Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bahrain tries to prosecute blasphemers

This story highlights the sad state of affairs in the Arab world, where a European restaurant manager has fled the country for his life after accidentally and unknowlingly throwing translated copies of the Koran into a bin.

A EUROPEAN manager at a major restaurant who allegedly desecrated the Holy Quran has fled the country, it was revealed yesterday.

A lawsuit against the manager has been filed by MP Mohammed Khalid Mohammed at the Public Prosecutor, which issued a warrant for his arrest.

The employer told the GDN last week that the man was sacked on the spot because of the offence caused when he threw translations from the Quran into a waste bin in front of Muslim colleagues.

The manager disposed of copies of translations from the Quran by mistake that were distributed by Discover Islam during the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and left on one of the desks by some customers.

He admitted being guilty, but he said it was unintentional.

Shaikh Mohammed said that Interpol should bring the manager to justice like any other criminal.

So a foreigner throws a translation of a religious text in the bin, and it suddenly become a huge international incident worthy of government intervention ? Either way, the manager was a smart man to run away to civilisation.
“This is a serious matter and the government shouldn’t rest until this man is punished. He should have been arrested a long time ago, but everyone knows about the bureaucracy in this country. This person has made a mockery of Muslims and Islam and should get the severest punishment possible, but first he should be brought back. I am very angry and I will not breathe a sigh of relief until he is behind bars.”
It looks like some of the core Enlightenment values, namely the separation of church( or mosque) and state, haven't caught on yet. I wouldn't worry much, I'm sure they'll spread through the middle east in the next couple of centuries.

Seriously, there are some people out there who are cultural relativists, who say that we should respect all cultures and when we are in another country, we should obey their laws and customs and don't complain if we get caught breaking them. This line has been thrown around the Australian media a lot, after so many Aussies were caught in possession of drugs in Indonesia and likely to be sentenced to death.

I also find it interesting that so many of those who say we should abide by other cultures when travelling abroad, are very quick to apologise for acts of racism and misogyny committed by immigrants in our society, suggesting that we should bend our rules and be more lenient because foreigners are unfamiliar with our legal system and cultural norms.

I strongly oppose cultural relativism, and I view cultures and societies that respect human rights and freedoms are entirely superior to those which do not. Heavy sentences for possession of drugs or even stupid things like blasphemy are not worthy of respect.