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
Welcome to our articles section. The articles below either have been written specifically for ButterfliesandWheels or are appearing here having been published elsewhere previously.
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A new Islamic propaganda campaign called ‘Inspired by Muhammad’  has been launched, and advertising posters are now going up in London featuring slogans such as ‘I believe in social justice. So did Muhammad’ and ‘I believe in women’s rights. So did Muhammad’. It’s hard to tell if this campaign is run by sadly deluded people who actually believe the slogans are accurate or if this is an example of dissimulation for a kufr audience.
Either way, the idea that Muhammad ‘believed in women’s rights’ in the sense in which we in the 21st Century understand that concept is utterly absurd, as anyone who has taken an honest look at the Qur’an should be aware.
The readership of the Qur’an … Read the rest
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
Nigerian Pentecostal preacher Helen Ukpabio claims that Satan possesses children, who thereby become witches with evil magical powers. While this claim may be appalling superstitious nonsense on the face of it, traditional African beliefs about spirits and witchcraft and curses mean that far too many Nigerians take such nonsense seriously, with predictably horrible consequences: Some parents have abandoned their “accursed” and “possessed” children. Others have spent money better used to feed themselves and their other children to pay preachers like Ukpabio outrageous fees to perform exorcisms. On occasion, holy-rolling believers – sometimes, appallingly, including the child’s parents – have taken the task of exorcism on themselves, torch-wielding mob style: Exorcism rites have included splashing or bathing children in acid, … Read the rest
Shirin Alam Holi, born in 1981 in a small village near Maku, was executed in Evin Prison on May 9th 2010 after passing one year and nine months in prison. She was charged with cooperating with Pajak (the Iranian branch of PKK) on Nov. 29th 2009 and sentenced to death. Her lawyer and family had no information about her execution.
Shirin was arrested in June 2008 in Tehran by Sepah Pasdaran and transferred to Evin Prison after 21 days interrogation and torture in an unknown place. She described what happened to her completely in a letter which she gave to her family. In this letter she related many physical as well as mental pressures she endured during the interrogation and … Read the rest
The Islamic state of Iran today, May 9th, 2010, hanged five more activists to further their goal of terrorizing the people in Iran. We are well aware that the regime’s crimes will not end until people in Iran, along with concerned citizens globally, put these murderers and all those who have helped this regime on trial in an international court.
We demand an immediate expulsion of the Islamic Republic of Iran from all international agencies, and prosecution of the regime’s leaders for their daily heinous state crimes.
Homa Arjomand, Coordinator of the International Campaign to Close Down Iranian Embassies, is calling a press conference where she and other activists will demand that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and all members of … Read the rest
A few weeks ago, I sat in a meeting in Vancouver. During a boring bit, I was fooling around with Google, and I stumbled upon a paper entitled, “The (Re)production of Afghan Women” by one Melanie Butler. I recognized the name as I had been interviewed by Butler for this paper, which was published in 2008. Melanie had not really explained the actual topic of what became her graduate thesis in political science at the University of British Columbia, nor sent me a final copy of her paper, nor used any of my statements from the interview in her final paper, which might have interfered inconveniently with the narrative she was weaving. She knew what she would say before she … Read the rest
When I was four, I was an angel in the school nativity play. I had wanted to be the angel Gabriel, but my teacher had gently informed me that Gabriel was a boy. Mary had already been cast, so the only parts left for other girls were generic angels. I was disappointed but then I realised, what did Mary do exactly? It seemed to my young mind that all she did was have a baby; it was the baby that everyone was interested in, and the baby was a boy. I soon learned that all the good parts to play in this story belonged to the boys, and with every passing school year and corresponding nativity play, I felt more … Read the rest
The Pentagon should respect the constitutional separation of church and state and cancel a planned National Day of Prayer event, particularly in light of its recent labeling as a “Christian-themed event” by an Army spokesman, the Secular Coalition for America said today. The Pentagon should also sever all operational ties to the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a radical right wing organization headed by the wife of Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, and housed in Focus on the Family’s headquarters.
“It is bad enough that the administration is going ahead with an observance of the National Day of Prayer, correctly ruled unconstitutional by the courts only last week. But for the Pentagon to hold an explicitly ‘Christian-themed event’ … Read the rest
If you walk at random in a Muslim district in the West, especially in Western Europe, you will certainly find somewhere, at least in one corner, an Islamic butcher’s shop with the word “halal” written on its shop-window. For the products of meat, the word “halal” is a badge of Islamic quality.
Muslims believe that since blood is not ritually a pure substance, slaughter is necessary to promote the thorough draining of all of the animal’s blood. Furthermore, the verse “Bismillah al Rahman Al Rahim”, in the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful, is necessary to render the meat halal or lawful to eat.
The word halal refers, here, to meat killed and prepared in line with Islamic dietary … Read the rest
A new study conducted by the Washington based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life says that Africans are among the most religious people on earth. The study titled Tension and Tolerance: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa was based on more than 25,000 interviews conducted in more than 60 languages in 19 countries. According to the study at least half of all Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa believe Jesus will return in their lifetime. One in three Muslims in the region expect to see the re-establishment of the caliphate – the Islamic golden age – before they die. At least three out of ten people across much of Africa said they have experienced divine healing, seen the devil being driven … Read the rest