|Picture: Bradley Hunter Via: www.theaustralian.com.au|
Though an atheist, because it brings some comfort to my humanist mind, I do prefer to think only the brave and innocent shall rest in peace.
We will try to comfort the victims, we will keenly mourn those killed, so close to rescue, or who now are left wounded physically and psychologically. We feared for them during their horrifying ordeal and feel for them now because of our compassion and humanity. As a majority we abhor the violence done to them and would seek to prevent it recurring. These characteristics to protect, secure and to mend those we see harmed we are born with. They develop in us as we grow, and we know instinctively and intellectually they are self-preserving and help to harmonise our collective associations into societies and communities. What happened in Sydney attacks this at its core.
In the aftermath of the Sydney, Martin Place, Lindt Cafe siege, even during, the Islamophobia accusation was raised to any daring to put the incident into its religious and Islamic context. I also felt during the event it was best to wait, best to ensure that nothing affected the safe retrieval of the hostages. Yet, obviously however strong the denial, through the prism of this man's religious zealotry we were shown some of the problems with Islam and more widely the problems with an ideology that promotes and expects religious immersion and obsessive devotion to it. This requires critical examination, as it is this kind of ideology that is incompatible and phobic.
As the horrendous situation in the cafe unfolded for the victims it was remarkable to note the verbal contortions security, officials, politicians, reporters and many commentators went to in order to not state what this was, to in effect deny it was an Islamic doctrine inspired Jihad against a society that does not adhere to Islam. The "Sheik" was bringing the delusion of the "war against Islam" home to Australia to show those participating in it the error of their ways. In the face of the evidence before us it was jarringly absurd to see the insistence that a "reason was unclear" for his act. The facts were incontrovertible that this man acted for and in defence of his religion, which he invoked, and for the freeing of oppressed Muslims. Muslims, as fundamentalist will have it, may be "oppressed" simply by having to live in, or next door to, a society that is non Islamic, that does not support Sharia Law, supports gender equality, inalienable human rights, or by a society (Australia) that rightly contributes actively in world events defending oppressed peoples, even when, the oppressor is of Islamic origin.
So do we honour and mourn the victims by examining the real cause or shuffle it aside muttering that only more faith and religion will heal our wounds? Predictably the requirement is we must defend only not criticise at all the very ideology that brought death and violence to a Sydney cafe. Two hostages died. Two innocent and precious people killed by an ideologue and ideology that belongs in another time. No, this is a shaming type of censorship that is too far and beyond reason. The victims are not responsible, Australia is not responsible.
Islam is a religion that as with others (a point any critic of Islam is required to make), such as Christianity and Judaism, seeks to supplant its own ideology above that of secularity and humanism. And, whilst I am permitted to state this about other major religions, because of the simplistic argument that "they deserve it", I cannot say this about Islam as that would make me "racist" or "phobic". So, in a society which celebrates free will and freedom of association and thought, certain loud voices censor criticism of one religion whilst condoning or allowing the same criticism of others. Somehow the message that Islam's followers are an oppressed people and that criticism of their religion oppresses them more (so much so as to cause them psychological harm) holds under the weight of its obvious flaws.
It is clear that atrocious events like this latest one in its name demonstrate that Islam needs to enact change from within. Open secular societies, in which Islam's right to exist is defended equally alongside the rights of other faiths, cannot yield ground on such freedoms in order to further the aims of any one of those faiths above another, yet this is what it appears is expected for and by Islam.
What exactly does modern Islam want?
Islam cannot claim the pure epithet of a "religion of peace" when in order to gain "peace" it must be awarded only under Islam to the exclusion of all other religions and political and societal frameworks.
Islam, as is any other faith, is an ideology steeped in tradition, superstition and uncompromising observance. Islamic doctrine is, as are others, self-avowedly antithetical to humanism. How Islam is communicated to followers, along with serious doctrinal evolution, is required but no one of that faith appears to be at the point of even recognising this. Islam as a religion and as a political system seeks submission. Doctrinally, followers must reject all and every other way of life or living. The word of God through Mohammad as directed in the Koran is taken literally by many of its followers (it is difficult with some passages to see how else one might take them). Many of the Koran's passages are naturally seen as edicts one must follow to be a true Muslim, yet many are simply incompatible with a modern society of the 21st century where humanism, secularism and egalitarianism are celebrated and only enhance our humanity with purpose that has nothing to do with any religious affiliated. It is about time to note this with a dry eye. Ultimately when Islam reforms Islam will find the peace it claims it must currently impose on others.
To critique violence inspired in its name or to critique Islam as the product of so much mystical mumbo jumbo, as with any religion, are entirely consistent activities by atheists everywhere. It is consistent also within a secular, democratic society to, without fear or favour, challenge and critique systems whether political or religious. Atheists critique religion (plural), Islam warrants no special exemption on that basis. Violence perpetrated in the name of Islam should naturally then attract criticism.
Under the microscope yes we do likely have a mad man who was inspired in his madness and by his religion. Sometimes politics makes them mad. Sometimes religion. Sometimes both. It needs to be honestly recognised in this case and similar that the religion of Islam and the phenomenon of Islamofacsism converge to produce real life monsters. Monsters that only increase despite every repeated denial of their origin or existence. It is not as has been erroneously (without any valid or factual basis) and offensively contended that critics of Islam are somehow responsible for inflaming or inspiring terrorist to do their despicable acts. It is the message of Islam that requires examination and rewiring, Islam needs to emerge from or be subsumed by its Middle Ages Ideology.
"Shahada" is Islam's declaration of the faithful - the first pillar - and translates, without loss of context "There is no God but Allah and his prophet is Mohammad" It was this declaration, announcing the Sydney hostage siege and his act of violence that the self-proclaimed Islamic Cleric (I will not name him as he deserves no honour in being remembered) used to defend Islam and its ideology. Allah is praised or invoked by every suicide bomber, by every so called "insurgent", and, is the sentiment of every rocket or bomb targeting civilians.
Allah is God? We need less religion if this is the religious manifesto of Islam. The brutal and indiscriminate taking of innocent lives, the imprisonment and torment of hostages is a declaration of war on secularism and democracy in the name of Islam. Give me freedom from having to endure such religion.
If Allah is the message of peace under Islam it is a remarkably violent and oppressive expression in how some followers are manifesting him.
Note: The future does not rely upon our devotion to any religion or religiously derived ideology. It is instead more contingent upon our survival that we become less religious, less governed by superstition and antiquated God belief systems that endlessly and obsessively fight amongst themselves for pre-eminence as chosen ones in the eyes of their "God" delusion.