Israeli coppers arrest 10 women for wearing prayer shawls

Israeli police detained 10 women at one of Judaism’s most sacred sites on Monday for wearing prayer shawls, which Orthodox tradition sees as solely for men, a spokesman said.

The incident at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City highlighted the divisions between the more liberal streams of Judaism and politically powerful Orthodox groups that traditionally limit the role of women in prayer.

Also a graphic illustration of Israel’s fealty to theocracy.

The Western Wall is administered under strict Orthodox ritual law, which bars women from wearing prayer shawls or publicly reading from the holy scriptures.

Among those held was Susan Silverman, a reform rabbi who is a sister of U.S. comedian Sarah Silverman. Two other American citizens and Israeli members of “Women of the Wall”, a group that campaigns for gender equality in religious practice, were also detained.

The group routinely convenes for monthly prayer sessions at the Western Wall, revered by Jews as a perimeter wall of the Biblical Temple in Jerusalem. Some of its members have been detained by police in the past for wearing prayer shawls at the site and released without charge.

Susan Silverman…the rabbi said in a telephone interview from the police station where the group was held that they had been among more than 100 women attending the hour-long prayer session…

Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for national police, said the women had acted “against regulations set by the High Court”, citing a decision of a decade ago upholding Orthodox rules at the site to avoid friction between worshippers.

‘Nuff said. Avoiding friction by placing the most backwards sects in the nation in charge of law and order is all that can be expected from a court constituted to rubber stamp reactionary politics.

Meat-loving Thais turn into self-mutilating vegetarians for festival

Thailand is not an easy country in which to be vegetarian. But once a year the country’s avid meat eaters lay down their spicy meat stir-fries in favour of vegetables and meat substitutes.

During the annual ten-day “Tesagin Kin Pak” vegetarian festival, yellow flags representing Buddhism and good moral conduct flutter in the wind above entire neighborhoods, while tiny mobile street carts with a lone yellow flag advertise vegetarian-friendly food.

Glistening tofu, noodles with bean sprouts, desserts made with sesame and ginger and steaming hot vegetable broths abound…

Every year during the ninth Chinese lunar month, the country’s Thai-Chinese community…observe ten days of abstinence.

Eating meat, having sex, drinking alcohol and other habits thought to be vices and pollutants of the body and mind are cut out entirely by the truly devoted, who also wear only white. The belief is that nine gods come down from heaven to inspect the earth and record the good and bad deeds people commit…

The festival in Phuket starts out sounding just as tame.. Although meat is not on the menu, the rituals involved in the event are unusually bloody. During the celebrations, many of the devotees go into trances and have the flesh of their mouths pierced…all in the name of ritual purification.

Thailand coppers find roasted fetuses stashed in luggage

WARNING: Click on photo for unpleasant image from arrest scene

A British man has been arrested in Thailand after being found with six foetuses that had been roasted and covered in gold leaf as part of a black magic spirit ritual.

The corpses of the unborn baby boys were found packed in a suitcase in his hotel room in Bangkok’s Chinatown district.

Chow Hok Kuen, 28, who holds a British passport but is of Taiwanese origin, confessed to police that he had bought the foetuses several days earlier for almost £4,000. The source of the foetuses is unclear.

He said he intended to smuggle them to Taiwan where they would be sold for as much as six times what he paid on the internet to people who believe that their possession would bring wealth and good luck.

The man told police that that he was hired by another Taiwanese man, named Kun Yichen, who regularly travelled to Thailand to collect the ritualistic foetuses. Worship of the foetuses — observed by some on the Chinese community — is a Buddhist-animist practice known as Kuman Thong that is described in ancient Thai manuscripts…

Lore has it that if the owner reveres the ritual foetus, its spirit will warn and protect its possessor of danger. In practice the foetuses have been replaced by wooden effigies…

Officers made the gruesome discovery in the hotel in the Yaowarat district of Bangkok, where they found that the foetuses had also been tattooed and were adorned with religious threads.

You have to love transubstantiation.

Arrests for Saint Death ritual human sacrifices in Mexico

Police in northern Mexico have arrested eight people for allegedly killing two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman in ritual sacrifices. Prosecutors in the state of Sonoru say the alleged suspects belong to the cult of La Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.

Jose Larrinaga, a spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, said the victims’ blood was poured around an altar to the saint, which is depicted as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes.

The cult, which reveres death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico among drug traffickers and criminals in recent years, but there have been no confirmed cases of human sacrifices in the country…

Authorities began investigations after 10-year-old Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez was reported missing on March 6 by his stepfather. Investigations led authorities to an apparent altar site in the Sonora city of Nacozari, about 110km south of Douglas, Arizona.

Larrinaga said the arrests were made after tests by forensic experts on Thursday found blood traces spread over 30 square meters there…

Those arrested included Silvia Meraz and her son Ramon Palacios, who allegedly killed the victims.

Speaking to reporters, she said: “We all agreed to do it. Supposedly she [one of the victims] was a witch or something.” She did not respond to questions about the boys’ killings.

Often, reasonable educated people find the rituals and trappings of religion simply laughable. A sensible reaction to a serious look at what people truly believe will result from prayer, tithing, repeating gestures leftover from trying to scare away things that go boomp in the night while a frightened and ignorant clan huddles in their cave. But, no unusual stretch of the imagination is needed to extend belief in, say, transubstantiation — partaking in the body of Christ, cripes! — into an act of human sacrifice.

It happens all the time and usually results in an arrest of some singularly demented individual like Jeffry Dahmer. That something similar can move to become a public cult, growing along with parallel hero worship of the leaders of drug gangs speaks volumes about a massively ignorant population accustomed to being led at the local level by a broad hierarchy of superstition.

Don’t kid yourself that Americans are above this, that it can’t happen here.

Dutch lower house of parliament bans ritual slaughter of animals

The Dutch lower house of parliament has passed a law effectively banning the ritual slaughter of animals…

The legislation states that all animals must be stunned before being killed. But the Islamic dhabiha and Jewish shechita methods of ritual slaughter require them to be fully conscious.

The legislation was proposed by an animal rights party with two MPs, which argued that failing to stun the animals subjected them to unnecessary pain.

But debate over the matter swiftly became a focus of animosity towards the Netherlands’ 1.2 million-strong Muslim community. The country’s Jewish population is comparatively small at 50,000.

Following months of debate a last minute concession was offered – the Muslim and Jewish communities will have a year to provide evidence that animals slaughtered by traditional methods do not experience greater pain than those that are stunned before they are killed.

However, observers say finding such proof will be virtually impossible.

The bill must still be approved by the upper house of parliament before it can become law…

In a rare show of unity, the Muslim and Jewish communities condemned the legislation and said it infringed on their religious freedom…

To make meat kosher for Jews or halal for Muslims, animals must be slaughtered while still awake, by swiftly cutting the main arteries and veins in their necks with sharp knives, and then allowing the blood to drain out.


Giving way to religious ritual 3000 years out of date is neither democratic or reasonable. So, of course, our government gives way in the United States.

Albino girl killed for superstitious rituals

A six-year-old albino girl in Burundi has been found dead with her head and limbs removed, in the latest killing linked to ritual medicine. Albinos in the region have been targeted because of a belief peddled by witchdoctors that their body parts can be used for magic potions.

The girl…was the sixth person with albinism to be killed in Burundi since September.

There have also been a number of attacks in neighbouring Tanzania.

Last week, police in south-western Tanzania arrested a man who was attempting to sell his albino wife to Congolese traders.

I won’t launch into a long rant about superstition. Let’s just leave it at – the difference between this level of anti-human behavior and lesser superstitions – is just that. A question of degree.

They’re all just as stupid. There is nothing “spiritual” about behaving like you’re still in the Stone Age.

Malaysia pair killed in ritual “health cure”

A Malaysian couple have been beaten to death by four close family members in a ritual apparently intended to help one of them stop smoking.

They reportedly smashed the husband and wife’s heads on a table, and beat them with broomsticks and motorbike helmets at a house in Kuala Lumpur. The couple’s 14-year-old daughter was also injured and taken to hospital…

Mohamed Ibrahim was seeking help to stop his smoking habit, while his wife was suffering from asthma and a liver ailment.

Following this, a 23-year-old male relative suggested that the couple undergo a ritual which involved all family members joining forces to beat up the couple to rid them of their ailments.

Well, it certainly was effective. Worked as well as any other superstitious crap medication.

They ain’t smoking anymore. Or breathing.

Man guilty of making boys flog themselves with blades in Muslim rite

A Muslim man was found guilty of child cruelty today in a British legal first after forcing two boys to beat themselves during a centuries-old Shia religious ceremony. The jury at Manchester crown court found Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44, guilty of two counts of child cruelty.

The boys, aged 13 and 15, were forced to beat themselves with a zanjeer zani, a wooden implement with chains and blades attached, during a ceremony to commemorate the death and martyrdom of a seventh-century Shia Muslim leader.

Zaidi denied his actions were wrong, telling the court: “This is a part of our religion.”

Zaidi, a warehouse supervisor, said: “If I’d known this would be the result of breaking the law I would never have done it.”

Does anyone expect British courts to overrule religious nutballs? This must be a first.