Thursday, April 01, 2010

Why Religious Rule Isn't a Very Good Idea

Just a short reminder of why it's a good thing to live in a country where religious extremism does not rule your life...and death: Saudi Arabia has announced that Lebanese entertainer Ali Hussain Sibat, a married father of five, will be beheaded tomorrow (Friday) after the Saudi Justice Ministry confirmed his death sentence for ... sorcery.

Yes, Mr Sibat,the former host of a popular call-in show on Beirut-based satellite TV channel "Sheherazade," was condemned to death for telling viewers would predict the future on his show and give out advice to his audience. He was arrested by the Saudi Arabian religious police (known as the Mutawa'een) and charged with sorcery while visiting the merciful and compassionate country in May 2008 to perform an Islamic religious pilgrimage.

If you think that rule by religious authorities is a good thing, you might want to take a few notes about what it's like to live in a country that's trying its best to return to the golden days of the seventh century.

In a related story, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a Malaysian model who was sentenced by an Islamic court last year to six strokes of a cane for drinking beer in public has had her sentence commuted following an international outpouring of outrage. Ms Shukarno will instead be required to perform three weeks of community service beginning on Friday...the same day that the enlightened and government of Saudi Arabia is planning to behead Mr Sibat for sorcery. In Ms Shukarno's case, I suppose it's a good thing that she didn't try to predict the future while drinking beer...who knows what might have happened.

And just in case you thought that religious extremism was limited to the Islamic world, nine members of an ultraconservative militia that calls itself "Hutaree" (a name they say means "Christian warrior") are in custody after authorities broke up a plot to murder a Michigan police officer, then attack other police at his funeral. The "Hutaree" group's web page says the group is "Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive." I wonder what Jesus would have to say about that.

Deeply-held religious beliefs can be a comfort in times of trial and a source of ethical and compassionate behavior. They can also be a horrifying justification for the very worst in human behavior.

Let's all think carefully about the kind of country we really want to have.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Amanda said...

I didn't realise that the Malaysian model was no longer going to be caned. The thing I remember most about that case is the model's father insisting that his daughter needed to be caned and the girl herself admitting that she absolutely deserved it and was looking forward to is so that she could move on. I'm sure I read that.....

Mike said...

I wonder what the punishment is for doing bad things if you're a memeber of the Flying Spagetti Monsters.

Wv: nudoers - People that frequent certain types of beaches.

Mike said...

Memeber - Special name for FSM members.

craziequeen said...

Hey Bilbo,

The more that changes, the more that stays the same.
Religious fundamentalism doesn't change, but the priorities seem to..

Question: if Mr Sibat could really see into the future, surely he would have had an inkling of his own death? (sick question, but one that required asking!)

WV: propho - new wonder drug that enables you to see into the future..