All entries by this author

Hicks would stare out the second-floor window

Mar 3rd, 2015 6:17 pm | By

The New York Times has more on the Chapel Hill murders.

A motive for the shooting may never be known. But interviews with more than a dozen of the victims’ friends and family members, lawyers, police officers and others make two central points: Before the shootings, the students took concerted steps to appease a menacing neighbor, and none were parked that day in a way that would have set off an incident involving their cars.

If those accounts do not prove what kind of malice was in Mr. Hicks’s heart, the details that emerge indicate that whatever happened almost certainly was not a simple dispute over parking.

They were all parked that day in a permitted way that didn’t … Read the rest

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A counter-move

Mar 3rd, 2015 5:47 pm | By

The BBC reports India has shut down India’s Daughter.

Police in India have secured a court injunction blocking the broadcast of an interview with one of the Delhi gang rapists on death row.

The Delhi court order also prevents publication of the interview, which has angered many in India.

As well it might.

Film maker Leslee Udwin’s interview appears in India’s Daughter, a BBC Storyville documentary due to be broadcast on 8 March, International Women’s Day. It was also due to be shown in India on NDTV.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh was taking the matter “seriously” and had spoken to the Tihar jail director-general to demand an urgent report, PTI news agency quoted officials as saying.

Police in Delhi

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They have a “2 Witness” rule

Mar 3rd, 2015 4:19 pm | By

It’s not just Catholic priests. It’s not just Catholic priests and Amish patriarchs. It’s not just Catholic priests and Amish patriarchs and yoga gurus. It’s not just Catholic priests and Amish patriarchs and yoga gurus and FLDS patriarchs.

It’s also Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Candace Conti was repeatedly sexually abused by such a nice friendly man when she was a child.

It is really hard for kids to speak up when they’re abused. But the Jehovah’s Witnesses make it a lot harder.

They have a “2 Witness” rule, which says that anyone who accuses an adult of abuse must have a second witness.

If there is no second witness, the accuser is punished for a false accusation – usually by ordering

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Guest post: It will not be a teachable moment

Mar 3rd, 2015 11:57 am | By

Originally a comment by Kausik Datta on “In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

People in India are wondering why this criminal is being given a spotlight, and what good would come out of it. I echo that sentiment in this case, despite generally being known to favor the stance of “all knowledge is worth having”. The documentary in question would be an instrument for pointing out ad infinitum how bad the situation of women is in India, but it will not be a teachable moment.

Why? Because this despicable criminal is a product of his society, culture, tradition – a triumvirate that considers women to be chattel, property to be owned, toyed with and disposed of … Read the rest

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Guest post: For religion ignorance is bliss, for liberals ignorance is fear

Mar 3rd, 2015 11:54 am | By

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on To be found superficial and contemptible.

The conviction that tyranny and persecution are aberrations in human affairs is at the heart of the liberal philosophy that prevails today. But this conviction is supported by faith more than evidence.

Bollocks. The heart of the liberal philosophy that prevails today is that it is relatively easy to ignore persecution so long as you aren’t the one being persecuted, and tyranny is relatively easy for the one who holds the power to be the tyrant.

The liberal philosophy of today is that human affairs are fundamentally malleable, and can cover a wide range of possibilities – therefore we have to work hard to make sure … Read the rest

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The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue

Mar 3rd, 2015 11:47 am | By

Austria has been considering closing down an “interfaith” dialogue center it has thanks to the backing of none other than those ardent fans of pluralism, Saudi Arabia.

The Austrian government has threatened to close a controversial Saudi-sponsored religious dialogue center because of the latter’s failure to condemn the flogging of a Saudi human rights activist and blogger.

Saudi Arabia has responded to the threat by issuing a counter-threat to move the permanent headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] out of the Austrian capital of Vienna.

The dust-up began in mid-January, when Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann expressed public outrage over the refusal of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue [KAICIID] to

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The juvenile put his hand in her and pulled out something

Mar 3rd, 2015 10:59 am | By

Yvonne Roberts writes in The Observer on Leslee Udwin’s documentary India’s Daughter.

Warning: some of this is grim.

India’s Daughter is broadcast on BBC4 next Sunday, International Women’s Day, and simultaneously shown in seven other countries including India, Switzerland, Norway and Canada. On Monday 9 March, actresses Freida Pinto and Meryl Streep will attend a screening in New York, launching a worldwide India’s Daughter campaign against gender inequality and sexual violence against women and girls. It begins by 20 million pupils viewing the film and taking part in workshops in Maharashtra, a state that includes Mumbai.

…What is writ very large in India’s Daughter, but camouflaged in other countries where equality is more strongly embedded in law,

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“In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

Mar 3rd, 2015 10:16 am | By

Leslee Udwin gives more details from her interview with one of the men who raped and murdered Jyoti Singh in Delhi in 2012.

Mukesh Singh, the driver of the bus, described to me every detail of what happened during and after the incident. While prosecutors say the men took turns to drive the bus, and all took part in the rape, Singh says he stayed at the wheel throughout.

Along with three of the other attackers, Singh is now appealing against his death sentence. In 16 hours of interviews, Singh showed no remorse and kept expressing bewilderment that such a fuss was being made about this rape, when everyone was at it.

“A decent girl won’t roam around at nine

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To be found superficial and contemptible

Mar 3rd, 2015 9:18 am | By

John Gray has a characteristic piece in the Guardian rehearsing the familiar old saws about how naïve and delusional atheists and liberals are, how it’s all just Christianity turned inside out, yadda yadda…but despite the staleness it’s not all wrong.

The conviction that tyranny and persecution are aberrations in human affairs is at the heart of the liberal philosophy that prevails today. But this conviction is supported by faith more than evidence. Throughout history there have been large numbers who have been happy to relinquish their freedom as long as those they hate – gay people, Jews, immigrants and other minorities, for example – are deprived of freedom as well. Many have been ready to support tyranny and oppression. Billions

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Standing up

Mar 2nd, 2015 5:13 pm | By

Reza Moradi stands up to Islamists at London Metropolitan University.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrDooPpt6SA

The University and College Union (@UCU) invited Mohammed Kozbar (Muslim Association of Britain Vice President) to speak at @Londonmentuni in a panel on immigration.

Diane Abbott (Labour MP) and Sally Hunt (UCU General Secretary) sat very comfortably with the MAB representative, despite the MAB’s links with the Muslim Brotherhood, its defence of death by stoning for adultery and support for the death penalty for apostates such as me. MAB is what is known as a “soft” Islamist organisation, normalising and justifying terrorism, the Caliphate and Sharia rules.
I am outraged that my union would share a panel with, and promote, an Islamist organisation in this way. This is

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She should just be silent and allow the rape

Mar 2nd, 2015 4:23 pm | By

Taslima alerts us to an interview with one of the Delhi rapists reported in the Telegraph.

In an interview from jail, Mukesh Singh said that women who went out at night had only themselves to blame if they attracted the attention of gangs of male molesters. “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” he said.

His victim, Jyoti Singh, 23, was returning from an evening at the cinema with a male friend when the six-strong gang offered them a lift in a mini-bus they were driving. She was raped and frenziedly beaten with iron bars, prompting widespread demonstrations for Indian women to have greater protection from sexual violence.

In an interview for a BBC documentary

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Guest post: Prevention is better than punishment

Mar 2nd, 2015 3:55 pm | By

Originally a comment by Ben Finney on Maajid Nawaz takes this moment to salute Gita Sahgal.

zubanel, #4:

I’m saying disregard the religious element as essential and focus on murderers.

So, we focus on those who have already killed? We are to direct our attention away from the ideas that strongly compel them to premeditated murder of strangers?

That doesn’t do it for me. I want to detect potential murderers before they do murder, and obligate them to not murder.

For that, we need to focus on the ideas which compel some people to murder — and that inevitably requires that we spend a lot of attention on combating Islam, which is a set of ideas … Read the rest

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This judge is biased against Raif

Mar 2nd, 2015 10:52 am | By

Ensaf Haidar yesterday:

Urgent: A Statement from the Family of ‪#‎RaifBadawi‬

We have received information from reliable sources that there are attempts within the Penal Court to retry #Raifbadawi on apostasy charges again. Apostasy charge is punishable under Saudi law with the death penalty by beheading.

We also received confirmed information that the Supreme Court has referred Raif case to the same judge, who sentenced Raif with flogging and 10 years imprisonment.

This judge is biased against Raif. He has twice requested that Raif be charged with ‘apostasy’.

His request was declined at the time on the ground that the penal court has no jurisdiction on cases that lead to death penalty. However, due to a new regulation

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But he was such a kind, gentle, beautiful young man

Mar 2nd, 2015 10:33 am | By

Amnesty UK is probably going to cut ties with Cage, the Standard reports.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International is likely to cut ties with controversial advocacy group Cage because of “Jihadi John”, its deputy director said today.

Cage has come under fire after suggesting that MI5 “harassment” was responsible for turning Londoner Mohammed Emwazi into a bloodthirsty terrorist seen beheading civilians in horrific Islamic State propaganda videos.

But if Amnesty had listened to Gita Sahgal instead of firing her…they would have avoided this appalling mistake.

Last week Cage revealed it had extensive contact with the 26-year-old between 2009 and 2012 because [of] his allegations against the security services. In an extraordinary press conference, its research director Asim Qureshi described

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Never a reason to stop fighting to make it better

Mar 2nd, 2015 9:59 am | By

Alom Shaha nudges everyone to notice and remember Avijit Roy.

He was a hero to many Bangladeshis, but few if any in the west will be declaring that they are Avijit in the way so many of us announced we were Charlie after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. But there are lots of Avijits outside the west, genuinely brave individuals who put their lives on the line to uphold values and freedoms that we take for granted: Ahmed Rajib Haider, another Bangladeshi atheist who was killed because of what he wrote; Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger who has been flogged in public and is in prison for “insulting Islam”; Karim Ashraf Mohamed al-Banna, jailed for

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Rahman is busted

Mar 2nd, 2015 9:29 am | By

Law enforcement people in Bangladesh have arrested Farabi Shafiur Rahman in connection with the murder of Avijit Roy.

A spokesman for the police’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said Farabi Shafiur Rahman had been arrested at a bus station in the capital over the brutal murder of Avijit Roy. “He is the main suspect,” RAB spokesman Maj Maksudul Alam said.

Rahman had threatened Roy several times before, including on Facebook, where he said Roy would be killed upon his arrival in Dhaka. The suspect has been handed over to the police’s detective branch, which is investigating the killing.

The RAB paraded Rahman before the press at its headquarters in Dhaka where another RAB spokesman, Mufti Mahmud, described him as a

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Light the darkness

Mar 1st, 2015 6:05 pm | By

There were rallies for Avijit Roy in Bangladesh, too.

Also Kolkata:

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But you cannot kill ideas

Mar 1st, 2015 5:45 pm | By

More from the vigil for Avijit Roy:

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We mourn but we are not out

Mar 1st, 2015 5:41 pm | By

There was a vigil in honor of Avijit Roy in Trafalgar Square this afternoon.

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Cage’s unsavoury nature became undeniable

Mar 1st, 2015 5:03 pm | By

James Bloodworth got into a discussion with an Amnesty volunteer last week on the question of whether or not it’s a good idea to collaborate with groups or people who stand for bad things, with Cage being the example of standing for bad things. That’s a difficult and unavoidable question for all movements and campaigns and groups, because there are always going to be differences, and it’s not generally easy to know where to draw the line.

But Cage has made it easier now…

My own argument was simply to ask whether it would be acceptable to partner with an organisation of the British far-right in a similar fashion. Would it really be kosher to share a platform with

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