Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Happy ashura, you maniacs

From Dave Nalle:

To Shiite Muslims, this is the holy week of Muharram, when they honor the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Mohammed in a battle fought at Karbala in the 7th century. The height of this festival is the day of Ashura, which was Thursday

You may wonder how one celebrates an important holiday like this. Do you have cake and ice cream? Do you exchange presents? Do you solemnly light a candle in memory of these brave soldiers of the faith? Do you go down to the mosque and say a prayer? Or do you, perhaps, parade through the streets beating yourself bloody with a flail made of steel chain, while intermittently whacking your young sons on the head with a sword until their faces run red with blood?

In a sane and civilized culture one of the other modes of celebration would prevail, but among Shia throughout the Muslim world, the bloody parade of penitential violence and ritualistic child abuse is preferred. The practice is particularly important in Iraq where huge parades took place in the major cities and the streets ran with blood. The largest celebrations were in Karbala where 2 million pilgrims crowded the streets.

Under Saddam Hussein the Ashura rituals were banned throughout Iraq, and Iran, effectively ruled by a Shiite theocracy, also bans the festival. In both cases Ashura was banned because of the religious violence and fanatic excesses associated with the holiday. However, under the new government in Iraq, Ashura was openly celebrated last year for the first time in decades and was celebrated again this year. Government troops turned out to protect the marchers, dressed all in black rather than in their official uniforms....

n the West we think we live in a rational world.... But reason and the more extreme forms of Islam have nothing at all in common. We think that we can negotiate anything, that everyone has a price or at least a sensible motivation for what they do. But the more we are exposed to the nature of Islam by direct contact and through worldwide media the more it becomes clear that our rational paradigms just do not apply.

You cannot negotiate with fanatics. You cannot use logic to understand the actions of madmen. You cannot reason with people who are inherently irrational. As a society a large portion of the Islamic world is dangerously, violently psychopathic, and as contact with them continues they will either contaminate the rest of the world or drag us all into bloody conflict. You don't reason with a rabid dog. You either shoot it or it bites you and you get rabies too.

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