Tweet Mohammed- tweet for freedom   Leave a comment

Today is the third Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.  It might not surprise many to know I am supporting it.  Not because I want to upset any believers, that comes with the atheist label, but because it exposes the corruption that is fundamental Islam.

Clearly I am anti-faith and see religion at best as irrelevant and at worst as thoroughly malevolent.  Even where good is done by faith-led people it could always be done at least as well independent of religion.  At the other end of the scale you have some religious leaders whose principles are so far removed from social reality that extreme harm can only result.

There are of course some small totally irrational sects. You cannot call them cults as the only difference between a mainstream religion and a cult is the number of followers.  Then there are the large and powerful faiths that have to be condemned as inhuman despite their size. Sunni Islamic movement known as the Salafiyya that dominates Saudi Arabia is one such sect.

This branch of Islam is very conservative and, possibly due to the power of the Saudis, is growing strongly. Because of the uncompromising nature of its tenets it is also closely linked to terrorism and the jihad ofAl-Qaeda.  Osama bin Laden came out of this tradition although like most religious despots he was capable of reinventing the rules for his own purposes.

Aniconism was a tradition in Islam where the depiction of any living person or thing was prohibited.  Such a prohibition is very hard to maintain in the modern world.  The Taliban tried it with the destruction of even valuable historic representations such as the Buddhas of Bamiyan but in the electronic age it has to be impractical.

Modern interpretations of Islam concentrate on outlawing depictions of Allah and his prophets.  However this is not a universal prescription with some arms of that religions allowing respectful depictions of Mohammed and other religious figures.  Clearly this enlightened position has not reached Pakistan which, after previously banning Facebook because of the campaign has now cut off Twitter.  Quite hi-tech for a country that couldn’t find the head of Al-Qaeda living next door to its military academy!

However it is Saudi Arabia that we go back to for this year’s Draw Mohammed Day.  This time it is concentrated not on Facebook but Twitter.  It is the latter social network because that was the medium used by Saudi poet Hamza Kashgari. a poet and reporter who has been very supportive of the Arab Spring.  However it is a series of poetic tweets that have been his undoing.  In February he posted three tweets concerning a fictitious meeting with the Prophet Mohammed:

  • On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.

  • On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.

  • On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.

The tweets cause an outcry in the Arab world and with calls for his arrest Kashgari decided to leave Saudi and seek political asylum in New Zealand.  Unfortunately his flight there had a stop-over in Malaysia another Muslim country with close links to Saudi.  There he was detained and with no regard for due process put on a plane back to the country he had left.  He is now imprisoned in Saudi Arabia facing charges of apostasy.

There is every chance that the calls for his execution are politically motivated, because of Hamza Kashgari’s support for activists involved in the Arab Spring.  Certainly there can be little chance of a fair hearing in the Saudi monocratic theocracy.

No religion can tell me what I can and cannot draw.  The superstitious nonsense behind any religion has no place in a modern world.  Even if we tolerate those that seek solace in myths they cannot dictate to rational thinking people.

I don’t know whether Kashgari believes in the God of his culture but to admit doubts, particularly in a creative way cannot be condemned.  I can respect the religious but I cannot respect religions.  Three times 140 characters questioning your personal deity is a healthy thing not a capital crime.


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