Browsing Twitter yesterday, I came across the following:
After I’d got beyond the horror of what I’d just read, I began to wonder – why had this been posted? Was Mr Fatah simply reminding us that this is a cruel and random world? Possibly… Alternatively, he may have been hinting at something else – that such crimes are more common in KSA. Perhaps he knew something that I didn’t, in which case this wouldn’t simply be an atomic tragedy. And so I put just that question forward:
To my surprise I got an immediate reply, but not one that I was expecting:
And so it became apparent that for Mr Fatah and the Atheist Thinker, there was nothing atomic about this at all. Indeed, if such a story had originated from, say, Papua New Guinea, or The Gambia, would it even have been 'interesting' enough to post? And if you can stretch to believe that, would the Atheist Thinker have so latched onto it…? For them, the resonance, the extrapolation was clear.
From my perspective, such a Pavlovean response is both wrong and dangerous. Without further information, once cannot possibly deduce anything ‘interesting’ from this sickening story. But that doesn’t mean that one can never infer. On the contrary, there is legitimate debate to be had over how the sexual impulse can warp or corrupt when given no scope for healthy expression. Thus, with sober analysis, it is not impossible to reach broader conclusions: whether over Saudi society, or even Islamic societies more generally. But even then, one still cannot talk loosely about ‘Islam’, as the manifold ways in which the religion is understood and practised, makes it impossible to lump together everyone on earth who calls themselves a Muslim. But that strategy – i.e. to conflate problems involving Muslims to a Muslim problem – and thus reduce everyone down to some cartoon stereotype, is now commonplace.