Muslims to Muslims: Don’t call the NYPD

Apparently the NYPD has been spying on New York Muslims for quite some time. Often they do so without any evidence of wrongdoing and the common rationale seems to make as much sense as praising a ‘prophet’ who raped children. Well, the Muslim community is getting fed up:

Muslim community leaders are openly teaching people how to identify police informants, encouraging them to always talk to a lawyer before speaking with the authorities and reminding people already working with law enforcement that they have the right to change their minds. Some members of the community have planned a demonstration for next week.

Good. This is what every group should be doing. Of course, we don’t want some groups to do this – gangs, mobs, other criminal organizations – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good legal strategy. In fact, given the utter lack of evidence the police have for their actions, I would say it’s one hell of a legal strategy. I’m glad these Muslims, even with their patently silly religious beliefs, are being pro-active. I hope they thwart these police efforts, eventually curbing the baseless spying.

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Religiously-based divide in Germany

As usual, religion is spurring divide in the world. And, without surprise, Christianity is the aggressor.

Germany’s attempt to create a multi-cultural society has failed completely, Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the weekend, calling on the country’s immigrants to learn German and adopt Christian values.

Merkel weighed in for the first time in a blistering debate sparked by a central bank board member saying the country was being made “more stupid” by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants.

“Multikulti”, the concept that “we are now living side by side and are happy about it,” does not work, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam near Berlin.

“This approach has failed, totally,” she said, adding that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany’s culture and values.

“We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here,” said the chancellor.

Hitler’s (creationist) Christian values didn’t work out too well for Germany. Nor have Christian values led to better nations, families, or individuals in general. The fire of this religiously-based divide that Merkel is stoking isn’t going to lead to a better world; homogeneity is a concept foreign to the religious realm. Every attempt to attain such a state has led to death and suffering and evil.

Oh, and the “Christian values” Merkel wants would mean she couldn’t be a world leader.

That silly mosque

In all the coverage I’ve seen on the proposed New York City mosque (and that’s virtually all that’s been covered lately it seems), what sticks out to me the most is the religious-fueled xenophobia. Worst of all, it can’t merely be chalked up to politics. Of course, the Republicans only care about the ‘issue’ for political reasons, but much of the country has bought straight into the political fear-mongering (a classic tool of Republican…well, tools).

The real issue here isn’t that Muslims are going to be allowed to build a place of worship. It’s that any religious group is being allowed to build a place that is tax-free. Aside from being plainly unconstitutional (despite its wide-spread and even welcomed acceptance), not taxing religions implies, perhaps outright says, that religion has something worthwhile to offer society. Given that religion is entirely impotent to inform us anything about the world (if not, then what has it ever said that was not trivial?), society would be better served taxing religious institutions and investing that money into education, infrastructure, and bringing people out of poverty.

Egyptian Christians riot

It isn’t just Muslims who get upset.

Thousands of enraged Christians clashed with the police in Egypt on Thursday in response to a drive-by shooting the night before that left six Christians dead and nine wounded.

The attackers, who are still at large, had opened fire on several groups of Christians gathered to celebrate Coptic Christmas in the southern Egyptian city of Nag Hammadi, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The killings seemed to be an act of revenge tied to accusations in November that a Christian man raped a Muslim girl, the statement said.

Take religion out of the equation and there is no excuse for this violence. Not all violence disappears (despite the strawmen often drawn from the previous sentence), but there lacks a motivation for these type of attacks. Religion is largely what divides these Egyptians.

Clashes between Muslims and Christians have grown increasingly common in recent years, especially in Upper Egypt, where there is a large Christian population and a strong culture of vendetta killings. Those killings typically spring from unexceptional disputes that spiral into full-blown conflicts that have to be settled by security forces. There are no official statistics on the size of the Christian minority in Egypt, but the generally accepted figure is 10 percent of the population.

Again, that 10% share a number of commonalities with the 90%. The key dividing factor, as always, is religion. And if there was any doubt,

During a funeral procession on Thursday for the victims of the shooting, thousands of angry Christian protesters chanted, “With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross,” and pelted police cars with stones. The police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

“There is a prevailing atmosphere of sectarianism and religious incitement which has led to this behavior,” said Gamal Asaad, a Coptic intellectual and former member of Parliament. “People deal with each other now as Muslims or Christians, not as Egyptians.”