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IS and James Foley – Why War Journalism has gotten more unsafe

I noticed general upswings in the number of readers due to the new front page format, so I need to do this from the beginning!

I am a big fan of photography. I got my first SLR from my dad, his old one. I learnt to shoot on film as a kid. I loved war photographers for what they did in telling the story of those who suffered. [TW - About the murder of James Foley and the transcript of his execution] [Read more...]

Criticising an Atheist Horseman – Sam Harris is wrong about Israel and Palestine

I had exams. So I let this slide. My next two are on Saturday and Sunday so I have some time to field this one.

Sam Harris’s take on Israel and Palestine shows an incredible naivety about the situation and buys into the whole notion that the conflict is purely religious in nature. Let’s break it down.

And I fear that writing this will get me accused of being a secret Muslim. The count of accusations due to the prior piece was at 43.  [Read more...]

Peace on our Dime – Israel/Palestine

When a zionist once asked me why I think partitioning Israel may have resulted in the current conflict I had to point out that I came from an ethnic group whose identities of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi were determined by a similar partition and indeed on the same religious grounds.

And for this? Between 7 to 10 million people died in the fragmentation of the Raj and the arbitrary lines drawn up for the sake of peace.

Israel vs. Palestine. [Read more...]

No Honour – The men have to wash their shame with blood

A 10 year old girl was raped in Afghanistan by a Mullah within a Mosque.

[warning]TW – Rape, Medical[/warning]

The problem with people who think the zenith of human endeavour was reached during the reign of a tribal leader in the Middle East circa 600 is that they ignore real progress humanity has made since then. Yes I know what people will say.

Mohammed is a Paedophile and this man was simply emulating him. [Read more...]

A Response to Damian Thompson – ISIS and Iraq

I have made it no secret that I have a mysterious history with Iraq. I have been there on holiday, I have been there as a refugee and I have been there for a variety of reasons.

Iraq is where I picked up my nom de plume. Well the Middle East, there are a lot of Ibn Sina Hospitals out there and as part of my vague past, I was born in one and I have lived in one while my parents worked.

I have long said that Islam is a fractured faith. That the greatest victims of Islam are Muslims. That the religion’s fervour, and fanaticism lead it to be rigid and unchanging. And that with the rise of Saudi Wahabbism and wealth, the language and progress of Islam is being re-written to emphasise the glory of the bedouin tribals whose conservative Islam has become the blue print to aim for.

When the ideal Muslim is portrayed as fundamentalist, then what you see is people trying to beat each other in fundamentalism to be the man on top. Just as the Christians try to beat each other in “piety” and being holy, you see the Muslims do the same. Except the Muslim Ideal in many parts of the world is Jihadi. Young men are encouraged to be brainless, violent thugs and this is glorified. I have been to the camps in Palestine. I have been to Pakistan. I have seen people laud Osama Bin Laden and Lakshar, Hamaas and Hezbollah as heroes. Sure there are other reasons for their popularity (Lakshar are seen as freedom fighters, Hamaas and Hezbollah were the only ones to stand up to aggressive loss of land. Put it this way?  [Read more...]

Applied Theology – Avicenna (the original dude) would Weep

There is a word from the “His Dark Materials” trilogy.

Applied Theology. The notion that we can simply apply theology to the visible world and thus make sense of it.

This is how we lived most of our lives until the scientific revolutions. It was easier to explain things by gods and demons and ghosts than by thinking about events. It is why we tried to reason with the storm by creating gods such as Thor and Indra and indeed Jehovah himself who may have begun as a Storm god.

These beings were seen as agents which we could petition to influence the world to our favour.

We know better now. But people still attempt to do so. The Creationists are a great example. Even holding up real fossils of carnivorous dinosaurs and laughably claiming they ate watermelons with jaws designed to kill other animals. But this is particularly seen in the Muslim World. Where there are major attempts to square the natural world with the writing within the Koran.

And it has effects on the mentally ill. For example? This paper.

Schizophrenia is typically a life-long condition characterized by acute symptom exacerbations and widely varying degrees of functional disability. Some of its symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations, produce great subjective psychological pain. The most common delusion types are as follows: “My feelings and movements are controlled by others in a certain way” and “They put thoughts in my head that are not mine.” Hallucinatory experiences are generally voices talking to the patient or among themselves. Hallucinations are a cardinal positive symptom of schizophrenia which deserves careful study in the hope it will give information about the pathophysiology of the disorder. We thought that many so-called hallucinations in schizophrenia are really illusions related to a real environmental stimulus. One approach to this hallucination problem is to consider the possibility of a demonic world. Demons are unseen creatures that are believed to exist in all major religions and have the power to possess humans and control their body. Demonic possession can manifest with a range of bizarre behaviors which could be interpreted as a number of different psychotic disorders with delusions and hallucinations. The hallucination in schizophrenia may therefore be an illusion—a false interpretation of a real sensory image formed by demons. A local faith healer in our region helps the patients with schizophrenia. His method of treatment seems to be successful because his patients become symptom free after 3 months. Therefore, it would be useful for medical professions to work together with faith healers to define better treatment pathways for schizophrenia.

Yes. I kid you not. This is discussing the potential cause of mental illness as “demons”. Literal rather than the metaphorical ones.

“Hallucinations are a cardinal positive symptom of schizophrenia which deserves careful study in the hope it will give information about the pathophysiology of the disorder. We thought that many so-called hallucinations in schizophrenia are really illusions related to a real environmental stimulus. One approach to this hallucination problem is to consider the possibility of a demonic world. Demons are unseen creatures that are believed to exist in all major religions and have the power to possess humans and control their body. Demonic possession can manifest with a range of bizarre behaviors which could be interpreted as a number of different psychotic disorders with delusions and hallucinations. The hallucination in schizophrenia may therefore be an illusion—a false interpretation of a real sensory image formed by demons.”

Dr. Irmak thus creates a dialogue where patients can be abused and mistreated by faith healers rather than real medicine. It enables quackery while treating a major medical issue with quack science.

It is what you get when you drag applied theology to its logical conclusion. Demons Exist. Demons Possess People. Demons Were Traditionally Regarded As the Cause of Mental Illness. Therefore Demons are Real and Exorcism + Faith Healing is real.

In order to prop up their version of Islam, the entire science of psychiatry and the patients it helps are sacrificed. Many Arab hospitals take on the name of Ibn Sina in memory of the Golden Age Islamic scholar. He is widely regarded as the father of Evidence Based Medicine due to being the first known doctor (he was a polymath to be fair) to recommend proper experimentation and comparison between treatments.

Imagine taking his name and producing something as vapid and scientifically unsound as this to prop up your religious views?