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Traditional Islamic Values

An Iraqi immigrant, 48-year-old Faleh Almaleki,  has been arrested for punishing his daughter for becoming “too Westernized” according to this MSNBC article.

Okay, maybe “punishing” wasn’t the most accurate word for me to use. Here’s what the article says.

An Iraqi immigrant has been arrested in Georgia for allegedly running down his daughter because she was becoming “too Westernized,” police in a Phoenix suburb say.

“Running down?” Like… with a car? Yep.

The father was upset that his daughter had become too “Westernized” and he aimed his car at her Oct. 20 in a Peoria parking lot.

His twenty year old daughter, Noor Faleh Almaleki, is hospitalized in serious condition. Her father had reportedly threatened her because of her lifestyle, saying she was not living up to “traditional Islamic values.” Another woman, purportedly her roommate, suffered “non life-threatening injuries.”

I haven’t read the Qur’an yet, but I’m starting to wonder if “traditional Islamic values” include running down your daughter (and her roommate) in a automobile? This is barely a step away from “honor killing,” a horrid practice not uncommon in some Islamic societies and almost always perpetrated against women.

I don’t know what kind of punishment, if he’s convicted, would be appropriate for Mr. Almaleki. I suspect he feels that he was being true to Islamic teachings as he smashed his car into his increasingly “Westernized” daughter, and that alone should put him in the category of “dangerous psychopaths,” in my opinion, and he should be treated accordingly. Any parent, regardless of religious affiliation, should be considered despicable for brutally beating a child, regardless of the reason… including (perhaps especially?) in the name of their religious beliefs.

Religiously-inspired violence is particularly heinous because it has all the indications of pre-meditation. It’s not violence in a blind fit of rage, but violence that has been considered, calculated, and deemed righteous in the eyes of the perpetrator… because of his interpretation of his chosen religious dogma.

In Almaleki’s case, he seemed to have felt that his daughter’s acts were an insult to Allah or Muhammad (or whatever “traditional Islamic values” are) to such a degree that she should be intentionally struck by a speeding vehicle and hospitalized (or killed… don’t know what his intended conclusion was). If his parenting skills are based in “traditional Islamic values,” then I think we need far, far fewer of those kinds of values.

I’m guessing his daughter might feel the same way.

Religion as a Weapon

The Holy Qur'an There have been a rash of deaths recently in Pakistan due to accusations that the victims desecrated the Qur’an. You can read about some of them here and here.

The population in general, and Christians in particular, is dealing with cases of intimidation because of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. The laws, one of which carries the death penalty for "defiling the Koran and images of the Prophet Muhammad" are suspected of being used "to settle personal scores."

The second article (the BBC one) says that the blasphemy laws were introduced in the mid 1980’s and "hundreds of people have been lynched" because of them. Blasphemy laws are absurd to begin with (do you hear that, Ireland?) and in this case, seem to fuel the fire of religiously-inspired righteous indignation. They practically invite abuse.

The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says there is recurring evidence that people have sought to settle personal scores with victims by inflaming religious feelings.

From the first article:

Hundreds of armed supporters of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Islamic militant group, set alight dozens of Christian homes in Gojra town at the weekend after allegations that a copy of the Koran had been defiled.


Tension started mounting last week after Muslims accused three Christian youths of burning a copy of the Koran. They denied the allegations, but clerics called for their death. On Saturday hundreds of supporters of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Sunni sectarian group, poured into the town from surrounding districts.

A mere accusation of destroying a book, made without proof, was sufficient to rouse a mob of hundreds of Muslim people angry enough to burn down houses and fire their weapons indiscriminately. In another case, a woman was almost attacked because a shopkeeper accused her of throwing the Qur’an. In yet another, a factory owner and a co-worker were killed because he removed an old calendar from the wall that had verses from the Qur’an (though was accused of desecrating the Qur’an).

Whatever the motives behind these actions (in the case of the factory owner, it’s suspected it was spurred on by wage disputes), the fact remains that unsupported accusations of Qur’an desecration are all that’s needed to whip people into a blind rage of pious, violent, fury. Because someone possibly "disrespected" a book… a mere copy of a book… Muslim religious fundamentalists will kill… and feel vindicated. That’s horrific, repugnant, and morally reprehensible.

Christians vary in degree only. Witness the recent outrage over the destruction of bibles in Afghanistan by the United States military this past May. There was no rioting in the streets… no throwing of molotov cocktails… no firing of guns… no violence. But the religious indignation was there. The sense of pious outrage, the outcry of revulsion at the act, the self-righteous bible thumping, the gathering of like-minded protestors, the wailing about persecution… it was all there. It simply didn’t progress to the same level of violent action as the Muslim outrage did.

And that feature of religion, that ability to easily create a wild frenzy of devout, sanctimonious outrage, is one of its more dangerous aspects. It’s a feature that is easily abused, as shown by the recent activities in Muslim Pakistan. In the United States, it’s abused for political and monetary gain, among other things. It’s used by religious leaders all around the world… that exploitation of blind faith.

It’s the foundation of religion.