Sometimes it feels like nothing graces these pages but pain and torture and death in the name of religion, it seems like I write almost exclusively about the most extreme wrongs that religion can do on Horror Show Sunday that maybe I forget that horrors don’t have to be quite so bloody.
Take the case of Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee, two bloggers in Malaysia who posted the photo to the left on their Facebook page and have now been arrested and jailed, facing up to 8 years in prison, for something that supposedly offends Muslims. What was so offensive? The pair were eating pork in the photo.
Now I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Eating pork is only “haram” for Muslims, there’s no conceivable religious reason why people who don’t share that belief ought not eat it, there’s nothing in the Qu’ran that demands that anyone outside of the faith should be harmed for not following Muslim dietary laws, etc. It just doesn’t exist. The same can be applied to Jewish or Catholic dietary laws, nobody was ever thrown in prison for eating beef on Friday. However, there are a lot of Muslim-majority cultures around the world today who are not only insisting that everyone respect their religion, but demanding that everyone be bound by their religious traditions as well. Some areas have passed very open-ended laws against “blasphemy” and leave it up to the locals to determine what actually constitutes blasphemy against Islam. If they don’t like what you’re doing, they stamp “BLASPHEMY” on it and cart you off to jail, or in extreme cases, just kill you outright. There is nothing specifically insulting to Islam in the picture and even if there were, so what?
So long as we allow the religious to run riot over people’s rights, so long as we allow them to force their religious beliefs and traditions and laws on everyone they come across, the planet is going to have a problem with Islam, just as we would no matter what religion was doing it. I’d be equally critical of any group who did the same thing and declared that any ideas, pictures, words or thoughts that fell outside of their strict religious beliefs is heretical and deserves to be punished. We send hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to Malaysia every year, if our government had any balls whatsoever, we’d stop that immediately.
Unfortunately, they don’t and the people of the world don’t have the guts to stand up against the ravaging hordes of Islamic intolerance either. That’s why this story, like so many others, ends up in the Religious Horror Show.