Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Berlin Wall in 1976

From an old Travel Diary.

 September, 1976.

West Berlin was a bright, sparkling modern city, neon signs flashing. We had a very short time in Berlin, two hours' sightseeing, and one hour's shopping. During the sightseeing, we saw the usual statues and large buildings, also the Soviet War Memorial (well guarded) and the Olympic Stadium. An incredible feeling - that that was where Hitler actually was.

And then of course, THE WALL.  Quite a low wall, unimpressive, with no extra markers or anything on the West Berlin side to show that if you climbed over, you would be shot dead. There were signs to warn you that you would be leaving West Berlin, and many slogans painted on the wall (about ten feet high, I suppose)  and when you could see over, there was a wide bare strip, with soldiers in pill-boxes here and there, and barbed wire, and alert-looking Alsatian dogs. And another fence further into East Germany. It did look utterly impossible to get across undetected. So many people killed there, trying to cross that narrow strip of land!

And just over the wall, too, was a little rise under which was Hitler's Bunker. The scene of so much history, Berlin,  and now how strange it would be in that bustling city - a city in the middle of a foreign and hostile country.

At 11.00 am, we left Berlin, though the Checkpoint, which took quite some time, and then the long drive through East Germany. Almost immediately after crossing the Border, we were in country-side. We didn't really see East Berlin at all - except a little over the Wall. A few small towns, but mostly emptiness, so depopulated does East Germany seem in spite of her wall.


 'Freiheit für alle' means 'Freedom for all.' 
25 years ago, the wall came down.












Monday, 3 November 2014

Islamism and its dire consequences for civilisation

PLEASE EXCUSE:  The odd spacing and changes of font size are the result of BlogSpot being uncooperative today. I have been unable to fix it. 

ISIS and all the other Islamist groups - They are enjoying unprecedented success, converts are flocking to them, and even in long-standing Islamic states, the more fundamental (and women-repressing) factions are gaining ever more influence.
And they are brutal, not merely the terrorist groups such as ISIS,  but the Islamic nations that are usually accorded the respect that any nation is granted.  But they are not civilized in the way that a Western country is civilized. 
Iran:  Typical is the story of Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British woman with Iranian citizenship who was sentenced to a year in prison for attending a men's volleyball game.  Iran was progressive in the 60s and 70s, but then reverted to brutality under the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.  Any progress back towards civilisation since then has been minimal.

Nigeria:  The Islamist group, Boko Haram, led by Abubakar Shekau, denied the Nigerian government’s claimed peace deal, and says that the schoolgirls abducted in April this year have been married off. They ‘converted to Islam,’ he said.  Well, so would I 'convert' if the alternative was multiple rape and then death.   Shekau said he was not interested in peace, but promised ‘war, striking and killing with gun.’

Pakistan  Another terrorist bomb this morning. (3rd November, 2014)   'Credit' has been claimed by two separate Islamist groups.

And do you remember Malala Yousafzai,  shot by the Taliban for encouraging girls to seek education?  After she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year, she received vile threats. 
"Characters like Malala should know that we are not deterred by propaganda of [non-believers]. We have prepared sharp and shiny knives for the enemy of Islam," tweeted spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan. 

Religious police beating a woman.
   Afghanistan:   When the Taliban took charge in the 1990s, they forced women into burqas, a covering so severe they cannot even see properly. Trying to cross a road, for instance, would have to be a nightmare.
Even worse, women were not permitted to work or even to go out without a male escort. Remember the marches that widows staged at the time? They only wanted to eat, and to eat, they needed to work. 'We are not political;  we are hungry.'

So what happened to them?  I presume some starved, others were maybe taken in by relatives, and probably some arrested, never to be seen again.
The Taliban were forced back, but now that the US has left Afghanistan, it is only a matter of time before they return and take control. Again, women will be beaten for imagined transgressions against 'morality.'  Muslim men have always had a strange idea of morality, especially that it only applies to women.   
2002 Bali Bombing
Indonesia, 2002:  A Bali nightclub was bombed. It killed  202 people, most of them Westerners.  The culprits were apprehended, not very quickly, imprisoned, though not for as long as warranted, a few even executed, but others allowed to continue their recruitment activities while still in prison. It is almost as if the Indonesian government really doesn’t mind if a few hundred Westerners get killed now and then.  

Amrozi smiles, Indonesian Policeman smiles.
Even while in prison, the bombers were treated more as heroes than as despicable criminals.     More information on this site:
 referring to Amrozi -
'We would like to remind you of his smiles, seen here after his capture, and the smiles he gave in the court room. We would like to remind you of the thumbs up he gave in the court room when they handed down his death sentence. He has absolutely no remorse for any of the people he murdered or maimed. We would like to remind you of the attitude of the police who arrested and questioned him. How they shook his hand in front of the cameras, the same way an important person is greeted. We would like to remind you of the smiles of the police officers, who were very happy at the media attention but clearly uncaring about Amrozi's crimes against humanity.'

Meantime, Australia gave Indonesia money to improve their hospitals, and with them, pretended that the unfortunate incident was a mere aberration.

Saudi Arabia:  On March 11, 2002, a fire at a girls' school in Mecca killed fifteen people, all young girls. They were hindered from leaving because the little girls were not sufficiently covered. I guess the poor vulnerable Muslim men might have been unreasonably tempted by the sight of school girls running from a fire.
In Saudi Arabia, the death penalty is not reserved for offences that civilised people regard as serious, but can be imposed for adultery, ‘false prophecy,’ blasphemy, and apostasy. Apostasy is when a person who was Muslim decides to be Muslim no more. 

Saudi Arabia is not the only country that would punish this 'crime' with death. It is a major reason why Islam is such a powerful religion. 

A second reason is that religious schools 'teach' by having the children repeatedly chant passages from the Koran in at attempt to learn as much as possible by rote. This is a way of making sure they don't think too much about the content. It is brainwashing.

The third reason is that the Koran features such frequent and such dreadful threats of  eternal punishment in Hell that people are reluctant to decide it is nonsense - just in case it is not.  

22:19 - 'Garments of fire have been prepared for the unbelievers. Scalding water shall be poured upon their heads, melting their skins and that which is in their belly. They shall be lashed with rods of iron.'
35:16 - 'As for the unbelievers, the fire of Hell awaits them. Death shall not deliver them, nor shall its torment ever be eased for them.'
76:1 - 'For the unbelievers We have prepared chains and fetters, and a blazing Fire.'
4:56  Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. Surely God is mighty and wise.

Quotes from the Quran taken from 'The Koran' translated with notes by N. J. Dawood, Penguin Books, 2006 edition.

Every now and then, I hear that 'Islam is a religion of peace.' But I've recently read through the Koran -  research for a recent book.  I do not recall much about 'peace.'  The most notable aspect are the repeated threats of terrible punishment for 'unbelievers.'

In Western countries, most of us were scarcely aware of the clash between Sunnis and Shiites. I only discovered that it was happening in our own Sydney suburbs when I went looking – one would never have known from the news on TV or even from newspapers,  (maybe if one read very, very thoroughly?)   

The scene after the shooting
Today, (3rd November, 2014)  a Shiite preacher was shot by a Sunni Islamist. In Sydney, outside his mosque. That it was even stated is something new.  It appears that the Sunni/Shiite conflict is no longer to be covered up in the media - maybe they thought it might be construed as racism.  I suspect that we are quite often denied certain news for this reason.
Many of the current religious wars started as clashes between Sunni and Shiites, but now ISIS, among others, is killing everybody - Christians, pagans,  other Sunnis.   See this site for an article about their killing of Sunni tribesmen -  -  'Public executions and mass graves: ISIS targets Sunni tribe in Iraq.'
Is this the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it? For the civilized world, is it that our policies of tolerance and 'multiculturalism' are going to mean the end of tolerance and multiculturalism?
Maybe it's time for intolerance. We should not tolerate erosion of our freedoms and we should not tolerate those men and (a few) women who are trying to destroy our way of life. We should not tolerate curbs on our freedom of speech, curbs that are scorned by those who preach hatred of us and our freedoms.
  We cannot allow fanatics to throw away civilization and take us back to the 12th Century - a new Dark Age.   

Western civilization has given us a great deal. We live peacefully, and in the main, prosperous lives. Ours are the countries that refugees strive to enter - peaceful countries, free countries, countries with a good standard of living. 
 Muslim countries, on the other hand, are the ones who are responsible for so many of the refugees. Islam is most certainly not a peaceful religion.

 We have been very generous in taking in refugees. We have promoted tolerance and we have adopted the policy of multiculturalism - tolerating and even encouraging new immigrants to maintain the culture of their old countries, even turning a blind eye to things we find distasteful, such as the forced marriage of young girls. 
Many new immigrants have peacefully assimilated and become valuable citizens. Too many have not. They have taken, but not given.  They have assumed all the rights of their new country, but refused to assume the responsibilities.  And too many have brought their old conflicts with them.

 The Islamist threat is a real threat. It should not to be dismissed as exaggerated or unimportant because it is somewhere else far away, and it certainly should not be dismissed as 'racism.'   There are Christian fanatics as well, maybe fanatics from other religions, but they are not the threat that Islam has become. It is no longer good enough to pretend it is not happening. This is serious.  

Peace.  I hope it continues.

And to those who would kill for Allah and to bring an end to the freedoms of a civilised world,  I would remind you of a clause in the Koran:
'He that fights for God's cause fights for himself. God needs no man's help.'