A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Hooptedoodle #215 - Asad Shah


It’s not often you get a link to the Daily Mail in this blog, but I thought this item of Glasgow news [click] might have slipped under your local radar, and I think we need to know these things.

Asad Shah, a peaceful, sociable man, a shopkeeper belonging to the Ahmadi Islamic community, was stabbed to death on Good Friday, apparently because he posted an Easter greeting on Facebook to the Christians in his local community.

Mr Shah’s business is in the Shawlands area of Glasgow, which is not normally a violent place. I have no wish to attempt to understand the internal tensions within Islam – it is clear that some feel very strongly about these issues, and it is also clear that there are people who – astonishingly, to me – feel that the world is not a sufficiently hateful place already.


I do not wish to leap to conclusions or condemn anyone, and it should be remembered that murders in Glasgow are in any case not infrequent, though they are mostly not religiously motivated. I am profoundly depressed – this one incident somehow sums up so much that is sick in the world.

The police have arrested a suspect, who is, in case anyone is keeping score, a 32-year-old Sunni Muslim, who would seem to have travelled from Bradford (200 miles away) to carry out his mission.

Social media? – maybe the world is not yet ready for civilisation at that level.

22 comments:

  1. I read about this incident several days ago. It certainly rattles one's faith in humanity.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  2. I'm afraid every religion, country and political system has it's bigots and fanatics with the view that anyone that disagrees with their narrow view is a mortal enemy. Quite rightly, such people are themselves the mortal enemy of mankind.

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    1. But only a certain system seems to have the current monopoly on killing people, usually their own. . .

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    2. Benjamin - I'm not going to disagree, other than to point out that the Sunnis clearly don't regard the Ahmadis as their own, and that the large majority of murders in Glasgow are perpetrated by supposed Christians on other supposed Christians - frequently in connection with football loyalties or historic Irish "sectarian" issues. The Muslim aspect of this is just the most currently visible, and the most publicised. I have no answers, of course, and the range of questions makes my head swim.

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    3. There was a good article in the Spectator about this - it focused on the conflict (real and/or imagined) between Muslims and the rest ("Crusaders"), and how this is easy to exploit and to publicise, but noted that things have gone strangely quiet since it emerged that Mr Shah was killed as a result of inter-Muslim issues. This is already a colossal threat in Syria and Afghanistan and elsewhere, but we do not seem to have developed a process for discussing it within the UK. The UKIP's preferred "Cowboys vs Indians" mentality becomes even more daft when the "Indians" themselves are complicated enough to have internal disputes.

      Neither the Daily Mail nor Ms Sturgeon seems to know what to make of this bit.

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    4. I would disagree - they don't have a monopoly.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3139077/White-extremists-killed-Muslim-fundamentalists-9-11-claims-report-ignores-death-toll-Americans-abroad.html

      US fundamentalists in US.

      I would be able to find a lot more articles if I looked for them - especially if I went back, say, 50 year timescale.

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    5. Yes I was wrong not a monopoly, but possibly a highly disproportionate percentage. I am Greek Orthodox and see my Orthodox Arab and Palestinian friends being ethnically cleansed from the Middle East by the other two big players out there. . .

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  3. The trouble with social media is that it's inherently dangerous. It's akin to inviting a stranger into your home and hoping for the best. The anonymity it affords allows us to revel in the baser aspects of human nature virtually without fear of retribution. Extreme behaviour thrives in this unrestricted environment.

    In retrospect, we probably shouldn't be surprised at the attack on Asad Shah, but, because we're members of a more tolerant and relatively safe society, we are. The test for the rest of us is how we react to it.

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    1. I believe this is very true - we have developed a hater's paradise. How we react is interesting - apart from being sickened, I have no idea what I should do - maybe being sickened is "what they expect us to do" and no help, but I have few other ideas, to be honest.

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  4. Sometimes you think the world is going to hell in a handcart, and like you I have absolutely no idea how we should address the issues.... am I alone in thinking that the Internet, and mobile phone technology, is somewhat akin to opening Pandora's Box... so much good, but equally so much bad...

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  5. Perhaps if children of all creeds and religions were schooled together it would breed tolerance , till this happens we have a 'lost generation' of religious zelots out there who are capable of such horrific crimes . Tony

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  6. This is very sad. We have an Ahmadi community where I live in Canada and they have a commitment to engaging their Christian neighbours and helping them to understand Islam. Sadly, their version of Islam is decidedly minority - they compare to Sunni and Shia Muslims rather the way that Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists compare to Catholics and Protestants - slightly similar but different. Ahmadi Muslims are persecuted in many parts of the Islamic world, including Pakistan, where blashphemy laws are on the books and often enforced.
    Very sad but I believe the killers are on the wrong side of history.

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  7. I've nothing useful to add, but this whole thing is profoundly sad and senseless. Difficult to see where it will lead.

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  8. Thanks very much for comments and views - somehow it feels a bit like group therapy, which is comforting. I saw a TV programme last year sometime about two Pakistani brothers who grew up on a council estate in Leeds, and spent their childhood being picked on and beaten up in school playgrounds and so on - by the time they were young men they were well marginalised, and went off to Pakistan to train as resistance fighters. When we look at extremism, we have to look at the daft way we (in the UK, anyway) have treated incomers from the old Empire - cause and effect?

    This, of course, has nothing to do with any internal Muslim creed which is aggressive or warlike. I have been led to believe (or I have chosen to let myself be led to believe) that Islam is no more supportive of killing outsiders than Christianity (for example - and please do not anyone mention the crusades or the inquisition), but I fear that it was the milder fringes such as the Ahmadis who projected this image. Whatever, I do feel that religious leaders should take it upon themselves to make it very clear that blowing up innocent strangers is not Allah's wish, nor is it even faintly going to earn martyrdom or a fast pass into a glorious afterlife - that Islam, like just about everything else in the world, regards such actions as evil to the point of subhumanity, and that anyone who does this is a very bad bastard indeed, and their church thinks so too.

    It always seemed to me that the Catholic church missed an opportunity during the Northern Irish Troubles - if they had made it very clear that planting a car-bomb would send you straight to hell, however sacred you felt your cause was, it is maybe possible that one or two of the young hotheads who did these things might have thought twice about it. Nothing is more scary or more dangerous than people who know they are right, particularly if they believe that they have divine approval.

    In passing, it has always interested me that the flow of cash and support from Boston and similar to the brave Irish freedom fighters appears to have stopped abruptly after 9/11 - suddenly the general view of terrorism was different if it was going to happen right there at home. I am ruminating - please do not send me a letter bomb.

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    1. It seems that a lot of the perpetrators of these acts don't set out as especially religious or devout; they are brought into the axis of violent extremism as it appears to offer a way out or a focus for more mundane everyday problems - it's a bit like gang membership in inner cities. The foot soldiers of terrorist campaigns are preyed on by the true religious or political fanatics and given the opportunity to BE somebody - a warrior for a cause. It's more about self-esteem than Allah or God. Same applies whether it's Daesh or the IRA or whatever.

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    2. I believe that is spot-on - well expressed. Maybe the message is not a million miles from the recruiting sergeant's - come and be someone - an interesting thought for a wargamer?

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  9. I wonder if anyone reading this thread would find it strange that it's on a wargaming blog? I remember the 'peace' demonstrators at Northern Militaire one year. I thought we were all supposed to be blood and guts and veins in our teeth warmongers . . . . funny old world eh?

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    1. I've had a number of instances over the years of people who accused me of glorifying war through my collection of pretty little soldiers and my odd games with dice and toy hills. On each occasion, I have been taken aback - I never thought about the matter in those terms, though I can sort of understand why someone might make the accusation. I am interested in the history of warfare, primarily because I am fascinated by history, and there is not much of history that has not been dominated by war or the threat of war - you can argue that the cultural influence of the Roman Empire was entirely a result of their military acquisition of the resources and the leisure time to develop that culture, so it is all-pervasive.

      I am not fond at all of modern warfare - too immediate, too real, too directly unpleasant, too frightening, but the historic stuff somehow becomes more refined, more abstract. The idea of someone making a game out of the current situation in Syria bothers me more than a little, though I can see that it is only a relative of my own long-running Peninsular War (which has been going on the tabletop for something like six or seven times the duration of the original), and probably not much more unpleasant at a detailed level.

      I also believe that my dabbling in toy soldiers has helped me to understand the cruelty and the hopelessness of warfare as an activity - no-one appreciates the kind of chance the little men in the ranks stand than a gamer, and no-one has a better feel for the potential human cost of a bad decision in the field, though as a game it leaves no widows, as we tell ourselves.

      Maybe the peace demonstrators at Northern Militaire had a point, though they probably didn't understand quite what it was. If it helped, I would line up with them every weekend, but I think they have mostly missed the point, and it doesn't help really.

      Another thing that has always intrigued me about warfare is that I cannot for the life of me understand how they could get people to do these things to each other. I am lucky - my generation was never called up to fight, which has not been typical of the past, and I can try to appreciate the history for what it is, try to comprehend at some kind of academic level.

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    2. Stuck on the iPad, so quick reply: try Richard Holmes' 'Acts of War' for some of your questions.

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    3. ....and that is as good a description of my personal hobby as you could ever wish to get...

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