Mickey Malta

Notes from the zone where 'normal' things don't happen very often

Posts Tagged ‘Muslims

Something is not quite right

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Someone must have spiked our water. No doubt about it.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I’m convinced that someone must have spiked our water with some funny substance that forces us to behave like nincompoops who have been drugged with a substance more powerful than cocaine and magic mushrooms put together.

Why anyone would do such a thing is still a mystery to me, but something has been going awfully wrong these past few weeks – even by the standards of The Zone Where Normal Things Don’t Happen Very Often!

I first started suspecting that things are not quite right when there was an uproar against the bishops’ declaration that those living in permanent sin should not receive communion. As you are VERY well aware, I am no supporter of any organised religion but in this case the bishops are right. Morality is all about the choices we make, and unmarried people who have sex with each other are no exception. It is their choice to lead that lifestyle. It is their choice to live together. It is their choice to have sex with each other. These choices are not congruent with the Catholic doctrine, and therefore – by Catholic standards – these people are living in a permanent state of sin. Now the Catholic Church teaches that in order to receive communion, one should have a clean conscience. Since humans are sinners by nature, Catholics must be aware of their wrongdoings,  repent and confess their sins to cleanse their souls before receiving “the body of Christ”. A powerful statement indeed.

So this essentially means that if someone is living out of wedlock, she or he must realise that she or he is living in sin, repent, confess and ditch that lifestyle once and for all. Clearly, this is not possible for anyone living with a sexual partner out of the Catholic wedlock. How can two people who choose to live together out of Catholic wedlock claim to repent from their sins on a weekly basis, ask for forgiveness, receive communion, and go back home to their partner? This makes a whole mockery both out of confession and communion – two bastions of the Catholic religion.

Religion is a way of life. If you feel that the teachings of your religion don’t make sense to you and your personal circumstances, then all you have to do is leave that religion. It’s easy. Unless you’re living in some extremist Islamic Theocracy, no one is going to kill you if you do it. I did it myself, and so can anyone else.

In a strange way, this is similar to the educational grants blunder. We cannot expect to defy the rules (even though in this case it was a genuine oversight – but the fact of the matter is that an important rule was not respected) and still claim the prize. Once the rules are broken, the players are disqualified. This is the reality in the real world.

When the dust on the communion saga started to settle, our dear Prime Minister made a conscious and a bold statement by visiting the Cana movement accompanied by his wife and claiming that the government’s policy is to promote a society based on a stable family. BRAVO. Which government doesn’t want to promote a society based on strong families?

The message he wanted to convey is very clear: he does not and will not support the introduction of divorce – even though he claimed that he welcomes a discussion on the subject. We can discuss divorce till we’re blue in the face, but that’s where the buck stops.

The objective of divorce is not to save a shattered marriage. It never was, and never will be. Divorce is a mechanism to give another opportunity to those people who were unfortunate enough to go through the harsh experience of a marital breakdown. The irony is that the introduction of divorce will make it possible for these people to re-marry thus creating more stable families; so if our politicians were REALLY in favour of stable families, the House would approve a divorce bill unanimously.

Just a footnote: the subject of re-marrying brings me back to the first point. Couples who were married, got divorced, and married someone else are STILL living in permanent sin according to Catholic teachings. So divorcees will still be barred from receiving communion. This is , once again, very obvious to me but given the uproar a few weeks ago, I feel that I need to include this disclaimer.

As time went by, the funny substance in our water system was clearly leaving its mark. Cue Dr Adrian Vassallo  and Dr Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici in the Parliamentary version of Dum and Dumber. Dr Vassallo got all worked up because some of our hotels are screening porn movies on their tv screens as part of their pay per view packages. On his part, the Justice Minister replied that the Police is investigating these cases. I bloody well hope that the Minister’s reply is not a serious one, and that he just blurted something out instead of asking Dr Vassallo if he really meant what he said in the PQ or whether this was just a sad, silly practical joke done in bad taste.

As if this wasn’t enough to spice up our dull news pages,  Dr Vassallo notched his mission to takes us back to the middle ages a bit higher. A few days following his ludicrous PQ, he went on record stating that he’d rather rot in the streets of Iran defending his religion than living in a country where . . . horror of horrors . . . porn is screened in hotels. Do I actually need to comment on this?

This whole saga led to another unusual occurrence: a positive news delivered by MaltaToday. Today’s edition of this newspaper carried an interview with Dr Vassallo where he claimed that he won’t be contesting the general elections again. Hurray. Some sense at last.

Is the effect of the funny substance wearing off?

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Written by mickeymalta

13/06/2010 at 23:35

Double standards are divisive

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You see? JC and Muhammed are friends

First of all I would like to apologise for the hiatus but I am flat out and snowed under at work. My new boss is a slave driver and I’ve been literally working 16 hours a day for these past 2 weeks.

Now that I got this out of the system, I can finally start to vent my frustrations again. As early as last Month, Comedy Central censored an episode of South Park because it mocked the Prophet Muhammed. Now this is bad, and it’s not the mockery of Muhammed I’m talking about, but the censorship. I believe that people should be free to make fun of symbols and leaders – be they political or religious – and I don’t agree with censorship on the basis that the humour may offend others.

I’m sure that any kind of joke on any subject is bound to offend someone at some point. The fish breeders association, for instance, may be offended by someone who links fish with stupidity because of their short term memory loss. This is the way I see it: if you feel offended by something you’re watching on TV, change channel. If you are offended by something that someone said during a live show in a theatre, walk out. You are actually free to do so.

I can never come to terms with the idea that some people want to stop others from doing what they do because the patronising idiots don’t like the other performer’s work. Get a life.

Having said that, I am completely allergic to double standards. So the same Comedy Central TV station that censored the South Park episode less than a month ago is now working on an animated series based on Christ. I’m no fan of any religion, but if South Park was censored on the basis of religion, why are they making a whole series to mock JC?

The Western world tends to be more tolerant than the Muslim world, and many people in the West think that it is OK to mock religion while the same cannot be said of the Muslim world. However, Comedy Central have now set a precedent and they should be consistent.

It is precisely this kind of behaviour from fellow Westerners that is fomenting religious divisions in different societies. Just because Muslims are VERY vociferous and dogmatic they should not get a special treatment. Comedy Central needs to have a clear policy on religious mockery. It should decide whether this is acceptable (and I agree it is), or not. Applying double standards is unjust and, ultimately, divisive.

Written by mickeymalta

08/05/2010 at 10:47

Arabs with shoes on

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National sport: a Rocker looking down on an Arab from his high horse

I really think that it’s ironic how Rockers tend to look down from their high horse on the Arab and Muslim world. Many Rockers regard both Arabs and Muslims as a bunch of people stuck in a time warp thousands of years away from  us. And they are right.

Now, for the record, I’m being generous here. Some Rockers can’t fathom the reality that there are many different cultures within the Arab world: that it’s not just one big country called Arabia. Worse still, many more don’t even regard them as humans at all.

The irony is that they fail to see the reality that our European cousins look at us in the same way we look at the Muslim/Arab world. The absence of divorce and our Quaker approach to abortion project a Neanderthal image in our cousins’ eyes. So the moral of the story is: before you start berating your cousins down south, keep in mind that we are to our cousins up north what the Muslims/Arabs are to us. An English friend of mine defines the Rockers as “Arabs with shoes on.”

These last few days I couldn’t help myself pointing out to those who were shocked and expressing their dismay at the Dubai incident that that this is a classical case of the pot calling the kettle black. It’s true that this incident an extreme case, but let’s not forget that the absence of civil rights and liberties here is equally shocking to countries that are more secular – and by consequence – more advanced: both economically and intellectually.

The common denominator between the two realities (us and them Arabs) is . . . . . surprise, surprise: Religion. I’m not going to go into how religions keep people backwards. I think that I made my case during lent, l and I don’t want to sound like a broken record.

Ironically, many Rockers jump at every opportunity to tell the Arabs how backwards they are whenever they interact with them. Yet, at the same time, these same people get all worked up and defensive whenever they are – rightly so – told that this Rock is still stuck in the 17th century. They retaliate by invoking foreign interference and by telling the foreigners to mind their own business.

I guess that some people are in a dire need of a reality check.

Written by mickeymalta

07/04/2010 at 16:46

Session 3: The God Equation

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I received an email yesterday claiming that “someone must be responsible” for the miracle of creation. The argument goes that life forms are very complex, and nature works in harmony therefore this is a work of a supreme being – otherwise known as ‘Intelligent Design’.

It doesn’t make logical sense at all. Just because one cannot understand or explain how things work at a particular point in time does not mean buy inference, or imply that there is a supreme being. This argument doesn’t do any justice to any religion, and one would expect intelligent clerics to discourage this kind of reasoning because: a) it is fallacious, and b) if and when science offers an explanation to that phenomenon, that whole argument crumbles and turns on its head disproving the existence of a supreme being and its intelligent design. furthermore, just because this person cannot understand the harmony of nature, it doesn’t mean that no one else can. Science has, in fact, deciphered the works of nature and the groundbreaking discovery was made by a chap called Charles Darwin.

Primitive societies didn’t understand natural phenomena like the four seasons, the day and night cycle, thunder and lightning, wind and hurricanes, and the rest.  Since these changes happened in the sky, they interpreted these ‘mysteries’ as a kind of action by someone “up there”. As time went by, we began to understand these mysteries and we are now not only able to explain these occurrences scientifically, but we’re also in a position to predict what’s going to happen days, weeks, or even months before they actually happen.

The advancement of science will eventually provide the answers to the mysteries we cannot solve now, but this will in turn give rise to new mysteries and the cycle will go on and on. In reality, if we only relied on religion, we would still believe that the earth is flat, that the sun revolves around it, that prayer will heal the sick, and so on.

One cursory look at the world around us tells us that we’re leading a better and a healthier life because of scientific knowledge. We’re living longer because of the advancement of medicine, and we’re living under constant threats of terrorism because of . . . . . religion!

Additionally, for those who believe that they’re being watched and cared for by an almighty and all-loving god, I asked them watch this short movie and have a serious rethink:

Written by mickeymalta

19/03/2010 at 10:23

All different, all (un)equal

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A local version of a Muslim praying mat

A local version of a Muslim praying mat

Yesterday afternoon afternoon The Times website published a news report about a silent protest by a small group of Muslims (you can also watch the video of this silent protest). In a nutshell, up to a few weeks ago these people were using an apartment in Sliema as a place of worship, and recently MEPA sealed off the apartment because it was not being used for residential purposes. When I read it, I could imagine what the reactions to this report would be, so I decided to wait for a few hours until the reactions started pouring in.

Unsurprisingly, an astounding majority of the ‘contributors’ expressed their horror, disgust and dismay at what is essentially a small bunch of people praying on the Sliema front. These reactions included comments like:

“Qed tara kif mis-seba jiehdu l-id? They should go to the Mosque. And they bully us as well.”

“What’s wrong with the Mosque in Paola?? Isn’t it suitable for them to do their prayers over there??”

“……….Multiculturalism is fine. Except that in a tiny state like Malta, with a very fragile (make no mistake) identity, a belligerent cultural invasion that operates under the guise of prayer will oust the host culture in the time it takes to say……….”

“As far as I am aware a congregation in excess of ten people requires a police permit. Was one issued. (sI have absolutely no problem with any faith Muslin, Christian, Jewish, Kaballah etc. etc. however I do have a big problem when persons from any faith decide they have some divine right to worship in a public place challenging the beliefs of other faiths. I can just imagine a Catholic or a Jew praying in public in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.”

Challenging the beliefs of other faiths? Can someone explain how and why is this public prayer challenging? Do these people really believe that someone might convert to Islam because s/he sees these people praying? And if so, what’s wrong with that? Wouldn’t that be a personal decision? These comments show a huge lack of security. Am I surprised? No, not really. If your beliefs were imposed on you, then you wouldn’t necessarily be convinced about them. Hence, anything that’s different to what you believe is likely to make you feel uneasy.

Some of the individuals who posted these comments are likely to have attended (or even took part in) Good Friday processions or pageants only a few weeks ago. Some of them may have attended religious services in some village square at some point in their life. When one juxtaposes the two issues, one cannot help but laugh at the irony of this kind of behaviour. As you may have guessed from my previous comments, I’m no fan of any religion. I am especially not a fan of rigid religions like Catholicism and Islam. They’re much more similar than our fellow citizens would like to think.  What beats me is that these ‘commentators’ fail to see things logically.

Instead of getting all worked up, these people should have saved themselves an unnecessary adrenaline rush by sitting back and take an objective look at this issue. A group of individuals have been meeting in an apartment that is intended for residential use. If any occupant wanted to use that apartment for any purpose other than residential, then s/he had to apply for a particular permit aptly referred to as “change of use”.

This issue has nothing to do with religion. In fact, let’s put it aside. If an occupant (irrespective of nationality or creed) wanted to use this apartment as a hairdresser’s salon, or a beauty parlour, MEPA would have reacted in the same way. If a bunch of Christians would have used the apartment as a place of worship, MEPA would have still been obliged to seal off the place. So, in case it is not clear enough, I will spell it out: MEPA DID NOT SEAL THE PLACE BECAUSE IT WAS BEING USED BY MUSLIMS. IT SEALED IT OFF BECAUSE THE TENANTS WERE USING IT FOR A DIFFERENT PURPOSE THAN THE ONE OUTLINED IN THE PERMIT. Is this clear now?

Personally, I find the Muslims’ choice to show their disagreement with MEPA’s actions quite appropriate. They have every right to protest because this is a democratic society. Their protest did not threaten, harm or offend anyone. Hence there is no reason to condemn their behaviour. Just because they belong to a different religion or nationality doesn’t mean that they should have lesser rights. At the end of the day, if The Times commentators believe in a god, they should appreciate the fact that these people were praising god in their own way. What’s wrong with that?

When Dr Rebecca Gomperts was delivering a talk about abortion at the Castille Hotel last year, a number of people congregated in front of the hotel. They lit up candles and prayed. Once again, this was a silent protest by individuals who wanted to voice their opposition to a particular event, and there is nothing wrong with that either.

Those who said that these people should stick to the Mosque in Paola have missed the whole point of the protest entirely. They’re completely off the mark. This protest was held a few metres away from the apartment in question. And for those who are concerned about a “fragile national identity”, my answer is: tough luck. If this is an issue, then it’s a country specific issue, and it will not be solved by barring other cultures. What is actually being suggested? Are the authorities expected to come up with a rigid profile of a pure Maltese, and deport anyone who doesn’t fit that profile to a gulag in Siberia?

How insular and cut off from the world these people be? Why are they so intolerant of anything that’s different? Why do they feel so threatened by diversity? This is sheer fundamentalism: if it’s different, axe it.

One other question, if the whole issue happened to a Buddhist or a Lutheran community, would our patriots have reacted in the same way?

Written by mickeymalta

09/05/2009 at 00:50