Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ehsanullah Ehsan: "Please pray for us."

"We condemn the brutal killings. We deeply believe that justice will be done, that people who love peace will prevail, but now the grief is deeply shared by all of us. With every such tragic loss, we bleed in our hearts. . . The opportunists who committed the murders in Mazar-i-Sharif do not represent the wider public of Afghanistan." -Ehsanullah Ehsan, Afghan-Canadian Community Centre, Kandahar.

“This is a war between fundamentalists. And we are all the victims." - Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Afghanistan’s national security adviser.

"I disapprove of what happened in Mazar. People did not expect the demonstration to lead to bloodshed and spoil the beauty of Balkh province," Mullah Qasem Khateeb, Mazar-i-Sharif.

As an aside, let me just say to all those numpties who drone on and on in their yesbuttery about how, after all, Jones didn't kill anyone, there is no comparison between burning a book and killing a human being, ad nauseum: please keep your silly moot point to yourself. Its flipside is the dismissal-worthy utterance from the UN's kalan naffar in Afghanistan, Staffan di Mistura: "We should be blaming the person who produced the news - the one who burned the Koran."

Thus Moran Jones meets his match in di Mistura, and meanwhile, Lauryn Oates points out the other back-breaking burden the Afghan people and all the rest of us are obliged to bear in the populist demagoguery of President Hamid Karzai: "Once again, the feckless Karzai seized upon an opportunity to flirt with his conservative supporters, with utter disregard for the very deadly consequences."

If there are any Christians who read this who are so possessed of self-righteousness that they would want to turn this into yet another "see I told you so, this proves that muzzies are madmen" exercise, my advice is that you get down on your knees and beg your God's forgiveness for your dirty bigotry. To those Muslims who are so stupid and small-minded that they would demand laws banning religious offence of the Jones' kind: Grow up. That is not how free people behave.

For all sincere people of any faith who read this, my brother Ehsanullah Ehsan, a devout Muslim, has something he wants to ask of you: "Please pray for us."

Ehsan is a better man than me.


Blogger Henry said...

Terry: I am neither a Christian, nor am I filled with self-righteousness, nor do I blame the "crazy Muzzies" in general for what happened in Mazar-i-sharif and Kandahar.

That being said, your statement "to those Muslims who are so stupid and small-minded that they would demand laws banning religious offence of the Jones' kind: Grow up. That is not how free people behave," is completely correct. So I still don't see what, beyond condemnation of Jones' stupidity and bigotry and marginalizing him (not really necessary, since he was completely marginal to begin with), you expect of those of us who don't believe that a provocation from the other side of the world (if indeed it is possible to provoke from such distances) should deflect any attention from what was, when all is said and done, a series of brutal, senseless killings. In short, I still don't know what it is you're trying to say. And I feel bad you seem to be taking these points the wrong way.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Henry: I have absolutely no idea what it is you are trying to say, and I havve no idea what "points" you seem to think I am taking the wrong way, or what I have said to leave you with that impression. As for me, I'm not trying to say anything. Why don't you ask a clear and specific question?

To be clear: If you want to engage in such absurd circumlocutions as to propose that what Jones did had nothing to do with the result it was specifically intended to produce, and indeed did produce, you're the one who has some explaining to do.

My point, if I have one, has been consistent. We are all hostages to religious fanatics, whether these fanatics have the means to slaughter (the killers in Mazar) or are otherwise restrained by law and the lack of means and opportunity (Jones) to slaughter. To that extent, yes, there is very much a logical and rational and factual equivalence to be drawn - not the dopey pomo kind of the sort we're hearing from the coward di Mistura.

Spanta has it right, although I would quibble with his term "fundamentalists". The allegedly offended lunatics who have been rampaging in Afghanistan are the least likely among Afghans to have even read the Quran, let alone to have adopted a fealty to the fundamentals of the book's teachings.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

My report on what really happened, who was behind it, and how it started:


2:07 PM  
Blogger The Athenian said...


You write: "We are all hostages to religious fanatics, whether these fanatics have the means to slaughter (the killers in Mazar) or are otherwise restrained by law and the lack of means and opportunity (Jones) to slaughter."

I do not understand your above quoted comment at all. We are not hostage to Rev. Jones. He plays no role in my life. He played no real role in the lives of the killers in Afghanistan either, other than furnish a pretext to commit mayhem.

You might reasonably say that Jones has interest in religious polemics; he denies that is the case, for what it is worth. He claims only to oppose Islamists. Be that as it may, I tend to think he was engaged in a form of religious polemics. However, that is not at all what those in Afghanistan who commit mayhem have in mind. This is there way of saying, you may not commit what they take to be blasphemy.

I am not religious and my view is that those who believe in the concept of blasphemy are using the language of the Middle Ages. That, so far, is not the game played by Jones (although, who knows what he may yet say).

I do not wish to play the blame game here; only to provide a reasonable interpretation of what each of the parties involved has in mind. I also look at this as one watching the civil liberties of Americans being placed on the alter of protecting US foreign policy. Which is to say, while burning books is a loathsome thing, it is, as ought to be obvious in the case of Jones, an act of symbolic speech, one which those who believe in civil liberties need to stand with, offensive though some may find his speech.

So, while not playing the blame game, I do play the game of what is appropriate for civilized humans: symbolic speech is OK, even if offensive; killing people to protest symbolic speech is loathsome and needs to be condemned. And, that does not mean saying I like the content of that speech; only that such speech is within the pale of reasonable discourse in society.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"I also look at this as one watching the civil liberties of Americans being placed on the alter of protecting US foreign policy."

You must be high.

By the way, there's no such thing as "symbolic speech."

4:51 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

And this should tell you something about how wrong you are: You describe Jones' ritualized burning of a book - a koran - which he burned for the explicit purpose of inciting violence and mayhem - which it did incite - as a form of speech that is "within the pale of reasonable discourse in society."

You'd have to be mental to honestly believe such a thing.

5:55 PM  
Blogger The Athenian said...


Thank you for your comments. Regarding "symbolic speech," it is a term that appears in a number of US Supreme Court cases. It refers to symbolic acts (e.g. flag burning) which are performed in order to communicate a message. You can add that one to your otherwise large vocabulary.

As for the reason that violence occurred, the reason has to do with certain clerics who see fit to rabble rouse their flocks to commit mayhem. As Rebecca from Mystical-Politics notes, there have been Talmud and Bible burnings, etc. I do not recall Jews or Christians committing acts of Mayhem in response. There are also - and this occurs on a regular basis - Bible burnings in Muslim countries, most particularly in Saudi Arabia. Again, the response is not to commit mayhem.

You claim that Jones intended to incite violence by Muslims. Maybe so. Why did certain Muslims in Afghanistan take the bait? Are they children? You seem to think so.

One last point: since at least the fatwa to kill Salman Rushdie, there has been an effort by Islamists to use mayhem to silence all criticism of Islam. Is it not the appropriate response to stand up for our values and against the Islamist anti-blasphemy campaign? While I think burning books, even books thought by some to be sacred, is loathsome, standing up for our values is far more important; standing up to bullies who use mayhem as a political tactic is even more important, lest you want, eventually, to be subjected to the values of the bullies.

8:32 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Terry: Jones may have provoked violence knowingly, but he certainly did not "incite" it. The only way Jones could have incited violence by burning a koran is if a horde of Muslims was set upon. No such thing happened, of course. Jones pissed them off, but did not urge them to riot or kill. The only incitement was by Karzai and the clerics egging on the crowd. You may think this is quibbling about words, but I think the misuse of the word "incitement" has wider implications.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Athenian: "Symbolic speech" is a legal fiction, which is fine as far as it goes, and while it might suit the jargon of lawyers it is no more relevant to this discussion than the fictional status a corporation enjoys as a "person" in law. It's as useful as a logatome - a nonsense word. There's one for your vocabulary.

"You claim that Jones intended to incite violence by Muslims. Maybe so." This is not what I claim. This was Jones claims. Look it up.

"Why did certain Muslims in Afghanistan take the bait?" As I pointed out in a previous comment, my answer is here:

You've already betrayed yourself as someone who thinks the vulgar sacrilege of book-burning intended as a deliberate incitement is, merely because it is not on the face of it unlawful, "within the pale of reasonable discourse in society." Well, sorry. I guess my standards are higher.

To wallow in the obvious distinctions between burning books and killing people is to hide behind an obvious and moot point in order to conceal that your "standing up to bullies" does not include standing up to Jones. It is pretending that Jones is not a bull yin his own right, and to pretend that he bears no responsibility at all, no culpability whatsoever, for what has happened.

I'm not for pretending, and as for this: "Are they children? You seem to think so." You can go away and insult someone else now.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Vildechaye. You say I seem to think this is just quibbling about words, but I'm afraid that's what you're doing. And I have no idea what this means: "The only way Jones could have incited violence by burning a koran is if a horde of Muslims was set upon." Then you say Karzai is guilty of incitement, even though Karzai doesn't meet your own definition, which is to "urge them to riot or kill."

12:25 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Terry: You are correct that Karzai doesn't really meet the definition of incitement. However, in this instance, he comes a lot closer to it than Jones, simply because it was he who ensured that Afghans heard the koran-burning. But, you're right, he didn't actually incite the mob. That honor goes to the clerics who whipped them up. And Terry, I never said you think this is quibbling about words, I said "you (i.e. terry) may think this is (me, vildechaye) quibbling about words..." etc etc.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

There are gradations of culpability, and I actually do situate Jones, the Khomeinists and Karzai himself among the culpable, along with Mullah Zadran in Mazar, who I am told has now had the fatal fear of Allah put into him by no less a fearsome personality than Governor Noor. One more anti-UN tirade in the form of a sermon and you go straight to jail, Noor has told him, I am reliably advised. Not a "liberal" approach, but I am afraid that for the moment it will have to do.

What I find tragically lost in all this is that in their way, the Mazaris have found themselves in the same terrible predicament as those of us in liberal and free societies who are obliged to tolerate Wahabbist inciters at our universities along with such scum as Terry Jones.

For years, going along to get along, the Mazaris quite properly encouraged a toleration among and between Sunni and Shia Sufis, conservative Sunnis and Shia, Tajiks, and Pashtuns, the neo-Zorastrian celebrations of Nawruz alongside the harsher devotions of orthodox Sunnis, and so on. This openness they then extended to the fomenters and rabble-rousers among the mullahs behind the Mazar massacre.

Instead of sympathy and fellow-feeling and an understanding of our shared vulnerabilities to the provocations of extremists and haters, what Mazaris are generally getting from us in the "west" is a bigoted suspicion that underneath it all, they are no better than Talibs. And instead of understanding the predicament we in free societies face when confronted by the likes of Jones and his vulgarities, Afghans are being encouraged by no less a personality than their president to see us all as Muslim-hating, koran-burning nutters.

This is what I mean when I say we are all hostages to these fanatics.

11:52 AM  

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