Tuesday, June 29, 2004

U.S.: When hatred is the primary value

Thanks to Muslim clerics in Nigeria, polio is once again spreading through the African continent.

Polio — a very debilitating but equally preventable neuromuscular disease — was never completely eradicated from the globe (only smallpox has this distinction).

But officials from the World Health Organization say they could have nearly wiped polio off the map by the end of 2005.

However, according to reports, Muslim clerics in the Nigerian state of Kano and elsewhere in the northern part of the country convinced government officials to stop providing vaccines months ago.

The clerics said the vaccines made in the West were tainted, containing anti-fertility drugs designed to depopulate the area
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Voice of America news reported, "An activist from a human rights group based in northern Nigeria, Nasir Abbas, says local Islamic leaders like Alhaji Datti Ahmed of the Supreme Council on Sharia continue to play a large role in influencing policies in Kano State."

Local, anti-Western Muslims allowed children contract polio rather than allow the government to provide the medicine to prevent it, no matter the source.

And, by waiting for a vaccine to be tested and found "safe" in Indonesia, that's just what happened.

The World Health Organization says the Nigerians' stoppage of the immunization program has caused a resurgence of polio cases all across Africa, from nearby Ivory Coast to Botswana in southern Africa.
Here's the Botswana story:
JOHANNESBURG -- A child in a village in Botswana has been paralyzed by poliomyelitis, the strain of the virus from northern Nigeria that has been spreading because Muslim religious leaders there refuse to allow vaccinations for the disease.

Botswana, thousands of kilometres from Nigeria, has been polio-free for more than a decade. The new case has epidemiologists warning of the globalization of disease and the World Heath Organization says it is a graphic illustration of the importance of immunization.

The 7-year-old boy in the Ngami district of northwestern Botswana developed paralysis in early February. Health workers in Botswana, a comparatively prosperous country in southern Africa with good surveillance for polio, recognized that he might have the virus even though the disease was eradicated there in 1991.

Lab results confirmed in March that he does have polio; genetic sequencing of the strain of the virus with which he was infected showed it came from northern Nigeria.
...
In 2003, Muslim leaders spread the word that the U.S. government had tainted the vaccine drops with either the AIDS virus or infertility drugs....

The Nigerian strain of the virus has spread with astounding speed. In the past 18 months, viruses shown by genetic analysis to have originated in northern Nigeria have caused new cases of the disease in eight previously polio-free countries: Ghana, Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast and Togo.
There is another issue that might have a bearing on this absurd refusal of these Islamic clerics to immunize children against polio. Jonas Salk, the doctor who developed the polio vaccine, was Jewish. If this is part of the anti-West reason for refusing the vaccine, bad cess to these Islamic clerics. To paraphrase Golda Meir, [w]hen Muslims start loving their children more than they hate the West there will be improvement in the Islamic world.

More of the blame the West variety:
The “Arab Human Development Report 2002,” compiled by Arab scholars and published by the United Nations, reports that one in five Arabs still lives on less than $2 per day, and one in every two Arab women still can’t read or write. Only sub-Saharan Africa ranks worse in terms of gender equity. Infant mortality in the Arab regions is twice as high as in Latin America, and income growth is lower than anywhere in the world except sub-Saharan Africa.

Freedom of expression is sharply limited, independent thought is discouraged, the media isn’t genuinely free, elections are primarily bogus and education is in steep decline. In Saudi Arabia, universities churn out more “religious scholars” than engineers and physicians, and Spain translates as many books in a year than the Arabs have translated in the past 1,000 years.

For the militant Islamists, this societal failure across the Muslim world is all the fault of the West, especially America. Instead of looking inward, their solution to “humiliation and despair” is that we should die. That’s the message of September 11, the message in Paul Johnson’s murder.
Read the whole eye-opening piece.

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