Terrorists motivated by religion

This isn’t a shocker:

The hospitalized Boston Marathon bombing suspect charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction has told investigators that he and his brother were motivated by religion but were not in contact with overseas terrorists or groups, officials said.

Several officials familiar with the initial interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev described his behavior during questioning as cooperative.

A senior government official said Tsarnaev has told investigators — by writing some answers down, and by nodding yes or shaking his head no to others — that he and his brother were not in touch with any overseas terrorists or groups.

Tsarnaev, who has injuries to his tongue preventing him from speaking properly, also indicated that he and his brother conceived the bombing attack on their own, and were motivated by religious fervor.

And what is the key underlying factor in religion? Everyone say it with me: faith. It doesn’t take some overseas organization to motivate a person to effectively random violence on a massive scale. With faith, anything is possible. I mean. It’s fucking random. It isn’t a way of thinking or knowing at all.

Don’t expect to hear too much about religion’s role in this (much less faith’s). The left-wing media is going to bury this key factor and the right-wing media will speak of the motivations here only in terms of “radical Islam”. (Why “radical Christianity” doesn’t appear to be a thing, I don’t know. That religion has more than its fair share of brutes, past and present.)

To digress, I’ve been perplexed by another issue surrounding the surviving terrorist fuck. Apparently people would like to deem him an enemy combatant and strip him of the rights afforded to citizens under the Constitution. It is absolutely beyond me that the nature and magnitude of a crime should make a difference. Once we start walking down that road, we start calling accused murderers “enemy combatants” – guilty or not. And why stop there? Stealing gum from that store undermines the U.S. economy, you economic terrorist. Enemy combatant! Like we need to tip the balance of power any further into the hands of the government.

The religious fighting of Nigeria

As I have pointed out a number of times here, severe violence in Nigeria has long been based in or exacerbated by religion. In many cases we see Islamic sects bombing Christian sects, causing eye-for-an-eye retaliation. The motivation is sheer religious fervor, belief that one’s faith is more important than others’ lives. In other cases we see a division of goods and farmland which leads to disagreements. These disagreements often escalate into violence. Of course, no one would see such systematic violence were it not for religious labels. It would certainly still be there – Nigeria has distinct ethnic groups and that can and does cause problems – but much of the bloodshed would disappear. For, why would Nigerians fight other, for all intents and purposes, random Nigerians? (Looking at the situation this way, this arbitrary nature of division resembles the one between different Christian sects of Northern Ireland in relatively recent years.) No rational, fair-minded person can look at what is happening in this West African nation and deny that religion is a significant problem, often even at the base of the problems. We may see things come to a head in coming years:

Northern Nigerian Christians said on Tuesday they feared that a spate of Christmas Day bombings by Islamist militants that killed over two dozen people could lead to a religious war in Africa’s most populous country.

The warning was made in a statement by the northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella organization comprising various denominations including Catholics, Protestant and Pentecostal churches.

Some political-religious leaders are denying as much will happen, even going so far as to lie about the nature of the conflict. But the facts are the facts. People are fighting and religion is making things worse. There are surely solutions, but I’m not going to pretend I know what they all are. Nigeria has democracy, the usual curing agent for much violence. It could be strengthened; rooting out corruption and greed would be a start – these things inevitably lead to someone’s oppression and that leads to as much violence as religious fervor does. But this is a small piece to the problem here and, again, I’m not going to pretend like I know all the answers. Nigeria is a complicated nation which is going to have to wait many, many years before it sees peace between its two violent religions.

Religion continues to kill Nigerians

I’ve long been following the crisis in Nigeria. People have been murdering each other for quite some time there, with part of the basis being fertile farm land, part of it being poverty, part of it being government corruption, but the biggest part being religion. The most recent attacks reflect that.

Nigerian authorities on Friday arrested 92 people allegedly affiliated with a militant Islamist group that the government says is responsible for a string of recent killings in the country’s northeast.

Three men were arrested with bombs in their possession in the vicinity of Jos on Christmas Day, authorities said

The Jos region lies on a faith-based fault line between Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria and the mainly Christian south.

At least four people were killed and another 13 wounded Friday in a bomb blast at an army barracks in Abuja [on New Year’s eve], the deputy police commissioner said.

I would prefer not to have the perfect example to illustrate the point that religion causes divide and fosters violence, but it is what it is. Without Christianity and without Islam dividing the city of Jos, Nigerians would either be able to more easily resolve issues over farm land or they wouldn’t have any violence in the first place. (These most recent attacks are driven by extremists, but it remains that many of the other attacks have been over non-religious issues which are heightened and worsened by the presence of religion.)

Where religion is killing gays

Crazy, huh? The primary source of the hatred gays face in Africa, and especially Uganda, is fueled by religion.

The growing tide of homophobia comes at a time when gays in Africa are expressing themselves more openly, prompting greater media attention and debates about homosexuality. The rapid growth of Islam and evangelical forms of Christianity, both espousing conservative views on family values and marriage, have persuaded many Africans that homosexuality should not be tolerated in their societies.

“It has never been harder for gays and lesbians on the continent,” said Monica Mbaru, Africa coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, based in Cape Town. “Homophobia is on the rise.”

But surely this is just an extreme example, right? After all, we have far too much religion in the U.S. but we aren’t putting in place laws that kill gays. Except we’re setting the stage. We are telling gays – and the world – that being gay is morally wrong, that it is evil, and that gays do not deserve the same rights as everyone else. Still in so many states it is legal to fire a person for being gay. There are bigots (even on the Supreme Court) who support anti-sodomy laws. In fact, that purely political, non-legally minded ‘judge’ Scalia said this when he voted against striking down laws that specifically targeted gays:

Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned.

He was worried that by acknowledging that no government has any say over the sexual lives of two consenting, autonomous adults that gay marriage might become a reality. (He also noted that it can be said that any law targets a group, intentionally forgetting that gays constitute a group not defined by choice.)

It’s this sort of dictionary bigotry that is assisting in the primarily Christian and Muslim effort to destroy the lives of gays. In fact, it is American Christian groups that are largely behind the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.

American gay activists have sent money to help the community here. Western governments – including aid donors – have vocally criticized the bill and denounced the treatment of gays.

That has angered conservative pastors here, many of whom are influenced by American anti-gay Christian groups and politicians who say that African values are under attack by Western attitudes. They say their goal is to change the sexual behavior of gays, not to physically harm them.

And does this sound familiar?

In Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh has vowed to expel gays from the country and urged citizens not to rent homes to them.

In addition to it being legal to fire gays in many U.S. states, it is also legal to refuse to rent to them. It was until just a few years ago that Maine finally passed a law which made it illegal to discriminate against gays in education, employment, housing, and other basic areas of life.

The plight of gays in Africa is the same plight of gays in America, especially in places like the south. By clinging to religion and irrationally proclaiming that gays do not deserve the exact same rights as everyone else, we are setting the stage for the discrimination, criminalization, and violence that they must face in Africa every single day.

Oh, but maybe this has nothing to do with True Religion, with the mainstream beliefs of Christians.

Oh wait:

In recent years, conservative American evangelical churches have had a profound influence on society in Uganda and other African nations. They send missions and help fund local churches that share their brand of Christianity. Sermons and seminars by American evangelist preachers are staples on local television and radio networks across the continent.

Some activists say the attacks in Uganda intensified last year after three American evangelical preachers visited the country. In seminars attended by thousands and broadcasted over radio, the preachers discussed how to “cure” homosexuality and accused gays of sodomizing boys and destroying African culture. A month later, a Ugandan lawmaker introduced the anti-homosexuality bill.

“The religious fundamentalists want to rule everyone. They want everyone to follow their religious agenda,” said Pepe Julien Onziema, a gay rights activist here.

Facebook caves to religious demands

A short time ago there was a Facebook group which advocated drawing Mohammed. It was part of a larger project to bring home the point that nothing so silly should be held sacred. (And, in fact, nothing at all should be held sacred.) In response, Pakistan blocked Facebook. They were apparently outraged at all the depictions of their prophet child rapist. In response to that, Facebook caved.

“In response to our protest, Facebook has tendered their apology and informed us that all the sacrilegious material has been removed from the URL,” said Najibullah Malik, secretary of Pakistan’s information technology ministry, referring to the technical term for a Web page.

Facebook assured the Pakistani government that “nothing of this sort will happen in the future,” Malik said.

You got that, you 500 million Facebookers? You can communicate with your friends, family, co-workers; you can share ideas, links, videos, pictures; you can discuss politics, religion, philosophy, science; you can do it all! You just have to do it within a narrow framework which gives undue respect to a murderous, misogynistic religion that advocates dogma and ideology.

Belgium to ban burqa

A bill is making its way through the hoops in Belgium that would ban the covering of one’s face with clothing in public, effectively banning some of Islam’s most prolific tools of oppression.

The draft law would make it illegal to wear clothing that covers all or part of the face, which would also include the facial veil known as the niqab. Defying the rule could lead to nominal fines of $20 to $35 or possible imprisonment for up to seven days. Proponents say they’re targeting the burqa not because of its religious symbolism or even because it is widely seen in the West as a sign of male oppression, but rather for safety reasons: they say that people who hide their faces represent a security risk. In that light, the law also seeks to target potentially violent demonstrators who cover their faces, backers say.

I don’t believe that for a second. Everyone knows the purpose of the burqa is to oppress women – and reasonable people reject its use on that basis.

This reminds me of blue laws. In their original form, these laws are meant to enforce what the religious think people should be doing. That is, they are immoral impositions of morality. In the U.S., they are usually unconstitutional since they endorse a religion, but court rulings have tended to cite the modern secular reasons the laws are maintained. (Incidentally, the secularization of Christmas is why it legally remains a federal holiday.) Recently in Maine, there was an attempt to allow car dealerships to be open on Sundays, something they currently cannot do. There was a backlash from that industry that pointed to higher costs and effectively forced openings on Sunday due to higher competition. It’s that sort of reasoning that makes what were once blue laws into just regular, secular laws.

Belgian lawmakers are utilizing this sort of reasoning in their rationale for banning the burqa. They’re claiming security since the religious basis has less clout. The difference, however, between what happened with Maine car dealerships and what is happening in Belgium is that the dealership owners really did have secular reasoning; it wasn’t just a thinly veiled lie.

Of course, not everyone is lying.

But the bill’s chief sponsor, Daniel Bacquelaine of the liberal Reformist Movement party, admits that cultural considerations have also come into play. “In an open society, we need common values and we need equal rights and duties,” he says. Bacquelaine estimates the burqa is worn by only a few hundred of Belgium’s 630,000-strong Muslim population, but the numbers have been rising in the past decade. “It has become a political weapon,” he says. “There is nothing in Islam or the Koran about the burqa. It has become an instrument of intimidation, and is a sign of submission of women. And a civilized society cannot accept the imprisonment of women.”

Even Google coddles these crybabies

It turns out Google doesn’t want to offend all the Muslim crybabies out there. Go search “Christianity is”, “Buddhism is”, “Judaism is”, “Atheism is”, and any number of other religious or religiously-related terms. You’ll see a whole slew of nasty suggestions, the most benign (aside from the few positive ones) being “a lie”. Now search “Islam is”. Know what you get?

Nothing.

This is just another example of someone or a group coddling Muslim crybabies. Of course, the coddling isn’t out of concern for the feelings of Muslims, but rather out of fear of being attacked. For Google, it might just be criticism, but with these whackaloons, it doesn’t take much to set of the crybaby alarms. There isn’t much to stop violence from erupting over something as insignificant as Google suggesting Islam is “a lie”.