How shallow is this?:
"Heaven is a constantly shifting shape because it is a history of subconscious human longings. Show me your heaven and I'll show you what's lacking in your life. The desert-dwellers who wrote the Bible and the Koran lived in thirst - so their heavens were forever running with rivers and fountains and springs... Today's Islamist suicide-bombers live in a society starved of sex, so their heaven is a 72-virgin gang-bang." (Heaven can wait, Johann Hari, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 15/5/10)
Leaving aside the question of whether the Quran (or the Bible for that matter) was written by desert-dwellers, Hari appears blissfully unaware that the notorious 72 virgins, which so titillate the Islamophobic fraternity, are nowhere to be found in the Quran (see my 21/7/09 post 72 Virgins... Again!). Nor does anything remotely resembling sex, let alone a heavenly gang-bang, appear in the Quran, which refers only to the soul's rendezvous with a chaste and perfectly compatible companion.
Hari's lurid nonsense (also dispensed by the odious Christopher Hitchens) is certainly far from original: "In the course of the Middle Ages, Christian hostility was often expressed in anti-Islamic tracts that attacked the supposed falsehoods and inconsistencies in the Koran. Many of these polemics concentrated their attacks on the character of Muhammad himself, who was variously denounced as a 'pseudo-prophet', a 'magician', and a 'carnal' and polygamous libertine who had deceived his credulous followers with blasphemous promises of 'sex in heaven'." (Blood & Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain, Matthew Carr, 2010, p 13)
In fact, Hari is so taken with the idea of the Quran as bodice-ripper that he returns for seconds:
"Worse still, the promise of heaven is used as an incentive for people to commit atrocities. I have seen this in practice: I've interviewed wannabe suicide bombers from London to Gaza to Syria, and they all launched into reveries about the orgy they will embark on in the clouds." (Heaven can wait)
Really? Now I don't know what alcohol-induced (?) high Hari was on when he penned that rubbish but it was apparently sufficient to erase all memory of his ever having written the following lines thoughtfully preserved at johannhari.com:
"But we must be honest about this phenomenon. The suicide bombers we are confronting today are reacting against real problems, albeit horribly, and denying this fact obscures the situation we are all in... Survivors of these attacks usually report that the bombers die with a smile on their face - and this is not to do with the belief that they are going to heaven, because secular and Hindu bombers do the same." (We fail to understand the suicide bomber, 21/5/03)
"Many commentators in the West have argued recently that public opinion is being littered with myths about Hamas: that they are supporters of al-Qa'ida, for example, or they believe suicide bombers end up in paradise with 72 virgins... It is not hard to see why people succumb to this madness [suicide bombing], repulsive though it is... From one viewpoint, you are the disenfranchised citizens of a displaced, tiny people who have been abused by the Israelis, abandoned by the Arabs and ignored by the world for 50 years. You will probably never have a decent job; you'll be lucky if you leave Gaza once in your life. You are nothing..." (Hanging with Hamas, 23/8/03)
Wannabe Gazan suicide bombers lusting after cloud-borne orgies? For Heaven's sake, Hari!