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Iran: A female revolution

Aug 16th, 2009 | By Azar Majedi

What we are witnessing in Iran is not only a movement against a dictatorship and for political freedom; it is not only a movement against poverty and socio-economic injustice and for equality and prosperity; it is a movement against religious institution, hypocrisy, corruption and superstition. In this context, it is for cultural and moral emancipation as well. The political uprising in Iran has a strong anti-religious character.

30 years of religious oppression has created a generation which wants to emancipate itself from any religious domination, restriction or meddling. 30 years of imprisonment by a brutal religious state, which has interfered in the most private spheres of people’s lives, a state run by the most greedy, corrupt and dehumanized men of … Read the rest

The Uses of Common Sense

Aug 15th, 2009 | By Joshua F. Leach

A great deal of ink has been spilled in the course of Western
philosophy over the question of whether or not the material
world exists. Some great minds have been led to insanity by
the possibility that it does not; others have accepted their
nihilism cheerfully. But just about all philosophers, whether
they came from the tradition of empiricism and skepticism,
like Hume, or from that of idealism, like Hegel, were
eventually forced into a sort of extreme subjectivism,
concluding that we do not, in fact, exist, and that the world
is merely the product of our imagination. Various
philosophers accepted this solipsism to a greater or lesser
degree, but it formed the essential tenor of philosophy in the
modern … Read the rest

The far-left campaign to silence critics of Islam

Aug 14th, 2009 | By Edmund Standing

Today, many liberal, progressive writers who are critical of Islam and Islamist politics find themselves accused of ‘Islamophobia’, and by far the most prolific promoters of the myth of a liberal hate campaign against Muslims are found on the secular far-left of the political spectrum. For many, this obsession with hunting down and condemning ‘Islamophobes’ seems a somewhat strange phenomenon, but the far-left’s apparent concern with exposing and condemning ‘Islamophobia’ needs to be seen within the context of its worldview and political goals.

Marxism is, at heart, to use the ‘buzz words’, a ‘totalising narrative’. It is essentially based around a deterministic view of history which has much in common with conspiracy theory and theology. The Marxist historical vision incorporates … Read the rest

Reading Darwin in the Divinity School

Aug 13th, 2009 | By Michael Clegg

The Cambridge Darwin Festival was an ambitious attempt to mark the great man’s (and his great book’s) anniversary year. In setting up a Festival, not an academic conference, the organisers made a bold move to combine lectures and seminars with exhibitions and artistic responses, and gave attention to the man and the history as well as current scientific and philosophical work underpinned by the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Big names from the neo-Darwinian vanguard (Dennett, Dawkins) received star billing. But quite a lot of time was given over to theologians (not to mention one or two non-tenured god-botherers cashing in on the margins) and the core message from them has been the same: not just the compatibility of … Read the rest

Reply to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Aug 5th, 2009 | By Eric MacDonald

The Rev’d Canon Eric MacDonald
The Redoubt
26 Katie Court
P.O. Box 3638
NS, B0N 2T0

The Most Rev’d. Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace
London, SE1 7JU
United Kingdom

1 August 2009

Dear Archbishop Williams,

Thank you for your response to my letter.

You may not want to start a correspondence with me, but you can scarcely expect me not to respond to some of the things that you said, and the claims that you made, since your response to my letter comes in the form of an argument so stunningly biased that it deserves, in my view, not much more than a fairly curt dismissal. (I will try to provide more than that, but you … Read the rest

Judith Shklar and Materialist Mercy

Jul 18th, 2009 | By Joshua F. Leach

Religious people, and Christians in particular, are generally
supposed to be outstandingly merciful is all things, as is
their God. True, there is a range of behavior which falls
within the definition of mercy. For Saint Augustine, writing
after the sack of Rome, the greatest act of mercy he could
think of was that the Christian tribes who torched the city
spared people seeking sanctuary in Churches. As for the fate
of the non-Christians in Rome who were either slaughtered or
raped, Augustine was entirely unconcerned. What did bother
him was that a few Christians were subjected to the same fate.
Still, he reassured himself by recalling that many of those
Christians were too attached to worldly goods and possessions… Read the rest

Free Speech in a Plural Society

Jul 15th, 2009 | By Salil Tripathi

The Conference Room, British Library, London
February 20, 2009

Ian McEwan’s novel, Saturday, begins with the image of a sharp, bright light in the sky
that the neurosurgeon Henry Perowne sees from the corner of his eye on a restless
night when he is unable to sleep. It is a troubling time for Britain; it is February 15, 2003, the
day of the big march, where hundreds of thousands of people from around Britain are
going to come to central London, with the vain hope of stopping the impending war in

Perowne is a liberal; he does not like torture – in fact, he has learned much about Iraq by
treating an Iraqi refugee fleeing the terror of … Read the rest

Unscientific America and the ‘New’ Atheists

Jul 11th, 2009 | By P Z Myers

To return to Unscientific America again, I hardly touched on chapter 8, where they express their dismay at those uppity “New Atheists”. I am not going to address his personal criticisms of me — there’s no point, you obviously know I think he’s completely wrong, and the uncharitable will simply claim my disagreement is the result of a personal animus — so instead I’m only going to address a couple of other general points that Mooney and Kirshenbaum get completely wrong. They plainly do not understand the atheist position, and make claims that demonstrate that either they didn’t read any of the “New Atheist’s” books, or perhaps the simple ideas in them are too far beyond their comprehension.

This is … Read the rest

Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Jul 10th, 2009 | By Eric S MacDonald

This letter was sent a week ago. The archbishop has had time to receive it and was informed that it will be published here.

Dear Archbishop Williams,

I have been trying for over two years to write this letter, and it never seems to come out right. Your recent
letter to the press, co-signed by Archbishop Nichols of Westminster and the Chief Rabbi of the United
Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Jonathan Sacks, spurred me on to bring this process to an
end. You will probably say, and with some justice, that you have more important things to consider, but
since what you said has led me to a settled distrust of all religion, I believe that you should at … Read the rest

Fool’s Gold: Reflections on the Great Crunch

Jun 25th, 2009 | By Max Dunbar

In What a Carve-Up!, his State of England novel set just before the recession of the early nineties, Jonathan Coe introduced us to the criminal aristocrats of the Winshaw family, whose avaricious interests exert disproportionate influence on economics, foreign policy, healthcare, agriculture and art. Coe’s voyeuristic banker, Thomas Winshaw, describes banking as ‘the most spiritual of all professions’:

He would quote his favourite statistic: one thousand billion dollars of trading took place on the world’s financial markets every day. Since every transaction involved a two-way deal, this meant that five hundred billion dollars would be changing hands. Did the interviewer know how much of that money derived from real, tangible trade in goods and services? A fraction: ten per

Read the rest

Iran: Myths and Realities

Jun 24th, 2009 | By Azar Majedi

Iran is at the top of international news. What led to the mass protests? How did the situation change so dramatically over a week? What do people want? What will be the outcome of this protest movement? These are the questions discussed repeatedly on TV channels and in the press. Different political analysts and members of Iranian-American/European academia, all with different degrees of allegiance to the so-called state reformist camp, are invited to throw light on the situation. All these different commentators make one common assumption: “The people in Iran do not want a revolution.” By this, they mean that the people do not want to overthrow the Islamic regime. They claim that the people want an evolution, a gradual … Read the rest

The Movement Improves in Iran

Jun 23rd, 2009 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

After Iran’s disputed presidential election, we have three different categories of people who now challenge the regime by taking to the streets:

  • The first category belongs to a Muslim population who voted for Mousavi or Kahroubi by conviction; they still capitalise their hope in reforms within the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • The second one is those who voted for one of the “reformists” as a “catalyst” to ease the way for a secular and democratic regime. They voted for them as the lesser evils, hoping to have one of them pave the way toward freedom and secularism in the future.
  • And the third category belongs to the Iranians who boycotted the election and want an immediate democratic and secular regime
Read the rest

Iran’s Post-Election

Jun 21st, 2009 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

As Iran’s 2009 presidential election authorities surprisingly announced on Saturday June 13th that hard-line incumbent Mahmood Ahmadinejad was re-elected with about two-thirds of the vote, Iranian people were immediately casting doubt on he authenticity of the results. At the same time, the “reformist” candidates of the regime, Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Sheikh Mehdi Kahroubi, sparked accusations of fraud and branded the election a total farce.

It was originally quoted from some staff of Interior Ministry that a second round would have been needed to determine the victor between Mousavi and Kahrubi, who according to them received respectively first and second place, while Ahmadinejad would have already been out of the race.

Nationwide from Monday on, millions of disappointed people … Read the rest

Unveil Women in Iran!

Jun 20th, 2009 | By Azar Majedi


The women’s liberation movement in Iran has earned the respect and admiration of all. It has not let the Islamic regime to rest for even one second. Any progression of this movement is tantamount to a huge set back of this misogynous regime. There has been 30 years of constant conflict and battle between women’s liberation movement and the Islamic regime. By imposing the Islamic veil and gender apartheid, the Islamic regime has kept the society in captivity.

Today, the mass protest movement has resolutely come forth. Society is in an upheaval. The balance of forces has turned towards people and liberation from tyranny. It is exactly in such situation that the brave and freedom loving women in Iran … Read the rest

Gina Khan’s Diary

Jun 17th, 2009 | By Gina Khan

Gina Khan will be reporting regularly on the busy life of an anti-jihadist activist in Birmingham.

June 17 2009

Extracts from Reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Birmingham at Democratiya.

Ayaan’s books break the silence about Muslim women’s plight. I was a victim of domestic violence. I thought I had married a modern thinking British Muslim. My brother had warned me not to marry into a particular group of Muslims, mostly from Mirpur or Kashmir, saying to me ‘They will never change. They are controlled by their extended families. They will always be backward in their mindset.’ At the time, I dismissed his advice as discrimination, but it turned out to be true in many ways. Firstly, my husband hid … Read the rest

Reinforcing presumed religious identities

Jun 7th, 2009 | By Marieme Helie Lucas


June 4, 2009

It is beyond doubt that many people around the world, of various political opinions and creeds, will feel relieved after the discourse the President of the USA delivered in Cairo today. It is apparently a new voice, a voice of peace, quite far from Bush’s clash of civilisations. But is it so?

I presume that political commentators will point at the fact that Obama equates violence on the side of occupied Palestinians to violence on the side of Israeli colonizers, or that he has not abandonned the idea that the USA should tell the world how to behave and fight for their rights, or that the Israelo-Palestinian conflict is reduced to a religious conflict, … Read the rest

Measuring the Books: Truth Claims in Islam and its Others

May 11th, 2009 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

All religions make truth claims. These may be specific, as in the form of particular doctrines—heaven, hell, the trinity, the virginity of Mary—or more general: the finality of the Prophet, the exclusive role of the Church as a means of grace and salvation, the belief in the divine election of the Jews.

What is not so widely acknowledged is that these claims of truth are supported by a set of rationales, or to use Van Harvey’s famous term, “warrants” that provide security and confidence to adherents of the religious tradition.

The warrants are seldom available in the sacred writings and doctrines explicitly, but they are often observable in teaching, interpretation and conduct. The three book religions, which often have been … Read the rest

Religious Disagreements and False Allegations of Anti-Semitism

May 9th, 2009 | By Edmund Standing

A few months ago, two articles of mine that have been published on this website were described as the work of an ‘anti-Christian, anti-Semite hate monger’ and a ‘disgusting human being’. The articles in question point out the brutality, war crimes, genocide, and rape to be found in the Old Testament and the Jewish ethnocentricism and anti-Gentile bigotry that is present in the Gospel of Matthew. I am an anti-racist and strong opponent of anti-Semitism in all its forms, so it was somewhat surprising to find myself accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ for writing critically on Jewish religious texts. As I wrote at the time, this accusation was entirely dishonest and was based on the completely incorrect conflation of two separate … Read the rest

Denying AIDS

May 8th, 2009 | By Max Dunbar

The world’s leaning denialist is Peter Deusberg, a molecular biologist who argues that to prevent AIDS, and even cure the disease, it is necessary only to eat properly and abstain from toxic drugs. The American government’s top AIDS adviser, Anthony Fauci, takes a different view, as the New Yorker reported in March 2007. After hearing Deusberg speak at an AIDS research conference, the normally mild-mannered Fauci erupted. ‘This is murder,’ he said. ‘It’s really that simple.’

Damian Thompson, Counterknowledge

Many delusions are harmless. If you believe that Mossad brought down the World Trade Centre, such a belief won’t kill you – it won’t get you killed, despite so much hysterical insinuation to the contrary. Children do not endanger themselves with … Read the rest

Pig-headed Mullahs

May 7th, 2009 | By Fawzia Rasheed

I guess it was predictable. Divine retribution had to rear its ugly head over swine flu. Yes, in case you didn’t know, some mullahs claim that God gave us swine flu. They say the virus will devastate the pig-gobbling-West. Yankee infidels will be doomed, and the faithful spared.

Cries from the mosques have this far resulted in culling pigs, along with spurning their owners and, of course, anyone with a penchant for pork chops. Even in Egypt, which hasn’t reported a single case of swine flu, over 300,000 pigs were butchered. Perhaps not so incidentally, their Christian owners were refused compensation. No doubt more ugly acts will follow wherever excuses can be found to wield power and create rifts between … Read the rest