Islam's Dark Ages Grow Dimmer

This week, Islamic clerics and colluding Muslim politicians have forced the Arabs farther back into their clerically imposed version of the Dark Ages. Here’s a brief summary of the news as given at the Middle East Media Research Institute blog:
The ministers of information of the Arab countries agreed on a document during their meeting in Cairo on Tuesday {2008/02/12} that would limit the margin of freedom of satellite TVs, in the event they “insult the [political] leaders and the national and religious symbols”. The document authorizes a host government to withdraw the license of any TV, or freeze its activities, that violate these rules.
Yesterday (2008/02/15), a more complete, Associated Press report by Maggie Michael contains the following:
Cairo, Egypt (AP) – Arab governments have adopted new rules meant to rein in satellite television talk shows that have become forums for rollicking criticisms of Arab regimes and discussions of taboo topics.

The “Charter of Principles” approved this week by Arab information ministers is being viewed by the region’s media circles as a concerted move to muzzle stations.

The charter prohibits criticism of Arab leaders and religious figures, warning in vague terms of the harm to social peace, national unity and public morals. It demands “adherence to objectivity, sincerity and respect to the dignity of the countries, nations and their national sovereignty.”

The new rules allow countries to suspend, terminate or refuse to renew the licenses of TV network offices that violate them. Qatar, whose government funds the popular station Al-Jazeera, was the only nation of the 21 Arab states not to sign the charter.

“Some satellite channels have deviated from the right path,” Egyptian Information Minister Anas el-Fiqi told the ministers who gathered in Cairo on Tuesday. “There are violations that have taken place, violations taking place around the clock, which require a serious stance”…
A case in point (of such “violations”) was recently described by Marwan Kraidy in a report entitled “Hypermedia and Governance in Saudi Arabia”. Saudi Arabia is ostensibly a monarchy, but behind the monarchs, it’s controlled by the fundamentalist (Sunni) Wahabi sect of Islam. This is the same sect that uses Saudi oil revenue to build mosques and spread Islam nonsense throughout the world, with a budget of approximately $3 billion per year (which is larger than the Soviet’s propaganda budget at the height of the Cold War) and similar to the Soviets, with the goal of emasculating the U.S. Constitution and similar Constitutions in other Western countries. The following paragraph is my brief outline of Kraidy’s informative report.

In Saudi Arabia, from the early 1960s when TV was first introduced until recently, all television programming was strictly controlled by the Wahabi clerics. During the 1990s, satellite TV became available, enabling Saudis to watch programs originating from other Arab-language stations. For 18 months starting in December 2003, the Lebanese “reality television show” Star Academy became available to Saudis, and it was enormously popular: viewers called in on their cellphone and sent text messages and e-mail to vote on the performances of contestants (both male and female).  The Saudi clerics also voted on the show, issuing the following fatwa (i.e., “religious ruling”):
…the Committee [the Permanent Committee for Scientific Research {cough, cough} and the Issuing of Fatwas] thinks that they [the Star Academy shows] should be banned and it is harem [forbidden] to watch them, finance them, take part in them, call them to vote or to express admiration of them…
The clerics were specifically and adamantly against “the free mixing of the sexes”, the “blatant promotion of immorality” (e.g., the display of women’s hair!) – not to dwell on the horror of people voting for what they wanted. These were the same Wahabi kooks that resisted the introduction of the bicycle into Saudi Arabia (calling it “the Horse of Satan”), and still into the 1960s, a special permit was needed to ride one!

Yet, in spite of the clerics’ ruling, the people continued to watch the program and to use their new communication technology to vote their preferences. Thereby, it appeared that humanists might be able to mark down an impressive win for modernization over barbarity.

But now, with this week’s signing of the new “charter” by the Arab Information Ministers, Islamic clerics in cahoots with politicians are obviously committed to pedaling backwards. The AP report by Maggie Michael (referenced above) continues as follows:
Call-in shows in particular are viewed by governments as potentially threatening or embarrassing, broadcasters say.

“Now any single individual can embarrass the government on TV,” said Ahmed Moslemani, host of “The First Edition” on Dream TV. “These talk-shows were like a disaster to the government, because the public doesn’t need opposition parties to voice their demands.”

In the past month, Clock TV – owned by Lebanese and Libyan investors – canceled plans to start a new talk show called “Hour by Hour,” after the Egyptian government objected to it, apparently because it feared it would become a new voice of criticism.

Khairi Ramadan, who was to host “Hour by Hour,” called the charter a “huge step backward.”

“Free speech in Egypt will not be the only victim here, it’s the whole Arab world,” said Ramadan. “There are serious fears of this charter and the bigger danger is to come.”
How, I wonder, could we help Muslims break free from their clerical chains? If we could succeed, we’d simultaneously defeat the Muslim supremacists – with much less drain on our budget and our soldiers’ blood.

Of course it would be best if the Muslims broke their chains by themselves, but the clerics have the poor people brainwashed into believing that their way is the way to a dream world of eternal life in paradise. Illustrative of the people's resulting obedient behavior is the following quotation, which summarizes ideas about government and society promoted in Saudi Arabian schoolbooks:
Western principles of democracy are not part of the Saudi political worldview. The Saudi regime is based on Islamic Law [Shari’ah], one of the basic tenets of which is complete obedience to one’s rulers – even if they are oppressive – as long as they do not order their subjects to do something contradictory to the Shari’ah. The Muslim subject should not only obey his rulers but also love them, whatever their nature, and be patient vis-à-vis their oppressive measures – if these are taken. [No dictator could wish for more!] The reason for this is: an organized government, even an oppressive one, is much better than anarchy. [As if there were no other options!] Within this framework, duties, rather than rights, should be the citizen’s main concern.
Would that there were some Muslim revolutionaries of the caliber of James Madison, who in 1785 said to the Virginia General Assembly:
What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient allies.
And what a difference between this new Arab “charter” restricting TV and what Jefferson described about the freedom of the press in a 1787 letter to Colonel Carrington:
The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
Failing the leadership of a Muslim Madison or Jefferson, could we help?

I expect that bureaucrats in our Departments of State and Defense would be too timid to produce similar (but soon to be eliminated) programs and then beam them to every Muslim household with a TV. I can imagine our bureaucrats and politicians would be too concerned with repercussions (e.g., to their own jobs) if the Saudis retaliated by restricting oil flow, arousing the oil-addicted American public.

As an alternative, could a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) do similar? An NGO, funded by anonymous donors could hire Muslim TV producers, directors, and actors (who will probably lose their jobs because of the new charter), set up shop almost anywhere (from somewhere in the Mediterranean area to somewhere in America), and beam satellite-TV programs to all Arab countries. Thereby, we could help drag the Arab world out of their clerically imposed Dark Ages into enlightenment.

As Jefferson wrote in an 1820 letter to William Jarvis:
I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.
But the Arab “Information Ministers” (a euphemism for “Propaganda Ministers”) obviously prefer the assessment of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi’s Propaganda Minister:
Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose… It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion.
All of which illustrates the wisdom in the remark by the brave ex-Muslim Salman Rushdie (against whom Muslim clerics issued a fatwa ordering his death for “insulting Islam” in his book The Satanic Verses):
Fundamentalism isn’t about religion; it’s about power.


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