Who are Aum Shinrikyo and why would anyone want to join them?

The Japanese doomsday cult known as Aum Shinrikyo has been back in the news this month, with the execution of its leader Chizuo Matsumoto (a.k.a. Shoko Asahara) on July 6th and his successor now fighting for his ashes to be scattered into the Pacific Ocean. I have covered weird religious phenomenon before, let alone from Japan, but I’m surprised to have never covered this particular cult on my website despite their infamy. Here, I hope to rectify this by providing a basic outline of their beliefs, the atrocities the cult committed, and some reasons why some people still fall into this cult well into the 2010s.

Aum Shinrikyo began in 1984 as essentially a yoga club, at the time going by the name of Aum Shinsen no Kai. Three years later, Matsumoto changed the group’s name to Aum Shinrikyo, and two years after that the group was officially recognized as a religious organization/corporation under Japanese law. By this time, Chizuo Matsumoto changed his name from his birth name to Shoko Asahara. It is said that, between 1984 and 1987, Matsumoto appeared in various spiritualist and occult magazines claiming to be capable of levitation, established a publishing firm named Chōnōryoku no Kaihatsuhō to distribute his teachings to wider audience, and claimed to have encounters with supernatural beings, including the Hindu deity Shiva, informing him of his divine mission.

The doctrine of Aum Shinrikyo can best be summarized as an apocalyptic form of Buddhism mixed with doctrines from Christianity, Hinduism and New Age belief systems, centered of course around the personality cult of Chizuo Matsumoto. One of the main aspects of the doctrine is its interpretation of the Vajrayana Buddhist doctrine of powa, or phowa. In Vajrayana Buddhism, Powa refers to a specific ritual performed on behalf of the deceased by a Lama or a guru in order to transfer the consciousness of the deceased into a spiritual location known as a “pure land”, the abode of a Buddha or bodhisattva. This ritual is performed in order to aid the deceased in his or her journey towards spiritual liberation. In Aum Shinrikyo, however, Powa refers to the act of killing someone on behalf of Chizou Matsumoto or Aum Shinrikyo in order to stop them from accumulating negative karma through their opposition to Aum Shinrikyo or by acting in a way that undermines their interests. For example, when in 1989 a member named Taguchi Shuji decided to leave the movement after the accidental death of another member named Majima Terayuki and threatened to go public about Terayuki’s death, Chizuo Matsumoto ordered that Shuji be killed in order to protect Aum Shinrikyo’s reputation. It was believed that had Shuji informed public about the death of Terayuki within Aum Shinrikyo, Shuji would acrue eons worth of bad karma and suffer countless negative reincarnations as a result. By killing him, in accordance with the perversely interpreted doctrine of Powa, his soul could be saved from such a fate while protecting the organization. This interpretation of Powa would also go on to serve as a justification for the atrocities that were to be enacted from then on.

Matsumoto and adherents of Aum Shinrikyo also believed that the end of the world was coming imminently, with “materialism” running rampant and people having forgotten how to practice Buddhism. In East Asian forms of Buddhism, the history of Buddhism is divided into three stages: The Former Day of the Law, The Middle Day of the Law, and The Latter Day of the Law. For convenience we will use their Japanese names – Shoho, Mofa, and Mappo respectively. Shoho refers to the age of the true dharma, where said dharma was practiced by the disciples of the Buddha and flourished as such, Mafo refers to the age of copied dharma, dharma that resembles the true dharma but does not accurately reflected, and Mappo refers to the age of degenerated dharma, wherein the essence of dharma is forgotten and thus cannot be upheld properly. The concept also dovetails nicely with the Hindu concept of the Four Yugas, in which after the Satya Yuga (basically the golden age) Man strays further from God until finally Man reaches the Kali Yuga, the time in which Man is farthest from God. Typically it is held that the Mappo age is to be abolished and the Shoho age restored by Maitreya, the Buddha who is yet to be. For Aum Shinrikyo though, the duty of restoring the Shoho age falls upon them. Chizuo Matsumoto technically gave himself the role of Maitreya through his claiming to be Jesus Christ in the flesh. This of course fits into the theme of holy war, a war between the saved and the unsaved, between those who believed in Aum Shinrikyo and those outside of the cult who were held to be trapped in materialistic urges and bad karma, an idea that very much echoes the sentiments found within the Book of Revelation concerning holy war between the believers and the non-believers. Indeed Matsumoto would eventually begin referring to the concept of Armageddon by name in the run up to the sarin gas attack committed in 1995, even believing that America wanted to hasten the arrival of this event by triggering World War 3 with Japan (in true religious conspiracy theorist character).

Another notable feature is that, besides Matsumoto himself being the messiah, there is a central deity within this sect, namely Shiva, the Hindu deity of destruction, recreation and transformation. Indeed, some say Matsumoto’s messianic title refers not to him being Jesus Christ, but an incarnation of Shiva. While Hindu sects venerate Shiva as a positive figure, representing not simply destruction, let alone necessary destruction, but also the rebirth of the universe and the transformation into new forms, thereby natural and positive change, as well as a creative force in the cosmos, not to mention also venerating him as the Godhead who does battle with demons and sometimes performs self-sacrificial acts to protect the universe from premature destruction, the Aum Shinrikyo veneration of Shiva most likely stems from an obsession with the deity’s destructive aspects, dovetailing with their theme of apocalyptic salvation, destroying the world in order to “save” it. It is said that Aum Shinrikyo had a secret chapel containing a large statue of Shiva, inaccessible to all but the chosen few within the cult.

One very interesting aspect of the cult is its incorporation of bizarre paranormal technology. Members of the cult would wear headsets that connected electrodes to their heads. The idea behind this device was supposedly to allow devotees to telepathically communicate with their guru Chizuo Matsumoto by having them receive his brainwaves or synchronize their own electrical impulses with them. Another piece of technology they made was an electronic device known as an “astral teleporter”, which would purportedly pick up vibrations from Matsumoto’s meditations while he recites his mantra and transmit them to his disciples. That’s not even getting into their development of chemical weapons, and their liaisons with international networks for the purposes of acquiring them and other weapons of mass destruction.

Over the years, the cult became infamous for the various crimes and atrocities they have committed, most notably in 1995 where the cult unleashed sarin gas in a Tokyo subway, killing thirteen people and injuring many more. Following this attack, police uncovered evidence of the cult’s laboratories dedicated to producing drugs and chemical weapons. Prior to the attack, the cult perpetrated a number murders on people who opposed the cult as well as cult members who they perceived as a threat. Known victims included lawyer Tsutumi Sakamoto, along with his wife and son, fellow cultist Taguchi Shuji, another fellow cultist Tadahito Hamaguchi, and notary Kiyoshi Kariya, who died under their confinement. In the years after the 1995 sarin gas attack, the Aum Shinrikyo cult would split off into two spin-off cults – Aleph, not to be confused with yours truly, and Hikari no Wa, the latter of whom claims to want to shed the influence of the old Aum Shinrikyo and its leader. As of July 6th, Chizuo Matsumoto and six other cultists have been executed by the Japanese government for the atrocity committed in 1995, with another six still awaiting execution.

Despite the cult’s infamy, particularly following the sarin attack in 1995, the cult continued to attract membership well into the present decade. Apparently by 2016 the cult gained thousands of new members from, of all places, Russia, as evidenced by the arrests of new cult members from Russia, as well as Belarus, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. It seems that Aum Shinrikyo had set up operations in Russia shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, by which time The Japan Times reckons the cult acquired blueprints for their sarin gas attack from Russia. Russian experts suspect that the appeal of the cult is similar to that of New Age movements and even that of ISIS for young Muslims prone to radicalization – that is, those who join Aum Shinrikyo do so because they see in Chizuo Matsumoto a source of unified truth and in his cult a source of brotherhood, in much the same way some people ultimately see absolute truth and fellowship in other violent religious extremist movements (like ISIS or one of those American Christian militias). In 2016, the Russian government banned the Aum Shinrikyo cult from being practiced because it was, unsurprisingly, seen as a terrorist organization. I can only assume that this decision was made by the Russian state upon its discovery of Russian followers of the cult, lending itself to fears of a religious terror cell operating in Russia.

In Japan, Aum Shinrikyo’s spin-off cult Aleph has attracted numerous young followers despite the atrocities committed by Aum Shinrikyo. For example, in the case of an anonymous man one Kuchikomi writes for Japan Today:

Mr S was in junior high school when the sarin affair exploded on the national consciousness. He recalls being more interested than appalled, and anyway, all that was a long time ago. If anything, the connection to so dramatic an episode made his present experience all the more titillating. Moreover, he says, by then he’d spent some 40,000 yen on the training, and he was unwilling to admit that it was money down the drain.

And so he graduated into hard-core Aleph training, heavy on recorded sermons by Aum guru Shoko Asahara, currently on death row.

His awakening, when at last it came, was a strange one. It was in response to an Aleph teaching to the effect that a man who has sexual relations cannot attain enlightenment. Strange, thought Mr S – Asahara has children. “Yes,” he was told, “but the Master is no ordinary man.”

To the surprise of just about anyone, including myself who missed this development entirely when it came up, Aum Shinrikyo has been been growing in the twenty years since the sarin gas attack of 1995, with new generations in Japan developing a perverse fascination with the cult for various reasons including the good looks of some of the cult members, the absurdity of their cultish activities, the sense among sympathizers that their murderous acts were motivated not out of malice but out of obedience to their guru, and broad empathy with the cult and its leader for standing against a society that frustrates them.

That last part needs to be looked at rather carefully, especially given how apparently Aum Shinrikyo literature is known for emphasizing contempt for contemporary society. The fact that such a reprehensible cult known to the public for committing atrocities, ones that have had a significant negative impact on the national consciousness of Japan, can still attract a number of converts to me says something about the widespread alienation within Japanese society. I mean think about it: this is the country that actually has its own word for working yourself to death, itself testament to a horrendous work culture where you just tough it out until you die. A country known for its notoriously high suicide rates. A country where one bad day might turn you into a complete and total shut-in. A country whose social attitudes are defined by deference to authority or the social group above almost anything else including the individual. And to top it all off, like many East Asian cultures, the elder generations are never to be put at fault on pain of violating long-embedded Confucian virtue towards respecting your elders, and criticizing authority in general is considered anathema in Japanese society, so everything bad about Japan can be shafted to the younger generation (admittedly not too dissimilar to attitude baby boomers have towards millennials here in the West), who are socially and economically powerless.

The more you learn about Japanese society, the more you understand how profoundly dysfunctional it is. This is especially relevant when dealing with young converts of the cult. If you have a society that a generation of people has come to see is against, they might well go off towards anything that can stand against it. For some of these people, it seems, the Aum Shinrikyo cult is one avenue by which to actively resist the social order because it appeals to their alienation and the sense of a lack of purpose, or they just fall in love with criminals because they see them as attractive bad boys. Like with a lot of cults, people facing alienation and other social ills will often gravitate towards whatever suits them best, including totalitarian cults. Just ask anyone who’s ever been in groups like the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, Yahweh Nation, ACMTC or Scientology.

On the whole, damn, I can’t believe I didn’t cover this subject much sooner. Learning about the cult has definitely yielded some surprises on my part. A perverted Buddhist doctrine fighting to bring about the end of days, believing this will save the souls of the mass dead from accumulating bad karma, in the name of a self-proclaimed reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and to that end amassing and developing weapons of mass destruction, mind controlling drugs and paranormal technologies, and killing those who oppose them or don’t believe in them, and now potentially hiding out in Europe after the arrest of their leader and other cultists. In a sane world, this would be the stuff of movies, video games and thriller novels, and I guess manga as well (this is Japan after all). To be honest, I’ll be disappointed if Chizuo Matsumoto’s execution is the last we hear from them, considering the cells that are likely hiding outside of Japan.

Chizuo Matsumoto (Shoko Asahara) in an animated promo video for Aum Shinrikyo

Haram Month 2017 #4 – The foreign policy canard

Whenever we have to discuss the threat of Islamic terrorism, there is always a rather pernicious canard thrown around. The idea that Islamic terrorism is driven predominantly by American or Western imperialism, most of the time referring to America. While I’m sure America’s antics in the Middle East has indeed caused some resentment among ordinary Muslims towards the American state, one wonders why it seems like Islamic terrorists love to target Europe? Do they think that by attacking Europe they will cause America to back down, when at this point they would probably be more likely to shut their borders? What’s more, if they are solely motivated by hatred of the American state because of alleged imperialism, why do they go and kill ordinary European citizens, rather than target American government officials, embassies or military bases?

And while we in Britain were still reeling from the brutal terrorist attack that occurred in Manchester, England, radical Islamist military forces were busy trying to take over a city in the Phillipines. Yes, an Islamic militia known as Maute (aka the Islamic State of Lanao) attacked the city of Marawi, and became locked in battle with Filipino forces. The entire time I wondered, baffled, what did the Philippines do to deserve this? Where are they involved in the foreign policy canard? Was the Philippines involved in any military interventions or excursions in the Middle East? Whenever I asked, no one could give an answer. Perhaps that is because they can’t. There is no intervention that I’m aware of. Clearly, whatever reason the Islamists had to try and take over Marawi had nothing to do with it.

When shit hits the fan

I did not plan to write something like this right now, and I am still supposed to working on my next post about Satanism and all that, but something happened recently that hit somewhat close to home, and I have reflected on it, as well as the reaction and possible ramifications.

As I’m sure you know, there was a terrorist attack on an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in which 22 people were killed, including children who have been subject to horrific injuries. It was a suicide attack carried out by a 22 year old man named Salman Abedi, and the possibility that he was operating as part of a wider terror plot rather than as a lone wolf is seriously being considered. I have two people who I work with who are from Manchester who have been talking about it yesterday, and I’m sure have contacted their relatives to see if everything is OK. As of today, the terror threat level in the UK has been raised to Critical, meaning that more terrorist attacks are expected to occur very soon. The country is putting itself on high alert, and there’s talk of troops being sent to patrol the streets as though this country has turned into fucking Israel!

And what did we do immediately following the Manchester attack? The usual. We cry, we mourn, we change our Facebook profiles and whatnot, pretend that they will not divide us, preach about diversity and inclusion, and then Muslims come out and pretend that they are the real victims, not the people that Islamic radicals blew to smithereens. Oh and don’t forget the Sadiq Khan message: terrorism is just like the weather now, “part and parcel of living in a big city”, just the bread and butter of the modern world. I can’t be the only one who’s had enough here.

Oh, and the Metropolitan Police have decided that any rabble-rousers who aren’t going on about peace and unity and all that bullshit and instead speak against Islam can be investigated for “Islamophobic hate speech”. Isn’t that just the cherry on top of the shit sundae?

Lots of terrorist attacks have happened in my day, not just in the UK but also the Western world, Europe in particular, and in my opinion too many. And every time it feels like the same cycle. For over 20 years, we in the West have tried dealing with this shit by either creating borderline police/surveillance states to diminish the civil liberties of their own people, we go to wars with Middle Eastern countries and then we try playing nice and needlessly shielding all Muslims and their shitty religion from criticism when most of us are mad at the terrorists rather than all Muslims, going so far as to discuss race where the issue does not belong (and both extremes seem to forget that Islam is not a race). None of this changes the problem. We strip away liberty, we cause destruction and then we bend over backwards to a force that wants us dead and our values defiled, all for nothing. And one someone comes up with a different solution, any at all. They are dismissed as xenophobic. The simple idea of controlled immigration is automatically deemed racist, because they believe that opposing immigration can only be based on hate. The idea that we should be tackling Islamist ideology is seen as “Islamophobic”, and racist, because people stupidly confuse Islam to be a racial group, rather than a religious one. The idea of promoting integration, promoting your own societal values and looking out for the interests of your own country is automatically, without context, denounced as fascistic, funny enough by people who don’t seem to know what actual fascism is.

And this whole spell that we should all just live with it is odious. Terrorism is treated like it’s a natural disaster, something that always has been and always will be with us. But that is madness! Terrorism isn’t something that occurs normally as part of civilized society. It is the product of the will to kill innocents on the part of violent individuals, in many cases an ideology that demands the radical and violent overthrow of a given social structure in favor of a typically authoritarian or totalitarian worldview and an array of societal ills that contribute to the growth of terrorism. You can’t just say this is a normal thing and an inevitable course of modern life that we can’t hope to solve. Sure, we will never be able to *completely* eliminate all terrorism from society at large, but to suggest that we shouldn’t even try and instead just live with it as though you would live with heavy rain and thunderstorms is not just defeatist, it’s also callous. We’ve tried carrying on as things were before, and I don’t think things are getting better. Not that such a thing ever happens when you decide to ignore a problem. And don’t give me any bullshit that this is some kind of blowback to the West, when terrorists kill lots of people in the Middle East just that no one notices, and right now the Philippines is in a state of martial law because of an Islamic terror group taking over a city in the country. What the hell did the Philippines do to deserve getting attacked by Islamists I wonder!

I think we need to come up with far better solutions than the kind we have offered for the problem, and we need to figure something out soon. Because the longer people keep seeing nothing change, and being told that nothing ought to change, eventually we’ll reach a point where they’ll say “we’re not gonna take it anymore”.

Je suis sick of this shit

So I imagine you might already know what happened recently, but yesterday a terrorist killed four people outside of Parliament before being shot by police officers, after which Westminster went into lock-down for the day. At first the attacker was identified as a radical Islamic preacher named Abu Izzadeen by the likes of Channel 4 and The Independent, but it emerged that he is currently in prison serving a two year sentence for attempting to illegally leave the UK, contravening the Terrorism Act of 2006. Today, however, the attacker has been identified as Khalid Masood, who apparently had a string of convictions for non-terrorism related offences and had been under investigation by the state over concerns of violent extremism, and eight more people have been arrested after the attack. It was a small attack, but it does seem to be a case of terrorism that may be tied to radical Islam.

Oh, and just today someone tried to run over a crowd of people in Antwerp, Belgium, with his car. The suspect has apparently been identified as a man named Mohammad R, a Tunisian national. And as both these things happen, we are only a year removed from the bombing that occurred in Brussels.

I am so tired of this. I’m so tired of seeing more terrorism happen and it seems there’s a Muslim radical or radicals behind it. And every time it happens I’m fed up with the tiresome virtue signal that comes in the form of the prayers from those who think that’s supposed to make it all better. People have prayed for Paris, for San Bernandino, Brussels, Orlando, Nice, Munich, Ansbach and Berlin and what in nebulous fuck did it accomplish? Nothing. They’ve changed theirr icons on Facebook or whatever to those flag overlays in solidarity with the country where the attack happened, and nothing happened. And now they’re all praying for London like nothing happened over the last two years. And no matter what, the response we need to see does not manifest itself. There is no conversation about the threat of radical Islam, there is only apologizing for Islam. There is no action taken against terrorist networks, and no rebuking of those who fund terrorism in the Middle East. The powers and that be and the media class sing the same tune, seemingly without end. I know it may sound like a cliche, but it seems to me that madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.

That’s it. That’s all I have to say on this, for there is not much else to say on the matter.

Haram Month #9 – The convicting of Anjem Choudary

When I heard that Anjem Choudary had been convicted yesterday (or rather it was revealed that he had been convicted last month, it struck me at first as an issue that I have actually had to wrestle with and needed some clarification on.

For those who don’t know who Anjem Choudarey is, he is a notorious British Salafist Muslim preacher and activist known for his advocacy of the implementation of sharia law in the UK and his demonstrations against Western civilization. He, along with Islamist cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad, founded such radical Islamic organizations as Al-Muhajiroun, Al Ghurabaa and Islam4UK, and was a prominent and divisive figure in the Islamic world who made many TV appearances. He was known to have spoken out in support of jihad as an obligation for Muslims to fulfill, and in 2014 he went so far as to pledge allegiance to ISIL and encourage others to do so – the latter of which to lead to him being arrested. He is seen as a hate preacher, and I don’t doubt that many people (especially people who are of a socially conservative disposition) wanted him banned. I also have no doubt there were and still are a lot of Muslims who distance themselves from Choudary and claim this man is an enemy of Islam – to which Choudary would probably respond by saying that it is in fact they who are the enemies of Islam.

What annoyed me was how the much of the mainstream media and Ella Whelan from Spiked looked at Choudary’s conviction and seemed to paint this as a free speech issue – that the man was arrested solely because of inciting and preaching “hate”. Him being a hate preacher, one who spews “bile and hate”, and the prospect of him being “gagged” and “shut up” is the primary focus of it for much of the media, to the point that is makes me think that the man was being convicted solely for hate speech. Don’t get me started on The Independent, which their “free speech has its limits” shit. That mantra almost had me defending Choudary. Ella Whelan from Spiked was just as bad, because on the day Choudary was convicted she talked about how censoring Choudary’s views was a bad thing, and the next day she appeared on a Sky News debate to talk about this from a pro-free speech lens.

But let me tell you what I have come to understand: this is not a free speech issue. Both the people who support freedom of speech and the people who thinking it should be curtailed are looking at the issue the wrong way. From what I have read, Choudary actually has a history of recruiting people and indoctrinating them. He recruited people to fight for Osama bin Laden. Al-Muhajiroun, one of his organizations, had been known to actually radicalize individuals who would then go out to commit, or attempt to commit, terrorist attacks. Examples include the shoe bomber Richard Reid, the dirty bomber Dhiren Barot, the 7/7 bombers, the Transatlantic Bomb plotter and the men who murdered Lee Rigby. Choudary also taught six of the nine men who planned to send mail bombs to various targets, radicalized a young man named Brustroth Ziamani  and he had been in contact with a teenager in Australia who was planning to carry out an attack on Anzac Day last year. To my mind, him protesting and talking about Islamism wasn’t the only thing he was doing. He had indeed been in contact with individuals who would then go on to carry out attacks, and he had been recruiting and helping to radicalize individuals so that they can carry out terrorist attacks and murders in the name of Allah. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that when he contacts potential radicals he is teaching, instructing and radicalizing them giving that he actually supports the spread of Islamism by force. Really, the term “hate preacher” simply doesn’t do him justice, for he was more than that – he was a recruiter. I wish the media would use the term “terror recruiter” or “jihad recruiter” more often than they use the term “hate preacher”.

Put simply, this is not a free speech issue. It’s a terrorism issue. If all Choudary had been doing was organizing protests and appearing on TV to preach his views, I would have no major issue other than with his views. But it’s not as simple as that. He was actively recruiting, radicalizing and training people to fight and wage jihad. So anyone who thinks this is about freedom of speech, whether from a pro or anti perspective, is simply in the wrong. While I do feel that Choudary’s conviction should not be used to justify an increase in censorship no matter how abhorrent your views are, there can be no doubt that Choudary crossed the line by directing people to commit violence let alone encourage support for ISIL. Not to mention the fact that the organization he founded is a jihadist organization with the intent of spreading sharia law through, well, encouraging jihad.

Haram Month #4 – Pope Francis: An apologist for Islamist violence

Seriously, fuck Pope Francis. Both for making me defend Catholicism and for being such an incorrigible, weak-minded, intellectually dishonest douche.

This is what the Pope had to say when asked by a reporter about the phenomenon of violence inspired by Islam:

I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy… this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law… and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence…

Why? How many Catholics are suicide bombing places these days? How many Catholics want to execute gay people or push them off of buildings because they hate gay people? How many Catholic militias are there actively trying to take over a country by force, destroy its heritage and murder or abduct its citizens and sell them into slavery? How many Catholics post videos of them beheading non-believers and waging holy war on Western civilization, or any civilization for that matter? How many Catholics do you think are so fanatic that they view other Catholics as heretics to the point that they justify killing them on that basis? How many Catholics think that apostasy should be punished with death? How many Catholics think adultery should be punished by stoning? Are you really going to tell me that there is an equal amount of violence from Catholics in today’s world to the amount of violence from Muslims or Islamists? Because if you are, you are clearly lying. I’m not kidding – you can’t tell me with a straight face that Catholicism inspires just as much violence as Islam, knowing the actual facts of the matter.

He also thinks he knows what this terrorism is caused by:

Terrorism grows when there are no other options, and when the center of the global economy is the god of money and not the person — men and women — this is already the first terrorism! You have cast out the wonder of creation — man and woman — and you have put money in its place. This is a basic terrorism against all of humanity! Think about it!

Are you serious? The Pope is basically saying that Islamists want to kill non-believers and gays and they want the West to be structured around Islam and sharia law because of capitalism, because to him the very idea of an economy based on simply profit is tantamount to terrorism. There is no way you can be this stupid on purpose. That, or it’s just a standard line for the fucking Russell Brand of popes to take. Besides, it’s a lie. We know that pretty much all of these Islamists and jihadists are religious and ideologically motivated. They want the West to ordered around Islam. They want sharia law. They want to take over your civilization. This has been shown time and time again. This has nothing to do with capitalism, or even to do with Western foreign policy, simply because they would hate us no matter what primarily because we are non-believers. We know that for a fact, and to claim otherwise is both farcical and repugnant. Beyond that though, that is some nice victim blaming coming from the Pope. Imagine that, a jihadist shouts “Allahu Akbar” and kills some people and they butcher you, and they do so because you and your fellow citizens are non-believers, but it’s not their fault! Right!? What miserable apologia.

There is a part of me that actually feels sorry for the Catholics, particularly family members of mine who are Catholic, simply because they have such a weak man representing their faith.

Again, fuck the Pope.

 

ISIL, Medina and the apocalypse

As I’m sure you’ve heard it in the news recently, ISIL has attacked Medina – a major site of pilgrimage and the second holiest city in the Islamic faith. One thing I notice on social media is how people have used this event to say “see? these guys have nothing to do with Islam!”. After all, what sincerely believing Muslim would think to attack Medina of all places? Of course I’m sure you know that ISIL has attacked other Muslims before. In fact, other Muslims seem to be very frequent targets of attacks by ISIL. Their attack on Medina isn’t even the first time they’ve attacked a mosque. Remember when they attacked a mosque in Kuwait, and during last year’s Ramadan no less?

Here’s the thing the people who say “they’re not Muslims” are missing: ISIL don’t consider their Muslim victims as fellow Muslims. They follow a particularly extreme version of the Islamic faith, which in the end is still an extension of Islam in the same way that fundamentalist Christians practice a hardcore belief system that is still an extension of the Christian faith. Specifically, they are proponents of a branch of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, which today is the sponsored belief system of the state of Saudi Arabia – the same state that is believed to be supporting ISIL. Wahhabism emphasizes strict adherence to Islamic law, believes in an absolute monotheism and rejects any heterodoxy, debate or more modern or liberal interpretations of the Quran and the Hadith. Wahhabists view themselves as following the true path laid out by Allah based on the teachings of the Quran through a very conservative and literal interpretation of Islamic teachings, and naturally they believe everyone else to be following heterodox teachings. This is exactly why ISIL is willing to kill other Muslims. In their eyes anyone, literally anyone, who does not follow their particular interpretation of Islam is an infidel and a non-believer, and they believe that non-believers are to be killed. To them a moderate Muslim is just another infidel. I mean fuck, these people actually view the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political party of Egypt, as a cancer and they think of their belief system as pagan. That’s like how fundamentalist Christians view other Christians celebrating Christmas and Easter as practicing pagan tradition. I cannot believe this is lost on people.

Then you have the eschatological element. It’s important to remember that ISIL wants the West to wage war against them. They await the day when the armies of Rome will face them in the small town of Dabiq, which is located in Syria. Why Dabiq, you ask? Because apparently in the Hadith it is stated that, during the “last hour”, the armies of Rome will come to Dabiq to fight Muslim armies, at which point the armies of Rome would be defeated, which begins the countdown to the arrival of a being known as Al-Masih ad-Dajjal (better known simply as Dajjal) and the beginning of the apocalypse. Since the Hadith are considered to be recordings of the thoughts, words and actions of the prophet Muhammad, the central figure of the Islamic faith (being the messenger of Allah and all), it is safe to infer that ISIL consider what the Hadith says about the end of days to be, literally, the word of Muhammad.  And in the absence of an actual Roman empire or an army commanded by the Pope, it’s not unreasonable to assume that ISIL have chosen to interpret Rome as meaning the Western world or the armies of NATO. They literally believe that by defeating the Western armies in Dabiq, it will trigger the end times. They want to make this happen, for the same reasons that Christians await the arrival of Judgement Day (or in some cases the Rapture). And for this to happen, the West has to declare war on ISIL. To that end, this is why they go about committing such horrible acts of violence and destruction upon innocent people (Muslim or not) and upon the land that they, and why they have agents committing terror attacks and massacres in Europe and more recently in America. By creating havoc and inflicting pain upon our world, they are clearly intending to provoke a violent response in order to get us to declare war on them so that eventually we would fight them in Dabiq. And again, they literally believe that the apocalypse will occur if this happens, because they believe that what is said in the Quran and the Hadiths is literally 100% true, because they are religious as fuck. Violently so too. Those who try to divorce them from Islam by referring to them as thugs simply do not understand this. Even if they are chiefly psychotic warmongers, it is impossible to ignore that they are very much religiously motivated.

In my opinion, this may also partly explain why some Muslims in the Western world go and join ISIL. It’s important to stress that not all Muslims are religious fanatics. In fact, much of the Muslim world is perfectly willing to condemn ISIL. And I certainly don’t believe that most Muslims are inclined to join ISIL or any other militant Islamist movement, just as I don’t believe most Christians are going to join the KKK our go out and kill homosexuals. But it is also important to remember that there are large numbers of Muslims who want Sharia law implemented in the Western world. I don’t feel inclined to doubt that for every “cultural” Muslim who isn’t actually particularly religious, you have Muslims (not necessarily radicals I might add) who are sincerely religious. The concept of all Islamic countries being united under a single caliphate is, from what I hear, a concept that appeals to some Muslims, and apparently there have been at least four historical caliphates, the last one having been established in the Ottoman Empire. So when ISIL marches across the Middle East promising to create a new caliphate based on Islamic law, I am not surprised that groups like ISIL can recruit Muslims in the Western world.

Ruins of the Sulayman Bin-Abd-al-Malik shrine in Dabiq, Syria

What is the government of Bangladesh doing!?

Recently I had heard that another person in Bangladesh had been murdered on the basis of atheistic or humanistic beliefs by religiously-motivated fanatics. Nazim Uddin Samad was a law student at Jagganath University in Sadarghat before he was hacked and shot to death by members of Ansar al-Islam, who are actually a branch of al-Qaeda, all because he posted a criticism of Islamic religious fundamentalism on his Facebook. It was yet another senseless act of violence, one that was appallingly familiar to me (two years ago I heard about a guy called Thaba Baba who was killed in the country for much the same reason). Now, when you have such a senseless brutal murder on your hands, you might ask, what does the government do about this? Well guess what? Bangladesh’s Minister of Home Affairs, Asaduzzaman Khan, decided to assert that bloggers should “control their writing” and decided that the government needed to “scrutinize” his writings to see if he wrote anything objectionable about religion.

I actually have a few words for Asaduzzaman Khan: what the fuck are you talking about!? That Nazim wrote anything “objectionable” towards religion is not the point! You should know damn well that Nazim was murdered by people who wanted to impose their fanatical religious beliefs on others through violence, and through that violence induce fear and terror with the obvious purpose of forcing others to observe their beliefs and destroying the right to freedom of speech. The problem isn’t that he offended certain religious beliefs, it’s that an innocent man was killed for expressing his opinions and the government is not only doing fuck all to stop it, but has actively decided that people expressing their opinions is the problem rather than people being killed by goddamned terrorists! In my opinion, that you’re warning bloggers to be wary of “hurting the feelings of religious people” is a sure sign that you don’t want to protect freedom of speech or freedom of belief, that you have no intention of stopping religious extremists from doing the wrong thing. You’re condemning innocent people to die and you don’t even know it, because you don’t treat these terrorists who kill innocent people as criminals, which is the way they should be treated in the fucking first place!

That is disgusting! It’s abominable, and no one should stand for it!

Nazim is far from the only person to be murdered for criticizing Islamic extremism. Two years ago I mentioned in one of my posts a guy called Thaba Baba (aka Ahmed Rajib Haider), who was killed in 2013 by Islamists. But Thaba Baba is not the only one either. Last year, five other secular atheist bloggers were also murdered: Avjit Roy, Faisal Arefin Dipan, Anant Bijoy Das, Washiqur Rahman Babu, and Niloy Chakrabarti were all hacked to death on separate occasions. Some of them, like Arif Noor and Asif Mohiuddin, manage to survive their injuries. Often times, when the bloggers aren’t being attacked and killed by Islamists, they’re receiving death threats from these people. Ananya Azad, for instance, was told that he would be next after nine other bloggers out of a hit list of 84 were murdered. Another blogger, Maruf Rusal, had received several threatening calls from Islamists, some of whom offered to “buy [him] a coffin”. And sometimes, the government of Bangladesh arrested atheist bloggers, including Asif Mohiuddin, for violating Bangladesh’s apparent “blasphemy laws”. Although Mohiuddin was eventually released, let the word be known: Bangladesh’s supposedly secular government arrested bloggers for writing against Islamic extremism, and all instead of punishing whose who want to kill people simply for not believing in their interpretation of Islam. In Bangladesh, the threat of being killed for speaking out as an atheist, secularist, or humanist very is real, and people in Bangladesh are justifiably terrified of such a thing happening to them, while the government does fuck all to stop it.

In fact, before he died, Nazim wrote a criticism of the current ruling government, writing this (originally in Bengali):

The situation of the country, deterioration of law and order in the country, speak that maybe you cannot stay long in power.

Quite obviously Nazim was aware of people being killed for doing nothing more than , and he seems to have observed that the government in Bangladesh, despite its supposed commitment to delivering justice, has done nothing about it. And now, after his death, the government has decided to warn the victims not to speak their minds, instead of warning the terrorist religious fundamentalists that they will face justice for their crimes. And it’s true what Nazim said isn’t it? If religious fundamentalists can kill innocent people and a supposedly secular government hasn’t done much to stop it or even discourage it, then that is a deterioration of law and order, a sign of the takeover of religious extremism, and a sign that the government of Bangladesh is giving up its legitimacy as a government because it won’t defend its own people  – a sign that a country is going straight to shit!

Is ISIL still a threat?

Since last year, ISIL has been busy establishing itself as a clear and present danger to the Western world and beyond. I’m sure we have all become familiar with their beheading of non-believers and showing it on the Internet, their campaign of the destruction of the remnants of pre-Islamic civilization (along with actual Islamic mosques), their invasions of various settlements in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, and the phenomenon of young Muslims migrating to the Middle East in order to join ISIL. Not to mention their militant form of Islamic teachings. It’s little wonder that they have been feared as a credible fighting force in the modern world, or how many people in the world may feel they could only watch and see if ISIL will advance far enough to be able to encroach on their lives.

On the other hand, I feel this is set to change. While I admit it may be too early to say for sure, I have a strange feeling that ISIL are proving themselves to not necessarily be the nigh-unstoppable force of destruction and terror that they may have come off as.

For starters, given the way they apparently abuse those who join their cause, and the rumors that even Jihadi John is fleeing ISIL for fears that they will kill him the moment they deem him useless to their cause, it seems to me that ISIL is incapable of inspiring any real loyalty from its recruits, and when that happens it’s only a matter of time before more and more people who once joined start fleeing the group. A fighting force that cannot inspire loyalty in its members, and serves only to inspire fear and loathing, is a fighting force that’s doomed to grow weaker as it sees less people willing to fight for it, until it consists of only the few who are fanatical or stupid enough to stay on and meet their demise.

I also think the forces fighting against ISIL have proven capable of doing major damage to the group. In fact, American forces managed to kill a senior member over two months ago, one Abu Sayyaf to be precise. And apparently, Sayyaf had been the one who oversaw ISIL’s financial operations and helped them direct their illicit oil and gas, which is seen as a key source of revenue for ISIL that would enable them to carry out their military operations.

And more recently, I think ISIL may well have proven themselves to be far stupider than we all thought, as two of ISIL’s chiefs manage to blow themselves up with their own explosives. Call me crazy, but if they’re dumb enough to get themselves blown up by one of their own explosives, then it’s going to be difficult to convince me of their intelligence as a fighting force. In fact, if I hear of a lot more of incidents like that, coupled with ISIL’s monstrous treatment of its own members, then I will seriously entertain the possibility that ISIL might end up destroying themselves before any army gets closer to destroying them.

As I said, it’s still far too early to say, and there’s plenty I probably don’t understand about what’s going on in the Middle East, but I have a feeling that it shouldn’t be too long before ISIL is no longer feared by the world. In any case, I think the army fighting against ISIL has a much better chance of defeating ISIL than ISIL has of defeating it. All the coalition may have to do about ISIL is press on and crush them. But I guess that much remains to be seen.

Those who have revealed themselves to be terrorists

Those wacky Christian fanatics. They just never give up do they? Even in the face of incontrovertible defeat at the hands of the judgement of secular law, with liberty on its side no less, they simply can’t allow themselves to quit no matter how weak they are at the end of it. You may remember that the Ten Commandments monument at Oklahoma State Capitol was ruled by the state’s supreme court as a violation of the separation of church and state and that it was decided the monument must be removed on those grounds. You may also remember that this meant the Satanic Temple’s statue of Satan (depicted as a Baphomet figure), which was meant to counter the presence of the Ten Commandments monument, had become unnecessary as a result, and was left pretty much without a home. Well since then, the Satanic Temple has planned to unveil the statue in Detroit, but there’s been a snag in their plans. The statue was originally planned to be displayed publicly at Bert’s Market Place in the Eastern Market District of Detroit, but the Satanic Temple has decided to instead unveil the statue privately at a secret ticketed event. The Satanic Temple made its decision because the usual Christian fanatics have threatened to destroy the statue.

The completed Satanic Temple statue, before bronzing.

There is only one word for the sort of behavior being directed at the Satanic Temple: terrorism. There’s simply no other way to describe it. When you make threats of violence or harassment towards an individual or organization and demand that they suppress their activities because they don’t conform to your religious or political views or express themselves as such, then you are a terrorist and there’s no ifs and buts about it. It’s as simple as that. The mentality of these Christian fanatics is no different at all to the way Islamic terrorists have threatened those who draw cartoons of their prophet Muhammad or satirically portray their religion. The whole idea is to suppress people, to silence, to forbid freedom of expression by using threats of violence. It matters not whether you act on those threats, if you make the threats at all then you clearly intend to violently suppress people for expressing themselves, or encourage doing that such suppression take place, and that makes you a terrorist. Some people might not see this, because they only see terrorism as something that can take place successfully (a la the attacks that have been carried out by Islamic terrorists over the past 14 years). But what needs to be understand is that terrorism means trying to suppress people with threats of violence, harassment, and persecution, and as long as this is true it doesn’t matter if any threats of violence are actually acted upon because you’re already engaging in coercive behavior with no justifiable motivation. Nothing, except pure hatred and the mistaken belief that everyone must conform to certain beliefs, let alone totally and by the letter.

The fact that such terrorism exists in America and is overlooked, I’m actually worried that America is in danger losing the moral ground to actually condemn terrorism, and who knows what disaster could ensue in the country what that’s the case. I feel these hooligans who threaten religious liberty should be made an example of, to prove that this sort of terrorism is not OK on American soil, or anywhere.