Recent Activities

Just in case anyone runs away with the idea that I’m being too kind to religion here – let’s take a quick look at some of its recent cavortings.

There are the nice people who burn down new schools in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Militants in southern Afghanistan are reported to have burned down three schools in their latest move against the government’s education system. Officials blamed the former ruling Taleban for burning down the newly-built schools in Helmand province which serve some 1,000 boys and girls.

There are the fun guys who want to prevent women from running in races.

Some 500 women took part in three races in Lahore, although 2,000 due to run had backed out over fears of violence. Islamic protesters had demanded women be barred from taking part, arguing their presence ran counter to Islam…The six-party Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) alliance had opposed the mixing of men and women in such public events and had urged protesters to disrupt the race. They insisted that women runners should race separately, and indoors.

And that women should be confined and prevented and deprived in every way possible. Of course they did. Men and women mustn’t mix, therefore women must have their lives made as small and empty as possible. Naturally.

And there are the lovable fellas who line up to call women foul names for the crime of – learning to drive a car.

“I’m a broad-minded person,” declared the Afghan driving instructor. “But I was shocked by her behaviour.” “Really?” I asked. His female student had laughed. Was that really so bad? “It was shameful and embarrassing,” he replied. “Her character is no better than that of an animal.”…One of the women who was learning to drive had been beaten by the Taleban for removing her burqa in a shop, even though the only male present at the time was a twelve-year-old boy…I watched as Roya walked towards the test car. A long line of men had gathered by the side of the road. As she walked slowly along the line, her head bowed down, she heard the whispers of invective and abuse. She refused to tell me exactly what they had said, but I later found out she had been called a “prostitute”, a “bitch” and an “un-Islamic whore.” She failed the test. “We have freedom now,” she said. “But we are not free to enjoy it.”

There are the heroic enthusiasts who threaten Scandinavians because a Danish newspaper published cartoons mocking a guy they admire.

And so on and so on. People with mistaken ideas about reality and disgusting ideas about morality, bullying and punishing and tormenting people for the sake of those very mistaken or disgusting ideas. If religion is not the root of all evil, a lot of people spend an awful lot of energy trying to convince the rest of us that that’s exactly what it is.

I hope I don’t get seven years for saying that.

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