Conditions of death and destruction force us to ask the question: what is wrong with human beings? What is the human condition? In other words, what dehumanizes our souls, minds and sensibilities to commit such unspeakable acts to each other? Why do some of these muscular devotees of Islam produce teachings that violate human dignity at every turn? I need not be reminded that their super power adversaries are equally craven. … Is it not time that conscientious Muslims produce what can be called the “violence critique?” ….While I concede my education was imperfect, but from somewhere I acquired the sensibility to question the unquestionable. The example of the hierodules, those slaves who served the ancient Greek temples come to mind. The hierodules had the advantage over the priests when it came to the secrets of the cult (Calasso 2005). They were surely no less knowledgeable than the priests, but because they were servants they were prepared to take risks and were more willing to expose, question and explore the secrets of the cult. I too behaved like the hierodules.
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“There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism” Walter Benjamin
Today I received an update on the status of the Ahmad Baba library in Timbuktu following news that it might have been torched as the rebels retreated.
Dr Shamil Jeppie, who heads the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project (
My readers might have noticed that I was totally silent following the attempted assassination of the courageous young education activist Malala Yusufzai from the Swat region. I was silenced by a deep disgust at the deeds of these Pakistani Taliban criminals. Anger, outrage and depression do not explain my …