In Egypt – where the Muslim Brothers are accumulating power – a 17-year-old Christian has been jailed for three years after uploading cartoons to his webpage that, we’re told, mocked Islam and its prophet. His actions inspired aggrieved Muslims to assault Copts and torch their homes. We aren’t told whether the people who inflicted genuine harm have faced arrest or not.

Meanwhile, in Tunisia two men are claimed to have been given seven years in jail after – yes, you guessed it – publishing cartoons said to have insulted Mohammed. This is damn depressing as their homeland is among the most secular of Islamic majority nations. Still, last year a Turkish cartoonist was reported to be on trial over a drawing. While the difference between these nations and, say, Saudi Arabia is great the most secular of ‘em are not secular enough.

I wonder if believers of censorious inclinations ever ask their God why he’s allowed other people to come up with all the scientific discoveries and technological innovations; artistic achievements and industrial feats. I mean, here these guys are – jailing cartoonists like there’s no tomorrow – and where’s the reward to show for it? Where’s the divine revelations? The blessings from on high? They could learn something from the Dark Ages. God is either unresponsive to brutal puritanism, and it’s a stultifying influence on cultures, or he actively hates authoritarians and rewards their foes. As amusing as the latter case would be I rather feel a variant on the former is closest to the truth. Still, people will do a lot more harm before they grasp it.

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