Ed Lines

WHEN the peace-loving Jesus of Nazareth was walking the hills of Galilee, preaching his message of love and forgiveness, he cannot have foreseen the horrors that would be carried out in his name.

From his followers being thrown to the lions, to forming crusading armies that massacred unbelievers and conquered nations in ‘His’ name, the young Nazarene’s faith of peace would be perverted for centuries.

That’s religion for you…

But of course it isn’t. It’s not about the religion at all. It’s about power and control and ambition – about politics more than any interpretation of a holy message.

It might have taken 2,000 years but in the civilised, properly democratised world, most religions have grown up, matured.

Christianity today is overwhelmingly a peaceful, co-existing faith that promotes harmony amidst and amongst differing faith communities, people of independent beliefs.

Most intelligent religious adherents recognise there is a wide variety of understandings and interpretations of people’s path to their God. We are, mostly and admirably, tolerant. Enlightened even.

Sure, there are Bible-thumping deniers of anything but “the truth, the way, the light” – just think of some American TV evangelists – but even they’ve never advocated stoning women to death and beheading anyone who might mildly disagree.

Which brings us to the big, bad bogeyman.

I’ve listened to everyone from Washington to Westminster this past week, Obama to Cameron and back, UN Ambassadors, battle-hardened generals, even the great self-anointed Messiah of the Middle East himself, Tony Blair.

And not a single one of them has a clue what to do about the Sunni uprising in Iraq.

The BBC sent a reporter to talk to young Muslims in Bradford, where it seems they could only find stupid boys, full of bravado and semi-literate West Yorkshire/Asian patois.

“Yeah, I’m wants to go fight with the brothers in Iraq innit, they is me Muslim bloods innit like? We has to stick together, protect us women innit, you know, like. Me, I’d shoot em in de head man, no trouble, shoot em like.”

So, which side would you be fighting for? Who would you shoot in ‘de head’…?

“For me Muslim bruvvers like, they is our blood right, innit?”

They didn’t even have a clue what was going on between the ISIS and Iraqi Shia factions. And we wonder how these young men get radicalised? How do they not, more like.

 

The great and the good currently are getting their Presidential knickers in a twist over how to respond to the civil war in Iraq. No wonder.

The rampaging, murderous ISIS forces are mightily armed. Those weapons didn’t grow on trees. They were most likely provided by Saudi Arabians.

And who sold the Saudis the arms? That’s right, us. Kind of makes the moral high ground a bit slippery, but politicians can’t be seen to let those inconvenient truths get in the way of trying to fix something – even if everything about the damned situation is screaming that there is no fix.

With these people, fuelled by their perverted religious dogmas, there simply is no rational “feel the love” outcome.

They live to die. They glory in it. You simply cannot negotiate with fanatics, whether in the tribal badlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan, or the deserts of the Middle East.

We. Don’t. Have. The. Solution.

Any change can only come from within and call me a cynic, but I’m not seeing much progress.

Meanwhile we suddenly have the barely-believable situation of the British embassy in Tehran being reopened and the west cosying up to Iran which, just a few eye blinks ago, was the great Satan itself.

We armed Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 80s, then we toppled Saddam and helped oversee ‘democratic’ elections with the vain notion that we could ‘civilise’ a society by 1,400 years in 14 months. How egotistically stupid.

Tony Blair and George W Bush’s illegal war or not, today’s conflict in Iraq was always coming, as it was in Syria, Libya, Egypt and the entire region.

That is the almost medieval nature of Sunni and Shia in Iraq, unfortunately, and our pathetic, hand-wringing sense of “not sitting idly by!” is as misplaced now as ever.

No one wants to see children massacred but throwing our own bombs into the mix hasn’t worked well so far.

But that’s our politicians’ ancient curse, equally as backward as the hate-filled Islamist view of other religions. They have to interfere. Can’t stop themselves.

It is difficult, it is terrible, when seeing the bestial images from this war zone, to think that we are powerless to intervene – but history has shown us, time and again, we only make things worse.

Let the Shia and Sunnis sort out their own differences and re-draw their homelands on their terms, without our arrogant nonsense confusing issues and creating more enemies than we already have.

If David Cameron really wants to combat the threat of terror on our soil, mixing it up on someone else’s simply isn’t the answer.

The tragic irony – for us – is that while he has the balls to bomb innocent people overseas, he’s a rank coward in dealing with the Islamist threat on his own doorstep.

That’s where most Britons would like him to concentrate his limited intellect.

 

We’re coming home, we’re coming home, England’s... 

BY THE time you read this, England’s footballers will either be packing their bags for home and planning an unexpected summer holiday, or half the nation will be hoping their fingernails grow back fast enough to be bitten off again next week. Either way it’s only delaying the inevitable.

As committed a sports nut as I am, I admit that I haven’t watched a single World Cup match. I caught a bit of England’s defeat to Italy, but my patience doesn’t last long these days.

I thought that Raheem Sterling kid looked okay. Maybe if he spent as much time practicing how to cross a ball as he does checking out how his hairdo looks in the mirror, an occasional goal might be forthcoming.

Then Roy Hodgson – who aged about 10 years in half an hour if that’s possible with a mush as ‘lived in’ as Roy’s – sent on a substitute whose name (or performance) I can’t recall. What I do remember was that the bloke had two different coloured boots on. Heavens above.

Only two possible explanations occurred to me...

Either these poncey poseurs really have completely lost touch with reality and do spend more time focusing on this rubbish than the game, or the kid simply can’t tell left from right and needs colour-coded assistance.

Come to think of it, it’s probably both.

 

I SHOOK my head when reading about the rejected appeal against sentence by the six Muslim terrorists whose plan to create mayhem in Dewsbury town centre failed because they turned up late.

Human carnage was avoided by the grace of God, but lawyers for the six had the temerity to appeal the length of their sentences based on non-Muslim terrorists tending to get a lower tariff.

I’m not sure British judges have had much experience of any kind of terrorists trying to blow up and shoot masses of innocent men, women and children, actually.

The IRA were a specific case in point, but when they finally came to the table the leverage of early prison release for some prisoners was a valuable diplomatic tool.

It would be nice to think the same might possibly apply with Islamic fanatics one day, but until then if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime…

 

A VERY brief thank you to everyone who showed much appreciated support during the 14 months of my legal ‘difficulty’ which finally ended last Friday at Leeds Crown Court.

A lot of people have filled their boots in my discomfort in that time, which I suppose is to be expected when you do a job like this. The idea of those bitter smiles being wiped off so many faces made that evening’s toast among friends so much sweeter.

So thanks to everyone who kept the faith and especially to my solicitor, Batley Bulldogs chairman Kevin Nicholas, who did such a steady but sterling job – calmness and thoroughness personified.

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