No cartoons this time around. Not in the mood for humour as I read once more about the barbarity of certain members of this world in which we are all supposed to live in harmony together. Barbarity disguised (excused even?) in the name of "cultural differences". I am sorry but there can be no place today for the actions of men principally in parts of the Islamic world - particularly in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan with regard to women.
I have been described in comments on my Blog as an apologist for China, which I do not think I am, preferring instead to try and balance anti-Chinese Western driven rhetoric. China, a country with many imperfections which, nevertheless, is trying to improve and has done pretty well from a standing start of only a little over 30 years.
I have been described, also in comments on the Blog, as being anti-American. A comment that again I would defend, supported by many of my American friends many of whom who have actually agreed with my comments.
And I have been described to my face, accusingly, of being an Arab-sympathiser; actually by someone who has never lived in that region, no less. And on the basis that much of the world sees any Arab as a potential terrorist, I would defend myself against that comment on the basis that I know many Arabs who are perfectly decent and reasonable men - and women. And yes, there are indeed some genuine cultural differences in Islam that I completely respect.
But if Islam wants to know why it has a bad name - here is one place to start which is just not defensible.
So called "honour killings", for example, where women have been killed because they have brought "shame" to their community by just talking to the wrong person. This seems to happen in Britain, but if you want to carry out an honour killing in Birmingham England, you cannot - or should not - expect to be saved because you are "culturally different". There are laws in Britain against this sort of thing, and despite attempts in some quarters to make the country religiously neutral by making even the wishing of Happy Christmas seem somehow inappropriate, Britain is still predominantly Christian.
And now the recent reports out of Bangladesh where a man cut off his wife's fingers because she wanted to study is not - at least to my mind - a cultural difference. It is a pure act of barbarism and has no place in our world. It follows on from an earlier report of the man who gouged out his wife's eyes, also because she wanted to study.
We are not supposed to intervene in the affairs of other countries, but how can one stand back and allow this sort of thing to happen? Okay, so human rights groups are demanding life imprisonment for this crime, but will they get it? It will be interesting to see if the media keep an eye on it and follow up. Certainly the comments from the police chief in Bangladesh would not give me comfort that this will be treated very seriously. "He was enraged", said the Chief, "He was jealous." Draw your own conclusions!
In an attempt to bring some balance to my thoughts, the west has not always behaved properly either - but it was a few centuries back with things like the Catholic led Spanish Inquisition, and the Puritans with their witch trials. We have learnt from those mistakes. And this is the 21st Century. And whatever your religious persuasion, barbarity is NOT amongst them and is not condoned in Islam either.
While on this rather depressing subject, I just want to share with you a link sent to me the other day by an old school friend. I hope you can open it, and that you will watch it through. It's not long and will cost you nothing, but it provides a story of hope. It is organisations like the Hoshyar Foundation, and my old and continuing favourite Room to Read that are doing so much to try and change the world for the better. Particularly by educating girls and women.