Saturday, 28 February 2015

Frankly my dear ...

I recently had the privilege of reading a book written by a British author, Mathew Hopkins, entitled Unholy Islamic Mess (available on Amazon). This provides a humorous yet intelligent, and thought-provoking look at many facets of Muslim integration (or the lack of it) into Western nations. Hopkins is not an academic, nor a politician, and is not bound by conventional thinking. Yet he evidently knows his topic well and provides some radical and obviously tongue-in-cheek solutions to the issues. Obviously some of these ideas will never fly, but it is good to put them on the table and at least consider them. Hopkins reveals his religious views to be Deist, or as he terms it, 'a non-aligned believer'. There are occasionally weaknesses or logical flaws in his arguments but they are minor. However, the real strength of his book is also its greatest weakness - Hopkins presents logical options and hopes that logic and rationality will prevail; but religion is not based on logic and people do not make decisions based on logic - we are all ultimately driven by emotion.

Despite my misgivings about the title and initial expectations about the book, Hopkins is not bigoted, racist or patronising. Among many other issues, he appreciates the serious challenges that face apostates from Islam and goes as far as to suggest that the (Western/secular) State provides taxpayer funds to assist them with quite extensive support and rehabilitation programmes.

As an apostate myself, while I don't see this as ever
likely to happen, it does highlight (again) the problem of the attitude of Western Kiwis to ex-Muslims. At its very best, when the topic is raised we just get a blank look, no questions, no helpful comments, no direct comments at all; just total indifference... *crickets chirping*... However, the more normal reaction, seems to be hostility and childish ridicule behind your back, yet within earshot. Most sadly this was true even of those I had previously considered to be friends. Personally, to date, I have received absolutely zero moral support. Quite the reverse in fact.

I can only describe this as odd. Kiwis totally failed to live up to my prior, perhaps naive, hopes and expectations of basic decency. Is this ignorance or arrogance on their part? If it is ignorance, it is wilful, since they have had endless opportunities to ask and discuss. Yet it was as if a switch was flicked and l
ike the Borg Collective they simultaneously froze me out and I was treated as some kind of leper. All eye contact was avoided by them and an exclusion zone was imposed. Frankly they just don't give a damn about anyone or anything else outside their own comfortable little world. Given that an apostate cannot talk to Muslim community members or their own family about the topic either, this can be a little unsettling, shall we say. Trying to put an optimistic spin on it, perhaps this may be attributed to a misguided attempt at political correctness - a wish to avoid saying anything that could potentially offend. 

However, in the case of my previous Borg 'friends' I don't think an optimistic view is justified. Friendship carries responsibilities with it. They had a choice, they chose poorly.  

'Friends' ... who were incapable of responding in any useful manner to a request for help to talk through apostasy issues and impacts. Taking a charitable view perhaps their lack of a recipe response was a problem. But honestly, how hard is it to simply ask questions and have a chat about things? It's just normal civilised behaviour. My expectations were not terribly high, yet they could not even grasp the most elementary level of what is colloquially known as 'common' decency. 

This is something where I was so appalled by their behaviour which can only be described as bullying that even years after the events, it stilI has an impact; I still mull it over almost daily and ask myself what could I have done differently? As I see it, there was absolutely no excuse for their behaviour.

Perhaps I just happen to know an unusually high number of zombies. In response, the natural reaction on my part is to say to those people (you know who you are) - well just f**k off then, I'll manage on my own thanks.

So, returning to Mathew Hopkins' Unholy Islamic Mess, I would recommend that all Western Muslims should read it. It will provide valuable insights into how non-Muslims and Westerners see you. It will perhaps help you to see yourselves. 

Also a good read for your average Pakeha Kiwi, Zombie or Borg. Definitely food for thought all round.

The Borg - incapable of independent thought

Sunday, 15 February 2015

So ... you're all OK with this then?

So, DAESH (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham or the so-called 'Islamic State') have surpassed themselves yet again. Demonstrating their arrogance, ignorance, stupidity and cruelty by burning Moaz al-Kasasbeh alive, recording and publishing the act. It really defies belief that these people can think that this is justifiable in any way. Yes, this pilot was on a bombing mission, but this was itself a very late response to the months of hellish tyranny that DAESH have imposed on civilians in Iraq and Syria. Every day brings news of further tragedies.

IS generated a fatwa (religious ruling) that supports them - and actually this wasn't too difficult to do. There are many verses of the Quran and hadith that support acts of horrendous violence in retribution for relatively trivial things. 

On the other hand we have moderate Muslims decrying this, saying 'not in my name, ours is a religion of peace'. Even this reaction has been very subdued in New Zealand. In our little cloud-cuckoo-land Muslims seem to be quite oblivious to what is going on. At a weekend gathering of Muslims, conversation was about local trivialities and terrorism in Pakistan (supposedly instigated and supported by the US of course). Despite prodding the conversation in the direction of ISIL, every prompt was side-stepped.

Public reaction by the New Zealand Muslim community to Daesh atrocities pretty much amounts to Zero. Nada. Null. Silence. Don't know, don't care. Nothing to do with me.

In private, if you can get any reaction at all, the usual ridiculous conspiracy theories are dragged up - its those American Jews that are behind it all obviously, in league with Israel somehow. 

From a public perspective, silence is interpreted as consent. So you're all OK with this then?

Maybe we're living in some kind of lunatic asylum, where the patients have taken over.

At the tail-end of this week, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari made a brief visit to NZ and, treading carefully, invited (not requested) assistance from us. The form of that asistance (if anything) is likely to be humanitarian and training of Iraqi troops rather than anything else. But it seems there is a real lack of willingness to get involved in any way whatsoever, in many quarters. Opponents point to the massive investment that the US previously put into training the Iraqi military, which seems to have amounted to nothing when faced with a real situation. So agreed; NZ involvement needs careful consideration, but to do nothing (or delaying) also raises all kinds of ethical difficulties. 

NZ policy to date, seems to have been ignore them, wait as long as possible and maybe they'll just go away. This is simply wishful thinking - but in keeping with the parochial attitudes prevalent here.