Sunday, 29 April 2012

Child Brides: do you think Islam could have anything to do with it?

On BBC TV yesterday an excellent and disturbing report on Child brides in Bangladesh, called "Wedding Breakers".  The "breakers" refers to the efforts of women and one remarkable young boy (10 years old) to stop the practice of marrying off young girls in Bangladesh as young as ten.  The figures are shocking: one in five girls in Bangladesh is married before 18 -- the legal age for marriage -- and the results are a life of virtual slavery, no education, early pregnancy and the danger of fistula -- permanent incontinence -- which makes them outcasts even in their own families. There are said to be over 1 million girls with the condition -- it's operable, but only a tiny fraction have the money for the operation.
The causes in the BBC program were said to be a combination of (1) economic: the younger the girl is married off, the less dowry has to be paid.  As she approaches even the tender age of 20, she is so costly to marry off that many, especially in the countryside, cannot afford it. And (2), so called "Eve Teasing", where young girls are molested by boys and men, every time they leave home. This is not the common-garden "teasing", wolf whistles and so on, but aggressive bullying, including the throwing of acid on girls. They have to be escorted to school -- or they are married off early to get the "protection" of their young husbands....
Nowhere in the program, however, is the possibility of a religious aspect -- Islam, to be precise -- mentioned.
So I thought I'd to some research and the results are here.  I've compared the figures for the percentage  of girls married while still minors -- which is taken as below 18 years-old in the UNESCO study I refer to. And for the percentage of Muslim population, I've taken the CIA World Fact Book figures, which are widely referred to as being reliable.
The correlations are: for the top ten countries: 70% and for the top twenty countries: 60%.  These are statistically significant figures, especially for the top ten.
Apologists of Islam will be quick to say: "correlation does not imply causation". Indeed it does not.  But the opposite is equally true, probably more so: "correlation can strongly suggest causation", in which case it's incumbent on the analyst to suggest what it is that may cause the correlation.
In the case of Islam, it's not hard to find reasons why its doctrines may lead to the phenomenon of Child Brides.
Mohammed is the first and strongest witness for the prosecution: he was married to Aisha when she was 9 and consummated that marriage when she was 12 (later: sorry, commenters have noted the figures are 6 and 9 respectively; I was just going on memory.  So, my point holds a fortiori).  Since Mohammed is the "best of examples", held in esteem almost equal to Allah, his actions are normative for Muslims. It's for that reason that Iran, as just one example, allows under-age marriage.
Second item for the prosecution are the Koran and Hadith, in which the role of women is to submit to men; they are clearly considered second class items of property in the texts of Islam.  This may account for the horrid practices of "Eve Teasing" in Bangladesh.  At the very least they do not discourage them.
I don't suggest that Islam is the only reason for Child Marriage in the countries I've looked at. Clearly there are other longer-term cultural and social issues: vide, for example, the number that are in Africa, where no doubt ancient tribal and other social factors are at work.
What I do suggest is that Islam as the very least allows, enables and even encourages the practice of child brides: it's there in the "perfect example" of Mohammed and in the core texts of Islam which dehumanize and demean women and young girls.
LATER: linked by BCF.
LATER (9 NOV 12): "Saudi Arabia: 5,000 child brides under age 14".
"Early Marriage: a harmful traditional practice", UNICEF, 2005

Saturday, 28 April 2012

"The Savage Lands of Islam"

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has ruled that ten year old girls can be married off, because in his words, "Good upbringing makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties at that age.” The Mufti, who also recently called for destroying churches in the Arabian Peninsula, is descended from Mohammed Wahhab who gave birth to Wahhabism and his descendants have controlled the Saudi religious establishment, which has given them control of Islam around the world. For all his power and influence, the Mufti is blind and hasn’t seen a thing in the last 52 years, an apt metaphor for his entire religion.  Read more at EuropeNews.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

"The Jihadist Roots of the Norway Massacre"

Raymond Ibrahim is a thoroughly sound and knowledgeable commentator on matters Islamic.
In this interesting piece, he fleshes out the jihadist "inspiration" in Breivik's murderous spree in Norway.
His final para sums it up:
"...whereas Breivik's goals may have been anti-Islamic in nature, his actions, those things which we are rightly judged by—in this case, terror, murder, and planned beheadings—were jihadist in essence."

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Amnesty International is clueless

Letter to BBC:
Amnesty International calls on western media et al to stop “stereotyping” Muslims.

But shouldn't the first people called on to do this be the leaders and spokesmen (always men) of Islam. They are the ones saying “Freedom go to Hell”, calling on Muslims to “Behead those who insult Islam”, to claim that “Islam shall rule the world”, to live separately — by their own desire --  and have nothing to do with the Infidels, etcetera, etcetera.... All these are regular fare in the media.

These may (or may not) represent the majority of Muslims. But they’re the ones we hear about. What?... are we supposed to ignore them?  (but.. but... wouldn’t ignoring them be “Islamophobic”?..)

Then, when we read the Koran and Hadith,  we learn that these spokesmen are simply representing their religion as it’s written. As it’s practiced in Islamic countries, like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

One expects — or is not surprised by — this sort of nonsense from Amnesty International, a once proud and laudable organisation, but now hopelessly compromised by various agenda.

But the BBC?  To be report such a farrago of nonsense?  As if it were in any way fair comment on the place of Muslims and Islam in the west?

Shame on you.

Peter F

PS: we are constantly told by Muslims and their apologists that we should learn more about Islam, to overcome “misunderstanding” and “ignorance”.  But it’s through the very learning about Islam that so many people in the west have come to understand Islam and just what a baleful and egregious religion it is (I’m sorry, but it is...).  Read the Koran.  Read the Hadith. And then try to say “Islam is a religion of peace”, without your fingers crossed behind your back..... As Sam Harris has said: “To say that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ is to be deluded”.

Friday, 20 April 2012

No! to the Skek Kwu Chau incinerator!

My letter to the South China Morning Post...
UPDATE: Who knew one letter could change government policy (heh!).  Very next day, April 21, we have the headline, "Bureau ditches $HK15 billion incinerator funding bid".
Back to the letter of 20 April:
Environment Minister Edward Lau asks “why do we have to wait” for funding of his Shek Kwu Chau waste incinerator. What is the opponents’ Plan B, he asks. [article below the fold]
Well, there are simple answers:
We have to wait because we want the government to consider the better Plan B options that have already been proposed by SKC opponents and which should rightly be Plan A options.
These include plasma gas pyrolosis which is approved for use in Europe and North America.  This technology has minimal toxic emissions, is more efficient in creating recyclable fuel and other materials, takes up less space, is less unsightly, and quicker yet no more expensive to build in processing an equivalent amount of waste.  Green Island Cement proposes Eco co-combustion (“Green Island waste system is cheaper option to SKC incinerator”, Letters April 17) which uses solid waste to make cement with much less carbon dioxide than traditional methods. [Letter underneath the Yau article, below the fold]. 

Yet Yau has ignored these in his haste to get money for his outdated, dirty and unsightly technology.
Instead of using the opportunity of an exclusive interview with the Post to discuss these options, Yau merely blusters on with his one idée fixe, and tries to bully us with scare tactics: that we will be like Naples if we don’t immediately fund his dirty, destructive and inferior project (has Yau not heard that the Mafia was at the centre of Naples’ rubbish mess?)
What I would like to see is an independent comparison of three or four technologies, including Yau’s baby.  Comparing the capital cost, the on-going costs, the environment cost and the cost savings of outputs (such as GIC’s side-benefit of cheaper cement from the solid waste).
We surely need some waste management solution.  Just not this one.  And don’t kid us that another year will turn us into a Neapolitan garbage mountain.  It won’t.
Wake up Mister Yau, and give us the options, not more bluster and bullying.
Peter F, etc.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Arab Christians are being driven from places where they have lived peacefully for centuries

Two things about the article, "Out of the east", in the Spectator of 7 April:
1.  Bloggers like Raymond Ibrahim and Daniel Pipes have been writing about this for years and in detail since the "Arab Spring".  If you want to know the latest, the most detailed about any issue, the blogosphere is where it's at.
2.  Where is the outrage?  700,000 Arab Muslims were allegedly "driven" from their homes by Israelis in 1949 (well, not really, but let's stipulate they were), and the outrage is a daily issue on the news.  But over a million Christians have been driven out of Iraq alone since 2003, and nary a peep.
And consider this comment by a Grand Mufti of Islam, about Churches on the Arabian Peninsula: "... it is necessary to destroy all churches of the region". What if an Archbishop had said that of mosques in Europe.  Imagine the outrage.  Imagine the outrage at the Grand Mufti's statements.  Can't?  Well, no, because there is none.
At least the issue has now had its first airing, if only in a "right-wing" Spectator article.

Australia and China Rising

Interesting talk-starters from an old colleague of mine, given to a luncheon of his Club in Sydney, below the fold.
My comments here:
I’m not surprised your talk was a “big hit”.  An elegant (as ever!) and stimulating thought-starter.

I remember White’s thesis in the Oz media a while back, perhaps via
The Australian's Greg Sheridan (for whom I’ve a lot of time) and seem to recall the firestorm of criticism — “soft on China” and all that.

For my part, I think I’d be plumping for a version of Option 2: but even “softer” --  China as an Ally.  They were allies during the War, after all.  There are worse that the US considers “allies” (Pakistan, Saudi, eg).  China is part of the “construction” world, that is, its focus is on building its economy, trade, improving the lot of its people, building science and infrastructure, and the rest of it -- pragmatic in other words.  It is no longer any existential threat to the west as the Soviet Union was in the Cold War.

This may be idealistic, perhaps naïve.  But it’s hard to see how explicit contention,
à la Obama (Option 3) can lead to lowering of an arms race in the region.  As Hugh says in a Nov ‘11 article  “...China will have to be persuaded to accept US leadership in Asia... That seems unlikely”.

The current edition of
The Atlantic has some interesting discussion on China, via comments on Mearsheimer’s “offensive realism” (he of the Israel Lobby in the US fame-infamy).  I rather like James Fallows’ comments.  Kaplan’s rebuttal is interesting.

Mrs Battle's comments (which I’ve told her is true of any large country, and that generalisations and big-picture are needed):

When taking about China, people use "China" as ONE and most times somehow forgot China has not only a large geographically diverse population, but also has a politically diverse groups - the battle for power to control China has been going on for many centuries. The people who can play the differences among different political groups in China would have the more effective strategy.
Sailing, as we do, in the South China Sea, I must say I’m comforted by the presence of the PLA Navy: keeping pirates at bay, for example!  We live under the suzerainty of “the Motherland” already.  And while I’m not at all rosy-eyed about the Mainland (the corruption, crime, suppression of free speech, and all of it), nonetheless, here in our little Hong Kong, rich, neat, tidy, free and safe -- yet ultimately in the control of Beijing -- I’m pretty comfortable with it...).

On the negative side re China: I recall sometime ago someone saying that the US had a “Big Idea” -- “Freedom”. By contrast, said this person, China had no “Big Idea” (perhaps in the early days it was “Communism”; but no longer).  I’ve thought on and off whether that’s true, or if it does have one.  I’m not sure this is it, or if it’s big and worthy enough to be a “Big Idea” -- “Order”.  Confucian; practical. Not that Big?  Ah well...


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

"PLA is target of Bo media blitz"

The Bo Xilai story is running hot and there's plenty in the international Mainstream Media.  I thought I'd post some clips from the South China Morning Post, of reports by its own reporters, as they provide some interesting angles and are behind a paywall.
Below the fold, with thanks to Teddy Ng and the SCMP...

"Defending Muslim Law From Those Invoking It"

From the New York Times, more duplicitous nonsense about Sharia. This one trying to excuse it, based on the argument in a new book "Heaven on Earth" by Sadakat Kadri, who is said to be "nearly as multicultural as one man can get without falling over". And he's a Harvard graduate to boot.  Goodness me, how should I not swallow him whole!...
Well, here's one immediate giveaway:
"Stoning for example, is not mentioned in the Koran as a punishment for adultery."
No, it isn't.  But it's in the Haditha, which have scriptural authority only slightly less than that of the Koran.  And there's plenty of scholarly discussion as to why a verse on adultery, which was originally slated to be in the Koran -- so say Islamic scholars -- was dropped from the final version. (and, uhm, why something should be "dropped" from the Koran which is said to be the "uncreated and inerrant" word of Allah, we shall simply slip past...)
More: Stoning is very much in the "Classic Manual of Islamic Jurisprudence" -- the Umdat Al-Salik, which is authorised by the highest authority of Sunni Islam. [Link at left].
To say that stoning is not in the Koran and is therefore not rightly part of Sharia law is the equivalent of saying that, say, insider trading is not in the Bible, so should not be part of Common Law.
The plain fact of the matter is that there is a codified and well accepted set of laws of Sharia, that they are summarised in the Umdat Al-Sulik, that Islamic States such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan implement it, that a majority of Muslims in western countries wish to see Sharia law implemented based on the interpretation in the Umdat.
No amount of sophistry by Kadri and by his obsequious reviewer D. Garner will change those facts. The Sharia, as codified and practiced today, in actual real countries, is horrid.  "A direct path to water" may well be the literal meaning of "Sharia", and a phrase Garner finds "lovely".  But it's a poisoned well.
Only the ill-read and willingly credulous will be taken in by this piece.  Sadly, they are many...
LATER: Last para: Kadri "... constructs an urgent appeal for mutual understanding."  What, pray, does he wish we non-Muslim to understand more?  If we understand Sharia, if we study it closely, and still find it abhorrent, what then?

"Koran Giveaway in Germany Has Some Officials Worried"

It shouldn't.
The more people read the Koran the better. The more they will then know of the supremacist, sectarian, anti-semitic, homophobic and anti-infidel nature of the core document of Islam.
Story here.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

"Leaders signal accord on Bo"

Interesting article in local newspaper, the South China Morning Post, below the fold.
My earlier post on Bo, to whom I -- personally -- owe much.
One of the criticisms of Bo is that as a "leftist", he had "sent down" some 300,000 cadres to the countryside, to "rusticate" and learn from the masses, a policy associated with Mao Tse-tung (known as , "Shang shan xia xiang", or, literally "to come down from the mountain and into the village").
But of all the policies of Mao that were crazy, this was not one.  Even China's new leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping, says that his years in the countryside had left him with an indelible impression of the needs of China's majority (then) rural population.
And I can speak from personal experience -- in the seventies when I was studying Chinese in Peking, we were "sent down" to the coutryside for a time of study "with the masses, and from the masses", and of all the classes and lessons I did, the time spent on the "Friendship People's Commune" outside Peking, the toughness of the work, the meagerness of the reward for doing it, the good humour and toughness of the "peasants" that we mixed with, all these remain more strongly in my mind than all the times spent at the desk...

Monday, 2 April 2012

HK workforce ranked 'best in Asia'

South China Morning Post
Wednesday March 14 2012

HK workforce ranked 'best in Asia'

Austin Chiu and Dennis Chong
Hong Kong's workforce is the most productive in Asia, a report says, helping the city rank as the fourth most competitive in the world.

US science pays a price for being right

I wander around some left-of-centre sites quite often, like Crooked Timber, where I came across a post by John Quiggin, an Aussie professor, who went to my alma mater, the Australian National University.  It was about an alleged genetic basis to conservatism/Republicanism.
He would be torn apart by those same conservatives, no doubt, for saying this.
More interesting was that he was torn apart by the commentors (over 190 at last count), and has had to raise the white flag: he'll have to repost in a more considered way, he says...
The issue was one that I thought would be pretty much confined to the pages of an academic site like CT, but no.. there was mention of it in our very own South China Morning Post, by the alert Alex Lo, which I reproduce below the post, as it's behind a register-wall [here].
I guess that Alex comes to it via Huffpo, rather than CT, as there was news of the study there as well.
Interesting that "faith in science" is quite low in the US across the spectrum, even amongst liberals and moderates -- though declining most sharply amongst conservatives -- whereas it's so high in China: 90% in "another survey" -- sadly not referenced by Lo.
Related: Chinese bring in foreigners to increase performance of its universities: "Chinese Universities Send Big Signals to Foreigners", NYT, March 11, 2012.

Thoughts of a convert to -- and apostate from -- Islam. By Abdul-Quddus

Here. [could have done with a touch of editing for the post, but still and interesting read]

With hindsight, I perceive the quintessential factor sustaining my Islaamic faith to be fear. 
Surprisingly, the greatest challenge that threatened my servitude to Allaah came, neither from criticism by Islamophobic orientalists nor polemics by Neo-conservative Christians but, from Muhammad’s holy book itself.
To my discovery, the Islaamic deity was actually the generic anthropomorphic Sky Father abound in popular mythology. He was afflicted with psychological infirmities such as megalomania, melancholy, and malevolence. Allaah suffered from ambivalence, claiming to be ar-Rahmaan, ar-Raheem (The Most Merciful, The Most Beneficent), while simultaneously being malicious or fastidious...
 The same disillusionment I experienced as Buddhist and Christian began to now emerge while a Muslim. I found it difficult to believe in angels, jinn, or talking trees. My mind clustered with doubts and objections as I raged with discontent. The deity was fictitious and cruel, the founder deplorably barbaric and sinful, the scripture mediocre and uninspired, the laws primitive and unjust. I perceived Muhammad as a fraud and Allaah as his imaginary friend.
To the naive, Islaam appeared divine with the hypnotic recitation of the Arabic Qur’aan, captivating Middle-Eastern architecture, and stunning Arabic calligraphy. Our Western culture and Judeo-Christian traditions just paled in comparison. However, just like in art, it only seems creative when the influences and sources are left unknown. Once you uncover the plagiarism, what remains is tediously pedestrian.