Great Balls of Fire

Today brings news from Libya that the Benghazi mob is back on the streets, driving out the armed pro-Islamist militias that had set up camp in the city in the hope of gaining influence in the partial vacuum created by the destruction of the Gadaffi regime. Remarkably, because it was just a week ago that the same crowd was rioting over a supposed Western-backed insult to the prophet Mohammed, while men of one of the militias either fought their way in, or slipped unnoticed into the US consulate and assassinated the ambassador and three of his colleagues.

The question then is, has the mob today recognised that it was duped? Or are rival intelligence services playing a deadly game of manipulation, exploiting the credulity and restlessness of the Arab working-class for their own ends and driving the handy mob from pillar to post while they carry on their skulduggery undercover? It wouldn’t be the first time.

The anti-Islam “film”, for instance, was nothing more than a crude mashup, typical of hundreds of similar amateur efforts shot on home video or even mobile phones, that you can find posted on YouTube. No-one has been unduly exercised about them before. Much of the internet is a safety valve for dimly educated teenage baboons with risible opinions. Would anyone even have noticed this video was there, unless someone with evil intent pointed it out to them? And might not that person have themselves had something to do with its production?

The “insults” slung at the Prophet were, in my small opinion, precisely the sort of childish, mixed-up, half-hearted cliches you would expect to get, if you pressed a devout Muslim to tell you (in confidence) what would be the worst things anyone could say to antagonise tender Islamic sensibilities? The language content clearly points to an author raised in a middle eastern tradition and Islamic religious culture — not to a western-educated, pro-US, pro-Christian extremist. This was a put-up job. The “director” is said to be in hiding: one imagines he is back at Intelligence HQ in Teheran, job done.

By a strange coincidence, the author Salmaan Rushdie published, this week, his autobiography; a part of which concerns his years in hiding after he was the subject of a fatwa calling for his death, issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Rushdie was accused of defaming the Prophet in an otherwise tedious novel which daringly quoted some deleted passages from the Quran, known as The Satanic Verses. Midweek, another preposterous village mullah popped-up in the news, reportedly vowing that he would increase the bounty on Rushdie’s head by half a million dollars. Was he for real, or was it a PR stunt?

Also this week, came news that a female Biblical scholar in America has reinterpreted some early Coptic writings to suggest that Jesus had a wife. If accurate, this fact alone would completely undermine almost two thousand years of Catholic doctrine on the essential nature of celibacy in the priesthood. Not long ago, the “scholar” would have been broken on the rack, disembowelled and burned at the stake for this, the most shocking heresy imaginable in the Christian canon. The announcement has created barely a ripple.  The Church in Christ is too busy worrying about yet another report of endemic child abuse, this time in Australia.

Finally, on Friday night, hundreds of people witnessed huge green fireballs in the sky over northern Britain. Was this the opening ceremony for the Mayan Prophecy? In the immortal words of Private Fraser, “We’re all doomed!”