Khalid al-Asaad and the War on Pagan Idolatry

Wouter Hanegraaff, professsor of Western esotericism at the University of Amsterdam, has written a moving blog post on larger implications of the death of Khalid al-Asaad, the Syrian archaeologist recently beheaded by the Muslim fighters of the so-called Islamic State. (He was a Muslim too, of course.)

We are told that Khaled Asaad was murdered for the crime of “overseeing ‘idols’ in the ancient city” and “attending ‘infidel’ conferences as Syrian representative”. This makes him one of the most recent casualties in a culture war that has been raging for thousands of years: that of exclusive monotheism against its mortal enemy, “pagan idolatry”. We should not delude ourselves: historically, our “own” dominant Western culture has not been on Khaled Asaad’s side but overwhelmingly on the side of his murderers. The idea that paganism and idolatry is the ultimate abomination that must be rooted out and destroyed, along with anybody who practices or sympathizes with it, goes to the heart of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic identity. And moreover, (pace Peter Gay c.s.) it goes to the heart of Enlightenment rationalism as well, which inherited the Protestant view of paganism and idolatry.

Read it all. For the news story, here is the New York Times version.

One thought on “Khalid al-Asaad and the War on Pagan Idolatry

  1. Pitch313

    The culture that you carry is equally the culture that bears you down. Throughout my aware life, I have believed (evidence or no) that counter-culture somewhat lightens the load. That’s how come I’m a Pagan and Craft practitioner.

    But there’s really no way to drop the burden of these wide-spread and dominating cultural notions that lead to the torture and murder of folks like Khalid l-Asaad. We, in some telling respects,cannot resist ourselves. Nor do we (probably because humans need cultures) want to, deep down. We have grasped for a long,long time that culture-bearing, among other things, gnaws at our innards and drips venom on our heads.

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