Mob kills man for buring Qur’an

December 22, 2012 • 8:08 am

One of Steven Weinberg’s most famous quotes is this:

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

Many people have deemed that statement a gross exaggeration, but I don’t think it’s far off the mark.  I’d define a “good person” as someone of good character, whose life is generally characterized by empathic acts.  Save fulminating mental illness or religion, I can’t think of much that would make such a person do something dastardly.   Religion, of course, is a powerful force—a meme, if you will—for evil, for it convinces you that God has ordered you to do good things which, in reality, are evil.  It’s no coincidence that Dawkins calls it a “delusion.” Other things, like political ideologies, can also make good people do evil things, but religion is the most pervasive.

Now someone is going to chime in saying that someone who does something evil in the name of religion is not bu definition a good person, but then the whole thing becomes tautological, and misses Weinberg’s point.

Regardless, we have another example of Mulsims murdering someone in the name of faith: the New York Times reports today that an angry Pakistani mob killed someone for burning the Qur’an:

Police officials said on Saturday that a mob had tortured and killed a man accused of burning the Koran, the latest in a series of violent episodes in Pakistan stemming from allegations of blasphemy.

The killing occurred on Friday in Seeta, a remote village in Dadu district in southern Sindh Province. The village’s head cleric, Usman Memon, said charred remnants of the Koran had been found in the mosque that morning, and that the victim had been staying at the mosque alone. It is common for impoverished travelers and religious proselytizers to stay at mosques while traveling.

The man, whose name was not known, was handed over to the police and accused of violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, Mr. Memon said. But as news of the episode spread later Friday, an angry crowd gathered outside the police station and eventually forced its way in. The man was dragged out, tortured and killed, and his body was set on fire, according to the police.

. . . Cases of violence arising from blasphemy accusations appear to be on the rise in Pakistan. Human rights groups have said that most of those victimized are members of religious minorities, particularly Christians, but Muslims are sometimes accused. In a case similar to Friday’s, a mentally disabled man was beaten and burned to death in Punjab Province in July, also after an angry crowd broke into a police station.

It’s only one murder, of course, but a human being was snuffed out because he supposedly (there’s no proof here) torched a book of myths. That’s sick.

66 thoughts on “Mob kills man for buring Qur’an

  1. Like the recent case of the young Christian girl in Pakistan, Rimsha Masih I suspect another case of the burning-the-Qur’an meme being used to settle a personal grudge. Who would dare in that society to question the word of a cleric on religious matters?

    1. because he supposedly (there’s no proof here) torched a book of myths.

      It might well have never happened.

      Humans are prone to acts of mob violence over imaginary events.

      1. Maybe 100,000 people were burned at the stake for being witches in the middle ages by the RCC. None were real witches with powers and most likely the vast majority of the accused weren’t even pretend witches.

      One of the common targets was older widowed women with money. Because the witch burners seized all the possessions of the witch.

      2. In the USA during the 1990’s there were frequent accusations of satanism in child care centers and elsewhere. People were convicted for them. Further investigation has indicated that they never happened.

      3. A staple of fundie death cult xians is that missing children are abducted by satanists for use in their grisly rituals. You’ve all seen them on milk cartons.

      They even got the FBI to investigate this once. The FBI never found a single case. The fundies never stopped their babbling.

      Hagee claims 1 million children a year are sacrificed on Halloween by satanists. He is off by 1 million but the fundies never notice.

      4. During the middle ages, for a while the xians killed black cats as minions of the devil. There was no evidence for this but if you are a religious kook, you don’t need evidence.

      5. In Africa mostly, around 1000 children a year are killed as child witches. They pick on children for one simple reason. Africa is saturated with guns and accusing an adult with a gun is risky. Children don’t have the firepower to reply effectively.

  2. Other things, like political ideologies, can also make good people do evil things, but religion is the most pervasive.

    There is a good reason we have the term political religion. Political religion is a term that covers political ideologies that act in many respects like religion. Nazism, Stalinism and Maoaism are example of political ideologies that took on, sometimes purposefully and sometimes not, trappings of religion.

        1. Reminds me of a good one from the British series Father Ted:

          “I’m not a fascist, I’m a priest. Fascists dress in black and go around telling people what to do, whereas priests…er…”

  3. There is no temptation like burning the nearest holy book. When staying in the Ramada Inn, I know a lot of guys watch (10 minutes) of porn on cable, but for me there is nothing quite like torching the Gideon’s.

    1. There is a good reason that they use thin, sharp-creasing, unabsorbent paper for printing that shit on.
      Does it set off the smoke detector?

      1. I thought the idea was that shit didn’t adhere to the paper thus rendering it useless as emergency toilet paper.

  4. Just as a question of (mild) interest, does the Koran (or the “life and times of Mohammed’s Body-Double” book – the Hadith?) prescribe what to do with a Koran which has physically deteriorated to the point that it falls apart, both the pages and the binding? ISTR that one of the many and varied religions has rules for dealing with one of it’s holy books, specifying “respectful incineration”. Though I forget which religion.
    Otherwise … it’s the religious out-doing their brethren in displays of holy priapism, and ending up doing something evil in consequence. “Film, ” as the saying goes, “at eleven.”

      1. I think that if I were to find myself in that sticky situation in a country where Islam is a common mass delusion, I’d confess my ignorance and pass the hot potato over to a convenient imam, mufti, mullah or just take it to a mosque and give it to someone going in. Let them have the problem ; I don’t need to wear a kerosene necklace or dance an air fandango.

          1. I get paid to go there.
            I had a friend at Uni who, some years later, agreed to go with her fella to live in Saudi when he got a job out there. She lasted about 3 months. And yes, she was warned beforehand, but she didn’t believe us that we were serious. Which explains why she got married and followed her bread-winner around, instead of earning a living with her brain. Nice girl ; thick as shit.

  5. What ever happened to that imam who planted the ripped Koran pages in Rimsha Masih’s bag? He was arrested, but did any mobs show up to tear him from limb to limb?

  6. Seems to be a lot of otherwise good people in the US willing to condone and/or perform torture and acts of unprovoked warfare in the name of nationalism.

  7. And then they set him on fire, as if to drive home the point that humans are of less value than the printed word of their prophet.

  8. I’m not sure how useful the meme idea is, as you one might think the copying fidelity of religious ideas would not be high enough.

    Maybe religion evolved as a tribal bonding mechanism and as a curb on reciprocal altruism. After all bonding within a tribe would be an advantage for social animals, but it would be a waste of resources to extend one’s empathy outside one’s own tribe, particularly since one would lose the benefits of plundering and other dastardly behaviour.

    1. Regardless of how useful memetics is, religion is not a meme as defined by memeticists. Religion is a conglomerate of ideas. I think a meme is like a particular pattern of firing neurons. Carry on…..

      1. Think viral/meme theories of religion are partly designed to piss theists off :). There is, though, something very odd about people’s propensity to defend beliefs that are clearly irrational and even to lie and make up data. That also happens with AGW denial and other conspiracy theories.

    2. The copying fidelity is extremely poor. Why do you think there is and has been so much religiously motivated violence in the world? The different religions, heck, different denominations of the same nominal religion, are all playing a deadly version of king-of-the-hill.

  9. How about corporations getting good people to do bad things? Climate change isn’t caused by too much prayer-related hot air.

    1. Climate change denial is in part caused by religiously-motivated belief that “god will provide for us”. The correlation of denialism and religion is significant.

      But, yes, religion is not the only source for evil acts. If that is your point. Still, to get good people to deny global warming, add a nice big scoop of faith. Works every time.

      1. I think greed trumps faith as far as climate denial is concerned. And let’s not forget patriotism as a force for evil. That’s in class by itself.

          1. A patriotic (in Voltaire’s sense of “scoundrel in retreat”), theistic, greedy, climate change denier … why does that sound familiar?
            I almost wish I knew enough about American politics to know which party is the elephant one and which the ass one. But I’m not sure that it really matters. The lunatic fringe of right wingers (by European standards).

        1. I think you’re right in this instance, but of course there are a lot of greed-driven climate-denial propagandists who find the fabrication of religious rationalizations for their greed to be quite convenient.

          1. True. And that’s my point. It doesn’t take religion to get good people to do evil things. All it takes is a monetary system and an organizational chart.

            1. I don’t think you have demonstrated that at all. Your logic works only if religious-mindedness and corporate leadership are mutually exclusive. They aren’t. You need to demonstrate the absence of religious motivation in climate denials in some significant way to prove your point. All you have done is pointed at another context in which religious-mindedness can play out.

      2. So if we just all admit that climate change is real, it will go away? What is causing climate change is not religion, or politics, it’s your car, air conditioner, electricity, house (construction and materials) cell phone, computer, and all your other technology and modern convienences that create massive pollution when they are produced, so why are you trying to blame it on some other group when we are all to blame unless we give up any of this stuff that science was kind enough to provide for us.

        1. And what is preventing us from confronting this problem is the failure of a great many people to think clearly. It is very hard to come up with solutions when so may people have been trained from childhood to favor wishful thinking over evidence.

          The strongest opposition to programs to address global warming comes from (surprise!) the religious right.

  10. The problem with Islam are it’s adherents are much more literalist and literalist to a book that is not as compatible with Western Ideals and…
    Whose enemies, Christians and Jews, are still extant. (unlike the OT)

    A Christian fundamentalist is a missionary, A Muslim fundamentalist kills him.

    1. I remain doubtful that the problem lies in contents of the Koran. After all, not even ultra-Orthodox Jews advocate stoning to death disobedient children, Sabbath breakers, apostates, adulterers and homosexuals despite quite clear proscriptions to do so in the Torah.

      More productive, I think, is to start from the observation that the failure of any Muslim majority country to construct a modern democratic State has allowed Sharia to fill the vacuum, greatly assisted by the propaganda efforts of the demented theocracy in Saudi Arabia (protected by its alliance with the US).

      Most Muslims living in Western democracies are not Koranic literalists or supporters of Sharia.

      1. After all, not even ultra-Orthodox Jews advocate stoning to death disobedient children, Sabbath breakers, apostates, adulterers and homosexuals despite quite clear proscriptions to do so in the Torah.

        I wouldn’t be so confident of that. Already there are septs of ultra-conservative Jews active in Israel who require sexual segregation in playgrounds to prevent “contamination” of their little boys by little girls. I’m sure the stones are being piled up, quietly.

      2. That’s what I SAID.
        Muslims are more literal.

        You just bafflingly reiterated my point while thinking you took issue with it.
        That point being, That even Orthodox Jews aren’t Literal to the violent passages of the OT.

        Everyone wants an Islamic Reformation as Christianity had 500 years ago.
        Alas, the closest thing to it, Wahhabism of 100 years ago, went the wrong way.

        Most Islamic countries are at least part theocracies/sharia, with two complete renditions: Saudi Arabia (Sunni), and Iran (Shia).

        1. You miss my point. It’s not a Reformation that’s required but Enlightenment values in both the state and civil society. Muslims living in developed nations do not, in the main, support Sharia and theocracy.

          1. That’s unbelievably False. 100%

            Muslims worldwide in Significant Minority, Majority, or Overwhelming Majority, support Sharia, including it’s most brutal punishments as Death for Apostasy, Death/stoning for Adultery (especially women), amputation for theft, penalties for ‘insulting Islam’, etc

            I suggest Googling Pew Polls for Muslim attitude, sharia, etc

        2. An example. An imam at Australia’s largest and most conservative mosque reportedly issued a fatwa at Friday prayers saying Muslims should not celebrate Christmas nor wish anyone a Merry Christmas, since this would lead the faithful from the “true path”. The mosque published a report of this fatwa on its Facebook page.

          The condemnation from all sectors of the Muslim community (including the Grand Mufti) was immediate. The Facebook item was removed, the association that runs the mosque apologised and today hired a plane to signwrite “Merry Xmas” above the mosque. It issued a statement saying the fatwa is “invalid”.

          My take on this nonsense is that when placed in a modern secular society the hidebound bullshit of even the most theologically conservative Muslims inevitably starts breaking down.

          The majority of Muslims in Australia do not attend mosque and are not particularly religious. The corrosive acid of secularisation is working its magic.

    2. Islam is not compatible with ANY thinking that is without expressed countenance by the لقرآن‎ al-qurʾān. When bicycles made their appearance in Samarkand and the regions surrounding, they were regarded as “Devil Carts” because they remained upright while rolling.

      Guns are not mentioned in لقرآن‎ al-qurʾān only swords, so why is not the use of guns the same as the use of any other item not specifically named?? Or, internal combustion engines?? Jet engines? Rockets? Huge idolatrous portraits of Hamas leaders??

  11. AFAICT, Palistan is on its way to being a failed nation state. There are violent conflicts everywhere.

    1. The Taliban against everyone else.

    2. There is a civil war between the Baluchis (sp?) and everyone else.

    3. The Sunnis and Shiites mix it up occasionally. Frequently the Shiites, who are outnumbered try to flee the country and end up in leaky, sinking boats.

    4. The Sunnis occasionally attack the Sufi’s for their own reasons.

    5. Religious minorities are persecuted, the Amadis and the xians mostly.

    The Pakistan government is weak. They collect very little in taxes and spend little on education and health care. With predictable results. From the outside, it looks like a chaotic mess going nowhere.

    1. It seems to me that tribal states can never be welded into working 20th-21st century versions of nation-states. Why is it so important to keep these artificial states intact? Afghanistan should be about six different countries, Pakistan broken into Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and the border area, and Iraq should be three separate countries as well.

      As long as you can prohibit the sale of armaments to these small entities (and get rid of the Pakistan nuclear weapons) and allow women to flee oppression, into small local states guaranteeing their safety, what stands in the way of useful disintegration of these unworkable colonial-legacy entities? No one is clamoring to put Slovakia back with the Czechs, Moldova back to Romania, or to merge Luxembourg with anyone, or to strike Icelandic independence from the map.

      And while I’m at it, what’s wrong with Texas going independent, as long as it becomes a magnet for certain people in surrounding states??

      1. Afghanistan should be about six different countries,…

        I’ve wondered that myself.

        Afghanistan is a failed nation state and always has been. And it doesn’t look like it will change in the forseeable future.

        A huge amount of the violence is just tribal, Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazara, Baluchis, etc..

        Just partition it and hope they don’t keep invading each other or maybe arm the minorities. Given the history of that area, it probably won’t work either but nothing else has worked.

        1. You’d just end up with a contest between warlords and the Taliban, with the latter likely coming out on top given they are backed by significant elements of the Pakistan military.

          1. Huh. Warlords, eh? Probably. But if Pakistan didn’t exist as a large entity, with a large entity military, and some creative thinking went into the process (something that results in diminished stockpiles of RPGs and heavy arms) I think that small entities is the way to go.

            You might think, “OK, 1989 and Kabul and fighting all over again.” This time it’s different. You have the internet and cell phones. You have established exile communities, where movement toward sane government can grow from without. The information age plus low-cost robotics of the 21st century will make this a different outcome in twenty years, if the USA doesn’t keep trying to bolster its interests abroad.

            1. This time it’s different. You have the internet and cell phones.

              How long do you think those lines will survive?

  12. I don’t know who wrote this but, he ignores facts. I agree that many atrocities are done in the name of religion. However, the greatest atrocities in the 20th Century were done in the name of atheism by Stalin and Mao.

    1. This statement is not true. Atheists may commit crimes but this does not mean they were motivated by atheism. Stalin and Mao did not commit their horrors “in the name of” atheism.

    2. Mr. Weedman, you can’t be serious. Do you think that the order to kill Trotsky, or the Doctors Trial, were done in the name of atheism? That’s ludicrous!

    3. However, the greatest atrocities in the 20th Century were done in the name of atheism by Stalin and Mao.

      Gee, you forgot Hitler. Of course Hitler was a Catholic and his millions of followers and helpers were all Lutherans and Catholics.

      Stalin and Mao didn’t do anything in the name of atheism. You are just wrong. They did it in the name of a political and economic ideology.

      Using your nonreasoning, we can blame the xians for the US civil war and both World Wars. Xians started them and fought in them. In fact we can blame xians for all wars in Europe back to and including the fall of the Roman empire, pushed over by Germanic barbarian….xians.

    4. Actually it was in the name of communism, another irrational ideology. And that’s the point, when people are motivated by some shared ideal whether religion or some political ideology, the end justifies the means, empathy and compassion are forgotten.

  13. At least in the UK, there isn’t the horrific violence that occurs in Pakistan. But I’m very concerned that even here, it’s possible to be prosecuted for damaging the Qur’an.

    There’s often a stall in Leicester city centre promoting Islam. I’ve spoken to them. They deny evolution, for humans at least. They produce leaflets quote mining the Qur’an trying to claim that it foresaw modern science. They also denied that the only “science” in the Koran was known to the ancient Greeks.

    The front page article in the local paper on Thursday was about a case where a man had been taken to court for tearing out pages of his own copy of the Qur’an in front of this stall in May.



    Jury discharged, couldn’t reach a verdict:

    It wasn’t good manners, and it doesn’t portray atheists in a good light, but I think in the UK it should be possible to shred the whole Qur’an in public without fear of prosecution.

    In the latest issue of the UK magazine, The Skeptic, it says Ian McKellen tears out a page from Leviticus in Bibles left in hotel rooms. I doubt he’ll end up in court.

    1. In Australia, there was a move begun in 2008 to introduce a federal religious vilification law. We secularists were of course opposed, but we didn’t have to do anything in the end. The plan was killed off by all the religious types in the community consultation because they were all afraid it would stop them evangalising their own faith, which of course involves pointing out that everyone else has the wrong fantasy.

  14. there was a move begun in 2008 to introduce a federal religious vilification law.

    I’ve heard of such laws, but the question continually recurs to me – why doesn’t a (say) atheist try to instigate an action against a religious fundie who spouts off in public, thereby bringing his nominal religion into disrepute.
    It might not be a nice thought to have, but I rather like the idea of Ian Paisley having an apoplectic fit at being snookered into either shutting his cake hole, or being convicted of bringing his religion into disrepute (which he does by opening his cake hole).
    It still being Saturday (somewhere in the world), I’ll just say “Mr Cat, meet the pigeons ; pigeons, meet Mr Cat.”

      1. Because a law is stupid and contemptible is, IMHO, no reason not to use said law to drag itself (further) into contemptibility and to use it’s own precepts to show it’s own moral bankruptcy.
        But it’s a foul evening filled with people lying to each other. Trying to drag things up to a civilized level is a WOMBAT.

  15. “Burning a koran” is simply the excuse du jour. Tomorrow, it will be something else. The day after, something else. Next week, an entire new set of excuses. And, the good thing for Muslims is that the excuses are infinitely repeatable.

    Muslims have a long list of ready made excuses for killing people: 1) He was a Jew 2) He was a Christian 3) He was a Buddhist 4) He was a Hindu 5) She was disobedient 6) She went to school 7) He was gay 8) She glanced at a boy in public 9) She was talking to a boy in public 10) She touched a boy in public 11) He/she didn’t memorize Koranic verses fast enough 12) She was becoming too Westernized …

    Well, that’s a dozen or so. You get the point. However, the issue is not what the victim does. The issue is the no-so-underlying, incessant, unending insanity of the death cult called “Islam”, always looking for fresh blood.

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