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?

Malaysia – Rape

TW – Rape

She is only 15 years old but she is at the centre of a massive push for the adoption of Hudud.

A 15 year old girl was raped by 38 men in an abandoned houses in the Kelantan region. She survived the ordeal and police have begun arrests. There may be another girl who was raped but that’s being investigated at the moment.

See, when I write this there will be two groups of people. The first will blame it on Islam. The second will claim it was mental illness that drove their misogyny. The fact of the matter is that we can accept these events occurring in non-white areas due to personal beliefs.

The problem is the rise of Hudud in Malaysia. With every crime the calls for the adoption of Shariah rather than secular law rises. An earlier twitter conversation tried to defend Hudud by pointing out that there is no true Shariah nation out there and if shariah is perfectly adopted all the mystical abuses of Shariah will vanish. He was using it to defend the majority viewpoint that any apostate to Islam is inherently destructive towards its ideals and therefore worthy of death in the same way that the USA executes murderers and criminals who “shake the peace”.

A good argument except for the fact that criticism of Islam by leaving it and cessation of belief in Allah is considered a grave evil akin to someone endangering the lives of others or having murdered. I am against the Death Penalty in all its form but agree there are sad instances where the police need to kill and that such events must be treated as tragedies rather than romanticised. Yes it is awesome to fire two guns while jumping through the air but save it for the TV, Games rather than real life..

Most Radical

This is comparing a simple freedom of speech and of belief with terrible crimes. It just shows a deep perversion of thought in Islam that forces its believers to equate something as harmless as not believing in a specific god with actual murders.

This is the sort of false equivalency that justifies Hudud or Islamic Jurisprudence under Sharia law.

And this horrific rape has seen another push to legalise Hudud in Malaysia.

I know many of my readers aren’t all that aware of what Islamic Jurisprudence is like. So a little explanation

Islamic Criminal Code is divided into four categories

  • Hudud: A Divine Crime
  • Ta’zir: A Personal Crime
  • Qisas: A Crime against Man and God
  • Siyasah: A Crime against the State

So basically? Divine Law, Personal Law, Mixed, State

Apostasy is a “Divine Crime” by the way.

And the punishments for these are classified as

  • Qisas - Revenge following the principle of “eye for an eye.”
  • Diyya – In Arabic the word can mean blood money or ransom. Adequate monetary compensation paid to the heirs of a victim to stay punishment.
  • Hudud – A fixed penalty for certain crimes.
  • Tazir – Miscellaneous punishments that can be tacked on at the behest of a judge

We are going to concern ourselves with Hudud because it is what we know off the most.

Hudud are crimes that have fixed penalties.

These are

  • Apostasy
  • Drinking Alcohol
  • Highway Robbery
  • Theft
  • Illegal Sexual Intercourse
  • False Accusations of Illegal Sexual Intercourse

Apostasy is the sticking point. Some Muslims do not consider it to be a Hudud offense. Interestingly enough? Murder is a personal crime and so is punished by the “Eye for an Eye” principle and “Blood Money”. Here Islam betrays its tribal origins where such crimes would have been personal crimes solved by state protected revenge rather than a state mechanism for resolution. This would be more seen in small tribal cultures.

Drinking Alcohol and Illegal Sexual intercourse are to be punished by beating or whipping.

Adultery can only be punished by stoning if witnessed by four witnesses. Or by four confessions from the “perpetrator”. So in effect a lot of such cases involves coercion to get signed confessions often by people who do not know what they are signing or are just scared and think signing this paper will make them leave.

Highway Robbery is to be punished by execution either by beheading or by crucifixion.

And theft… theft is what we are here to discuss. Theft is punished by amputation.

The Government of Malaysia is planning to adopt Hudud as a penal code. Because “to aspire to  be like Saudi” seems to be a sane and sensible plan with absolutely no repercussions what so ever for the non-Muslim population. In this case the outrage behind the rape is being pushed as a reason to torture the rapists and execute them. But guess what? Whenever Shariah is put into place women often have no choice but to accuse men of rape even when having consensual sex out of marriage to save their own lives. Or worse? Women who cannot sufficiently defend a rape allegation are guilty of Illegal Sexual Intercourse.

And the severity of punishment doesn’t stop the crime. Rape still occurs in Pakistan and Afghanistan despite Shariah in place. Yes, I am sure pro-Shariah will tell me that if Shariah was perfect rape would go down but frankly its an illogical argument.

And while that is terrible, I must concentrate on a specific piece off Islamic Fundamentalist bullshit that is attempting to turn doctors into state executioners.

One of the major issues with theft is that it needs to be punished by amputation. So who gets to do the dirty deed?

We see a divide here. On the one side. the Malaysia Medical Association (MMA)  and on the others there are religious medical groups like I-Medik and the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM). And you can guess what the issue is.

According to the MMA, those who want surgeons to carry out hudud punishments should work to change the doctors’ Code of Professional Conduct before demanding they be mandated to perform the amputations. And that until then no doctor could be forced to act against the code of ethics as set down by the Malaysian Medical Council based on the hippocratic oath and following western attitudes towards medicine not being used as a system of punishment.

Okay maybe that is a bad example. But even in that case the people doing the killing were not doctors but executioners who misuse medicine. This is demanding doctors do so.

Currently? Any such amputation done so would be met with disciplinary action by the MMC. But the MMA aren’t without a sense of sly humour (IMHO). They suggested that if pro-hudud groups were so insistent on amputations they would be better off seeking the services of butchers than doctors. Amusing but harsh. Butchers don’t harm people.

I-Medik’s stance on that is that the MMA are being unprofessional as they are not taking into consideration the feeling of Muslims. IMAM criticised his lack of sensitivity to an Islamic issue. In short? This is the cry of Islamophobia, that an action that is demonstrably bad cannot be criticised because it says so in a 1500 year old book written by people who would consider us wizards.

I-Medik recommended that Muslim doctors should carry out these punishments according to their Islamic Medical Oath and in full support of Shariah. And that such a defence of the values of modern medicine lies antithetical to Islam as it decries such punishments.

IMAM also clarified that it supported Hudud and Shariah and went on to suggest that the “Moral” Punishment for Hudud is to inflict “pain, fear, remorse and repentance” on the convicted. A lesson not to repeat the crime. Part of the effectiveness is that these procedures have to be done in public to deter future criminals.

I had to look up the name of the man who said this. Abdul Rahim Mohamad. I would not call him a doctor as he stands for none of the principles we hold. And I speak as a man who willingly writes under a famous Muslim doctor’s name as a pseudonym. The joke is that had Ibn Sina been alive today, it is no doubt that he would find himself imprisoned, beaten and maybe even killed for his “apostate” views.

Abdul Mohamad suggests

“Thus, undertaking the amputation under anaesthesia defeats the underlying principle of hudud. This, however, is a point of serious contention between the various schools of thought and Imam is open to other evidence-based and Shariah-compliant opinions which best prescribe the active role of the Muslim physician.”

In effect, Mohamad is not suggesting that doctors not perform the surgery. But the very rules of medicine be changed to allow doctors to do harm on purpose.

As of now it is illegal to force doctors to do so and it is illegal for doctors to willingly participate in such a punishment. But should Malaysia change the rule and there is a big push for these laws to be made official…

Then doctors will no longer be healers but state executioners. They will cease to follow in the path of men like Salk and Sabin who refused to patent the Sun. Or of men like Albert Schweitzer who gave so much for their patients. Or of the countless men and women who tirelessly work to bring people health.

They will follow in the footsteps of Mengele. To discard the very thing that makes us so ethical and instead embrace fundamentalism and torture in the guise of medicine.

I have had to take a limb. The young man was badly injured and had left the wound untreated for a long time. To save his life we took his leg. Orthopaedic surgery has progressed so much that we can reconstruct horrifically broken bones and have them heal. In fact we joke about putting artificial limb companies out of a job. Orthopaedics has grown considerably since those days. And that one time I had to stand there holding a limb in a field hospital while a surgeon took the boy’s leg. And we know we did good because he had gangrene. We know what would happen. If it wasn’t for that, I wonder what lies we would have to tell ourselves to make us feel no remorse over the intentional crippling of a healthy person.

And you will be good men who do this, after all you will just tell yourself what you want to hear. Do we not remember Madred from Star Trek’s Chain of Command? Interspersing torture with his actions of being (outside of the torture) a charming family man? Because nothing makes you assured that your actions are good like blindly believing in a cause. We know how fundamentalism works.

When you hold a fundamentalist at the zenith of human endeavour rather than the nadir, everyone aspires to that. Each eggs the other on to greater and greater acts of fundamentalism to prove they are faithful. What better way to be a good fundamentalist and demonstrate your faith as a True Muslim™ than to be the doctor who upholds Shariah Law? Is not theft a social illness? You are curing society itself.

You may call yourself what you will if you agree to do this.

While this rape case is terrible and the rapists need to be punished, they should be punished by a secular court of law using modern methods rather than the Saudi method. Shariah does not accept many modern advancements in forensic medicine. What people support Shariah is so that they can punish the wicked and create hell on earth for them.

What people don’t realise is that it ignores modern science and instead uses faulty witnesses and witch hunts and ordeal rather than a serious way of constructing events.

This rape is a tragedy but what is a greater tragedy is the sliding of Malaysia towards a system of jurisprudence of bedouin nomads from the Middle Ages rather than the educated economic powerhouse that we think it is.

[Read more...]