A lot of famous people have died this week—Don Knotts, Darren McGavin and Dennis Weaver--but I was most shocked and saddened to learn of the death of sci-fi/fantasy author Octavia Butler who was only 58. I was a big fan of her work, to say the least.
All of her stories featured black persons—sometimes that fact was essential to the story line; other times it was incidental. For me, her best work was Lilith’s Brood, also known as the ‘Xenogenesis’ series: Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago.
Her last work—which I haven’t read yet--is called Fledgling. I can’t wait to read, though I will dread finishing it, knowing that it will be Ms. Butler’s last.
Freedom manifesto. Publishing at Jyllends-Posten, some of the bravest minds of our age challenge the orthodoxy:
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.
We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.
We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.
We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Go to the link for bios of these important people. The Belmont Club has this: 'The intellectual gauntlet has been flung full in the face of Islamism by an unlikely group which includes a Somalian woman, Bangladeshis, exiled Iranians, Lebanese, fugitive British writers of subcontinental origin and an assortment of individuals with a vague left-wing background, none of whom would have been granted admittance to a London gentleman's club in the 19th century. And their manifesto has been printed, not in the New York Times, Le Monde or the Times of London, but of all places, in a provincial Danish newspaper of no particular fame. Never has free speech in the West seen so unlikely a league of defenders. ...'
One of the signatories of that manifesto, lesbian Muslim reformer Irshad Manji, answers readers on the Danish Mohammed cartoons:
"I saw you on the Danish news. As a convert to Islam and an ethnic Dane, I have been so sad and shocked to watch my brothers and sisters behave in the most undignified way. Can't they see that they portray Islam as a violent and unforgiving religion? Personally, I can't see why non-Muslims should ever submit to an Islamic taboo. Actually I found the drawings to be hilarious. I know they were harsh, but that is Danish humour. And I think that Muhammad, peace be upon him, had a sense of humour." - Østen
Irshad replies: He must have had a great sense of humor to put up with the ignorance and threats that he got from his fellow Arabs. Speaking of ignorance and threats...
"i hear ur interview on cnn about the protests of cartoon character of prophet muhammad, peace be upon him. u said that why r there huge protests in muslim world. my answer is why not. print the cartoon of jesus and see what the christians will do.
remember me because by gods promise u n ur partner that bastard rushdie will die with lot of pain n u both will pray for death but death will not come to u so easily inshallah. n u will die soon inshallah. n ur soul will rot in hell. read this n remember every day." - handsome_guy
The rotting soul replies: I challenge you to read the next letter every day and learn the difference between between intimidation and disagreement...
"Based on things I've read on your website, I'm sure we would not agree on most political issues and regarding sexuality (I'm a conservative Christian). However, I just want to say that I wish for you all things good, pray that you continue to influence people in a positive way, and thank God that you are out there doing that already. Shuukran and ma'salaama!" - Tracy
"Caught your interview on CNN. Where did you get your ideas from? I know you like white cocks in your wide and stinky pussy but keep in your limits you dumb fuckin bitch ass gang banged hoe." - anonymous
Irshad replies: I don't know where YOU get your ideas because I've never had such, uh, penetrating sex. Ever. In my life. But that, my friend, is the kind of pleasure you may need -- at least according to the next Muslim...
"I saw you on CNN discussing the hysteria over the Danish Muhammad cartoons. I also read your book back in late 2003 and at that time I was struck with indignation and joined with other Muslims in condemning it. I'm a white boy who converted to Islam when I was 17 out of a combination of seeking meaning in my life and rebelling against society. I am also gay, and only came to terms with that about a year or so ago. And now, while I still believe in Allah and Muhammad as his messenger, I also get the feeling that God gives us plenty of room to be human.
I guess while I love Allah, I dislike Muslims. Most, if not all, annoy me to the core of my being. Sometimes I feel that Muslims deserve to be offended by such trivial things like the Danish cartoons. I thought they were kind of funny, actually! I especially liked the quote by one of the editors of a Jordanian paper who reprinted the cartoons: 'What is more insulting to Islam, someone drawing a cartoon or someone blowing up a wedding party?'
Muslims need to wake up. They also need to start drinking wine, embrace any and all homoerotic tendencies, write some poetry and for the most part free themselves of the fundamentalist chains they have created (for themselves and everyone else!). The Muslim world will only be free when bars fill the streets and women show off their natural, feminine beauty. Muslims need to grow up and stop expecting everyone to be mindless sheep before a 1,400-year-old oral tradition. Nakedness will free Dar-al-Islam!" - Jamal
Irshad replies: When the revolution comes, Jamal, remind me to shave my legs.
"Shari'a exists wherever Muslims happen to exist." Yet another beautiful post from Abde at City of Brass:
n the wake of various polls that purportedly prove that British muslims desire Talibanesque rule, I'd like to bring attention to the following commentary on Shari'a from Thabet of the Muslims Under Progress blog:
Shari'ah exists where ever Muslims happen to exist. So if a Muslim decides not to eat a bacon sandwich, to avoid alcohol, to visit the mosque on a Friday, to perform the qui-daily pray, to pay zakat, to ritually wash herself, and the Muslim does all this living in London, New York or Sydney, then shari'ah is in existence and being observed.
This teaser excerpt does not do the essay justice; please do read the rest. Or not, as you prefer - I have discharged my duty. ...
Now discharge your duty (if you choose!) and read the post at the link - and follow Abde's link to the original essay.