Piero Scaruffi on Islam

by Luke Muehlhauser on May 30, 2010 in Islam

Piero Scaruffi on Islam (I added paragraph breaks):

The biggest threat to freedom in the West comes from Islam, a religion that is not even Western and that the West never invited, but that is now pervasive within its society. Islam is reintroducing in the West the terror methods that the Catholic Church employed for many centuries to enforce its own version of history and its own dogmas: both allowed the Catholic Church to gain political power and de facto rule the world. It took centuries to get rid of that religious dictatorship. Now the West is in danger of falling into another religious dictatorship if it doesn’t act promptly to criminalize it.

In 2006 Muslims worldwide rioted to protest cartoons published by a Danish newspaper that made fun of Mohammed (an ancient warlord of Saudi Arabia whom Muslims consider a prophet). Dutch film director Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2004 for his anti-Islamic views. USA media were largely silent about the Mohammed cartoons for fear of how Muslims would react. In april 2010 the very popular channel Comedy Central was openly threatened with death by a fanatic who changed his name to Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee (not a joke) on a website called Revolutionmuslim.com. Neither the website was taken down nor the fanatic was arrested and deported to Mecca for eternity. Instead Comedy Central promptly changed its comedy sketch. The German opera house suspended performances of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” because a scene hurts the feelings of Muslims by displaying Mohammed’s severed head. (No German theater ever suspended a performance of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” that includes gruesome treatments of a Jew). The publisher Random House has never published a novel about the prophet’s third wife that it acquired: just too likely to offend Muslims. Yale University Press did not include the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in a book about… the Danish cartoons of Mohammed!

I personally have received three death threats for my articles on Islam (zero death threats for my articles against Israel, zero death threats for my articles that demistify Jesus and Christianity). There is nothing that Bush/Cheney have done that limits the freedom of speech and of press as much as the simple fact that Islam has entered Western societies.

Muslims themselves should be interested in stopping this form of censorship because Mohammed has become the most hated person in the world. It is not only in the West that Muslims try to muzzle the media. This is happening in much more brutal ways in many developing countries, even in countries where Muslims represent a tiny percentage of the population. You may get away with insulting your dictator, but you will not get away with insulting the supposed prophet of Islam. This attitude has created an obvious backlash: everybody hates Mohammed. There is no other figure in the world (not even George W Bush) who is so famous in a negative way. The Muslims who create this ideological dictatorship are certainly not giving Islam a good name. They are incredibly efficient at defaming Islam.

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Liam May 30, 2010 at 1:28 am

I think now more than any other time is the most crucial moment for moderate Muslims to stand up and reclaim Islam. You simply can’t blame people for thinking of Islam as a truly radical and psychotic religion when there are almost no people in the public sphere promoting it’s good aspects. What are the good aspects? Well, I don’t know because i haven’t studied the Koran or the Hadith but i’ve met plenty of good Muslims so i’m certain there must be some redeeming factors int the texts.

What a hopeless situation.

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anony May 30, 2010 at 2:50 am

I clicked here by mistake—-Being Muslim, I don’t drop in on Islamophobic sites-and I would have skipped this except for the comment by Liam.—about there being “good Muslims”.

It is not at all a hopeless situation………..
The “West” has a history with the Christian Church–this history tends to “color” the approach/presumptions that one views Islam/Muslims. There is a lot going on within Islam(improvements)—and the West can be partners in it, but not by blanket bashing—–criticism has to be focused and constructive. Also, “Western” solutions do not often translate well into other cultures—so sometimes they have to be modified—-and this has to be done by the people who are effected/living the changes—they cannot be imposed from the outside. This means there will be a certain amount of trial and error in any social change.—-the process cannot be instant…..but change is happening and will continue…..

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matt May 30, 2010 at 4:56 am

“In 2006 Muslims worldwide rioted to protest cartoons published by a Danish newspaper that made fun of Mohammed (an ancient warlord of Saudi Arabia whom Muslims consider a prophet).”

I’m sorry, but this is just vile xenophobic crap in the mantle of liberal skepticism. There’s just no other way to describe it. Muslims don’t “consider (Mohammed) a prophet”–he is THE prophet at the center of their religion. The tone of snarling contempt in this description gives the game away for what it is, and you don’t have to be a friend of any theisms to see this. “The beggist threat to the West” it the very IDEA that there is such as thing as “the West”: does it include Turkey and Brazil, for instance, two countries that just tried to put the brakes on the “West’s” next train to war against an Islamic country (Iran), and promptly got stabbed in the back for their efforts? And could it be that “the West” faces other threats even scarier than Islam? …for instance neoliberal economic meltdowns, global warming and environmental disasters, the destruction from within of any meaningful democracy by “the West’s” own financial and policy elites, etc etc?

There is certainly much to criticize, oppose and even fight against in the Muslim world, from the Iranian theocracy to the spread ot religious militancy in many third world countries (Pakistan, for starters). But militant secularism is NOT a political program, and unfortunately those who, like Hitchens and Harris and apparently Piero Scaruffi, have adopted it as their main party platform tend to promote what amounts to ethnic scare mongering. And they tend to have a soft spot for big old imperial wars, something that “the West” has been engaged in since time immemorial.

(Btw, Luke, for an admirer of Chomsky, this is pretty strange stuff to be endorsing, if that’s the intent. By all means don’t follow my or anybody else’s “party line” on this, but you should know that this has about as much to do with Chomsky`s ideas, or those of the left he belongs to, as Hitchens` cheerleading for the Iraq war.)

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matt May 30, 2010 at 5:04 am

“Muslims themselves should be interested in stopping this form of censorship because Mohammed has become the most hated person in the world.”

Sorry, i forgot to quote this as an example of how utterly awful this post is! Just think about this for two seconds, please. Is there a source for this claim? Hated by whom and why? By Christians who hate Islam? Don’t you think this sounds like a FACT claim? And as such shouldn’t it be, um, substantiated?

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lukeprog May 30, 2010 at 7:32 am

anony,

It’s not Islamophobia if they really are trying to kill you and take over your government.

I’m not scared of all Muslims, just the very loud and influential minority who would prefer to take away all my freedoms and abuse women around the world.

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lukeprog May 30, 2010 at 7:37 am

Matt,

Could you please clarify your disagreements with Scaruffi’s short posts so I can respond? I’ll ignore your complain about Scaruffi writing “a prophet” instead of “the prophet”, since what Scaruffi wrote is true. Mohammed is not the only prophet in Islam, and most people know Mohammed is the #1 prophet in Islam.

I understand your point about Mohammed being hated, but I couldn’t understand your complain about The West. Perhaps you have other complaints as well.

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Bill Maher May 30, 2010 at 8:16 am

someone inform the hurt feelings committee of Matt’s arrival.

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noen May 30, 2010 at 9:48 am

Piero Scaruffi is a music critic who is “deeply concerned” about the lack of morality in the West

“It is relatively easy to define what is morality in Africa or in the Islamic world or, in general, in any non-westernized part of the world. It is much more difficult to define “morality” in the West. Basically, the West is moving towards an idea of morality that bans anything that is moral in nature, because by definition something that is “moral” is a limitation of freedom for those who do not fit its definition. Ultimately, Western morality is becoming tolerance of just about any behavior.”

Yes, what is moral is what is “moral in nature” (whatever that means) including, it would seem, Uganda’s homophobic laws that would criminalize homosexuality. Piero thinks that we in the West are imposing our morality on the developing countries. We are being too hard on them when we criticize them for female genital mutilation or anti-gay legislation but I guess we are not hard enough on them when it comes to cartoons.

“The rest of Europe and the rest of the world now have to take a stand: Europeans can ignore the dispute and let Islam crucify Denmark, or they can side with Denmark against stone-age superstitions and be subjected to the same punishment by the Arab countries. Ditto for the USA, that has so far pretended not to hear and not to see.
The day has come that the most barbaric people of the Islamic world decide what Europeans can publish and can read: the superstition of illiterate and violent masses is becoming the new rule by which to judge what to publish and to read.”

Piero Scaruffi is a racist, a bigot and an Islamophobe.


Liam:
“I think now more than any other time is the most crucial moment for moderate Muslims to stand up and reclaim Islam. You simply can’t blame people for thinking of Islam as a truly radical and psychotic religion when there are almost no people in the public sphere promoting it’s good aspects.”

I think now more than any other time is the most crucial moment for moderate white acting Blacks to stand up and reclaim their race. You simply can’t blame people for thinking of the Black race as a truly radical and psychotic race when there are almost no people in the public sphere promoting it’s good aspects.

Welcome to the Klan brother. We’ll get you fitted for your robes shortly.

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Scott May 30, 2010 at 10:09 am

How is Islam not considered a Western religion? It’s another monotheistic, Abrahamic religion (just like Judaism and Christianity) and controlled territory into Spain, and even ventured unsuccessfully into France. They are influenced heavily by the Greeks, keeping Plato & Aristotle relevant during the early Middle Ages.

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Jayman May 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

Liam, the Quran, Ahadith, and Sira are supportive of jihad and Shariah. The reason moderate Muslims do not speak up is because they are liable to be labeled heretics and persecuted or killed. For example, recently two Ahmadi mosques were attacked in Pakistan resulting in dozens of deaths.

Anony, what do you consider focused and constructive criticism? If many of the positions Westerners criticize were held by Muhammad himself then how can we not offend all Muslims?

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Atheist.pig May 30, 2010 at 11:56 am

I had a feeling you would get a bit of blowback for this post Luke :)

The sad thing about the situation here in Europe now is that the extremists in islam are starting to bring out the nationalist elements in European states and hate crimes are appearing against moderate muslims.
I’d love to hear some helpful solutions or ideas on how to tackle this problem from people who throw the words xenophobic and racist around whenever someone criticizes radical islam. Do we deport the extremists? Stop immigration from muslim countries?

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piero May 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm

I think now more than any other time is the most crucial moment for moderate white acting Blacks to stand up and reclaim their race. You simply can’t blame people for thinking of the Black race as a truly radical and psychotic race when there are almost no people in the public sphere promoting it’s good aspects.

Noen, thank you for providing an example of an awful analogy. Do you mind if I quote you? It would be a useful example to show my students how not to think.

Anony, you sound like a reasonable, moderate person. Would you mind answering three questions?

1. Where do you stand regarding homosexuality?
2. Do you agree that death should be the punishment for apostasy?
3. Would you take a subordinate position to a woman in your workplace?

I thank you in advance for answering these.

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Zeb May 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Sign me up for the hurt feelings committee, because this is stomach turning and sad to see on such a smart and fair blog.

In 2006 [less than 0.01% of] Muslims worldwide rioted to protest cartoons published by a Danish newspaper that made fun of Mohammed

Fixed that for you.

Otherwise I agree with what matt said. Other than the valid protest against guerrilla censorship, the original post was void of meaningful content. Just a xenophobic tirade against cultural interlopers, calling for censorship, deportation, and criminalization of a people. This exactly like the red baiting and race baiting of the 50′s, and it’s just as stupid and wrong. More so, in fact, because the actual communist threat at the time was a lot more dangerous than the actual Islamic threat. I won’t try to speculate about the merits of anti-black sentiment in the 50′s versus anti-Muslim sentiment now – suffice it to say that while one can sort of see why people might feel the way they do toward the others, those sentiments are both factually and morally wrong in both cases. Noen goes overboard, but the point of his comments to Liam are valid.

Liam, that said I don’t blame you if you don’t know much more than the media caricature of Islam – it’s hard to know where to look. I have found great value in the writings of the Sufis, especially the great Rumi, as well as Al Ghazzali, Rabi’a, Kabir, and Attar’s book Conference of the Birds. I value those works for their contribution to my spiritual life, but I think the pure poetry and noble sentiments toward man and nature in those works, especially Rumi, could be appreciated by an atheist too.

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Zeb May 31, 2010 at 3:58 am

I’d hate to see what piero thinks should be done about the rise of international soccer And don’t tell me it’s “football.” To engage with soccer hooligans in polite debate on their terms is to legitimize their insane ideology!

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anony May 31, 2010 at 4:41 am

Anony, what do you consider focused and constructive criticism? If many of the positions Westerners criticize were held by Muhammad himself then how can we not offend all Muslims? Jayman
I don’t understand your 2nd question—could you eleaborate?
Constructive, focused criticism—-on issues such as—Womens rights, Human rights, poverty, economics,….etc. These and other areas can stand a lot of improvement, though changes are already occuring……..

1. Where do you stand regarding homosexuality?
Homosexuality(or,LGBT)is not accepted by most Muslims, However,according to my understanding, not all LG are by choice (some are born this way?)in which case, this is a matter between God and the individual (God is Compassionate and Merciful)
Personally, I think this is an area that can be opened for dialogue (in Islam)
2. Do you agree that death should be the punishment for apostasy?
No—-Most Muslims would disagree with above statement too.
3. Would you take a subordinate position to a woman in your workplace?
No problem—–Some Muslim women have gained the highest office in their countries (Prime Minister….etc)There have also been Women rulers (Queens)in Muslim history.

Thankyou for asking—-it is the best way to clear up misunderstandings.

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matt May 31, 2010 at 4:46 am

Luke (and others),

Among other problems, Scaruffi’s screed displays simply horrible ignorance of basic historical facts.
One more example:

The German opera house suspended performances of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” because a scene hurts the feelings of Muslims by displaying Mohammed’s severed head. (No German theater ever suspended a performance of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” that includes gruesome treatments of a Jew).

First of all, the opera at the Beliner Staatsoper was only temporarily suspended, which caused a storm of media protest before it was reinstated in the program (with preemtive police protection, whether that was necessary or not). Second of all, it’s ILLEGAL in Germany to make antisemitic statements or deny the holocaust publically, ir say “Heil Hitler” for that matter, so the reference to never suspending the Merchant of Venice seems quite bizarre, if the point is supposed to be about freedom of expression or the special sensibilities of particular minorities. (Then there are those 12 little years where the Merchand of Venice was State policy, so to speak and quite a lot of other things were banned from public view.)

Now here’s one of your own comments:

“It’s not Islamophobia if they really are trying to kill you and take over your government.”

Which government are you talking about? Even Osama bin Laden and friends aren’t trying to “take over” the American or any European government and have never said they were! Sure, they want power in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia and in a few other predominantly Muslim countries, but that’s another question entirely. As for killing people and taking over their governments, that’s what WE have been doing with a vengeance since 2001.

Now here’s Jayman in another comment above:

“The reason moderate Muslims do not speak up is because they are liable to be labeled heretics and persecuted or killed.”

Would he like a list of statements by prominent Muslim clerics ALL OVER THE WORLD condemning every terror act you can think of since 2001? This hokum about there being no moderate Muslims is like saying all Jews support Israel or all Christians are still defending the Crusades (notwithstanding the few examples in the comment boxes of this blog I can think of…). The fact that people here take it at face value without so much as questioning it makes me wonder whether worrying about the emptiness of Jesus` tomb is really worth all the effort.

Finally, on the “West.” This is a construct that’s used mainly by conservative, empire-minded and often Islamophobic commentators (vis. Samuel Hington, Bernard Lewis) who mean something like what used to be called the “civilized world”. Geographically it is of course meaningless (west of where? Moscow?). Politically, the assumption that the countries more or less making up NATO are the world’s shining examples of Democracy and openness and fair play is about one quarter truth and three-quarters narcissistic bullshit. It leads to such political lunacy as the correlary assumption that only the “good guys” get to have thousands of nuclear warheads, whereas even trying to put your dirty little Muslim hands on the blueprints for an atomic bomb means “the West” get to bomb your fanatical Muslim asses to smithereens. This is not even an overstatement, I’m afraid to say.

I’m sure I’ll have offended some people with these remarks, partly because being philosophically or theologically sophisticated doesn’t mean you agree–or know–about much politically. As much as I consider myself a “militant” atheist, there are probably just as many Christians and Muslims whose political views I agree with as there are other atheists. Bill Maher-style atheism (I mean the real Bill Maher) doesn’t do much for me in that regard.

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matt May 31, 2010 at 4:50 am

Oh yeah, I always forget something.

Atheist.pig, true to his name, writes:

“The sad thing about the situation here in Europe now is that the extremists in islam are starting to bring out the nationalist elements in European states and hate crimes are appearing against moderate muslims.”

Do I need to comment on this? I really really hope atheist.pig lives in Idaho or Kansas, because he/she doesn’t know the first thing about nationalist movements in Europe, which have NOTHING to do with “extremists in islam” and everything to do with ancient traditions of xenophobia, fear of immigrants, and homegrown racism. This comment isn’t just ignorant, it’s disgraceful.

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noen May 31, 2010 at 6:18 am

piero

“I think now more than any other time is the most crucial moment for moderate white acting Blacks to stand up and reclaim their race. You simply can’t blame people for thinking of the Black race as a truly radical and psychotic race when there are almost no people in the public sphere promoting it’s good aspects.”

Noen, thank you for providing an example of an awful analogy. Do you mind if I quote you? It would be a useful example to show my students how not to think.

Yes I do mind. You apparently missed the fact that was a critique of the paragraph immediately preceding it. It is intended to make the racism explicit by way of substitution. “Jews” works equally well:

I think now more than any other time is the most crucial moment for moderate Jews to stand up and reclaim their race. You simply can’t blame people for thinking of the Jewish race as a truly radical and psychotic race when there are almost no people in the public sphere promoting it’s good aspects.

I think you over estimate your intellectual heft piero. This seems to happen to a lot of engineers who come wandering out of the tool closet. They think that because they mastered a difficult subject that they are qualified to pontificate on many other subjects for which they have zero training. I can only laugh at someone who considers himself authoritative on Science, Rock, Cinema, Travel, Politics, Fiction, Jazz, Poetry, Art, Philosophy, Classical music, and New music.

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matt May 31, 2010 at 7:50 am

Luke,

I thought I’d make one more point, which I think really needs making. Piero Scaruffi writes about the “Islamic threat” in the context of steadily rising anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment AND violence across Europe, East and West. This isn’t just incidental to his point against religious fanaticism. Muslims are ALREADY the targets of widespread hatred among secularized European Christians (and have been for years, if you look, for instance, at Italy and France). The claim that they represent a shocking new threat to European democracy is just an extension of a steadily rising xenophobia, not a new act of fearlessness by brave Hitchens-like libertarians standing up for free speech. This isn’t to deny that there are plenty of problems within Muslim communities in Europe: I know from the German context about the occasional practice for instance of “honor killing” when women try to leave their strictly religious communities. But all of that is also TYPICAL of immigrant histories both in Europe and America, and by no means restricted to Islamic immigrants. What’s new–and dangerous–is the volatile link-up between anti-immigrant hysteria and ever-expanding imperialist warfare; we really are in the middle of a New Crusade, and it doesn’t help anybody to make Muslims (once again) into the bogeyman.

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other eric May 31, 2010 at 8:11 am

noen – “I think now more than any other time is the most crucial moment for moderate white acting Blacks to stand up and reclaim their race. You simply can’t blame people for thinking of the Black race as a truly radical and psychotic race when there are almost no people in the public sphere promoting it’s good aspects.”

noen, i’m not sure how your replacing the religious term “muslims” and “religion” with the racial terms “blacks” and “race” exposes the racism of the original. i can insert a political group instead and the statement seems cohesive and non racist, even though the political group i’ve chosen is dominantly associated with white people:

I think now more than any other time is the most crucial moment for moderate republicans to stand up and reclaim the republican party. You simply can’t blame people for thinking of the republican party as a truly radical and psychotic political party when there are almost no people in the public sphere promoting it’s good aspects.

besides that small point, i agree with some of the comments here about the xenophobic leanings and slight rhetorical bombast of scaruffi’s orignal post.

stating, even in jest, that an american citizen who made death threats against South Park creators should be “deported to Mecca for eternity” has an uncomfortable similarity to bigoted white americans suggesting that politically dissatisfied black americans should “go back to africa.”

the statement,
“There is nothing that Bush/Cheney have done that limits the freedom of speech and of press as much as the simple fact that Islam has entered Western societies.”
weirdly seems to imply that islam entering western societies is contemporary with the political reign of bush/cheney, but i believe that islam was present in western societies long before 2001. though that year did fundamentally change the relationship of western societies to their muslim populaces. the problematic contemporary event, as i understand it, is more that radical conservative extremists entered islam, which itself had already entered western societies hundreds of years before, and existed for that time in relative peace.

and the statement that,
“Mohammed has become the most hated person in the world”
is rhetorically overblown. mohammed is revered in all of the muslim world, and osama bin laden is still the most hated muslim figurehead by westerners. adolf hitler is most likely still the most hated human figure on a worldwide scale, though he’s still primarily a western entity.

i’m all for fair criticism of the religion of islam and various deplorable cultural practices within muslim societies, but the author’s post steps beyond fair criticism and into angry hate-mongering.

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Jayman May 31, 2010 at 10:01 am

anony, suppose that I support the freedom of religion and a Muslim tells me that freedom of religion should not exist because Muhammad sanctioned the killing of apostates. What should I say in reply? Can a criticize Muhammad’s position or will that be an attack on all Muslims?

matt, I don’t deny that there are moderate Muslims (my comment implies that there are). I merely pointed out why they fear to speak out. Condemnation of specific terror attacks is not the same thing as speaking out against jihad and Shariah in general. As long as jihad and Shariah (as traditionally understood) are a part of Islam I expect the bloodshed and human rights abuses to continue.

noen, the problem with your analogy is that Islam is not a race, it’s a religion. Religions are made up of beliefs and practices that are as open to criticism as any other belief or practice.

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piero May 31, 2010 at 11:44 am

Noen, I think you are confusing me with someone else. Just in case, I’m not Piero Scaruffi; my nick is just a coincidence.

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Atheist.pig May 31, 2010 at 11:54 am

Do I need to comment on this? I really really hope atheist.pig lives in Idaho or Kansas, because he/she doesn’t know the first thing about nationalist movements in Europe, which have NOTHING to do with “extremists in islam” and everything to do with ancient traditions of xenophobia, fear of immigrants, and homegrown racism. This comment isn’t just ignorant, it’s disgraceful. matt

First off, I didn’t agree with the post from Scaruffi.

I said I felt sad for the majority of peaceful muslims who are being victimized because of a radical minority of jihadi groups in Europe who have the loudest voice and are destroying free speech by silencing critics with death threats(of course there’s European racist fringe elements who are xenophobic to any out group who comes in, its called tribalism, it happens everywhere, get over it dickhead, and it doesn’t react well to death threats and censorship).

Then added to the mix is the EU open border policies, mass immigration from islamic states like Pakistan, etc. Fuel this with 9/11, the Afghan & Iraq wars, an economic depression, anti-islamic and anti-western sentiments in the same place, its a multicultural mess. We now have growing support for parties like the BNP, UKIP and Geert Wilders in Holland. This is how homo-sapiens react when thrown together all at once from drastically different cultures.

Look how polarized the US is and how its nationalist fervor is bubbling up in places like Arizona. Translate that into the EU with 25 + states with their separate cultures, open borders in virtually every direction, in some places its worked great, others its been a disaster.

Whats really a disgrace though, is that you didn’t once criticize the muslim radicals who are implementing barbaric faith-based practices on muslim women and children. You then brand 500 million + European citizens as racists, xenophobes, and anti-immigration.
Wanker.

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JS Allen May 31, 2010 at 9:44 pm

The Muslims who create this ideological dictatorship are certainly not giving Islam a good name. They are incredibly efficient at defaming Islam.

What a load of wishful thinking. The Muslim extremists are “incredibly efficient” at getting Westerners to do exactly what they want. Pierro Scaruffi’s countrymen placate the extremists and submit to every demand, while telling themselves that they might soon exercise the right to “sneer in the general direction” of the bad muslims (but not the good muslims). What a joke.

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anony June 1, 2010 at 6:23 am

“anony, suppose that I support the freedom of religion and a Muslim tells me that freedom of religion should not exist because Muhammad sanctioned the killing of apostates. What should I say in reply?”—You should tell that Muslim to 1)Go read the Quran 2)Research the sira (Biography/history of Prophet Muhammed(pbuh))before making such claims.
“killing apostates”—This concept has been misunderstood—in Muslim history, (long after Prophet Muhammed(pbuh))there was a period of time when Non-Muslims were not allowed in the army. In this context, leaving the army by denouncing Islam could have had motives of treason which had to be explored.(However, this was done under a system of courts, Judiciary etc—the concept was confined only to specific circumstances of proven treason and did not apply generally.)

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anony June 1, 2010 at 6:31 am

I wish to express my gratitude to those commenters who have urged a more nuanced and detailed look at the various circumstances that have caused misunderstandings. Sometimes issues are more complicated than they seem at first glance.

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Jayman June 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

anony, can I ever condemn Muhammad himself or will that always be taken as unfocused and nonconstructive criticism? Muslims who support the death penalty for apostasy are not all ignorant. It is my understanding that the death penalty for apostasy is supported by all four schools of Sunni Islam. In the past week, in the Islamic country of Maldives, Mohamed Nazim was jailed for saying he was not a Muslim (he has since reverted). He had to be protected from an angry crowd of Muslims. Nazim was arrested at a talk by Muslim apologist Zakir Naik. I’ve had many Muslims tell me that Zakir Naik is a great spokesman for Islam. But Naik also supports the death penalty for apostates.

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anony June 2, 2010 at 7:00 pm

can I ever condemn Muhammad himself or will that always be taken as unfocused and nonconstructive criticism?
—Prophet Muhammed(pbuh)has been criticised since he began reciting the Quran. Some accusations against him such as he was possesed(schizophrenic–in today’s jargon)or insane(epileptic)or that some Jewish/Christian scholar was his teacher(plaigerising)….etc are mentioned in the Quran itself. Scepticism is understandable—for reasonable people to believe that God exists and that he “communicates” with human beings is incredible without some proof or argument. criticism from genuine ignorance is one thing, criticism with malicious intent is another thing altogether called slander/defamation. For example, calling him a terrorist would fall into this category as history shows he tried to bring peace…and made peace treaties with those around him (even the Meccans!-though they broke that treaty)

It is my understanding that the death penalty for apostasy is supported by all four schools of Sunni Islam.
—In Islam, there are 4 (maybe 5)schools of sharia(law). In both Judaism and Islam, Justice is an important concept/value. (Judaism—Halaka/law) The purpose of law is to promote justice. Laws that do not promote justice, create oppression which is against the values of the Quran. Sharia (and Halaka)has 2 areas, One concerns “laws” between Man and God (only God can be the Judge)such as dietary laws, rituals, prayer…etc. The other component of Sharia is called Fiqh.(Jurisprudence)and concerns justice between man and man.
The jurisprudence about apostacy (historically) was concerned with its ramifications for treason (security).
How a particular country defines its security concerns, laws on treason, or any other laws concerning its citizens would have to be studied within its geopolitical/socieconomic framework. This is a matter between the citizens and its Government. If a Government is abusing law/justice, the citizens of that country are responsible for its correction.

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anony June 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm

continued…..
I have not heard Zakir Naiks views on apostacy—I will comment on that once I hear/read his views…..

Quran—The word kaffir (unbeliever)means “one who covers up” and its root comes from the word “ungrateful”. Thus, it means someone who rejects the guidance to goodness (covers up)because he finds goodness inconvenient(ungrateful)–this presupposes that the person has understood the guidance to good moral/ethical values promoted in the Quran and knowingly rejects them anyway. In this context (apostacy)rejecting Islam can have different connotations than simply rejecting the rituals of a religion.—-In any case Free-will is a God given right and unjust constraints on it can lead to oppression.

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anony June 2, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Not sure if I explained well….please ask…I will try to clarify.

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JS Allen June 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm

@anony – You didn’t explain; you evaded and dissembled. I don’t need to ask, since I’ve read Quran several times, as well as Qutb, Maududi, and al Banna. Islam demands the death penalty for apostates. There is no clause in Sharia that says, “death penalty only in rare cases where the apostate poses an immediate national security threat”. You are being evasive, because you know as well as anyone that death penalty for apostasy is highly correlated to Shariah, and death penalty for apostasy is illegal primarily in countries where Sharia is banned.

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anony June 3, 2010 at 3:44 am

My apologies for being unclear. Sometimes it is difficult to peice together presumptions that people base their statements on. You seem to have made some assumptions and I don’t know how to comment on that. But if you have questions I will try to answer. Please ask. (I am not a scholar of Islam or Sharia,—just an average Muslim–but I will try to clarify to the best of my ability)

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anony June 3, 2010 at 3:56 am

Fiqh(Jurisprudence)is not a static construct. It has several components within it that makes it adaptable to social changes—as it needs to be, in order to promote justice in different historical circumstances or/and geopolitical/socieo-economical constraints….

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piero June 3, 2010 at 5:58 pm

@anony:

While I thank you for your replies, I must say I found them disappointing, and I concur with JS Allen: you did not explain, but rather obfuscate. It has always been my experience that self-proclaimed moderate muslims turn out to be either insincere or unaware of the implications of their beliefs. I was hoping you could be the exception, but you weren’t.

For example, you may think this sounds reasonable and enlightended:

However,according to my understanding, not all LG are by choice (some are born this way?)in which case, this is a matter between God and the individual (God is Compassionate and Merciful)
Personally, I think this is an area that can be opened for dialogue (in Islam).

In fact, it just exposes you as a bigot. You are saying in fact that homosexuality can be excused if construed as an illness, but not if construed as a choice. Sorry, but those are no grounds for reasonable debate. Unless you change your tune and are willing to use your neurons for a change, no dialogue can possibly ensue.

Your comment regarding apostasy (which, by the way, you should try to spell correctly) is beyond wooliness; I’d describe it as mush. I see no attempt on your part to state clearly what your position is; again, it looks like obfuscation, it sounds like obfuscation, and hence I’ll take it as obfuscation.

Finally, your constant apologies for not making yourself clear sound wholly insincere, as do your silly exclamation marks (“even the Meccans!”).

Must try harder.

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anony June 3, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Treason–Though capital punishment for treason is mentioned in the Quran (in line with the Torah), the option of exile is also given….and this option was preferred by the Judges (as well as the Prophet(pbuh)).

Today, Muslim countries have different systems of Law—Some use “secular” laws, others use a combinitation of secular and sharia(Fiqh), still others use sharia(fiqh), but differ in the formulations of sharia(Fiqh) law—-that is some countries may have a formal system of enacting/formulating new Jurisprudence through proper legal procedures, others may rely on “religious leaders” and use sharia precedents for arbitration purposes.
Because the Figh aspect of”Sharia” is not a single or static construct, it is best not to make blanket judgements……(The non-fiqh aspect of sharia is more or less static)

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anony June 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Piero
Homosexuality—It is possible I may be a bigot in this area. It is a topic that makes me uncomfortable because I do not understand it. I have only had one occassion to converse with an atheist homosexual. He was intelligent and compassionate. This (internet) encounter made me re-evaluate my position on homosexuality from something that did not concern me—to one that I felt needed more dialogue within Islam. I feel that homosexuals must bring their perspective to the understanding of the Quran so that we (heterosexuals)can have a more diverse and in-depth understanding of the text(Quran). I hope that such engagement will occur. —-As of now, my position is that God made us who we are, in all our diversity…our choices are our own responsibilty and we will be held accountable for them. Therefore, I would prefer to choose compassion and tolerance over hate.
(With regards to how Muslims/Islam understand homosexuality (LGBT), it is as I stated….it is not acceptable as a lifestyle choice, but it is a matter between the individual and God.)
It seems I am repeating myself but with different words?…it may not be any clearer…….

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piero June 3, 2010 at 6:49 pm

@anony:
I don’t know where you are from, nor what your first language is, but let me give you a few tips:

“The Prophet (pbuh)” sounds incredibly silly; just refer to him as Mohammed (that is, if you want to be taken seriously).

“Though capital punishment for treason is mentioned in the Quran (in line with the Torah), the option of exile is also given…”. To Western ears, that sounds like “we muslims are not that bad, you see: we might punish you through exile rather than by executing you”. And that, to Western ears, sounds appalingly condescending.

“Because the Figh aspect of “Sharia” is not a single or static construct, it is best not to make blanket judgements…”. To me, that sounds as if you don’t know what your religion’s tenets are; if I were you, I’d avoid offering advice on matters I know little about.

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anony June 3, 2010 at 6:59 pm

My position on apostasy—-I am against oppression, therefore, freedom of religion is important to me. I also feel that any laws or social pressures that put unjust constraints on religious freedom goes against the values promoted in the Quran.

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anony June 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm

These are my opinions, they are what they are…..if you do not want to have a conversation with me, it is OK. I have given my opinions to those who have asked for them.

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JS Allen June 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm

@piero – It’s tragic, really, when you look at someone like an Al-Ghazali, and then fast forward to the dismal state of Islamic thought today. These fundamentalists sound almost exactly like Christian fundamentalists in their persistent stubborn evasion and prevarication.

I swear, the “Powerpuff Girls” character “Mojo Jojo” was patterned after the famous Islamist writers I mentioned before. Their technique of “explaining” something often sounds exactly like a Mojo Jojo monologue. I’ve highlighted some hilarious passages that deal with issues of “oppression” (why it’s not oppression to compel Muslims through force and murder apostates), “freedom” and so on. Some day I’ll collect them with parallels to Mojo Jojo, to prove once and for all that the screenwriter deliberately made the parallel.

Mojo Jojo:

I do not talk like that! The way I communicate is much different. I do not reiterate, repeat, reinstate the same thing over and over again. I am clear, concise, to the point!

I, Mojo Jojo, am your master, and you shall obey my commands like the dogs you are! Because I am your master, it is I who you will obey! Obeying commands is what you’ll do! I will give you commands, and you will obey them!

That’s all just well enough. For in reality, there is only room enough in this world for one Mojo Jojo. One shall be the number of Mojo Jojo’s in the world, and the number of the Mojo Jojo’s in the world shall be one. Two Mojo Jojo’s is too many, and three is right out! So only Mojo Jojo there is room for in the world shall be me! And being the only Mojo Jojo in the world, I shall rule the world in which there is only one MOJO JOJO!!

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piero June 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm

@anony:

My position on apostasy—-I am against oppression, therefore, freedom of religion is important to me.

I don’t wish to nitpick, but of course freedom of religion is important to you. Maybe what you meant was: “I am against oppression, therefore I believe everybody should be free to believe or not believe in whatever they want, with no constraints whatsoever, including but not limited to threats of exile and execution. I therefore declare muslim doctrine in this respect morally untenable and contrary to my deep-held beliefs, and I hereby renounce my former religion in order to retain a modicum of coherence.”

I also feel that any laws or social pressures that put unjust constraints on religious freedom goes against the values promoted in the Quran.

I’m sorry, but it is in the Quran itself where constraints on religious freedom are most prominently displayed. Maybe you read the abridged version?

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piero June 3, 2010 at 8:15 pm

@JS Allen:

What? How dare you mention Mojo Jojo with such offhanded flippancy? Write 500 times: “Mojo Jojo (pbuh)”.

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anony June 4, 2010 at 4:43 am

lukeprog–thankyou for allowing me the space to express my opinions.—to those who have interacted with me, thankyou for your questions.

I shall be off……I wish everyone the best of luck in their pursuit of knowledge.

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Yara July 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm

it’s very unprofessional and very, very, very degrading (for me) to know that other atheists speak so lowly with such venom and aggression about a religion.

also, it shows the GREAT amount of ignorance many people have about muslims.

i’m an atheist, but many and most of my family and many of my friends are muslims. and i have lived in muslim countries almost all my life, and many if not most people i’ve met are quite open minded. even in countries like KUWAIT, which i lived in for 17 years.

FYI : about the gay question

I met the previous Saudi (yes the SAUDI) king’s son just yesterday, Faisal bin Fahed,
and he is openly gay,sitting with gay friends.

and MANYYYY sheikhs and famous leaders of Kuwait, Saudi, the UAE, and other countries, are FLAMBOYANT homosexuals.

back to the topic at hand!
at the end of the day, the ONLY difference between the bible and the quraan and torah.. is that they are “shittier than each other” (in arabic: ‘akhra min ba3ed’) a saying my father is proud of
and it’s true, they are all just as bad as each other, if you look at the basis of each.

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Aaban Aadil January 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I think you are a closeted gay man…

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