How Obama talks about religious war without sounding like a douche bag
ObamaImage by vagabondblogger via Flickr

Few days ago president Obama had a speech in Cairo where he discussed Islam’s relations with western countries and Christianity and asked for a new beginning . It was a message of peace, but a message flawed with logical and historical inaccuracies. While I really liked his approach, I admit I smiled at some of his arguments and statements. But I guess that’s the different between an atheist and a politician. We seek the truth above anything else and politicians leave the truth beside in their quest for higher goals (sometimes good, sometimes bad).

If you watched the speech, which I recommend you do, and you haven’t read that much about religion, and Islam in particular, you may ask what were my objections to his speech. Here there are:

On the great contribution of Islam to the scientific world

“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.” Obama said. He is of course referring to things like: algebra, advancement in medicine and astronomy,  scientific discoveries that cleared the way for the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution in Europe.

This is true. But these things didn’t happen because of Islam. Obama makes a very childish logical mistake: “Correlation does not imply causation “. Just because Muslims discovered great things doesn’t mean that the cause was their religion.  And let’s not forget that religion was not an option. Everyone was a Muslim or a Christian. By following Obama’s logical path we can say that we owe the advancements in philosophy and mathematics to Zeus, because of the religion of the ancient Greek scholars.

Islam is a religion of peace

“Islam is an important part in promoting peace.” Obama said.  We shouldn’t fear Islam because it is in fact a religion of peace. “The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.” Obama said thus gaining standing ovations.

All I can do is smile at his remarks. Obama cleverly decided to quote verse 005-032 from the Koran, but intentionally left aside verse 005-033. Here is the whole passage from the holly Muslim book:

005.032 - what Obama quoted
YUSUFALI: On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
PICKTHAL: For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killed a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth.
SHAKIR: For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.

005.033 - putting things in context
YUSUFALI: The punishment of those who wage war against/dispute Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;
PICKTHAL: The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;
SHAKIR: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement,

“Innocent” gets a totally different meaning now. As nobody who disputes Allah and his messengers is innocent.

And if you think it is just this verse in the Koran that instigates to violence, haltered and crime let me give you more quotes:

“And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is Gracious, Merciful.” (Sura 9:5).

“And kill them wherever ye shall find them, and eject them from whatever place they have ejected you; for civil discord is worse than carnage: yet attack them not at the sacred Mosque, unless they attack you therein; but if they attack you, slay them. Such the reward of the infidels… Fight therefore against them until there be no more civil discord, and the only worship be that of God: but if they desist, then let there be no hostility, save against the wicked.” (Sura 2:187-189).

Mohammed said, “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.” (Hadith Al Buhkari vol. 9:57)

Looking for more. Just read randomly from the Koran. The chances are you will find more verses about killing and slaughtering of “the innocents”.

Islam as an example for religious tolerance

“Throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.” Obama continued.

If you compare it with Christian killings and Christian intolerance Islam clearly wins some points. As in the Islam faith Jews and Christians are tolerated believes. To quote again from the Koran:

“Those who believe (in the Koran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians…and (all) who believe in God and the last day and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” The Koran, 2:62

So as long as you are a Christian or a Jew and you pose no threat to the Islamic faith you are almost safe. The problem is all the modern discoveries and technological advancement alongside globalization and wide adoption of human and women rights are seen as assaults to the holy faith, a faith based on ancient traditions. And according to Koran, if that happens, killing is the way to go. What was the case hundreds of years ago when there were no planes and no Internet or TV does no longer applies.

Pacifism is the way

“Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered. ” Obama said.

Very nicely put Mr. President but I don’t think pacifism is something that resonates with the Islamic community as it does with Christians. To better express myself I will quote from Sam Harris’s “The end of faith”:

Pacifism is generally considered to be a morally unassailable position to take with respect to human violence. The worst that is said of it, generally, is that it is a difficult position to maintain in practice. It is almost never branded as flagrantly immoral, which I believe it is. While it can seem noble enough when the stakes are low, pacifism is ultimately nothing more than a willingness to die, and to let others die, at the pleasure of the world’s thugs. It should be enough to note that a single sociopath, armed with nothing more than a knife, could exterminate a city full of pacifists. There is no doubt that such sociopaths exist, and they are generally better armed. Fearing that the above reflections on torture may offer a potent argument for pacifism, I would like to briefly state why I believe we must accept the fact that violence (or its threat) is often an ethical necessity.

……………….

Gandhi was undoubtedly the twentieth century’s most influential pacifist. The success he enjoyed in forcing the British Empire to withdraw from the Indian subcontinent brought pacifism down from the ethers of religious precept and gave it new political relevance. Pacifism in this form no doubt required considerable bravery from its practitioners and constituted a direct confrontation with injustice. As such, it had far more moral integrity than did my stratagem above. It is clear, however, that Gandhi’s nonviolence can be applied to only a limited range of human conflict. We would do well to reflect on Gandhi’s remedy for the Holocaust: he believed that the Jews should have committed mass suicide, because this “would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler’s violence.”41 We might wonder what a world full of pacifists would have done once it had grown “aroused”—commit suicide as well?

Gandhi was a religious dogmatist, of course, but his remedy for the Holocaust seems ethically suspect even if one accepts the metaphysical premises upon which it was based. If we grant the law of karma and rebirth to which Gandhi subscribed, his pacifism still seems highly immoral. Why should it be thought ethical to safeguard one’s own happiness (or even the happiness of others) in the next life at the expense of the manifest agony of children in this one? Gandhi’s was a world in which millions more would have died in the hopes that the Nazis would have one day doubted the goodness of their Thousand Year Reich. Ours is a world in which bombs must occasionally fall where such doubts are in short supply. Here we come upon a terrible facet of ethically asymmetric warfare: when your enemy has no scruples, your own scruples become another weapon in his hand. It is, as yet, unclear what it will mean to win our war on “terrorism”— or whether the religious barbarism that animates our enemies can ever be finally purged from our world— but it is all too obvious what it would mean to lose it. Life under the Taliban is, to a first approximation, what millions of Muslims around the world want to impose on the rest of us. They long to establish a society in which —when times are good —women will remain vanquished and invisible, and anyone given to spiritual, intellectual, or sexual freedom will be slaughtered before crowds of sullen, uneducated men. This, needless to say, is a vision of life worth resisting. We cannot let our qualms over collateral damage paralyze us because our enemies know no such qualms. Theirs is a kill-the-children-first approach to war, and we ignore the fundamental difference between their violence and our own at our peril. Given the proliferation of weaponry in our world, we no longer have the option of waging this war with swords. It seems certain that collateral damage, of various sorts, will be a part of our future for many years to come.

Conclusion

I really appreciated president Obama for having the courage to address such big issues and I respect his strategy. But I am skeptical it will be enough. As long as religious faith is what drives men and God is the moral beacon of the world, I fear some nicely crafted speeches will not be enough.

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Leweb 08
Posted in Events
LeWeb 08

Image by the waving cat via Flickr

I am not going to bitch about the lack of heating, food or wifi. One reporter with a good sense of humor from the Guardian summed it up very well already. One thing that I don’t subscribe to is the quality of the speakers. I think most of the speakers had very very good presentations, were entertaining and a pleasure to listen to. And that is not something I can say about most of the conferences I have attended. Here are the most memorable ones (be aware I missed some presentations).

Itay Talgam had an amazing presentation about management. He tried to show basic management techniques by playing videos of famous maestros. Don’t know about you but I never got what the role of the maestro was anyway. What is to conduct if all the people in the orchestra follow a plan/song sheet anyway. Well, I was wrong. They are actually doing a lot of work and managing an orchestra is not so different from managing a company. They set the rhythm, they see that everyone is doing a good job, they are rewarding the good performers etc. They don’t go to have a tequila on the beach and leave the guys to do all the work etc. I can not explain the presentations in words. It is something you should see for yourself. Here are some of his old performances:

Paulo Coelho was one of the speakers….. I know! Paulo Coelho, the author of “The alchemist“, “Veronika Decides to Die ” and other popular books. He is like 70 years old and very active in all the social media space. I was amazed to find out he has a blog, a Facebook account, a Myspace account. He is a Twitter fan, he posts a lot of YouTube videos etc. He could be my grandfather and he is so cool. He had a very interesting discussion about the future of copyright. He is against it although he makes millions out of it. To prove it he pirates his own books and has a page on his blog called PirateCoelho where he links all the torrent with his books. He admits that it is difficult to read a book on the screen and that is why people will still buy books for some time. But he thinks an author should write because he loves writing and not for making money… and the web should be your friend in distributing your work not a big wall to protect it.

Yossi Vardi was very entertaining, as always. When all the people were talking about the crisis and making money Yossi talked about the opportunities that this climate exposes. He was against portraying Facebook and Twitter as stupid toys that have no chance of making money and therefore should go bankrupt. What matter the most is that there are millions of users who love these services. It took Google 5 years to find a way of making money so we should give Twitter and all the other services a break.

Mike Butcher had a report on the European activity on the web. And uberVU logo was one of the biggest one there. Thank you Mike!

Not to forget Morten Lund. He had a very sincere presentation about failure. His failures as investor and entrepreneur. The guy lost 30 million and he was ok. He said he is taking the tube now and working on the next big thing. Money come and go so you shouldn’t be so stressed out about it. Easier said than done. Here is an old video with him:


At the investor panel all of the speakers (Jeff Clavier, Fred Wilson, Martin Varsavsky and Eric Archambeau) said they will actively invest in 2009, but that it will be a tough year to raise money. So bad news for new entrepreneurs or people who need to raise more money in the year to come. We’ll see!

John Buckman talked about becoming an entrepreneur on the cheap. His ideas were kinda old. I knew them anyway but his presentation ruled. See it bellow:

Gary Vaynerchuk was there and he did a live episode of Winelibrary TV. If you don’t know who he is watch some of his old episodes. You should understand why all the people in the audience were clapping like craz.

To sum up. Good conference, bad logistics.

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Next Online Players

Voi fi prezent la eveniment unde voi vorbi despre antreprenoriat si alte lucruri interesante. Pentru cei care vor sa vina si inca nu si-au luat loc, organizatorii au lansat cateva promotii pentru a incuraja completarea ultimelor locuri:
- special pentru blogul fiecarui vorbitor, 10% reducere pentru cei care se inscriu si completeaza “vladimir oane” in campul de cod postal in formularul de inscriere.
- 15% reducere pentru cei care se inscriu impreuna cu un partener/prieten/asociat/etc.

Ne vedem pe 19.

Tu ai blog, eu am blog… hai sa fim prieteni

La sugestia colegului Dragos am stat ceva timp si am citit un articol realmente genial scris de Dr Alan Kirby in 2006. Articolul, pe care vi-l recomand cu caldura sa-l cititi, trateaza problema mortii post-modernismului si remarca aparaitia unei noi generatii. Pseudo-moderniste.

Ideile Dr Kirby ma duc cu gandul la o tema care ma intriga de ceva vreme: formarea comunitatilor in era noastra. Sunt sigur ca este in natura umana sa doresti sa aparti unei comunitati si sa incerci sa te intentifici cu aceasta. Iar timpurile pe care le traim fac sa para acest proces foarte simplu. Sa ma explic:

Comunitatile se formau si inca se formeaza de catre persoane care impartaseau o pasiune sau prestau o activitate comuna. Avem comunitati ale compozitorilor, uniuni ale scritiitorilor sau asociatii ale oamenilor de afaceri. Ca sa faci o parte din comunitatea compozitorilor trebuie sa compui o piesa, piesa care probabil trebuie sa aiba si ceva succes. Este necesar sa scrii o carte ca sa intri intr-o uniune a scriitorilor.

Dar lucrurile se schimba. Dr Kirby remarca cum noua societate este una foarte participatorie. Mesajul este destul de neimportant in era in care traim. Mediul sau platforma tind sa depaseasca in importanta insasi ceea ce se doreste a fi transmis. Traim in plina era 2.0 in care oricine poate fi orice. Oricine poate interactiona cu oricine si poate face parte din ce comunitate isi doreste.

Sa luam de exemplu comunitatea blogerilor. Termen care ma amuza copios. De ce? Pentru ca oricine poate fi bloger. Si eu, si tu! Nu este vorba de un atribut sau un produs al inteligentei noastre. Este un mijloc de productie. La fel am putea avea si o comunitate a oamenilor care mananca sau a celor care conduc masini. In acelasi mod avem si comunitatea celor care scriu pe twitter, care au iPhone sau fac parte din grupuri pe Facebook. Tot ce ne uneste pe cei care facem parte din aceste “comunitati” sunt niste simple unelte si de cele mai multe ori nu exista nimic atlceva care sa ne aduca la un loc. Veti spune ca sa ai un blog nu e chiar asa de simplu. Sau un cont plin de prieteni pe Hi5. Cu siguranta. Dar si o carte sau un articol poate scrie in oricine. Cel putin in teorie. Trebuie sa ai ceva scoala, sa studiezi, sa pui datele cap la cap, sa argumentezi etc. Doar asa iti va apare cartea sau articolul. Dar un blog cu putine cuvinte poate face oricine. Si majoritatea chiar asta fac.

De aceea cred ca uneori se da mult prea multa importanta acestor noi comunitati. Web 2.0. Sa luam de exemplu lansarea Capital, la care am fost prezent la invitatia lui Manafu. Un eveniment la care trebuia sa existe o discutie intre ziaristi si blogeri. Nu intre ziaristi si bloggeri care fac analize economice. Blogeri in general. Si care a degenerat  usor intr-o tragere de sireturi cu accente marlanesti. Desi prezentarea celor de la Capital poate fi catalogata drept slaba in cel mai fericit caz, foarte multe din reactii au fost penibile: o pleiada de injurii si mistouri fara substanta de la niste persoane care nu aveau nimic de spus, sau care daca aveau, nu ofereau nici un argument pentru a-si sustine opiniile. Respect fenomenul blogurilor, dar doar pentru ca pot sa bat niste litere nu inseamna ca sunt un ziarist. Sau pentru ca pot sa lipesc niste sampleuri nu inseamna ca sunt un compozitor. Dar noua socitate da multora posibilitatea sa o faca.

Daca cineva scria in trecut o carte cu care nu erai de acord trebuia sa pui si tu osul la traba si sa scrii o noua carte in care sa-ti argumentezi insatisfactia. Acum poti sa-l bagi in p**** masii pe blog, pe Twitter sau chiar fata in fata pentru ca nu-i asa… si tu esti un fel de scriitor care ai autoritatea sa o faci. Chiar daca unul mic… unul care intelege noile trenduri si care face parte dintr-o comunitate importanta si care trebuie bagat in seama.

Comunitatile se formeaza acum in jurul mijloacelor de productie (la care au cu totii acces) si nu in jurul productiilor in sine. E bine sau rau? Nu stiu. Dar eu nu vreau sa mai particip la conferinte pentru ca am blog, ci pentru lucrurile pe care le scriu pe blog. Nu pentru ca am cont pe Twitter si am un nivel de intelegere remarcabil al noilor moduri prin care putem freca menta sau a ne refula frustrarile pe net.

Cum a fost la GeekMeet

Am fost la GeekMeet in Cluj. A fost ubercool si le multumesc organizatorilor pentru invitatie. Au fost 5 prezentari, zic eu interesante. Bobby a zis de Yahoo, de modul in care ei sunt interesati de dezvoltatori etc. Dupa a intrat Alex Deva care a vb despre frustrarile unui freelancer si cum pot fi ele depasite. Sergiu a spus ca ele nu pot fi depsite complet decat prin schimarea profesiei: facand trecerea de la freelancer/agentie la web-entrepreneur. Si a oferit si cateva argumente (chiar prea multe zic eu) pentru a face asta. La final s-a vorbit de artistbay, dar cei doi prezentatori vorbeau atat de incet inct sincer nu am auzit nimic.

Eu am vorbit de uberVU in contextul supra-aglomerarii informationale si a problemelor ridicate de DataPortability. La final colegul meu Dragos a facut un live demo cu uberVU beta 2. Unora li s-a parut “fain”, altora inutil. Si despre Twitter s-a zis asta la inceput asa ca avem o sansa :)
Mai jos e prezentarea mea:

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Open Coffee si eOk

Ieri a fost si Open Coffee si lansarea oficiala eOk.

OpenCoffee

A iesit relativ bine. Interes este, ceea ce e bine, dar au fot mult prea multi prezenti in cafenea asa ca a iesit un mic haos. Partea buna e ca am cunoscut niste tineri foarte destepti, cu care abia astept sa ma reintalnesc joia viitoare.

eOk

Imi place foarte mult abordarea de business si de produs a lui Florin&Co. Este un produs care a pornit timid dar care e dezvoltat constant si cu rabdare. Lansarea a fost foarte trandy si mi-a placut ca au fost prezente si cateva vedete autohtone care sprijina initiativa. Eu le tin pumnii si sunt sigur ca o sa faca succes.

Cum scoatem capul pe plan international?

Asta e propunerea pe care Dragos o propune pentru prima intalnire Open Coffee.  Cei care veniti:  pls inscrieti-va ca sa stim exact cate rezervari facem.  See you there!

Open Coffee Bucharest

Joi de la 9:00 la Cefepedia. Pt confirmari aici: http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/596426

Ora e discutabila. La fel si locatia. Si data. Asa ca suntem deschisi la sugestii. Revin cu detalii luni.

Eu si Dragos la Red Couch - Video

Vorbind despre the future of Web. Daca treceti peste engelza mea de balta veti vedea ca ideile sunt bune.

PS: Nu se poate face embed asa ca e doar link. Suntem si noi in lista.

Azi vorbesc la conferinta Antreprenori de top

Harta

Astazi sunt prezent alaturi de nume grele din onlineul autohton la conferinta organizata de “DA Afaceri” din  ASE.

Invitaţi:

Emi Gal - Brainient, Braintv.ro, eOk.ro, Vertimo.ro, Skimbit.com
Vladimir Oane - Metromind, BluoCMS, uberVU, Captain Go
Mircea Scarlatescu - FYB, Flori la Bucuresti, Termopane.com, Imobiliare-rezidentiale.ro
Florin Grozea - eOk.ro, Hi-Q.ro

Te astept pe 6 mai, la orele 15.30 (adica azi) in cafeneaua DorDe, la intersectia Calea Dorobanti - Soseaua Stefan cel Mare, vizavi de Perla, la o statie de autobuz sau cinci minute de mers pe jos de la Facultatea de Cibernetica din A.S.E.
(via Bizin.DAAfaceri.ro)