January 14, 2013
SOME readers will find comments in this confronting - I hope so - notwithstanding the truth of them. Soon, if ill-advised Attorney General Nicola Roxon has her way these words will be illegal, so let's get in early...
Life is far from happy in many Muslim lands. And it's often miserable for Muslims lucky to live in advanced countries.
Sara Ege, who lives in Wales, and will for the next 17 years - in jail - was sentenced last week for killing her seven-year-old boy because he failed to memorise the Koran.
Little Yaseen was beaten to death by his mum while still mumbling phrases from the book. She then incinerated his body and felt "100 per cent better".
Across much of the Islamic world we have seen unprecedented violence and civil disturbance as the so-called Arab Spring - the idea of spring and rebirth is, sadly, irony crystallised - sweeps away various dictators and "elected" leaders who in their final days showed a murderously desperate core. What replaces them is either unknown, or unpleasant.
Life locked in these backward countries - Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, to name a few - is, for most, one of hardship, where men struggle to feed families and pay the bills.
For women, life is routinely much worse. They are second-class citizens.
And that's only because there is no third sex.
A seemingly deep hatred of women exists across much of the Arab world - and even among those uppity "Persians", some of whom wish us to believe they live vastly different lives to most Arabs.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the single event that perhaps inspired this regional wave of unrest failed to ignite a revolution there.
The online world - and, that night, free-to-air television audiences - saw would-be musician Neda Agha-Soltan die after being shot by a sniper during a Tehran protest against Iran's rigged elections. But it was more than the fact she was only a woman, a divorced one at that.
Iran's simian-thinking president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, showed his form: goons harassed those who went to help Neda - at least one has fled the country - and his supporters desecrate her grave.
Neda would have turned 30 next week. She had to live a lot longer to see freedom for Iranians.
Militant Islamists despise not just their women, but also the men imprisoned within their countries who would seek change, perhaps daring to think of the democracy rejected by their religious leaders. I use that word loosely, in the manner that Adolf Hitler was a "leader".
These self-loathing radicals, rather than learn from and share in the advances of Western enlightenment, turn their backs on progress and, instead, seek a sort of national martyrdom.
As always with the political Islam that the enslaved Al-Jazeera television network promotes across the globe, they are not talking about blowing themselves up on empty footy fields for a mass meeting with Allah and countless virgins.
Rather, they wish to kill infidels - it goes without saying they're always killing each other - about which they get dizzily excited and shout out "Allahu Akbar".
BUT while they busy themselves bringing down our skyscrapers and trying to murder cartoonists, it is incumbent upon us to try to help them.
There's not much Australians can do about the suicidal Iran - nor the resentful Palestinians to whom we send vast amounts of taxpayers' money - but there is one nation we might help.
Indeed we should: We have relatively friendly diplomatic relations with it; many of its former citizens live here; they play Test cricket - and we are all Commonwealth brothers (let's hold the "sisters" tag while we negotiate).
But Pakistan is as close to a failed state as you can get. It is volatile, corrupt, ungovernable, mistrustful of its neighbours, home to more murderous Islamists than any other country on earth and nuclear-armed.
Last week Muslim gunmen there killed five women teachers because they dared teach girls. They spared one's child - he was a boy, but you knew that. They also spared the bus driver. Do you reckon they'd let a woman drive a bus?
It is tempting to think that Pakistan is just the wrong country in the wrong place at the wrong time, bordering, as it does, Afghanistan, Iran, India and China.
But there is more to it. Don't, for a moment, think it a coincidence that Osama bin-Laden and Bali bomb-maker Umar Patek, were both found hiding in the Pakistan garrison town of Abbottabad.
The mechanics of trying to lead Pakistan to a more peaceful, worthy future lies with its membership of the-until-now impotent glee club of Queen Elizabeth II - the Commonwealth of Nations.
Never has a coalition of nations been so needed but achieved so little. The Queen, to her discredit, only became actively involved when it briefly looked like working, surfing in over the top of all the other failed leaders to achieve ... nothing.
CHOGM conferences have been held in London and Melbourne, India and New Zealand - even Zimbabwe.
But never Pakistan, its second most populous, and most deeply troubled and dangerous nation.
So, here's a plan: Forget the 2015 show at Mauritius - go on, tell me it's capital - and plan instead for a CHOGM in Islamabad, capital of blighted Pakistan.
Ask its government how the concerned Commonwealth - you will turn up Ma'am, surely - might help clean up its corrupt defence forces, how it might help civilise its northern tribal lands, extinguish political Islam (I want a ticket to that session), educate girls, and begin to treat all Pakistanis as equals.
Right now Pakistan doesn't have a future.
The Commonwealth's charter requires members to work towards "the common interests of their peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace".
What a joke.
Alan Howe is Herald Sun executive editor