I am no hashish smoker and I am not even restating the famous Marx saying that religion is the opium of the people. To each his own belief, poison, delusion or fantasy though I do know this can be a luxury in Africa where tyrants can ban Christmas, declare Christianity a crime, proclaim Islam a religion of slave drivers. I am proudly saying thank God I am not religious, with what that implies not escaping me, because far too many crimes and foolishness of grave proportions are being committed in the name of religion. I am also aware that religion is being used as a convenient cover to shun away from politics and ignore one’s responsibilities to the country and the people.
An Iranian cleric declares that earthquakes are caused by women who are scantily dressed and provoke males to pre martial sex and maybe the excited body movement disturbs the earth’s balance. One other cleric had years ago declared that women and men in the same bus means thousands of sins per day as they accidentally or knowingly brush against one another. Somali hard line Islamists, (a curse on that easygoing people), have banned all music and no Somali can hear foreign broadcasts from America or Britain or hum a song. Grim existence is in, wail or lament but no singing at all. An unpopular French president wages war against the sad polls by declaring all out war on Burka or Niqab wearing women (a few thousand or so) while millions want him to wage serious war against economic hardships and some right wingers want him to send off the whole African and Arab “invading horde”. A teenage woman is stoned to death in Mogadiscio after being raped by the hardliners themselves who then allege that she has committed adultery and religion calls for her death in this brutal manner. An old Nigerian MP marries a 13 years old girl and hides behind religion to cover his crime. In this same Nigeria some years ago, a woman called Amina lawal narrowly escaped stoning thanks to international protest action. Amina Lawal was at the time of the trial a 30-year-old divorced woman who was said to have confessed to conceiving a child while single. She was sentenced to death by stoning in March, 2002 in Katsina state under a new law that considers pregnancy outside of marriage as grounds for being convicted of adultery. Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein was to be whipped for wearing trousers in public. The Taliban cut throats and disfigure by acid the faces of innocent young girls who go to school all the time using religion as a cover. A man in France is a bona fide polygamist and declares he is devout but no religious law of his forbids him from having many women as mistresses. Where we see oppression of women we find religion buttressing or being used to justify the injustice. And take the Catholic priests all over the world giving paedophilia a strong Vatican ointment. The Crusaders and the followers of Saladin did all the terrible things they did some centuries ago but their example lingers on. The passage of time and all claims of civilizations become illusory, of no significance. States with aspects of theocracy are still present from the Vatican (Holy See) to Iran. Lebanon was almost destroyed because of a divide that was also religious and Hamas- Hizbollah and Israel also confront over a religious divide and not merely for territory. Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia are beset by religious problems as was Ireland.
Thank God I am not religious! Murderer Joseph Kony calls his criminal horde the Lord’s Resistance Army and claims God talks to him often (in addition to the spirits of whom one is called “who are we?”) and has ordered him to cut off the ears and lips of people especially of those who ride bicycles. What has God got against bicycles? At least Alice Lakwenya, his relative, used to claim outright she was a witch! In the past we have had Pope Pius V the Grand Inquisitor who had thousands murdered, Saint Dominic (the king of torture as he was later called) who had pain machines invented and tortured to death so many, Saint Pedro Arbires the Spanish Inquisitor who wiped out Jews, the Vatican Pope in Mussolini’s time who blessed the Italian troops on their way to invade Ethiopia (and kill one million in the process). Ethiopian kings, of whom the most notorious in this respect was Atse Yohannes, murdered many in the name of religion as did the Dervishes and the Mahdists. The Ayatollah of our time had many Bahai believers hanged and fanatics in Punjab sodomized and beat to death a Christian barber for cutting the beard of a Moslem. Lebanon was wrecked by religious conflict and Nigeria is having its share too as we write and the spectre hangs like the sword of Damocles over Ethiopia too. The corrupt leaders in Riyadh sin against their religion but invoke this same religion to mutilate, decapitate and hang poor people like the Ethiopian woman they hanged in public. Afghan elites are allowed even by their wives to sodomize young boys of 7 to 12 years of age. Here is what one angry blogger wrote on the subject:
“Businessmen, warlords, and police officials seem to be the biggest consumers of Bachi Bazi, or boyplay. The prominent and successful men are introduced to the boys at Bachi Bazi parties. The men sit cross-legged and watch the boys, dressed as young women, do their elaborate dances. Afterwards, they are given out to the highest bidders for sex. The government is so corrupt that all attempts to stop the practice have proved to be half-hearted even less.
Reporter Najibullah Quraishi bravely dogged Northern Alliance Commander, Dastager, following this notorious sodomizer as he met young men he wished to have in his harem. How many boys have you had? asked Quraishi. (he had clearly meant sexually). About 2,000 or 3,000, said Dastager, who appears to be about 40.
Things are no different where the Taliban holds sway. In John Krakauers book about Pat Tillman (the man who chose service to his country over a $3.6 million football contract), its reported that each Taliban fighting group maintained a cooks boy a field kitchen helper of 12 or 13, whos duties went beyond cuisine”.
The sex abuse scandal of the Catholic Church has now reared its head in Africa, from Kenya– Uganda to Mozambique and South Africa though it should be said the scandal involved European priests as the local ones ( realistic chaps), in their majority, father children and even die of AIDS with absolutely no regard for Rome’s chastity laws.
It is fair to admit that non religious wars have killed more people than the ones attributed to religion. However, the use of God or Allah to justify the crimes of thugs has become too common for comfort. In Africa, we are forced to note that the guerrillas or rebels taken as exotic and liberators in the sixties and seventies ( many were flawed even then to state the truth) have now been turned into all out thugs and criminals (Renamo and UNITA are almost looking benign compared to the RUF, LRA. Al Shabab, etc). In Somalia, the fanatics wrecking that country claim to be soldiers of God, followers of America’s nemesis (Osama Bin Laden) or, even worse, more radical than Osama (no quarter giving Salafists). Religious fanatics have gone against science many times and it is no surprise to hear Iranian clerics accuse women for earthquakes occurring all over the world. The followers and monks of Saint Cyril beat to death a woman scientist Hypatia and we all know the fate of Galileo. How many women have been burnt to death as witches? The spectre of religion is haunting us in Africa and the omen is not very positive. Africa hardly needs more division and conflict on religious grounds but that is what is being fanned not only in the Horn but in other African regions. Banning music, killing off women who are not covered up, throwing acid on the faces of young women going to schools, cutting the throats of journalists and intellectuals, attempting to murder writers and educators–this is not progress, serving God or being religious. Sarah Palin echoes many rightists and calls for American law to be based on a certain sort of Judeo Christian “Sharia”: our laws should be based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments! We remember the slave trade was justified as Christian by the churches and priests of the time and Apartheid was backed by the South African Boer churches.
I had in the past suggested that our politicians should wear the Burka–we do not want to see their ugly faces anymore. No one has taken my advice. Gaddafi suggested that Nigeria should be divided on ethnic and religious lines–that Tripoli man has failed to be original and his “get divided” prescription has, as expected and as his ridiculous Green Book, received no support. Joan of Arc was referred to as a woman who went mad for God but remember where she ended up– burnt to death and her monument in Paris is presently a gathering place of unholy fascists. Parties of God or parties of religion (Hezbollah or Hizb al Islam or Christian Democrats) are more than suspect and more problems than part of the solution. The Lord never said He wanted a Resistance Army or a Party in His name, or did He? Africa’s experience with Bible wielding missionaries has not been, to put it mildly, nice. Religion was used as a sleeping pill (is the tse tse fly Christian or Moslem?) enabling the colonialists to steal countries as Africans went down on their knees, wept and prayed and, to re-quote the late Senghor, “slept the sleep of the Negro”!
With all due respect to all those who love their religion I have to say thank God I am not religious as being religious these days is, more often than not, spelling disaster, hate, division and fatal weakening of Africa and her hapless people. No need to ask anyone in Jos, Nigeria. Mind you, despite my indignation, I have not yet called for a violent action against the criminal Abune/Archbishop/ in Addis Abeba nor sent a letter of support to the daring Atheist who demanded the arrest of the Pope (when he visits Britain) and his being charged for “crimes against humanity”.