This post was 'inspired' by the piece about 80 days in Iranian prison for watching volleyball: 'Why isn't UK Foreign Office helping my little sister?' - Telegraph
When i read about cases like this i think 'who said time travel wasn't possible? Just board a plane and land in Middle Ages, aka Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and a myriad of other countries'.
Is it just my impression or do most of them predominantly practice Islam? Is this just a coincidence then?
Or is it just that Christianity purged its fanaticism at the time of inquisition and crusades, it has given religious extremism a good long try and now is done with that (hopefully). Christianity seems to be overwhelmingly moderate these days and easily cohabits with secular morals, Vatican even discusses the issue of whether to acknowledge gay marriage (even though Bible says to kill them but thank god they ignore what it says today)!
Well, Turkey is an example of Islam taken lightly (and Turkey is officially a secular country while Iran is an Islamic state, Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocratic monarchy). Turkey is perhaps the only country with the majority of Muslims populating it where I wouldn't be afraid to go to, and I'd still make sure to never dress trashy (I usually don't anyway but the point is I'd feel more reserved and cautious about how i look).
India is predominantly Hindu though, and there, just like in other major religions, the place of a woman is that of a servant to a man and a mother of his children. The reason I wouldn't go to India is the notoriority of gang rape cases which are blamed on women themselves.
"India is a deeply religious country. Religion has been an incredibly important part of its culture. It's hailed as a place of religious persity and tolerance. So how can a religious and tolerant people systematically degrade and abuse its female population? If religion is a reflection of, or the defining of, a people's belief system, cultural system and world view then India's piousness to a large degree reflects less a devotion to God and more of a sinister suppression through female infanticide, child brides and rape."
Look, I've always wanted to treat Islam fairly, because if you look inside the Bible you'll see that it's full of barbarity and calls for violence, rape, even genocide. Some even say it is indeed a crueler book than Quran.
But the problem seems to be that Islam is mych more often than Christianity taken seriously and making its way to official state religion status and influencing legislations. If Christians still lived by their book it would have turned the countries where they are the majority backwards, Middle Ages way. Btw, a prominent example of this would be the recent case of offending religious feelings http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/pennsylvania-teenager-hump-oral-sex-jesus-statue-prison
The thing is, human rights, such as gender equality, free speach etc are incompatible with most major religions. And whichever is elevated to dictate legislations of the state it will turn that state into a bigoted and oppressive regime.
here's one of my favorite cartoons on the topic btw:
There's been this recent debate between Bill Mayher and Reza Aslan which has made quite a few waves on social media (at least there). The question disputed was whether Islam was particularly dangerous a religion and frankly, I'm not completely convinced but it does seem that Islam today is a practice taken much more seriously and if only for that it is more dangerous. I mean, to speak rubbish against this religion and to mock it the way we mock Christianity takes way more guts, right? Seeing how sensitive Muslims get in response to certain caricature drawings of a certain prophet. Even as I'm writing this I'm thinking should any Muslim want to kill me for not writing as they do: "prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)" . Here's a comment I found quite interesting on the topic http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/10/05/reza-aslan-is-wrong-about-islam-and-this-is-why/#comment-1620694278
Talking about such horrible thing as FGM, it is true it isn't ordered or recommended in either Islam or Christianity (but not advised against either, unless you count 'do not cut severely' in Islamic texts). But the reason the very idea of cutting females is welcomed?
"Although FGM is not prescribed by religious law, many of those practicing it may consider it a religious obligation, as female sexual purity plays an important role, not only in Christianity, but in all monotheistic religions." http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110570413000258
In a secular country, you'd need to make a strong case for cutting girls' clitoris off and thus preventing her from experiencing sexual pleasure in the future. I mean, whatever reason could possibly exist for that? Unless you are religious, and your religion views female sexuality as a dirty, filthy, degrading thing. Usually, any sexuality is strictly regulated, both female and male, but men tend to get previlleges, i.e. rape a girl and pay for it by ... marrying her, while a girl if willingly agrees to sex outside of marriage should be stoned to death.
Female sexuality has been repressed and shamed for ages, let's be frank, just because men dominated and this state of affairs was more convenient to them. Now, I do believe we're not to blame men for this injustice because it's universal, both sexes take advatage, skim and cheat where and in the way they can. Since men were physically stronger and not burdened with 9 month pregnancies and the need to nurture dependent babies, I think it's natural they turned out to be the gender that subjugated the other one. Like other animals roaming this planet, we are but selfish organisms looking to maximize our pleasures and exploit the hell out of the surroundings.
In modern times though, past sexual revolution, women are waaaay more free to choose their lifestyle: hell, they don't even get stoned to death for having sex with someone. Oh wait, except in Iran and perhaps more of those still-living-in-Middle-Ages-countries. Is there any secular country imposing such strict rules on sex and death punishment for consentual sex between adults? I don't think so. Because there's no secular justification for it. Only 'because god said so' kind of excuses, same ones that were used to justify all sorts of atrocities.
Of course, this kind of numb thinking isn't reserved solely for religions but for any kind of fanatical ideology, especially where freedom of thought is punishable by death (like in religion, because you don't get to argue with god, you either accept and follow his (ehem, supposedly coming from him) rules or you burn in hell for non-compliance, there, try being a smartass!)
Take communism: it was a minority's thing until they seized power and started killing off their opponents. When adopting some views becomes a matter of survival, masses are awfully compliant and some time later even stop questioning the fairness of the ideology because it's dangerous and will do no good anyway. Christianity was forced on people too, btw. My country, Ukraine, historically, Kievan Rus, has been 'baptised' (read: uncompliant were slaughtered) in 980-ies. Before that we were pagans.
I'm far from thinking religion is the only problem which causes things to go wrong. After all, man makes religion and it reflects his own urges and morality and the lack of it.
And when kept in check nowadays it can be relatively harmless while giving people that illusory feeling of purpose and meaning and higher justice. Yet now and then it will be used by people as a justification for some cruelty or bigotry. The bigger the weight of the religion in society the bigger atrocity it can justify. In largely secular countries it may be just (sorry, gays, but just in comparison) just not letting gay couples mary or adopt children, in deeply religious - imprisoning people for having consenual sex outside of marriage. Remnants of a religious outlook will also stir up passions when somebody wants their right to die, or a right to abort a child.
Anyway, I feel like this has been one poorly structured post but hey, it's no scientific paper, it's a freaking blog. My main thought was something like "wow...4 billion years of evolution so that a woman can be imprisoned for watching a volleyball game.".