Friday, January 27, 2017

My little Gilgamesh

At a certain age, children are tormented by existential problems.

Last summer, traveling back from our Black Sea vacation, we visited the city of Ruse at the Danube. We were there for first time. It is a beautiful city, full of culture and history. We especially liked the museum of history, arranged impressively by enthusiastic experts supported by EU funds. For example, one could see a prehistoric sickle from an antler horn with inserted sharp flint pieces as blades; and above, a video showed a woman harvesting with such a sickle. She was in a crude dress, as if it was woven also using Stone Age technology.

Another item was the skeleton of a woman killed during the Indo-European invasion. It was exposed as it had been found, only cleared from above for easy observation. The sight shocked my 12-yr-old son. He apparently realized his own mortality, fell in a whiny mood and kept talking about bones, graves and dying for days. After we returned home, my mother in-law told me that we shouldn't have scared the child like this. I said, in a serious voice, that I realized my mistake and would never again bring the kids to a museum (a promise that I would not keep, of course). I also gave my son Astrid Lindgren's Brothers Lionheart to read. I liked how he, by the end of the book, sensed the sad mood even before it was revealed that Jonatan was paralyzed and both brothers would die.

Half a year later, he had a history lesson about ancient Mesopotamia. It mentioned the epic of Gilgamesh. My son said about the hero:

"He went to seek immortality like me, as I intended!"

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Austrian convicted for exposing inconvenient facts about Prophet Muhammad

 From the ECLJ site:

"The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is called upon to decide on the scope of the right to criticise Islam in the case of ES v. Austria, (No. 38450/12) in which a speaker was convicted of blasphemy: for criticising the sexuality of Muhammad.

The speaker who filed the case before the Strasbourg Court was convicted of publicly “disparaging a person who is an object of veneration”, namely “Muhammad” the "prophet of Islam", in a way likely to arouse justified indignation, in violation of section 188 of the Austrian Criminal Code.

The contentious statements were made during a series of lectures entitled “Basic Information on Islam” at the Institute of Education of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), given in front of about thirty participants.

The speaker is alleged in substance to have said that Mohammad had pedophile tendencies (he “liked to do it with children”) because he married a girl of six (Aisha) and consummated that marriage when she was only nine. The speaker noted that this was problematic since “the highest commandment for a male Muslim is to imitate Muhammad”, adding more generally that “Muslims get into conflict with democracy and our value system.”

Following a complaint made by some journalists, the speaker was ordered to pay a 480 euro fine or serve sixty days in prison in default of payment. The Austrian courts gave this ruling in order to protect the "religious feelings" of Muslims and the “religious peace” in Austria.

The speaker brought the case before the European Court of Human Rights who will decide on whether freedom of expression prevailed over the respect for Muhammad and the “religious feelings” of Muslims."

(Reported by Gregor Puppinck, hattip Coel.)