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We need to talk about Islam

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, July 23rd, 2016 - 365 comments
Categories: capitalism, Ethics, Globalisation, International, religion, Social issues - Tags:


U.S. Senator Newt Gingrich said after the Nice attacks that “We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported.”

On Whaleoil there’s been a concerted effort for several years to make Islam itself responsible for attacks claimed by ISIS and other extremist groups.

The Standard recently had an article that went further than either Newt Gingrich and Whaleoil and proposed banning religion entirely:

Should we remain tolerant of the unfounded beliefs of the billions of adherents? … I think it’s time to end religion.”

The author then proceeded to spell out the steps to eradicate religion from New Zealand.

Senator Gingrich could have done with a lesson on what Sharia really is, but the nuance might not have got through on talkback radio. The author at The Standard should have taken the time to answer their own question about the purpose of tolerance – and its limits – in society.

Too often, the distinction between an “Islamic extremist”, and “Islamist”, and a “Muslim” is getting deliberately lost. The post on The Standard blended all kinds of religion into a giant churn like some global toxic pollutant – a step not even Donald Trump has taken.

The last terrorist attack in New Zealand was in 1985. By the French government. The last major riots were in 1981. About Rugby. We may well in future have an ISIS-inspired attack here. But ask yourself: what is it about New Zealand society that makes it so unlikely?

A narrative that transforms Islam into a derogatory epithet is dangerous. New Zealand Muslims are entitled not to be smeared by religious association with terrorism. It’s really surprising that needed to be stated out loud, isn’t it? A narrative that smears all religious believers as being as dangerous to humanity as terrorists is even worse.

New Zealand may one day face the same test of a liberal society that France, Belgium, Britain, the United States, and others have faced. It is a permanently less safe world and, as I’ve written recently, the realm of liberal society is shrinking.

Smearing, bullying, belittling, vilifying, and group-attacks are the cracks by which liberal society starts to fall apart. No one said sustaining society was easy. It’s actual work. Labour’s written about that work in its recent centennial publication.

So let’s try the harder but far more helpful route.

What can we do more of, that makes such attacks here so unlikely?

What have we done for many, many decades as a society here that’s worked?

There you go, we talked about Islam, and it was good.

365 comments on “We need to talk about Islam ”

  1. B 1

    He was never a senator; he was the house leader, but not a senator.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1


      You’re right, he wasn’t a Senator – he was a Congressman and he was Speaker of The House of Representatives of which, being a Congressman, he was a duly elected member.

    • AmaKiwi 1.2

      What can we do to make terrorist attacks less likely?

      Very simple. Do not participate in the occupation of other countries. Full stop. End of story.

      Suicide bombers have repeatedly said they were blowing themselves up to rid their home countries of foreigners occupiers. Blair was told this by his intelligence services. They warned that joining the US Iraq invasion would inevitably lead to more guerrilla/terrorist attacks against the UK. It did.

      Helen Clark understood this. Key does not. Sending the SAS is an invitation to guerrilla attacks (terrorism) in NZ.

      • D'Esterre 1.2.1

        AmaKiwi: ” Do not participate in the occupation of other countries.”

        US forces are still in Japan, more than 70 years after the end of WW2. Those troops were originally an occupying force, and I guess from the local perspective, it still looks pretty much like an occupying power. Yet we don’t get disaffected Japanese – young or old, male or female – carrying out terrorist attacks against the US. There are still “occupying” forces in Kosovo and in the Bosnia-Herzegovina region, yet the disaffected of these areas don’t commit acts of terrorism elsewhere in Europe or the world. So clearly occupation forces are neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for terrorism. Something else is going on.

  2. Turkey is an important area in the Abrahamic religions, geographically the home of (or pathway to) the “King of the North”. Turkey’s religious roots trace back to the seven “churches” of Asia of the book of Revelation. These seven where not Christian groups in the modern sense due to their rejection of the Roman citizen Paul of Tarsus. Turkey is also the geographic gateway between the western and eastern branches of the Roman state religion, i.e. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.

    Turkey then represents, geographically, the common ground of the nascent Judaic religion that seeded Christianity and later Islam, and of the source of the northern waters of the promised land of the Abrahamic covenant.

    Erdogan’s endorsement by the Muslim Brotherhood favours Sunni Islam, the extreme forms of which are the ideological base of the ISIS terrorists. This situation is clearly incompatible with Putin’s security interests. However the key players here are the Turkish people, since without their support Erdogan would have had little means of confronting the Turkish heavy armour. Likewise there is little scope for international criticism if he honours his assurance regarding democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights and freedoms.

    • Ad 2.1

      All interesting, and I could have covered any country.

      But I’d encourage you to focus on New Zealand and have a look at those key questions and how they relate to New Zealand:

      – What can we do more of, that makes such attacks here so unlikely?

      – What have we done for many, many decades as a society that’s worked?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1

        Whatever it was, we’re not doing it any more.

        These days, slum-lords make tenancy laws, Mr. Peter Talley makes employment law and the Sensible Sentencing Trust makes penal policy.

      • Lanthanide 2.1.2

        “What can we do more of, that makes such attacks here so unlikely?”

        1. Have a small population
        2. Have no land borders with any other country
        3. Be far away from other countries that have substantially different cultures to us

        Pretty difficult for other countries to emulate, or for us to do more of these things.

        • Ad

          There’s plenty of island countries with small populations who are nowhere near as tolerant as we are. It certainly helps though that we’re not under threat from any other country. So there’s got to be something to your points when they register lack of threat.

          • Lanthanide

            What about small island nations with advanced economies?

            • Ad

              OK let’s go there.

              A small island nation …

              That also has a small population …

              With no close neighbors …

              Who is not under threat …

              And has an advanced economy …

              Without terrorist activity …

              I think we’re down to New Zealand and Iceland as a total.

              Now, Lanth, we’ve gone part of the way.
              What is it about New Zealand that makes that depth of tolerance work?

              • Andre

                On a population basis you could possibly extend “small nation” to Australia…

              • What is it about New Zealand that makes that depth of tolerance work?

                You just listed the features that make it work. Tolerance is easy when there are no credible threats. We have no idea how tolerant we’d be if we’d had sufficient immigration from Muslim countries that there were enclaves of ignorant and militant illiberalism set up in various of our cities. My money would be on the tolerance going downhill fast.

                • Ad

                  So here’s the even stranger thing: Auckland has more ethnic and religious diversity than any city in the southern hemisphere. We have enclaves and weirdos, but:

                  – the overall crime rate (apart from violent crime) keeps going down
                  – there are no religious gangs terrorizing the streets (arguably ethnicity, poverty, and criminal income have more to do with that)
                  – religious participation is declining, and even faster in the rest of the country
                  – and we have had no terrorist activity from religious groups

                  You may be right: it would only take a major terrorist hit here to change a lot of things. But we have not had a single act of terror based from religion in the entire existence of New Zealand (happy to be proven wrong).

                  So all the focus on overseas Islamic extremism meaning that we should judge Muslims on the same basis here is not borne out by the evidence.

                  If car manufacturers were a religion, from the number of deaths and injury they have caused every year, we would be justified in treating them like ISIS.

                  • Lanthanide

                    “So here’s the even stranger thing: Auckland has more ethnic and religious diversity than any city in the southern hemisphere.”

                    Remember that we have much higher standards for immigration than any EU country, which goes a fair way.

                    Also, for those that do immigrate, all of the previously listed benefits work together to tempers under control.

                    • Ad

                      I also think it’s got something to do with New Zealand society as a whole putting out the welcome mat. It’s now the biggest and fastest-moving divide between ourselves and Australia.

                      Remember when Winston was on a roll and Dave Dobbyn put out that song “Welcome Home”? It got me right there.

        • Jamie

          Ban Muslim Immigration!!!

      • UglyTruth 2.1.3

        The reason I posted about Turkey was because recent events have changed the geopolitical landscape which directs Islamist terrorism. Any meaningful strategy for avoiding conflict here involves understanding NZ’s role in th Anglo-American empire and how it has been instrumental in promoting radical Islamism since before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

        Turkish national and FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds describes how MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin started the twitter rumour that the coup had been successful, which links Turkey to Ukraine as objects of deep state ambition. Also the CIA’s Fethulah Gulen kicked off the MSM conspiracy theory that Erdogan had staged the coup in order to consolidate political power, supporting the “too big to fail” meme which posits that if the CIA had been involved then the coup would have been successful.

        Erdogan making peace with Putin over the shootdown of a Russian bomber in Syrian airspace enabled a security alliance which helped to tip the scales in Erdogan’s favour. The other major factor was the Turkish people, who after hearing Erdogan’s plea, successfully confronted the Turkish heavy armour. Erdogan has since reaffirmed his ambivalent attitude to democracy and the rule of law by declaring a state of emergency while he continues his purge of political opponents in Turkey.

        The way all this connects to New Zealand is via English common law, which draws from the same ideological source as Islam (i.e. via the other Abrahamic Religions). The axis that is relevant here is popular theism vs naked political will. Despite its religious trappings the state in NZ is secular, and has a history of misleading the public about the relationship between theism, sovereignty, and the common law.

        Islam of course has its own political baggage. The split between Sunni and Shia Islam was purely about political power, with Sunnis preferring a democratic approach while the Shia advocated rule by descent. Incompetence in managed political rule was a major factor in the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, leading to the transition to secular politics in Turkey.

        Rather than simply reaffirming effective ideals and behaviors it’s important to recognize that the situation implies that adverse political arrangements should also be considered. But to answer to your questions, the rule of law is the most relevant safegaurd which acts to prevent conflict. Here I mean the rule of law as applied in a constitutional sense, i.e. the application of maxims which describe principles like the presumption of innocence and the absence of prejudice in judgment, not the carte blanche endorsement of politicians as lawmakers.

        • Ad

          Good law and good law enforcement, together with a demilitarized population, appear to be at risk in the United States, for example.

          But what I think you are getting to when you talk about when you talk about constitutional maxims are things like the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

          • UglyTruth

            The UN Declaration of Human Rights is based on civil law, not common law.


            Common law considers natural rights rather than human rights. The situation in America is quite similar to the situation here, in that we both have a constitution which draws from the common law, and we both have a political system which is based on civil law.

            The US Bill of Rights refers to the natural rights of life and liberty, and to due process, all of which are essential to the common law. Likewise, NZ’s unwritten constitution draws from the unwritten constitution of England. The right to keep and bear arms has been set aside in favour of privilege by licence in much the same way as the right of liberty relating to the ordinary use of public roads and highways has. There’s a common theme here, the Roman Empire built road primarily to enable the state to express its military power. Demilitarization of the population is a consequence of citizenship, but true sovereignty encompasses the power to act, so the US notion that state sovereignty is derived from the people is a fiction.

            The ideological conflict between the civil law of Rome and the common law of England is expressed in religious terms as separation of the Abrahamic religions from Babylon. Pauline Christianity incorporates both of these ideologies and substitutes the retributive justice of Judaism with the pacifism of “turn the other cheek”, and the first commandment with obedience to the “powers that be”.

            • Ad

              So, in a cumbersome kitchen-sink way, you’re trying to name values that we have in New Zealand that work.

              So what are they? Name them. And why are they being sustained?

              • UglyTruth

                What I’m trying to do is describe the ideological landscape in which NZ society and Islam currently exist in order that reason can be applied to find a workable solution. The values from this landscape that are effective in avoiding religious animosity are the ideals of justice, even-handedness, and vigilance. They are being sustained because the derive from the natural operation of the mind in an environment of risk, specifically the application of language and reason in the pursuit of happiness rather than the survival trait of social dominance (from the triune brain model).

  3. Gosman 3

    No, you talked about religious tolerance not Islam. If you want to discuss Islam why don’t you address what Shatia law us and why the majority of nations who have adopted elements of it in to their legal code have oppressive laws against blasphemy and apostasy? Deal with that and you are truly talking about Islam.

    • Ad 3.1

      The post is designed to talk about religious tolerance as a whole and its function in a successful society. Have a go.

      • Gosman 3.1.1

        Do you think people should be able to argue that views and actions of groups such as the Westboro Church should be discouraged and disparaged in our society?

        • Ad

          Have a go yourself.

          I think what you’re aiming for there is the main Freedom of Expression test:
          Is their expression the same as yelling “Fire” in a theatre, or “shoot!” to a person holding a gun.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2

      Funny, on the one hand Gosman says he’s “talking about Islam”, and then in order to do so he has to define a subset of people who have adopted Sharia.

      Clearly the subset is not the whole. Perhaps Gosman is confused. That said, acting confused is one of the ways Gosman tells lies. Pure coincidence, I’m sure.

      • Gosman 3.2.1

        Ummm.. considering Islam means ‘Surrender to God’s will’ and most mainstream interpretations of Islam regard Sharia law as a reflection of that will I do believe it is entirely valid to bring up Sharia law when discussing Islam

        • Ad

          Probably sounds like a fine distinction, but you might want to explain the difference between Sharia as a personal path, and Sharia as it gets expressed by governments.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          I expect you wear cloth of mixed threads too. Are these cherries you’re picking or just low-hanging fruit?

          • Gosman

            Some elements of the modern Jewish and even Christian religions have strict prescriptions such as you highlight. The difference being mainstream Islam’s ultimate reason for being is to follow the perfect set of laws from God as reveled to his last and greatest prophets Muhammed. Now it is very difficult to try and state they shouldn’t follow Sharia law as defined by mainstream Islam for the past 1300 years when that is the point of difference to the faith.

            • Anno1701

              “his last and greatest prophets Muhammed”

              that is up for debate within Islam..

            • Ad

              Can you recall our one trial for heresy in New Zealand?

              Hint: those terrorist Presbyterians.

              • KJT

                Well. A minister of a Christian religion who didn’t believe in God, was a bit of a conflict of interest.
                He was told off, however, not burned at the stake.

                I am an atheist, however, I think people can believe whatever they like so long as they do not hurt others, and extend the same tolerance to everyone else.

                The most dangerous dogma in the last four decades has been Neo-liberalism. (And its corollary religious beliefs, ‘free trade’ and ‘free markets’). The driving force behind much of the destruction of the Middle East is the USA’s propping up the petrodollar to ensure the survival of their vandalized economy.

                • Ad

                  Agree re most dangerous dogma.

                • adam

                  Look KJT, I think it is wrong to call the belief in ‘free trade’ and ‘free markets’ religious. Like calling religion an Ideology, it just does not work.

                  ‘free trade’ and ‘free markets’ are the but pillars for the radical ideology of neoliberalism, and the tools which to beat over the head anyone who questions the core ideology. These ideological points have been supported in a zealous manner, but religion it does not make them.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Like calling religion an Ideology, it just does not work.

                    Actually, it works perfectly. Ideology:

                    Ideology is a collection of beliefs held by an individual, group or society. It can be described as a set of conscious and unconscious ideas which make up one’s beliefs, goals, expectations, and motivations.

                    So, yes, religion is an ideology.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The metaphor works because it switches on the same circuits in peoples brains (IMO). People need things to believe in. Full stop.

                    • adam

                      I had this big argument, written up Draco. Then I thought let me ask you one simple question.

                      Are Ad or I, the ideological twin to Bill English?

                      Because by your analysis we should be. Take it a step further if you will. Are Ad and I ideological twins?

                      This is leaving aside arguments about what is faith, and mysticism. Which fall outside a neat definition of ideology.

                      Look Draco, many fundamentalist hard right churches would love for christianity to be accepted as just an ideology. Then they could purify those who don’t come up to that ideological purity.

                      One other argument I’m going to borrow from Sabiel, faith gives us the ability to criticise people on a whole other level outside usual ideological debate. As she rightly points out, Bill English fails in his duty to the poor as the Minister of finance. I think she is right to point out this hypocrisy as somthing more than the usual ideological debate the left and right normally have.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      This is leaving aside arguments about what is faith, and mysticism. Which fall outside a neat definition of ideology.

                      No, really, they don’t. Religion is always an ideology.

                      Are Ad or I, the ideological twin to Bill English?

                      You seem to be under the mistaken belief that the word ideology means right-wing bullshit when it actually refers simply to a persons beliefs.

                      One other argument I’m going to borrow from Sabiel, faith gives us the ability to criticise people on a whole other level outside usual ideological debate.

                      No it doesn’t as religion is an ideology. Of course, you can point out that Blinglish’s religion does actually say that we should be taking care of the poor rather than putting the boot in as he and National are doing which actually means that he’s not conforming to his professed ideology.

                      As she rightly points out, Bill English fails in his duty to the poor as the Minister of finance.

                      An atheist can easily critique Blinglish for his economic failure simply by pointing out that we actually have poverty. That is a both a physical and moral critique that has nothing to do with religion.

                  • KJT

                    It is a religion.
                    It has the same belief in the irrational and unproven.
                    It has millions of followers, despite the proven harm.

                    I am all for tolerance of religion, but that ends when followers try to inflict it on others doing harm.

                    It is not a stretch to blame the current problems in the Middle East, on the unbridled capitalism, that Neo-Liberalisms acolytes support, not Islam.

                    It began, this time around, with the USA, Britain and France deposing secular rulers in Iran (Democratically elected to) to prop up their failing economic systems with cheap oil.

              • Wayne

                This so called heresy “trial” wasn’t a state trial, i.e. conducted by the Crown or police.

                In fact the “trial” was undertaken by the church itself and it therefore had no official or legal status, and thus could not affect any of Lloyd Geering’s legal rights. The only sanction available to the church was to expel him from the church.

              • AmaKiwi

                Can you recall our one trial for heresy in New Zealand?

                Lloyd Geering.

                A wonderful man with an exceptional mind for theology and the history of religion.

              • Gosman

                What was the penalty if it was shown to be true? I’d love mainstream Islam to have the same.

    • Wainwright 3.3

      Many Islamic nations don’t have laws prohibiting homosexuality. By sheer coincidence, these are all the Islamic nations which weren’t subjected to European colonialism. Maybe we should stamp out Westminster law too while we’re at it.

      • Ad 3.3.1

        Go for it.

        Do a decent justification for the on-balance superiority of British colonialism to non-colonised development. It’ll be fun, I promise!

      • AmaKiwi 3.3.2

        @ Wainwright

        “Maybe we should stamp out Westminster law too while we’re at it.”

        Excellent suggestion. I wouldn’t “stamp it out” overnight but it is in desperate need of modernizing.

  4. Gosman 4

    I’m curious though why it seems acceptable to many leftists to paint certain right wing but liberal ideas as a huge threat to society and basically immoral and inhumane yet attacking Islamic ideals that are far more illiberal is perceived as ‘unhelpful’. Why are you willing to make common cause with a backward and medieval belief system?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      Perhaps you’re pretending to be ‘curious’ in order to tell lies. Again.

      If not, the reason you’re ‘curious’ is that you’re ignorant, inattentive, and incompetent to assess your own opinions let alone those of “The Left” – which isn’t a hive mind, by the way.

      • Gosman 4.1.1

        What lie have I told? I have copious amount of evidence for people on the left here thinking that supporting the idea of greater market freedom is basically attacking innocent people who are less well off. Heck there are even examples of people who have argued furiously that politicians who have been responsible for implementing such policies after being democratically elected to office should be charged with various crimes such as treason. However simply pointing out self evident truths like many Islamic values are incompatible with a modern liberal and secular society and somehow you are threatening the very existence of that same society.

        • Stuart Munro

          You are partially right:

          Greater market freedom is basically attacking innocent people who are less well off. Politicians who have been responsible for implementing such policies after being democratically elected to office should be charged with various crimes.

          A scrupulous neo-liberalism cultivates market freedom in tandem with regulation to ensure that it doesn’t harm innocent bystanders. NZ has corrupt unscrupulous neoliberalism – it uses economic violence and is a driver of for example, our stellar suicide rate.

          Politicians are not entitled to victimise large sections of society with their inane freemarket superstitions – theirs are responsible positions, if the market does not deliver good outcomes they are not entitled to use it. Case in point, the housing market – a life and economy wrecking bubble.

          Be careful with self-evident truths – not all your swans are as white as you think.

          • Gosman

            Thank you for providing a practical example of the mindset I brought up. I think you are complete bonkers fir believing that. What us your view on mainstream Islam then?

            • Stuart Munro

              Mainstream Islamic folk have pretty pro-social values, they are rather like the Christians Weber credited with the upsides of the industrial revolution.

              On your other point – it’s only logical to hold politicians accountable – they are not an elected nobility, they are paid and sworn to govern in our interests and fail us at their peril.

          • red-blooded

            Watch out, Stuart. These are your opinions, not self-evident truths. Ny sticking with your belief that democratically elected politicians should be charged with treason you’re allowing Gosman to support his comment that we on the left are extreme and inconsistent.

            Point out the links between neo-lib extremism and religious extremism, sure, but confront your own extremism in this matter.

            • Stuart Munro

              I’m not extreme at all.

              Since the eighties a bunch of wide boys got into politics in NZ and began to make free with public resources. Their thefts or conversions, if shown to be thefts or conversions are punishable under existing law – all that is required is a public interest review.

              But your frothing denunciation of this perfectly ordinary investment in systemic integrity is extreme. Where’s the harm? Democratic MPs are paid and sworn to operate in the public interest – if they are doing so they have nothing to fear. And if not they deserve everything they get.

              (Maybe you could bump this to Open Mike Ad)

              • red-blooded

                Can you point to the part of my comment that you saw as “frothing” or “extremist”, Stuart?

                • Stuart Munro

                  I’m referrring to the thread where we discussed it – I proposed it as a mechanism for de-neo-liberalising governments and you presumed it was incompatible with our democratic institutions, which it is not.

                  • Gosman

                    Oh it is and the mindset is a perfect example of why the extreme left is dangerous. Red-blooded is entirely accurate. I will use this to highlight how intolerant and undemocratic elements of the left are. Thank you once again.

            • KJT

              Theft as a servant is probably a more relevant charge to apply to our right wing politicians, not treason.

              If Gosman thinks our present bunch of leaders are not corrupt, I have a pacific Island hotel to sell him.

              • Stuart Munro

                I think the first charge I found that really fitted well was barratry – which lies somewhere between theft as a servant and treason. It is not theft alone, but also a breach of trust in a position of authority. But charges would vary case by case. Some might meet the traditional criteria for treason.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Cherry-picking is lying, Gosman: many Christian values are incompatible with a modern liberal and secular society. No other gods but me, graven images, name in vain, Sabbath observance…

          • Stuart Munro

            The big one for the Abrahamic religions is usury. Forbidden by all three.

            • Gosman

              Where did Jesus state usury should be forbidden?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Overturning money-lenders’ tables. Something in the body-language I expect.

                • Gosman

                  That was for situational reasons. They were working out of the temple. Jesus never stated usury or anything should be banned as far as i am aware. This is opposed to Muhammed who banned numerous behaviours.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    …as far as I am aware…

                    That’s true: you can see about as far as the end of your nose, which, as the saying goes, may yet grow long enough to encompass your vision.

                  • AmaKiwi

                    Gosman on Jesus in the temple:

                    Can we have an eye witness account? Nope. No witnesses. No one wrote it down at the time.

                    How bloody convenient.

              • Stuart Munro


                Light Sunday reading for you.

              • UglyTruth

                Where did Jesus state usury should be forbidden?

                AFAIK he didn’t, at least not explicitly. But he did endorse the prophets:

                If he has exacted usury Or taken increase — Shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, He shall surely die; His blood shall be upon him.
                Ezekiel 18:13

                • Ad

                  I think you forget the Parable of the Talents.

                  It’s definitely about earning interest on the Talents you have been provided with.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    A Muslim friend of mine explained that there is a difference between participation in a business with its attendant risks and lending money in such a way that the risk falls on the borrower. The first is permited to Muslims, the second is not, and is what was called usury. The old texts approved of business – trading or manfacturing or agribusiness. But financial services fell outside their pale.

                    • Ad

                      The Catholic relationship to the historical growth of global banking is pretty damn dark, IMHO.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      Agreed – but there is an obligatory element to it in a feudal society. Suppose you’re a feudal landholder with 20 men under arms and 300 levies you can call upon between planting and harvest – and your neighbour borrows enough to hire 200 mercenaries. You’re toast. So begins a process of financial escalation with intermittent pogroms against moneylenders by lords who couldn’t pay their debts…

                  • UglyTruth

                    Matthew 25 attracts a large amount of textual criticism, and the account in Luke 19 is different.

                    Matthew: 3 servants, 8 talents.
                    Luke: 10 servants, 10 pounds.

            • Xanthe

              Of course usery was banned by all religions until very recently, Reason … because it would violate the purpose and usefullness of money by making it into a thing in its own right rather than a represantion of things, The belief at that time was that usery would break the system….. History has proved that they were right.. we have to figure out how to get out of the hole that was made.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The belief at that time was that usery would break the system….. History has proved that they were right..

                History had shown, even several thousand years ago, that the charging of interest breaks the system. It’s why all the major religions in the world ban it.

                Some older civilisations knew that it did as well but had other ways to deal with it such as the 7 year jubilee where all debt would be written off or the debt would be written off at the rising of a new king.

                The damage that interest and other forms of usury (shareholding etc) has been known for thousands of years but we’ve persuaded ourselves that it’s good, the Greed is Good meme despite the fact that greed is recognised as one of the 7 deadly sins.

          • Gosman

            What Christian values are incompatible with a modern tolerant society? The ones you mention were never discussed by Jesus as far as I am aware.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Yawn. You’re boring. I listed four from the Ten Commandments™.

              • Gosman

                Which is not really a essential part of the Christian faith. The whole idea behind Christianity (according to many) was moving away from a legalistic interpretation of piety and observance towards a more philosophical position of redemption. This is why hardly any Christian’s follow the dietary restrictions specified in the Old Testament.

                • One Anonymous Bloke


                  …hardly any…

                  Can we quantify this? Is “hardly any” in the same order of magnitude as the number of people who pay lip-service to Islam while espousing violence, by any chance?

                  Or does your suddenly nuanced and sophisticated analysis of Christianity reveal exactly how false your entire bad faith argument is? Much?

                • red-blooded

                  So, Gosman, it’s OK that “hardly any” Christians have extremist interpretations of their faith, but if a very small number of (hardly any) Muslims have hardline beliefs then that religion is tainted?

                  BTW, I think all religions are sat their use-by dates. I don’t distinguish between them like you.

                  • Draco T Bastard


                  • Gosman

                    But it isn’t a small number of Muslims. It is the followers of the mainstream interpretation of Islam. When they acknowledge the mainstream interpretation is wrong I’ll be happy.

          • Psycho Milt

            many Christian values are incompatible with a modern liberal and secular society.

            Tiresome what-aboutery. Yes, it’s possible to find some items of obnoxious bullshit in every religion. Whether it’s a fact that Islam consists almost entirely of these and Christianity doesn’t is arguable, but what isn’t is that Christianity has been dealt with. It’s no threat to western societies now even at the political level, let alone in terms of physical violence. Trying to pretend it constitutes the kind of threat to liberal values in western societies that Islam does is pure Sophistry.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Drone strikes, presumably, are an item of obnoxious bullshit in the Christian arsenal.

              Or is the threat actually posed by authoritarian shitheads on both “sides”?

              • Drone strikes, presumably, are an item of obnoxious bullshit in the Christian arsenal.

                I hope you’re not presuming that, because it goes beyond Sophistry into mental-health-issues territory. There are people in the Muslim world who thing the liberal democracies are Christian countries, but that’s due to ignorance – there’s no excuse for someone who lives in one sharing the delusion.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  As you might infer from my comment, I think religion is a red herring, although I note that it is generally considered impossible for an avowed atheist to be elected president, even of an illiberal kleptocracy.

    • I’m curious though why it seems acceptable to many leftists to paint certain right wing but liberal ideas as a huge threat to society and basically immoral and inhumane yet attacking Islamic ideals that are far more illiberal is perceived as ‘unhelpful’.

      It’s pretty straightforward. Muslims are mostly covered by the bizarre euphemism “people of colour.” That makes recognising Islam for what it is a racism issue for a lot of leftists.

      • marty mars 4.2.1

        nah – it is just difficulty with ‘othering’ – I don’t think in this country ‘people of colour’ terminology is used much certainly not as much as the US.

        I think that lefties have no trouble at all in being honest about people that believe in Islam (and Christianity) and within that belief field the wide range of responses to the religious conformity of that group.

        • Gosman

          I see leftists groups attack Christian Churches teachings on a wide range of subjects. I see less effort directed towards the Islamic faith.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Who gives a fuck what a nasty little Wormtongue “sees”? You’d put your eyes out if they saw things clearly.

        • Psycho Milt

          nah – it is just difficulty with ‘othering’

          As Gosman has pointed out, there doesn’t seem much problem with ‘othering’ if the ‘others’ are people leftists can actually recognise as ideological opponents (eg, the calls on the ‘how to collapse liberal society’ thread for imprisoning politicians who’d followed neo-liberal policies).

          I think that lefties have no trouble at all in being honest about people that believe in Islam…

          Sure. People who believe in Islam are no worse than people who believe in anything else. Lefties have a great deal of trouble in being honest about Islam as an ideology, however.

  5. Gosman 5

    I have been very careful not to accuse the entire left of holding this view. There are certain elements of the hard left where the view is more prevalent. This is normally amongst those virient anti-Capitalists who think the enemy of my enemy must be my friend. The thinking seems to be that Muslims are an opressed group so we must stand up for them. The same view is not extended to conservative Christian ideals though if they come under attack.

    • Stuart Munro 5.1

      It’s more a matter of untrustworthy messengers Gosman.

      As a far-right nutbar to whom nothing is sacred, your sudden interest in Islam is anomalous, given that we can safely infer that you are not looking for a vehicle for personal development.

      So instead of following your trail of breadcrumbs, people will probably question your motives. How do RWNJ benefit by concentrating on minority beliefs of a small religious minority?

      In a country with falling productivity, falling social indicators, and a morbidly declining real economy worthless governments often look for a ‘short victorious war’ as an alternative to the kind of good governance that would begin to solve such problems. Democracies however are not easy to send to war.

      To create the conditions for war it is necessary to demonise the target group sufficiently to create a level of popular support. So suddenly agent provocateurs become ersatz experts on Islamic doctrine. People who know actual muslims trust these troublemakers about as much as RWNJ trust the IRD.

    • locus 5.2

      Do you realise how prejudiced you sound Gosman?

      Do you think there is something wrong with standing up for oppresed groups?

      Do you have the first idea of what it’s like to be a religious devotee in countries where your ‘ minority’ religion is hated or vilified by many adherents of the majority’s religion?

      Why do you have to sneer at the left and look to belittle when the aim of this post is to look for reasons why NZ has been successful in achieving a comparatively high degree of religious tolerance?

    • Ad 5.3

      Erm, they were under attack last Sunday on this site.
      And there was lively discussion.

      • Gosman 5.3.1

        Not really. The debate last week was more about religion generally and not specific values within that faith. You seem very keen to not have a debate around Islam despite the title of your article being just that.

      • red-blooded 5.3.2

        Hey, there’s a difference between challenging a belief system and attacking a group of believers.

        • Ad

          I think there’s a difference to belonging to a political party for example, and being an adherent of a religion. It’s not a belief system. It’s breathing.

          • red-blooded

            So, you’re saying it’s never OK to challenge a religious belief? Or is it simply never OK for a non-believer to challenge a belief? Sorry, but I don’t accept that one particular group’s values are beyond challenge or debate. You don’t have to share my (non-religious) beliefs, but you are perfectly entitled to question them or challenge them. Surprisingly enough, the converse is also true.

  6. Gosman 6

    I think the real issue here is many on the left are terrified to be seen to be intolerant of people that they perceive to be downtrodden or picked upon by the elites in Western society. This is why they generally gave no problem attacking Christian attitudes that might lead to law changes affecting LGBT in America but daring to bring up Sharia law in Muslim majority countries is seemingly off limits.

    • locus 6.1

      I think the issue here is that many on the right are more likely than those on the left to be abusive towards others of a different race, religion, women, the poor and unemployed, LGBT, and pretty much anyone else who is different from them….

      FIFY Gosman

      And for some reason the religious zealots of most religions often seem to align with the extreme right

      • Gosman 6.1.1

        Apart from Islam it seems which gets aligned with the hard left by many.

        • marty mars

          No it doesn’t.

        • Draco T Bastard


          Extreme Christianity = Hard right-wing
          Extreme Islam = Hard right-wing
          Extreme Judaism = Hard right-wing

          This is consistent across all religions, in all regions and across all time. The commonalities are: Strict adherence to an ideology, authoritarianism, zealotry, intolerance of those who are seen as different (LGBT, race, culture) and support of a corrupt hierarchy.

      • Ad 6.1.2

        Did you read the debate last Sunday?
        Didn’t detect many holding back on religion.

    • Ad 6.2

      You make a really good point there.
      Not all minorities are treated the same on the left. Or the right.

      But then, this post will quickly devolve into a “my oppression is more worthy than yours” line. Which doesn’t serve much purpose.

      Best to confine ourselves to the limits of religious tolerance in New Zealand.
      If that’s OK.

      • Gosman 6.2.1

        If you want to keep this discussion to religious tolerance you have to accept that involves discussing the values and beliefs that make up a religious point if view not just the right to hold those views privately.

  7. New Zealand Muslims are entitled not to be smeared by religious association with terrorism. It’s really surprising that needed to be stated out loud, isn’t it?

    It depends on whether you count pointing out facts as a “smear.” Back in the 1970s, New Zealand communists had to live among people who regarded communism as a dangerous ideology that had caused misery wherever it had been implemented, was a source of terrorism (eg, Red Army Faction), and should be discouraged in this country. That was no doubt unpleasant for NZ communists, who were for the most part excellent people you’d be happy to have as your neighbour, but it wasn’t “smearing” them because it was a fact that they were adherents of a dangerous ideology.

    • “they were adherents of a dangerous ideology”


      some so called believers of a so called dangerous ideology were dangerous.

      I doubt there is an ideology where – at some point some of the people that say they believe it turn out to be pretty horrible people thus tainting the ideology even though that (the ideology) wasn’t why they were horrible people

      • Gosman 7.1.1

        So no ideology is abhorrent to you?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Every ideology has centre-right elements who desperately want to kill someone.

        • marty mars

          Trying reading rather than spamming you might learn something gossie.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Ideology that brings about injustice is abhorrent. Right-wing ideology brings about injustice. Some forms of Christian ideology brings about injustice and so do some forms of Islam, Buddhism and even Left-wing. When you look at those forms though what you see is authoritarianism and the hard line implementation of hierarchy – in other words, right-wing ideology.

    • Ad 7.2

      Good analogy. The new Red Scare. The slight difference being that communism still had huge sympathy from the left, from academia, and from arts groups in New Zealand until well into the late 1970s.

      I’ve had another view of “Good Night, and Good luck”, as well as “Trumbo”.

      If we reacted to Muslims here the way government reacted to communists in the 1960s, we would have a very different society indeed.

      But we don’t. And there are really good reasons for that.

      • Gosman 7.2.1

        I think the point that was being made is that attacks on international Communism and the ideals underlying it did not mean NZ Communist were not able to follow their own views on the subject. They most likely felt uncomfortable but you’re not suggesting we stop making people feel uncomfortable are you?

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    – What can we do more of, that makes such attacks here so unlikely?

    Encourage media to adopt a consistent style on religious reporting. So that the Tunisian truck driver is not reported as muslim unless other criminals’ religious views are also reported.

    Celebrate local Muslim charity work and include their perspectives where possible. The NZ muslim community is relatively diverse and tolerant as a result – it doesn’t look likely to make the conservative leap from orthodoxy into orthopraxy that characterises religious rumps like Destiny.

    Appoint a foreign minister who is not suffering from microcephaly.

    – What have we done for many, many decades as a society that’s worked?

    NZ’s churches are atypically ecumenical – we haven’t had the rigid social exclusion that plays out as antipathy between congregations in other countries.

    Move to a more productive and inclusive economic model – ghettoising any group is dangerous.

    Eschew military participation in the middle east except in aid/reconstruction and medical roles. We don’t know the people or the issues well enough to choose sides.

    • Ad 8.1

      Agree with your first point.

      In fact all of it.

    • GregJ 8.2

      I think it might be interesting to contrast coverage of something like Diwali with Muslim holidays and festivals. Perhaps even to compare it to Matariki (not religious per se of course). I’m sufficiently removed from everyday NZ life (& media – praise the lord!) to not be aware of what all of the differences there may be.

      I do know that tolerance only grows through understanding while bigotry is fertilised by ignorance.

      • Stuart Munro 8.2.1

        Food might be a logical non-threatening entry point – Mansaf (Arabic: منسف‎‎) is pretty good from any non-vegetarian perspective.

        • GregJ

          Good point. Where I live during Ramadan the local malls all have Iftar tents – you can go in and join with Muslims breaking their fast – dates, Arabic coffee or Persian tea, some bread or rice.

    • – What can we do more of, that makes such attacks here so unlikely?

      First and foremost, make it clear to potential immigrants that freedom of religion in this country may protect your right to practice your religion, but it also protects the great many people here who find your religion ludicrously stupid and inimical to liberal values, and don’t mind telling you so. Muslims in particular struggle with the idea that authorities might have no problem with this, so it’s important they know about it before they come here.

      Encourage media to adopt a consistent style on religious reporting. So that the Tunisian truck driver is not reported as muslim unless other criminals’ religious views are also reported.

      The ideology of a mass murderer isn’t important? That’s ridiculous. What would news of Breivik’s massacre have looked like if no-one was willing to report that he was a racist right-wing extremist? The point of the news is to inform, not obfuscate.

      Celebrate local Muslim charity work and include their perspectives where possible.

      It’s also not the media’s job to run propaganda for any ideology. By all means report on their charity work, as long as we also report on less-praiseworthy activity. And we should definitely include their perspectives, because these are often hair-raisingly illiberal (eg, Ashraf Chaudry being asked about whether gays should be stoned to death, to which the answer was “In other countries, not here in New Zealand”).

      • Stuart Munro 8.3.1

        Religions are quite successful at dealing with intolerance – the topic was how to reduce the risk of certain types of attack here. The answer is constructive engagement. Of course, if you prefer the attacks you can do the things that make them more likely.

        • Psycho Milt

          What things make them more likely? Explaining to incoming Muslims what freedom of religion actually means here? Not obfuscating or issuing propaganda for them? If those things really would make terrorist attacks here more likely, David Garrett would have a point when he says don’t let them in here in the first place, which I presume isn’t the conclusion you’re wanting us to reach.

          • Stuart Munro

            You’re mistaking the populations such actions reach. There are two populations you probably find problematic – the conservative religious autarchy that develops in uniformly religious societies, and the disenchanted or deculturised youth who become shoe bombers and so forth. Neither group would be affected or constrained by your explanations, but the peaceful law-abiding supermajority would be annoyed.

            I’m agnostic about immigration – I wouldn’t lose any sleep if it dropped away to practically nothing. But excluding Muslims wouldn’t work particularly well, you’d potentially radicalise a proportion of those who are already here.

            • Psycho Milt

              The idea that there’s a small number of Muslims with some dangerous attitudes is a foolish one. The ideology itself is deeply illiberal, so the people who follow it are therefore also illiberal to whatever extent they believe in it. Fortunately for us, there are a lot of people hardly giving more than lip service to being Muslims, but that doesn’t make Islam itself OK.

              • Stuart Munro

                Meh – suppressing dangerous ideologies would do better to start with neo-liberalism. Muslims are good folk on the whole.

                • Neo-liberals and libertarians are good folk on the whole. Communists are good folk on the whole. Fascists are good folk on the whole. That is completely beside the fucking point.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    …which is that no ideology is immune from violent authoritarian impulses, and therefore the roots of violence are not specific to a given ideology.

                    • Not specific to a given ideology, no. But particular ideologies are more of a threat at particular times. If this was the 17th Century, I’d be worried about Christianity rather than Islam. If it was the 1930s I’d be worried about fascism and communism and not give a shit about Islam. But it isn’t any other period, it’s now.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      My explanation: violent authoritarianism is the problem.

                      Your explanation: the problem shifts between ideologies, and can be identified by a rise in violent authoritarianism.

              • AmaKiwi

                @ Psycho Milt

                I offer the following corrections to your statement:

                “The idea that there’s a small number of Christians with some dangerous attitudes is a foolish one. The ideology itself is deeply illiberal, so the people who follow it are therefore also illiberal to whatever extent they believe in it. Fortunately for us, there are a lot of people hardly giving more than lip service to being Christians, but that doesn’t make Christianity itself OK.”

                • Gosman

                  But Christianity doesn’t have the fundamental flaw that mainstream Islam does.

                • Those aren’t corrections, they’re the insertion of idiocy. Christianity may be nearly as ludicrously stupid as Islam, have a similarly unpleasant history and be just as corrosive to good national governance, but it’s not a deeply illiberal ideology. (And just to be clear, ‘liberal’ in this sense isn’t superficial crap like what they think of homosexuality or extra-marital sex, it’s compatibility with individual freedom in the broadest sense.)

                  First, Christianity’s entirely compatible with liberalism because it’s compatible with individualism, ie Christianity is almost entirely a matter between you and a particular one of the three gods this so-called monotheistic religion operates. Islam is illiberal because it’s a matter of how submissive you are to the will of God as expressed by various humans, not an individual relationship.

                  Second, Christianity’s not an ideology, because it doesn’t come with any kind of legislative programme. Islam has a comprehensive one – the official one is called Shariah, but there is also provision for all human activity to be classified by religious authorities into five categories ranging from ‘compulsory’ to ‘forbidden.’

                  Third, and I didn’t mention this one in my earlier comment but for comprehensiveness’ sake will now, Christianity isn’t totalitarian because it’s up to you whether you continue that individual relationship or not. Islam specifically proscribes apostasy, ie once you’re in, or if your parents were in, you’re not allowed to leave.

                  All of the above make Islam deeply illiberal, and its adherents deeply illiberal to the extent that they believe it. The same doesn’t apply to Christianity, you just wish it did.

                • To which we could add: the question “Who would Jesus kill?” isn’t actually a question, it’s an admonition and reminder that a Christian has no business killing anyone. The question “Who would Mohammad kill?” is just a question, to which the answer is “Uh, we’ll need to make a list. OK, I guess we should start with the people he actually did kill and work outwards from there…”

        • Richard Christie

          Religions are quite successful at dealing with intolerance

          Yet they vary wildly. In response to critcism of their beliefs some resort to obsessive legal action, some smile and ignore it, and, rather egregiously in a modern context, some call for extreme violence.

      • Ross 8.3.2


        According to Wikipedia, Choudry also “abstained in a vote to legalise prostitution. The Muslim community were upset by his decision to abstain from voting since prostitution is seen as a violation of their faith.” Seems like he couldn’t win on that issue!

        However, he did vote in favour of civil unions, saying that “if the law allows one minority group in our society to be discriminated against then all minorities are vulnerable”.


        • Psycho Milt

          He “couldn’t win?” Just to be clear about this, you’re weighing up on the one hand, his unremarkable view as a Muslim that it’s not OK to stone gays to death in this country only because Muslims aren’t the majority here, against him abstaining on a vote to legalise prostitution. You really think those things are of approximately equal weight?

          • Ross

            No, I’m not weighing up anything. I simply stated as a fact that he abstained from voting on legalising prostitution – apparently angering some within the Muslin community – and supported civil union legislation. As for his attitude re gays, it belongs in the dark ages,

    • Ross 8.4

      Your asking for a balanced media? You’ve a better chance of winning lotto.

      • Stuart Munro 8.4.1

        I’m asking for a scrupulous and thoughtful media – as befits a thinking country.

  9. b waghorn 9

    People have been getting killed in the name of religion for ever , it just happens to be the nutty fringe of islam at the moment .
    If banning worked falun gong would be long gone, and as some of the more educated people on the standard are religious my old theory of educating religion away is blown.

    Could an attack happen in NZ ?If we keep leaving our young men on the trailing edge of society it’s only a matter of time .

    • Gosman 9.1

      Who is arguing for a ban here? This is confronting a thoroughly unpleasant ideology and challenging the believers to reject those ideals which are anathema to our common societal values.

      • b waghorn 9.1.1

        “Who is arguing for a ban here?”
        It’ll pop up in this post at some stage.
        You sir are here speaking for a nasty ideology most days , not as bad as terror maybe , but on a world scale your right wing devil take the hindmost ideology would certainly be helping cause the terror.

        • Gosman

          That is your opinion and I completely understand you wanting to speak out against it if you truly believe that. I also respect your right to do so and to challenge people holding the views you find abhorrent. The author of this post seems to me to hold a different viewpoint in relation to Muslims.

      • KJT 9.1.2

        We are trying to get rid of the thoroughly unpleasant ideology which is anethema to our societal values, but it’s believers carry on leaving a trial of broken lives, poverty and death.

        The neo-liberal religion is re markedly resilient despite overwhelming evidence of failure.

  10. Ant 10

    ” New Zealand Muslims are entitled not to be smeared by religious association with terrorism. It’s really surprising that needed to be stated out loud, isn’t it? A narrative that smears all religious believers as being as dangerous to humanity as terrorists is even worse.”

    A timely article by Ad. The recurring antagonisms we are witnessing (eg last Sunday’s TRP piece) towards those holding religious views is disappointing.

    Strident atheists relegate themselves to the same camp of intolerant fundamentalists. They would do better aligning themselves more closely with one of their contemporary gurus, R. Dawkins, who prefers to call himself ‘agnostic’ with a 6.9/7 ‘certainty’ that God does not exist.

    That small window of tolerance would go far reducing yet another avenue of stridency in our increasingly conflicted world.

  11. Rae 11

    As an atheist, I firmly believe that religion should play no part in politics. The USA could well move away from secularism if they elect Trump, that would be dreadful.
    I also do not think any carve outs should be made on laws to accommodate religious beliefs either, such as Sikhs being able to carry the kirpan. If it is able to be used as a knife, then one should not be carried. I’d bend if it were harmless and symbolic only.
    I do not even think we should ban people speaking out against any particular religion, and especially not make laws to accommodate any one as it is not an extreme stretch to see a law somewhere down the line where it is illegal to speak out about all religion, against the belief in deities.
    And in my perfect world religion would be R18 so that if anyone who does wish to follow one or another, is perfectly free to do so, not having been brainwashed from birth that hell awaits those who commit sin, that homosexuality is sinful, anything you can think of that the religious imprint on their defenseless kids’ minds. That one I will never change my mind on.

    • Ross 11.1

      As an atheist, I firmly believe that religion should play no part in politics.

      I agree.

      • GregJ 11.1.1

        You would be surprised at how many religious people also think that. I had an interesting discussion with a Tunisian colleague a few weeks – a devout Muslim – who thinks that problems in his country will only be solved when religious groups influence in politics is eliminated. He also doesn’t support the death penalty in any form.

        • Gosman

          The trouble is mainstream interpretations of his faith don’t support his view. We need more people like him to stand up and state that the religion needs to change. Until such a time mainstream Islam is a threat to secular open liberal societies.

          • GregJ

            Some mainstream don’t but some do – Islamic scholarship is quite wide ranging and there is passionate internal discussion. It is similar to much of the quite vigorous Torah and Talmudic debates within Judaism. Christianity has also had those debates in the past. People tend to forget the Western/European religious debate that lead to secular, open & liberal societies was lengthy & bloody (and of course still going on and evolving). There was 150+ years of religious civil war in Europe before some sort of status quo was reached. Why anyone thinks that Islam is going to solve it overnight I don’t know? (Arab Nationalism for example posed some interesting challenges to religious Islam – it may be a great 20th century tragedy that it was subsumed to a large extent by the Cold War).

            • Gosman

              The reason is because of reason. The world now has the ability to use that to develop ways of looking and living. Muslims don’t need to fight to develop this as Western society had to do. They should quite easily use the same sort if reason that we have now to develop new ideas involving their faith that is cinsistent with living peacefully with others.

              • Ad

                Book yourself an hour and download the whole of Trump’s acceptance speech, and make sure you put it on the big screen.

                No reason necessary or evident there.
                Can’t call it a religion.
                But OMG the primal surge of the crowd – you just have to put the volume up.

                Better to call lack of reason ‘art’ than anything.

                • Gosman

                  I agree and much of the views expressed by Trump and his supporters should be condemned. But this discussion is how to deal with abhorrent views in Islam not Trump.

                  • Ad

                    What I was sending you to was how actually in the western democracies the religious impulse is alive and well, except you are more likely to se it publicly in political campaigns than in religions themselves.

                    And eventually you’ll get to this: why pick on religion as more dangerous and more worthy of eradication than current-century democracies?

        • Ad

          Tunisia has an impressive pedigree on that score.
          Also extremely powerful unions.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            For a brief moment I read that as “powerful unicorns”. Tunisia, you say?

          • Colonial Viper

            If the unions in Tunisia are “extremely powerful” than they exist to support the ruling establishment, who with the UAE’s (and US) help brutally put down their own Arab Spring peoples uprising.

            • joe90

              help brutally put down their own Arab Spring peoples uprising.

              So Zine El Abidine Ben Ali wasn’t forced from office and replaced by prominent dissident and human rights campaigner Moncef Marzouki.

    • Bill 11.2

      As an atheist, I firmly believe that religion should play no part in politics.

      Lets go with that. So that means that when our political system (via the words of politicians or stuff relayed by media) harps on about Muslims in the negative way that they do – when they scour for an Islamic connection to explain away a shooting or a bombing or whatever, then we should roundly condemn those politicians and media outlets?

      Yup. I’ve no problem with that.

      • Richard Christie 11.2.1

        when they scour for an Islamic connection to explain away a shooting or a bombing or whatever,

        By that you mean that they report on what the bombers (or whatever) themselves say is the justification for their actions.

        • Bill

          Sure. Like the press and authorities were falling over themselves to find a middle easten or Islamic connection to that German kid who shot folk the other day. Or like the media and authorities fell over themselves trying to link the guy in Nice back to Islam.

          • Colonial Viper


          • joe90

            Like the press and authorities were falling over themselves to find a middle easten or Islamic connection to that German kid who shot folk the other day.

            No such luck.

            Neighbours said Sonboly was born to Iranian parents, a taxi driver father and a mother who worked at a department store. They arrived in Germany as asylum seekers in the late 1990s.

            Of Shiite Muslim origin, Sonboly appears to have converted to Christianity, hence his first name David.

            The family lived in the well-heeled Maxvorstadt neighbourhood in a tidy social housing block popular with immigrant families.


            • Bill

              Fuck I despise ‘the press’

              He was 18. This is 2016. So he might have been as old as 2 when he and his parents entered Germany. Or then again, he might have been born in Germany…he certainly claimed he was born in Germany.

              I’d be curious as to why they give no indication of whether his mother and father became Christian or of what year any conversion took place. And then I’d like them to explain why they even mention religious leanings.

              Thinking there’s a fair chance the kid was simply picked on to the extent that he snapped. Having a fascination with mass killers or whatever is normal enough for a teen and (I’d pick) not directly a lot to do with sweet fuck all. He could have directed his anger only at himself I guess. That way, people could have just carried on with their normal lives and not given a second thought to just another addition to supposedly inexplicable teenage suicide stats…

              • joe90

                Thinking there’s a fair chance the kid was simply picked on to the extent that he snapped.

                Iranian-American bloke has a theory.

                #Munich gunmen killed 3 Turks, 3 Kosovans, and a Greek national. He appears to have targeted immigrants in general, Muslims in particular— Alex Shams (@seyyedreza) July 23, 2016

                Many are now asking: how could child of #Iranian immigrants be anti-Turk, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant? Answer is Aryan theory— Alex Shams (@seyyedreza) July 23, 2016

          • Psycho Milt

            Like the press and authorities were falling over themselves to find a middle easten or Islamic connection to that German kid who shot folk the other day.

            Just a coincidence, I’m sure. Fucking lot of these odd coincidences happening lately, though…

            Or like the media and authorities fell over themselves trying to link the guy in Nice back to Islam.

            You mean, the Muslim guy who spent ages with accomplices planning and preparing a mass murder attack on the day celebrating the creation of that republic that Muslim extremists hate so much? Yeah, what could possibly have led the media to imagine that Islam might have had something to do with it?

      • Rae 11.2.2

        Agree, but there should be no disguising it, should it turn out to be the case. It simply should not be the first line of attack from authorities and pollies. But it is a bit like the involvement of booze in car accidents, you cannot deny its existent if it proves to be there.

        • Bill

          If there is a verifiable link to a terrorist group, then call it. And then leave it.

          Did the media bang on about Catholicism when the IRA was bombing people to bits (even though the state had successfully cast the whole N. Ireland conflict in terms of Protestant versus Catholic)? No. It didn’t.

          • Psycho Milt

            And did the media bang on about Islam when the PLO was bombing people to bits around the same time? No, it didn’t. That’s because both of them were political groups – the fact the members were of a different religion to their opponents was peripheral.

            With the Muslim fuckwits carrying out mass murder of random strangers in current times, religion is central to their motivation, not peripheral. The media would be failing us if it pretended otherwise.

    • UglyTruth 11.3

      As an atheist, I firmly believe that religion should play no part in politics.

      As a theist, I firmly believe that politics should play no part in religion.

  12. Andre 12

    “The reality is that while ISIS may influence these Muslims in a general way, their animus is coming from their position as unwanted immigrants in Europe, especially in France, where they are still not treated French even if they are born there. The community as a whole has a disproportionate population of unemployed youth with poor education and housing and is constantly the butt of cultural humiliation. It is not an integrated community, barring some honorable exceptions. From it come the young men like Lahouaiej Bouhlel. The pattern of petty criminal may be observed in the other recent terrorist attacks in Europe, including those in Paris and Brussels.” – from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/akbar-ahmed/nice-attack-muslims-isis_b_11061076.html?utm_hp_ref=world

    It seems the latest German monstrosity also fits this profile.

    In New Zealand, I’m encouraged by the way we are better at helping immigrants find a productive welcome place in our society, even while we still have substantial remnants of prejudice and “fear of other” we would do well to get over.

    • Richard Christie 12.1

      Mere marginalisation in society does not account for these types of attack.
      They require violent ideology as well, either political (e.g. causes like Irish nationalism) or religious.

      The problem many regressive left seem to wilfully ignore is that Islamic canon comes pre-loaded with justification and calls for violence against those who do not share its faith or who criticise it.

      In other words, religion facilitates the violence.

      • Ad 12.1.1

        Does religion facilitate violence in New Zealand?

        The biggest facilitator of violence and criminal injury in New Zealand isn’t religion: it’s alcohol.

        • Richard Christie

          You appear to miss the argument.

          When a marginalised (or brutalised, as in war zones) population exist and when they can easily point to a religious ideology that provides not only excuse but also divine justification for violence, then, in those circumstances you are likely to have an increase in such violence. And indeed we do.

          • Ad

            No I didn’t miss it. I was pointing out your anti-religious prejudice.

            You’re looking for something in religion which says it necessarily causes violence.

            What you’re instead stumbling to is a point about extremists of any kind and how they use any ideology to retro-justify violence. I’m sure there’s an interesting anthropological argument somewhere about the history of violence and its primary causes in human history.

            Interestingly, none of that applies here. There are very, very good grounds to be even more tolerant of religious practise here, no matter what your suspicions of it are.

            • Richard Christie

              I do not resile from my viewpoint that religion is an irrational and often pathological belief system. It doesn’t affect the argument I put forward above.

              I have yet to read any declaration on your part. I strongly suspect that you are a faithist of some description or brand.

              You’re looking for something in religion which says it necessarily causes violence.

              Lolz. QFTD

              Drop the “necessarily” and insert “facilitates’, after all, that’s what I actually wrote and it’s what I added the emphasis to in 12.1.

              • Ad

                I’ve said it often enough on this site: I am a practicing Catholic.

                You are being far too sweeping proposing that all religion “facilitates” violence, whatever that means. You made some reference to Islam without quoting anything, then made that the basis for all religion “facilitating” violence, along with extremist politics. That’s not an argument, that’s just the same old slur I can get on Whaleoil.

                Since you prefer religion to be most at fault in the world of violence, you’ll be able to explain why throughout human existence it’s been more of a cause of violence in the world than:

                – gender
                – capital
                – class
                – patriarchy
                – ego

                If you’re able to distinguish those, and still put religion at the very top, I’ll be very impressed.

                But then you should also expect people to come back with the last century being the most atheist century in existence, and by a squillion miles the most violent and deadly that humanity and the earth itself has ever had.

                • Andre

                  ” the last century being the most atheist century in existence, and by a squillion miles the most violent and deadly that humanity and the earth itself has ever had.”

                  You sure about that? Google something like “the most violent times in history” and there seems to be a pretty solid consensus that now is the least violent ever. Admittedly too many referenced back to just Pinker, and none looked like solid referenced work, but still….

                  • Ad

                    Rack up the communist body-count for a start.
                    Then the anti-communist body-count.
                    Then the fascist body-count.
                    Then the anti-fascist body count.
                    Yes, I’m sure.

                    • Andre

                      In terms of absolute numbers, maybe. But proportionately, I’d like to see something properly researched before I’m convinced.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Yes, you reckon. FIFY.

                      Pinker is a good place to start.

                  • Ad

                    And don’t forget I mentioned the earth as well.
                    Those godless communists and post-communists in China, ex-Russian bloc including African satellites, have done comparably as much to lay waste to the earth as those godless capitalists in Wall Street. They make that Borgia Pope look like a stripling.

                    • Andre

                      As I understand it almost all “pre-european-civilization” societies were pretty violent. As evidenced by the injuries on skeletons that have survived to be examined.

                    • Ad

                      Sorry Andre I’ve run out of reply tabs.
                      We’ll have to do the full history of the most prominent causes of violence throughout history another time.

                    • b waghorn

                      “”most prominent causes of violence throughout history “”

                      I’ll save you hours of searching with a few words

                      Human nature is the cause.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Good god, you’re not really the kind of guys who are going to be helpful in bringing down a woolly mammoth for food and fat, are you.

        • GregJ

          Interesting to live in a country where alcohol is severely restricted – the sort of violence you see in NZ doesn’t occur very much at all. (Not saying there isn’t violence and/or domestic violence and of course there is still political violence). It is also interesting to be out at night (when much of the socialising is done) and eating where alcohol is simply not a factor. My wife says she feels much safer here than in NZ or Europe.

          • Colonial Viper

            There’s something else eating away at the psyche of NZ which requires a shitload of alcohol and anti-depressantss to compensate for.

            • Stuart Munro

              Terrible stuff alcohol – I shall be glad when I’ve had enough of it.

              • Ad

                I’ll let you know this evening, while I’m searching for the truth, one bar at a time.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Yep, our fucked-up socio-economic system that sees the few rewarded at the expanse of the many.

          • Gosman

            You obviously don’t feel the need to keep her in line using violence. However if you did she would have little recourse to the justice system.

            • GregJ

              You’d be wrong. I suspect you don’t know much about the laws in Bahrain.

      • Andre 12.1.2

        “In other words, religion facilitates the violence.” Yep, couldn’t agree more. But it seems to me religion is neither necessary nor sufficient by itself for the nutters to explode. Looks to me like societal pressures usually come first.

        I’ve got zero interest in comparative theology or joining the debate on whether Islam or Christianity as interpreted by, say, violence-minded Irish is more pre-dispositive to actually carrying out violence.

        But I’m very interested in what choices we as a society can make to reduce the number of people that get to the point of thinking violence is the answer to their problems, whether they choose religion as their justification, some non-religious social ideology like Sendero Luminoso, or just general hostility to the idea of society like Timothy McVeigh.

  13. Ross 13

    The last terrorist attack in New Zealand was in 1985. By the French government. The last major riots were in 1981. About Rugby.

    Let’s not forget the killing of Ernie Abbott by a bomb at Wellington Trades Hall in 1984.

    And the riots in ’81 were surely about apartheid, not rugby.

    • marty mars 13.1

      Yep they weren’t riots and not about rugby and one of the most striking terror incidents in recent years was a police one

      • b waghorn 13.1.1

        The Tuhoe raids surely where designed to intimidate , there is no other reason they would have used a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.

  14. ianmac 14

    Toured the beautiful mosques in Bahrain and in Abu Dhabi. Not an icon in sight but beautiful designs, ceramics and open well-lit surroundings. The explanations from guides were gentle and welcoming. The sound of students practising the call to prayer mesmerising. Easy to see the attraction of Islam. We got to welcome the haunting call to prayer whenever we were in Islam countries. Rather miss the call.
    Just as Christianity has been twisted and distorted for political gain, so has Islam.
    It is not Christianity or Islam that is at fault.

    • GregJ 14.1

      Al Fateh Mosque in Bahrain is great. They hold open days during Eid and Ashura for all people to come in and learn about the mosque and Islam. I attended a wedding reception at the Isa Town Mosque as well a few weeks ago which was fascinating. I’ve also been into the Ma’tams (Shia congregation halls known as a Hussainia or Imambargah elsewhere) when there has been a bereavement.

      • ianmac 14.1.1

        Greg did you feel welcome in the mosques? How about the intent of their creed? (I am an atheist by the way but can still be interested in religion.)
        Westminster Abbey gave me the creeps because of all the tributes to the dead and the glorifying of them. The total contrast in Mosques where colour, texture and design are the features and where any images are excluded.

        • Gosman

          Do you know why all images are forbidden in Mosques (and elsewhere)?

          • Ad

            Most religions go through iconoclast arguments at some point.

            I still can’t get over Mt Rushmore myself.

        • GregJ

          @ianmac Yes – always. I can understand the attraction of the intent of the creed – particularly the way Islamic life is so intertwined with everyday living, family & community & culture. It is not one I would choose for myself – there are things which I find inimical to my values and beliefs. I’ve always been treated with utmost respect by my Muslim acquaintances – they’ve never sought to convert – just to explain and share. I’m not religious but they always remember the Christian religious holidays (Christmas & Easter) and wish me well at those times. Most aren’t really interested in having religious authorities overlooking every aspects of their lives or interfering with their everyday life. They just want to have a good job, own a home, see there kids educated and happy and live a quiet life.

          I’ve lived here for nearly 6 years. I’ve had interesting discussions with many people in general about religion – my staff & colleagues are mainly Arab (Bahraini, Egyptian, Tunisian, & Emirati) and Muslim – I live in a building with a Libyan family next door, a Syrian family above and a mix of expats and locals (the watchmen are both Bangladeshi Muslims).

          • Colonial Viper

            There is something utterly magnificent about Islam practiced in its truest, most beautiful sense.

            • Gosman

              No. It is truly horrendous and abhorrent to those who who value freedom and rational thinking.

              • KJT

                Forgotten the dark ages, Gosman. Where human advancement of knowledge and science was continued by Muslims.
                When the Catholic church burnt or poisoned “heretics” who advanced science.

                • Gosman

                  Ah that old chestnut ‘But Islam was tolerant compared to the Dark ages in Europe’. The Taliban regime was also more tolerant than Nazi Germany. This does not make them acceptable.

              • UglyTruth

                No. It is truly horrendous and abhorrent to those who who value freedom and rational thinking.

                So, is he who is cast into the Fire better or he who comes secure on the Day of Resurrection? Do whatever you will; indeed, He is Seeing of what you do.
                Quran 41:40

                He will place defilement upon those who will not use reason.
                Quran 10:100

            • Psycho Milt

              There is something utterly magnificent about Islam practiced in its truest, most beautiful sense.

              A lot of people thought there was something utterly magnificent about fascism too. Those people were idiots. There’s nothing magnificent about Islam unless you think people subordinating themselves to a repressive and illiberal ideology is a good thing… oh, wait, now I get it.

    • Ad 14.2

      I still need to get to the Haga Sophia.

      • Gosman 14.2.1

        A Christian church forecably converted to a Mosque.

      • GregJ 14.2.2

        It’s brilliant – was there on my birthday this year (spent about 4 hours inside plus a bit more outside) – exactly 3 years before I had been in St. Peter’s Basilica. Visited the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque/Sultan Ahmet Camii) the next day. Make sure you check out the Chora Church (The Church of the Holy Saviour) as well and the Basilica Cisterns.

        • Ad

          Holy Land tour will happen I swear.

          Last year I did Rome for Easter Mass with the Pope, then visited all the pre-Constantinian churches I could find, the Assisi for a meditation. St Peter’s Rome had just about everything I hate about Catholicism: blingy, bloated, egotistical, and rich.

          • GregJ

            I know the feeling. We planned to visit Egypt, Libya, Syria when we got here! We feel like we’ve jinxed the whole bloody Middle East. (We may just make Egypt now & Iran might be a possibility). I’m a castle fanatic so I really, really wanted to visit Krak des Chevaliers – sadly that will probably never happen. (Bulgaria & Georgia are great for religious buildings though – and relatively cheap and non-touristy).

    • Easy to see the attraction of Islam.

      If you judge religions on whether they have nice buildings and are friendly and welcoming, it’s also easy to see the attraction of Scientology or The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. I suggest not judging on stuff like that.

      • Andre 14.3.1

        Worshippers of Mammon, too. If you’re into that kind of thing.

        • Colonial Viper

          Your local Westfield Mall is now open with plenty of worshippers within

          • Ad

            Now a globally declining denomination.
            And with architecture nowhere near as grand as your local cathedrals, of which Dunedin has the best collection in the Pacfiic.

    • Easy to see the attraction of Islam.

      If you judge religions on whether they have nice buildings and are friendly and welcoming, it’s also easy to see the attraction of Scientology or The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. I suggest not judging on stuff like that.

  15. Bill 15

    Why “tolerance” Ad?

    If I ‘tolerate’ something, it means I’m ‘putting up with it’ …’enduring it’ or even ‘suffering its presence’.

    Is it really so hard to just accept there are people who believe in Islam or Christianity or whatever; or who are gay or transgender or whatever…

    The only time tolerance comes into it for me, is when a person or group is imposing something on another and they can’t justify the imposition. And at that point I have none.

    • Ad 15.1

      I would love simple acceptance.
      But tolerance is what you need to deal with stupid people who believe stupid things. It’s not always possible to accept that.
      Tolerance is the minimum to function as a civil society.

      • Poission 15.1.1

        Tolerance is the minimum to function as a civil society.

        Which requires the open society to constrain the intolerant to retain tolerance
        ie the popperian paradox.

        “Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”


        hence the open debate.


        • Ad

          Yes, which is why this current post is a match with the on I did recently here on the global retreat of liberal society.

      • Bill 15.1.2

        How about ‘don’t mind’ or some such then…y’know like I accept or don’t mind that the sun rises and sets? Or like I accept “you’re” different (who the fuck would I be to not accept that!?) and don’t mind. There might even be room for fascination or curiosity in the stead of honestly not caring one way or the other.

        But this ‘tolerance’ thing…it’s fundamentally antagonistic.

        As for “stupid people” believing “stupid things” – why wouldn’t I accept that? It’s none of my business, and if it gets them by without causing harm to others, then hey.

  16. Gosman 16

    What I find really interesting here is the reluctance by many to discuss in any detail the many unpleasant aspects if mainstream Islamic beliefs and practices.

    The standard response to any attempt to bring them up is to deflect by stating not all Muslims are like that (despite the discussion being about mainstream interpretation of the faith) or to try and muddy the picture by stating Christians and Jewish people also believe nutty things sometimes.

    I would quite like to have a debate about mainstream Islam. Unlike many here I have actually investigated the religion. I have also gone to a mosque and asked questions from NZ Muslims to understand their faith. What I discovered I wasn’t happy about.

    • Bill 16.1

      Give me a belief – any belief – and I’ll show you “unpleasant” aspects of that belief.

      • Xanthe 16.1.1

        And the unpleasent aspect of that belief is?

        • Gosman

          The ultimate belief in imposing Sharia law on the World.

          • Ad

            Regrettably this isn’t the post for you to do a critique of Islam.
            Much as you may wish it to be.

            Pop over to Whaleoil and you can start another one on Islam’s particularities there.

            The post is framed precisely to discuss why is it that terrorist attacks about religion or from religious extremists don’t happen here in New Zealand.

            What have we done as a society for many, many decades that’s worked?

            • Gosman

              Not had many Muslims from the Arab heartland of the religion. Australia on the other hand do have more from that part of the world and have had more problems as a result.

              • Ad

                In some respects country of origin is a totally fair point.

                MFAT has a list of countries which, even if you travel to them, will get you permanent flags on your passport, and if you go there often enough, you’ll get SIS files:
                Somalia, Afghanistan, Mali, South Sudan, northern Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Colombia, etc etc.

                Not sure if that’s about their religion per se, or more about whether the country is racked with war, has a completely dead government, is overrun with terrorists, is one of the most corrupt and criminal nests in the world, is a major world drug distributor, and other stuff worth flagging the person at the border for.

                I am perfectly in favour of an immigration points system based on merit, but also has pretty strong flags for some countries. Which is what we have now.

            • Gosman

              Not had many Muslims from the Arab heartland of the religion. Australia on the other hand do have more from that part of the world and have had more problems as a result.

            • Chuck

              “The post is framed precisely to discuss why is it that terrorist attacks about religion or from religious extremists don’t happen here in New Zealand.”

              As Taslima Nasreen puts it, “Islam is a violent ideology. Most Muslims are not violent because they believe Islam is not violent.”

              Be it luck or good planning…Muslim immigration into NZ has dodged the Purists who take Islam to heart. And are far more likely to become terrorists than humanitarians.

          • KJT

            Yep. Most of the National party would have no left arms.

            Non of the Muslims I know want to impose Sharia law.

            They like New Zealand, and New Zealanders.

      • adam 16.1.2

        Sage words Bill.

    • weka 16.2

      How many Muslim women did you talk to?

      • Gosman 16.2.1

        The spokesperson for the Mosque I went to (in Wellington) was a female.

      • Foreign waka 16.2.2

        Finally – the obvious is stated.
        The so called “western world” has managed to have women included into society (still some way to go but nonetheless) being involved in the decision making whereas the Eastern countries with their religion firmly in bedded in politics would stone a women to death for being raped. So the male is violent and the female is punished for it. Some rigour in reasoning is needed.
        Lets pause and think about the fact that the world over it is mostly the males who via politics, religion or a combination of both cause the majority of the stresses, inequities, terror, brutality, war and genocide. The inherent aggressiveness left over from the monkey stage has yet to be harnessed and put to good use. Alas, the environment will be so ruined by then and it will be too late. No religion needed. Just pray.

        • Colonial Viper

          The West has proven keen to topple over secular and advanced Middle Eastern states where women are treated very well, well run schools and hospitals were free, and replace their rulers with Islamic extremists.

          If the US could, it would fuck over Iran, with it’s female Cabinet Ministers, female PhDs and university professors, and women drivers everywhere, in a heartbeat.

          • RedLogix

            If the US could, it would fuck over Iran, with it’s female Cabinet Ministers, female PhDs and university professors, and women drivers everywhere, in a heartbeat.

            And heavily support a grotesquely repressive Saudi regime at the same time. Contradictions everywhere you look.

      • Psycho Milt 16.2.3

        How many Muslim women did you talk to?

        Assuming Gosman is male, how would he get to talk to them?

        • Gosman

          The mosque I went to was quite progressive PM. Which made it all the more disturbing to be told that Islamic views on Apostasy were just like Treason laws in Western nations. I pointed out that leaving a Religion is not the same as betraying it. A more apt comparison would be defecting during the Cold War. The US didn’t generally kill people for that. Lee Harvy-Oswald is a good example of that.

    • GregJ 16.3

      You’re not the author so you don’t get to frame the debate of this post. If you feel so strongly write a piece and submit as a guest post. I’m sure the sysop or the collective that manages The Standard will be happy to post a well written piece.

    • adam 16.4

      Silly question Gosman, but do you know who and what the extremists groups cut their teeth on when they started the whole idea of power through the end of a gun/bomb?

      Sufis, that who. So they have killed Muslims in their droves. They have walked into mosques pretty much all over the globe, and quite literally attempted to to kill off sufism.

      Ironically, in the USA, Here, Australia and many places in the west, sufism has been protected. My guess if we played it right, that the Sufis who came out of the this nightmare, and would – via peace, extinguish the flames of extremism which has killed so many.

      Actually I think that is the only solution. That the west must protect Islam from the extremists who would like nothing more that to crush all the beauty it has given the world.

      • Colonial Viper 16.4.1


      • UglyTruth 16.4.2

        The CIA’s Fethulah Gulen used Sufism as the facade for the implementation of Gladio B. IMO the best thing you can do for Islamic minorities is to understand the motivations behind their persecution.

        • adam

          I’m not in any way proposing that Christians, or Buddhists or anyone else for that matter tell the Sufi community how or what to do. They should do what they will do. I’m just saying we need to protect them from religious zealots, as we should protect anyone from murderous idiots when we have the opportunity.

          Sufism is the wind which put a body back on the bones of Islam. It is not a factions, or a minority – it is a breath, a way of being. I’m not really doing it justice, my apologies.

          As for prosecution, one thing we need is for atheists get to honest about their anger, then maybe we will have a dialogue. It could be all the comparative religion growing up, but I find if you don’t understand another person’s religion, you have a tendency to repeat what the last idiot said about it – that is a very big problem.

          • UglyTruth

            I’m just saying we need to protect them from religious zealots, as we should protect anyone from murderous idiots when we have the opportunity.

            IMO to understand the motivations against Sufism you’ve got to understand the motivations of the CIA re Gulen. The CIA came into being in an environment of Nazism, and the Nazis had connections both to the occult and to fascism. Also the Nazis were politically aligned with the Zionists when German Jews were brought to Palestine. Islam is an obstacle to the Zionist ambitions of the Oded Yinon plan because it’s representative of some of the people of the promised land according to Judaism. This is motivation for Gladio B, and Sufis fit the innocence pattern of targeting of Operation Gladio as described by Vinciguerra:

            “You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game”


  17. BM 17

    We may well in future have an ISIS-inspired attack here. But ask yourself: what is it about New Zealand society that makes it so unlikely?

    NZ Muslims aren’t the stabby, blow up stuff, type of Muslim.

    • Ad 17.1

      Why is that?

      • BM 17.1.1

        Probably from where NZ Muslims tend to come from, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan.

        All run some form of democracy so these Muslims have no issue integrating into NZ.

        • Ad

          There are plenty of Islamic extremists in Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan.

          I don’t think you’ve addressed the questions in the post.

          • Chuck

            Fijian Indians make up a reasonable % of NZ Muslims, and have been arriving since the 80’s/90’s…maybe they have a stabilising influence over the more recent arrives, say from Pakistan etc?

        • Psycho Milt

          Pakistan is prime territory for the “stabby, blow-stuff-up” type of Muslims.

    • ianmac 17.2

      The vast bulk of Muslims believe in hospitality in the home, and want what most people want and that is to live peacefully and happily. There are millions in say Iraq who are very very anti persecution and violence. A minority are cruel and immoral like the Government of Israel, but most people want to just get a life.

      • Gosman 17.2.1

        Except the mainstream interpretation of Islam wants nations to adopt Sharia law which includes penalties for blasphemy and apostasy.

        • Ad

          What’s particularly perplexing are those even in New Zealand who are willing to accept religious servitude, like the women reported on in the NZHerald today in Gloriavale.

          They are certainly no threat to society. They appear more as oddities and curiosities, rather than any threat to our society.

        • RJL

          @Gosman: “the mainstream interpretation of Islam wants nations to adopt Sharia law…”

          It is a bit more nuanced than that. The mainstream idea is more that Islamic nations should have legal systems based on modern interpretations of Sharia law. Which is not really in and of itself any more problematic than the fact that aspects of our legal codes are based on Roman law.

          The problematic bit is wanting to adopt a medieval version of Sharia law (deliberately ignoring 1300 years of Islamic and global culture and development). That’s not the mainstream interpretation of Islam. Although versions are admittedly the governing interpretation in a couple of countries (i.e. Saudi Arabia).

          “which includes penalties for blasphemy…”

          Sure, but you know that NZ has censorship laws with penalties. How is that different?

  18. Tautoko Mangō Mata 18

    The perverted misuse of any religion to exert political power is the real problem, not the actual religion itself. The misuse of Judaism to obliterate Palestine, the Christian Crusades against Muslims, the Sunni/Shia rifts are all about power and who gets to hold the authority. Islam in itself does not deserve to be considered the cause of terrorism any more than Christianity blamed for Obama’s drone attacks which have killed hundreds of innocent civilians. https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/drones-graphs/https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/drones-graphs/

    I find it farcical to hear the rabid anti-Muslim comments from gun-toting, anti-abortionist but death penalty, water-boarding proponents of “Christianity” in the USA. So Jesus-like….not!

    • Gosman 18.1

      You’re a prime example of someone who attempts to deflect attention away from discussing the unpleasant aspects of mainstream Islam by trying to point to other religions.

      • ianmac 18.1.1

        Don’t you think Gosman, that a discussion on islam deserves a sense of proportion by comparing with other religions?

        • Gosman

          Nope. Considering we are arguing whether Islam presents a challenge to open, free and pluralistic society. Arguing that elements of other religions also share the intolerant nature of mainstream Islam doesn’t detract from mainstream Islam’s issues.

      • Tautoko Mangō Mata 18.1.2

        Not at all, Gosman. I am pointing out that manipulative misuse of religion for political purposes is not confined to Islam and that we would do well to differentiate between the actual religion and the real problem- the perversion for the purpose of achieving power.
        Maligning the religion as a whole will simply provide fertile ground for those who wish to sew the seeds of malcontent from which terrorism arises. If we treat people as outcasts, as the woman applying for a job turned down because of her hijab, then we are creating this division. (Nuns used to wear veils, older people remember nurses caps, chefs wear hats, hard hats are worn on building sites…..should we panic? School children are expected to wear uniforms!!! )
        Imagine how that women’s son might feel about the humiliation that his mother suffered? Alienating youth is a sure way to initiate terrorism. Kindness and acceptance are the antidote.

    • Richard Christie 18.2

      The perverted misuse of any religion to exert political power is the real problem, not the actual religion itself

      logical fallacy. Variant of no true Scotsman fallacy.


      • Psycho Milt 18.2.1

        Yep – every thread on Islam gets littered with ‘No true Scotsman’ fallacies.

        • UglyTruth

          Due in part to the inability to distinguish hypocrites from the devout, for example the MSM conflation of jihad with terrorism.

      • UglyTruth 18.2.2

        It’s no fallacy. The proposition that perversion of religion is indistinguishable from religion itself isn’t viable.

        (v.) c.1300 (transitive), “to turn someone aside from a right religious belief to a false or erroneous one,” from Old French pervertir “pervert, undo, destroy” (12c.) and directly from Latin pervertere “overthrow, overturn,” figuratively “to corrupt, subvert, abuse,” literally “turn the wrong way, turn about,” from per- “away” (see per) + vertere “to turn” (see versus).

        • Psycho Milt

          The fact that you are strongly convinced this particular ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy is true doesn’t make it less of a fallacy.

          • UglyTruth

            You are misrepresenting my argument as being nothing more than opinion.

            You can’t have a no true Scotsman fallacy when there’s an objective basis for distinguishing between Scotsmen and non-Scotsmen.

            In context the issue is of perversion of religion, which reduces to objective truth relating to religious belief. Naturally this argument cannot be accepted if you are an atheist.

            • Psycho Milt

              Everyone who perpetuates this fallacy imagines they have an excellent basis for distinguishing between true and untrue Scotsmen. That doesn’t make it less of a fallacy.

  19. RJL 19

    Ad: “What can we do more of, that makes such attacks here so unlikely?”

    Terrorist attacks are most likely in countries that suffer from interference by Great/Global/Super powers.

    There is also a very small chance of terrorist attacks in countries that are perceived to be interfering Great/Global/Super powers.

    So, our main advantages are that we neither suffer from historic or on-going interference by opposing Great/Global/Super Powers, nor are we seen as an interfering Great/Global/Super Power.

    • b waghorn 19.1

      In the age of ISIS.com all it really takes is for a lone nutter or a group of easily lead youth to emerse them selves in the pioson spread by power hungry fanatics.
      Controlling what’s coming into the country online and making sure that young men aren’t left to rot by society would be the best way to stop terror coming to our shores.
      The most likely place i see a home grown terror attack coming from in nz is from a young maori who has grown up on a diet of being told we are victims (i’m not saying maori have not and are not victims of misjustice ) coming under the influence of a toxic nutter .

      • RJL 19.1.1

        @b waghorn
        “The most likely place i see a home grown terror attack coming from in nz is from a young maori who has grown up on a diet of being told we are victims…”

        The consequences of Maori land/culture loss etc. could be a potential source of terrorism; which is the consequences of historic Great Power interference in the country.

        However, this is the point of mechanisms like the Waitangi Tribunal. Maori grievances are resolved (albeit often as part of ongoing process, despite National’s “one time” solutions dogwhistles) via an accessible legal system. The ongoing expectations (and evidence to date) that this process can and will provide redress means there is no chance of terrorism (in an organised sense), from this source of historic grievance.

    • Ad 19.2

      That is some of the best sense I’ve heard all day.

      Can anyone remember what it was like to be a part of ANZUS in the 1960s and 1970s? The symbolic break with Empire itself over nuclear ships was a massive peace-making endeavor.

      • UglyTruth 19.2.1

        I agree, deprecation of the NZ-US security relationship is one way of averting both global and local conflict.

        • Colonial Viper

          Some parts of the relationship need to be kept and strengthened; some parts deprecated or restructured.

  20. AlZ 20

    Any religion can be tolerated and included in society as long as it is respectful of all others in the public and political spheres. Private and humble, who would object ?
    The logic of disassociating with the western war mongers to remove us from the “attack” lists of extremists seems to be so obvious no one so far has said it ?
    Our overt alliances are surely not in our favour, particularly given that they would “throw us under a bus” to save themselves only theoretical position or slight loss. It is only the power hungry ( obsessed) and compensatory greedy that cause us to war, and poison and not tolerate. Left alone the vast majority of people would live in peace with wildly different “ideas” and customs.
    Some one earlier mentioned usury, but the point was lost. The modern worlds perversions and uses of money / capital / value, from a public utility to an individual and group weapon endangers us all regardless of any other grouping, (religion or ideal ) for it threatens to consume the planets commons utterly without measure by ignoring natures own lessons for how and why.
    The law system here is 10 commandments based, the sovereign is ruler by a “mandate and right ” from the Christian God. This is for the most part invisible to us like the water a gold fish swims in .
    The CIA ( Christians in action (joke)) and many other publicly funded organisations are only too willing to infiltrate and wreck any religion to achieve political ends.
    Respect and tolerance for people and places are for the week and stupid in a competitive, capitalist, militarized world still in the dark ages of empire building
    not optimizing the human condition for all. Eventually regions must become history as they are, after gender, race and class a major divisive construct.

    • Gosman 20.1

      And we are approaching peak conspiracy theory.

    • Gosman 20.2

      The legal system us not based on the 19 commandments fir your information.

      • AlZ 20.2.1

        “And we are approaching peak conspiracy theory.”
        All facts or opinions from me Gosman. Futile and very cheap of you, attempting to disperse me with accusations of tin foil hats.
        Might is right foreign policy, and take it because god said it was there for the taking justifications are running out of moral traction. (that is a historically researched opinion not a consp theory) The TPPA is/was a conspiracy = fact.
        If not the “10” ( you were upset you typed 19), expanded into weighty volumes, from where then ? The common man has been excluded from law making and so tax evasion is “wrong and unethical” JKey ” but legal” !. That’s ok then i thought something was wrong.
        We are probably on a target list somewhere, however far down, do you seriously think we are not ?

  21. Tim 21

    Ad I know you’re trying to limit this to solutions for NZ but it’s important to think in world terms rather than just focus too much on NZ as our geographical isolation does in many ways make it easy for us to forget about the rest of the world sometimes. So I don’t think the right question is how do we avoid suicide attacks in NZ. I think the right question is ‘will we be the target of suicide bombing if we speak the truth about ISIS and other elements of Islamism’? And if we would be, does that mean we would just stop talking it about and watch the rest of the world who cannot avoid it do the dirty work for us?

    We need to play the ball and not the man – we need to have the courage to call out Islamism (or at least many forms of it) for the ugly ideology that is it is (the same way we do with Christian fundamentalists who would try to threaten or control women or homosexuals and the same way we do with unfettered capitalism when it ignores the plight of those at the bottom of the heap) while at the same time promoting love of all people and all races.

    I do think we have to be tolerant of all religions but only if those religions are tolerant of others too.

    • Ad 21.1

      Tolerance is a pain in the ass.
      But it’s one of the pains in the ass you get for living in a liberal society.
      And if you shout at people for believing odd things, expect to be shouted at back. And don’t complain about it.

      If you’ve got an SIS file on you from going into Yemen, I don’t give a damn whether you’re militant Islam, Christianarchist, militant Anabaptist, or southern Thai Buddhist: you have a file on you for a very very good set of reasons.

      So in response to your own question:
      “Will we be the target of suicide bombing if we speak the truth about ISIS and other elements of Islamism?”, Because I can’t forecast the future I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’d suggest the following.
      We are more likely to be targeted by Islamic terrorists if we:

      – Humiliate, bully and belittle Muslims (or any other religion) in this country

      – Join foreign wars in Islamic countries

      – Invite terrorist sympathizers of any variety into the country

      – Have a really weak set of state border controls and intelligence controls

      – Single out and play divide and rule with Muslims – as Trump is proposing making them register with the state, like Jews in fascist Germany.

      Do all of those things for a while, and you’re going to increase your chances.

      • Tim 21.1.1

        I agree with all of your points but still think joining war against ISIS could be the right thing to do.

        • UglyTruth

          The best way to stop ISIS is to stop feeding it, both physically and politically.

          The primary political driver is the US election cycle. Both primary candidates have a public agenda which promotes conflict and US politics are driven by AIPAC. The Zionists have a clear agenda of destabilization of the Middle East in order to advance the Oded Yinon plan. General Wesley Clark described this as seven countries in five years.

  22. adam 22

    Awesome Ad.

    The flood gates of hate by some of the atheists here, was truly an incredible sight to behold.

    But enough about hate, that is the road to misery and despair.

    If you know anything about the Treaty of Waitangi there was an unwritten fourth article, the right to religious freedom. Maori have taken the right to worship how they want, very seriously for a very long time.

    But back to religious tolerance and freedom. Because that was one of the great thing this country was founded on. And, yes you can thank Maori for that, plus you should. Oh and guess what, that tolerance extends to atheists and muslims alike – Muslims I know have embraced that, many atheists the same – last weekend was a rather disappointing out pouring of atheist anger.

    That said, this country was is in many ways not a bastion of religious tolerance, a modern example is the casual anti-semitism which seems to be part of the left. Nor that much support was not forthcoming from the Jewish community for the labour party in the early days, again casual anti-semitism seemed to be a bit of driver then too.

    But lot’s of little things did make this country awesome, many Irish who came here swapped religious affiliations. Quite a few Scots become openly Roman Catholic. In many ways this tolerance and openness in religion helped the early labour party to establish deep roots. Do I need to remind people that one of the key reasons that the first labour government was so successful, was its deep religious conviction.

    • Ad 22.1


      It’s been fun forcing people to think positively and and constructively.

    • Tim 22.2

      If you look at the Labour party in the UK still quite a bit of anti-semitism going on it seems from recent months/years. And remember that an atheist claiming that a lot of the world’s trouble has been caused by religion is not so much hate as it is them expressing their belief.

      Are you religious? Or are you managing to come off as holier-than-thou all on your own?

      • Ad 22.2.1

        I am a practicing Catholic.
        I said it above and I’ve said it at various stages over the years on this site.
        No secret.

        However I sound, it’s a helluva lot more sympathetic than the post on this site last Sunday that proposed eradicating religion altogether.

      • Colonial Viper 22.2.2

        If you look at the Labour party in the UK still quite a bit of anti-semitism going on it seems from recent months/years.

        Nah, it was bullshit overblown by Labour’s powerful pro-Israel lobby.

        Who work hard to conflate anyone who doubts the appalling behaviour of the nation state of Israel as being the same as being anti-Jewish.

        Further, it’s a fact that the early Nazi government actively supported Jews leaving Germany for a nascent newly forming Israel.

        • Tim

          Another (more accurate) way of looking at things CV is that Labour’s powerful pro-Islam lobby works hard to conflate critiques of Islam with racism.

          • Colonial Viper

            To reference another current post on TS – this is why a popular political candidate says that the west’s enemy “must be named” – extremist, fundamentalist Islam.

            And his message is getting a lot of traction.

      • adam 22.2.3

        To your questions Tim, both.

        It’s a gift, I’d like to say from God. But I don’t think they should take the blame for that one.

        No offence, but this is not a post about the UK labour party, and feel free to carry that discussion on open mike.

        To expand on your points, not only the original post, which as Ad rightly points out went into ideological extremism very early on in the piece. It is the base pessimism which is deeply flawed, then expanded upon by poor analysis. Yes religion does play a part, but so does poverty, greed, racism, lust, fear, xenophobia, and hate. To blame religion is at best, overly simplistic.

        Did the Turks sack Byzantium because of religion, yeap some of it was that. But the role of the Bulgarians can’t be under played. Nor can the desire to control trade routes into the black sea.

        And lets not put aside the fact that religious groups across the globe are communicating, with the divide is not as big as the hate merchants (both religious and non-religious hate merchants) want to portray it as being. Hence the adoption of a new term, which by the way I rather like, has appeared. Faith communities.

    • Colonial Viper 22.3

      last weekend was a rather disappointing out pouring of atheist anger.

      More like atheistic ignorance and intolerance.

      • adam 22.3.1

        “And we respond with mixed dose of love, and guilt.”

        To clarify my comment in speech marks is an attempt at humour, which in hindsight, has deep Catholic undertones.

        Intolerance, like good intentions, is the road to hell.

      • Tim 22.3.2


        [Blatant ad hom and attempt at flaming with a comment that has nothing to do with either the post nor subsequent comments] – Bill

      • Tim 22.3.3

        How does responding with your own brand of religious ignorance and intolerance help the situation? Religious intolerance and ignorance plays a big part in what’s happening in the Middle East right now, Sunni vs Shiite vs Christian. Not atheist intolerance.

        • Colonial Viper

          I don’t have any capability to help anything in the Middle East wars, sorry.

        • Bill

          Maybe you’re kind of getting to the root of things there Tim.

          All beliefs are a mix of ignorance, intolerance, righteousness….of essentially, hope and fear.

          Religion doesn’t have any exclusive claim to any of that, and any violence or whatever that may flow directly or indirectly from religious belief, isn’t illustrative of a dynamic that’s exclusive or peculiar to religion.

          So how do we get to a point where we either stop constructing things to believe in, or of just assigning belief (any belief) an appropriate, not particularly elevated position in the scheme of human affairs?

          • Tim

            My argument is different. I’m saying religious beliefs are all based on hope and ignorance, whereas some other beliefs aren’t. They cannot be tested. I’m promoting the idea of being nice to each other for the sake of it rather than because it said to be nice in some book along with a bunch of nonsense or downright dangerous beliefs.

            Global warming is an example of a different kind of belief. It should be able to be studied and observed and proven true or false (or something in between). I guess what I’m trying to do is elevate beliefs like global warming (in terms of provable stuff) and just plain being nice to each other for the sake of it, over religious beliefs.

  23. Nelson Muntz 23

    “The last terrorist attack in New Zealand was in 1985. By the French government. The last major riots were in 1981. About Rugby. We may well in future have an ISIS-inspired attack here. But ask yourself: what is it about New Zealand society that makes it so unlikely?”

    Um, because we haven’t faced an Islamic invasion. Yet. Oh, and Muslims don’t make up over 10% of the population.

    But don’t worry. Christian militants are just as likely to commit acts of terror as militant Muslims. It’s just that they don’t have the same political support, means or motive (blowing up abortion clinics just doesn’t have the same ring to it, don’t you think?). I mean Christiandom is so, what, 1500 – 1600’s? Meanwhile there continues to be no separation of Church and State when it comes to Islam.

    Oops, did I just kill this thread?

    • Ad 23.1

      No, not at all, but I can see what a thread-terrorist might look like.

      We didn’t face a French invasion. But they still bombed us.

      We didn’t face a Rugby invasion. Unless you count 20 Springboks and their media. But it was the cause of the greatest social unrest we’ve seen since the great 1951 strike.

      We didn’t even face an invasion of unionism when the Trades Union Hall was bombed. But it was bombed.

      Put away your fear, go out into the winter snow, figure out why there is peace here. Why we are so good at peace.

      • Tim 23.1.1

        Ad – we have peace because we are a small island nation far removed from other ongoing conflicts in the world. It is not because we are religious or because we are brilliant. In fact we are not particularly religious by world standards and those places which are more religious also have less peace (I won’t argue correlation vs causation as I don’t want to be seen as being one of the deluge of nasty mean atheists who came after you on the weekend). We have been lucky to have had less need for religion.

        • Colonial Viper

          Neoliberalism and orthodox economics is the religion and faith of choice for our leadership class.

          How lucky are we.

          • Tim

            Very funny CV. Although it seems like we’re a lot luckier than those who chose communism as their religion and faith. And to turn things around a bit, maybe the way you cling to your religion is actually akin to the way some politicians cling to neoliberalism? As in your religion is obviously outdated and doesn’t really help us answer the important questions or solve important problems but you cling to it regardless?

            • Colonial Viper

              You have an updated religion to follow? What is it?

              • Tim

                Well I wouldn’t call what I believe religion. Is there something specific about my beliefs you would like to know?

        • Ad

          Exactly Tim. I can quibble around the outside, and add some moist social stuff, but your instinct is right.

          We’re not particularly religious.
          We’re not particularly extreme.
          We are not under threat and no defence analysis horizon says we ever will be.
          We do a good job of accepting and integrating immigrants.
          We are welcoming to refugees. Maybe not enough, but the ones we have are appreciative I’ve found.

          Those who DO practise a religion here are 99% actually committed to making themselves, their families, and the community a better place, which is a higher proportion than the rest of the population.

          Which is why I found it so infuriating that the post in the previous weekend proposed banning religion altogether.

  24. Ad 24

    A plane at Queenstown Airport is currently reported as having a bomb threat.
    No one is on board.


    A great test for the debate today.

  25. AlZ 25

    Religion is a very complex subject, and Gods where never designed to stand up to logical scrutiny. They are are beings of faith or pure archetypes and as such defy all attempts at proof. Mohamed followed the Christians into monotheism, believing it to be a unifier of his many godded tribes people. Was this not religious tolerance by attrition and suppression just like the Christians before him and done for political reasons not upon glaring irrefutable evidence. Today some of them do not agree that they are worshiping the same god despite the first few holy books in common saying so. ( face palm). Tolerance is possible from a distance, but not up close. And religion its self totally changes character when its ancient history is included or modern psychological and archeological understandings are applied . I have said that, “science is the detailed study of creation” in order to generate tolerance between scientists and creationists. It only works temporarily, they soon revert to their respective faith over fact and fact over faith bickering. (face palm). Food, water and family and planet are common ground, we all know the ways of peace, We have much more in common than not. So there is hope.

  26. Ad 26

    Can I just take a moment to have an Oscar acceptance speech?

    This post was on a very sensitive issue.

    You have all been civil, never swore at each other, there was no belittling or bullying, there were few if any cheap shots, editor-moderation occurred just once (and it was my fault), you showed signs of listening to each other and having bits of their opinion changed, and generally had a good time on a Sunday.

    Top work people, it was excellent.

    I’m signing off for the evening, with a fire on, the Balvennie, and The Martian.

    • UglyTruth 26.1

      Thanks for starting this thread.

      • emergency mike 26.1.1

        Great post Ad. And I enjoyed your comments Ugly. Despite Gosman trying so hard to hijack it, it was the most civil discussion of religion I’ve here seen.

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