I’m back on the religious bit once more so, if you’re fed up with it, not again I hear you say, now is the time to cop out, switch off, retire, retreat, go make a cup of tea because there is something to be said, not just about one of them, but all three major religions.
Let’s start with Islam. The whole of the Middle East and further afield is evidently a mass of rioting faithful because evidently they believe a short rather bad amateur film seen on the internet and purportedly about the life of the prophet is insulting to Islam. The film was evidently made by some Coptic Christians based in America, which is a wonderful excuse for the hate America mobs (as if they needed an excuse) to create merry mayhem and indeed, at least one American diplomat has died. The film was evidently sponsored by that well-known fundamentalist Christian idiot the Rev. Jones who once nearly caused world war three by threatening to burn copies of the Koran. The Egyptian government has issued warrants for the arrest of all those involved and obviously is hoping America will extradite them in which case they will be tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death. So what is new? We hear that the Coptic Christians in Egypt are apt to have a very bad time of it but to make this film seems to me a lesson in abject folly.
So, as the Rev. Jones is behind it, what other nasty shenanigans have bigoted American fundamentalists been up to?
Well, in Cameroon a man is (or has been) sentenced to three years in prison for sending a note to another man saying I love you. Uganda extends the penalty for homosexuality to life. They have dropped the death penalty clause, realising I suppose that if carried out this would put them beyond the pale. In fact, South Africa apart, it would seem that to be gay in any other African country is to risk everything in life worth living for, including love. Now we know that Africans are conservative and traditionalists but what is behind all this? Well, surprise, surprise, but no surprise really, it seems those fundamentalist so-called Christians are at it again, swarming into Africa and preaching hatred as is their wont. As they have been fighting a losing battle with the acceptance of gays in more civilised parts of the world (Russia excluded) they obviously feel Africa is a new frontier where they stand a better chance of having their God’s message received and acted on.
And finally to Judaism.
With hoodies covering their faces and cans of spray paint in hand, they may look like average teenage vandals out for a night of mayhem. But on the streets of Arab East Jerusalem, some young Jewish people are up to more than just graffiti. They are part of what has become known as "price-tag gangs" and they are risking their safety to send a very political message. Price-tagging is the term they use for a range of acts, from vandalism to arson attacks and religious desecration. They carry out these crimes as an act of revenge. Primarily, they are warning their own government that there is a price to pay for any attempt to give what they believe is Jewish land to the Palestinians as part of the fragile peace process. The price-tag gangs come from the hilltops of the West Bank, Arab territory that has been occupied by Israel since the war of 1967.Israeli homes built on occupied land are illegal according to international law but Israel regards the West Bank as territory whose final status is yet to be determined and has built 120 settlements here - around 300,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem.
But there are also 100 small outposts scattered on strategic hilltops some of which are illegal under Israeli law because they are built on private Palestinian land. For the hilltop youth - price tagging is their calling card and they have sworn to sacrifice all to prevent this land being given to the Palestinians. Moriah Goldberg is one of them. The 20-year-old was captured on CCTV in February in a Palestinian village. She slashed open sacks of building materials, cars were sprayed with graffiti saying "revenge" and insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Moriah, who is under house arrest in the ultra nationalist Israeli settlement of Tapuach, in the West Bank, did not deny her actions.
"A 'price tag' means that when the government of Israel decides to evict a settlement, an outpost, even the smallest wooden shack in the land of Israel - it has a price. Maybe it will make them think twice before they do it again." The Israeli government's move to label some of the price-taggers' behaviour as acts of terrorism does not faze her.
But where, you ask, does religion actually come into this? Well, heed well the words of Miss Moriah Goldberg because they are what every religious fanatic of whatever persuasion spouts. "Faithless Jews who don't fear God can call me a terrorist if they want. I don't care what they say about me. I only care what God thinks. I act for him and him alone."
Wow! A latter day Mosesette! How did God tell her what he wants? Did he text her? Did he send her an e-mail? Did she hear his voice come down from the clouds? Did he whisper in her ear? Did she have a vision? How did God communicate his wishes to her and above all why did he choose Miss Goldberg?
Amid the price-tagging and tension over Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, peace talks with the Palestinians are frozen. Regardless of what happens to the peace process the government knows it has to tackle the enemy within before Jewish militancy in the name of God yet spirals out of control. You can do and say anything if you know he is on your side.