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From #FreeRaif today

Mar 6th, 2015 11:16 am | By

AmnestyNow on Twitter

For 8 weeks we have stood in the cold and the snow outside the Embassy to demand they

English PEN -

Amnesty International -

Elham Manea -

Now outside of Saudi embassy in Rome for by Amnesty

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Desmond to Salman

Mar 6th, 2015 10:32 am | By

There seems to be quite a lot of good news for Raif Badawi today.

Desmond Tutu has sent a note to King Salman.

A human rights lawyer based in London has taken on his case and Waleed’s, pro bono, according to Nicolya Christi on Facebook.

And there is this -

It will be out April 1.

I’m hoping there will be an edition in English. I’ve done some string-tugging to that effect.… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

At the North West Palace of Ashurnasirpal

Mar 6th, 2015 9:33 am | By

The UNESCO Director General has a statement on the vandalization of Nimrud.

“I condemn in the strongest possible manner the destruction of the archaeological site of Nimrud site in Iraq. This is yet another attack against the Iraqi people, reminding us that nothing is safe from the cultural cleansing underway in the country: it targets human lives, minorities, and is marked by the systematic destruction of humanity’s ancient heritage,” said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

© Creative Commons Nimrud Lamassu’s at the North West Palace of Ashurnasirpal, Iraq

“We cannot remain silent. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime. I call on all political and religious leaders in the region to stand up and remind everyone

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False idols

Mar 6th, 2015 9:14 am | By

The BBC has more on the destruction of Nimrud.

IS began demolishing the site, which was founded in the 13th Century BC, on Thursday, according to Iraqi officials.

The head of the UN’s cultural agency condemned the “systematic” destruction in Iraq as a “war crime”.

IS, which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, says shrines and statues are “false idols” that have to be smashed.

“They are erasing our history,” said Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani.

They really aren’t “false idols” now; they’re ancient artifacts. They’re history, they’re art, they’re mythology, they’re archaeology, they’re anthropology, they’re part of the rich exciting story of human creativity. They don’t have to be smashed. There’s no human need that smashing them meets. … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Goodbye to Nimrud

Mar 6th, 2015 8:59 am | By

IS is still busy destroying Assyrian sites and their artifacts.

Islamic State fighters have looted and bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, the Iraqi government said, in their latest assault on some of the world’s greatest archaeological and cultural treasures.

A tribal source from the nearby city of Mosul said the jihadis, who dismiss Iraq’s pre-Islamic heritage as idolatrous, had pillaged the 3,000-year-old site on the banks of the Tigris river.

“Daesh terrorist gangs continue to defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity,” Iraq’s tourism and antiquities ministry said, referring to Isis by its Arabic acronym.

“In a new crime in their series of reckless offences, they assaulted the ancient city of Nimrud

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A letter to King Salman

Mar 5th, 2015 5:24 pm | By

A press release from Amnesty International

WASHINGTON–On the eve of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL 6th District) and James McGovern (D-MA, 2nd District) have sent a bipartisan letter to Saudi Arabia’s new ruler, King Salman. The letter urges the new King to free all prisoners of conscience—including blogger Raif Badawi and attorney Waleed Abu al-Khair—and to allow women, religious minorities and peaceful political reformers to freely express themselves and fully participate in public life in Saudi Arabia.

The letter garnered 67 congressional signers and endorsements from 17 women’s, human rights, religious freedom, and advocacy organizations, including Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch.

“Saudi Arabia’s new King has a critical

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Ruining it for the rest of us

Mar 5th, 2015 5:02 pm | By

Another atheist woman who says no thanks to the atheist “movement” because it’s such a shit-show.

But as defensive as I’ve gotten with believers, I’ve never actually been tempted to join an atheist group. Partly, that’s because it’s hard to avoid the white men ruining it for the rest of us by using atheism as just another platform for a macho power struggle. Atheism offers no guarantee of other shared ideas or philosophies – and when white male atheist leaders and communities act racist, Islamophobicand misogynistic, I find myself wishing that there were another way to describe my non-beliefs.

It’s sad. The “movement” could have been good, but it took a wrong turn and then a whole … Read the rest

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Guest post: Galloway’s endorsement of dictatorship extends beyond the Muslim world

Mar 5th, 2015 3:58 pm | By

Originally a comment by newenlightenment on Letters demanding £5,000.


Galloway’s endorsement of dictatorship extends beyond the Muslim world. Here he is in 2008 at a rally for the ultra Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist)* praising Mao’s cultural revolution and denouncing free Tibet protestors as ‘Running dogs of imperialism’:


The CPGB (ML) is a tiny little sect whose sole purpose appears to be to endorse every brutal despot in existence, provided that despot is at least vaguely anti-American. The party has pledged its colours to North Korea, its chairman Harpal Brar wrote an entire book praising Robert Mugabe, they offer unconditional support to Hamas and Hezbollah and have marched under the slogans ‘victory to Assad’ … Read the rest

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Guest post: No other MP acts like that

Mar 5th, 2015 3:48 pm | By

Originally a comment by Rosie Bell on Letters demanding £5,000.

I’m ardently hoping that this will backfire on Galloway. The disgusting scumbag has threatened to sue people before, they’ve told him to take a hike, and a hike he has taken.

Various top-notch lawyers are offering free advice to his victims. This article below gives a good & amusing account of Galloway’s & his lawyers’ doings.

“Chambers appear to be focused on immigration, serious crime and fraud and personal injury, among other topics. But above all, they are, according to their own website “calculated risk takers”, who are “not afraid to take on challenges that would daunt many others”.

They boast that their ethos “is to ensure that … Read the rest

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Reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority

Mar 5th, 2015 11:36 am | By

So people set up a Twitter account for Galloway’s victims.

A Twitter account has been set up to offer free legal advice to those apparently being sued by George Galloway.

A number of people reported being sent a letter written by lawyers acting on behalf of the Respect MP, informing them that they need to pay over £6,000 each, according to The Times.

In response the @SuedByGalloway account has sprung up purporting to put people in touch with solicitors and lawyers who can offer them free legal advice on the issue.

Those behind the account – who wish to remain anonymous – told the Huffington Post UK: “We are doing this because we are disgusted with the way

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Letters demanding £5,000

Mar 5th, 2015 11:07 am | By

George Galloway’s lawyers have been sending people letters demanding money for…retweeting an allegation that Galloway is anti-semitic.

George Galloway has ordered lawyers to issue Twitter users who alleged he was an anti-Semite with letters demanding £5,000 and threatening legal action.

The Bradford West MP has reportedly singled out up to a dozen people, including some who had only re-tweeted other posts and a charity worker with just 75 followers.

The letters, seen by The Times, were issued by Bradford-based Chambers Solicitors. They said the recipient was “required” to pay legal costs of £5,000 plus VAT into a HSBC bank account by 10 March.

Required??? Just like that? In advance of any trial, on their say-so? That sounds awfully…extortion-like.

Ron McKay,

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Robert Kennedy Junior considers it important

Mar 5th, 2015 10:26 am | By

Well this is just a damn disgrace – Robert Kennedy Junior wants to show Oregon state senators a movie about mercury-containing preservative in some vaccines. Why? Because

He plans to urge them to vote against a bill that — with an amendment — would eliminate nonmedical exemptions from Oregon’s school immunization law.

The invitation came via emails to senators on Monday. Sens. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton, and Tim Knopp, R-Bend, confirmed to the Statesman Journal that they were invited to the screening.

Knopp said on Tuesday that Kennedy reached out to him on Sunday — presumably because Knopp is leading the opposition against Senate Bill 442 — and said he was interested in talking with the

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To travel with Conradian determination

Mar 5th, 2015 9:52 am | By

Priyamvada Gopal adds more to the picture of the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh and the documentary and the reactions against it. I’ve disagreed with Gopal in the past and thought I was going to again, but in the end she makes good points.

She does some rather annoying sneering at Udwin on the way there though.

Udwin’s elevation to the status of free speech martyr and the ensuing controversy is likely to boost the viewing figures in Britain for a film that she describes as having been made through enormous personal sacrifice. She has stressed her abdication of home comforts to travel with Conradian determination to explore “the blackest recesses of the human heart”. Indian feminists, on the

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Exploring ways of stopping the worldwide broadcast

Mar 5th, 2015 9:21 am | By

Leslee Udwin is appealing to Narendra Modi not to ban her documentary about the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh – but of course Modi is not the guy to undo that kind of ban. Modi is a Hindu nationalist, a right-wing patriot; of course he’s not going to listen to some liberal woman from the UK who is sullying India’s good name.

Shortly before her statement was released, the parliamentary affairs minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, declared: “We can ban the film in India. But this is an international conspiracy to defame India. We will see how the film can be stopped abroad too.”

Yeah good luck with that.

In her appeal on Wednesday, Udwin said: “India should be

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Because it believes in universal values

Mar 5th, 2015 8:43 am | By

Nick Cohen informs us that Tell Mama is being torn apart by Islamists usurping Tell Mama’s liberal message.

Tell Mama is Britain’s most prominent opponent of anti-Muslim prejudice. It monitors everything from criminal assaults to everyday abuse. The far right loathes it, and the Conservative press sells the grotesque pretence that the group exaggerates prejudice to divert attention from the horror of Islamist violence.

But attacks from the right only wound. Tell Mama’s ‘friends’ in the Muslim community have turned out to be far more dangerous and are threatening to destroy the organisation. ‘I am on a knife edge,’ one activist told me. ‘I may just leave. I’m so fed up.’

There’s the presence of Islamists in Baroness Warsi’s Whitehall … Read the rest

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Guest post: We have had so many candle light marches

Mar 5th, 2015 8:09 am | By

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

“India’s daughter” is being banned, great job by our government, kudos!!! Looks like this has invoked more furor than the rape case. The views expressed by the rapist is not new, these views have been expressed by so many people across India. This just goes on to prove that our so called culture is more worried about Log kya kahenge (What will others say!!).

We have had so many candle light marches, but it has failed to light our hearts and remove the darkness in our mindsets.

Our biggest achievement as a country was the successful mission to Mars, I hope that this … Read the rest

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Back in the news

Mar 4th, 2015 5:19 pm | By

Via The Freethinker, have a cartoon:

Cartoon: David Fitzsimmons

It’s via The Freethinker, but you can also see it on the Facebook page of Shaykh Noor Ul Aqtab Siddiqi. He says he’s a public figure, but I suspect that’s aspirational more then descriptive. Barry Duke tells us more about him at The Freethinker itself.

Last month we reported that Shaykh Noor Siddiqi, of the Muslim Action Forum, praised scaredy-cat British media for not publishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Oh that kind of public figure. Remember the Muslim Action Forum? And that absurd “no cartoons of the prophet” demonstration in Downing Street? That’s who our Shaykh is.

Well, the Muslim Action Forum is back in the news. It has

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed

Mar 4th, 2015 4:26 pm | By

Here’s another persecution on religious grounds.

We, African youth and defenders of freedom and human dignity, with the support of human rightsliberty and freedom defenders, have learned with great sorrow that the death penalty has been imposed on Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mohamed Mkhaitir who was accused of apostasy despite his multiple recantations of the statements in question.

This heavy sentence was imposed based on assertions that Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mohamed Mkhaitir “spoke lightly of the Prophet (PBUH)” in an article published on Mauritanian websites on December 30, 2013. In the article, entitled “Religion, Religiosity, and the Blacksmiths”, Mr. Mkhaitir demonstrated how the “Zawayas”, or marabouts, manipulated historical facts cited by Muslim scholars to justify their dominance over the “blacksmiths”,

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Two living, breathing human beings

Mar 4th, 2015 11:38 am | By

A “godless science-researcher” wrote an impassioned, humane post about the murder of Avijit Roy, who was his friend.

Hacked to death. Hacked. To death. Two living, breathing human beings, returning home after their day’s work, set upon by murderous assailants who dragged them to the pavement and hacked away at them with machete-like sharp instruments. Two human beings, a man who has succumbed to his deadly injuries, and a woman, who sustained severe injuries to her hands and forehead as she tried to protect her companion. Two human beings, my friend and his wife.

It is particularly horrifying. It’s all too easy to imagine what it would be like.

Bangladesh-born, resident of suburban Atlanta in the

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You have to know where you are

Mar 4th, 2015 11:11 am | By

No doubt most of you are aware of the head-shaking and puzzlement and alarm, and sometimes just plain anger, about Jamila Bey’s address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) as a representative of American Atheists last week. Debbie Goddard has thoughts and questions about it at Skepchick. Rai Rhoades is unpleased at Rhoades to RealityJames Croft has big doubts at Temple of the Future.

Quoting James:

American Atheists’ overtures to CPAC and to the Republican Party make me uneasy. I can’t help the sense that this is less about promoting atheist visibility and acceptance, and more about cozying up to powerful people  under the cover of a completely unrealistic image of “conservatism”. It’s as if

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)