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The Muslim assimilation question

I have noticed questions about the integration of Muslims into Western societies, from both Muslims and non-Muslims. The questions vary, of course, but tend to boil down to two basic questions: 1) Why don’t Muslims assimilate and 2) Why do non-Muslims think we don’t assimilate?

I am going to share my thoughts in an attempt to provide some insights to both the above perspectives. There will no doubt be readers who disagree. I ask both sides to consider that understanding of difference is the way to build tolerance and friendship in our community. No-one has to agree or believe as another does, but understanding of another can go a very long way to building bridges.

As I have stated before (and do again for new readers) I am a humanist, an atheist. How I look at Christian and Islamic beliefs will differ from those who follow those faiths. Many Australians do not follow any religion. Yet we need to ensure we can all get along in a multi-cultural society. You may ask, as an atheist, why do I care at all? Wouldn’t I prefer to ban religion? Yes, actually, I would prefer there were no religions at all, but I know whenever we ban anything, we push it underground and historically that hasn’t worked too well, has it? Prohibition in the USA failed miserably. Prostitution is the oldest profession on the planet and has never been eradicated. Making drugs illegal seems to bring many problems I won’t go into here. The best solution is to build tolerance and understanding.

The Islamic faith has some beliefs that Western society could adopt: the spirit of charity, living a virtuous life (I interpret that as a life in which one is  honest, ethical and does not cheat, steal, lie etc) and to refrain from vice and evil actions. We could do with a little more of all of that.

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Muslims ARE speaking out, non-Muslims need to listen

Following on from previous articles in relation to the terror alert and the social ramifications in Australia:

I would like to draw readers’ attention to examples of Muslims speaking out. The first is a video of Reza Aslan on CNN. The full Media Matters report can be found HERE.

In The Age, Reem Sweid writes (please do read Reem’s full article):

No matter how much I hear that Islam is a religion of violence and oppression, I think my faith is beautiful and has shaped me in every way. I have Muslim friends who are kind, generous and loving. So it saddens and angers me to see my religion defiled by the self-titled Islamic State. But what stings even more is seeing the wider Australian community so willing to believe that these barbarians represent Islam and Muslims.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/muslims-are-speaking-out-but-no-one-is-listening-20140930-10nktr.html#ixzz3Ex1OIQnr

We need to listen.

Feel free to add links to other examples in the comments.

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Whichever way you look at it, this is SO wrong

A story fluttered into my view on Facebook, that repository of factual information. I noticed a few other similar reports of the same incident and given the Here’s A Quick Recap Of All The Times Australia Treated Muslims Like Complete Garbage This Week I had read not long ago, together with the reports I was hearing on the radio about an attack on a woman on a train in Melbourne, later reported in The Age, there was little reason to disbelieve the incident had taken place. Let’s look at these two reports in a little more detail.

From the first link above:

… the last week or so has seen so much Muslim-bashing it’s almost like we’re back in 2001 again. Or 2005. Or 2006 — look, the point is, we’ve fallen back really, really hard into our nasty old habit of treating Muslims — or anyone we think is a Muslim — like the aliens in District 9.

From The Age:

A woman has been left traumatised after her head was smashed into the side of train carriage during an apparent racial attack in Melbourne’s north.

The 26-year-old victim was on an Upfield line train outbound on Thursday night when she was approached by another woman, who began hurling abusive and racist remarks.

WA Today recently reported:

A mother has been spat on, a baby’s pram kicked, a pig’s head has been impaled on a cross and mosques vandalised in a worrying escalation of attacks against Australian Muslims.

Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/rise-in-attacks-against-aussie-muslims-20140924-10lhl9.html#ixzz3EnqXpBo1

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I am bragging

I have reason to brag – and so I am!

I have achieved THIS major milestone!

Smoke free

As a result of that, yesterday I was able to swim 3 kilometres! No, It didn’t take 16 hours – that is just the time I left the pool. :)

Three Kilometres

I’m pretty proud of both these achievements, given my arthritic knee. Age? What’s that got to do with anything?

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Read Katherine Murphy’s The Acid Test

I’d like to draw your attention to a very interesting article on The Guardian by Katherine Murphy.

Given The Guardian doesn’t have the WordPress “reblog” feature, this is the best I can do!

Given that parliament seems to be on a path to deliver a bigger surveillance state and less means for whistleblowers to expose its abuses or for journalists to scrutinise it, a bit of push back from the community might have been expected. This is, after all, a pretty important principle: public interest disclosure and press freedom.

Click through to read the full article at The Guardian. Even if you are not Australian you might find parallels in your own country.

Katherine’s profile lists other articles you may find interesting.

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Why ebola puts the zombie apocalypse into proper perspective

Team Oyeniyi:

A very astute summation.

Originally posted on M J Wright:

I spend quite a bit of time wondering about the zombie apocalypse. Like why I and a few drinking buddies will be sole humans out of 7 billion who aren’t turned into zombies? If I put gym treadmills outside every window on my house, will that be enough to stop the zombies coming in, and can I generate electricity that way? And why do we suppose it will be a ‘human’ zombie apocalypse? Maybe we’ll be inundated with zombie llamas. Here in New Zealand someone made a movie about zombie sheep. Very funny it was, too.

1707 map of North West Africa showing the arbitrary colonial divisions. Wikimedia Commons.

1707 map of North West Africa showing the arbitrary colonial divisions. Wikimedia Commons.

But really I shouldn’t worry. Zombies aren’t real. Unlike the ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is very, very real – and no laughing matter. So why the zombie thought? Well, a friend of mine suggested that the socialimpact of the ebola…

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Climate Change or Terrorism?

As an Australian, I am very disappointed our Prime Minister has not seen fit to attend the UN Climate Summit 2014. I am not at all surprised, of course: I did write Tony, religion and the dumb country twelve months ago today.

Interpretation and translation are everything.

Another version of the Bible gives Verse 22 as:

‘While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.’Remaineth? Endures? Similar, but different.

Nowhere, in either translation, do I see it saying the earth will remain forever. In fact, both specifically say “As long as“, which to me clearly indicates something other than forever! Many, too many, of the human race are like teenagers expecting their mythical creature to act like a parent and pay their speeding fines.

That’s just not going to happen, folks.

The reasons for our action in Iraq is very well discussed by Ben Saul in The Age. Ben closes with the reminder we are the world’s 12th largest economy.

It also matters who does the killing. It is not the responsibility of the United States to provide global public security, and to assume all the risks which that entails. The international community as a whole must share in it.

Australia is the world’s 12th largest economy. We are more than a middle power. We cannot bury our heads in the sand in splendid isolation. Who will protect civilians from death and terror if we do not? When should we act for humanity, if not now?

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-legal-argument-for-australian-military-action-against-islamic-state-must-be-watertight-20140924-10lisw.html#ixzz3EKBfjU6e

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Office 2013 is Colourless or Colorless

Now for something completely different. Technology.

I have a new laptop with Windows 8 and Office 2013/Office 365. Very fancy. I like the backlit keyboard.

The Start button has gone! I hear Microsoft have brought it back with Windows 9 – good move.

The Office themes are too white. Whiter than white. Oh, there is a Dark Gray and a Light Gray option. Not very artistic choices, sadly.

First let us look at the default White option. I had to put a border around the screen snip or you’d never see it!

Office2013-White

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Australia and Torture

Australia and Torture. These are two words I never thought I’d hear or read in the same sentence. Yet this week I have. I’ve tried to ignore it, but I cannot. After all, we know about the operations of one of our closest allies, the USA.

Torture | Amnesty International USA

* The Bush Administration decided the Geneva Conventions would not apply to detainees held in Guantánamo Bay (a decision later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court) Article III of the Geneva Convention
* The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel produced a series of “torture memos,” which mutilated the law so as to restrict the definition of CID and to make certain torture practices seem legal under U.S. law;
* U.S. interrogations of suspects in the “war on terror” have included such cruel and inhuman techniques as prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, intimidation by the use of a dog, sexual and other humiliation, stripping, hooding, the use of loud music, white noise, and exposure to extreme temperatures;
* The CIA used waterboarding – illegal as torture under international and U.S. law – to interrogate three “high-value” detainees;
* The U.S. began to send detainees for interrogation to countries known to use torture;
* President Bush admitted that several high-level officials in his Administration met secretly to authorize specific interrogation methods otherwise prohibited.

Source: Amnesty International

On Thursday, September 18, 2014 Paul Sheehan wrote

It is not clear why the Attorney-General, George Brandis, believes it is necessary for the Australian government to have the latitude to resort to torture, but you could drive a truck through his National Security Legislation Amendment Bill and not hit anything that says “do not torture people”.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/george-brandis-new-antiterror-law-allows-asio-to-torture-20140917-10i9hv.html#ixzz3DwzOJUTZ

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Terrorists are terrorists

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear. Terrorists are terrorists. Regular readers know as an atheist I don’t have a lot of tolerance for religions. I acknowledge there are a lot of very good religious people but I believe those people are good people with or without religion: they would be great humanists. Religion didn’t make them good people.

Since the terror alert was raised by Mr Abbott some Australians seem to think that is a licence to attack innocent people. This has to stop. Here are just two examples of what is happening now.

Or this on Facebook:

car

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