20 April 2005

Religious news

by Matt Rubinstein at 7:13 am

bush.jpgWe all know that America is the Great Satan, but Norway’s leading newspaper Aftenposten now delivers the strange news that a group calling itself the All Pakistan Muslim Society has published a tract accusing the Norwegians, of all people, of being “Satan’s sons&#8221:

In addition to associating Norwegians with the devil, the book lashes out at Norwegian ethics and morality. The author, believed to be a mullah or other Muslim religious leader living in Oslo, claims that Norwegians don’t have legitimate children. “They’re conceived here and there,” claims the author.

The author calls Norwegians “barbarians” and “poisonous snakes” who have poisoned humanity. “These white men have set off a devilish spiral in the whole world… to plague people,” according to the book.

Bit harsh, isn’t it? I can only think of a few reasons why such libel should be directed at these poor Scandinavians, who culturally seem a bit gloomy—at least Ibsen and Munch do—but have a proudly untranslatable but extremely useful expression “uff da!&#8221, which means something like, but so much more than, “oops&#8221.

1. Lobsters

Norwegian scientists may recently have given world lobster consumption a boost by claiming that our crustacean friends don’t feel pain. Observant Muslims don’t eat lobster. No, wait! That’s Jews. Muslims say lobster is halal, or “fine&#8221. Scratch that.

2. Hell

There is a town called Hell near Trondheim, in Norway.

3. Isioma Daniel

Four Corners this week had a disturbing story originally from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about young Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel, who copped a local fatwa in late 2002 for writing these words in reference to the ill-fated Miss World pageant hosted by Nigeria that year (parental advisory—blasphemy):

What would Mohammed think? He would probably have chosen a wife from one of them.

As well as the fatwa, Daniel’s seemingly innocuous remarks sparked religious riots in which more than 200 people were killed, newspaper offices were burned down, and the Miss World pageant was hurriedly airlifted out. Daniel seems to have been completely shafted by her newspaper, by the supposedly-secular Nigerian government, and by all of the English-speaking countries who refused her asylum. She was finally taken in by Norway, where she now lives and writes and apparently doesn’t have a tremendous time of it:

I hate Stavanger. After coming through customs at Sola Airport, I didn’t think that I would feel such a violent, angry feeling to this town. I hate its smallness. I hate its smugness. I hate how the 16–30 year olds all dress alike. I hate how we all shop round and round in the same trendy stores. I hate how much money we waste. I hate how homogenous it is. I hate how people stare at me when I’m walking round town. I hate how ignorant their gazes are, and I hate how they make my brown skin seem inhuman.

Hell, maybe they’re sons of Satan after all! It was a good program, and although they naturally wheeled Salman Rushdie out yet again, they did allow him to make some interesting points about how come he always gets wheeled out whenever anybody gets fatwaed.

Interestingly, the Norwegians in turn think the Bush family are devil-worshippers. In the picture above, Jenna thinks she’s making the “Hook ’em Horns” salute in support of the University of Texas football team, the Longhorns. The president has also been snapped making the same gesture. But to Norwegians and numerous heavy metal bands, it’s the sign of the devil and apparently stirred up a good deal of speculation around the Arctic Circle. So it’s all very confusing.

Also, apparently there is a new pope.

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