Islamic “justice” in Mali

Things are going to hell in Mali, and a UN force will soon invade the country to restore order. Among the horrible things taking place in that country is the imposition of sharia law by the rebel Islamist government. The  New York Times had a chilling piece yesterday on what happens when the Muslim faith gets the upper hand.

BAMAKO, Mali — Moctar Touré was strapped to a chair, blindfolded, his right hand bound tight to the armrest with a rubber tube. A doctor came and administered a shot. Then Mr. Touré’s own brother wielded a knife, the kind used to slaughter sheep, and methodically carried out the sentence.

Souleymane Traoré had his right hand cut off by Mr. Touré’s brother, a police chief in the Islamist-held north.

“I myself cut off my brother’s hand,” said Aliou Touré, a police chief in the Islamist-held north of this divided nation. “We had no choice but to practice the justice of God.”

Such amputations are designed to shock — residents are often summoned to watch — and even as the world makes plans to recapture northern Mali by force, the Islamists who control it show no qualms about carrying them out.

After the United Nations Security Council authorized a military campaign to retake the region last week, Islamists in Gao, Mr. Touré’s town, cut the hands off two more people accused of being thieves the very next day, a leading local official said, describing it as a brazen response to the United Nations resolution. Then the Islamists, undeterred by the international threats against them, warned reporters that eight others “will soon share the same fate.”

This harsh application of Shariah law, with people accused of being thieves sometimes having their feet amputated as well, has occurred at least 14 times since the Islamist takeover last spring, not including the recent vow of more to come, according to Human Rights Watch and independent observers.

But those are just the known cases, and dozens of other residents have been publicly flogged with camel-hair whips or tree branches for offenses like smoking, or even for playing music on the radio. Several were whipped in Gao on Monday for smoking in public, an official said, while others said that anything other than Koranic verses were proscribed as cellphone ringtones. A jaunty tune is punishable by flogging.

At least one case of the most severe punishment — stoning to death — was carried out in the town of Aguelhok in July against a couple accused of having children out of wedlock.

Flogging for a cellphone ringtone, and stoning to death—a horrible way to go—for having a child while unmarried! Only religion could mandate things like that. And the amputations can be prolonged, too:

Moctar Touré had his hand amputated several weeks later. He said it took 30 minutes, though he fainted in the process, awakening in the hospital bed where the Islamists had placed him afterward.

Mr. Touré said his brother had insisted that the sentence be carried out.

“They asked my own brother three times if that was the sentence,” Mr. Touré said. “He’s the commissioner of police in Gao, and he wants to die a martyr,” Mr. Touré said quietly. “He joined up with the Islamists when they came to Gao.”

Here is Souleymane Traoré, whose right hand was amputated by Mr. Touré’s brother, a police chief:

jp-mali1-popupPhoto by Joe Penney for The New York Times

You may have qualms about the proposed invasion, which was unanimously approved by the UN security council (and will apparently use troops from five African nations), but I don’t see any alternative to restore stability in Mali.  It’s the lesser of two evils.

102 Comments

  1. Posted December 29, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Positively frightening. A horror movie of a culture, much worse than the final days of Idi Amin.

    • Pray Hard
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Yes, a zombie slasher movie, but the zombies are the slashers.

  2. Posted December 29, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    There is something about these West African countries with amputating limbs. It was the preferred treatment of Taylor in Sierra Leone.

    I doubt there is an easier solution to the mess that is Mali especially since they for some reason think god or is it allah is on their side.

    The Islamists in Mali have gone berserk, they have destroyed world heritage sites in Timbuktu.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      I recently read that there is a conflict rape institutionalizing in many or all of these conflicts – they rape many or most men daily at prison camps. This is of course a great stigmata, and the victims dies horrendously without care, by refusal of care or by abandonement when they can’t function socially and/or sexually. [ http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/17/the-rape-of-men ]

      Oh, and it isn’t localized:

      “It’s not just in East Africa that these stories remain unheard. One of the few academics to have looked into the issue in any detail is Lara Stemple, of the University of California’s Health and Human Rights Law Project. Her study Male Rape and Human Rights notes incidents of male sexual violence as a weapon of wartime or political aggression in countries such as Chile, Greece, Croatia, Iran, Kuwait, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. Twenty-one per cent of Sri Lankan males who were seen at a London torture treatment centre reported sexual abuse while in detention. In El Salvador, 76% of male political prisoners surveyed in the 1980s described at least one incidence of sexual torture. A study of 6,000 concentration-camp inmates in Sarajevo found that 80% of men reported having been raped.”

      “Today, despite his hospital treatment, Jean Paul still bleeds when he walks. Like many victims, the wounds are such that he’s supposed to restrict his diet to soft foods such as bananas, which are expensive, and Jean Paul can only afford maize and millet. His brother keeps asking what’s wrong with him. “I don’t want to tell him,” says Jean Paul. “I fear he will say: ‘Now, my brother is not a man.'””

      “Later on I speak with Dr Angella Ntinda, who treats referrals from the RLP. She tells me: “Eight out of 10 patients from RLP will be talking about some sort of sexual abuse.”

      “Eight out of 10 men?” I clarify.

      “No. Men and women,” she says.

      “What about men?”

      “I think all the men.”

      I am aghast.

      “All of them?” I say.

      “Yes,” she says. “All the men.””

      “The research by Lara Stemple at the University of California doesn’t only show that male sexual violence is a component of wars all over the world, it also suggests that international aid organisations are failing male victims. Her study cites a review of 4,076 NGOs that have addressed wartime sexual violence. Only 3% of them mentioned the experience of men in their literature. “Typically,” Stemple says, “as a passing reference.””

      • Posted December 29, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        I didn’t think it was so widespread in EA but I have heard of cases from the Congo.
        I don’t like war :(. It saddens me to imagine the horrors people go through in all these armed conflicts!

  3. gmaduck
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    They always cut off the right hand of a man because the Koran demands that when a man pees, he must use his left hand.

    ________________________________

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      ” … the Koran demands that when a man pees, he must use his left hand.”

      Religious scripture is rife with these useless rituals — a particular favorite among the Abrahamic monotheisms being the need for the ritual “cleansing” of post-menstrual women before they are permitted, in any capacity, to rejoin male congregants.

      But not a word, so far as I know, in any of the so-called “holy books,” advising believers to wash their hands after taking a dump — or even cautioning women in which direction it is safer to wipe after peeing — simple “cleansing rituals” that would have forestalled untold death, disease, and misery among the faithful, without imposing any concomitant cost upon the all-knowing, all-loving deity supposedly responsible for Scripture’s content, and in celebration of whose power and glory the significant burden of producing Scripture was ostensibly undertaken.

      • jumeirajames
        Posted December 30, 2012 at 2:34 am | Permalink

        I think you’ll find that the right hand is cut off because that’s the hand Muslims use to eat with – cutting it off means you can’t eat with other Muslims.

      • lisa
        Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:09 am | Permalink

        Actually, there are laws (civil and religious) dictating how both sexes were required to cleanse themselves after these ‘bodily functions.’ And all of the Roman Empire had public facilities, differentiated by gender, for these which included multiple seats with a ditch of constantly running water beneath them and long handled sponges for thorough washing. Unfortunately the sponges were secured to the latrines and used by any and all ‘visitors.’ And in the early days of Islam, bathing and other facilities were de rigueur. I don’t know what happened to Islam, but it cratered faster and farther than Christianity.

      • Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:55 am | Permalink

        Actually, Islam does have regulations on cleanliness, considering that the Prophet Muhammmad(saw) said, “Cleanliness is half of Imaan (Faith).” After breaking wind, going to the toilet. You’ve got the wash the private areas then wipe them. After that, if you want to pray or anything, you’ve got to wash your hands, face, head, arms and feet. It’s called Wudu. And it’s recommended to be in this state all the time.

        • Pray Hard
          Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

          There was no “Prophet Muhammed”. He was a mythical fiction. Even if there was a guy named Muhammed who was a legend in his own mind, he was no prophet because there is no such thing as a prophet, only old men with funny hats, mouths open and fingers in the air with titles sounding like bakery goods.

  4. Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Very chilling story, I’m so thankful to be in the U.S.A. I take nothing for granted and I appreciate everything that I have. I hope other do the same by reading this post…

    • thh1859
      Posted December 29, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Has there been an investigation into male rape in US prisons?

      • Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Doubt It, why do you ask???

      • gravelinspector
        Posted December 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Why would there be? Prisoner don’t have human rights (do they), and in most parts of the States they’ll never be allowed to vote again, in the unlikely event of them getting out of prison. So … who (bleeding-heart liberals excepted) cares.
        I may be being unjust to the US punishment and retribution (but not rehabilitation) system, but I think I’ve got the main reasons in there.

        • Gary W
          Posted December 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          You are seriously misinformed. Of course prisoners in the U.S. have human rights. And only two states impose a lifelong denial of voting rights to anyone convicted of a felony. The vast majority of prisoners have their voting rights restored after they have served their sentences.

          • gravelinspector
            Posted December 31, 2012 at 6:29 am | Permalink

            Then the American electoral authorities need to do some serious PR work, because that is most definitely the impression that has been portrayed to the rest of the world.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 31, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

              I could believe that the sensationalist approach of the flood of trashy TV pseudo-docos (“America’s Worst Prisons” yadda yadda) conveys an unduly bad image of conditions which may not be typical of all, or even most, US jails. Unfortunately this sort of crap is pervasive on some of the trashier TV channels.
              (A quick scan of the channels available on pay TV here in NZ would seem to suggest that Americans have an obsession with crime and law enforcement while the British currently have an obsession with real estate and home improvement disasters. Quite how representative this is of reality, I’m not sure).

              • lisa
                Posted December 31, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

                The one thing I can absolutely promise you is NOT representative of reality is reality TV. No one’s prison is any fun, and putting large numbers of people who have been shone to not have respect for laws or social niceties (and please don’t come back with how many prisoners are not guilty of the crimes for which they have been incarcerated or how these actions should not be crimes or how the most guilty are out and about doing well. This is sometimes, maybe even often the case, but that isn’t the issue under discussion) locked away with not quite as large a number of personality types that enjoy having this kind of power over others, you will always have abuses. But American prisoners have access to descent housing (including air conditioning and heating and minimum square footage per person), as much hygiene as they desire,sometimes more, descent and regular meals, cable/satellite or whatever entertainment, limited internet, immediate medical and dental care, excellent libraries and opportunity to get whatever education they are willing to work for, including multiple and/or post graduate degrees. This is a great deal more than most people in the world, and a great many Americans have.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 1, 2013 at 12:34 am | Permalink

                Hi Lisa. While I’m sure far too many prisoners are wrongly convicted, this would still be a very small percentage and I agree isn’t the topic here. Your description sounds like the ideal, I’d like to think it’s the general rule and the horror stories are the exception. (And I must stop my wife watching Crime TV, maybe there’s some way to sabotage the decoder…)

              • gravelinspector
                Posted January 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

                I can’t speak for the Americans, but for the Brits, yes, real estate is a major obsession, mostly because it is still in a classical inflationary bubble. So, getting almost any sort of accommodation is a struggle, and getting harder. The DIY disasters aspect is because too many people are financially bowdlerised by their mortgages and can’t afford to employ reliable workmen, or to check people out before hiring them, and can’t afford the time to project manage properly or take the risk of writing and enforcing a proper contract. Chicken, egg and omelette, all in one problem.

  5. Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Maybe a little off-topic, but how does our decidedly secular legal apparatus allowing extra-judicial drone killings without due process compare to sadistic Sharia Law?

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/15/opinion/oconnell-targeted-killing/index.html

    The discussion of how religion conflicts with democracy might be appropriate. Maybe the military-industrial “religion” in the US is just as fear-based and authoritarian as any third world theocracy.

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      I don’t think this is off topic.
      One great American, Col. Robert Ingersoll, in one of his lectures said weapons were made by christians trying to kill other christians, I don’t know how far from truth this statement is. They developed racks and several devices for torture just for that purpose and maybe that is not far from the military- industrial religion as you call it of the US of A.

    • Gary W
      Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      “How do they compare?” is such a vague question it’s hard to know what you’re actually asking. But I would say they don’t compare at all.

      • Posted December 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        I guess my question is whether brutal Sharia justice represents a paradigm altogether different from our secular non-democratic, non-due-process justice of drone killings, or are these practices merely gradations of a similar system?

        Both are used nominally to preserve social order, neither abides a transparent structure of checks and balances, both are guided by arbitrary tenets of perceived harm to society, neither adheres to rigorous due process.

        In one system a man loses his hand for an alleged robbery, in the other system a man loses his life for an alleged offense that is *not even specifically delineated.*

        • Gary W
          Posted December 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          I guess my question is whether brutal Sharia justice represents a paradigm altogether different from our secular non-democratic, non-due-process justice of drone killings, or are these practices merely gradations of a similar system?

          I think they’re completely different. Sharia law is a codification of doctrines from an ancient religious text purported to represent the will of God. Drone strikes are secular military actions intended to fight threats to the security of the United States and its allies.

          Your focus on “due process” is puzzling. Military actions are generally conducted on the authority of military leaders and are not subject to due process tests. We didn’t have to get the approval of a judge before we conducted a bombing raid on Germany or Japan during WWII.

          • Posted December 29, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

            If the UN invades to overturn the Islamists, they aren’t going to give due process to the people who get bombed by UN planes or shot by UN soldiers. Military actions are not justice. I realize some people characterize them that way, but they’re not. Killing in a military action is not punishment for a crime, and it’s not an extra-judicial killing. It’s a strategy for overcoming the opposition by destroying their soldiers.

            I’m not saying that’s a good thing (it’s not), but sometimes it’s almost impossible to get certain dictators out of power without military action. Similarly, drone killings of al Qaeda leaders are not administration of justice. They’re assassinations in a military conflict. Not nice? Sure. But not the same thing as Sharia law.

            I don’t necessarily object to the drone attacks in principle (the only difference between that and a B-52 dropping a bomb is the B-52 has a pilot–neither involves a trial, but weirdly people seem to think that if the plane that bombs you doesn’t have a pilot then you should have had a trial). However, I definitely object to how they are carried out in practice. Often, they are done sloppily and collateral damage (read: non al Qaeda members) are retroactively labeled terrorists simply because they happened to be there. That’s unacceptable. It’s comparable to bombing civilian targets and then retroactively calling them enemy soldiers. That’s bullshit.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

              I think the reason is this: Bombing raids are usually carried out against a military target, or at least a strategic one (admittedly WWII area bombing tended to stray rather far from that ‘ideal’). Drone strikes are ostensibly aimed at specific individuals – which is why there is a feeling that those individuals should have had some sort of trial before being sentenced to death-by-drone. Traditionally the military have always been leery of assassinations.

              All this is leaving aside the question of morality and collateral damage which frequently (IMO) does more harm to US interests than the targeted individual ever could have done.

          • Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            Gary W and Riffingreligion,
            Thank you for your responses. You both make sense and have altered and clarified my view of US drone strikes. Helpful.

          • John Scanlon, FCD
            Posted December 31, 2012 at 2:55 am | Permalink

            Drone strikes are secular military actions intended to fight threats to the security of the United States and its allies.

            Unless/until they’re carried out by nations or other groups other against the US or its ‘allies’ of the moment, in which case I’m pretty sure you’d call them something else, probably ‘terrorism’.

            (Putting ‘US and its allies’ in your definition does appear to be explicit exceptionalism, so don’t blame me for the implications)

        • Pray Hard
          Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          I thought this was war, not a Perry Mason episode. Drone attacks give them the exact same due process they give us.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 31, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

            ‘They’? Which ‘they’ do you refer to? The ones plotting terrorist attacks, or the bystanders who it’s convenient to ignore or label as ‘terrorists’ because ‘they’ happened to be in the wrong place when the drone hit?

  6. raven
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    “He’s the commissioner of police in Gao, and he wants to die a martyr,”

    Similar to some xians.

    The fundies best idea is to hope and pray jesus the sky monster shows up 2,000 years late, kills 7 billion people including them, and destroys the earth.

    This police commissioners best idea is to get shot by soldiers after behaving like a monster.

    Did you know religion is the source of all morality? Yeah, no one else has ever seen it either.

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Next to “life is a virus,” “religious is the source of all morality” is one of the very best.

      Thanks for the contribution. Let’s hope it becomes the next meme.

    • lisa
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:14 am | Permalink

      So why has no one granted this wish?

  7. pktom64
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Horrible things… I saw a video of a man amputated of his right hand, also in Mali. They interviewed him in his hospital bed and he said something along the lines of :

    “I didn’t know that this was the sentence for stealing but that’s what they told me so I deserved it.”

    ….. !!!

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Even if he didn’t think he deserved it, it’s not as if he’d have been wise to say so.

  8. Lurker111
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Religion: The Last Great Mental Illness.

  9. Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Painting with a broad brush makes for a messy picture.

    If extremist xian fundamentalists were to take control, the resultant theocracy would be no less monstrous than that of the muslim radical extremists now running rampant in mali.

    xian justice in the old testament

    Deuteronomy. Preceding number represents Chapter.

    12.10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die, because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
    17.2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman who hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God in transgressing His covenant,
    17.3 and hath gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded,
    17.4 and it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it and inquired diligently, and behold, it be true and the thing certain that such abomination is wrought in Israel,
    17.5 then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman who has committed that wicked thing unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they die.
    17.6 At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses shall he that is worthy of death be put to death, but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

    Stonning to death punishment for disobidient sons.
    21.21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, so that he die. So shalt thou put evil away from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.

    Stonning to death punishment for non virgin women.
    22.20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel, (unmarried women)
    22.21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die, because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house; so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

    Death punishment for adultery.
    22.22 “If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman and the woman; so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

    Stoning to death punishment for virgin women for adultery.
    22.23 If a damsel who is a virgin be betrothed unto a husband, and a man find her in the city and lie with her,
    22.24 then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones, that they die — the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city, and the man,because he hath humbled his neighbor’s wife; so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

    Deuteronomy 25:11-12 “If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.”

    Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die.”

    Leviticus 20:10 “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.”

    • darrelle
      Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Do you really think that the OP or the typical guest here is not fully aware of that? Your observation is not particularly difficult to discern, you are not being unusually insightful, perceptive or moral, and you get no cookie.

      • Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        OK. No need to get defensive. It was not intended as an attack. Just a simple observation.

        • Andrew B.
          Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          The problem is, we here this sort of thing all the time and it’s rather aggravating. People defending Islam will chime in with “Christianity is just as bad” and those defending Christianity will cry that we don’t also at that moment condemn Islam for its brutality as well. Don’t assume that we don’t believe something merely because we fail to mention it at that moment.

          I notice you didn’t condemn the holocaust in your post. Can I then assume that you think it was justified?

          • Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t “condemn” anyone or anything.

            I don’t actually believe in “belief”.

            You can assume anything you like.

            I don’t know who “we” is but I’m not interested in becoming a member of some exclusive club.

            I made a simple observation and you seem very intent upon turning it into a confrontation.

            Not interested.

            “Absolute certainty is a privilege of uneducated minds and fanatics”
            C.J. Keyser, an American mathematician of pronounced philosophical inclinations.

            • Posted December 30, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

              I would absolutely disagree with Keyser’s statement.

              I have absolute certainty that there is not a herd of angry rhinoceroses stampeding through my kitchen around me as I type. I would suggest that you probably have a similar absolute certainty about the dearth of rhinos in your immediate vicinity.

              I have similar absolute certainty that anything I drop will fall down at an accelerating rate of about 30 feet per second per second until the ground or air resistance or some other force significantly counters the force of gravity. I bet you’re equally certain about that, too.

              The problem is not absolute certainty; the problem of faith, which is an apportionment of belief not in proportion with a rational analysis of empirical observations.

              That is, when your observations leave no room for doubt that, for example, the Sun will rise tomorrow in the East, then you should have no doubt but that the Sun will rise tomorrow in the East. But if you have no observations that demonstrate that reciting poetry cures illness, you would be well advised to pursue alternate methods of healing the sick. If you were instead to insist upon absolute certainty of the efficacy of poetry recitations for curing disease, then your absolute certainty is a symptom of an uneducated fanatic.

              Cheers,

              b&

      • lisa
        Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:17 am | Permalink

        Can I have a cookie? I promise to not comment for 3 whole days!

    • thh1859
      Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for those quotes from the bible, Richard. I’ve copied and pasted them for future use.
      I was vaguely aware if such barbarities but it’s convenient to see the actual words and chapter and verse.

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      You can see how it plays out in Margaret Attwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. I especially likes her idea of how it will begin. Suddenly women’s credit cards don’t work. The hatred of women is a particular feature of these religions (ingeniously veiled with adoration of virgins, etc), and it deserves further study.

    • Pray Hard
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Yep, Christians have done bad things and there are bad things in the Bible. We already know this. Weren’t we talking about Islam? This typical, usual, incessant equivocation of Islam with Christianity does not lessen the evil of Islam one nanowhatever.

      Islam kills more people every year than were killed in the 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition. Islam kills more people every day than the KKK killed in 50 years. Equivocate that.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 31, 2012 at 12:37 am | Permalink

        But not more than good ol’ Christian Nazis did to the Jews…

        But really, playing ‘my monster’s bigger than your monster’ is kinda missing the point.

        • lisa
          Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:36 am | Permalink

          just as a point of fact, Nazis were not Christians.

          • Posted January 2, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

            Squeeze me?

            How, then, do you explain these?

            https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=gott+mit+uns+belt+buckle

            Or do you not like how they played the bagpipes…?

            b&

            • lisa
              Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

              As Hitler and his party became more and more powerful, he, like so many rulers throughout history was unable to share the glory and devotion of a deity. He delved heavily into the occult and sot of created a quasi-religion of his own to justify his actions. He also ‘prosecuted’ (in the good old Nazi tradition) all of the more vocal religious leaders who refused to condone his ‘solutions.’ Obviously most, if not all of these were Christians, perhaps some of a faith other than Judaism thrown in with the lot.) Before the end all under his dominion accepted, or pretended to, the Arian ‘race’ as the true crown of creation, and Jesus wasn’t Arian.

              • Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

                So, what you’re claiming, then…is, indeed, bagpipes.

                Sorry.

                Care for a bowl of porridge?

                b&

              • lisa
                Posted January 5, 2013 at 3:44 am | Permalink

                It has been a very long time since anyone has offered me porridge. A bowlful sounds good to me.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

                I’m sure if one asked a Nazi his religion he would have said “Christian”. He certainly wouldn’t have said Muslim, Jewish or Hindu.

                Umm, Wikipedia, ‘Religion in Nazi Germany’, first para: “The German census of May 1939 indicates that 54 percent of Germans considered themselves Protestant and 40 percent considered themselves Catholic, with only 3.5 percent claiming to be neo-pagan “believers in God,” and 1.5 percent unbelievers. This census came more than six years into the Hitler era.” (That’s Germans rather than Nazis admittedly – no I won’t get into a debate what % of Germans were ‘true’ Nazis….)

                Now admittedly there is so much stuff out there that this could turn into a quotemining bonanza, which I won’t enter into either. I think the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy is likely to rear its head as Ben suggested.

                “Jesus was not Arian”. From Wikipedia – Religious aspects of Nazism:
                “Jesus was not Jewish, but had Nordic blood from his Amorite ancestors.”

                Wow. Luvverly. Gives me an excuse to link this ol’ cartoon which unfortunately still seems topical:
                http://www.thepaincomics.com/weekly050504.htm

              • lisa
                Posted January 5, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

                Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or Hinduism, were not the only choices. But at the time most of Western Europe considered themselves to be Christian. But Christianity could not fit into Hitler’s causes no matter how his followers tried to warp them. The German people,reeling from the devastation and carnage of the first ‘global’ war and striped of military and industrial power and economical stability, were primed for a leader who could offer them a specific entity to beg for aid and an opposing entity to blame for their troubles. Hitler made this offering. Your census only furthers the claim that religion was/is a very important political tool. (And possibly an insight into crowd behavior and mob dynamics.) Hitler knew enough politics to use religion as long as it furthered his agenda. Once it was no longer useful, it was disposed of.
                BTW, if that came out as condescending, judgmental or insulting in any way, it was not my intention.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

                @lisa

                No, that didn’t come across as condescending etc.

                I do think stating the Nazis weren’t Christian is a case of the ‘No true Scotsman’ fallacy.
                Though obviously the vast majority of Christians worldwide wouldn’t, in normal circumstances, do what the Nazis did. However as you pointed out, the Germans could be manipulated into that disastrous course, and I’m fairly sure any country, Christian, atheist or Muslim, could be similarly manipulated. I don’t think anyone’s immune.

                It was basically a throwaway remark of mine anyway, so I don’t feel like taking it further.
                I do think blaming all of Islam (99% of which don’t do such stuff) for the actions of a relatively few extremists is unjustified, not least because there are as many flavours of Islam as there are countries, probably as many as Christianity. The most one can say is, it provides a pretext for the fanatics, just as Christianity did for the IRA and the Ulster Defence Association (or the Nazis), or as atheism did for Stalin.

  10. Dave
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    So this deity prescribes leaving children orphans because they were born out of wedlock. Is this Allah the same gawd as Yahoo, er, YHWH? I have an evangelical friend who says they are not but they seem so similar in their viciousness that it’s hard to imagine there’s more than one.

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Abrahamism. Yeah, both the same monster.

      • Dave
        Posted December 29, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Yeah, one doesn’t necessarily follow the other. Search, and ye shall find (the controversy, that is).

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Frankly, all gods are the same monster

  11. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Thank you … I think.

    This is the same day I read that the guitar singer and political activist Victor Jara was similarly beaten and tortured during the chilean coup 1973 before being shot to death. The immediate responsible did it at the provisional mass torture center of a sports arena, so several surviving prisoners tells of how they cut his hands off and then made him “play” a guitar. The intended cruelty nearly had me crying.

  12. Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Insane.

    b&

  13. Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    This is why, as Hitchens said, “religion poisons everything”. How people can do this kind of thing to a brother (either by birth or simply a brother/sister member of the human family) is beyond me. These fanatics should be sent off to an island some where to torture & slaughter EACH OTHER.

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      This actually may be the only real answer to this problem. These idiots are beyond hope.

  14. Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    It’s important to note that most, if not all of the Islamic scholars have declared that the Qur’an being used for something as trivial as a ringtone is forbidden. In addition to that, the punishment of stoning for the fornicators would only be carried out if one of them was married AND there were 4 witnesses for penetration, or they plead guilty. However if one of them was not married, the 4 witness requirement still stands, but they would receive lashes with a branch. Such lashes must not cause the skill to bleed, and must not be hard otherwise the punishment stopped.

    In addition to that, there should be a proper inquiry into theft, not just fingerpointing, and punishments must be carried out swiftly and in the case of poor people stealing, they should be shown mercy and compassion in accordance with the severity of the crime.

    What you’re seeing in Mali is a perversion of the Sharia, a perversion of the law firmly rooted on the principles of social justice, mercy and forgiveness.

    • Gary W
      Posted December 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      It’s important to note that most, if not all of the Islamic scholars have declared that the Qur’an being used for something as trivial as a ringtone is forbidden. In addition to that, the punishment of stoning for the fornicators would only be carried out if one of them was married AND there were 4 witnesses for penetration, or they plead guilty.

      Oh, that’s all right then. As long as you follow Islamic due process, killing people for having sex outside of marriage is perfectly reasonable.

      What you’re seeing in Mali is a perversion of the Sharia, a perversion of the law firmly rooted on the principles of social justice, mercy and forgiveness.

      You have got to be kidding.

      • Posted December 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        You seemed to have skimmed over the our witnesses part. Two of the requirements are that they must be of good character and saw the deed taking place; if they saw it they were not of good moral character, thus no one can get convicted of adultery unless both of the accused also agree and give their confession under oath four times. These requirements were designed to protect the people from false accusations and slander. So the only way they can be truly convicted is if they admit their guilt. However if they retract their confession, the punishment cannot be carried out. Even circumstantial evidence is not permitted

        Islam is not a vigilante religion. If the crime does not come into the public space, then it shouldn’t concern you. Whatever is done in the privacy of one’s home is between them and God. Privacy is one of the most valued principles of Islam. In addition to that, if it’s not a crime such as murder or rape the punishment can only be carried out on the Muslim, since they are bound by the Sharia.

        And no sir, I am not kidding. I just know about the Sharia.

        • Gary W
          Posted December 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t skip over anything. It is irrelevant how many witnesses you would require. I consider stoning people to death for having sex outside of marriage to be monstrously cruel and unjust, period. This is one reason why I think your claim that Sharia law is “rooted on the principles of social justice, mercy and forgiveness” is utterly preposterous.

          • Posted January 1, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

            You and I don’t see eye to eye on every issue, but excellent replies here and above. Just what I was going to say to Yusuf.

            +1

        • marvol19
          Posted December 30, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          “they must be of good character and saw the deed taking place; if they saw it they were not of good moral character”

          OK how about this for a similar reasoning?

          The penalty for apostasy is death. If somebody leaves islam, they are not muslim anymore anymore so sharia doesn’t apply to them anymore thus no one can get convicted of apostasy.

          Sounds pretty watertight to me.

          Generally your ideas of ‘mercy’ and ‘justice’, whichever way you writhe and demand we read more about Sharia, are rather medieval and just downright dumb.

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      So what you’re saying is that in Mali, they take brutal, cruel and inhuman Sharia laws and make them even more brutal, cruel and inhuman? Because your “defense” of Sharia doesn’t make it sound that much better. I see no “mercy” in requiring four witnesses before you flog or stone someone. And if you think that’s “mercy”, then you don’t know what mercy is. Sharia law is perverted from the beginning.

      • Posted December 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        You don’t think it’s a mercy that there should be witnesses to the crime?

        I’m not “defending” the Sharia. It can stand on it’s own when looked at from an unbiased perspective. Most of the Sharia is only for Muslims. There are other laws which would be universal. And by professing Islam, you are submitting yourself to the Sharia – that is the proper Sharia, based on due process of the law set out in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad(saw), and analysed by scholars.

        You claim that the Sharia is perverted, yet you know little about it. Regular charity is part of the Sharia. Caring for orphans is part of the Sharia, helping the oppressed is, caring for animals. Are these perverted teachings? There has not been a single nation on this earth in the last 90 years that has implemented proper Sharia, and during the beginning of the Ottoman Caliphate it was deteriorating. Have you ever read anything about what life was like during the Caliphate Rashidun? When Sharia was in it’s purest form? Or from the time of Umar bin Abd’Al-Aziz, who revived Islam in a time of the oppressive Ummayyad Caliphs?

        It’s a disgusting state of affairs in the world when the most ignorant are given the biggest voices. That goes for you as well as these extremists in Mali.

        Read a book.

        • Gary W
          Posted December 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          You’re defending the practise of killing people for adultery, as long as certain evidentiary conditions are met. You still don’t seem to grasp the idea that killing people for adultery is monstrously cruel and unjust regardless of how certain it is that they are “guilty,” and regardless of whether they are Muslim or not. I can only assume that this is because your religious indoctrination has blinded you to basic human decency.

          • Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

            I’d like to add it’s immoral as well as cruel & unjust. The punishment is SO much greater than the crime.

            • lisa
              Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:26 am | Permalink

              Than would probably depend on your partner…

            • marvol19
              Posted December 30, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

              “greater than the crime”, crime? What crime? Fornication isn’t a crime by any stretch of the imagination. Unless you’re religiously blinkered and indoctrinated.

              • Posted December 30, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

                Knowing Barbara, she would agree that there is no crime in fornication and was merely granting Yusuf the point for the sake of the argument.

                b&

              • lisa
                Posted December 30, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

                Unless you have some nasty disease…

          • Pray Hard
            Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            Muslims never grasp anything. They are brain dead zombies.

        • Posted December 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          I don’t consider flogging or stoning someone for adultery to be merciful under any circumstances at all, no matter how many witnesses. Even with 100 witnesses, it’s still cruel and vicious. And the fact that Muslims are only “supposed” to do it to other Muslims doesn’t make it any better. It shouldn’t be done to anyone, any time, any where, for any reason. Besides, “submitting” to Islam is usually something people have little choice in–it’s imposed on them by their parents and/or by their society, so the fact that you claim it’s only supposed to be done to “submitting” Muslims means nothing. In fact, part of the problem with Islam is its demand for unquestioning submission to Islam.

        • Brygida Berse
          Posted December 30, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

          Most of the Sharia is only for Muslims. There are other laws which would be universal. And by professing Islam, you are submitting yourself to the Sharia

          And, pray remind me, what is the punishment for apostasy in Islam?

          As for the penalty for having sex out of wedlock, I believe that there should be none, even if it was done in broad daylight in front of 1000 witnesses. OK, maybe a monetary fine for creating a public nuissance would be in order. But that just me.

        • Pray Hard
          Posted December 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          Sharia can only stand on its own in a medieval or more primitive setting. Take note, this is the 21st century. Sharia has no place in the world. There is no mercy in Islam.

          You ARE defending “the sharia”. Your paragraphs are nothing but a typical Muslim rant. I’ve read thousands.

          BTW, your arrogant, sanctimonious, narcissistic, Islamic supremacism is showing.

          “It’s a disgusting state of affairs in the world when the most ignorant are given the biggest voices.” Yes, it is.

          You Muslims are the biggest whiners on the planet. It’s always somebody else’s fault and you’re always being put upon, according to you. Funny, even with the bloody knife in your hand and the dead body at your feet with no weapon, it’s always the actual victim’s fault.

          • lisa
            Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:21 am | Permalink

            Glad to see that courtesy and respect are still observed on this site; no name calling or rudeness is tolerated.

    • Pray Hard
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Is an “Islamic scholar” someone who can actually read and not simply point to words and move their fingers back and forth while mumbling?

      “What you’re seeing in Mali is a perversion of the Sharia”

      The comedy club is down the street. This isn’t it.

      Don’t insult us (and yourself) by saying things like that here. Everything negative we see regarding Islam and Muslims is always claimed to be a perversion of something. After decades of watching Muslim atrocities all over the Earth and always hearing that they are a “perversion of Islam” one begins to realize that the only thing we can expect from Muslims is taqiyya. Islam is its own perversion. Sharia is its own perversion.

  15. mknine
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    “Moctar Touré had his hand amputated several weeks later. He said it took 30 minutes, though he fainted in the process, awakening in the hospital bed where the Islamists had placed him afterward.£

    I find it incongruous that they’ll flog and amputate in the village square like it’s the stone age, and then make the effort to ‘place you in Hospital’ afterwards

    • Pray Hard
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Incongruous? That’s one definition of Islam and putting it very mildly.

  16. krzysztof1
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    It almost seems like there is some kind of conscious strategy by Islamists to take over weak African countries so as to further expand the reach of Islam–don’t they talk of a “new Caliphate?” This has to be stopped.

    • Pray Hard
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      It almost seems?
      You’ve taken your first step. Keep going.

  17. lisa
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Perhaps there is a good use for WMD (maybe even atomic/hydrogen types, thought with the natural gas and crude oil under all that sand, it shouldn’t be necessary to muck up everyone’s sky) They tell me the Mediterranean is a stunningly beautiful place. Perhaps we should make it a whole lot bigger. And just think how much CO2 emissions would be reduced once we were rid of all that nasty fossil fuel!

    • Pray Hard
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Like.

  18. Pray Hard
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    On almost every post I read about an Islamic atrocity:

    The equivocators show up and turn it into an anti-Christian and or anti-Jewish episode. Seriously, people, save some of your venom for Islam. Islam is not a race. Muslims are not a race. Therefore, you can maintain your political correctness and not be considered “racist”. Islam is much more of a danger to science, secularism, freedom of thought and speech, etc., than Christianity.

    One or more Muslim apologists show up, insult everyone and spew taqiyya. It’s a variation of the same rant over and over and over.

    But, it’s OK. Thanks for posting this, Dr. Coyne.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 31, 2012 at 1:46 am | Permalink

      I haven’t seen any Muslim insulting anybody in this thread. Pray Hard, on the other hand, appears to be throwing insults around and ranting with abandon.

      We know perfectly well that not all religions are the same. You don’t have to look far back in history to find Christian persecutions that are as bad as Mali (the Inquisition, witch trials, the Crusades, various protestant vs Catholic episodes…)

      This doesn’t mean all flavours of Christianity are (or were) equally bad, nor are all flavours of Islam. The vast majority of nominally Muslim countries don’t do stuff like that, any more than the majority of nominally Christian countries. Most of them have found ways to reconcile the letter of their holy books with civilised behaviour. (I’m excluding war from this…)

      I get pissed off when theists start going on about Pol Pot or Stalin; what’s the difference in doing the same to all of Islam on the strength of some thugs in a dysfunctional society like Mali (or Afghanistan)?

      Jeez, now I sound like an Islam supporter, which I’m not. I just don’t like witch hunts, and this thread was starting to look like one. Thanks, Pray Hard, for nothing.

  19. Posted December 30, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    The UN should step out of Africa and allow Africans to resolve their own conflicts. As we’ve seen in the past, the US (basically the UN) assists in conflicts that will later benefit them, may it be minerals, or military influence. Africa is capable of handling their own problems, and this is the 21st century colonialism of African nations. We all know America has enough money to feed the whole of Africa, but countries like Somalia will remain poor for they have nothing to offer the US government, and will fool us with their Red Cross teams stationed in Africa only to smile and take pictures with black children.
    As an African atheist I believe the the article lacked conviction of the title, and not once was there a mention of evolution in the piece.


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