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Secular Nepal – Challenges Ahead

Sep 1st, 2010 | By Ravi Dhungel

Nepal is the youngest secular country in the world. With the interim constitution moving farther away from the nitty-gritty of constitution making, the so-called secular Nepal lingers farther away on the horizon. The politicians are busy manifesting the new but failed doctrine in the name of national consensus to make the national government, merely for the sake of power. Paradoxically, the pro-Hindu faction keeps on demonstrating and chanting against the abolition of the Hindu kingdom, the religious icon of Nepal.  There are hundreds of ethnic groups based on particular religions. Ethnic diversity prevails along with the geographic diversity of Nepal. The society is inevitably polarizing in terms of caste, region and religion.  Is this the notion of the new secular … Read the rest

To Ban or Not to Ban? The Burqa, Religious Identity, and Politics

Aug 31st, 2010 | By Timothy Rowe

A great deal of confusion surrounds the burqa and the issue of its being worn in Western countries. A traditional religious garment, the burqa covers a woman’s face and body so completely that only a small slit for the eyes remains to allow the sight of the person behind it.[1] Earlier in the year French legislators passed a vote deploring the apparel, and the lower house recently passed a bill 335-1 which would see it made illegal to wear in public, a vote quickly condemned by Amnesty International as threatening to freedom of expression and religion. While the bill will move to the Senate later in the year, should France actually enact a ban it would not stand out … Read the rest

I will continue to speak out for justice and human rights

Aug 24th, 2010 | By Leo Igwe

The recent attack on my family which led to my father’s loss of one eye was an unfortunate development. It was yet another attempt to intimidate us and undermine our campaign for justice.

 To any intelligent observer of the trends in Nigeria, this incident would not have come as a surprise. Because Nigeria has practically been taken over by thugs, hoodlums, kidnappers and bandits.

Nigeria is held hostage by forces of dark age and barbarism. Anything that appears to be civil or enlightened about Nigeria is mainly on the surface. Since independence Nigeria has been descending gradually into anomie, anarchy and criminality. Nigeria has derailed and deteriorated due to misrule, bad governance, collective irresponsibility and insensitivity, lack of vision and … Read the rest

“They think they can do anything to women”

Aug 17th, 2010 | By Maryam Namazie
Join 28 August action of 100 cities against stoning   Hello   Thanks so much for your support of the campaign to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from death by stoning and execution. The public outcry is what has kept her alive so far. When her 22 year old son Sajjad first wrote an open letter asking people everywhere to intervene there was no legal recourse left and she was to face imminent death by stoning for ‘adultery.’   In another letter written a few days ago, Sajjad reiterates Ashtiani’s innocence and says: ‘What sort of justice is this?’ (   The Islamic regime in Iran is doing everything it can to kill Ashtiani and push back the international campaign. The regime has… Read the rest

A violent attack on Leo Igwe’s family

Aug 12th, 2010 | By Leo Igwe

Around midnight on Wednesday August  4 2010,two gunmen invaded my family house in Mbaise in Imo state in Southern Nigeria. They shot twice in the air and my mother fainted. They later descended on my aging father and started beating him. They blindfolded him with a piece of cloth and hit him several times with stones.

He later fainted and the hoodlums ransacked the whole house and made away with whatever they found valuable. My father  bled from the right eye, nose and mouth. He had bruises on his head, hands, legs and chest. After the attack, some neighbours came and rushed him to a nearby hospital. From there, I moved him to an eye hospital in Lagos where the … Read the rest

The Future is Female

Aug 1st, 2010 | By Max Dunbar

‘Some folks don’t believe there is pious niggers, Shelby,’ said Haley, with a candid flourish of his hand, ‘but I do. I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans – ‘twas good as a meetin’ now, really; to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap off a man that was ‘bliged to sell out; so I realised six hundred on him. Yes, I consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it’s the genuine article, and no mistake.’

  •  Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Post 9/11, everyone wanted to have something to say about Islam. Governments … Read the rest

Visible or Invisible: Growing up Female in a Porn Culture

Jul 28th, 2010 | By Gail Dines

At a lecture I was giving in a large West Coast university in the Spring of 2008, the female students talked extensively about how much they preferred to have a completely waxed pubic area as it made them feel “clean,” “hot” and “well groomed.”  As they excitedly insisted that they themselves chose to have a Brazilian wax, one student let slip that her boyfriend had complained when she decided to give up on waxing. Then there was silence. I asked the student to say more about her boyfriend’s preferences and how she felt about his criticism. As she started to speak other students joined in, only now the conversation took a very different turn. The excitement in the room gave … Read the rest

Counterproductive Online Journalism

Jul 27th, 2010 | By Carl Anders

It is said that rejection is just the things you say to yourself everyday, except said by someone else. To a failed writer, this balance of rejection is firmly in the court of the rejecting editors encountered to date at this stage, but the maxim is similar in the world of Web 2.0. Blogs, comments, forums, social networking, it’s the stuff you say in your head, except communicated as text, but the difference is it’s unlikely you would say them to anyone’s face (at least not sober).

However, this caveat is often used to somehow dampen the impact of the internet. It’s just the internet; no one takes it seriously do they? Well, do they? As the print media will … Read the rest

Conference on political Islam v women’s rights

Jul 20th, 2010 | By Homa Arjomand

International Campaign Against Shari’a Court in Canada

Conference on

Effect of globalization of political Islam on Women’s Rights, in connection with
Polygamy, Neqab and Honor Killing

The problem of legal pluralism and cultural relativism with respect to women’s Rights

Discussion on separation of religion from state

Confirmed Speakers:

Social and political activist, founder of the Organization for Women’s Liberation – Iran, founder of  Mansoor Hekmat foundation, producer and host of several TV programs in Farsi and English on New Channel TV, a satellite TV broadcasting into Iran under the name of  No to Political Islam, co-founder of  the Center for Women and Socialism, editor of Medusa, the director of Radio International, a radio station broadcasting into Iran.

Azar Majedie… Read the rest

If speaking the truth is offensive, let us offend

Jul 19th, 2010 | By Lauryn Oates

On July 15, Aruna Papp, author of a recently released report, “Culturally-driven violence against women: A growing problem in Canada’s immigrant communities” published by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy’s study, wrote in an editorial in the Vancouver Sun:

Problematically, most advocates and activists for female victims of abuse shy away from challenging the immigrant communities to examine their own traditions and cultural values in explaining the violence in their homes.

The ideology of multiculturalism, even among the most well-meaning advocates for female equality, tends to preclude any discussion of cultural values and traditions. Such advocates are afraid of being seen as “colonialist” and try to avoid a perceived “racialization” of an entire ethnic community.

Papp writes in the … Read the rest

With What Authority does a Public Philosopher Speak?

Jul 18th, 2010 | By Andrew Taggart

In the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, we have (so Internet gurus like to suggest) moved from a top-down, “authoritarian” approach to web content to an interactive, user-generated, kaleidoscopic, and, above all, more “democratic” social experiment. As Elie Ofek, a professor of marketing and expert on business innovation, recently put it, consumers “now want to customize content and products to fit their preferences and personality, get immediate feedback on their actions and opinions, and be rewarded for their contributions.” If the bromide that Internet content wants to be free is actually true, then how much more true is it that people in an open society, those committed to a virtual public sphere as well as to each … Read the rest

Stop Stoning and Sharia Laws!

Jul 10th, 2010 | By Maryam Namazie
11 July is the International Day against Stoning – a day we would do well to mark especially given that Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani faces imminent death by stoning for adultery.   Appealing on her behalf, her two children have said: “Today we reach out to the people of the world. It is now five years that we have lived in fear and in horror, deprived of motherly love. Is the world so cruel that it can watch this catastrophe and do nothing?”   Don’t stand by and watch. Let’s end this once and for all.   To show your condemnation against stoning and support for Sakine, during the week of 5-11 July, take stones to your city centres, universities, media outlets, workplaces… and… Read the rest

The Secret of New Age Thinking

Jul 10th, 2010 | By Paula Cerni

Are we still living in a New Age? To judge by the stream of popular texts and movements that mix together self-help and spirituality, we are. But what is it about? And what is the secret of its popularity? Such are the questions this book tries to answer through a survey of recent mystical fads and plenty of references to the hallowed traditions of TV, movie, and comic-book fantasy. Read ‘Karma Chameleon’, the chapter on Deepak Chopra, or ‘A Course in Malarkey’, on Helen Schucman’s A Course in Miracles, and you’ll long for the days when all we needed to save us from evil was Superman.

Alas, today’s make-believe issues not from heaven, but from personal commitment. Besides money … Read the rest

Philosophy in the Popular Imagination

Jun 27th, 2010 | By Andrew Taggart

In my life nothing good has ever come of the “what do you do” question. Once off my lips, the line “I work on moral philosophy, on ethics” can lead in only one of two directions. Either my acquaintance unschooled in philosophy will be almost preternaturally interested in what I have to say as if she’s happened upon some sublime creature only thought to exist on blanched parchment, or she’ll be absolutely dumbstruck by the stupidity of a life well-wasted. Though, chances are, her rejoinder could go either way, in this particular case she’s lighted on the latter path. “Philosophy, it doesn’t get you anywhere,” she states, reveling in a truth that she believes is as certain as the claim … Read the rest

Secular Coalition for America Opposes Kagan for Supreme Court

Jun 24th, 2010 | By Secular Coalition of America

Justice John Paul Stevens has been a historic champion of our constitutional separation of church and state. He has consistently sought to strike down special privileges for religion and its impositions on the rights of others. President Obama’s choice to replace him, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, does not appear to embrace the fundamental American principle of church-state separation with the vigor and force of Justice John Paul Stevens. This conclusion is based on the evidence that has come to light since her nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

Indeed, in at least one instance, Ms. Kagan appears to directly rebuff the church-state jurisprudence of Justice Stevens.

Thus, Secular Coalition for America opposes Ms. Kagan’s nomination until she makes her … Read the rest

20 June a huge success against Sharia and religious laws!‏

Jun 22nd, 2010 | By Maryam Namazie

Several hundred people joined One Law for All on 20 June at Downing Street to show their opposition to Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and to demand universal rights and secularism.

A new report “Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights” was published on the day to coincide with the rally. Human rights activist Gita Sahgal said of the report: “I think it is highly significant that in Britain there has been silence where there should have been condemnation. There is active support for ‘Sharia laws’ precisely because it is limited to denying women rights in the family. No hands are being cut off, so there can’t be a problem. … Read the rest

The Missionaries of Charity

Jun 21st, 2010 | By Hemley Gonzalez

I worked as a volunteer in one of Mother Teresa’s homes in Calcutta, India for a period of two months at the end of 2008. It was during this time that I was shocked to discover the horrific and negligent manner in which this charity operates and the direct contradiction of the public’s general understanding of their work.

After further investigation and research, I realized that all of the events I had witnessed amounted to nothing more than a systematic human rights violation and a financial scam of monumental and criminal proportions.

Workers washing needles under tap water only to be reused again. Medicine and other vital items being store for months on end, expiring and eventually still applied sporadically … Read the rest

Does the Tar-Spangled Banner Wave Over a Nation That Hates Britain?

Jun 21st, 2010 | By Mary Ellen Foley

This time last week, all of the United Kingdom seemed to be up in arms because Obama called BP by its former name, British Petroleum. As ludicrous as it sounds to American ears, droves of British people, from established journalists down to the chap on the next stool at the pub, took this as an anti-British remark—several bloggers going so far as to call it racism—and soon some journalists were reporting an anti-British backlash among Americans generally. Some of my friends and neighbors here in England insist that there’s no other way to interpret the remark: Obama has revealed himself to be anti-British, plain and simple.

I’m a dual national, but I’ve been an American for far longer than I’ve … Read the rest

London June 20: Rally against Sharia and religious laws

Jun 14th, 2010 | By Maryam Namazie

Hundreds will be demonstrating in London against Sharia and religious laws and in support of secularism and universal rights on Sunday 20 June 2010. The rally organised by the One Law for All Campaign will be held from 1400-1600 hours at Richmond Terrace junction with Whitehall opposite Downing Street (SW1A 2). (Please note venue change from Trafalgar Square made by police; closest underground: Westminster.)

On the day, the Campaign will make public its new report entitled: Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights. In the report One Law for All outlines what Sharia law is, how it is practised in Britain and exposes the way in which Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals … Read the rest

Press conference on the kidnapping and assassination of journalist Sardasht Osman

Jun 11th, 2010 | By Houzan Mahmoud

Press conference on the kidnapping and assassination of journalist Sardasht Osman in Iraqi Kurdistan
6.00-6.40pm, Tuesday 15 June
Abrar Foundation, 45 Crawford Place, W1H 4LP
(Nearest Tube: Edgware Road)
Political activists, academics and writers from Iraqi Kurdistan are holding a press conference to expose the kidnapping and murder of Sardasht Osman and demand justice.
Sardasht Osman, 23, was a journalist and final year university student when he was abducted on 4 May in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil. His body was found on 6 May in the city of Mosul. Sardasht had written articles criticising the Kurdish government, particularly the Barzani family.
This press conference will address violations against freedom of expression and political activism, and attacks on journalists … Read the rest