"Cultures and religions are not equal"

"The Koran is not a great book,"Ayaan Hirsi Ali told the national press club a few days ago. "The obsession with subjugating women is one of the things that makes Islam so low. And the agents of Islam know that any improvement in the lives of women will lead to the demise of Islam."

I caught her presentation, and she blew me away. Here below is most of her prepared remarks. I regret not finding the text of the Q&A that followed, which was equally excellent.

Why are Westerners so insecure about everything that is so wonderful about the West: political freedom, free press, freedom of expression, equal rights for women and men, gays and heterosexuals, critical thinking, and the great strength of scrutinizing ideas--and especially faith?

It is not the end of history. The 21st century began with a battle of ideas, and this battle is about the values of the West versus those of Islam. Tony Blair and the Pope should not be embarrassed in saying it, and you should stop self-censoring. Islam and liberal democracy are incompatible; cultures and religions are not equal. And perhaps most important of all, Muslims are not half-wits who can respond only in violence. The Koran is not a great book; it is reactionary and full of misogyny. The Byzantine emperor's analysis of Muhammad was correct: he spread his faith by the sword.

From this perspective journalists like all the rest of us face the unpleasant reality of taking sides or getting lost in the incoherence of the so-called middle ground. The role of journalists serving the West, who understand what this particular battle is about, will be to inform their audiences accordingly.

As I travel from country to country to testify from experience and observation that Islamic dogma creates a cult of death, a cage for women, and a curse against knowledge, I get both support and opposition. Europeans and Americans ask:

But what about the good Muslim living next to me? What about the different schools of thought in Islam? Is there no difference between the Muslims of Indonesia and the ones in Somalia, or the Muslims in Saudi Arabia and those in Turkey? Can we really generalize? What about the women who voluntarily wear the headscarf and the burqa and are happy to relinquish their freedom as their faith requires? If we give Catholics and Protestants and Jews their schools and their universities, isn't it only fair to give Muslims theirs, too? If generations of Jews, Italians, and Irish have assimilated, is it unreasonable to think that Muslims will assimilate too, eventually?" Isn't it more fruitful to engage in debate with your opponent and convince him through dialogue to take back his declaration of war than to attack him? Isn't it obvious that military attacks, such as those in Afghanistan after 9/11 and in Iraq, create more terrorists, and therefore more people who are determined to destroy the West than there would be if we had dialogue with them?

These questions are legitimate and deserve serious answers. Let's make a moral distinction between Islam and Muslims. Muslims are diverse. Some, like Irshad Manji and Tawfiq Hamid, want to reform their faith. Others want to spread their beliefs through persuasion, violence or both. Others are apathetic and do not care much for politics. Others want to leave it and convert to Christianity, like Nonie Darwish, or become atheist, like me.

Islam unreformed, as a set of beliefs, is hostile to everything Western.

In a free society, if Jews, Protestants, and Catholics have their own schools, then Muslims should have theirs, too. But how long should we ignore that in Muslim schools in the West, kids are taught to believe that Jews are pigs and dogs? Or that they should distance themselves from unbelievers and jihad is a virtue? Isn't it odd that everywhere in Europe with large Muslim organizations, demands are made not to teach kids about the Holocaust, while in mosques and Muslim bookshops The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is distributed?

And what about in Muslim lands, where Jews, Catholics, and Protestants cannot have their own schools, or churches, or graveyards? If Muslims can proselytize in Vatican City, why can't Christians proselytize in Mecca? Why do we find this acceptable? If Christians, Jews, and Atheists take to the streets in large numbers to protest against their own elected governments in objection to the war in Iraq, to the war against terror, why don't Muslims march in equally large number against the beheadings of Western aid workers? Why don't Muslims stand up for their own? Why are Jews and Christians and Atheists in the West the ones fighting genocide in Darfur? Why does it pass unnoticed in Muslim lands when Shias kill Sunnis and Sunnis, Shias by the thousands? It doesn't add up, does it? If you ask me, "What is the role of journalism today?" I would urge you to look into these questions.

As a woman in the West I have access to education. I have a job, and I can change jobs as I wish. I can marry the man of my choice, or I can choose not to marry at all. If nature allows it, I can have any number of children I want. I can manipulate nature and freeze my eggs. I can have an abortion. I can own property. I can travel wherever I want. I can read whichever book, newspaper, or magazine I wish. I can watch any movie I want or go to the museum of my choice. I can have an opinion on the moral choices of others and express my opinion, even publish it. And I can change my mind as time goes by. I can establish a political party or join an existing one; I am free to change parties or give up my membership. I can vote. I can choose not to vote. I can stand for election to office or go into business. This is what makes the West so great.

In Muslim lands, except for a very lucky few, women are denied education, have no job, and are forced into marriage with strangers. In the name of Islam, women are denied the right to their bodies; they cannot choose whether to have children or how many to have. They have no rights to abortion, and often they die trying to get one. They cannot own property, trade, or travel without the risk of robbery or rape. Most women (and men) live in state and religious censorship on what to read (if they can read at all) and what films to watch, and they have hardly any museums or art they can enjoy. Of the 57 Muslim nations that are members of the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference), only two are democracies. Both are frail and corrupt, and both face the risk of being overtaken by the agents of pure Islam. Turkey has a safety check in the shape of the army and Indonesia none. In none of these countries--except for the usual show-pieces to delude the West--are women allowed to establish their own political parties, play a meaningful role in one, vote, or run for office.

This obsession with subjugating women is one of the things that makes Islam so low. And the agents of Islam--from Riyadh to Tehran, from Islamabad to Cairo--know that any improvement in the lives of women will lead to the demise of Islam and a disappearance of their power. This is why, among other things, they are so desperate to cage in women. This is why they also hate the West.

Please don't be fooled by the few shrill voices--in or out of the veil--that enjoy the status quo and betray their fellow women.

If we do not understand the differences between Islam and the West--why one is so great and the other so low--and we don't fight back and win this battle of ideas in order to preserve our civilization, in my view there is no point to your profession or mine.


uptownsteve said...

"The Koran is not a great book; it is reactionary and full of misogyny."

And the Bible isn't?

"The Byzantine emperor's analysis of Muhammad was correct: he spread his faith by the sword."

Praytell, how did white Christians conquer Africa and the Americas?

With a kind word?

You gotta be kidding Hue.

Paul Hue said...

The Christians you correctly cite here as behaving in this way are remarkably different than the muslims in the following important manner: the koran clearly commands this behavior, and the author of the koran -- mohammad -- behaved in this way. Christ neither behaved in this way, nor commanded others to do so; to the contrary, his examples and teachings contradict these behaviors.

These christians whom you correctly detest -- as do I -- you berate for committing acts that Jesus never committed (slavery, murder, thievery, rape), and which Jesus preached against. However, Mohammad committed all of those acts, and preached in their favor, just like his old testament / Talmudic heroes.

Thus the people calling themselves christians and using the bible to justify their actions were explicitly and clearly contradicting the examples and teachings of the person that they named their religion after. These phony christians could only get any support for their actions from the old testament, which is the jewish bible, which is what jesus overturned with his revolutionary teaching, and which mohammad returned to with his retrograde teachings.

I regard the jewish bible as nearly as terrible (literally) as the Koran, except where the Koran calls for total wold conquest and subjugation, the Talmud calls for only one part of the earth. In one way the Talmud is worse than the Koran, in that it claims that god awards special favor to a special blood line, an ugly belief that represents abject racism.

Though I am essentially an atheist, like my hero Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I (as does Ali) find Jesus to be a very respectable philosopher who advanced civilization, a person who overturned the ugly religion of conquest and subjugation of his people, and I regard Mohammad as, literally, the "anti-christ", who attempted (successfully) to return people backwards to the awful rules of the Talmud.

uptownsteve said...

Paul this is ridiculous.

Violence is a staple of Christianity.

The Crusades, The Inquisition, the burning of so-called witches..etc..

Western Slavery and the Holocaust were both atrocties aided and abetted by the Christian Church.

What about the bombing of abortion clinics and the murders of doctors who perform abortions by Christian fanatics.

The teachings of Jesus were bastardized by bigots and cretins intent on enforcing their own sick agendas and they are no different than Islamofanatics who have perverted Islam.

Why are you so obsessed with supposeded "hierarchies" of humanity?

Paul Hue said...

Steve writes: =======
The teachings of Jesus were bastardized by bigots and cretins intent on enforcing their own sick agendas and they are no different than Islamofanatics who have perverted Islam.

I agree that the murderous christians and murderous muslims are equally bad, except that Mohammad himself, unlike Jesus, was a bigot and cretin with a sick agenda; the murderous muslims have not bastardized his teachers they way that the murderous christians had to bastardize Jesus' teachings. Instead, the murderous muslims are merely following the instructions and examples of Mohammad.

I rank Mohammad with Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Alexander Stevens.

Nadir said...

"I agree that the murderous christians and murderous muslims are equally bad, except that Mohammad himself, unlike Jesus, was a bigot and cretin with a sick agenda; the murderous muslims have not bastardized his teachers they way that the murderous christians had to bastardize Jesus' teachings. Instead, the murderous muslims are merely following the instructions and examples of Mohammad."

Unfortunately, there is only limited historical evidence that someone called "Jesus" existed. Most likely the man called "Jesus" or "Yeshua" was a very different character than the myth that is portrayed in the Bible.

But this is beside the point. I believe that someone like this "Jesus" existed.

Paul's contention that Christianity doesn't teach many of the same things that Islam teaches is ludicrous. Check out this page from the Skeptics Annotated Bible which talks about the book of Leviticus.

Some highlights:

Only unblemished males are to be killed and offered to God. Females don't even make good burnt offerings. Leviticus 1:3, 10
Women are dirty and sinful after childbirth, so God prescribes rituals for their purification. If a boy is born, the mother is unclean for 7 days and must be purified for 33 days; but if a girl is born, the mother is unclean for 14 days and be purified for 66 days. This is because, in the eyes of God, girls are twice as dirty as boys. Leviticus 12:1-5

If a man has sex with an engaged slave woman, scourge the woman, but don't punish the man. (Even if he raped her?) Leviticus 19:20-22

God defines the value of human life in dollars and cents. Of course, to God, females are worth considerably less than males (50 - 60%) -- but neither are worth much. Leviticus 27:3-7

Nadir said...

But the violent nature of the Bible goes far beyond the laws of Leviticus though a few more are included here for good measure.

Lot refuses to give up his angels to the perverted mob (homosexuals), offering his two "virgin daughters" instead. He tells the bunch of angel rapers to "do unto them [his daughters] as is good in your eyes." This is the same man that is called "just" and "righteous" in 2 Peter 2:7-8. Genesis 19:7-8

After God killed Er, Judah tells Onan to "go in unto they brother's wife." But "Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and ... when he went in unto his brother's wife ... he spilled it on the ground.... And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; wherefore he slew him also." This lovely Bible story is seldom read in Sunday School, but it is the basis of many Christian doctrines, including the condemnation of both masturbation and birth control. Genesis 38:8-10

After Judah pays Tamar for her services, he is told that she "played the harlot" and "is with child by whoredom." When Judah hears this, he says, "Bring her forth, and let her be burnt." Genesis 38:24

God will make sure that Pharaoh does not listen to Moses, so that he can kill Egyptians with his armies. Exodus 7:4

God will kill the Egyptian children to show that he puts "a difference between the Egyptians and Israel." Exodus 11:7

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Exodus 21:24-25

Those who break the Sabbath are to be executed. Exodus 31:14

If priests misbehave at the tabernacle by uncovering their heads, tearing their clothes, leaving with holy oil on them, or by drinking "wine or strong drink", then God will kill them and send his wrath on "all the people." Leviticus 10:6-9

God tells the Israelites to make slaves out of their neighbors and their families. The "heathens" and "strangers" are to be their possessions forever. Leviticus 25:44-46

God tells the people to expel from camp "every leper, every one that hath an issue, and whoever is defiled by the dead." So by God's instructions, the sick are abandoned and left to suffer and die alone. Numbers 5:1-4

# Because of a dispute between Korah and Moses, God has the ground open up and swallow Korah, Dathan, and Abiram "and their wives, and their sons, and their little children." Then, just for the hell of it, God has a fire burn to death 250 "men that offered incense." Numbers 16:20-35

After God killed Korah, his family, and 250 innocent bystanders, the people complained saying, "ye have killed the people of the Lord." So God, who doesn't take kindly to criticism, sends a plague on the people. And "they that died in the plague were 14,700." Numbers 16:41-50

God's people will kill like a lion and then "drink the blood of the slain." Numbers 23:24

All nations shall be terrorized by the followers of Yahweh. Deuteronomy 2:25

If your brother, son, daughter, wife, or friend tries to get you to worship another god, "thou shalt surely kill him, thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death." Deuteronomy 13:6-10

And these are just some highlights from the first five books, also known as the Torah, which is followed by the Jews.

Nadir said...

Paul often sites the Christian mantra that after Jesus came, a new law came into being. This is ridiculous.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."

Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children as required by Old Testament law. (See Ex.21:15, Lev.20:9, Dt.21:18-21) Mark 7:9-10

Jesus says that God is like a slave-owner who beats his slaves "with many stripes." Luke 12:46-47

Peter claims that Dt.18:18-19 refers to Jesus, saying that those who refuse to follow him (all non-Christians) must be killed. Acts 3:23

Peter and God scare Ananias and his wife to death for not forking over all of the money that they made when selling their land. Acts 5:1-10

Homosexuals (those "without natural affection") and their supporters (those "that have pleasure in them") are "worthy of death." Romans 1:31-32

Those who disobeyed the Old Testament law were killed without mercy. It will be much worse for those who displease Jesus. Hebrews 10:28-29

144,000 Jews will be going to heaven; everyone else is going to hell. Revelations 7:4

Nadir said...

The Bible's teachings are about equal parts peace and love and fire and brimstone. If you bothered to read the Quran, the ratio is about the same. Much of the Quran talks about how a righteous man is supposed to live.

It simply isn't true that one book is more violent than the other. I've been both a Christian and a Muslim, and I've studied both. I know what I'm talking about.

There are some aspects of Arabic culture that are violent, but they aren't very different from Judeo-Christian culture. Christians and Jews have historically used more lies and deceit than the sword preferred by Muslims. Of course, Christians and Jews use the sword quite a bit.

And because Judeo-Christian culture is more oriented in writing, they learned that sometimes the pen is mightier than the sword. By making death and destruction a part of the law, they codified violence, discrimination and injustice.

But again, there are good teachings in both the Bible and the Quran and there are good Muslims and Christians. Don't get it twisted, and don't allow your anti-Arab racism color your thinking too much.

Paul Hue said...

Nadir: All your disgusting, uncivilized quotations from the Bible are from the hideous Old Testament / Talmud, which I agree is no better than the Koran. None of your uncivilized quotations come from the New Testament. Even if Jesus never lived and was merely a legend, that character led a life that modern, decent people can respect, and preached such a way of life. The Jesus character -- fictitious or real -- preached against the Old Testament / Talmud ways of slavery, mass murder, subjugation, etc., and the real or fictitious actions of him coincided with these preachings.

Mohammad preached a return to the retarded ways of the Talmud, though he preached conquering not just one special land, but the entire world. I suppose you could say what made Moh better than his murderous predecessors is at least he attempted convert the nonbelievers and absorb them into his hideous cult, whereas the Jews claimed to be "chosen" and based their awful cult on race rather than initiation.

I hope that more muslim in the modern world if they insist on officially affiliating with that religion adopt the posture of most Jews, which is not not take seriously all the horrible strictures and goals of their cult.

Paul Hue said...

OK, Nadir, I see you have some despicable quotations from the Jesus gospels. I surely must adjust my unqualified respect for Jesus.

Paul Hue said...

I see that Jesus is not without sin, though unlike David and Mohammad, he never massacred, enslaved, nor conquered anybody, and unlike Mohammad he never raped or executed anybody, or practiced highway robbery and kidnapping. Jesus advocated some of these despicable actions, but not all, and engaged in none. Meanwhile his other preachings contradicted his advocacy of killing non believers, etc.

I have zero racism against Arabs, and neither you, Nadir, nor anybody else can produce one spec of credible evidence to justify such a claim that I possess any "racism" against Arabs or anybody else. Of the three surviving popular religions created by the people of the Arabian subcontinent, I conclude that only one offers hopeful and helpful preachings for those interested in civilized living.

Furthermore, I no less than you, Nadir, have studied all three of these religions and the people involved in them. You and I both know some things unknown to the other on this topic, and thus have some to teach and learn from the other. In this post I learned from you that Jesus' preachings included some reprehensible statements, and I join you in denouncing them.

I have seperated this subject into three categories:
1. Talmud (David, Moses, etc. / Judiasm);
2. Gospels (Jesus / Christianity)
3. Koran (Mohammad / Islam).

I agree with you that the Talmud and Koran equally comprise advocates of these respective religions proudly committing horrible acts, including murder, slavery, and conquest. But the Gospels contain very little such advocacy by Jesus and his acolytes, and as far as I know, zero deplorable actions.

Another phony charge of you against me is implicated by you informing me that "there are good and bad muslims and christians," when I have never indicated or stated otherwise. The "good muslims" are those who eschew Mohammads commands to kill the nonbelievers or otherwise force them to "submit", etc., and the "good Christians" likewise eschew any similar commands by Jesus. The good people subscribing to either of these superstitious cults also tolerate criticisms of these cults, as well as violations by anybody of their respective superstitions; the bad members retaliate against criticism and superstitious violations, and the degree of their badness equates to the degree of their retaliation.

At some times in history, large bodies from either of these religions have behaved with equal enormity, and at other times some from one group have far exceeded the worst enormity of the other. As my hero Ali here says, "all cultures and religions are not equal." I agree.

uptownsteve said...


Great work.