Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No, it's NOT a "lunatic fringe"

As everybody in the known universe is aware by now, yesterday saw the murder of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province in Pakistan. Taseer was assassinated for suggesting that it might just possibly be a good idea to amend the mandatory death sentence for insulting Islam - a suggestion that engendered massive riots and a nationwide protest strike a couple of days ago.

Bear in mind that "insulting Islam" can include anything from a scholar's observation that there are Aramaic words in the Koran to, well, a cartoon.

In a brilliant example of doublethink, the Guardian described this as "a killing that exposed a deep-rooted vein of extremism" just sentences before saying this about Pakistani scholars' reaction (bolding mine):

A prominent group of Islamic scholars said that the funeral prayers should not be offered and warned that anyone who expressed grief for Taseer could suffer the same fate.

The Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan group represents scholars from the mainstream Barelvi sect of Sunni Muslims. Although considered moderate, they have led protests in favour of the blasphemy law.

"More than 500 scholars of the Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat have advised Muslims not to offer the funeral prayers of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer, nor try to lead the prayers," the group said.

"Also, there should be no expression of grief or sympathy on the death of the governor, as those who support blasphemy of the prophet are themselves indulging in blasphemy."

Now, a quick quiz for those who may or may not have been paying attention.

Moderate. Mainstream. Extremist.

Which of these words does not belong with the other two?

Now just in case anybody actually reads this post and wants to go jumping on me for being anti-Muslim, I am not saying all Muslims are evil murdering bastards who assassinate anybody who disagrees with them. Salman Taheer obviously wasn't. I lived in a Muslim neighborhood in Africa for two years and my neighbors never expressed an Islamic duty to kill me; they were real nice people. They did keep wishing out loud that I would convert to Islam so they could fix me up with a nice Muslim boy, but what the heck; my grandmother said essentially the same thing, if you substitute "Methodism, Methodist" for "Islam, Muslim."

I just want to point out that the Evil Murdering Bastards party is not a small fringe of extremists who misunderstand the Koran; it's a large group of mainstream Muslims who understand the Koran perfectly well. Take Sura 5:33, for example:

The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.

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