

They just don’t have the right to inflict it on the rest of us.

Within any community (religious or otherwise), there are two sorts of people, and yes I’m being overly simplistic here. There are the majority who go along with the community and obey the dictates if they are not too inconvenient. And there are the zealots who take it to the extremes. And amongst the zealots there is a deranged minority who want to inflict the standards of their community on everyone. Some of them use violence to do so.

Now there was some idiot on the news today who claimed that despite Charlie Hebdo publishing a cartoon insulting to christians, that it wasn’t christians shooting journalists. True enough, but it there are christians murdering abortion doctors and harassing those entering abortion clinics, so it is not as if there are no christian terrorists.

Now comes a bit of a leap of faith: These terrorists whatever their faith, have more in common with each other than their co-religionists. They all espouse an extreme form of their faith, are compelled to inflict it on everyone, and resort to violence to pursue their goals.

Their most significant attribute is terrorism and not their religion. Their crimes overwhelm their faith and make their religion irrelevant.

An alternative way of looking at it is a quantitative approach. There were 3 killers involved in the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket. The number of muslims in France is not known precisely, but a figure of about 3 million seems a reasonable approximation for this sort of calculation, which if you work it out makes the number of killers in this incident just 0.0001% of the muslim population of France.

So why were there only three killers? Because muslims as a whole are not terrorists.

Besides which, there is nothing we could do to annoy the killers more than to deny their islamic nature.

Aug 192013


Anyone who thinks so needs to read a bit of history on what life was like in real police states.

But on a day when news of an incident where a journalist was detained for 9 hours and his electronic media confiscated, we do have to ask ourselves whether we are headed in that direction. And whether we really want to go in that direction.

David Miranda was held under anti-terrorist legislation – specifically schedule 7 – in what was clearly an attempt at harassment for publishing stories embarrassing the UK and US governments. Now the victim here is clearly a journalist, and whilst it is possible for a journalist to be involved in terrorism, I really rather doubt this one has time to be particularly active at this time. This is a high profile case, but how many of the 61,145 other suspects detained under schedule 7 last year were detained for non-terrorism purposes?

Anti-terrorism legislation is very powerful, and whilst it may be justified to tackle terrorism, it certainly must not be used for other purposes. And in this case it was.

And undoubtedly we will have some sort of review of the case, a lot of noise, and very little action. It’s almost certain that the police who detained David Miranda will escape scot free, or with a notional slap on the wrist, and not with a prison sentence that they deserve.

Mar 302010

The UK government’s Prevent scheme has been accused of unfairly targeting the UK’s Muslim community. Except for the “unfair” bit, it is fair to say it does exactly that – and that is what it was setup to do. Specifically to counteract those on the fringes of the Muslim community who target young Muslims and attempt to “radicalise” them in the hopes that they can be recruited into terrorism.

Young people tend to be passionate about what they care about, and that includes politics. They often want to see change at a faster rate than is realistic, which makes them vulnerable to extremists who want to use violence to achieve their ends. Imagine if an initiative such as Prevent were underway at the beginnings of the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland  in the 1960s – would the terrorism have lasted as long as it did ? Well we obviously don’t know, but it is a shame that it wasn’t tried.

The fact is that young Muslims are more likely to end up as terrorists than any other particular group of young people. Radical Christians might end up bellowing out that we all sinners, but that is just irritating and bad manners. Young hedonists may end up making a mess on the pavement at peculiar times of the night; whilst we might disapprove, it hardly compares to a suicide load of explosives.

Now of course most young Muslims are not going to wind up blowing themselves and lots of innocent people up; they are not even going to take a trip to the kind of summer camp where you learn how an AK47 works. But some are at risk of becoming radicalised and becoming terrorists.

If we can target those who are at greater risk of becoming radicalised and somehow persuade them that it is a bad idea, we can both protect ourselves and those young people. Those who say this is unfairly targeting the Muslim community are ignoring the fact that this benefits the Muslim community as much as it benefits the rest of us.

Perhaps they should ask the parents of those young people who have been killed whether persuading their sons and daughters to take another path is unfair.

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