I live in one of the more diverse state in the United States — New Jersey. And the creed of many my acquaintances reflect the same. I won’t lie to you. The conversation on the topic of religion more often than not actually ends on an uncomfortable note. We can’t agree on origin of life, we argue if certain actions are moral or immoral, and, of course, we believe our God(s) is more powerful than the others’.

The funny thing about these disagreements during our talks is that none of us are truly that religious to begin with. We just argue for argument sake — you know, to fill the time gap between downing “Coors Light.”

Regardless, though, of whatever religion we identify ourselves with, we usually don’t squabble about Karma — what goes around comes around. E.g.: do good for others, good things will happen to you, and vice versa.

But such a basic similarity of all beliefs creates doubt in my mind of existence of God (or necessity of religion) when I hear news of model citizens facing acts of violence from complete strangers. According to the rules of Karma, these unselfish individuals’ actions deserves the very opposite of such horrendous outcomes.

Take for example the case of psychologist Susan Barron, who was stabbed multiple times by a deranged man when she was walking her dog.

Screaming at her, the man chopped, hacked and stabbed her head and arms, straddling her after she fell to the street, picking up a new knife when he lost one from the force of his blows.

To those who witnessed it, the violence seemed to be a crime of toxic passion; they could not fathom the truth, that one total stranger had simply and suddenly set upon killing another. (NYT)

Of course, no one deserves this treatment. I wouldn’t want that to be a punishment for the terrible of crimes. But you will agree Barron, of all people, should be regarded as a saint on earth.

She was a fixer — the friend who hunted down a kidney for someone in need of a transplant, mentor to a man starting his own therapy practice, regular volunteer on winter coat drives and at holiday soup kitchens. “That Jimmy Stewart character in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ had nothing on her,” said one friend, a self-described cynic.

A case in the same sense takes place in Fort Qu’Appelle, Canada. Where 61-year-old Christina Cook gets shot at by young men when she attempted to dial 911. Only to witness her husband of 17 years catch the bullet on the face and chest when shielding his wife.

With a calmness that belies the calamity of the night and the enormity of her loss, a woman who would often open her home to troubled young people recalled Thursday how her companion of 17 years took a bullet she figures was destined for her and died while shielding her on the floor.

“I don’t know where my hubby came from, but he took me and he threw me on the floor and put his whole body over me. Next thing I know, he was gone,” Cook said. (CP)

The funny thing is that neither Cook nor Barron become bitter after the incidents.

“I just hope that they can find a solution to stop this gang violence or whatever the violence is that’s causing this because the children are lost,” Cook said.

“They need love and understanding and that’s what I’ve always tried to do with my life – make room for the kids.”(CP)

“Yes, I feel what happened to me is pretty terrible. People can complain about the smallest things, but that is their pain. Hopefully, they will never have something terrible happen to give them context,” Barron said. (NYT)

Gang rape victim sentenced

November 17, 2007

When religious or traditional beliefs overlap with the law of the land, the outcome isn’t always logical.

We witness this to be true when we hear from folks who, in the twenty first century, want children to learn creationism in school. If Christian parents want to teach their kids of Adam and Eve, then no outsider can dictate it to be untrue, and therefore deem it unethical to do so. But Jews, Muslims, Jains and Buddhist children, too, attend the very same school the advocates want to modify the science class curriculum for. Realize that the bible plays as much part in a Hindu child’s life as the Bhagvad-Gita does in a Christian child’s life: zero. That’s where I’ll leave that argument.

Same is true with folks who oppose legalizing marriage between two homosexuals. They claim their religion (and personal beliefs) strictly prohibits so. And of course, all must adhere to their fancy.

In a like twisted government ruling, a 19-year-old woman from Saudi Arabia, who was raped 14 times by seven men, was sentenced to 90 lashes for being in a vehicle with a man who isn’t family.

The rape victim was punished for violating Saudi Arabia’s laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other. (BBC)

For the record, the seven men were too punished. Ranging from ten months to up to 5 years.

The story gets better (worse, actually).

A Saudi court has increased the sentence given to (the) gang rape victim to 200 lashes of the whip and six months in prison and ordered disciplinary action against her lawyer. (Reuters)

This happened because she and her lawyer spoke to the media and got sympathy from folks around the world. They shouldn’t have done that. And the government made certain they realize so at the appeals court.

The lawyer, Abdel Rahman al-Lahem, could potentially lose his license. At the moment he is suspended. There are talks to appeal for the third time. But really, would you be surprised if the victim was sentenced to more lashes and time was added to her sentencing?

Lahem’s critics have called him an infidel and “lawyer of homosexuals”. In the past he has been jailed and banned from traveling abroad. He will appear before a disciplinary committee at the ministry of justice on December 5, charged with criticising the judiciary and conducting activist campaigns in the media. (Guardian)

The lawyers is actually a true advocate for those facing injustice in the country. Here’s a link to an article where Lahem took on the case of an outspoken journalist.

Saudi journalist Rabah Al-Quwayi, 24, has been detained by Hail authorities in connection with his writings posted on Internet forums, which they allege place his Islamic faith in doubt.

Lawyer Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem announced yesterday that he would be representing Al-Quwayi.