More apologists for Islamic malfeasance

May 11, 2014 • 6:49 am

I shouldn’t have been surprised at the number of first-time commenters who came out of the woodwork to defend the indefensible: the Sultan of Brunei’s new imposition of sharia law on his country, including mandatory attendance at Friday prayers, penalties of amputation and stoning for sodomy or adultery, and so on.  Such is the number of Islamic apologists, and they’re not all Muslims, either.

I present a few select comments from this week’s first-time commenters on my post, “Brunei introduces draconian sharia law.” There are a variety of tactics these folks adopted when trying to defend this barbaric practice:

1. Argue that sharia law applies only to the guilty, so it’s okay.

From reader “IqraIslamQA”:

draconian for criminals not for common people

Yeah, that totally makes it okay! Why not break them on the wheel, too?

2. It’s not sharia law that mandates these punishments, and besides, the British did it, too. 

From reader “Marc Claess”:

I fully agree, except for the last phrase: ” a bunch of new floggings, stonings, and amputations—none of which would occur without religion. ” Without religion? Forget it, at least for caning, which is surely without exaggeration comparable to flogging. Not only Brunei is currently since it independence practising this dreadful judicial torture, but also its great neighbour Malaysia and Malaysia’s own other small neighbouring country Singapore! And these human rights abuses are not due to sharia-law, but to the historic legacy of their former colonial ruler Britain! (Read this: caning in “British Malaya” far as I know, her majesty’s government has never made any serious attempt to redress this horrofic [sic] legacy, let alone to apoligise for it. If the British government really ment [sic] seriously about enforcing minimal human rights, it should have expelled these 3 barbaric countries Brunei, Malaysie and Singapore from the socalled BRITISH commonwealth a long time ago. Shame on all these hypocrite British politicians!

At least this comment is fairly rational.  I’ll agree that flogging is not unique to Islam (but I’ll add that Islam is the state religion of Malaysia). Nevertheless, these sharia punishments are new to Brunei and are explicitly noted as mandated by newly-adopted sharia law. It’s religion, Jack.  I’m sure the Inquisition got many of its horrible punishments from earlier sources, too, but applied them in the name of Catholicism.

Notice how Mr. Claess subtly shifts the blame for what’s about to happen in Brunei from the Sultan himself to the British. Frankly, I’m tired of this argument. Of course earlier regimes and other countries did bad things as well, but that doesn’t excuse Brunei from its proposed and present course of amputations and stoning—explicitly introduced as part of Islamic law. Nor do I think that all of us must apologize for all the transgressions of our ancestors or our country before criticizing injustice and cruelty in the here and now.

3. Tu quoque: some people approve of inhumane punishment in the U.S.

From reader Phil:

This is terrible. But if you’ve read the bushels of comments (probably not the best use of one’s time) on the botched execution in Oklahoma you say many to the effect that the guy being executed deserved the extra agony and fear–and, indeed, much much worse. Got to wonder if there aren’t a fair number of pretty barbaric people here too.

Indeed, those few readers who said the executed guy in Oklahoma deserved the pain he got are, in my mind, reprehensible. But there are such people everywhere, and how on earth does that bear on the immorality of Brunei? Note the three words “it is terrible” balanced against the rest of the post, which uses a lot more words to diss the “barbarism” of readers.

4. You can’t judge Brunei unless you’ve lived there. 

From reader “I’d rather not” (my emphasis):

Look, guys, I have to say, that all this hype about the Sultan is very unsettling. I mean, there is talk within the Western community about the rights of the citizens of Brunei and in fact, any resident living here, is being violated by the introduction of the Shariah Law. The equality of women within Brunei is also being brought into question, no? But, and I say this with the utmost confidence, I am willing to bet that up until recently, none of you have ever even heard of Brunei. None of you have lived here or even been here, and therefore you have very little understanding of how it is life works here.

There seems to be the common misconception that Bruneians are weak, uneducated and ignorant of the outside world, and are being oppressed by its’ ruling bodies.

This is untrue.

Yes, for a relatively small population, Brunei is incredibly wealthy, and I assure you that the wealth is not being blown off on lavish and unnecessary expenses. Name me a country which is as generous as Brunei can be, wherein every citizen is given the right to a home supplied with electricity and clean running water, with no strings attached and all of the bills generated by these taken care of? Wherein, each citizen, and expat alike, is given free healthcare by specialist health centres and access to health facilities without the common-caveat found in other countries that is the taxation system? The disadvantaged are taken care of, with donations made as they are needed, and with a tolerant attitude taken towards members of the LGBT community, compared to countries like the UK and the US wherein they are marginalised and made to feel like social pariahs. I sat next to a lady who was not born a lady at my cousin’s wedding, and she was very happy to be there.

The Shariah Law does not change this, and if you are to believe otherwise, then you are wrong, for you have been duly misinformed by whatever media outlet you have heard about this from.

Now, at the mention of the word “Shariah”, there seems to be some sort of allergic reaction on the part of the Western community. Images of public humiliation and harsh penalties seem to be the only things people ever think about, and it is fascinating that people should immediately associate Brunei with events that have happened in the Middle East. This is appalling; it is the equivalent of America adopting a set of doctrines, for example, democracy, and then being held liable for the mistakes other nations who have adopted the same mindset, have made.

To a degree, it is even insulting that Brunei is immediately painted in the light as being some sort of oppressive, totalitarian state under tyrannical rule. Yet again, until any of you have actually travelled to Brunei and have stayed there for a substantive period of time, and by that I mean at least a month, you have very little right to make such uncalled for accusations- accusations of which, nonetheless, you have based on what you have been fed by the media and general public opinion.

Ironically, the comments being aimed at Brunei are incredibly one-sided and biased towards Western interpretations, with very little or no regard being held for the other side of the story- you are literally behaving like the tyrannical and dictator-like characters you describe. When has Brunei described itself as an “Islamic Republic?” Yet another name being assigned by bigots who believe that Brunei is “draconian” ‘untermenschen’.

Yes, all of this is coming from a Bruneian, and you might be slightly surprised to see that my English isn’t full of the grammatical fallacies of my compatriots, but is this not evidence of the fact that we are not uneducated, and that we do have an understanding of the world around us, and that we are not spineless lifeforms incapable of being offended, and having opinions? I will have you know, that I was born here, and have lived here for nearly twenty years. I am UK educated, and have friends from many nations. Even my expat friends who have only been living here for a year are shocked at the response from their Western counterparts, and have too been open advocates for the understanding of the enactment of the Shariah Law in this country. There has not been a mass exodus of the foreign workforces, and even with those who have elected to have and raise children here are indifferent to any of these changes.

I speak for all of us, when I say that you do not know nearly as much as you think you do.

Where does one begin with this? The first thing is to say that you don’t have to live in a place to decry horrible practices there. Do we have to live in Nigeria for a month before you can criticize the abduction of 200 schoolgirls?  Second, the new laws, by every account I’ve read, and in many venues, do indeed mandate the punishments I’ve mentioned. Third, sharia law is misogynistic, brutal, and unfair. There is nothing, so far as I can see, to be said in its favor.

What we have here is a butthurt resident of Brunei who will defend the indefensible by proclaiming it as “misunderstood by the West.” Sorry, but until the Sultan says, “Wait, guys—I didn’t say that!”, I’ll continue to argue that the Sultan is a monster and the law he’s imposed is draconian and horrible for that society, even if the country is well off financially.

5. Allahu akbar.  Then there were comments from addled individuals who actually think that this kind of law is good, even as specified. This is from reader Tanveer Rauf, who has her own website called “Just Bliss”,  (linked to in the post). She’s apparently a teacher in Pakistan.


There is no reasoning with such folks. They don’t belong in civilized society.

Here’s Rauf’s self-description on the “About moi” page:

Screen shot 2014-05-11 at 7.44.34 AM

Children’s books about their moral character? What are the next ones, Khadeeja Gets Stoned and Amir Loses His Arm?


I won’t put up the many creationist comments I got this week, as well as remarks from those who had violent objections to the statue of Satan proposed for the Oklahoma Capitol grounds.

52 thoughts on “More apologists for Islamic malfeasance

  1. Colonialism as an excuse for the reprehensible treatment of humans under Sharia Law is probably one of the most consistent apologies for Islam I hear and one of the most foolish. Honestly, let’s root cause this – if we take away British imperialism, does Sharia Law and all its harsh punishments go away? No? Then the two are not connected. If we take away the religion (in this case Islam), does Sharia Law go away? Hmmmm, maybe we’re on to something.

    1. Oh and I’m starting to take this Sharia thing personally with the “women shouldn’t exist” and all.

      I really hope this is somehow a misprint:

      The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) concluded their 192nd meeting on Thursday with the ruling that women are un-Islamic and that their mere existence contradicted Sharia and the will of Allah. As the meeting concluded CII Chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani noted that women by existing defied the laws of nature, and to protect Islam and the Sharia women should be forced to stop existing as soon as possible.

      1. Even if the argument “It’s all the fault of British colonialism” had any merit (which it doesn’t), it doesn’t explain why they didn’t just get rid of these unjust colonial laws after achieving independence. After all, well within living memory Britain had the death penalty and corporal punishment and we also treated gay men as criminals. We don’t do that shit any more. We changed and became more civilised. Brunei and all too many other muslim-majority states seem hell bent on going in the opposite direction.

        1. Yes, reading more on the “Khabaristan Today” site, it’s clear that it’s all satire, start to finish. The paragraph cited by Diana is part of an extended satire of conservative Islamic views on women. Read the part about women not having the right to breathe, except by permission of their male guardians! I’m guessing this was all written by a woman. There seem to be intellectual currents in Pakistan that we don’t hear much about.

          1. There are the Pakistani Atheists there so there is some hope — there always seem to be brave people in every repressive society.

        2. Yeah I think it’s a Poe but the fact that we sort of think about it is as “poe?” says a lot.

      2. That Khabaristan Today column is apparently Pakistan’s anglophone community’s counterpart to The Onion. I’m glad it exists. A Pashtun version might be too much to hope for.

  2. I suspect reader “I’d rather not” would be saying “America, love it or leave it” and similar nonsense if he lived in the USA. If you can’t acknowledge the shortcomings of the society you live in then you’re a piss poor excuse for a citizen.

    I haven’t been to Brunei but did live in Singapore and Malaysia for 1.5 years. I’ve got news for “I’d rather not”: the Brunei aristocracy is infamous (as are most if not all aristocracies) for their profligate spending on themselves.

    1. #4 reminds me of the related argument — it’s just puffery, power plays… nobody ever executes that punishment.

      In other words, it’s really not a problem until it rears up and bites me or someone I know in the ass.

      The inevitable will occur… people with agendas against each other will falsely accuse each other of various crimes, a significant number of them will go to the Sharia courts, and a significant number of them will get guilty verdicts, resulting in the occasional lost limb, hanging, stoning (rare, but rare things happen), you name it. Now that the laws are on the books, the machinery is enabled, the stage is set. It’s only a matter of time.

      And I’m convinced most people simply will not give a damn unless the consequences are produced and shoved right into their faces.

      1. The false accusation problem does exist in the Islamic world. It is used to take control of land, or a business. Rapists accuse their victims of enticement, you name it.

        1. Yep. And the extrajudicial stoning problem also exists, tending to be carried out in rural areas of countries where stoning is on the books (even if rarely or never carried out by the official apparatus).

  3. Point 4 reminds me of this:

    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes.

    That way, if he gets mad at you, you’re a mile away and you have his shoes.

  4. There’s no such thing as “counsel for Islamic ideology”
    The Muslim holy book “Quran” speaks to men and women alike and that they were created from one Spirit. The fact that you could entertain the thought that some counsel would seem women’s existence against God’s law says a lot about your critical thinking skills Diana.

    Also, there is no consensus that stoning is a part of Islamic law. A lot of Islamic figures from past and present have denied it being a part of Islamic law (such as Tareq Ramadan, Adnan Ibrahim, Sheikh Abo Zuraa) it should be noted that the Quran makes no mention of stomping whatsoever.

    The only way to combat hatred and fascism is through knowledge.

    1. My critical thinking skills are fine, “Human”. Did you not note my disclaimer and my later description of it as a “poe”. Read some of my remarks where I say it is interesting that we thought about it because it isn’t all that far from the truth as all satire is making of fun of something that is true – it is why The Onion exists. Read some more of my posts on this site before you declare that I lack critical thinking skills. I do hope irony isn’t lost on you.

      Is your assertion about men and women being addressed as one spirit supposed to wash away the misogyny of Islam? Suddenly we must all be deluded when we see women covered in bags?

      1. That’s just, well, repugnant. Fine if there’s a religious body who wants to lobby government, but actually to make it a part of government? (However, no more objectionable than the UK having bishops in the House of Lords, bishops who have, for ex., derailed right-to-die legislation that is apparently repugnant to even liberal Christianity.)

        I don’t suppose there are any government-sponsored secular organisations that advise Islamic leaders on what parts of Islam are repugnant to an enlightened society?

        /@ / Praha

    2. Oh, poo! Brunei claims it is part of sharia law, and they are enacting sharia law, so there it is.

      If it was explicitly forbidden in the myths, we wouldn’t have this problem. Instead it is encouraged, since stoning is described positively and as a punishment. This is no different in muhammedanism than other magic myths before the invention of the book press. They all do the same immoral trick of abandoning the reader with conflicting messages by having multiple, conflicting writers.

      “The Muslim holy book “Quran” speaks to men and women alike and that they were created from one Spirit.”

      ‘The Muslim book “Quran” speaks to men and women alike’.


      Before you wave your magic ideas around, which you do in the unnecessary parts, you should present the evidence that convince your listener that they are feasible. What makes you think that there exists ‘holiness’ and ‘spirits’?*

      Or you forfeit the ability to call “critical thinking skills”.

      * And no, you can’t say because it says so in a book describing myths. We need e…v…i…d…e…n…c…e.

    3. “The Muslim holy book “Quran” speaks to men and women alike and that they were created from one Spirit.”

      It’s a book. It doesn’t speak.

      Your second clause doesn’t follow from the first, and even if it did, it’s a claim for which you provide no evidence.

      That’s some nerve you got, criticizing Diana for her critical skills when your own comment has fallen apart by the second sentence.

      Plus which, I think you may be a pretentious ass, but I’m keeping it to myself because name-calling annoys Jerry.

    4. “Also, there is no consensus that stoning is a part of Islamic law. A lot of Islamic figures from past and present have denied it being a part of Islamic law (such as Tareq Ramadan, Adnan Ibrahim, Sheikh Abo Zuraa) it should be noted that the Quran makes no mention of stomping [sic] whatsoever.

      The only way to combat hatred and fascism is through knowledge.”

      Very well. Perhaps you’d like to make exactly that point to the Sultan of Brunei. I’m sure he’d welcome such erudite correction.

      /@ / Praha

    5. “Also, there is no consensus that stoning is a part of Islamic law.”

      Do you say the same for the penalty for apostasy in Islam?

      About what if anything do you say, without a doubt, there is (total?) consensus regarding Islamic law? Or is Islam defined by individual personal opinion?

  5. my old friend torquemada just emailed and wrote that his feelings were hurt because he was left out of such an august list..also mentioned that he would like to have his robes designed by oscar de la renta. much the same as the pope and the sultan. maybe some little red slippers/

  6. I am willing to bet that up until recently, none of you have ever even heard of Brunei.

    How much would you care to bet? (I could do with a bit of extra cash). If you’re aged under 45 then I certainly heard about Brunei before you did.

    None of you have lived here or even been here, and therefore you have very little understanding of how it is life works here.

    Ah yes, that old chestnut. Back in the 1970’s/1980’s I got into, or witnessed, several discussions with white South Africans defending apartheid: they invariably trotted out that line. We all know how convincing an argument that was.

  7. Was really looking forward to the satan statue comments. May I beg a ceiling cat top 2 or 3 comments? The “violent objections” appetizer has elevated my interest to say the least!!!

  8. People like Phil are often so taken with their own point that they don’t see where they should spend their words. Though I guess he did say “barbaric…too” which might be taken as calling the Brunei laws barbaric as well.

  9. The “You can’t criticize Brunei until you’ve lived there” argument: So we can assume that everyone who criticizes Israel has lived there?

    1. I wonder how they criticize Nazi Germany, or wars or epidemics.

      Can I claim that polio is horrible, since I haven’t had it? Not according to that logic.

      It is said so often, and it is so obviously wrong, so it should be promoted to a fallacy. The fallacy of No True Critique?

  10. Oy! I honestly didn’t expect a defense of the indefensible, but of course these people exist.

    I get bothered by this:

    … a country which is as generous as Brunei … my expat friends who have only been living here for a year are shocked at the response from their Western counterparts, and have too been open advocates for the understanding of the enactment of the Shariah Law ,,,

    My problem is with Brunei’s requirement of friday prayer, which I gathered had no exemptions. That means the state differentiates between muhammedanists and the rest, which becomes a pariah. That is state fascism.

    Not only do these people live willingly in a dictatorship, it is a fascist such. I assume they choose to be blind for accepting non-democracy, and blind for the crimes against human freedoms and rights, because their reward for supporting fascism is a “generous” state showering riches on them.

    And the first commenter won’t be so black-and-white when the first innocent punished becomes known. It could be among family and friends, at that. Remember that US, despite a long vetting process, has 4 % innocents among those the state murders as punishment.

  11. I am so glad your blog exists. You find very interesting articles and have interesting opinions about them. Thank you.

  12. I guess hundreds of years of endogamic marriage have taken their toll on the intellectual capabilities of many muslims otherwise how do you explain such backwardness?

  13. The person from Brunei with excellent English paints a selectively rosy picture of his country. The wealth of Brunei is legendary and sharing of the wealth is commendable. But, that makes the new imposition of Sharia law all the more repugnant to me. In a “modern” country, why
    cut off appendages, stone or whip people to death?

    As to Brunei’s foreign workers not leaving the country due to Sharia law, unless the media has misinformed again, it’s my understanding that foreign workers in Brunei are virtual slaves and find it difficult to impossible to leave.

    Down with excessively punitive punishments in all countries!


    1. The picture painted is, of course, a distortion of reality at best.

      How true does “Brunei is incredibly wealthy, and I assure you that the wealth is not being blown off on lavish and unnecessary expenses.” ring in the light of the Sultan’s younger brother, Prince Jefri accumulating a personal collection of 2,000 cars?

      1. And if their oil runs out I’d bet dollars to donuts that they will turn into a second Nauru.

  14. I admit being somewhat ignorant of Islam and Sharia law. Any knowledge of it comes from works by atheist authors including Christopher Hitchens.

    However, any law or laws that are claimed to be sourced from the direct word of god can only be catagorized as stupidity. Never mind the barbaric ideas contained therin.

    Actually, it’s hard to “never mind” the barbaric ideas. I suspect that Muhammed was a mentally deranged individual that halucinated regularly. Untreated schizophrenia does that.

    Apologists for religion and particularly Islam are braindead, unthinking, blind, and ignorant. Let’s take a sample of this so-called “law of Allah”
    > A Muslim man is forgiven if he kills his wife caught in the act of adultery.
    > There is no age limit for marriage of girls under Sharia (remember the 8 yr old that died from brutal rape under Islamic marriage rules)
    >A Muslim will not get the death penalty if he kills a non-Muslim.
    >Homosexuality is punishable by death.
    > Criticizing or denying Muhammad is a prophet is punishable by death. (My favorite)

    The list of these backward and barbaric “laws” is too long to list here. All I can say is that anyone who thinks this stuff is somehow beneficial to humanity in any sense doesn’t have the moral compass of a doorknob.
    If you want to call me an Islamophobe you’d be wrong, I’m a Theophobe. The ignorance that is embodied in religion scares the shit out of me.

    1. “Muhammad” is certainly portrayed in a way that can be interpreted as deranged in the modern world, and a terrorist BTW. (He started out as raiding caravans to feed his followers.)

      But there is zip, 0, none evidence that the myth existed. It joins all the putative sect founders before the invention of the print press, in that there is no historical evidence such as we have for real great persons such as Pericles or Alexander.

  15. In the case of Brunei, Sharia indeed means awful things.

    But one must be careful. There are some cases in which people use the phrase Sharia that does not refer to awful things. So if you imply Sharia always means awful things, you give legitimacy to the extremists and take it from the moderates.

    1. I don’t think the magic believer moderates _has_ any legitimacy, of any kind except their own sectarian.

      For example, as long as they allow their myths and institutions to prevaricate on denouncing atrocities they have no moral legitimacy. A morally legitimate sect would throw out all the morally bad stuff and set up safeguards against misuse.

      But mainly here, there is no jurisdictional legitimacy such as Sharia in the modern secularized world society. There it is recognized that separation between state and law works best for everyone. (Statistics says so, because AFAIK non-dysfunctional societies without exception has such separation.)

  16. So why, I asked myself, is Shara being introduced?
    A quick look at google (“Brunei social unrest”- getting a bit ahead of myself) brought up a (undated and fairly supportive) paper by an academic at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam. One point it made was that Muslims only make up about 67% of the population (the rest being the usual mish-mash of other religions). It also made the point that the country has been ruled under emergency regulations since 1982 when the UK military intervened to protect the Sultan. It states that:
    “globalization has begun to erode some of the inherited values of compliance especially among the younger generations, faced with
    diminishing prospects of employment, and a gradual erosion of the once generous welfare
    system” [>]

    Another source from 2013 states:
    “it is at the moment, plagued by economic stagnation, human capital flight (brain drain), underdevelopment, bureaucratic inefficiency and ultra-conservatism. To many businesses including those from neighboring ASEAN, the former British colony is of no doubt, a nation in rapid decline, with indicators such as high income and high Human Development Index (HDI) only an ‘artificial measurement’ boosted by oil revenues. [<]

    Ah yes-the time old ploy of using religion to suppress possible dissent methinks. Just like that other paragon of Saudi Arabia

    1. When the bread runs out, more circuses! I’m sure they can find some sharia approval for throwing the condemned to the lions.

  17. John Oliver did an excellent job on the bastard sultan tonight. It would be interesting to hear him defended now.

  18. Sharia is simply a self-correcting mechanism for a violent and savage culture that was naturally selected for the harsh and unforgiving deserts of the middle-east.

    It probably serves as a tool for social order amongst such obnoxious groups as well as population control mechanism. As long as they keep it to themselves, let islamic countries butcher their own people.

    That’s why it’s better to leave brutal dictators in those countries alone. They keep the peace whilst at the same time remain accountable to other nations. Not so with islamism as there is no leader we can hold to account should the violence spread to other nations.

  19. “Marc Claess” says :

    It’s not sharia law that mandates these punishments, and besides, the British did it, too.

    True, but not particularly relevant.
    The British government only stopped the use of flogging (using a barbaric whipping crucifix to restrain the victim, and prevent him from seeing the punisher and when the next blow is coming) in (IIRC) 1968. Until then it was accepted as appropriate corporal punishment for misbehaving prisoners.
    OTOH, since Britain banned the use of flogging in 1968 (IIRC), while there was still some legislative interaction between the countries, then I would be surprised to find out that Brunei didn’t themselves ban corporal punishment at the same time. (Incidentally, other protectorates of Britain, specifically the Isle of Man, didn’t ban birching until 1976.)
    So the point is that whatever Britain did in the past (I know people who fought in the Malaysian crisis ; I don’t dispute that bad things were done, but that doesn’t necessarily say that the people involved remain bad people), is in the past. Brunei, OTOH, is considering reintroducing such punishments. Which is reprehensible.

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