Religion poisons everything, including schoolgirls’ water

The Taliban, or someone of their stripe, are going after women again for the crime of trying to get an education.  CNN reports that “Extremists poison schoolgirls’ water“:

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — At least 140 Afghan schoolgirls and female teachers were admitted to a local hospital Tuesday after drinking poisoned water, said local health officials, who blamed the act on extremists opposed to women’s education.

The victims range in age from 14 to 30 and were taken to a hospital in Afghanistan’s northeastern Takhar province after their school’s water tank was contaminated, according to provincial health department director Dr. Hafizullah Safi.

No deaths were reported, but more than half the victims partially lost consciousness, while others suffered dizziness and vomiting.

“Looking at the health condition of these girls, I can definitely say that their water was contaminated by some sort of poison,” Safi said. “But we don’t know yet what was the water exactly contaminated with.” . . .

In 2010, more than 100 schoolgirls and teachers were sickened in a series of similar poisonings.

During the Taliban’s rule from 1996 to 2001, many Afghan girls were not allowed to attend school, though the schools began reopening after the regime was toppled by the U.S.-led invasion.

Observers say, however, that abuse of women remains common in the post-Taliban era and is often accepted in conservative and traditional families, where women are barred from education and commonly subjected to domestic violence.

In January 2011, Afghan Education Minister Dr. Farooq Wardak told the Education World Forum in London that the Taliban had abandoned its opposition to girls’ education. But the group never offered a statement confirming or denying that claim.

Female educational facilities, students and teachers, meanwhile, have come under vicious attack as the insurgency has spread outside Taliban strongholds in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.

Now I’ve often decried the fact that “moderate” Muslims never protest this kind of vicious extremism, and thereby are enablers.  Some readers have taken issue with this. So if you’re one of those readers, do post below every instance you can find of a Muslim group denouncing this incident.

h/t: Diane G.

118 Comments

  1. bernardhurley
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    The education of women is probably the biggest threat the militant political Islam faces.

  2. A Robot
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    I don’t know when the idea of banning women from education started, but the University of Al-Karaouine in Morocco was founded by a woman in 859, making it one of the oldest in the world.

  3. Posted April 18, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    This is what I think of when I hear politicians and pundits and average joes and janes complain that we need to beat a hasty retreat because we’ve “accomplished our goals” in Afghanistan. I am in no way a fan of invading, occupying, or battling another nation, but to leave now, with a floundering and feeble government and the untrained, untrustworthy military and police, would be to sentence hundreds of thousands of women and girls to torture, mutilation, and outright murder at the hands of the religious thugs waiting in the wings. Why isn’t this being brought to the forefront of the discussion of when and how we leave?

    • Pray Hard
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      For the same reason this story appeared and disappeared almost simultaneously from the lamestream media yesterday. They don’t want us to know.

      • Crystal
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        I don’t think it is because they don’t want us to know. The mainstream media is about one thing: the bottom line. So ratings are god, and the mainstream media has dumbed down the news based on what the market wants. In other words, WE are the ones more concerned about Anjolina’s ring from Brad than we are about the fact that she is now a U.N. Envoy, because of all her amazing good work in other countries. We hear very litte about that work because we are more concerned with headlines that read, “Bran and Anjolina to get married: how is Jen taking the news?” It’s our fault that Time and Newsweek in other countries have cover stories with substance while Time and Newsweek here are dumbed down for us. When we begin to demand more of our media, and punish their bottom line when we don’t get it, they will give us stories with more substance.

        • Marella
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          Brad and Angelina got married? I wonder why.

          • Posted April 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            Re: Brad & Angelina, the version I heard was that they’d always said they wouldn’t marry until gays were allowed to marry (not sure if that was in the entire U.S. or a specific state). But allegedly the kids have been asking them to get married, and they didn’t want to say no to the kids.

    • Tulse
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      I really do sympathize with your views, Christopher, but I am by no means convinced that that societal change necessary will come from further occupation. I see no evidence that a prolonged US presence in Afghanistan will significantly shift the culture to be more egalitarian and pro-female. I think such changes require far more long-term and broader solutions than military intervention and occupation.

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      Why? Because there’s simply no discussion to be had. We leave as quickly as we can, which is what we should have done in 2001/2002. Is the government floundering and feeble? Absolutely, and the past 10 years have given us ample evidence that there is nothing we (the US) can do about it short of a massive military intervention.

      We can’t protect Afghan school girls from the Afghans even if the country (the US) was prepared to pay the price (which we’re not). Only the Afghans can do that and if they’re still not ready after ten years* then we’re not part of the solution.

      Mike.

      * I’ll point out that ten years after the end of WWII West Germany, after having been effectively destroyed by the allies, joined NATO.

      • Jer
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        I’ll point out that ten years after the end of WWII West Germany, after having been effectively destroyed by the allies, joined NATO.

        And I’ll point that that before WWII Germany was an industrialized nation on par with all of its fellow neighbors when it came to education levels, standards of living, economic status, and all the other things that made it possible to rebuild the country after the war. And that prefix re- is key here – Afghanistan has never been a Modern nation-state – it’s modern history is one of warlords scattered all over the country fighting with one another for territory with a blip in the 90s where a theocracy took over part of the country but never established total control (nor in any way set out to modernize it).

        The rest of your comment I may not disagree with, but damn the spurious comparisons between the occupation of Afghanistan and the occupation of Germany/Japan irritate me to no end. There is a huge difference between rebuilding a conquered nation that destroyed ITSELF through a war of choice that it chose to have with its neighbors, and trying to create a nation out of what is essentially a centuries old battlezone where one imperial power after another has dumped on the area and then bailed (just in recent history – the Brits, the Soviets and now us). There is no comparison there – it’s not even like trying to compare apples and oranges. It’s more like trying to compare hamsters and avocados. (And it’s actually more grist for the mill about why going into Afghanistan in the first place with an occupation force was a stupid idea that anyone who knew any history of the area should have been able to spot in the planning stages, but that’s another story.)

        • NoAstronomer
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          Agreed, especially with your last sentence. My aim was really just to put how long we’ve been in Afghanistan and how little we’ve achieved into some perspective.

        • lamacher
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

          Why not try to dissolve the facts of history in the solvent hubris of ‘exceptionalism’? So what if the Brits, the Russians, the French, and all other would-be occupiers of Afghanistan failed? Surely the god-blessed Americans would prevail! Hah!!

        • Marella
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

          Be fair, the Russians almost had a lid on in until you lot sent the Taliban a billion dollars worth of military hardware to fight them with. Unfortunately the fact that a bunch of ruthless bastards with no independent military to deal with could perhaps have succeeded, doesn’t mean the US can. I am quite sure you can’t.

  4. Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    §

    • Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      What does this symbol mean?

      • Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Generally, subsection (it’s two S’s, see?). Here, subsscribing. ’Cos I’m too lazy to type “subscribing”.

        /@

        • Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          * subsscribing? That’ll teach me to try to be clever with HTML. :-/

          • Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

            Thanks all. (You never know unless you ask!)

      • Hempenstein
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Ant’s subscribing.

  5. Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Sub

  6. Pray Hard
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    “Now I’ve often decried the fact that “moderate” Muslims never protest this kind of vicious extremism, and thereby are enablers. Some readers have taken issue with this. So if you’re one of those readers, do post below every instance you can find of a Muslim group denouncing this incident.” … Love it.

    Personally, I like to ask our little apologists for Islam who they blame the violence of Islam on before the US or Israel or those naughty little Zionist conspirators existed. You know, the first 1,200 years or so of barbarism and blood lust. No one ever answers, but I just know deep down in my little pea-pickin’ heart that none of it can be the fault of Islam. It simply MUST be the fault of the people they perped the violence on. You know, rather like being poisoned by the Taliboinkers just HAD to be the fault of those little girls. I mean, the unforgivable audacity of them trying to get an education! It just COULDN’T be the fault of the Taliban or whatever group of Muslims it was.

  7. Maurits van der Veen
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I completely agree that moderate Muslims ought to be much more vocal in condemning any kind of extremist behaviour that explicitly appeals to their religion for justification.

    Notice, however, that in this case all we have is an assumption about the motivation for this particular episode. You could argue that moderate Muslims ought to come out and say “if, indeed, this act was perpetrated by extremists appealing to Islam, I strongly condemn it” but that seems rather demanding.

    • Kevin
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      What other reason could there be to poison the water of a girls school? In Afghanistan?

      Seriously, you need to get your head out of your ass and start looking around.

      • Maurits van der Veen
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the ad hominem attack. And I apologize for being someone who prefers evidence over assumption.

    • jenl1625
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      How about “Poisoning the water tank of a school is a horrific act. I feel for the victims, and I hope that we learn that this was a horrible mistake and not an extremist attack.”

      Is that really so hard to say?

      Failing that, how about a simple expression of sympathy for the victims?

      • Maurits van der Veen
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Of course it’s an utterly horrific act. And I would hope that everyone feels this way, regardless of their religious background.

        My understanding, perhaps erroneous, of Jerry’s point was that he would like to see moderate Muslims be far more vocal in criticizing extremism perpetrated in name of Islam. I completely agree. But we don’t yet know that this is an instance of such extremism, however likely it may seem. That is all I was saying.

        • rickflick
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

          We don’t yet know? What don’t you know. This is an abomination against humanity if it is true. Let me know if you find out something that contradicts the report.

          • Maurits van der Veen
            Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

            From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
            (http://www.rferl.org/content/afghanistan_poisoned_schoolgirls_takhar_province/24552396.html)

            (Head of the local public health department):
            “The results of our investigation are not yet known. It has not been confirmed whether they were really poisoned or they were affected by hysterics after seeing, in their words, a man close to the water tank — and fainted as a result.

            “Perhaps that man did nothing and they fell ill due to a physiological effect,” Safi continues. “We’ve taken blood samples of five girls, as well as samples of the water, and sent them along to Kabul to make clear whether it was poisoning or just a psychological condition.”

            (Spokesman for the provincial governor):
            “Of course, if it’s proven that the water was poisoned or materials were mixed with it in order to damage the health of the girls, it is clear that it has been done by the enemies of Afghanistan, by those who do not want the children of the country to continue with their studies,” Tawhidi says.

            —————————————-

            I suspect it will, in the end, turn out to be a case of poisoning. But I am reassured that local authorities are less eager to jump to conclusions than so many commenters on this website.

            • Maurits van der Veen
              Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

              Oops, meant to put “and elsewhere” at the end of that last sentence (I’ve glanced at some of the comment threads on a couple of the news reports). On this website, “several” would be more accurate than “so many”, I’m happy to note.

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:32 am | Permalink

              Somehow I don’t see the difference between actual poisoning and being so afraid by previous actual poisonings that the local authorities blame ‘hysterics’ not in evidence.

              In either case, Jerry’s point stand uncontested, the religious are either silent or making excuses (but only when prompted).

        • jenl1625
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

          But silence is often taken as consent or agreement. Whether or not whoever did this particular act of violence was motivated by religion, if there is no outcry against it, there will be some who think the crime itself was acceptable.

          When Christians can’t be bothered to condemn the murder of abortion doctors, it encourages extremists to be bolder in their attacks. When non-raping men don’t bother to condemn rape, it leads rapists to think of rape as common and acceptable. And when Muslims can’t be bothered to condemn violence against women and children, it encourages extremists to believe that the murder of women and children is acceptable.

          • Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            “First they came for the schoolgirls,
            and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a schoolgirl. …”

            /@

    • frank sellout
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Mr. Coyne asked that if you are going have issue with what he said, you should provide evidence of Muslim groups condemning violence by extremists. So, where’s your evidence?

  8. ForCarl
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    If anyone saw John Stewart do his list of anti-women legislation being proposed in states all across this country, it is obvious that the Taliban in Afghanistan is the least of our worries.

  9. NoAstronomer
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    “Now I’ve often decried the fact that “moderate” Muslims never protest this kind of vicious extremism…”

    ‘Never’ is an extremely strong word and you know it’s not true.

    Compared to what else is happening around the globe this incident is a fairly minor news item. Frankly I’m surprised it made the news at all, especially since no-one died. Now you’re expecting CNN or the BBC to have someone search the Internet for someone to condemn the attack when everyone outside Afghanistan has virtually forgotten the country exists at all?

    Mike.

    • Notagod
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Mike and Ike

      Candyman

  10. chupalupa
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I really am surprised how casually you dismiss all of the arguments that have been presented in previous threads about this same subject. I guess it’s easier to take the creationist approach and dismiss evidence that doesn’t conform to your talking point.

    Here’s a thought experiment: how many of you posting against moderate muslims would fly right now to Afghanistan and make a public stand against the barbarity of islamic belief? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? Iran?

    Oh wait, you wanted more evidence that groups exist who decry this and are actually doing something about it. Here you go, donate liberally:

    http://theahafoundation.org/

    • Marella
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      That is NOT an Islamic foundation.

    • Brygida Berse
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Jerry asked for examples of “moderate” Muslim groups that supposedly speak against the violence by Muslim extremists. How is the AHA Foundation, the organization started by the atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who openly states that “there is no moderate Islam”, a Muslim group?

      • Kevin
        Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        Apparently, there’s no such thing as an ex-Muslim.

  11. chupalupa
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    It really saddens me how quickly you dismiss all of the evidence that has been posted about this in previous threads. I guess it’s easier to dismiss the evidence that doesn’t conform to your talking points, very creationist of you.

    Thought experiment: how many of you posting against moderates here and everywhere else are willing to fly to Afghanistan and make a public stand against the barbarity of islamic beliefs / actions? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? Iran?

    Oh, I forgot, the claim was that no groups exist speaking out against these atrocities. Here’s one, please donate liberally:

    http://theahafoundation.org/

    • Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      So you’re saying that moderate Muslim groups in Britain or Canada or the US can’t even make a statement condemning this sort of behavior because I’m not willing to go to Iraq and call people out of their barbaric and stupid beliefs? This is the Perfectionist Fallacy, claiming that because people are unwilling to actively, physically battle theocrats that anything they do would be insufficient.

      Also, you’ve created a strawman by bringing up the AHA Foundation. Coyne asked for a moderate Muslim group speaking out against this type of behavior, not an atheist group. There are plenty of non-believing groups that condemn poisoning little girls who want to learn, it’s the religious ones who claim to be so happy and peace-loving but silently allow this sort of thing to happen.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:37 am | Permalink

      Confusing or confused. What evidence are you referring to?

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:40 am | Permalink

        A little of both perhaps. You are likely referring to Coyne’s mentioning moderate islams never protest. But you don’t give comment links enabling (you or us) rejecting that.

  12. Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    If we have to put a label on that kind of stupidity, I would choose the word “cultural” instead of “religious”…

    • Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      And give religion a pass? No way. The misogyny of almost every religion is evident enough. Religions are often the foundations of cultures. They are too inextricably linked to simply let religion off the hook.

      • Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        If it was the fault of Islam, how come you don’t see those kind of events in Turkey?
        This was caused by stupid ignorant men first, no matter what their faith is.

        • jenl1625
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:35 am | Permalink

          Misguided women will also engage in this sort of attack. I think we can assume “ignorant”, but not “stupid” or “men”.

        • Egbert
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

          Turkey is one of the few secular states in the Arab world. So, that actually supports the argument that religion and Islam is the problem.

          • MKray
            Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

            Turkey may be in the islamic world, but it is certainly not in the Arab world.

            • Nick Evans
              Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

              Nor is Afghanistan, come to that.

              • TJR
                Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

                Or Iran.

              • Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

                Or Indonesia, the largest muslim country.

          • Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

            And why wouldn’t it be cultural? There are universities in Alger, Tanger, Tunis, or Beyruth where women study…

        • Notagod
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

          It is motivated by religion. Their religion gives them the justification and motivation. The hate that these christian-a-likes express is rooted in their holey books.

          No holey book would equate to no justification, if you think not, give a non-christian justification for treating women as slaves. I reckon there aren’t any.

        • Greg G
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

          If it was the fault of Islam, how come you don’t see those kind of events in Turkey?

          There can be religion within a culture and culture within a religion. If a culture within a religion poisons girls or opposes the teaching of evolution, they will cite religious reasons for doing it, not cultural reasons. They would consider other cultures within the religion to be wrong, based on their religious ideas.

        • Jeff Sherry
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          If the Turkish Military wasn’t for secularism we wouldn’t be talking about Turkey being a moderate in the world of Islam.

        • rickflick
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Turkey, it seems, fortunately, is under a the strong influence of Ataturk who established a secular government sustained, it seems, through the military. This is much like the situation in Egypt. Sometimes a benevolent dictator is a salvation!

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:45 am | Permalink

            Except it was never an establishment of secular government, which is why the upcoming elections are so fraught with problems and uncertainty, and why a muslim party will in all likelihood win it.

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:46 am | Permalink

              Oops, re Egypt natch. Turkey _do_ seem to have a more societal funding of government rule.

      • Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        And yet “religion” is not a sufficient cause for this sort of behavior. Furthermore, you can find people who do terrible things without religious motivation. So I can’t see how you’re being very careful with causation here.

        Do you think that it would be impossible to cultivate a society of ignoramuses in the desert who are hateful towards women without the use of religion? I could be wrong, but I feel like that is the sort of thing you can teach without a holy book.

    • Greg G
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      That’s a pretty fine hair you’re trying to split. Does the Taliban distinguish between culture and religion?

      • Tulse
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s a fine hair, as there are plenty of Muslims in the US who don’t have these beliefs. I think the problem here is largely the tribalism and patriarchy endemic in the culture there, which is interacting with Islam. One sees similar problems for women in African cultures which have similar tribalism and patriarchy, but which aren’t Islamic (indeed, just look at how women are treated in some Christian African cultures).

        • Dan L.
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          Suppose you asked some Taliban why they think it’s moral to, say, poison the water supply at a girl’s school. What kind of answer do you think you’d get?

          “It’s our culture.”

          or

          “It’s what God wants.”

          I’m guessing the answer would be a lot closer to the latter.

          • Tulse
            Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

            Right, but if you asked a middle-class Muslim living in Detroit, they’d answer differently. In other words, it’s not just religion — it is the interaction of religion with an already patriarchal, misogynistic, tribal culture.

            • Dan L.
              Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

              I think you’re drawing distinctions that can’t really be made. You can’t just cut away religion from culture and treat it like an independent entity. Culture, religion, patriarchy, misogyny, and tribalism are all interrelated and pretending that you can change a culture without “touching” the corresponding religion seems delusional to me.

              Another way to put it is that the reason for the disagreement between the Taliban and the moderate north American Muslim is that they actually practice different religions that just happen to share a name and some history, the same way that a Baptist and a Lutheran would probably have very distinct religiously-motivated views on women’s rights but nonetheless both consider themselves “Christian.”

              I don’t think there’s some magical metaphysical entity called “Islam” that I’m trying to slay. I think religion is a pattern of beliefs and behaviors. The Taliban pattern is a bad pattern of beliefs and behaviors, the moderate Muslim pattern is not so bad. But that doesn’t mean “religion is not the problem.” It means that religion is not always a problem. I’ll cop to that.

    • Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      False dichotomy.

      Religion is the tool ignorant, selfish, benighted cultures use to (attempt to) justify their barbarism.

      Why should we not attempt to take that tool away?

  13. Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    For some reason a comment I posted earlier was lost in the internet either. Short, summary. I looked at the major Islamic Websites earlier, CAIR, MCB, MCA, and a couple of others, and found not a single mention of the event in question. I picked them because they seem to get plenty of press, so one might reasonably expect them to denounce such violent acts. I don’t know if it is telling that they were silent on the plight of these poor girls. I will point out that the Catholic Church at least pays lip service to the idea that all the molesting of children their employees have perpetrated was not altogether moral or praiseworthy.

  14. raven
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    It’s not just Moslems.

    It’s any fundamentalist religion that seeks to enslave and control women, just because they can.

    The US fundies, some Mormons, the FLDS, the ultra-orthodox Jews.

    Typical is one I’ve seen. A large Mormon family paid for the boys missions and college educations. They didn’t pay for the girl’s college because “they didn’t need a college degree”.

  15. raven
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    As if this couldn’t be any more horrifying:

    The status of women is highly correlated with how advanced, prosperous, and livable a society is.

    Afghanistan of course, is near the very bottom in all of these measures. And most likely won’t get better and quite likely will get worse.

    I don’t see any real solution. It’s been that way for centuries. In my fantasy world, every woman there would get a free one way ticket to the West, and a free education including college, and/or job training.

    Or, the Chinese and Indians rather foolishly have a severe surplus of boy over girls for cultural reasons. This has resulted in what you expect, a lot of lonely young men who can’t find girlfriends and wives because they don’t exist. The Chinese are even starting to import wives from countries around them such as Vietnam. You can see where this is going.

    The Afghanis treat women worse than we treat pets, literally. The Indians and Chinese need more women. It’s a win win solution.

    • brujofeo
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Actually, in the long run, far better if the Chinese, the Indians, and the Afghanis continue to abort and murder as many women as possible, to the point where there aren’t enough breeders (the true “enablers”)to sustain their murderous, misogynistic societies. THAT’s a “win-win solution.”

      • darrelle
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Here’s to hoping that this is a failed attempt at black humor. Otherwise, uugggh, you are part of the problem. To say the least.

    • brujofeo
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Better in the long run if the Chinese, the Indians, AND the Afghanis continue to abort and murder as many women as possible, until there aren’t enough breeders (the true “enablers”)left to sustain their murderous, misogynistic societies. THAT’s a “win-win solution.”

      • Notagod
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps you could die just to get things started in the right direction?

    • Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      The status of women is highly correlated with how advanced, prosperous, and livable a society is.

      Can you provide any sources for that?

      • raven
        Posted April 19, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        Yes, Just use google. This is very well known.

      • raven
        Posted April 19, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        There is one of many references. This is well known.

        Women, Men, and the Global Quality of Life — Center for …
        ww.partnershipway.org/…/excerpts-from-women-men-and-the-glo…

        The status of women can be a better predictor of a nation’s general quality of life …

        Hong Kong (GDP 18520 U.S.$), maternal mortality of 6 women per 100000 live births … Studies show that education for women is probably the most cost-effective … and its gender correlate be recognized as the critical factor in development?

        • Posted April 19, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          Yes I know it’s well known. But I haven’t seen the evidence for it, and I assume you have (since you’re agreeing with the claim), so I figured it would be easy to ask you for some sources.

          I’ll check this one out. Thanks.

  16. parabolic
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    A Robot I don’t know if the comment you made about the founding of a Moroccan university by a female is true, but it very well could be. That was a time (800-1100 AD)when the Islamic/Arabic world was the center of human culture. Discovery and free thought was running wild with tremendous advancements in mathematics, astronomy, music, philosophy. It wasn’t until the latter part of the 12th century when the religious leaders, threatened by all the scientific rational advances, convinced the masses that mathematics was the language of Satan, and the Islamic world has been pretty much unchanged for the last 900 years.

    • TJR
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      That area, the middle east, had been the centre of human culture since about 3000 BC.

      At various times china, northern india and the western mediterranean had caught up with it, but the fertile crescent lead the world for the best part of 4000 years.

      • Dan L.
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        That’s very arguable. Bronze casting and many other incredibly important early technologies were invented in China first, and China tended to be more politically stable and wealthy than any particular Mesopotamian empire (except maybe the Persian) for most of those 4000 years. I’d lean towards China having been the center of human culture for most of human history.

        • Dan L.
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

          Also worth pointing out that Afghanistan wasn’t really in the fertile crescent and so wasn’t, for the most part, a part of the Mesopotamian cultures you’re talking about.

        • rickflick
          Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          Culture is more than just technology.

          • Dan L.
            Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

            OK, that doesn’t really affect my argument. What non-technological factors made Mesopotamian culture more advanced than Chinese culture?

          • Dan L.
            Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            Also, how was I supposed to interpret what TJR said about China “catching up” to Mesopotamia? Is there any non-technological sense in which this makes any sense?

            • TJR
              Posted April 19, 2012 at 2:57 am | Permalink

              I agree its probably more accurate to say that Mesopotamia and China jointly lead the way for most of the 4000 years. In my defence it was an off the cuff comment and not an academic thesis!

              • TJR
                Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:11 am | Permalink

                My point was just that its hardly surprising that the middle east was at the forefront of human civilisation after the arab conquest, given that it had been there for the previous 3,500 years.

    • Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      So mathematics was the 12th century version of evolution and climate change, good to know. Maybe reason will win out this time around.

  17. the moother
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    still waiting for those links from the apologists mkay.

    • JJG
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      same here — so far, just

      • JJG
        Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        should have been…

        same here — so far, just the sound of crickets

  18. raven
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    BBC NEWS | South Asia | Life in Afghanistan
    news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7741767

    14 Aug 2009 – Afghanistan has some of the world’s worst health indicators, with an average life expectancy of 44. About one in five children dies before his or …

    The average life span in Afghanistan is 44 years. In the West in runs around 76 years.

    Oddly enough, it seems to be slowly going up. I suspect when we depart, it will start going down again.

  19. Ima nwankwo
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Islamic extremist group in my country known as boko haram are against not just female western education but males too.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 19, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      “The movement, whose name in the Hausa language, Boko Haram, translates as “Western education is sacrilege”[9] or “a sin”,[11] is divided into three factions, and in 2011, was responsible for more than 450 killings in Nigeria.[9]” [Wikipedia]

      Yes, let us not forget it isn’t just Afghanistan.

  20. Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    IMO, there are no “moderates” only those who refrain from being extremists because it would be inconvenient for them to be imprisioned.

  21. Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Maybe no Muslim leaders have spoken about because there’s been no positive ID of the perpetrators.

    Although of course I know that won’t matter here- the obsession with branding all Muslims as supporters of terrorism is the aim here. Which is one of the reasons why I stopped reading this blog. I only came here because there was a link from an atheist FB page. (I am an atheist.)

    I guess any time a crime is committed and Muslim leaders don’t speak out its proof that they approve. The anti-Muslim hysteria here (and the related privileging of other religions as Dawkins did for Christianity) is truly disgusting.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Whups! To my knowledge this bl … website is an equally time religious brander, asking all religious moderates to protest any “kind of vicious extremism” or “thereby [be] enablers”.

      If you are distraught by the ties to poisoning female students and teachers, you should direct that against the religious in question.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Also, it hits me that such an overblown, under-researched response may be the reason this event happened without much notice in the media.

      Too much concern trolling.

  22. Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Dawkins, privileging Christianity:

    “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”

    http://my.umbc.edu/discussions/3585

    I don’t think Pope has yet apologized for the Christians who have blown up abortion clinics (something that, along with the IRA, Dawkins apparently has never heard of) – clearly all Christians support terrorism.

    • Posted April 19, 2012 at 2:32 am | Permalink

      Hmm… That para is widely quoted, but the original source (in The Times) is behind a paywall. So I don’t know whether Richard wrote that himself or was being quoted by a journalist. In either case we don’t have the proper context.

      However, it’s not a stretch to think that Richard stripped the statement of qualifiers for rhetorical effect. My inference is that there’s an implied “indiscriminately, for the sake of blowing up buildings; and in the name of Christianity”, given the known behaviour and motivation of Islamicist terrorists. (Perhaps Richard can comment, McLuhan-like.)

      In that light, your comments seem disingenuous.

      Attacks on abortion clinics are clearly not indiscriminate.

      And the IRA was a predominantly a political organisation, acting against British rule in Northern Ireland. The clue is in the name: the Irish Republican Army, not the Irish Theocratic Army. ;-)

      /@

      • TJR
        Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:00 am | Permalink

        Well, the IRA is predominantly a *gangster* organisation. Shame none of them got arrested for tax evasion……

        • bernardhurley
          Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:50 am | Permalink

          It is true that the IRA is predominantly a gangster organisation, but it is also the case that it feeds off religious bigotry.

  23. Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    One more thing – even supposing the poisoners claim to be doing it on behalf of Islam – who are the people who are sending the girls to school? Aren’t they Muslims too? I think you can safely assume that THEY protest this vicious extremism.

    Or does being attacked by other Muslims automatically make you an honorary free-thinker?

    Really the hatred and bigotry here is an embarrassment to atheism. You’d all fight right in at any Tea Party meeting.

    • Dan L.
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Is it really bigotry to ask moderate Muslims to tell extremists “You do not represent my views”? Because I don’t see many people taking a more extreme point of view than that here.

      Really the hatred and bigotry here is an embarrassment to atheism. You’d all fight right in at any Tea Party meeting.

      When you say stuff like this I’m much less inclined to listen to your point of view. Just so you know.

  24. Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    OR rather “fit” right in.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      “- the obsession with branding all Muslims as supporters of terrorism is the aim here.”

      The anti-Muslim hysteria here (and the related privileging of other religions as Dawkins did for Christianity) is truly disgusting.

      Really the hatred and bigotry here is an embarrassment to atheism. You’d all fight right in at any Tea Party meeting.

      These phrases, and especially the words I have bolded, applied to this blog entry and its comments are far enough of base as to be ridiculous, and inaccurate enough to be considered lies.

      You obviously have an axe to grind, and you’ve done a good job of grinding it. But I don’t think anyone is going to take your hyperbole seriously.

      Or does being attacked by other Muslims automatically make you an honorary free-thinker?

      To think that quip does anything other than expose the shallowness of your understanding of the, in most cases, clearly enunciated positions of the OP and the commenters is wishful thinking on your part. Even your insults betray your lack of understanding.

  25. Tim
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    During my niece’s teen years, she would sometimes lose friend because she argued ardently in favor of atheism.

    In her mid twenties, she became a Muslim (and married a guy who became a Muslim after he was stationed in Afghanastan during his time in the military). Recently, she went to Dubai for a couple of years and was a math teacher there. She has returned to the US and lives in the Seattle area, where she now serves as math teacher at a Muslim school.

    I don’t talk to her much at all. I certainly don’t understand why anyone would convert to any religion after reaching maturity and ‘knowing better’. But her story does indicate that Islam is more multifaceted than people like Sam Harris lead us to imagine (much as a love to hear the guy argue). Needless to say, I doubt my niece would agree with the idea that it is her special responsibility to condemn murderous fanatics in Afghanistan for any more sense of culpability than I do.

    Sure the Koran and the Bible are excrable documents, and I don’t understand how Muslims and Christians find their messages admirable. Neither do I seriously believe that many (perhaps most) of these religious adherents subscribe to the poisonous things in those books. We can call it cognitive dissonance, and it is most certainly that. But I accept it as that, not something more. They don’t share in collective guilt for religious fanatics actions because they don’t think logically.

    • Marella
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Jerry is calling for Moslem Groups to denounce this act, not individuals, though that would be a good thing too.

  26. emmageraln
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on emmageraln and commented:
    I really hate religion.

  27. R. Lee Bays
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    This story sickened me and I’m appalled at the silence. I put my thoughts together at the Southern Humanist and tried to reconcile the silence to the poisoning of school girls, with the insane response to the Koran burnings and the muted response to the shooting rampage. I really don’t get it.

    http://wp.me/p2jrVY-kO

  28. bcameron
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    I am not sure if this counts or not, but it might:

    http://embryonicrobot.tumblr.com/post/21358730758/moderate-islam

    • bernardhurley
      Posted April 19, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Did you check that these people actually are Muslims and not ex-Muslims? I know a number of ex-Muslims in the UK and from what limited experience I have it seems to me that once a Muslim becomes “moderate”, he/she is on the way out.

      • bcameron
        Posted April 19, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

        It’s a good point. After I took the photo, he became engaged in a conversation, and I had to leave. But, you could be right.

  29. bismarket
    Posted April 21, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Just a little whimsy ok? I am aware that what i am about to say is un feasible but….What if we got all the women OUT of Afghanistan & into counties willing to accept them. It would prevent the Taliban from doing anything long term. We could leave the men to it & come back in 20/30 yr’s & see if they are seeing something differently in the Koran? I am unable to get my head around a society that has no respect for their own Mothers, Grandmothers & wives while at the same time considering themselves to be “Honourable”!

    • Posted April 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      I hope that you mean to somehow convince the women to do this willingly, but I suspect you’d find that some of the women would object. Many of the objections would come from the ones that have some appearance of power – at least over other women – under the current system. But I imagine there are plenty of women there who whole-heartedly believe what they’ve been taught all their lives about the proper place of a woman, and they’d be horrified to be taken from their fathers or husbands.

      But even if you took only the women willing to go of their own free will, it’s not like the men they left behind would accept that as a valid choice. They wouldn’t remain home and adapt their society around the holes the missing women left – they’d do whatever they thought would get their women back.

      • bismarket
        Posted April 24, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        I suspect your right on every point you make, i was just imagining how these “MEN” who are treating the women so badly would manage without them. Sadly the point about so many refusing to leave is probably correct, but just imagine…….

  30. Posted April 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] my friend Jerry Coyne comes this awful story from Afghanistan, as reported by [...]

  2. [...] from attending school. After I posted this, I noticed that Jerry Coyne discussed this story on his blog today as well. His final paragraph is quite interesting: Now I’ve often decried the fact that [...]

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