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Arson For Islam
Let's say you're a Christian or Jewish man living in...oh, let's say...Ohio.

What would you do if your eldest daughter told you she wanted to become a fashion designer, and didn't quite cotton to the guy you want her to marry?

Would you:

1. Tell her fashion is a precarious profession and she should take up something more solid, like accounting?
2. Lecture her on the kind of man you think would make a good husband?
3. Spray gasoline throughout your home and light it on fire, killing her, your wife, and her three sisters, 13, 10, and 3?

A Muslim man in England chose #3. by Nigel Bunyan writes in the Telegraph/UK:

A father killed his wife and four daughters in their sleep because he could not bear them adopting a more westernised lifestyle, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mohammed Riaz, 49, found it abhorrent that his eldest daughter wanted to be a fashion designer, and that she and her sisters were likely to reject the Muslim tradition of arranged marriages.

On Hallowe'en last year he sprayed petrol throughout their terraced home in Accrington, Lancs, and set it alight.

Caneze Riaz, 39, woke and tried to protect her three-year-old child, Hannah, who was sleeping with her, but was overcome by fumes. Her other daughters, Sayrah, 16, Sophia, 13, and Alisha, 10, died elsewhere in the house.

Riaz, who had spent the evening drinking, set himself on fire and died two days later.

A pity he couldn't have offed himself first.

Somebody please tell me why, in light of not only the killings of non-Muslims, but murders of so many Muslim women, people keep calling Islam "The Religion of Peace."

Posted by aalkon at February 22, 2007 10:22 AM


Surprisingly many men, not just Muslims, kill their children when things are unbearable. I guess the Muslim angle just changes what is unbearable. I find the killing unbearable.

Posted by: Norman at February 22, 2007 3:20 AM

Somebody please tell me why, in light of not only the killings of non-Muslims, but murders of so many Muslim women, people keep calling Islam "The Religion of Peace."

Apparently because it is not Christianity. No, I don't understand that either, but it is the only thing I have been able to figure out from the statements of the folks who ignore reality.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 22, 2007 5:31 AM

In the case of ALL religions, up can be down, black can be white, and horse shit can be made to smell great! When you dangle the carrot of eternal life verses the threat of eternal pain in hell, it's no wonder that the sheep will do anything to attain the former. Logic, reason and common sense go out the window in favor of faith, fable, and falsehoods.

Posted by: Bill Henry at February 22, 2007 5:39 AM

The problem is the lethal combination of a very violent based faith, add the traditional/tribal/extended family frame work and the western based multi-cultural politically correct policies.

The one daughter would have corrupted the whole family. Even the extended family in the UK and the home country. So the father had to save the family's honor. I'm sure some 'mainstream' clerics would agree this was extreme. Their belief would be the daughter was the only one who deserved death. (This is not an excuse, but the explanation)

How to combat this? End these inane policies where you cannot scrutinize certain out dated and very irrelevant faiths and cultures. Not all faiths, cultures, ideas, opinions are equally valid to others. Shocking! These barbaric practices need to be criticized, made public, mocked and given lengthy prison sentences.

Posted by: Joe at February 22, 2007 6:31 AM

Once upon a time, college students studied Western Civilization, which was previously known as Christendom. Then the intellectualoids introduced relativism to the culture, and all that was base in humanity was elevated. Now we try to pretend that the savage and heathen are just the same as you and me, and they are, except that they're still savage. This is what happens when The fool's finger wobbles back to the fire>/i>.

Posted by: Casca at February 22, 2007 7:06 AM

You can't call Mohammed Riaz a hypocrite, at least. He must have realized that, because he committed the sin of drinking alcohol, he too deserved to die.

Posted by: beansworth at February 22, 2007 7:10 AM


I agree up to a certain point. It's a little more than just relativism. Most of the weird beliefs that have infected modern academia have their roots in the negative aspects of the Enlightenment. Rousseau, Hegel and Marx laid are the three main culprits.

Posted by: Joe at February 22, 2007 7:22 AM

"Why...people keep calling Islam "The Religion of Peace."

Easy, because they're afraid of them.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at February 22, 2007 7:38 AM

... why...people keep calling Islam "The Religion of Peace."

Google's top ten hits for this phrase has 8 uses which are essentially sarcastic, 1 from wikipedia which is explanatory, and 1 from an Islamic web site which is literal. The answer to the question is sarcasm, not fear.

Posted by: Norman at February 22, 2007 8:23 AM

Amy, can you give us links showing people who are actually solving this issue? Some scientist somewhere must know how to rescue large numbers of people from bad thinking, or at least how to implement large-scale paradigm shifts.

Could these "people" be taught to direct their anger at effigies or channel it positively?

How about some out-of-the-box thinking by the West? We are trying to use blind, stupid, ineffective force to get Iraqis to stop using blind, stupid, ineffective force. Dee dee dee! We should mount an aggressive campaign of scorched-earth niceness until they are so sick of being surrounded by positive energy that they spontaneously rapture en masse. They can bring their own virgins.

Or we get serious and quarantine them like the virus they are, permit no expatriation by any muslim anywhere at any time, ever, and non-violently paralyze them back into the stone age so that they are no threat whatsoever, or at least make it clear to them that there is only room at the table for adults, and they can leave the sandbox after they grow up.

In "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke the Aliens took over the world and began to solve all humanity's ills. They decreed that humans would no longer kill animals for sport, only for food. During the next show at the Plaza del Toros, every person in the stadium was made to feel, without actual harm, what the bull felt when he was pierced by the first spear. Game Over.

If these ideas work, we should apply them to intelligent designers and pro-lifers.

Posted by: Dave at February 22, 2007 9:51 AM

That's a very good question, Dave. All we have, at the moment, are courageous people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan speaking out.

How do you modernize primitive thinkers? Anybody have any ideas?

Spreading globalization is the best I can come up with.

And if women can't even drive and are sort of 1/3 of a person in these cultures, it seems a rather ineffective suggestion.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 10:38 AM

Posted by: eric at February 22, 2007 10:45 AM

Set up a comms satellite and flood them with wap-enabled mobile phones. Cost: negligible. Benefit: ?

Posted by: Norman at February 22, 2007 10:45 AM

> and flood them with wap-enabled
> mobile phones. Cost: negligible.

Dude, what is it with you and "free" dry goods?

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 11:03 AM

Right now we're giving them "free" bullets and bombs. Phones are darned sight cheaper to produce and deliver, and they don't have all the euphemistic costs.

Posted by: Norman at February 22, 2007 11:15 AM

(Euphemistic costs are the ones that politicians have to find euphemisms for, like "collateral damage.")

Posted by: Norman at February 22, 2007 11:17 AM

You think "we're giving them bullets and bombs"? You think you can stop terrorists and bombers with cell phones?


Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 12:00 PM

In my travels, the nations were I saw hope in the Middle East were ones that were implementing reforms for women. Access to education. The right to vote and the right to having an occupation outside wife and mother. These nations are not democracies, but enlightened despots. Most of them have Kings and Emirs, such as Qatar.

Qatar is interesting, because it is both uses Wahabi law and liberal secular policies towards women. A complete opposite of their neighbor Saudi Arabia. It was the first Persian Gulf nation to allow women the right to vote in 1997.

I agree with Amy on globalization. There is a strong undercurrent of in born nativist world views because of the lack of secular education and isolation. This is where the Islamists come in and provide services where the corrupt governments will not provide for their citizens.

One of the reasons Libya has renounced terrorism and isolation were 2 cultural factors. Women were becoming more educated under al-Gadaffi's reforms and the presence of home satellite dishes.

Also, the Colonel fears a rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Libya when he passes away and his inexperienced son takes over. In October 1993, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Gaddafi by elements of the Libyan army. In July 1996, bloody riots followed a football match as a protest against Gaddafi. He needs the West more than ever.

Globalization and internal reforms will be the forces that will break down these barriers. It will be a slow process.

Posted by: Joe at February 22, 2007 12:10 PM

Thanks, Joe...very informative.

And the "slow process" thing is the problem. Is there a way to speed this up? Drop satellite dishes instead of cell phones, perhaps? (I'm kidding. Sort of.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 12:33 PM

Yes, Crid, I do. We push against these guys, they push back. They thrive on being pushed. If we pull them instead, we'll get some movement.

Posted by: Norman at February 22, 2007 2:33 PM

It will be tricky, Amy. The reformers have to act like schizophrenics when implementing the changes. "Yes, women will have the right to vote, but it will not be like the USA." or "Yes, women can have careers, but hey must wear veils to work." The need for change, but maintain religious purity is essential. The Qatar reforms are actually quite funny. They were implemented by the kingdom’s Prime Minister (his older brother is the Emir) at the behest of his western educated wife. Interesting pillow talk.

If the changes are drastic and sudden it will fuel the fundamentalists, because they are waiting on the sidelines hoping for failure. Or causing trouble with violence. Any sign of reform is a sign of the secular government's weakness in their eyes.

The corrupt governments need to have a more proactive approach towards their citizens. I will use Egypt as an example, because I lived there for 2 years. Also, it is a 'paid' ally of the USA. Those payments maintain the peace between Egypt and Israel, not some noble higher calling. 75 to 80% of the aid from the USA to Egypt is spread among Mubarak and his Ba'th cronies. The country is short changed because they hardly see any money from the aid, tourism and the Suez Canal revenues. There is a very small well educated middle class in Egypt and they are also connected with Mubarak and the Ba'thists. Most of the poor making it through the mentor/protégé/political/extended family arrangements.

For the majority of the poor it is dog eat dog existence, literally. I've seen it myself when I stayed in a village in southern Egypt for various months. No electricity. No sewage. No water system at all except the nearby Nile River. When it doesn't flood. Mud hut homes and dirt floors. But the honor and reverence shown to me while I was there was very touching. Also, I had 3 marriage proposals. Some were shocked when they saw my skin change color (blushing) from embarrassment. Some thought it was magic in a joking fashion. These are just some small examples of their isolation . I could spend days writing posts on the various blood feuds that I witnessed over the years. My friends are shocked and sometimes laugh when I tell them the sources of the slights of honor.

Basic necessities have to be met that will not immediately cause problems with the tribal customs and traditions. Those will come later when the kids and grand kids are more exposed with other ideas from the West, major Egyptian cities and unfortunately the message from the fundamentalists.

What was Hammas in the P.A. and Hizbollah in Southern Lebanon famous for? Providing free health services, free medical care, a grass roots neighborhood based welfare programs and an extreme religious based schooling. All free.

When Arafat passed away... what was happening? The widow Arafat wanted her fair share of the money from all those loans from the USA ($175 million yearly) the E.U (100 million Euros yearly) and so on. The various villas, estates and mansions all over Europe. Why did Abbas pay her off? She threatened to reveal to the world the corruption of the PNA. Then the West is shocked when Hammas wins a vast majority during the recent P.A. elections.

Whenever there is a major involvement by the USA or any Western power there will be a spike in Islamic Fundamentalism. Mubarak deals with the rise of fundamentalism in Egypt every 10 to 20 years. The death of Sadat, because of the Camp David Accords. Then he purges the Islamic Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad during the early 1980s. Post Gulf War I and you see the rise of fundamentalism again in Egypt and terrorists targeting tourists at Giza and attempted assassinations on Mubarak during the mid 1990s to 2002. More repression. Gulf War II and so on.

What these nations need to do is after Gulf II, start implementing more infrastructure reforms. Provide a secular education system (improvements). Provide medical care, welfare reform and other simple changes we take for granted. Combat the corruption. Make a few show trials. If they don't someone else will fill the vacuum. It is slowly happening in secular Turkey. The various conservative-Islamic parties still lose in elections, but they are the ones organizing the mass demonstrations against secularism, USA actions, Israel actions and starting to provide free services the government doesn't provide to the poor.

The infrastructure problems in the oil rich nations are slightly different based on environment, cultural differences and the various strains of Islamic teachings. Similar to my past Imshallah postings.

Posted by: Joe at February 22, 2007 2:41 PM

Wow. Are there people with the level of knowledge you have working on this (in government)? This is going to take major finessing -- a much more difficult thing than just going in and bombing the crap out of people (which I'm not against, although I prefer we try to precisely target terrorists rather than just carpet bombing anybody and everybody).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 3:38 PM

> we'll get some movement.

Dude, we love you, but you are a walking, breathing Joan Baez lyric. You're unable to conform all those silly guitar chords and obvious melodic expressions for something that better reflects what's in people's hearts.

Not just Jamaica... Fucking KINGSTON.

> rather than just carpet bombing
> anybody and everybody)

Now Amy, has that really been a problem?

(Don't interrupt, Brian)

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 5:02 PM

Iraq ring a bell? We weren't carpet-bombing -- but we might as well have been for the mess the country is in now...and seems unlikely to emerge from without substantial influx of soldiers and dollars. American taxpayer dollars. We broke it, we pay for it!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 5:46 PM

> We weren't carpet-bombing


> but we might as well have been
> for the mess the country is
> in now

So mass murder on a scale unimagined in human history equals a typical religious civil war for which we bear little direct responsibility?

Look, WE'RE NOT KILLING ALL THOSE PEOPLE. We're not setting bombs off in marketplaces and police recruiting stations. We're just not, and it's silly, I mean just dumb, to pretend this represents some characteristic fault in the American heart. Puh-leeze.

We broke it, but we did so years before you were born, and certainly before you were old enough to vote

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 6:02 PM

I have never yet seen a question of changing the way people look at the world effected by killing some. All that happens is you engender fear and hate.
America is supposedly this great nation of "free enterprise". Why are proven sales techniques based on the experience of marketing companies not mined for their appeal ? I'll guarantee you will get better results by emulating Watkins than your local gun merchant : if your project is peace.
Oh. Right. I forgot. American xenophobia.

Posted by: opit at February 22, 2007 8:40 PM

I lived in DC for 7 years. Unfortunately, I danced the 'Potomac Two Step' far too many times and had my toes stepped on to the point of bleeding. I'm officially out of the loop. Left DC in 2005 and my last active trip to the M.E. was in 2003.

Presently, I do some minor consulting (pro bono) work for intelligence advisors/counsels (my remaining DC friends/mentors) for the House of Reps. Mainly translating and proof reading congressional testimony and documents. Making sure they have the correct spelling of Arabic names. Double checking their translators accuracies. A lot of key intelligence failures were caused by simple misspellings and bad translations.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still an optimist. One my favorite Robert Heinlein quotes:

"I believe that almost all politicians are honest ... there are hundreds of politicians, low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true we would never have gotten past the 13 colonies."

Posted by: Joe at February 22, 2007 9:34 PM

What's the Jamaica, Kingston, reference?

Crid's point that it's not us who's doing all the killing in Iraq is correct. We enabled this killing. But even so, I don't think we have to stay to pay for that mistake. The reason we have to stay is we are riding a tiger. It's more dangerous to get off than stay on.

Posted by: Norman at February 22, 2007 11:32 PM

Oldjoke, Jamaica me crazy.

> We enabled this killing

Joanie likes to sing that over a diminished
D chord. Setting people free is a messy business. As noted here earlier, populations recently freed from generations of torturous oppression do not spring into Boise-like communities of auto dealerships and school boards. See also, South Central LA.

It's still good to end the oppression, though: Doing so was not a "mistake". Or are you saying you wanted it to go on?

> It's more dangerous to get
> off than stay on.

Right. It always was. We need that oil to flow, or at least to not fund theocratic/fascist states, even if most of the oil isn't coming here... And most of it's not. We have long term interests in the Middle East.

Posted by: Crid at February 23, 2007 5:53 AM

It's still good to end the oppression, though: Doing so was not a "mistake". Or are you saying you wanted it to go on?

No, I'm still of the opinion that it was right to intervene. I just think it was badly done.

I think a lot more intervention would be justified, but we don't know, politically speaking, how to do it. I hate to bring up Hitler, but if he had been taken out in, say, 1935, and WWII had never happened, then it would be hard - by definition - to justify having taken him out. Something like Minority Report. Still, we lock up tigers even though they haven't killed anyone. You have to draw a line somewhere between tigers and Mahatma Ghandi.

Posted by: Norman at February 23, 2007 6:27 AM

The software's swallowing comments again. I said something nice to Norman, but he'll just have to trust me... Can't prove a thing.

Seriously, you're absolutely correct. We all agree that it would be great if these were more modern, sophisticated societies. No one has a clue how to make this happen. I'm confident free cell phones aren't the answer: Consumer goods only improve things when they're correctly priced, so that people strive in appropriate ways to acquire them. It's not just about having stuff you want, you gotta go get it. Otherwise Amy'd be in Montmartre 51 and half weeks a year. And I'd... Well, I'd still be here in Mother's basement, building model airplanes.

Posted by: Crid at February 23, 2007 9:36 PM

I'm the last person to defend Islam but I'm thinking that linking these murders to Islam is misguided. Muslims aren't the only people who advocate (sometimes violently) for arranged marriages. It's more likely that he killed his family because he felt like a small, powerless asshole and setting his womenfolk on fire made him feel as if he still had some sort of control over his more successful wife and the daughters who showed him such disrespect by not kowtowing to his every whim. He apparently wasn't a particularly good muslim-drank himself stupid before lighting himself up, coward.

Posted by: Jule at March 2, 2007 7:24 PM

Julie, go read, and you'll see plenty of examples.

Please, all together now, let's stop wearing our asses as hats.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 3, 2007 1:06 AM

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