Dean Nelson, Islamabad
July 8, 2007
SAIMA KHAN wants to die a martyr. Life is transient, she told her father in a telephone call last week, and the real glory is to sacrifice it for Allah. Her statement would be alarming at any age, but Saima is only 10.
As she spoke, rifle shots rang out, the acrid smell of tear gas drifted over Islamabad and hundreds of troops surrounded the pro-Taliban Red Mosque, a religious school complex in the heart of Pakistan’s capital where Saima was among hundreds of children being held as virtual hostages in a stand-off between militants and the government.
Saima and her 14-year-old sister, Asma, were embroiled in a struggle for the soul of Pakistan in which up to 70 militants died last week and more than 100 were injured, according to mosque officials.
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In the end, I think Mark Twain got it right:
Man is really the most interesting jackass there is. It’s his idea, ya see, that the deity sits up nights to admire him. He’s the creator’s pet!
Now, ya may wonder why.
Well, because of his intellect!
Man is the reasoning animal! … Such is the claim … though I do think that’s open to dispute.
Well, I’ve been studying this reasoning animal for years now and I find the results humiliating!
For example: I experimented with a cat and a dog, taught ‘em to be friends and I put ‘em in a cage. I introduced a rabbit. In an hour, they were friends. Then I added a fox, a goose, a squirrel, some doves … a kangaroo … and finally I added a monkey. They lived together in peace!
Next, I caught an Irish Catholic … and put him in a cage … and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Presbyterian … And then a Turk from Constantinople, a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas, a Buddhist from China and finally … a Salvation Army Colonel.
Why, when I come back, there wasn’t a specimen left alive … these reasoning animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a higher court! Because ... ya see ... man is also the religious animal. He’s the ONLY ONE that’s got the true religion!! Several of ‘em.
He loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight!
He’s made a grave yard of the globe in tryin’ his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven …
The other animals have no religion, you know. Gonna be left out. I wonder why? Seems questionable taste.