Deadline

The Taleban have granted an 24-hour extension on the lives of the kidnapped Korean missionaries in Afghanistan, set to expire anytime now.

korea1_190628a.jpg

The terrorists and their captives are surrounded by US and Afghan troops. Continue to pray for their release.

Differentiating Martyrdom

As if it weren’t self-evident by now, the Taleban are once again showing why they must be eradicated and extinguished from the face of the earth. They have kidnapped 23 Korean Christians (including 18 women) and will murder them unless all South Koreans leave Afghanistan.

If you think this is a ploy to get a Coalition country to remove its troops, you’d be wrong. South Korea has no troops in Afghanistan. There are 200 Koreans there, but they are engineers, doctors and medical staff.  They are trying to rebuild the country and keep its people alive. But then the Taleban have never been big on keeping people alive.

The Koreans have been specifically targeted because they are Christians. Even though they were on their way to work in a hospital in Kandahar, they are accused of evangelism, which carries a death sentence under the Taleban – though must be remembered things are not much better under the elected government of the country. Thus, I would not expect a lot of help from President Hamid Karzai in negotiating their release.

Their plight will not come as a surprise to them. Many of the Korean missionaries who go into the Muslim-controlled countries speak of a desire for martyrdom – exhibiting a ferver reminiscent of various Roman persecutions. But in an age where the desire for martyrdom is only ever seen in an Islamic context, the world cannot understand those who give their lives willingly without explosives strapped to themselves and who hope to see the face of the Saviour and not 72 virgins.

Supporting Persecution

While I’ve never been a peacenik or a dove, I am aware that the “War on Terror” has been especially bad for Christians. With all the focus on Iraq and the murdering of relatively powerless Christians in the midst of the struggle for power, I had lost sight of Afghanistan.

I was reading an article in the Daily Telegraph which mentioned that someone tried to have another person arrested on charges of being a Christian missionary. Afghanistan is still just as much an official Islamic state as it was under the Taliban. Girls may be allowed to go to school (where Taliban fighters or their sympathisers don’t kill them for daring to get an education), but they are not allowed to hear the Gospel.

According to Operation World, 33 Foreign aid workers who were suspected of sharing the Gospel have been killed. There may be a handful of Afghan Christians in Kabul, though there are no churches and Christian expats meet in private locations. As one website puts it, “Persons who convert to Christianity in the countryside do not survive.”

I’m not exactly sure why American and British troops are in Afghanistan. I hate to say it, but I have a hard time with Christian, or post-Christian, nations setting up or even propping up Islamic regimes that actively persecute Christians.  That’s before mentioning the foreign financial aid that’s being sent from the pockets of Christian taxpayers.

I suggest we pull out altogether and say, “Look, you tolerate Christians and stop tolerating those who persecute them, and we’ll come back. Otherwise keep your own regime afloat.”

Who Should Apologise?

I don’t want to give the impression that the silliness about Salman Rushdie is limited to Iran. Pakistan continues to insist that not only should the British Parliament strip the knighthood, but also apologise for hurting Muslim feelings.

I think a better approach would be for the British Government to withdraw all aid to Pakistan and for the outraged Pakistanis to return all of the filthy Christian and secularist UK money that has been provided to them. The first thing the Government can do is rescind the doubling of development aid over the next three years as announced last November. Why is this £480 million of my tax money being spent on a country that foments terrorism, encouraged by its government ministers? And that’s on top of the €60 million annually from the EU and the $3 billion (plus a $1 billion debt cancellation) from the US.

How about apologising for all the martyrdom of Christians in Pakistan. These are not like Pakistanis who have driven car bombs or strapped them to their bodies and thus become martyrs by taking their own lives and the lives of others. Maybe they don’t get Christian martyrdom since it doesn’t involve hurting others and a lot more than just their feelings.

What about those Christians in Charsadda, a town in North-West Frontier Province who were warned that if they did not convert to Islam by 17 May they would face “dire consequences and bomb explosions”? How about apologising for those hurt feelings?

Or what about 18 months ago when 3,000 militants attacked Christians in Sangla Hill, about 80 miles from Lahore, and destroyed Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and Presbyterian churches? They also set alight two houses of priests, one convent, one high school and the houses of three Christian families. This was all because of a false allegation that an illiterate boy had set fire to a special bin used to dispose of scraps of paper that have bits of the Qur’an written on them. This happened because people started to hear announcements from nearly every mosque loudspeaker informing every Muslim that a Christian had desecrated the Qur’an and that because of that Christian houses should be burnt and every visible Christian should be killed. Is anyone apologising for this?

So I agree with the Pakistani parliament that in light of grave offences, apologies are in order. They can apologise any time they like.

Iranian Entertainment

One of the funniest things I’ve read in the latest Islamic idiocy, an Iranian newspaper has attacked the person of HM the Queen for the Salman Rushdie knighthood.

Jomhuri-ye Eslami called HM “the English hag”  and “the offensive English royal”, and suggested that she personally paid Sir Salman £500,000 to write The Satanic Verses.

As quoted in The Times, “The insult of the English Queen for honouring a knighthood on Salman Rushdie has sent the clear message that from the point of view of England and its Queen, Rushdie’s act is a great and praiseworthy service to the slowly vanishing English Empire which needs to be acknowledged.”

“This act can be seen as a cover-up to distract the public’s attention from the sexual scandals of royal princes and princesses who are infamous and detested even among the English population, a population who cannot wait for the end of this hated monarch regime which stinks of the Middle Ages.”

Hardly does stupidity ever defy intelligent comment in response. Sometimes you just have to let fools speak for themselves.

Education Taleban Style

From the BBC:

A group of girls returning home from school in Afghanistan’s Logar province recently did not for a moment expect what lay ahead.

As they walked down a dirt track, insurgents sprang out of the parched farms and began firing on them.

Some of them fled into the farm, but two girls, one aged 13, the other 10, were killed in the ambush. Three of their friends were wounded.

The Taleban don’t approve of educating girls.  They’re not big on education at all, but they really don’t like girls going to school. Clearly they deserve to die for attempting to do such as outrageous thing. At ten years old they ought to know better.

I agree with the Taleban that there’s some killing needs doing. The difference is that I think it’s them what needs killing. They are a menace to the world.

Insanity in Islam

Christianity may have its share of crackpots, but if you are looking for the best value in insanity, pound for pound, you won’t find more than in Islam.

The British Government, in the name of the Queen, has made Salman Rushdie a knight of the realm. Now we could argue about whether his services to literature are really such that this is a deserving honour, but that would involve rational discussion and considered opinions, with diverse views on tastes for various genres of fiction. But how very un-Islamic of us to think this way in a post-Christian secular nation (albeit where Christianity is still the established religion).

Can you believe that the Government of this country considered honouring a Muslim citizen of this country without getting the approval of the religious courts and authorities of another country? How dare we.

You think I’m being silly and sarcastic. I wish I was. I wish I was talking nonsense. According to Pakistan’s religious affairs minister, the bestowing of the knighthood was so grave an offence that any Muslim anywhere in the world is be justified in taking violent action. He specified, “If David’s Daily Diversions › Edit — WordPresssomebody has to attack by strapping bombs to his body to protect the honour of the Prophet then it is justified.”

This wasn’t just an off-hand comment. It was made to the Pakistan National Assembly. Later he told a news agency that Pakistan should sever diplomatic ties with Britain if it did not rescind the knighthood. He actually said:”We demand an apology by the British government.” In case you aren’t clear on this, Rushdie is not, nor ever has been, a citizen of Pakistan.

This didn’t stop about 100 Muslim students in the city of Multan burning effigies of the Queen and Rushdie and shouting, “Kill him, kill him”. Burning effigies. Shouting for murder. Sane? Hmm . . .

And it isn’t a matter of one loose cannon in government. The Majlis-e-Shoora, the Pakistan Parliament, voted unanimously in favour of a resolution calling on Britain to withdraw the knighthood because it is an insult to “the sentiments of Muslims across the world” and has created religious hatred. I will agree that it has exposed religious hatred, but I really think that a problem for the haters and not the hated. I’m afraid that the idea that someone else is causing hatred and causing suicide bombing is patently nuts. In that the entire unanimous Pakistani Parliament is nuts, I’m afraid this is evidence that Islam has an awful lot of insanity on offer.

Islamic Obscentiy

If you have been wondering who is really running Pakistan, wonder no longer. A sharia court set up in a radical mosque in Islamabad has issued a fatwa against the Pakistani minster for tourism because she posed in an obscene manner for pictures that appeared in newspapers. I don’t normally post obscene pictures, so if you think you might be offended stop reading here. For the sake of my Muslim readers I’ve put these pictures below the fold.

Read more of this post

Scandal in Iran

The shame. The horror. The outrage.

The most outspoken advocate of Sharia has fallen from grace – not that Islam actually incorporates a doctrine of grace, but you know what I mean. President Ahmadinejad of Iran has been caught with a woman not his wife. On television.

The newspaper Hezbollah expressed outrage. “This type of indecency has grave consequences, like violating religious and sacred values.”  Surely a fatwa must be issued. Surely he must die the violent death of those who reject Islam.

Surely it won’t be long before the salacious footage is shown in the West, if it hasn’t already. This will bring further shame on Islam, Iran, Ahmadinejad.

Apparently the President and model for Shi’ites everywhere just couldn’t control his passions. The only mitigation I can think of is that it didn’t happen during Ramadan.

The object of his illicit affection is Najmeh Gholi Pour. She is a teacher. Okay, she was a teacher. I’m guessing she’s retired. She was Ahmadinejad’s primary school teacher. The elderly woman was attending a Teacher’s Day ceremony. When Ahmadinejad saw her, he was overcome with emotion and without thinking he enbraced her and kissed her hand.

This raises one important question. Why don’t we have Teacher’s Day in this country?

Child’s Play Taleban Style

They may not be in the news much these days, what with everything going on in Iraq, but the Taleban are still around.

When Ghulam Nabi was accused of spying for the United States and providing information that led to an effective air strike, is comes as no surprise that he was executed. His father claims he was a loyal member of the Taleban, and I’m sure that there wasn’t the same care and concern given to matters of evidence and other aspects of a fair trial, but nevermind.

As things Taleban go, this wasn’t particularly remarkable. What did turn heads, if you’ll forgive the pun, was that they used a 12-year-old boy to do the job. Either they are getting short of available personnel or they invoked the Qur’anic equivalent of the Biblical proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Who know, the boy might become a celebrity – something of a Taleban child star. Parts of a video of the beheading were broadcast on the Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV network.

Another Crazy Dictator

What is it about Central Asia that makes the dictators completely goofy? There was the late Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan who banned ballet, opera, beards, and video games. Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan transfers the country’s oil revenues into his own accounts. Islom Karimov of Uzbekistan boils people to death. Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan was the only one to fall victim to a revolution. He’s now a maths professor at Moscow State University.

That just leaves Emomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan. Last month he changed his surname of Rahmon to drop the Russian -ov bit at the end. He has banned Slavic names. He wants all Tajiks to read his six-volume biography.

Rohmon now wants the British Museum to return the Oxus treasure, 170 pieces of gold craftsmanship from the Achaemenid era. The only problem is that they never came from Tajikistan. They were bought in markets in what is now Pakistan and they are Persian in origin, thus being something British to which the Iranians might actually have a tenuous claim. Even then, you’d have to say that after well over a hundred years, it’s finders keepers. The purchases were perfectly legal at the time.

I don’t think Rahmon can expect much of a response from the British Museum. He’ll have to go do crazy somewhere else.

Business as Usual

You heard it here first. As predicted Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has been sworn in as President of Turkmenistan.

The shocker: he only got 89.2% of the vote. The other five candidates were told to lose. I hope no one raised his head too far above the parapet and disappears tomorrow, never to be heard from again.

In Turkmenistan, there’s no dawdling about when it comes to assuming the reins of power. Moments after he was declared the winner, Berdymukhamedov was inaugurated. And in that unique Turkmen way, this was followed by gifts of bread and a quiver of arrows. Then a white carpet was laid out beneath his feet. They have a flair for the ceremonial in Ashgabat.

As I mentioned before, the West isn’t bothered about the fixed election. Turkmenistan has lots of exportable natural resources, especially natural gas. Since most of it goes to Gazprom, the largest company in Russia in which the Russian government has the largest stake, the West is especially keen to cozy up to the Turkmen. The is especially true given Gazprom’s tendency to hold European client countries hostage to price increases.

The West isn’t going to let a little thing like democracy stand in the way.  With no history or heritage of democratic politics in Turkmenistan, it’s probably not a bad idea to let these things happen gradually.

They Call It Democracy

Here at David’s Daily Diversion, we want to be the first to make a call in the Turkmenistan presidential election. I know the official results will not be out until Wednesday, in fact the polls don’t even open for another 90 minutes, but DDD declares Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov (try to say that fast three times) the winner.

I know there are six candidates, but since the other five are hauled into the secret police headquarters each day and told what their daily schedules are and what they are allowed to say, and since the head of the independent central election commission has pledged to “do everything” to ensure Berdymukhamedov’s victory, I would say he’s a safe bet.

This may surprise you, but no one in the West is complaining about this being a rigged election. This is actually a step forward in terms of Turkmenistani democracy.

It is possible that the laws against opera and ballet may be lifted. They may add other books to school curricula other than the book written by the late president. Not all at once, of course. Berdymukhamedov has indicated that change will come slowly.

Death of a Strongman

It appears that amongst the blogs I read, I’m the first to mention the passing of Saparmurat Niyazov, president of President of Turkmenistan. Of course I may be the only one who cares about such things. Actually, given that I’m not even on the blog rolls of a number of the blogs I read, I may be the only one who cares about many of the things I write. But I digress…

Niyazov had to be one of the most ego-maniacal people to ever live. He was the only president in the brief history of Turkmenistan having been the communist leader of the Turkmen SSR since 1985. He called himself “Türkmenbaşy,” meaning “Leader of all (ethnic) Turkmens”. He ruled the country based upon his whims and personal preferences. He changed the months of the year and even basic vocabulary words to honour members of his family.

Most of the textbooks in schools are comprised of his speeches and other writings. The libraries that are still open primarily contain books he has written. He has closed most of the rural libraries in Turkmenistan because of his belief that ordinary Turkmen don’t read.

The presidential succession in Turkmenistan is in a bit of a muddle. According to Turkmen law, the president is succeeded by the head the People’s Assembly, but since this post was held by Mr Niyazov as well, it is vacant. Deputy Prime Minister Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has been named as acting president. It was originally announced that Ovezgeldy Atayev was to become the acting president, was he was not appointed “in view of the fact that the prosecutor-general had instituted criminal proceedings against him.”

Niyazov’s death leaves a huge power vacuum and the opportunity for previously severely repressed opposition groups to make some headway. I don’t know that you can call them “parties” because the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan (formerly known as the Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR) is the only recognised party and holds all of the seats in the legislature. Sadly, with no history of democracy in the area now comprising Turkmenistan, it is most likely that another strongman will emerge.

I don’t see any impetus whatsoever from the West to put pressure on the Turkmen move toward democracy. Niyazov never attacked a neighbouring country. Trading partners are getting what they need under the repressive system. As usual, the goal of countries like the US and UK to spread of democracy throughout the world is a very selective process.