Monday, August 15, 2005

Another of the countless fruits of Islam:
debilitating drug abuse

Today the BBC bucks the trend of accepting at face value the Muslim world's ludicrous holier-than-thou attitude: they shine a light on rampant drug addiction in the horn of Africa. Evidently, widespread abuse of khat adds yet another obstacle to Somalis' hopes of salvaging a working society out of the train wreck their country has become. The BBC still fails to mention that khat abuse affects African and Arab societies from Marrakesh to Mecca and has even been imported to Somali and Yemeni immigrant communities in New York and Minneapolis.

Somalia is a typical example of how mosques and sharia courts can turn the clock back even further on societies suffering from tribalism and civil war. Since the fall of Mohammed Said Barre in 1991, the country has had virtually no central government. The inhabitants of northern Somalia now say that they are an independent nation of impoverished, starving, disease-stricken people, distinct from the impoverished, starving, disease-stricken people to the south. If they say so. Since the Clinton administration's shameful retreat from Mogadishu, the west has pretty much abandoned Somalia to the horrible fate that criminal gangs (which mainstream media like to call "tribes") have in store for it. There is no economy to speak of; warlords print their own money; the only thing organized in Somalia is crime.

And now the vaunted moral guidance of the imams seems to have no problem with the young men of Somalia getting hopped up their eyeballs on cathinone, the most powerful of at least three narcotics present in freshly picked khat leaves. Cathinone is a class I controlled substance in the U.S.; its effects are similar to cocaine or amphetamines, though the multiculturalist left prefer to compare it to coffee or cigarettes.
Relativist re-education quiz of the the week: One of these things is not like the others ...

Somali anti-khat activists see it a little differently, in that khat doesn't seem to have the same effect on one's workday as a morning java.
"Our men have become lazy over the years because of the widespread trade that forces them to just sit and enjoy the product. Our children have nothing to eat, let alone go to school, because their fathers cannot work, Rukia Osman Mahmoud, an anti-khat activist, told IPS ...

An article in Mother Jones claims that Somalis in America simply can't understand why the U.S. government is giving them a hard time about their importing khat. After all, it's done so much for their society back home, and a good afternoon chew is a cultural institution. Relativists on the left would like us to see khat abuse as comparable to tea-time or stepping-outside-for-a-smoke.
In East Africa, the afternoon khat session is a centuries-old ritual. But for America's growing population of East Africans, many of whom fled the Somali civil war, chewing khat (a mild stimulant also called chat or jat) has become a dangerous pastime. Across the nation, immigrants hungry for a taste of home are finding themselves caught up in America's drug war ...

Scientists don't quite see it the same way:
[Khat's] effects are similar to those of amphetamine and include euphoria, increased alertness and excitement etc. (Giannini et al. 1986). The khat user believes he thinks more clearly and quickly and is more alert, though concentration andjudgmentt are objectively impaired. There is a tendency to querulousness with lability of mood and increases in anxiety and tension (Margetts, 1967). Kennedy (1987) has described transient psychotic phenomena following a khat session. Confusion, disorientation, grandiose fantasies and a mildly depressed mood may occur.

"Tendency to querulousness," "increases in anxiety and tension"? Researchers estimate that khat-chewing in places like Egypt, Somalia and Yemen range between 40 and 80 percent of the population. Is it any wonder peace and prosperity are merely hazy mirages in the far distance for so many of these people?

(And by the way, that's not a real khat leaf in the photo. It doesn't grow here, and possession of it would be illegal under French law. Real khat looks similar to the leaf in the photo but has serrated edges and is usually left attached to a reddish stem.)


Anonymous Bairuide said...

the western alternative is surely alcohol with all its sorry medical and anti-social effects ?

3:52 AM  
Blogger tompain said...

Thanks for the comment, Bairuide.

In the U.S., alcohol is regulated by law. Giving or selling alcohol to minors is an offense that will earn you real trouble, not just a wink and a nod.

Though alcohol use is encouraged by advertising, that advertising is heavily restricted in the U.S. Alcohol addiction and abuse are widely recognized by society. You can't walk three blocks in most American cities without falling downstairs into a basement AA meeting.

A study done in Yemen found that 30 to 40 percent of children there chew khat regularly (daily or weekly). Here's a link to a Reuters story citing the study.

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem in the west, and one receiving serious attention. Khat chewing, even by minors, is being treated as a sacrosanct cultural institution in the Arab world. The network of moral guidance that supposedly exists in the mosques should be put to good use. (Or we should stop hearing daily about how effective mosques are compared to our own social structures.)

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khat is awesome. Do recommend.

2:33 AM  

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