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
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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
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
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 will be reporting regularly on the busy life of an anti-jihadist activist in Birmingham.
June 17 2009
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
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
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
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
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
When I saw Bill Maher’s highly entertaining and hard-hitting documentary on world religion, Religulous,
I was interested that one of his interviewees was Ken Ham, the head of Answers In Genesis
(AIG) (not to be confused with the now-infamous insurance company), which is responsible for the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, USA.
Ham was given only a brief slot in the film, but I was fortunate (if that’s the right word) to have a much longer encounter with him just over one year ago at Liverpool University. I went to see give a talk called “Origins and Culture”. At the time I posted a bile-laden write-up on Liverpool Humanist Group’s website. After seeing Maher’s film, I thought the … Read the rest
Du’a Khalil Aswad, a 17 year old girl from Iraqi Kurdistan was publicly stoned to death in the town of Bashiqa before 1000 men. None of them did anything to stop the stoning; on the contrary they rejoiced at the killing and took footage of the carnage on their mobile phones.
Du’a wasn’t from a Muslim background, she was a Yazidi, but she fell in love with a Muslim boy. The price of this love was to be publicly stoned in broad daylight. She was stripped of her dignity and pride, her life was taken away simply for falling in love with someone outside of the Yazidi tribe. Her killers were never brought to justice and a year after her … Read the rest
On 7th March 2009 an international conference organised by Organisation for Women’s Liberation (OWL) was held successfully in Gothenburg, Sweden. The conference heard speeches from many invited speakers and ended with the showing of the film “Maria’s Grotto” about honour killings in Palestine. Many organisations supported and sponsored the event, including: European Feminist Initiative, Network against Honour Crimes, Women for Peace in Sweden, Centre for Research which is a secular and academic institution.
More than 20 speakers were invited to the conference. Many activists from Ghana, Uganda, Pakistan and Bangladesh had shown interest to attend the conference but could not get entry visa. Also 3 of the speakers from Iraq, Jordan and Syria could not come due to visa difficulties.… Read the rest
People often talk about the Islamic contribution to science, culture and art yet the name of Abu Nawas is more or less forgotten now. Canadian author Tarek Fatah, founder of the secular Muslim Canadian Congress (he has reported the obligatory death threats) paints a vivid picture of this remarkable Muslim artist:
He was a poet to reckon with and not to be antagonised, for fear of a satirical reprisal that would become the source of amusement and mockery in the marketplace and wherever the nobility sipped fine wine or paid to watch damsels dance to the voices of minstrels.
The immediate impulse is to compare this long-haired hedonist to a Middle Eastern Oscar Wilde. Although a devout Muslim, Nawas had … Read the rest
The passage of the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s “anti-defamation” resolution by the UNHRC is a completely non-momentous event, the kind therefore that will evoke cries of anguish from outraged friends of liberty everywhere. It is another installment in the non-luminous history of an increasingly irrelevant organization that seems only to be in the business of brokering perks, passing unenforceable resolutions, and offering obnoxious pedants a chance to grouse about America and Europe.
Crafted by the Pakistani delegation, the resolution urges states to provide “protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general.” Essentially, its force is diminished by the simple fact that the twenty-three nation majority voting … Read the rest
This is an extract from From Fatwa to Jihad, Atlantic, published April 2.
The argument against offensive speech is the modern secularized version of the old idea of blasphemy, reinventing the sacred for a godless age. Until the abolition of the offence in 2008, blasphemy was committed in British law if there was published ‘any writing concerning God or Christ, the Christian religion, the Bible, or some sacred subject using words which are scurrilous, abusive or offensive, and which tend to vilify the Christian religion’. The origins of the law go back a millennium. After the Norman Conquest of 1066 two orders of courts were established.
Church courts decided all ecclesiastical cases, under the guidance of canon law, which … Read the rest
Nigel Warburton is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the Open University, as well as the author of a number of bestselling books on the subject. Below is an excerpt from his latest book, Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction, on liberty versus licence to say what you want.
Defenders of free speech almost without exception recognize the need for some limits to the freedom they advocate. In other words, liberty should not be confused with licence. Complete freedom of speech would permit freedom to slander, freedom to engage in false and highly misleading advertising, freedom to publish sexual material about children, freedom to reveal state secrets, and so on. Alexander Meiklejohn, a thinker who was particularly concerned to … Read the rest
Nearly 600 people joined the One Law for All anti-racist rally against
Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and in defence of
citizenship and universal rights in Trafalgar Square and marched towards Red
Lion Square in London. Hundreds then joined our public meeting to discuss
and debate Sharia, Sexual Apartheid and Women’s Rights. Our protest was met
with widespread support and left many feeling inspired and invigorated. It
was also covered by the mainstream media, including BBC Radio 4, BBC 5Live,
BBC Wales, and the Times.
The rally of several hundred heard a number of speakers denouncing the
policy of accommodation and appeasement of the political Islamic movement. A
C Grayling in his speech said: ‘Once you start … Read the rest
More than 50% of Saudi Arabia’s workforce is made up of migrant workers (around 8 million of them) and the situation they find themselves in is often dire. Having none of the (limited) rights of Saudi nationals, these migrant workers find themselves as second class citizens at best and if ever there were a situation in which Apartheid analogies were appropriate, this is it.
Impoverished foreign workers are drawn to Saudi Arabia with the promise of a better life and the chance to send money back to their families. Workers come to Saudi Arabia using a sponsorship system, whereby their future employer agrees to certain conditions of employment and accommodation and on arrival takes possession of the worker’s passport, who … Read the rest
The human cogs of the torture machine seemed as unhappy as their victims. Which meant, I thought as I scribbled in a notebook, ‘There’s no rational explanation for the machine’s existence at all.’
Not least of the problems facing coalition authorities after the fall of Saddam Hussein was the question of ‘de-Ba’athification’. In a country where there was one agent of the state for every twenty civilians, where the five secret police forces were themselves monitored by additional secret police forces, where almost everyone from military generals to primary school teachers were forced into collusion with Ba’athist ideology… where did you draw the line? Where does the forced complicity of the Iraqi barber forced at gunpoint to inform on his … Read the rest
Geert Wilders, the right wing Dutch MP, was refused entry to the UK on Thursday, on the grounds that his presence would threaten public order and damage community relations. It was said that any extremist will be refused entry to the UK. This is a dangerous statement. It is a real threat to individual and civil liberty. By this argument any one who espouses any idea regarded as extreme by the British government will be banned from the UK.
This is the world after September 11 and the world which has been pulled into a so-called “war on terror” by the neo-conservative US government. “Any thing goes!” Under the guise of security, any violation of human rights, human dignity and … Read the rest