Abufares Tartoussi

Blogger and Urban Planner

How could one answer a wrong question with the right answer? Such is my dilemma!
A society which identifies itself as Muslim, Christian, Jewish or by any other color and flavor of religion cannot, by definition, be tolerant. The editor asked for 800 to 1,500 words, however, so I’d better dig deep in my secular bag of tricks and fill the empty spaces in the minds of my aristarchs.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and George W. Bush’s America are three contemporary religious societies and their track records in tolerance are pathetic. Today’s Saudi Arabia is a nightmarish manifestation of a literal Islam. Unknown to most, women are the largest minority in Saudi Arabia with 41% of the population, a bit strange considering that women slightly outnumber men everywhere else. As per Islamic law in effect in Saudi Arabia and in other Muslim countries, men inherit twice as much as women. I have merely stated a fact but have probably stepped on a few toes already. Islam is fair to women!, the heads at the end of the toes would argue. What is fairness without equality?, I retort. Furthermore a man can divorce a woman by uttering the simple phrase:You are divorced! A woman on the other hand has to convince a judge that her husband is a menace to her before she is granted her request for a divorce. Don’t get canonical, devout reader, by giving sexist reasons for this and other manifestations of clearly gender related preferentiality. You know that I only skimmed the surface and that men and women are not equal under Islam (at least not in this materialistic world). Individual freedoms, civil liberties and other religious minorities’ rights in Muslim countries vary depending on the prevailing degree of religiosity and the imposed secular laws. Judaism and Christianity were as inequitable to women as Islam until their judicial influence was neutralized by secular democracy in the West. At certain enlightened times in the past Islam was a progressive religion open to reform and criticism and acquiescing of deviation. It has later morphed into a rigid and morbid textual doctrine, dredging deeper into isolation, away from the modern realities of the world. A contemporary Muslim society cannot be tolerant with its own followers so forget about it being tolerant with religious minorities all together.

Israel! This article’s word count shackles me. By my latest tally Israel has ignored 130 UN resolutions against her since 1948. How can anyone expose en passant her true apartheid nature without using at least a few thousand words to describe her officially adopted policy of racism against Muslims and Christians. Israel does not only discriminate against the original Palestinian majority but systematically bulldozes their homes and murders them. Now Israel is calling for the world to officially recognize her as a Jewish state as if it’s an honor to be branded as such. The most absurd claim advanced by sympathizers of Israel is calling her the only democracy in the region (well, that, and labeling any anti-Israeli individual, organization or society as anti-Semitic). Perhaps Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of Shas, an Israeli political party and a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s current coalition government summed it best during his sermon of October 16th, 2010 when he said: “Goyim [non-Jews] were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel… With gentiles, it will be like any person – they need to die, but [God] will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money. This is his servant… That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.” Israel is not a democracy but a theocracy run by a disillusioned chosen few and their chauvinistic and nepotist god.

What happened in the United States during the black plague years of George W. Bush is a shameful part of her history. I am not exonerating the world’s undisputed super power from its bloody past, from its crimes against the natives of that great land. So-called Christian ethics were behind the butchering of hundreds of thousands of the original inhabitants of the continent. The United States struggled with the rise and fall of religious fervor and as a result civil liberties deteriorated and flourished with the ascent and ebbing of Christian domination of the decision-making process on all levels. The Bush years produced a Judeo-Christian aberration, a bigoted Zionist-Crusader cabinet of serial killers, criminals and maniacs who wreaked havoc on the entire world. As per the latest released numbers, the death toll in Iraq alone has exceeded 150,000 as a direct result of the American invasion. Discernible Muslim Americans are second class citizens, feared, stigmatized, singled out and discriminated against in the Land of the Free. These victims, inside and abroad, would not have suffered and/or died if a paranoid god didn’t talk to an idiotic supremacist in the white house.

Ironically, the three theocracies mentioned above are buddies. The Bush-stained United States considers Saudi Arabia as one of its preferred moderate allies in the region. A country with one of the worst human rights records, as far as women and religious minorities are concerned, is praised as moderate by the world’s leading democracy. Saudi Arabia is among Israel’s top supporters and the fact that neither admit it openly is irrelevant. Let’s not forget that the Saudis sided with Israel against what they considered a Shiite Hizb Allah in 2006. Israel controls most Christian congressmen in the United States while obstructing Palestinian Christians from celebrating Christmas in their own Church of Nativity. Israel is the first line of defense against any aggression, local or foreign, which might threaten the Saudi Royals.

An empowered religious society, one which is not reined in by explicit secular laws is repressive of all freedoms and liberties of any individual or group with the slightest inclination of dissent or deviation. My answer is an unequivocal No! All contemporary religious societies are not tolerant of religious minorities.