Saturday, February 17, 2007

Uh oh. The Chinese are in for it now.

What, me worry?

Saw this headline on Yahoo this afternoon:

Fortune: Year of Pig will bring disaster

... and immediately thought, Hmmm. I bet I know what this is about. The promise of a whole year of porcine imagery is sure to get the Islamists' panties all in a twist. Much seething will surely ensue, followed by the obligatory Friday-afternoon chanting and burning things, with a strong chance of occasional explosions and head-chopping.

But no! The article opens with the dire predictions of some Feng Shui master, who thinks the Year of the Pig bodes ill for reasons more mystical than political. Apparently, the elements of the pig (whatever that means) are fire and water, which make for conflict, which therefore mean we're in for a year of stuff blowing up around the world. Wait, haven't things been blowing up on a daily basis for the last few years anyway? Whatever. I learned not to look for reason in the arguments of the religious back in my days in Catholic school. Whatever the supposed cosmological reason for the coming chaos, it does start to sound like it's related to that other reason that Tom Pain has been howling about since the last Year of the Snake.

He noted that the Russian AK-47 rifle, a weapon of choice among insurgents around the world, was invented during a pig year.

"So it will not be surprising to see more gunbattles, murder with guns and bombing attacks in 2007," he said.

And I thought we were through with all that.

In any case, it turns out that Tom Pain's Islamo-sensor wasn't malfunctioning after all, as the article gets around (in the 27th paragraph) to the real reason we should nervous.

While the pig is beloved by the Chinese, the animal is offensive to Muslims, who consider it unclean.

Here we go ...

For that reason, Chinese New Year celebrations have to be handled with care in Malaysia and Indonesia, mainly Muslim countries with large ethnic Chinese minorities.

For the first time in its history, Indonesia introduced a special set of postal stamps to mark the Lunar New Year. But concerns over Muslim sensitivities led the postal service to drop plans to put a large pig on the stamps. It chose a Chinese temple instead.

"We took the middle path," said Hana Suryana, director of the Indonesian postal service.

The "middle path" apparently being the all-too-common one of suppressing anything that differs from the mindless unity of Islam.

Still, that was progress for a country where ethnic Chinese, who make up 5 percent of the population and have long faced discrimination, once were not allowed to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

"That has changed now, but we still feel uncomfortable celebrating the day in a large way because there are some people who cannot accept that Chinese culture is a part of Indonesian culture," said Jhony Tan, a trader in Jakarta's bustling Chinatown.

Yusri Mohammad, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, said he had no problem with the Chinese celebrating the pig year in his country. He said decorative pictures of pigs in shopping malls are fine — as long as Chinese don't start using live pigs or eat pork in public.

And what pray tell, Mr. Mohammad, will happen then?


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