Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sicilian Notes served cold.

Well, from way up in his ivory tower (one sec, I believe he's in UCD so that would make it a concrete tower...) it seems we can rely on Richard Waghorne's Sicilian Notes to bring us the latest and greatest original thinking. He reveals to us that the Prophet Muhammed may have been... wait for it... a paedophile. This refers to the Prophet's marriage to Aisha and her age at time of its consummation.

He references (but does not link to) Charles Moore's column in the Torygraph on this subject in December 2004. Indeed, Moore answered his own question
To me, it seems anachronistic to describe Mohammed as a child-molester.
Pity RW, a worshipper of many things neo-con, couldn't have just taken one of Maggie T's favourite journo's word for it (he even reproduces it!) and not bothered. But he did bother, so...

Moore's concern seemed to me to be whether others could make this claim without prosecution. That he used this example at all brought a rebuttal from Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain a few days later. Indeed, three months earlier, the same paper had covered the employment by UK Independence Party "star" Robert Kilroy-Silk of an assistant previously disciplined by the party for expressing those sentiments.

Any perceived crime can only be judged against the norms of the time. The norms of that time appear to have been judged by the attainment of puberty by the girl in question.

Even in these "civilised times" there is no firm consensus - having sex with a fifteen year old in Canada is legal, the same sex with the same girl in Ireland makes you a paedophile. Until 1890, only Canadian children under 12 could not give consent, and the current limit has led some to suggest that this makes Canada a target for underage sex tourists.

One further point of conflict is that various accounts either confirm or rebut the placement of Aisha's age as 9 (and therefore extremely unlikely to have reached puberty) when consummation took place. RW relies on a single source for this when other sources make her being that young at best improbable and the question of any source being authoritative given later transcription of oral tradition is at best suspect. Call me gullible, but I choose to believe that the early followers of Muhammed would not permit such an act.
It seems pretty clear to me that were to (sic) Prophet born in twenty-first century Dublin he'd be convicted for child abuses and roundly condemned as a paedophile.
But he wasn't born in 21st century Dublin.
Islam is not above criticism and the personal conduct of the Prophet deserves a lot of it.
If proven that his conduct violated the norms of civil and religious society of the time, yes. It is not proven, nor is it likely to be so. Is this to be another Protocols smear, but against Islam this time?

We can only guess at what humanity in 1400 years will make of us - growing animals to feed from them, polluting willynilly, procreating way beyond sustainable limits, enormous wealth differentials, medical care denied to so many in poor (and rich) countries to pay for presidential jets and palaces, assaulting people with hatchets because they are homosexual... how many crimes will I and Richard Waghorne be convicted of in absentia along with the rest of 21st century humankind?

I choose to take (please forgive me) the view of the West Wing's "Joey Lucas" on the US Flag Burning Amendment (mmm... Marlee Martin... ahem) as the basis for my view of the Denmark cartoons. I would oppose, as Rowan Atkinson does, a law to extend the UK blasphemy laws - I would solve the discriminatory nature of the existing protections by repealing them. However, I think it was wrong for the Danish newspaper to print the cartoon - it was quite simply in poor taste without even the "justification" of being funny. Rather than reprinting the cartoon, I feel the other publications who did so should instead have asked the Danes where the hell their ethics went.

Just because "Western" countries have been willing to go along with some fairly disgusting portrayals of Christianity in various art galleries should not mean we should not voice distaste - indeed the freedom to disapprove is as vital as the freedom to express. No beheadings, mind.

Perhaps in his next blog post RW will reveal to us that the Prophet was - dear god - a bigamist!

Peace be upon everyone.
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