Letterboxes and Bank Robbers

I’ll tell you why I hate the hijab, or niqab, or burka.

I hate it because it reminds me of the Ku Klux Klan, of the balaclavas worn by the IRA, of any movement or organisation that decides to conceal itself from outsiders – in short, anyone with something to hide.

Alright, I know the burka is worn by women, which makes it worse because here the secrecy is reversed; to depersonalise the woman, to rob her of any visible character or personality; to subjugate and demean, in other words.  Neither are the gender boundaries so strictly observed they cannot be adjusted for the convenience of terrorists, who are happy to use them as a disguise.

Let’s be perfectly clear on this.  The burka, or a version of it, first appeared in the old country of Persia around the end of the tenth century, and slowly spread throughout Islam under the auspices of a strict religious sect, but it has no foundation anywhere in the Quran.  The holy book only requires that dress should be modest, and reveal no more of the body than is necessary.  Therefore by implication are we to conclude that Moslems feel the only necessary part of the female body is the eye?  This aligns with the same primitive thinking that believes in GM, and insists the word of three women is needed to have the same value as that of one man.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had the temerity to suggest that women so dressed looked ‘ridiculous’, likening the garb to a letterbox, or that worn by a bank robber.  He was not suggesting the burka should be banned, but commenting upon recent legislation in Denmark, where it is now outlawed.   The squeals of outrage have reverberated around Westminster and the gutter press ever since.

For the record, the Burka is prohibited by law, completely or partially, in an increasing number of countries in Africa, and many now in Europe too.  France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Holland have all prohibited the garment to varying degrees.  Frau Murkel has suggested a ban in Germany.  Again, in UK it is not banned.  I believe it should be.

Although I regard myself as a fairly liberated free thinker for one of my ripened years, I worry about Islam.  This transcends race, and for that matter all the millions of broader-minded Moslems who manage to reconcile the belligerent teachings of their holy book with the realities of modern life.  But there is a hardened thread of fundamentalism at the religion’s heart which has no interest in integration and sees the ‘infidel’ as an enemy.  Its adherents are implacable and intolerant.  They do not believe in our freedoms, and they would hurt us if they could.

So I appeal to moderate Moslems who want to mingle with and enjoy western society to try and understand how – and I hate this word – intimidating the burka seems to those who do not share your faith.  I would rarely advocate restriction upon any freedom, least of all dress, but this form of dress symbolises restriction of freedom for women.   I know my opinion is widely shared.

The burka has no place on the streets of Britain.

Two Books

History is best when briefest, so forgive me for omission of a multitude of finer points in pursuit of essence?   Yes, I know the Devil is in the detail, and the Devil has a fairly prominent role in what follows.  Nonetheless….

A Book:Old Bible

The Bible is the result of a collection of manuscripts, Hebrew and Greek, which became an entity about a thousand years after the life of Christ.  It has since evolved and suffered the rigours of translation a few times.   It is the book that props up the table leg of Christian belief, but very few of its followers, even the most devout, could quote it word for word.

Another Book:

imagesThe Quran tabulates the teachings of the prophet Mohammed (and forgive my failure to bless his name when I mention him) as they were handed down to him by the angel Gabrielle – a bit like Moses and the Commandments, if you like.  The work was begun around 610 AD and formalised around 644 AD, twelve years after the prophet’s death.  It has altered remarkably little since – if at all – and good Moslem children learn it by rote, word for word.

Two books.  The one an archive of documents which, although by no means exclusively, forms the basis of Western morality; the other the masterwork of a single author who, if we are to believe his own account, acted as ghost writer for an angel.

Nothing wrong there.  Two ancient tomes, both alike in dignity, but with very different impact upon their readers.  The ‘Christian’ world of the West has diversified, experimented and generally subsumed the original pearls of Biblical faith as parts of a recognised standard of behaviour we might once have classified as ‘God-fearing’.  The faith is old; the code remains.

The Islamic world, by contrast, is as youthful and fresh as ever, and has moved not one inch.   In western terms, because they determine political thinking, the teachings of the Quran are corrosive and dangerous, and the inescapable fact that Muslims should have imbibed the book in its totality by the time they reach their grown-up years makes compromise with Western society extremely difficult.

It seems well-nigh impossible to find a neutral translation from the Arabic where the Quran is concerned, but certain quotations are undeniable.   These concern Moslem treatment of women:

“Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please.” Quran 2:223

“Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other……. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.”   Quran 4:34

“Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses…” Quran 2:282

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment…” Q 24:31.

It requires only a very brief adventure into these texts to gain an understanding of the separation from our society that immigrants from the Moslem world must feel.  It makes the assaults upon German and Swiss women by drunken North African Moslem immigrants no more forgivable but somewhat more understandable if they have been raised to believe women are their ‘fields’: ‘go, then, into your fields whence you please’ can, after all, almost be read as an incitement to rape.  Q.24:31 might have been the text that led an Imam to blame the assaulted women for the crimes on the grounds that they were ‘dressed provocatively’.

My point is this; and I make it without shame.  Population drift has been a fact of history – it nearly always follows wealth from East to West, and it invariably re-shapes whatever it touches to some subtle degree.  But the touch of Islam, at least where it concerns the rights of women, will be anything but subtle.  Devout Islamic migrants cannot conform to our moral code without deliberately flouting religious laws they have learnt to obey to the letter since childhood.   The best they can hope to achieve is a necessary cohabitation with ‘the infidel’.  Whether we are prepared to accept such a dilemma, or whether we are ready to do what must ultimately be essential to prevent it, are vital matters for debate.  It is an issue that affects the USA as much as Europe because in these small-world days migration no longer takes more than the briefest tea break upon the shores of Galway.

In 2015 the borders of Europe were crossed by more than a million migrants from south and east of the Mediterranean, a figure likely to redouble next year.  As climate change bites, this trend is likely to continue.  It threatens the European Union and has already called the Schengen open border agreement into question.

I will inevitably be branded, by those who must have labels, ‘racist’ for this.  I am not.  Nor am I ‘religionist’.  These terms are tools obdurate and unyielding proponents of Islam use to stifle argument.  I have had many Moslem acquaintances who are kind, gentle, and very clever people.  Our greedy little empires need them.  But almost all have made ‘the jump’ and become ‘Friday Moslems’, very, very few manage to balance their participation in our society with devout adherence to their faith.  The sheer numbers, I fear, must overwhelm them as well as us.

burqa

This is a call, I think, to women everywhere to protect and assert those rights they have fought so hard and so long to achieve.   In similar measure the Quran’s position on homosexuality should be challenged.   We are tolerant, but there must be limits.   Do we really want the burqa to ‘veil’ women from public view?  Do we accept a controlling male society that keeps its women indoors and out of sight, or do we insist these attitudes must be changed?

There is much in Islam that is good.  Mohammed’s achievement in unifying religious belief among the pagan Arabs was heroic, but rigid adherence to rules he laid down almost 1400 years ago has the potential to set civilisation back several centuries.  We should all be aware of the direction in which we are being led.

 

 

I am Charlie

Black Cross

Allah is your God, my friends.  We all have our God, if we believe we need one, and He is, if He is, probably one and the same:  only the name is changed, only the way we express our devotion is different.

Are there some things on which we can all agree?  Is our God a God of all creatures, did He make our world, is He a God of Mercy?

Or is He a fierce, unrelenting deity who may strike our sinners down?

Allah is your God, my friends, and He may, in your eyes, be a vengeful God, but justice is His to dispense, not yours.  You should know this, because one day you will have to meet Him and explain how you were so arrogant as to believe yourselves His instruments.  Your reward will not be paradise, it will be judgment.

Whatever our religion, we serve with humility.  We bow to humor as a just criticism of ourselves, because even if we find it unpleasant at times, we learn from it.  You alone consider yourselves above learning.  You alone consider your earthly prophet, human as he was, above reproach.

I do not speak to all Muslims, because you are not Muslims.  Muslims are gentle, charitable and kind, you are not.  Muslims do not treat their women like cattle.  You do.  You are monsters, aberrations:  you murder the vulnerable and the weak.  You have no place in civilization.

Charlie Hebdo Magazine, Paris, January 7th 2015.  Rest in Peace.

I AM CHARLIE