destruction of the secular muse
This is the first painting of a series that evolved as a reaction to the 11 September 2001 attack on the United States and the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas some months earlier. (This essay, first written in 2002 was re-edited 11/11/2008.)
These works are a commentary on the intolerance by religion, in particular Islam, of pluralistic thought. Future images will feature the same figures ("muses") - amalgams of bone & flesh - wearing gas-masks, or whose faces metamorphose into gas-masks [example: Islamproofing the post-industrial muse].
In this image, the background is bomb-cratered, a consequence of war, and from these craters fires burn (much like the landscape left by Saddam Hussein who set the oil-fields of Kuwait alight after the 1990 Gulf War which resulted in massive lakes of petrol after the fires were extinguished - a shimmering liquid beauty in the middle of a desert - beautiful to behold but deleterious to all life). The future images will feature the means of defences with artillery pieces. I've even thought of the title for one: unintended temptations of a disrespectful aphrodite.
The invention of a transcendent force, a monotheistic god, and a concomitant desire to believe in this god's existence is so powerful in believers, that the fear of being without this god, is falsely equated with living a life without meaning/purpose. This is the Hebrew god, derived from the Persian faith Zoroastrianism, appropriated by Rome and installed as part of the apparatus of the state: Christendom. Islam took its model of the theocratic state from Sassanid Persia which practiced a brutal intolerance of any faith other than that of Zoroaster. This is attested to in the insriptions of the Zoroastrian high priest Kartir: "Kartir called for the persecution of adherents of other religions" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kartir ).
The forcible imposition of Islam on the vanquished has been an ongoing pursuit of Muslims since Islam's very inception, which is still pursued by Muslims to this day: Buddhist "idols" are destroyed in Afghanistan; Hindus murdered in India; Christians (e.g. Copts) harried in Egypt; Zoroastrians, the original Persians, slowly being eliminated by the application of Islam's apostasy laws in Iran; Christians in Indonesia slaughtered; Christians in the Philippines abducted and then murdered; Jews forbidden to even enter Muslim regimes from Morocco to Malaysia and murdered on their own land for the 'crime' of simply being born Jews - because it is demanded in the Koran. From Nigeria, to Israel, to Indonesia, to the USA, to the Philippines, to India, to Afghanistan and Iran, people are killed because they are either not Muslim or have been deemed to hold positions antithetic to Islam. It is staggering to think that the heirs of the Franks (English, Germans, French) ignore the historical reality that Zoroastrian Persians, Orthodox Christian Syrians and Coptic Egyptians were vanquished by Arab Muslims and forcibly converted to Islam 700 years before the Christian Spanish vanquished and converted the "New World" to Christianity. 600 years of Islamic rule in the Iberian peninsula gave the Spanish a model for their pursiut of world conquest.
A deceit is currently being perpetrated by those with an ulterior religious agenda (whether Christian or Muslim): religion induced terrorist atrocities are instead claimed to have been undertaken by persons who have lost "god", atheists. This is at odds with the demands made by the god of the Koran & is symptomatic of a lack of understanding of what the word "atheist" actually means. Atheism is an absence of belief, not a belief in god not existing: it essentially means "un god". As an atheist I reject god by whatever name it might be referred. In critiquing religion, insofar as debunking the existence of god, it makes no difference whether it is the god referred to as Jehovah, by Jews/Christians, or Allah by Muslims. The idea of god fails profoundly. (There are a number of arguments positing the existence of god - teleological, cosmological, ontological, anthropic cosmological principle - but they all fail). It is staggering to think that to Muslims the idea of atheism is seen as a Christian manifestation, that the debunking of god is merely a debunking only of the Christian god. Nothing could be further from the truth. Allah does not exist as equally as god does not exist by whatever other name it goes by [a longer essay on atheism].
The Koran demands its followers many times over to commit acts of violence against nonbelievers:
The Imrans 3:149: "Believers...put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers."
Repentance 9:123: "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you."
The Cow 2.216: "fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you..."
Repentance 9:41 " Whether unarmed or well equipped, march on and fight for the cause of Allah, with your wealth and your persons."
The Koran demands that followers kill on behalf of Allah on pain of Allah's punishment for not killing:
The exhortation to violence against nonbelievers in the Koran is not limited to the passages quoted above. Apologists explain Muslim violence as the hijacking of a peaceful religion by evil men... The Koran however demonstrates the obverse to be true: it demands that believers kill on pain of divine punishment. The 11 September 2001 attack on the USA was not an aberration. Terrorism goes by the name of Islam.
On the second anniversary of the day of Islamic infamy, 11 September 2001, the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard said in parliament:
"It is obscene to say that these acts of terrorism were done in the name of Islam. They prostitute and degrade the name of Islam. "
The Koran must be a considerable inconvenience for these type of claims. Somehow the citizen of the nation state is the sacrificial offering made to the religious ideological delusions of our political leaders. The few individuals that are made as a sacrificial offering to religious terrorism are worth it if the religious get to keep their conviction that religion is a force for good! However, lying about the causes of terrorism will never resolve the issue even if it comforts those who make such utterances.
What for us are our liberties (whether we choose a faith or not, how we dress) are instead seen by muslims as a flagrant disregard borne of our contempt for the message of Islam.
Islam is incompatible with any pluralist society with humanist values, whether secular or religious.
Addenda 9 Feb 2006
In the context of the violence engineered by the Muslim world regarding innocuous cartoons critical of Islam printed in a Danish newspaper, my position is fully vindicated. The insidious Muslim priest (imam) Abu Laban who engineered the backlash against the Danish cartoons did so to, as he said, "expose the atheistic tendencies of the west" (channel 10, Aus, 5:00 pm news bulletin, 9/2/2006). In Islam belief is compulsory. It cannot be negotiated, it cannot be abandoned: you have no say. Abandoning faith attracts the death sentence, for the "crime" of apostasy. Central here is the attack on secular society to critically assess and comment on religion. The claim made that the cartoons are symptomatic of disrespect for Islamic custom are frightening. According to the Koran men have the automatic right to beat their wives (4.34), and for the sake of consistency it could be argued that the imposition of secular laws prohibiting them from doing so by making this act a crime is a means of preventing them from practicing their religion. There is no logical basis to stop there. When the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas they did so because they were deemed an offense to Islam. Muslims could then argue that any belief other than their own is disrespectful of Islam and support this position with their Koran. This is an attack as much on other religions as it is on secularity. Whether Christians understand it or not, unless we all support a secular society which has rules and guidelines arrived at independently of religion, and which are not bound by religion, then we are doomed to a prolonged and slow haemorrhagic death. So far terrorism has inspired a greater disposition to religious belief, even though the acts of terrorism that have led to this increased religioisity have been committed by the followers of religion, a religion which calls for such acts of violence. This is the wrong direction.
What is more frightening is the attitude of the UN. To quote from, http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=20622 the matter of these cartoons has been presented to the UN Human Rights Commission for investigation:
"The UN was happy to take the case. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, wrote to the OIC: 'I understand your attitude to the images that appeared in the newspaper. I find alarming any behaviors that disregard the beliefs of others. This kind of thing is unacceptable.' She announced that investigations for racism and 'Islamophobia' would commence forthwith."
This is seriously loopy. This line of pursuit means that any and all secular laws, including those prohibiting domestic violence against women, can be deemed disrespectful of Muslim religious belief if applied to them as they are laws that "disregard the beliefs of others". One wonders if Louise Arbour will, at best, present her finding cloaked in a berqa so that she does not cause offence, before retiring to her home to venture out only when in the company of a male... lest she be seen to disrespect the beliefs of Muslims.
In this way it is evident that the UN is acquiescing to Muslim demands to have investigated as acts of religious intolerance any action critical of their religion! The UN has therefore found itself playing the role of the 'body for the enforcement for compulsory religious worship', and sees itself as a body that exists to enforce theism. How long will it be until Christians gain the right to the unrestricted pursuit of their religion, and tear down the mosques (Exodus 22.20 & 22.24): and kill people who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 35.2; Numbers 15.32-36); and kill homosexuals (Leviticus 18.22-23 & Romans 1.24-32)? We need a Bill of Rights that acknowledges our right to freedom from religion[Vakras Bill of Rights]. If Muslims want to live in a theocracy, one wonders why they migrate to western democracies, which to varying degrees separate the role of the church from that of the state, unless it is merely a means by which it is intended they convert us to their faith.
"In Norway, where according to the newspaper Dagbladet, 65 percent of rapes last year were performed by "non-Western immigrants", a professor at Oslo University told women they must take their share of responsibility for the rapes because Muslim men found their dress provocative. "Norwegian women must realise that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it," he said. It is in such ways that long fought-for freedoms begin to erode." quoted by Pamela Bone The Age 3/9/2002
The UN has adopted a 2,500 year old idea in which it is mandatory for the world community to believe in things divine [impiety laws].
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