Sunday, May 15, 2005

Exactly What is the Value of Human Life?

If you are somehow unaware that thousands of conservative and fundamentalist Islamic followers are rioting in Afghanistan over the Newsweek Magazine article reporting that US interrogators in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba flushed a Koran down a toilet, you might want to read this update from Reuters: Yahoo News: Afghan clerics threaten Muslim holy war over Koran

About 300 Afgan clerics are demanding that the US turn over the responsible US interrogators to an Islamic country for "punishment." Such punishment would undoubtedly be torture and horrific death. Failure to turn over the offending persons will result in a holy war against America. That however, is not exactly the point of today's commentary.

Only a few years ago these same clerics were faced with a similar demand from the USA. President Bush "demanded" they turn over Osama Bin Ladin to the US or face invasion and overthrow of their country's fundalmentalist Islamic government (the Taliban). Of course Bin Ladin's crime was not desecration of a holy book, but instead the murder of almost four thousand people of all nationalities and all religions. Still, the Afgan clerics said no and they continue shelter Bin Ladin. However, this isn't exactly my point either.

We in the west really don't understand the morality, the values and the beliefs of people in the fundalmentalist Islamic countries. And we don't understand at even the most basic level of our very being.

And, worst of all, we almost always ascribe our western values to their actions. Liberal or conservative, we explain what they do using our values as the basis.

And when we just can't figure out their actions using our cultural values as a template, we just call them "evil." That way we don't need to understand.

The Fundamentalist Islamic leaders are taking their most ardent believers and faithful followers and sending them to certain death as suicide bombers. Generally the goal is to kill even more devout Islamic believers. Every day dozens are being sent to their death and hundreds more innocent people are killed as a result. Almost all the dead share the same cultural heritage and religious beliefs as their murderers.

So let's get to my point. The world wide Islamic outrage, the riots and the threats of jihad over the desecration of a Koran at the hands of US officials shows us again how very important the Koran is to all Muslims. To paraphrase the MasterCard commercials, the value of the Koran is "priceless."

But it also raises a very important question. Exactly what is the value of human life?

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