Articles

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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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



Circumcision or Genital Mutilation

Apr 2nd, 2010 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

Circumcision, or for non-believers “genital mutilation”, is in some societies one of the most ancient rituals still practised. The historical background of this old ritual, as to when and why it started, is not precisely known. The practice varies from region to region and from epoch to epoch in its total or partial removal of the foreskin or clitoris.

Circumcision, in its different forms, is practised in a big part of the world. The Jews were the first to adapt it as a sign of religiosity; it is mentioned in the Old Testament as a religious ritual and preserved its practice into our times. Circumcision was banned by the ancient Romans and Greeks considering it as an act of barbarity. … Read the rest



A Very Young Activist’s Reply

Mar 29th, 2010 | By Alaina Podmorow

I need help. I need help to understand how and why someone would write a story about how Canadian Women are forcing their beliefs upon Muslim Women. I pasted this chunk below:

At the heart of the relationship between feminism and imperialism is an Orientalist logic that posits Western women as exemplary and emancipated in relation to “Other” (Afro-Asian/colonized) women, thereby charging the former with the responsibility of saving the latter from their backwards (i.e. Muslim), uncivilized cultures.

And even though I don’t understand at all the words Orientalist or feminism theory, I do understand what this chunk means, and now I want to speak my truth.

I am the founder of Little Women for Little Women in AfghanistanRead the rest



The British Labour Government’s Ruinous Approach to Combating Islamic Extremism

Mar 11th, 2010 | By Edmund Standing

In a document on its ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ strategy, the British Government states, in a section entitled ‘Strengthening the role of faith institutions and leaders’, that ‘It is not for Government to intervene in theological debates’.[1] However, the entire Labour Government strategy regarding Islam and Muslims since the 9/11 attacks invalidates this claim. Since 9/11, the British Government’s line has been that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’ that has been ‘hijacked by extremists’. The Bush Administration and the Blair Government adopted an identical approach in the aftermath of 9/11. President Bush announced on September 17, 2001 that ‘The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace’.[2] On … Read the rest



Take One Traumatised Child

Mar 10th, 2010 | By Clare Sambrook

‘He looks my age,’ says my nine-year-old son. ‘He looks sort of like me.’

There’s a picture on my screen: a small, slight boy who, for legal reasons, we’ll call M. He’s being cuddled by his 17 year old big brother Z. Both boys are smiling. They have been reunited after a long, hard separation.

Back home in war-torn Afghanistan their parents and a sister were killed. Big brother Z was first to come to Britain, traumatised, in November 2008. He has refugee status, studies for his GCSEs at school in Leicester.

This past October little brother M made his way here. Despite M’s size, his vulnerability, his boyish looks, officials said, you’re not 14, you’re an adult.

Instead … Read the rest



The Spirituality of an Atheist

Mar 4th, 2010 | By Andrzej Koraszewski

Do atheists have any spirituality? A certain internaut wracked his brain about this problem in a comment to one of our articles, and he was not alone. I used to get this question at various meetings and was met with astonishment when I asked for a definition of spirituality.

Spirituality seems to imply a soul. It is not mentioned in a passport, but if there were a place for it, in mine I would have to write: N/A. But can there be a soulless spirituality? An atheist has consciousness, but you may search and search for a soul. Moreover, he/she is skeptical about the existence of a soul in a believer as well, and this skepticism shades into irony or … Read the rest



Political Theory and the “Group Rights” Debate

Feb 17th, 2010 | By Joshua F. Leach

It took a Bertrand Russell to first notice that political ideologies tend to evolve over time into their polar opposites; and it took a George Orwell to point out that words which today nearly all people embrace, such as freedom and democracy, can mean very different things to different people. Today, however, most people are jaded enough to accept and even expect these sorts of insincerities. To point them out at all has become banal.

But every once in a while it is incumbent upon honest people to go back to the drawing board and remind themselves what ideologies represent and what words really mean. Nowhere is this more necessary than in the debates surrounding group rights and multiculturalism.

There … Read the rest