North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sharia law, Koran burning, and Pakistani violence

Islamic extremists, Sharia law, and backlash simply have become the major narratives for the first decade of the 21st century. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the condemned Iranian woman

This week, the furor over a sentence of stoning to death of an Iranian woman has increased sharply, with the European Union and Vatican weighing in. In the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman under threat of stoning to death for adultery and murder, the latest twist for the condemned woman stems from a picture last week The Times newspaper in London published that it said was a photo of her, without the headscarf which is obligatory in Iran. Days later even though the newspaper retracted the photo explaining that it was a mix-up (the photo was really of an Iranian exile living in Sweden), Ms Ashtiani was additionally sentenced to 99 lashes for "indecency" as a result, and the sentence may have already been carried out.

A "confession" from Ms Ashtiani broadcast on Iranian television three weeks ago, in which she appeared to admit complicity in the murder of her husband, a charge her lawyers say has either already been dismissed or was never even brought to court has resulted in her death sentence, according to Sharia law, and that by stoning or hanging. Ms Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, was condemned to death for illicit sex and charged with involvement in her husband's murder.

In Pakistan, Islamic extremists have conducted a wave of bombings the past week, directed at worshippers during the Holy month of Ramadan. At least 53 people were killed and 197 wounded on Friday in a suicide bombing targeting a Shiite Muslim rally in the southwestern city of Quetta, police said. Earlier, at least one man was killed and four wounded Friday when a suicide bomber blew himself up after being apprehended by police outside a mosque of the Ahmadi sect in the city of Mardan in northwest Pakistan, police said. In the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday, three suicide bombers targeted a Shiite mourning procession made up of thousands of people at the moment of the breaking of the fast in the holy month of Ramadan. The attacks left 31 people dead.
Nearly 100 dead in a wave of Pakistan bombings by Islamic extremists

Pakistan is already struggling to deal with massive flooding that has killed nearly 1,800 people and left an estimated eight million people reliant on aid handouts to survive. The US pledged 200 million for flood relief, and the state department condemned the wave of bombings, saying "Our sympathies are with the victims and their families, and all those affected by these cruel acts of hatred."
Pakistan still reeling from floods

In reaction to the continuing waves of Islamic violence around the world, a small Florida church of 50 people led by its Pastor Terry Jones has announced it will hold a Koran burning on September 11. The Western response to this comparatively tepid but inflammatory act is just now erupting. It quickly attracted the attention of the US General Petreaus, busy directing the war in Afghanistan, who said such an act would place US and NATO soldiers at even higher risk to retaliation.

The Florida Pastor, leading a marginalized church, has suddenly become a media phenomenon, with detractors saying he is receiving much more publicity than he deserves. "We understand the general's concerns, we are taking those into consideration," Jones was quoted saying. "We feel it's maybe the right time for America to stand up. How long are we going to bow down? How long are we going to be controlled by the terrorists, by radical Islam?"

The US state department along with the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Council of Churches have denounced the plan to burn the Koran. Jones indicated he had support from other churches around the country. Jones said he and members of his church are taking seriously several death threats directed at them, but if something happened, it would not be their fault. "We will not be responsible," Jones said. "We are only reacting to the violence that is already there in that religion."
Pastor Jones, not really spreading the love of Jesus

So, the tensions are mounting, September 11's 9th anniversary, will possibly be more highly charged than any of the past 5-6. It truly has become a dominant icon of this clash of religion and civilization.

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