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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Gambling on Theocracy

So the success of the Manchester super-casino bid was a bit unexpected. At least I'll be near a micro-casino if I fancy a night out, in "Stratford City, West Ham United FC or the Docklands' ExCel Centre" (none of which are really "on Waltham Forest's doorstop", incidentally). (Read on at "Casino causing concerns", Waltham Forest Independent, 2 February 2007).

I was interested to note the opposition to the proposed casino(s) coming from the al-Tawhid mosque in Leyton High Road. According to Imam Dr Usama Hasan, "Gambling is prohibited in the Koran. I don't think our congregation will like the casino being built at all." I disagree, but at least the first half of the argument is consistent with his religious beliefs. As an extra justification, Dr Hasan adds "Gambling causes a lot of problems, people who run up debt may turn to crime - it is all related." If gambling is absolutely forbidden on religious grounds, then the extra - often dubious - speculation about the social consequences is unnecessary. Some fundamentalist; the local Imam relies on secular arguments to make his case. (James L. Nolan has already skewered the US religious right for having the same relativist logic in its own self-justifications in his book The Therapeutic State: Justifying Government at Century's End).

I could come up with a cheap shot at critics of an "Islamo-fascist left alliance" who also have the same line on casinos as Dr. Hasan, but the odds on that happening make it too predictable.

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