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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

Women’s Rights: Inspired by Muhammad?

Jun 12th, 2010 | By Edmund Standing

A new Islamic propaganda campaign called ‘Inspired by Muhammad’ [1] 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’.[2] 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

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

Who is playing god?

Jun 10th, 2010 | By Andrzej Koraszewski

The creation of an artificial cell has triggered a predictable reaction – voices were immediately raised about “playing God”. Supposedly we are “playing God” when we use contraceptives (because we are thwarting His plans); supposedly we are “playing God” when we genetically modify plants; even worse, we “play God” when we learn how to clone animals; sinfully we “play God” by experimenting on human embryos; we “play God” at the very Gates of Hell when we decide to use in vitro fertilization.

And who is talking? Obviously, believers, because nobody who does not believe in God would utter such rubbish. “Do not play God” is almost the same war cry as “Avoid temptation”. However, priests themselves have the longest history … Read the rest

Matters of Faith

May 31st, 2010 | By George M. Felis, PhD

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

The detention and execution of Shirin Alam Holi

May 12th, 2010 | By Shirin Alam Holi

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 Regime in Iran has silenced the voice of five more activists!

May 9th, 2010 | By Homa Arjomand

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

Women’s Rights Are Called ‘Cultural Imperialism’

Apr 29th, 2010 | By Lauryn Oates

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

Why feminism must embrace reason and shun religion

Apr 28th, 2010 | By Amy Clare

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

Secular Coalition for America Calls Upon Pentagon to Cancel ‘Christian-Themed’ Event

Apr 23rd, 2010 | By Secular Coalition for America

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

Halal, Haram, and Negis

Apr 22nd, 2010 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

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

Why Africans are Religious

Apr 21st, 2010 | By Leo Igwe

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

Human Rights Without Morality: a Response to Joshua F. Leach

Apr 18th, 2010 | By Edmund Standing

In a recent article for Butterflies & Wheels, Joshua F. Leach puts forward an argument for a human rights culture that is underpinned by the notion of ‘collective responsibility’ and which seeks as its goal an ‘affectionate egalitarianism’.[1] While the arguments in the article are far from new and are not particularly controversial, I find myself troubled by the key assumptions that underpin Leach’s vision.

Leach has stated that in his article he was not seeking to argue ‘that there is a philosophical basis for morality’ and believes that ‘morality is a question of what we each value’, however I’m not sure that this will do, given some of the claims made in his article.[2] I personally object to … Read the rest

Scholarly Standards in Feminist Science Studies

Apr 18th, 2010 | By Allen Esterson

In September 2009 I submitted an article to the feminist journal Women’s Studies International Forum, and in February 2010 I was informed that the journal had decided against publication. Nothing unusual in that, of course. No doubt the great majority of articles submitted to journals are rejected, for a multitude of reasons. But when I enquired why no reason had been given, the Editor-in-Chief replied that the paper had not been sent out for review as she did not feel that it had sufficient evidence in terms of references or citations to back up some of the claims that were made.

Now, whatever deficiencies there may have been in the article, insufficient citation was not one of them. In … Read the rest

Individual Rights and Collective Responsibility

Apr 5th, 2010 | By Joshua F. Leach

The standard collectivist critique of individual rights has been with us a long time. It was best formulated in its classic outlines by the Catholic Church during the nineteenth century, amidst a great many cries for social and political change. The line the Church took at the time was essentially to say that rights cannot be understood without respect to “duties,” and that suffering and self-sacrifice are great virtues against which the individual should not be protected. As the classic statement on Catholic social teaching, the Rerum Novarum (1891), puts it, “The… pains and hardships of life will have no end or cessation on earth; for the consequences of sin are bitter and hard to bear, and they must accompany … Read the rest