Unfortunately, God, the Ultimate Being, Zarny Whoop, Osiris, Shiva, Allah, Zeus or pick a deity of your choice is NOT going to help us. WE are the only ones who can help us and guess what, the majority of people who aspire to peace and harmony and the sanity of order are outweighed by the minority who aspire to power and control and, unfortunately, are in it.

I don’t know how many of the folk on this web site have lived and worked in the Middle East but I’ve had over twelve years in three different countries to draw conclusions from.

Trouble is, you can’t kill a brain washed, indoctrinated mind set without committing genocide. See Afghanistan as just one example. Brits were there, the Russians, Americans and when all’s said and done, and we’ve pulled out, it will be as it has always been. You either eradicate it completely or it may hopefully change over time with education and the ability to have freedom of thought. Allegedly, the guy was told he had orders from Al Queda to go ahead with the killings.

When you have a disparity of ‘educated’ over the non educated, especially in ‘third world’ countries, those people can be subtly manipulated into being made to believe that if they don’t obey a particular thing they will ‘burn in hellfire’ or some such or on the other hand promised all sorts of heavenly delights. Who were/are the educated? Over the millennia it has pretty much been priests, clerics, the men who espouse an ‘afterlife’ for the good and damnation if you’re not. Commune with the big man upstairs on a one to one. Ever noticed how the religious top nobs, Ayatollahs, Popes etc have aligned themselves with the leaders of the land and/or surpassing their power? That’s what it’s been about for centuries, Power and Control.

It has, to all intents and purposes kept the population in ‘check’. A suicide bomber is told that if he commits suicide in the name of Allah he will be received by 72 virgins and have a glorious afterlife. My questions is . . . how do ‘they’ know? I also like to think that they were omitted to be told as to 72 virgin what? Goats, camels, sheep? Be a bit of a disappointment n’est pas? The ‘head’ executioner in Saudi says he is doing ‘God’s work’ when they roll the criminals out after prayers on a Friday for a bit of bloodletting. People run, yes, run to get a place for good viewing. Sick!! The last public beheading in the UK was Lord Lovat in 1747. When you consider that the Hegira calendar is currently, today, 1433AH think about what we in our own 1433AD, six centuries ago, were doing at the time, the mind set was fairly similar.

Having ‘blind faith’??!! To question it means you can’t enter the kingdom of God. What a brilliant concept of holding people in your grip. Who says so? I did question my faith (brought up a catholic) and found it riddled with contradictions and things that should rather reside in the home of the Brothers Grimm.

The central core tenets and precepts of most religions go along the line of being good to your neighbour and generally being nice to your fellow man/woman. It’s all we really want, isn’t it?

It is really only within the last fifty years in the west that, we, hoi polloi, have questioned what the frocked ones in the pulpit are saying, which is why there’s fewer and fewer people going to church. For the same thing to happen in the Muslim world may take a lot longer as the strength of belief is so deep. What scared me was, the pride the parents had of sending their young sons into battle knowing if they died they would have all the things promised to them by the men who, have you noticed, don’t actually blow themselves up or go into battle.

Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, our lives were pretty much strictured by religion and for many we have broken the bonds. In the Islamic world everything is governed by the fact that it IS God’s will. The first words uttered all the time that you hear from the reports coming from Syria or any of the other conflicts that have happened recently out there is "Allahu Akbar" God is Great. Any determination from an accident, loss of paperwork, general lassitude/indolence, the car wouldn’t start . . . it was the Will of God. The favourite saying was, when I was out there trying to get something operational “Buhkra Inshallah”, tomorrow by the Will of God. One of the greatest ‘get out’ clauses of all time. A quick slope shoulders, nothing to do with me, squire, see the bloke upstairs!!

So what has all that to do with the Toulouse murders? The guy may well have been mental/fanatical/deranged or he may simply have been one of the initiated, brain washed and indoctrinated or are they similar in some way? During the first Gulf war I was shocked to see how many Omanis, non ‘fanatics’, one of the nicest peoples amongst the Arabs, sided with Saddam purely because he was a Muslim, not taking into account his committed crimes against humanity or any of his other nefarious deeds. They may not be active as the zealots are but there is a sympathy that runs throughout the mind-set, which is scary. When these terrible things happen the voices of the Islamic world (especially the clerics) seem to remain very quiet in denouncing the perpetrators. Why???? Because it was done in ‘God’s/Allah’s’ name and you cannot be seen to denounce God or you, yourself, could be denounced as a heretic, an infidel and summarily executed. Shades of the Spanish Inquisition? “Confess and yours will be a painless death”

Apologies for seemingly ‘going off on one’ but the threat to our world that gives twenty first century technology and all the trapping of modernity to a culture and mind-set that is predominantly fifteenth century either way you look at it, is frightening to say the least. Many of you have not lived in the Middle East and have not experienced the very controlled and restricted way that is ‘their way’. That, is the threat to our society if we allow it to rise up without ‘firing a shot’ as it were. When they come knocking on your door to convert you to Islam and you say ‘no thanks’ there will be no ‘no thanks’ about it.

Mairead, the "fear of god" is a reference to ALL religions (I'm agnostic, they're all sects to me, non better than any other) the fear of god is the easiest way to contain any populace without arms and get them to do what ever you want usually with arms! oh, and my words just transfer all that where/to whom...?!

as for involvement and intervention of course I mean invasion and i think most people here understood that no problem ;-)

You come across as 'blindingly racist and a real bigot' when you advocate genocide as the only solution for a whole race of people in the 'middle east' (your description) - take back genocide and you might de-motivate the topic rather than adding to it - how's about the french, italian, german. irish you have met - can we be sure you won't generalise/nationalize us as well or are you just anti -muslim at the moment...

amen Jarie

I have a real problem with your line ' trouble is, you can't kill a brainwashed, indoctrinated mind set wthout comitting genocide' answer to the killings in soldier killed 14 members of an afghani family - including 9 children....and burned their bodies....clearly they mean less to you....clearly because you lived for twelve years in the middle east - you know better than the rest of us how we should value their lives ,,,,@andrew hearne: involvement/ intervention.....try invasion (not hard).....'fear of god'/ the western world .... your words just transfer the rule/containment/suppression of those not living in what you call the western world.

Yup religion is the root of all evil..calling for genocide changes that??????get real

May I suggest that you look up the Religious society of Friends, Quakers, which has a policy of total equality for all its members.

for women it does not have to be that way. look at - ok, she is iranian and their islam is uniquely iranian but in all the years I have known ziba she has thought about all islamic women. the recent turns against women are in the name of fundamental belief which goes for the two religions bent on bringing medievalism back to our world. much the same comes out of the anti-gay dogmas and one wonders when purges on witchcraft will begin overtly, given that the numbers of people offering services to drive out magic, evil spirits, etc is growing according to people in my profession who look at the paranormal.

a good, healthy secular society without the angst created by religion is one that will find peace. the usa appears bent on becoming a kind of evil empire based on some perverse notion of good that is going to deliver the world beyond the abyss into chaos and violence. france has a very large islamic population, but so does germany although they are of turkish origin for the larger part and tend to be far more western/secular than others. judaism in france is dwindling because israel offers an escape from the anti-semitism so common here, however does israel offer a peaceful future? I doubt it because they have never resolved their own prejudices against those they live amongst... toulouse is part of that grand malaise and one way or another we need to learn to coexist with our beliefs, and lack of them, in a manner that is accepting and open and ends all the self-justifying telling each other what is right and wrong. then we might just have a chance, just might...

Extremists of any sort are dangerous, whether they use religion, culture , military power or a mixture of all these to control the mindsets or behaviour of their followers or the inhabitants of their countries.

Did you see the John Sweeny documentary on BBC 2 yesterday evening on Mitt Romney and the Mormon church? The extent of control the elders have over their members is astonishing, and these are not uneducated people. There seems to be a convention that his Mormonism is not mentioned in the political debates in the Republican primaries, although it is obviously the elephant in the room. I find Rick Santorum's extreme Roman Catholic viewpoint equally disturbing, although he is at least open about it.

I heard on the "Sunday" programme on Radio 4 that, following the letter from Vincent Nicholls, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, on the subject of gay marriage, that the majority of Roman Catholics in the UK consider themselves increasingly distanced from the Vatican.

I daily consider what Christ must be thinking about what is said and done in his name and try to follow his message through my own Quakerism, which I joined because of its encouragement of debate and thought and leading by example in the way we live our lives.

I find the increasing marginalisation of Christianity in the west very worrying, all the more so as the faith is attracting a growing number of members in Africa in particular, who are combining it with their cultural beliefs against homosexuals and women. Indeed, Africa is now sending missonaries to Europe to promote its own viewpoint, and the Mormons, whose field is world-wide continue to make mission mandatory.

I have long considered,for nearly 40 years now, that, along with our own increasingly profligagte lifestyle, the greatest threat to Western culture would come from radical Islam and this particularly affects the status of women.

I understand that France has the largest population of Moslems and Jews in Europe and I hope that we will not see this conflict fought out in her streets.

I applaud President Sarkozy's aims to counter extremism, although his latest offering on banning the watching of extremism on internet sites does not seem to have considered the fact that if journalists and academics are not aware of what threat they pose, how can we counteract them. I am sure that the "secret" services would be allowed to monitor, but would we, the population at large be aware?

Can we see what you look like please?

nice one Jo, good to see others defending the agnostic/secular humanist viewpoint ;-)

nice ending jo. I usually tell people who try to 'convert' me that I have an agreement with god. she does not have to believe in me just as I do not believe in her. since she does not exist and I appear to, that lets me make the running.

It seems to me there are those that believe in imaginary beings who control our lives, that can be easily quoted by a few religious leaders who invented the stories themselves using popular stories from historical fiction, to actually exert control over those that believe.

There are also those of us who believe we are human beings with free will and the right to defend ourselves against tyranny. Religious people who sincerely just want to do good for others are a vulnerable people who are being manipulated by greedy liars.

I don't care what religion you are. You don't get to tell me what's real and what's right or wrong in the name of your god. I'm a human being and I live with laws made by humans for the human/animal/natural/actual world. The religious ones can do as they please as long as they don't harm others, which they do almost every day in the name of their make-believe gods and they use the vulnerable to do it.

The fastest 3 way to amass a fortune or have a great deal of power is to use religion, deal in arms or drugs, usually a combination of all three being the very fastest.

a/tell them there's a god and he wants total blind faith

b/give them arms to fight the neighbours for their land, oil,gold etc...

c/supply them with drugs to keep them from thinking about the truth or to raise funds to pay for the arms.

The threat is not new religions.(Islam,cults,new age guff etc..) It's ALL religion.

In fact, I tell you what, god doesn't want us to believe in religion any more. It told me so.

I don't think I underestimate islam but also do not wish to forget that many of its adherents are becoming increasingly materialistic, which was what saw the beginning of division and decline in the christian world. there are estimated to be about 140 years of oil and gas, beginning to decline in 40 or so years and whilst I shall not be around to see the 100 or so years, it should be very interesting.

china, hmmmm. when I first went I was not impressed. eight years back I was highly impressed. internal markets are growing apace of the foreign. they have problems a plenty but are carefully nurturing client states to offset them. africa has had such a bad time of europe that it is all up for grabs. I originally poo-pooed the brics countries idea but India, brazil and china are running right now and chinese banks popping up everywhere I work in recent years.

let's say, I am much of your mind but work tends to put me together with people making 25 and 50 year plans and they are all rather sanguine.

Brian, I suspect you underestimate the power of islam, it is a religion not a country. China's growth and hence power is based on cash derived from us in the West buying TVs, MP3 players, etc. built by cheap labour. This growth is accepted as unsustainable but paradoxically China needs to maintain a high rate of growth to keep its economy in balance. China is looking for the mythical "soft landing" but that isn't going to happen so I've no worries about them walking over anyone in the near to medium term. Basically what I believe is that China is going to have its own problems to worry about soon enough. Twenty five years ago we all thought Japan was unstoppable. That all blew up too.

The Saudis on the other hand aren't running out of oil any time soon but even when they do it will will not change their attitude, in fact maybe the opposite. In the mid nineties oil was 10 dollars a barrel and the Saudi regime was as bad as it is today at 100+ dollars. My point being, the time to exert pressure on Saudi is now. I do not in any way condone the ludicrous idea of military intervention but there are many other ways of exerting influence. As near as damn it Saudi is to Islam as Rome is to Catholicism. I do not see Saudi condemning extremist islamic behaviors to the degree I would expect if Western diplomatic efforts were working.

john dawson, I am not sure what your point is really. it seems far too anecdotal and illustrates the 'supremacy' shown by as many american ministers as mullahs. do such positions and antics calm savage waters? I suspect not. Saudi john scully is what it is and short of us wishing one of 'those' invasions we have seen over the years we shall have to put up with them. when they run out of oil, which they now slowly are, no doubt the shoe will be on another foot entirely. much of what is said and done about such things tends to stir up more disagreement than calm things down. it seems a case of interfaith trouble constantly brewing in the near and middle east for which the entire world pays the bill. we have good reason to fear what might happen and so, in reality, do they. the west is not truly aware of what it is all about and probably never will be allowed to be. ultimately, if the real 'battle' is lost in the west then china will walk over them all and islam like all else in its wake will be swallowed up and suppressed under an iron fist. the west knows that but still wants the oil, eventually the going will get tough and with some luck that will be after my time because it will be very, very ugly.


Thank you for this posting. Your last paragraph says what I have been pointing out to people in the US for some time now. We "Westerners" seem to be naive to the real situation and need to wake up before it is too late.

Katie & Jerry Berard

What I find difficult to accept is the West propping up the despicable Saudi regime. I understand that this all just a game about oil but as Saudi is the home of Islam and the location of the two holy mosques Saudi leadership could ameliorate the islamic extremist attitudes. Instead they set an example by ruling their own people and their immigrant workers with a rod of iron. Culminating in kangaroo courts with head chopping outcomes. Interestingly, I alway found the atmosphere on the streets of Riyadh the same as I encountered in East Berlin before the wall came down. Suppressed fear everywhere.

I came across this item a few days ago, but it seems relevant even though it comes from the USA (some parts edited for length)

This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well-known leader in prison ministry.

During a training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who each explained their beliefs.
I was particularly interested in what the Muslim had to say. He gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for questions.
When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Muslim and asked: 'Please, correct me if I'm wrong,but I understand that many clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad against the infidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel, Muslims are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?'
There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, 'Non-believers!' I responded, 'So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can have a place in heaven. Is that correct?'
The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, 'Yes.'
I then stated, 'Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine The Pope commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering all Protestants to do the same in order to guarantee them a place in heaven!'
The Muslim was speechless! I continued, 'I also have a problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me!
Let me ask you a question:
Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to kill me in order for you to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to heaven and He wants you to be there with me?' You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame. Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the 'Diversification' training seminar were not happy with my way of dealing with the Islamic Imam, and exposing the truth about the Muslims' beliefs.

litigation culture where greedy lawyers will do anything for fees, now there is pure, unbridled bigotry.

sure ciro. I have not worked in Islamic countries but elsewhere suffers comparable woes. I have been given such a distaste for the servants of rome virtually terrorising badly informed rural people that I find it hard to work for or with catholic organisations. at the same time I have met 'disillusioned' priests who have lost their faith but will not give up their vocation because of what they can do and there I have met some of the best people of all. they do not believe in god or christ any longer, but what they do is often more charitable/benevolent that those who preach it all as god's work. I too would wish for your wand, but then I also would like to see belief a choice instead of an imposition. either way bonhomie wins hands down.

Thanks Andrew,

It's pretty hard not to come across as a real bigot and racist when it comes to such an emotive topic. I have to say that religion aside, the Arabs I knew were friendly and very inviting. They drink like fish, many of the heads of countries being alcoholics with the Saudis crossing the causeway to Bahrain to get hammered and then 'drive' back sometimes crashing or abandoning their cars with hardly boo to a goose. Hypocrites? Perhaps, but to me it just shows they're as human as anybody else. I sometimes wish I had a magic wand so that I could clear the earth of all religion and replace it with . . . bonhomie. People will insist on having something to believe in, though, as we can't just be here for no reason, can we?

Yes, Bonnet de Douche as Del boy would say