22 Apr 2008

The Truther Fairy

Despite every evidence to the contrary, people who have nothing in common except a lazy mind or a streak of the paranoid continue to believe in "9/11 Conspiracy" theories. Someone who might know is Al-Queda No 2 Ayman Al-Zawahiri who speaks here on the BBC. Ayman is a little upset at Iran's President Mr. Armouredinnerjacket for joining the "truther" ranks that are illuminated by such intellectual giants as Hollywoord film stars and Euro Members of Parliament - not to mention 70% of Frenchmen. Says The Beeb;

"Al-Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has blamed Iran for spreading the theory that Israel was behind the 11 September 2001 attacks.

In an audio tape posted on the internet, Zawahiri insisted al-Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the US. He accused Iran, and its Hezbollah allies, of trying to discredit Osama Bin Laden's network."

Come on Ayman, even though you planned 9/11, get with the programme, dammit. Everyone knows it was Booooooosh and the Joooooos.

21 Apr 2008

The Reform of the Snail

Shiraz Maher has hopeful views on Muslim conversions to other religions in his BBC piece here. His thoughts are progressive and show a slight healing of potential rifts between Muslims and Christians, but also point out the problem.

No two Muslims seem to agree what the Koran and Hadiths actually say. Another problem is, we simply don't know what language Muslim prophet Mohammed actually spoke. Archaic Arabic is almost impossible to recover, even by scholars.

Attitudinal change towards Muslim conversion, led by Imams or Mullahs, will have to take precedence over Muslim text, in that case. It will be a very long, slow process since the finality of "the word" in Islam is taken to an extreme not seen in most of Christianity for centuries. Islam also lacks a central authority and indeed since Mohammed's death has interminably warred within itself, something Christians avoided for almost 1500 years.

Indeed, only a decoupling of Islam from Sharia, as has happened in Turkey, will reform Islam enough to permit freedom of conversion, and as this story illustrates, even that is on shaky ground. Some Turks who convert are threatened with death or indeed murdered and this is after 80 years of a decoupled secular state in Turkey.

Getting Obama Wrong

Gitaru Warigi has a succinct analysis of the security problems raised by the Mungiki movement in Kenya but a fettered view of US politics at the end of his otherwise useful piece in Nairobi' Sunday Nation. Warigi sees Obama's nomination by the Democrats and his success subsequently again John McCain as a matter of race. My response to him by letter:

"Whilst your analysis of the Mungiki situation (SN 20th April) was superb, your dissection of the Obama nomination in the USA was crippled by a narrow perspective.

Contrary to popular fantasy, Americans are open to a non-white President though admittedly a minority are not. Colin Powell would have waltzed to victory in 1992 had he accepted the Republican nomination, but for personal reasons he refused.

Perhaps the overwhelming ethnicity of Kenya politics makes it hard for some to see that objections to an Obama candidacy or Presidency stem not primarily from his race, but from his electability. He is fervent left-winger in a country that is centrist or right of centre politically.

By contrast McCain is a moderate Republican, even a maverick, with a strong populist streak endearing to independant voters. It is these who decide Presidential elections and not the strident minority of Democratic or Republican activists in primaries.

I agree Obama will probably win the Democratic nomination. The Democrats are utterly unelectable in the USA without their usual 90% black support - despite up till the 19040's Blacks solidly voted for the Republicans, the party of Lincoln. That turn-around is another story. You are right that Democratic Party bigwigs will commit suicide politically to deny Obama the nomination, but their objections again have nothing to do with their "whiteness" - but Obama's ideology and thus electability.

To beat McCain, Obama will be scrutinised like never before and his inexperience and extreme left-wing ( in American terms) Senate record could well cost him the final prize - but not first and foremost, as you imagine. his race. Democrats, Republicans, PNO, ODM, New Labour or what-have-you possess one characteristic - a desire to win regardless of candidate."