ISIS kills four more gay men by throwing them off a roof

October 7, 2015 • 12:30 pm

If Steve Pinker is right, and I hope he is, Islam will inevitably be tamed, with the more pernicious aspects of the faith either being ignored (as is happening with Catholicism) or jettisoned outright. But given the large percentage of surveyed Muslims who see the Qur’an as not only the word of God, but literally true*, as well as the many believers who favor sharia law (see below), this taming will take a long time.

In the interim, the dictates of sharia law, including death for gays, adulterers, and apostates, continue to be enforced in many places, either publicly or by vigilante justice. Is there anyone brave enough among the readers to claim that Islam has nothing to do with these beastly deeds?

If so, first read the piece on Gay Star News about ISIS’s latest execution of four gay men in Mosul by hurling them from buildings, two onto a pile of cement bricks. (This seems to be a regular event in Mosul: 9 were killed in a single day last August). Here’s a photo from last weekend’s killing, a photo that is disturbing but, I think, important in understanding what’s really happening.


This is enforcement of sharia law, which derives directly from Islam, including both the Qur’an and the hadith (the sayings of Muhammad and their interpretation). In many Islamic countries homosexuality is not only seen as immoral, but punishable by death. 

Then look at these data, from the recent Pew Survey of worldwide Muslim beliefs (summary here), and try to argue that religious dictates played no role in the tragic and brutal deaths of these men. Note that Pew did not survey Muslim attitudes in countries like Saudi Arabia and Syria, where, says the Pew survey, “political sensitivities or security concerns prevented opinion research among Muslims.”





While we’re at it, let’s look at the survey’s report on men’s attitudes towards women. This cannot be due to colonialist oppression, so you decide what role religion might play:



*From the Pew Survey; data taken only from sub-Saharan Africa:

“Across most of the African nations surveyed, more than nine-in-ten Muslims say the Quran is the word of God, and solid majorities say it should be taken literally, word for word. Only in two countries in the region – Guinea Bissau (59%) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (54%) – do smaller percentages think the Quran should be read literally. The results in those two countries are similar to the United States, where 86% of Muslims said in a 2007 survey that the Quran was the word of God, including 50% who said it should be read literally, word for word. (For more U.S. results, see Appendix A.)”


157 thoughts on “ISIS kills four more gay men by throwing them off a roof

  1. Even if you believed that God (or Allah) wished for gays to be killed, you’ve got to be a bit of a psychopath to take part in such things.

    1. Where is Saudi Arabia? And the U. A. E.? Both not listed in any of those and Saudi Arabia is a monarchal dictatorship and heavily fundamentalist on Shari’a and Islam in general. And for some reason an ally with the USA.

        1. From the posting:
          Note that Pew did not survey Muslim attitudes in countries like Saudi Arabia and Syria, where, says the Pew survey, “political sensitivities or security concerns prevented opinion research among Muslims.”

          1. Yes of course. Up till recently Syria was a silent partner with the USA on the black site torture constellation. Farming out the torture but having at least one US military officer present. But the US has done it before. And Saudi Arabia was courted by the USA after World War II.

            Yes more dangerous than say Iran? You betcha.
            Also I wonder how many Christian nationalists are eager to have their version of what is extant in Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emerites? Too many.

              1. That is really petty of your to go after a typo ignoring what I said. Do you do that in conversation when someone makes an error? I hope not. Please don’t do it here.

              2. Oh, I’m sorry, Nightgaunt. I wasn’t trying to go after you in any way over a typo; I was simply struck by the resemblance between ’emirates’, what you wrote, and ‘eremites’ – your typo made me see the resemblance between ’emirates’ and ‘eremites’, and I found it an amusing one, that’s all.

            1. Sorry Tim if I misread your comment. I would be the eremite here in this group. Not a total one, but close. I have got to be more discerning with similar words. Thanx for catching it. My bad for being in such a hurry. Haste does make waste.

    2. This is simply incorrect. A psychopath lacks empathy and conscience in general.

      These people are acting *according* to their conscience.

      I am reasonably sure they also feel empathy for their own “in-group” members.

      The are under the influence of religious memes that tap extremely deeply into natural human tribal instincts.

        1. Sure. But do you disagree with what he said?

          Dehumanizing people, making them “others”, is a way around our natural empathy moderated aversion to killing humans, allowing people who are not innate sociopaths to do horrible things to their fellow humans. Deeply held religious belief tends to increase othering. Believers can prove they are in-group by the level of hostility they use towards outsiders.

          We can’t fight the enemy if we don’t understand how they actually work. Assuming that they are all sociopaths misses the mark. If that were so, they would only be able to influence other sociopaths. But, while there may be a high percentage of sociopaths in IS, they can also influence “normal” people to the kind of behavior that we associate with sociopaths. That’s an important distinction, because this kind of virulently anti-social behavior *can spread* in a way that actual sociopathy can’t, because actual sociopathy isn’t contagious.

          1. “Dehumanizing people,”

            Dehumanization certainly exists, but most people engaged in it don’t actively seek out people to kill. What sets apart those who do?

            While psychopathy might be an oversimplification, so is merely pointing out a theological position.

          2. We have seen that ordinary people can be turned into killers. They are probably those with only some of the characteristics of psychopaths it was easy. Others will never turn and will be the ones tortured and killed.

            Ayn Rand considered psychopaths to be the “Supermen” of her dreams. Only they are sophisticated and urbane, not child murderers and dismemberers.

  2. “Islam will inevitably be tamed, with the more pernicious aspects of the faith either being ignored (as is happening with Catholicism) or jettisoned outright”

    I wonder, though, if the same taming forces are in operation in many of the Islamic countries. In the post-medieval period in Europe, it seems that one great secularizing force was that religious authority interfered with making money and the acquisition of power by secular authorities.

      1. Technology fuels Islam, and technology is not likely to go away. In my opinion, the conflict between the West and Islam is shaping up to last the entire Century.

        1. If the coming Holy American Empire really wants enemies they can just destroy all shrines of Islam. Then they will have plenty of reason for an even larger army than we have, plus ample reasons for genocide. The next war will be religious. Islam vs Christianity. (I do hope not.)

          1. “The next war will be religious. Islam vs Christianity. (I do hope not.)”

            The problem is that Islam civilizations now shun the very things that would give them any hope of winning such a war: technology and economic development. They’re willing to buy technology, of course, but their ideology makes it impossible for them to develop it or deploy it in sufficient volume to be a serious threat.

            1. When you hate, or want scape goats, even one is considered or made to be a danger. Think manipulation, not coherence.

  3. As you have stated Sharia is based on the Quaran and the Hadith. The Quaran is said to be the word of God while the Hadith is the life and opinions of Mohammed. I think it is clear that a sound interpretation of Islam would give preference to the Quaran. And this would include the letter as well as its spirit. The Sufi, who are pacifists, had their temples destroyed by the Taliban for interpreting the Quaran in this way. I think that if people learned more about Islam they would be less inclined to see it as the sole factor in the current wars.

    1. I think that if people learned more about Islam they would be less inclined to see it as the sole factor in the current wars.

      Does anyone, anywhere consider Islam to be the *sole* factor in such wars? Sounds like a strawman to me.

    2. The Qur’an contains several verses used to justify the execution of gays.

      Remember, I have never maintained that the tenets of Islam constitute the SOLE factor in all the current troubles in the Middle East. But I think it’s a big contributing factor for things like repression of women, sharia law, and violence between Sunni and Shia, as well as the violence against Yazidis.

      1. Well, I suppose I could change ‘sole’ to gigantic or the more cumbersome ‘if there was no Islam there would be no wars or violence’ which would express the position.

        1. Does anyone, anywhere ever think that “if there was no Islam there would be no wars or violence”? Sounds like an absurd strawman to me.

          Why is it that, so often, criticism of Islam gets twisted into an exaggerated straw-man version as a means of trying to disallow it?

        2. I’m going to quote Maajid Nawaz from he and Sam Harris’s new book, Islam and the Future of Tolerance.

          Islam is not a religion of war or peace — it’s a religion. Its sacred scripture, like those of other religions, contains passages that many people would consider extremely problematic. Likewise, all scriptures contain passages that are innocuous. Religion doesn’t inherently speak for itself; no scripture, no book, no piece of writing has its own voice.

          In other words – arguing over whether Islamic scripture is peaceful or not is moot. Religion and scripture itself is messy because there is no one truth. Likewise, mentioning that there are passivists within Islam doesn’t nullify what Jerry wrote, which unlike scripture, are facts.

          1. I didn’t quote any scriptures. It is a fact that some Moslems are pacifists. But quoting from a Sam Harris book about religion might bring up the subject of interpretation.

            1. er.. Majid Nawaz’ interpretation in a book co-authored with Harris. But don’t let details get in your way.

            2. Diana says, “I’m going to quote Maajid Nawaz…”

              jbonnicerenoreg responds, “…quoting from a Sam Harris book…”

              Again, Maajid is ignored due to proximity to Sam. I would find this unbelievable if I didn’t keep seeing it with my own eyes.

          2. Maajid point is fair but should not be taken to the point of sophistry. It makes sense to read the scriptures for the sense they most logically imply. If the vast majority of references in a text clearly mean one thing and these outnumber other references by a large factor – then that characterises the religion. If there are relatively few humane or innocuous types of topics that is even more a problem. Even more a problem again is where the text itself is held to be divine and held to be completely beyond human scrutiny or even historical interpretation of any kind. Sunni Islam holds the hadith and ancient rulings of the clerics pre 10C (ijma) to be an integral part of the religion mandated by the Quran, and in some cases on a par with it or even superseding it (as in the ijma ruling on stoning of adulterers)

            1. Since the Quran is held to allow for remission of a handful of specific verses in line with rules of Sunni fiqh, this is held to be mandated by the Quran, which understood to be an emanation of God. The Sunnah of the Prophet includes the Quran, ahadith of the sayings of the prophet and what he was known to have approved of, records of life of the Prophet but more broadly understood includes an understanding (from the Quran) that religious leaders of the umma will never err. Hence traditional rulings from pre 10C that reflect the supposed culture of Medina of the 7C Arabia and have been hardened into orthodox Sunni Islam.

        3. I don’t think that’s a fair assessment either. There is a group who says things like you have about the opinions of those of us who write about the issue (especially well known NAs like Jerry, Harris, Dawkins, and Hirsi Ali), then use that strawman to attack us.

          We are blamed, for example, for causing violence towards Muslims when none of us advocate that. In fact, many of us are vocal in our opposition to it. Our criticisms are of Islam, just as we also criticize blind devotion to any belief that lacks evidence or is bigoted in some way. As Dawkins tw**ted recently, The God Delusion barely mentions Islam.

          There are those atheists who are looking for acceptance from the US Christian majority and are jealous of the success and ability of leading NAs, so they’ve twisted their words in an attempt to demonize them.

    3. Since the Koran is confused about everything the Hadith is there to try and give substance and sense to a text written in clumsy archaic Arabic and based on badly translated Aramaic sources. It is hardly a wonder that the faithful need to be brainwashed from infancy into believing anything like this can be the word of a god

          1. Let me give an example that illustrates my doubts about this. If we were to ask 10 Isis Moslems the question ” Do you approve of executing infidels?” We would get 10 ‘yes’ answers. If we asked 10 Sufi Moslems we would get 10 ‘no’ answers. The percentage would then be 50% of Moslems believe in executing infidels. This conversation is driven by war propaganda and cultural misunderdtanding. Other than that it’s just fine.

              1. Well, the illustration was given as an example of how the term Moslem is not telling you about the beliefs of a percentage of a billion Moslems. Do you really think that it is a coincidence that the countries we have been at war with with have repugnant beliefs?I suppose we could be at war due their marriage laws and not because of the oil wealth or their stated hatred of Israel?

            1. “This conversation is driven by war propaganda and cultural misunderdtanding. Other than that it’s just fine.”

              That’s a flat-out falsehood. No one, not Professor Coyne nor any of the commentators, has propagated an agenda of war or violence in any way.

              1. I didn’t say anyone has a war agenda. So am I to understand that you think that this conversation is driven by academic interest or something other than our being engaged in a 10 year war?

              2. I took a direct quote from one of your comments in which you said this conversation is being driven by war propaganda and then you flatly deny it. That’s blatant goal-post moving.
                And, you dodged my question as to what fuels the genocidal hatred of Jews by Islamist organizations such as Hamas or Hezbollah.
                If you’re not interested in debating in good faith, then you’re just wasting people’s time.

        1. It is not evident at all how what you have said is contrary to what Tom said. I don’t see a contradiction.

        2. Blimey, jbonnicerenoreg, if you think the Koran might be a good page-turner, you should read more. Granted I can’t read Arabic, but you’d expect God’s word to be sublime no matter what language it was written in.

          Ali Dashti points out the grammatical errors, accusative for nominative, summat I mastered at the age of 12 in my Latin classes, wrong person in the verb form, again pre-teen stuff.

          We have the unevenness of style, the missing verses, the added verses, intermingling of stories, the occasional lapse that makes it clear that Mohammed, not God, nor Gabriel nor an angel, is speaking – the original unreliable narrator. The hopeless abrogation of earlier verses in which the omniscient creator of the universe changes his mind. God makes it up as he goes along.

          We have the many variant readings, the hundreds of foreign words in the ‘Arabic Koran’, the complete absence of any striking moral insight, the laughable lack of a sense of irony, a sure sign of the totalitarian and religious mind-set. The Koran? Don’t make me laugh. Which is precisely what it didn’t do. x

          1. Since you don’t read Arabic, please reference the scholar or scholars you are following. I’m asking this because there are many Arabic scholars who would disagree with your assessment. Since I don’t know Arabic either I was only relaying the views of some scholars.

            1. jbonnicerenoreg, I’d use as scholars of Islam Hurgronje, Suyuti, Ibn Warraq, Crone, Goldziher, Bousquet, Margoliouth, even Tom Holland for a good 7th century romp.

              Don’t bother with the Islamic apologists. They haven’t caught up with Old Testament higher criticism and Syro-Palestinian archaeology which have proved the mythological nature of the stories of Abraham, Moses and Lot. 3 stories which are ‘reinterpreted’ in the Koran as fact. God presents fictional stories as fact in the ‘Final Revelation’. Oops. God’s wrong.

              But there’s no substitute for reading the Koran: 2nd worst book I’ve ever read, after Mein Kampf. x

              1. Interesting. Do you think this is a
                controversy between atheists and believers or are their Moslem higher critics who would probably be categorized as liberal Muslims?

              2. The whole problem of western scholarship on Islam is that it is blocked every time by Muslim scholars. For example, when western scholars want to copy early documents – as happened in Cairo early last century – the Muslim scholars don’t allow them. There is a very early copy of the Koran in Yemen: again access to that document was not permissible.

                Remember the discovery in the University of Birmingham a couple of months back of parts of suras 19 and 20, the parchment of which was dated between 575 and 645 CE? Saudi Arabian ‘scholars’ went ballistic, claiming it was a forgery. Because any scientific analysis – in the western sense – of the Koran is almost bound to upset the Muslim date-cart.

                Western scholars of Islam like Crone, who has just died, Ibn Warraq, Cook and Hinds are in a much more politically tendentious position than, say, western biblical scholars, like Bart D. Ehrman. The latter does not face serious threats of death from fundamentalist Christians. Crone et al are forced to couch their historical critiques of early Islam in much more oblique language in order to gain access to the early documents. And possibly to protect themselves from the real threat of violence.

                Ibn Warraq, from a Muslim background, was forced to publish incognito due to fears for his own security. Now he is ‘out’ and living in the U.S. Western Islamic studies are about 100 years behind western biblical studies in terms of the maturity of the debate and about 350 years behind in the terms of the personal safety of its participants.

                Allele akhbar. x

              3. If you think the Quran is the second worst book afer Mein Kampf, you have clearly not read The Old Testament.

                I am not sure where you get the idea from that Islam hasn’t been studied in academic circles for fear of being attacked by Muslims – Patricia Crone’s book on Hagarism came out some 40 years ago, and there has been Islamic/Quranic exegesis in the West for over a century. I also find it an absurd claim that there is a realy old Quran in Yemen that Muslims aren’t letting us examine – that actual Quran has been in Europe since the 70s when it was discovered.

                I don’t know how you think Tom Holland is a scholar of Islam, he doesn’t even know Arabic! Ibn Warraq’s works are polemical, not scholarly. If you want to read respected, modern day scholars on Islamic exegesis, you should try reading the likes of Robert Hoyland and Fred Donner.

              4. Alistair, like our host, I have read the OT. It’s merely taste but I think I’d go with the Koran being worse than the OT. At least the OT is leavened with the Epicurean-tinged Ecclesiastes and the sceptical Book of Job: and you can say for Ecclesiastes that 3:1-8 directly inspired the opening prose-poem paragraph of Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.

                On your scepticism that academics’ fear being attacked by Muslims. This from The Guardian 8-8-00:

                ‘Academics offering radical interpretations of the Koran put their lives at risk. In 1990, Dr Nasr Abu Zaid, formerly a lecturer in Koranic Studies at Cairo University, provoked a national outcry in Egypt over his book The Concept of the Text. There were death threats from Muslim extremists, general public harassment, and in 1995 he was branded an apostate by Egypt’s highest court. The court forced him to divorce his wife because under Islamic law, marriage between an apostate and a Muslim is forbidden.’

                On the Yemeni Koran(s), the Sana’a manuscript(s). No they are not in Europe, as you say, they are in the House of Manuscripts or the Eastern Library of the Grand Mosque in Sana’a. A few are in private collections.

                Yes, western scholars have worked on the manuscripts: the microfilms remain in Yemen. One academic is Gerd Puin, the local director of the restoration project from 1981 to 1985, and the man who persuaded the German authorities to fund it. And due to his findings the Yemeni authorities have denied him further access to the documents. Puin has pointed out that Muslims now do not think he is the person to analyse the manuscripts, despite his expertise in Arabic palaeography. The Yemeni Parliament itself hauled in the Head of the Yemeni Antiquities Department to ask why he was working with foreigners. That’s the pressure and implied threats that western scholars of Islam have to work under.

                So, in an echo of the scandal of the delayed publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have only seen the publication of the lower text in 2012, 40 years after their discovery (for we have an upper Uthmanic text on the parchment and a lower text with many variants). By 2012, apart from a few parchments, nobody was allowed to see the manuscripts.

                Why? Well, briefly, if the Sana’a manuscripts demonstrate by their variants that the Koran is not the unchanging word of God, that there are many Allahs, then Islam is revealed as the man-made entity it is. If Puin tempered his analysis and didn’t reveal his evidence for the variations in the earliest texts, he might still have access to the documents. He could, as I said, use more oblique language: but to his credit he doesn’t. And Muslim apologists make him pay the professional price. They cut off access to the sources.

                Bart D. Ehrman, the biblical scholar, observes with barely suppressed fear that he wouldn’t touch Islamic Studies: that’s the implied threat in the fates of Dr. Zaid, Gerd Puin and Salman Rushdie.

                Allele akhbar.

        3. This whole business of having a holy book that they think they are following, and a priesthood to acquiesce to is in itself a problem.

          I agree with Al-Razi, the 9th Century Persian physician — all prophets are impostors, revelation is untrustworthy, but reason is available to all equally. For me, the conversation about the merits of faith end there.

          1. Re: my post, posted October 7, 2015 at 6:01 pm, 2nd. para., I shouldn’t have written, ‘Because any scientific analysis – in the western sense…’

            It should be ‘Because any scientific analysis in the universal modern sense, not the Islamic sense of apologetics for the Koran and Hadith, is bound to upset the Muslim date-cart.’ x

    4. Riddle me this, if the West is driven by ,to use your verbiage, war propaganda and cultural misunderstanding, then what is driving the blatantly genocidal hatred of Israel on the part of Hamas or Hezbollah? Or do SJWs just not give a shit about anti-semitism, violent, genocidal anti-semitism?

    5. Oh please! Christians still use scripture to deny women and gays rights that secular society otherwise grants. If they had more leeway in discourse and law-making it’d only get worse. Where Muslims have the power to enforce the writings of Islam they do.

      There are many justifications for war. And in Islam there are many. Islam is not the sole factor but it is the major factor.

      Why don’t you just ask the Muslims fighting the wars why they are fighting? And when they say they are fighting it for Islam, why don’t you listen to them?

      1. “Oh please! Christians still use scripture to deny women and gays rights that secular society otherwise grants. If they had more leeway in discourse and law-making it’d only get worse. Where Muslims have the power to enforce the writings of Islam they do.”


        “Why don’t you just ask the Muslims fighting the wars why they are fighting? And when they say they are fighting it for Islam, why don’t you listen to them?”

        And there you have the soft bigotry of low expectations in play. We sophisticated, educated, white westerners can understand what their motivations truly are while those poor, ignorant, brown people are incapable of understanding their own.

    6. Sorry, Sufism does not equal pacifism. Sufism is often more moderate and tolerant form of sunni and shia but not necessarily. Quite a few sufis were leaders/commanders of jihad war in the past. The medieval south asian sunnis had slaves just like other muslims. The Barelvi sufi sect in Pakistan has long opposed Deobandism and the Taliban, however they are Not moderate. After all the Taliban are nominally of the “moderate” Hanifi school, and although their tribal law is admittedly more in line with the more severe deobandism, Hanifi provisions regarding women are anything but egalitarian. Anyway the leading Sufi Barelvi organisation Jamat Ahle Sunnat came out vigorously in support of the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer. Taseer had tried to repeal the blasphemy laws that have seen many Christians in particular accused and jailed or lynched by mobs. The law provides for capital punishment although no one so far has been executed at the hands of the state (as opposed to mobs). Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard Malik Mumtaz Qadri who openly celebrated his killing as a victory against blasphemers and shortly after the act was showered with rose petals by hundreds of people. Following Taseer’s killing in 2013, this Sufi organisation Jamat Ahle Sunnat (of the Barelvi sect) let it be known that all those who mourned for the governor were committing a sin, and issued a veiled threat against other supporters of the repeal of blasphemy laws.

        1. the doctrines vary a lot but generally are considerably less pro war than most of islam. Some sufis have engaged in active Jihad. Sufis ad a mystical element to the religion, and some of them seem to ad their own philosophical interpretation but do not counter any of the orthodox texts

    7. Islam may not be the ‘sole factor’ motivating ISIS, but if we take them at their word it is 99.99% of what is motivating them.

      I don’t understand why so many people have a hard time accepting that fanatical religious believe does in fact motivate a great deal of bad behavior. Religious sects were killing each other long before European colonization and USA interference in the middle east.

      1. But this is incomplete – one should ask the next question, too: why is Islam attractive as an ideology, and why is the most bloodthirsty and extreme form taken root in these places? There, some of the factors involved are indeed external, I’d hazard a guess at (power vacua, etc. do this).

  4. Hitchens once said that he liked debating religionists because you never knew what they were going to say next: he didn’t add that you never knew what they were going to do next.

    Perhaps, a Muslim could obtain a fatwa permitting anal sex as long as that was in the service of jihad. In order to expand the anal cavity with the aim of fitting explosives in it. And to attempt the assassination of Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef in 2009.

    I have no idea if this is true, but there the Gatestone Institute ran this and the story appears on Wikipedia. The Prince survived: the body of the attempted assassin saved him. X

    1. Unfortunately Merilee, women have been brainwashed from childhood to believe they should obey their husbands. Women were included in the survey.

      There are some disturbing surveys on the United Nations website. For example, in several parts of the world women believe that burning the dinner is an acceptable justification for a beating from their husband.

      1. In Muslim countries there is a raging debate going on. It’s not a debate on whether to beat your wife, they’re debating in which different ways it is acceptable to beat your wife.*

        Even in Morocco – one of the better Muslim countries – they are unable to pass proposed laws outlawing domestic violence. After all, if the Koran says she should be beaten regularly, how could a Muslim country outlaw domestic violence.

        The stalled law only has provisions for spousal abuse and ignores any beatings meted out to sisters, mothers, daughters or random strangers.

        *Note: when I said “your” I was referring to the men as these are the only ones who are doing the debating.

        1. @Heather
          I would most def suck as a Muslim wife, not because I’d burn the dinner ( i’m a very good cook) but because I would be highly resistant to taking orders😝 as I’m sure is true of all the women on this site…

          1. But the men have power of life and death in some of these cultures. Thats why women and girls in Afghanistan sometimes set themselves on fire in an attempt to escape their “natural” role.

        2. I saw an article by an Islamic scholar of the King Saud defense college that said a man shouldn’t beat his wife to the point of physically injuring her, and only after warnings had failed to correct her behaviour (lack of devoutness as judged by the man, one of the major reasons, along with the usual reasons of going out of the house without permission etc). It mentioned the possibility of legal punishments for the man if she is harmed. However it also mentioned that if she happened to die as a result of the beating then maybe that was just the “fate” that Allah had bestowed on her.

          1. The same Saudi article also engaged in the usual politics of grievance by making ridiculous claims about the level of domestic violence against women in the west. For example it alleged that at any one time 25 per cent of women in the USA are hospitalised from Domestic Violence. Sure, we have a problem with DV in the west but not on the same level and we try to do something about it. We never had the same obsession with closetting women and we no longer have a culture of shame about these things, hence many forms of DV (and other human rights abuses) are reported that would not be elsewhere. Moreover, in the West, the definition of what constitutes DV and sexual violence generally has drastically expanded from the past, and serious legal and police efforts are made to deal with it.

  5. Islam seems to have been considerably tamed in the Balkans and the nations of Central Asia carved from the former Soviet Union. In retrospect, it is unfortunate that the Soviets were kicked out of Afghanistan.
    No data seem to exist for Syria and Iran. Information is also absent for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, but it is not hard to imagine where they fit in.

    1. You will find that when Muslims live in countries without the draconian ideas of Islam permeating absolutely everything they become less interested in following it to the letter.

      That said, it’s still immensely disturbing just how many of them still approve of throwing gays off of buildings.

    1. The Catholic Church didn’t do away with their Inquisition branch, they just renamed it and it doesn’t seem to police anymore. That we know of. Pope Ratzinger was the most recent leader of it. Preservation of the Doctrine of the Faith I believe it is now called.

  6. Professor Coyne has indicated that certain Islamic beliefs cannot be attributed to colonialism. Of course, those on the far left reject this argument and take delight in attacking Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins as “illiberal.” An example of this viewpoint is an article posted in both Salon and Alternet by one Adam Johnson. Here is what he says about them.

    “To them, religion is seen in a historical and political vacuum in the same way crime and economic hardship is to libertarians. A moral and cultural failing separate from material forces. To them, it’s the year zero, and radical religion is an ideology that must be attacked as such, rather than viewed, at least in part, as the logical byproduct of years of colonial aggression.”

    Johnson fails to make a connection between colonial aggression (which may, in fact, have an element of truth) and radical religion. During the Vietnam War and the prior war against the French, the Vietnamese fought colonial aggression, but out of a sense of nationalism, not religion. In other words, it is religious fervor that serves the goals of ISIS and other such groups. Radical religion preceded the turmoil caused by Bush’s ill-advised and ill-fated wars. These wars did not cause the rise of radical religion, but religion served as a rallying cry against the invaders.

    Maher and Dawkins are exemplars of the liberal values that first emerged during the Enlightenment. It is not impossible to severely criticize U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East without being apologists for religious beliefs, as are the pseudo-liberals such as Adam Johnson, that are totally repugnant to a secular society.

    By the way, many commenters on this article take Johnson to task.

    1. He also fails to grasp that, like this crime, most crimes are committed against other Muslims. How can colonialism cause that?

      1. Yes. The extreme violence between Sunni and Shi’a has been going on for centuries, ever since Shi’a emerged only a short time after Muhammed’s death. Destroying Shi’a is one of Al Qaeda’s stated main aims.

      2. One possibility: colonialism creates power vacua, which allows the most nasty bastards to obtain power (of various sorts), and then they cleanse the moderates. This happened in the Soviet Union (without as much colonialism), Vietnam, perhaps in China, etc.

        Nothing is unifactoral in any of these cases, of course, but the “smash and allow bastards to take over” is part.

        1. ‘…colonialism creates power vacua, which allows the most nasty bastards to obtain power (of various sorts), and then they cleanse the moderates.’ But it is not as though the colonialists themselves were not nasty bastards – one thinks of the various famines inflicted on India in consequence of greed and economic dogma by the British, of Dutch rule in Indonesia, of the French in Algeria, of the USA in the Philippines. One also thinksof of the murder of Allende and how it was engineered, and US support for Pinochet and various other disgusting regimes throughout Latin America. As your example of Russia shows, it is the collapse of political order or the inability to create a political order that has broad acceptance which allows the scum to rise to the top.

    2. Colonial smolial. The usual fallacy that only whites (and ones from the west) can be racist or colonial. Thomas Jefferson, in diplomatic mission to Moorish state in 1786 was told by their ambassador that the state was governed by the laws of Mohammed and the Koran, that all nations not following these laws deemed in a state of sin, and that Moors considered it their religious duty to fight any non muslim nations and take their people as slaves.

    3. Well, many of the problems with islam *are* a direct result of colonialist aggression. By the arabs in the 7th century.

  7. The main reason that any religious person maintains their faith after seeing images like that have to come from the hope that they get to live forever.

    We do not live in a kindergarden folks; there are no imaginary lands of honey dew for you to expect after death. The sooner each person comprehends the fabrications of religion the sooner the world will remove both the motivation and justification for such actions.

    So long as any person maintains their faith in their god, why should any fundamentalist give up their faith their god? I suspect it will not end until all of religion is sequestered.

    1. Very well said!

      How many people need to be thrown off of roofs before humanity wakes the hell up?

      We should be casting off delusions, not people.

  8. Then look at these data, from the recent Pew Survey of worldwide Muslim beliefs (summary here), and try to argue that religious dictates played no role in the tragic and brutal deaths of these men.

    This is closely related to why fundies in the US oppose legalization of things like gay marriage. Because they (and we) know that while in a perfect world nobody fashions their morality on what is legal, in the *real* world people tend to disapprove less of legal activities than illegal ones. Like it or not, Government policy has a statistical influence individual morality.

  9. Many of the apologists for Islam (regressive left version as well), will emphasize the 12% in Turkey who favor sharia, and then argue that overall only 20-30% of Muslims favor sharia.
    Well I actually took the time awhile back to break this down by population where “62% of the world’s Muslims live in South and Southeast Asia” with “The largest Muslim population in a country is in Indonesia, a nation home to 12.7% of the world’s Muslims, followed by Pakistan (11.0%), India (10.9%), and Bangladesh (9.2%).” (The Pew survey didn’t cover India so erred on the conservative side) And it turns out that approximately 2/3 of the worlds Muslims favor Sharia law. Hardly the minority they would have us believe.

    *information in quotes from Wikipedia.

    1. I wanted to add that number is more likely to be over 70% since when I added india to the mix I did so assuming they were closer to Turkey than Pakistan or Bangladesh. Which probably isn’t the case.

  10. Their religious rigor dominates even the notion of peace, or peace as we know it, the indoctrination is so complete. Is it only when they get battle wery and tire of conflict that it may occur to them it is time to change course ? or could it be something not known to us or this distasteful faithful that finally diverts the homophobic, misogynstic, demented behaviour into oblivion… it is truly unfortunate that only more lives and time will tell.

  11. And look at that massive crowd below! What a bunch of twisted assholes. I bet there are vendors there selling food. Though I imagine if executions were public in the US, lots of people would go see that too- and I bet the majority would be religious folk.

    1. Well, Mark R., the post does point out that the crowd was told to assemble. We know that in ISIS-controlled areas they throw the small business owners out of their shops. They take over the markets and artificially inflate the prices so that ISIS warriors can afford the food and the locals starve. Unless they join ISIS.

      They force the local men to grow beards in case they are attacked: so that the enemy won’t know the difference between ISIS and locals.

      This is an occupying force, very media-savvy: you have to think like them in order to work out what they would do.

      Charlie Winter of the Quilliam Foundation has recently published a piece about his having watched the ISIS youtube videos for a month. How do they attract European young woman and mothers to Iraq? Not merely, and not mainly, by posting film of beheadings, cultural desecration: but also by showing videos of apparently normal scenes, kids playing in playgrounds, banal traffic in the streets, men contentedly fishing in the river, set against the beautiful countryside around Mosul.

      Still, you get the recent British ISIS fighter complaining like an Islamist Pooter that the locals are intolerably rude. He could only say that if he had previously thought that the Islamic State was some sort of paradise. ISIS as ‘not cricket’. x

      1. Thanks for the comment Dermot C. The clarification is appreciated. I get pretty reactionary to this kind of bullshit.

          1. Here is a report from Kings College, London on why warriors defect from ISIS, as well as a journalistic précis (careful – upsetting images). Briefly, there are 4 reasons:

            1. Infighting
            2. Brutality (!) against Sunni Muslims
            3. Corruption and unislamic behaviour
            4. Quality of life

            The ironies abound and the report reads like the inspiration for Chris Morris’ ‘Four Lions’. Worth a perusal and a reminder of the inherent dissonance between the warrior’s self-image as God’s tool and the sordid and banal reality. x



        1. Nonetheless, Mark, that was my reaction to seeing the crowd as well. Unfortunately we’ve all seen pictures of crowds gathered at public executions before, including in the US. Lots of twisted assholes in the world.

    2. One reason why executions were not public anymore was that the City Fathers thought it would bad for the country.

  12. This is a minor point, but I’ve heard Maajid Nawaz occasionally remark that “Sharia” is a noun. It is not an adjective, and in Arabic would never be used as one, such as in the phrase “Sharia law.” I think his point was that it (Sharia) is not ONLY about the law, but a whole system of government, civil society, morality, etc. Or maybe it’s just redundant, like saying “salsa sauce.”

    1. Do people really think of it as an adjective? It never occured to me to think of it that way. I’ve always thought of it as a noun in “Sharia Law,” just as in “US Law” or “(any label for some entity that has devised laws for itself) Law.”

      Shorter, I’m pretty sure the term “Sharia Law” is a compound noun.

      1. Maybe I’ve missed used the grammatical terms, but the point stands (I think). It sounds bizarre and wrong to most Muslims, Arabic speakers, or both to use the phrase Sharia Law. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m pretty sure I heard Maajid Nawaz bring up this point, but again, I don’t know if it’s important. I thought maybe someone else here would know. Thanks for teaching me the grammar. At least I learned something from this.

        1. You’re right, pacopicopiedra, Nawaz made the point about Sharia grammar: I don’t see how it’s important either. x

        2. Oh, it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m wrong either. I’m no grammar expert.

          I did not mean to imply I doubted that Maajid Nawaz brought up this point. I can easily see how conventions between different cultures can vary such that “Sharia Law” would sound very odd and improper in Islamic cultures. But I am not sure that Maajid’s interpretation of the western construction, “Sharia Law,” is accurate. Perhaps it sounds redundant to muslims?

  13. The little book by Harris and Nawaz is very helpful and worth keeping around to refer back on some of the details. It allows more clarity where things were somewhat foggy for me.

    Now if we could just get our government leaders to read and understand this, a small light at the end of the tunnel could be possible.

  14. Oh disgusting and so sad. These barbarians claim they have a religion of peace and justice, and they will be saying the same thing 50 years from now.
    How about we quit selling them weapons, and quit giving them anything?
    How about helping as many refugees as possible? They don’t want to be there either.
    That way all of these stupid fukkin Wahabis,Salafis,etc can kill each other and starve to death at the same time. Everybody knows they can’t grow their own food. Everybody sees that they are doing all they can to destroy their countries and heritage. I am disgusted, angry and heart broken.

    1. They usually go after those who are not them. Make them conform or if necessary to torture, maim, mutilate and execute in a very public fashion. Fear keeps them in line. But even so the wants and needs will still lead some to violate those laws regardless.

  15. You can find many statistics about Islam derived from Pew Research here:

    I won’t summarize all the findings, but it includes the following:

    * for polling representative of the views of 1156 million Muslims, 802 million (69%) are in favor of sharia law
    * of that 802 million, 44% want it to apply to all people regardless of their own faith, while 53% want it to apply just to Muslims
    * of 1123 million Muslims, 40% overall are in favor of death for apostasy
    * 52% are in favor of death for adultery
    * 51% are in favor of corporal punishments, like amputation of hands for stealing
    * the highest percentage of support for suicide bombing is in Palestine (where 40% are in favor), but the largest overall number of Muslims in favor of suicide bombing and other forms of terrorism in defense of Islam is in Bangladesh (where 39 million of the 151 million Muslims there support it).
    * 89% of 1091 million Muslims believe homosexuality is immoral
    * while 68% of 956 million Muslims in the countries the question was asked are in favor of women deciding if they wear the veil or not, 86% believe a wife must always obey her husband

    and so on.

        1. Thanks! Yeah there’s a link on the website to Pew research concerning Christianity too (but the direct link to it is—and I’ll get the domain right this time— )

          If you flip back and forth you can see some of the comparisons, but it is worth noting that while Latin American Christians (who number around 500 million) and Muslims (who, for the Pew study, numbered anywhere from 950 to 1150 million) hold the same percentages of moral disapproval for abortion, Muslims have considerably higher percentages of moral disapproval when it comes to alcohol consumption (54% Latin Christian against vs. 84% Muslim against), unmarried sex (50% Latin Christian against vs. 88% Muslim against), suicide (68% Latin Christian against vs. 86% Muslim against), and homosexual behavior (65% Latin Christian against vs. 89% Muslim against).

    1. I would like to see a similar such study of Christians. I’ll be you would find the most hard core ones here in the USA.

  16. ‘Is there anyone brave enough among the readers to claim that Islam has nothing to do with these beastly deeds?’

    I don’t suppose there is, and honestly wonder why you would ask. And outside the readership of WEIT, is there really anybody seriously suggesting that such deeds have nothing to do with religious belief?

    1. Apart, I should add, from moderate Muslims anxious to dissociate themselves from the cruel fervour of their co-religionists.

    2. Yes, indeed. I and others am regularly excoriated by others who claim that religion has NOTHING to do with these misdeeds. I don’t want to give them blog traffic, but over at Heather’s Homilies you can find some of their arguments.

      1. Well, thank you, and I stand corrected. I must say that I am surprised this should happen so often. I shall look at Heather’s blog.

      2. Still, I do want to ask whether there are – in addition to those commenters who try to post on your website and do, it seems, post on Heather’s website – people in influential positions in the West who are seriously arguing that the misdeeds of DAETH and other fundamentalist Islamic groups have nothing to do with the Islamic religion. I say this because I have been puzzled by the way you keep challenging these adversaries who are asserting that those misdeeds have nothing to do with religion as though their assertions constituted an important and influential body of opinion without naming them or specifying their arguments; it makes your assertions about religion definitely being involved, with which I certainly agree, seem to take place in a curious void. One wonders who these shadowy opponents are and what their arguments are.

        1. Aslan, Greenwald, Robert Pape, Scott Atran, Mehdi Hasan.

          I’ve read Atran’s book, impressive in its massing of anecdotes and globe-trotting, but, as Harris said, completely orthogonal to the explanation for Islamist terrorism. Atran often tells self-aggrandizing stories about how he put members of the U.S. Security Agencies right. Perhaps he has influenced Obama’s refusal to ascribe Islamist terrorism to the tenets of Islam: which Cameron, probably influenced by Maajid Nawaz, called him out on recently at the U.N.

          Go look at Sam Harris’ blog which over the years has rebutted most of the above characters, if you don’t want to give them traffic. x

          1. And, yes, I found Atran’s soccer-team approach to terrorism pretty silly, and was appalled by his attitude to some Indonesian Islamist who, while with Atran, remarked when he saw a group of (Hindu) Balinese immigrants to a Muslim part of Indonesia celebrating a marriage in Balinese style that he would like to put a bomb among them. As I recall (I have got rid of the book), Atran seemed quite unappalled by this.

            1. Atran’s book doesn’t rule out Islam as a motivator; rather it seems to analyze *why* it is attractive to some as an ideology. And one such aspect is the “band of brothers” aspect – so the two levels of explanation are both relevant.

              1. Yes, but, as I recall, the ‘band of brothers’ business was rather too much to the fore.

          2. I have just found this remark of Glenn Greenwald’s: ‘I think, clearly, you know, that ISIS is a group that is brutal and awful and extremist and dangerous. Nobody likes ISIS.’ He doesn’t seem to defending it, or pretending that it is better than it is.

              1. Re: your ‘?’. Delete the ‘what’ in my previous post. Never post when you’re cooking in a crowded kitchen. x

              2. Dermot, you may be in a crowded kitchen and feeling rather over-wrought, but perhaps you could stop blowing a kiss to me in public at the end of every comment! If you wish to do this privately, of course… xxx

        2. “Still, I do want to ask whether there are – in addition to those commenters who try to post on your website and do, it seems, post on Heather’s website – people in influential positions in the West who are seriously arguing that the misdeeds of DAETH and other fundamentalist Islamic groups have nothing to do with the Islamic religion.”

          How about Obama?

          1. Yes, I know. But he surely is doing it as a sort of political temporising, and so far as I know he isn’t putting up serious arguments that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam.

              1. I just came across this on Digby’s Hullabaloo:

                ‘The latest anti-Muslim event is scheduled for this Friday and Saturday and promises to feature protesters, many of them reportedly likely to be armed, outside 20-plus mosques in various states across the country. These anti-Muslim rallies are part of what right-wing organizers have dubbed a “Global Rally for Humanity” to encourage “fellow patriots” to unite in protest against the presence of Muslims in America.’


  17. At one time I was sympathetic to the notion that Islam was a “religion of peace”, but over the years this has been pretty much eroded by actual events.

    For me, the underpinning of Islam as a pernicious belief system was exemplified by comments made by a devout Muslim (and no doubt a decent person) after the Charlie Hebdo murders.

    He, like the Pope, said the murders were wrong, but people shouldn’t insult the Prophet. Then he said …

    “I love the prophet Mohamed – mutter,mutter – more than I love my Mum and Dad, more than I love my children, more than I love myself”

    To me, that’s not just eccentric, it’s actually wrong, even immoral, and would explain why followers of Islam are so willing to cast aside decent human behaviour in favour of the dogma of a dead man whose morals were innappropriate for a civilised society.

  18. There is nothing that ISIS is doing that conflicts with the Teachings of the Q’uran, you could arguably say that they are the True Muslims as they so surely believe. When will the West realise that the problem with Islam is ISLAM, there is no such animal as a moderate Muslim if he believes the Q’uran is the “word of God”. They are at the stage now the Catholic Church was at in the 15th Century, indeed according to the Muslim Calendar we are in the 15th Century, so all things being equal their Religion should become “civilised” in about 500 yrs, so ask yourself how much damage these Lunatics can inflict in 500 yrs ?

  19. ISIS also killed 3 Assyrian men on video yesterday, for being Christians. Wearing the requisite orange jumpsuits that prisoners in Abu Ghraib wore and currently wear in Guantanamo.

  20. There is no such thing as “true” Islam, just as there is no “true” Christianity. And I am not simply saying that all religions are, in fact, false; I am talking about religions on their own terms. All there is is what a religion’s adherents believe and do, which changes over time, and outsiders telling them what a proper interpretation of their scriptures requires are simply making noise.
    Besides, in whose interest is it to insist that crazier interpretations of a religion are the “true” ones? If adherents of a religion want to behave sanely, despite what I believe to be the clear contrary implications of their scriptures, why should I try to dissuade them?
    That said, it is a fact no one I know of is denying that, right now, Islam is the major religion that produces the most significant body of crazies. They need to be dealt with, through diplomacy, intelligence, law enforcement, covert operations or, sometimes, outright war. And they would need to be dealt with whether their motives were religious or secular. Alienating the large body of non-crazy or only borderline crazy Muslims by bashing Islam in general — as if there is such a thing — does no one any good.

    1. The one true mythology. Yes let them hash it out before they bother the rest of us in the hopes they destroy each other instead of combining into one “true” religion and goes after the rest of us.

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