A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live.
(Source: , via explore-blog)
A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live.
(Source: , via explore-blog)
Exactly! And there are a LOT of these people. Everyday I stop a different person and tell them that they are doing the same thing they claim others do to them!
Its a disease and it hasn’t left Muslims untouched.
Less than 400 miles from Alexandria (Egypt) stands one of the most enduring testaments to Muslim-Christian harmony on earth: St. Catherine’s Monastery. Nestled at the foot of Mt. Sinai, St. Catherine’s holds an unparalleled collection of early Christian art and a treasure trove of ancient manuscripts. Its relics have survived unmolested for centuries, a unique distinction among Christian monuments. The monastery is known around the world for its rare assortment of Christian icons, but perhaps its most interesting artifact is a copy of a charter, written in Arabic and dating from the 7th century CE. This charter, now displayed behind glass for all visitors to see, was dictated by the Prophet Muhammad after he was visited in 628 by a delegation from St. Catherine’s seeking protection.
In no uncertain terms, the Prophet vowed that Muslims would protect not only the Christians of Sinai, but all followers of Christ both “near and far” – and their places of worship – until the end of time. Any Muslim who failed to uphold this agreement, according to Muhammad, would “spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet.”
It is an architectural absurdity. Just south of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Muslim world’s holiest site, a kitsch rendition of London’s Big Ben is nearing completion. Called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the centerpiece of a complex that is housing a gargantuan shopping mall, an 800-room hotel and a prayer hall for several thousand people. Its muscular form, an unabashed knockoff of the original, blown up to a grotesque scale, will be decorated with Arabic inscriptions and topped by a crescent-shape spire in what feels like a cynical nod to Islam’s architectural past. To make room for it, the Saudi government bulldozed an 18th-century Ottoman fortress and the hill it stood on.
The tower is just one of many construction projects in the very center of Mecca, from train lines to numerous luxury high-rises and hotels and a huge expansion of the Grand Mosque. The historic core of Mecca is being reshaped in ways that many here find appalling, sparking unusually heated criticism of the authoritarian Saudi government.
This is rather… disheartening to say the least.
Wow. This is just terrible.
Contradictions in the Bible, commissioned by Sam Harris for his nonprofit foundation Project Reason, with graphic design by Andy Marlow. The bars that run along the bottom of the visualization represent the 1189 chapters in the Bible, with the length of each bar corresponding to the number of verses in each chapter. White bars represent the Old Testament and grey bars represent the New Testament. Each red arc indicates a contradiction.
I cannot say that I have read the complete collection of these writings, but judging from some of the prominent scholars involved, this new initiative by the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) is definitely worth a serious look. It seems quite interesting.
Looking to combat widespread ignorance about Iran and US policy towards to Iran, USIP asked both Iranian and Western experts, almost 50 in all, to compile brief yet comprehensive overviews on 62 subjects ranging from Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program.
This is an excellent read. I imagine that if a Zionist was to come across this article, they would immediately fall back on the tried and tested defense that such words are anti-semitic. They are not of course; what they are is fact-based, and the sooner Israel comes to acknowledge their true significance, the faster we can get on with the peace-making.
Several years ago, I suggested in my students’ union newspaper that Israel shouldn’t exist. I also said the sympathy evoked by the Holocaust was a very handy cover for Israeli atrocities. Overnight I became public enemy number one. I was a Muslim fundamentalist, a Jew-hater, somebody who trivialised the memory of the most abominable act in history. My denouncers followed me, photographed me, and even put telephone calls through to my family telling them to expect a call from the grim reaper.
Thankfully, my notoriety in Jewish circles has since waned to the extent that recently I gave an inter-faith lecture sponsored by the Leo Baeck College, even though my views have remained the same. Israel has no right to exist. I know it’s a hugely unfashionable thing to say and one which, given the current parlous state of the peace process, some will also find irresponsible. But it’s a fact that I have always considered central to any genuine peace formula.
Certainly there is no moral case for the existence of Israel. Israel stands as the realisation of a biblical statement. Its raison d’être was famously delineated by former prime minister Golda Meir. “This country exists as the accomplishment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be absurd to call its legitimacy into account.”
That biblical promise is Israel’s only claim to legitimacy. But whatever God meant when he promised Abraham that “unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the Euphrates,” it is doubtful that he intended it to be used as an excuse to take by force and chicanery a land lawfully inhabited and owned by others.
It does no good to anyone to brush this fact, uncomfortable as it might be, under the table. But that has been the failing with Oslo. When it signed the agreement, the PLO made the cardinal error of assuming that you could bury the hatchet by rewriting history. It accepted as a starting point that Israel had a right to exist. The trouble with this was that it also meant, by extension, an acceptance that the way Israel came into being was legitimate. As the latest troubles have shown, ordinary Palestinians are not prepared to follow their leaders in this feat of intellectual amnesia.
Israel’s other potential claim to legitimacy, international recognition, is just as dubious. The two pacts which sealed Palestine’s future were both concluded by Britain. First we signed the Sykes-Picot agreement with France, pledging to divvy up Ottoman spoils in the Levant. A year later, in 1917, the Balfour Declaration promised a national home for the Jewish people. Under international law the declaration was null and void since Palestine did not belong to Britain - under the pact of the League of Nations it belonged to Turkey.
By the time the UN accepted a resolution on the partition of Palestine in 1947, Jews constituted 32% of the population and owned 5.6% of the land. By 1949, largely as a result of paramilitary organisations such as the Haganah, Irgun and Stern gang, Israel controlled 80% of Palestine and 770,000 non-Jews had been expelled from their country.
This then is the potted history of the iniquities surrounding its own birth that Israel must acknowledge in order for peace to have a chance. After years of war, peace comes from forgiving, not forgetting; people never forget but they have an extraordinary capacity to forgive. Just look at South Africa, which showed the world that a cathartic truth must precede reconciliation.
Far from being a force for liberation and safety after decades of suffering, the idea that Israel is some kind of religious birthright has only imprisoned Jews in a never-ending cycle of conflict. The “promise” breeds an arrogance which institutionalises the inferiority of other peoples and generates atrocities against them with alarming regularity. It allows soldiers to defy their consciences and blast unarmed schoolchildren. It gives rise to legislation seeking to prevent the acquisition of territory by non-Jews.
More crucially, the promise limits Israel’s capacity to seek models of coexistence based on equality and the respect of human rights. A state based on so exclusivist a claim to legitimacy cannot but conceive of separation as a solution. But separation is not the same as lasting peace; it only pulls apart warring parties. It does not heal old wounds, let alone redress historical wrongs.
However, take away the biblical right and suddenly mutual coexistence, even a one-state solution, doesn’t seem that far-fetched. What name that coexistence will take is less important than the fact that peoples have forgiven and that some measure of justice has been restored. Jews will continue to live in the Holy Land - as per the promise - as equals alongside its other rightful inhabitants.
If that kind of self-reproach is forthcoming, Israel can expect the Palestinians to be forgiving and magnanimous in return. The alternative is perpetual war.
The author, Faisal Bodi, is a Muslim journalist.