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Tories v human rights

May 11th, 2015 9:36 am | By

The Indy has an explainer piece about what the (UK) Human Rights Act is and why the Tories plan to ditch it.

The Human Rights Act is a piece of law, introduced in 1998, that guarantees human rights in Britain. It was introduced as one of the first major reforms of the last Labour government.

In practice, the Act has two main effects. Firstly, it incorporates the rights of the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic British law.

What this means is that if someone has a complaint under human rights law they do not have to go to European courts but can get justice from British courts.

Secondly, it requires all public bodies – not just the central

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Taslima was one of the petitioners

May 10th, 2015 6:02 pm | By

Taslima reports on a recent Supreme Court ruling in India.

The Supreme Court delivered a verdict against Section 66 A of Information and Technology Act 2000. The Section gives the police powers to arrest those who post objectionable content online and provides for a three-year jail term.

I was one of the petitioners .

A win for free expression online, and Taslima was one of the petitioners.

She talks to a reporter starting at about 1:30:

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8TcliQqRskRead the rest

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Maryam on TBQ

May 10th, 2015 5:17 pm | By

Here is today’s The Big Questions, with Maryam Namazie and Peter Tatchell and Andrew Copson. The question is

Have human rights laws achieved more for mankind than religion?

Hahahahahaha yes of course they have, that’s an easy one, thank you for watching, good bye.

I’ve paused it at 4:00 because Nicky Campbell – the presenter – just said

The 10 commandments is often cited as a perfect distillation and perfect example of human rights.

That’s the most ridiculous claim I’ve heard in whenever. The what? The 10 commandments have almost nothing to do with human rights, apart from the very minimal right not to be murdered or robbed or lied to. Most of it is about god’s rights, not … Read the rest

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Cover yourself

May 10th, 2015 4:31 pm | By

This again.

FIFTEEN non-Muslim women have trialled hijabs in Dandenong this afternoon as part of a social experiment, slammed by some as promoting separateness.

The experiment by two Minaret College schoolgirls was part of a short documentary being filmed for Greater Dandenong Council’s “Youth Channel” program aimed at “providing awareness, insight and education”.

The Council called on women to wear the Islamic headdress for three hours today as part of a “social experiment” for National Youth Week.

Awareness of what? Insight into what? Education about what?

Notice the Council called on women to wear it. Just women. The Council called on women to wear a hot smothery head-and-neck covering, to provide awareness of…how dirty they are? How necessary it … Read the rest

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Litigious George

May 10th, 2015 3:40 pm | By

George Galloway has begun legal proceedings to have the result of the Bradford West byelection set aside.

Well naturally. He lost, so naturally he’s demanding that his loss be set aside. Never let it be said that he takes such an insult lying down.

Galloway won the Bradford West seat for his Respect party in a byelection in 2012, but he was defeated on Thursday by Labour’s Naz Shah, who secured a majority of more than 11,000 following a bitter campaign.

On Sunday night, Galloway said on Twitter: “We’ve begun legal proceedings seeking to have result of the Bfd West election set aside. I cannot therefor discuss my own election for now.” His spokesman said the legal action was at

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Be sure to report it tomorrow

May 10th, 2015 12:48 pm | By

A feminist student was murdered in April. It looks likely that she was murdered because she was a feminist. The university didn’t do much to prevent her murder.

The University of Mary Washington’s campus in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was hit by a spate of violent threats against a feminist student group for months leading up to the alleged murder of a group member in April. Documents provided to The Huffington Post show the administration was keenly aware of the continued harassment, which was posted on the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak, but a federal complaint filed Thursday alleges the public university failed to act on this knowledge and permitted a hostile environment against female students.

Police have not revealed a

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Which way is up

May 10th, 2015 12:11 pm | By

Punch up.

Cartoon by Chip Bok.

H/t Pieter Breitner

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Just to survive is a form of resistance

May 10th, 2015 11:58 am | By

The Guardian talks to Mona Eltahawy.

Were you anxious about the outrage you might provoke in some quarters by speaking openly about misogyny within your own community?

I’ve got a lot of hate… But it’s hate from people I’m glad I’m pissing off. As a woman with an opinion, you get a lot of shit.

Are all religions misogynistic?

Absolutely, to some degree. All religions, if you shrink them down, are all about controlling women’s sexuality… They’re obsessed with my vagina. I tell them: stay outside my vagina unless I want you in there.

No invitation, no admission.
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function useCss(){for(var i=0,totalStyleSheetLinks=styleSheetLinks.length;i0&&alpha… Read the rest

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Save the date

May 10th, 2015 11:47 am | By

CEMB partay on June 20th.

Join us for appetisers, drinks, music, speeches and laughs to celebrate the CEMB’s 8th anniversary.
Saturday 20 June 2015, 1500-1800 Hours at a location near London Kings Cross/St Pancras stations

Speakers and acts include: Philosopher A C Grayling, Iraqi British Singer Alya Marquardt, Secular activist Aliyah Saleem, Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco Founder Imad Iddine Habib, Comedian Kate Smurthwaite, Author Kenan Malik, Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel, CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie and more.

Tickets: £18 (waged); £10 (unwaged)

To register, please email your name and mobile number to exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com. You can purchase your ticket(s) via Paypal or by sending a cheque made payable to ‘CEMB’ to: BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX.

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= FREE SPEECH?!?!

May 10th, 2015 11:18 am | By

What’s wrong with this picture?

The caption on the page:

Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK

To insult someone, to be offensive, provocative or racist is not only uncivilised, rude and disrespectful, but also causes societies to live in misery with anger and tension. Those that find this acceptable or support this concept should enlighten us why this is beneficial to society/an individual. How can we expect to build civilised, unified societies if we encourage everyone to insult one another? To respect others is a basic human property.

What rule exists for one community, should exist for others too; the double standards of free speech controlled by those in power against the powerless needs to be eliminated. There needs to

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“The Muslim world was enraged”

May 10th, 2015 9:36 am | By

Ok now I’m curious enough about Rafia Zakaria to read her piece about Charlie Hebdo in Al Jazeera. It’s a relief that she does at least know how to adjust her style for a broader audience. The clarity is welcome.

She starts by summarizing the controversy, ending with a very odd description of its core event:

The question whether Charlie Hebdo needs to be valorized is contentious. It tragically lost eight staff members when gunmen affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Yemen stormed the magazine’s offices on Jan. 7.

Charlie “lost” eight staff members. So I guess when the gunmen stormed the offices, Charlie just somehow misplaced eight of its people and has never been able to find them? And that’s … Read the rest

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Arnfred Olsen and G W Foote

May 9th, 2015 5:34 pm | By

One silver lining

Norway has scrapped its longstanding blasphemy law, meaning it is now legal to mock the beliefs of others, in a direct response to January’s brutal attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The proposal to rush through the change was made in February by Conservative MP Anders B. Werp and Progress Party MP Jan Arild Ellingsen, who argued that the law “underpins a perception that religious expressions and symbols are entitled to a special protection”.

“This is very unfortunate signal to send, and it is time that society clearly stands up for freedom of speech,” the two wrote in their proposal.

Quite right. To an American it seems strange to see a Conservative proposing it … Read the rest

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Guest post: Zakaria is self-orientalized

May 9th, 2015 4:14 pm | By

Originally a comment by veil_of_ignorance on A sneer too many.

I have now read this obscurantist, condescending, self-indulgent essay several times, trying to find some sentence, which resolves its apparent, more than prominent contradictions.

Many other commenters have already pointed out that Zakaria never mentions Islamism, never speaks of the heterogeneity of opinion in the Muslim community regarding CH, regarding blasphemy, regarding religion and politics; instead she speaks of Muslim opinion and Muslim subjectivity as if there was only one. All while permanently lamenting the fact that Muslims are ‘otherized’ in Western society, i.e. viewed as monolithic group and represented in malevolent terms. The irony of this was of course not lost on me; and it struck me that … Read the rest

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Which need trumps

May 9th, 2015 12:44 pm | By

Sometimes showing people the doors, showing them that the doors are not locked, that they can walk through them any time they like, can cause them pain. Sometimes people want security and enclosure so badly that they don’t want the doors to be open. They see us as violating their freedom to believe that there are no doors, by showing them so clearly where the doors are and how free of locks they are.

This is collateral damage. There is possible collateral damage with most things we can say and argue. Some people don’t want to hear that men are not the natural permanent superiors of women, or that white people are not the natural permanent superiors of everyone else. … Read the rest

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We have to challenge the thrall

May 9th, 2015 11:57 am | By

The thoughts in the previous were prompted partly by reading Caroline Wyatt’s summing up of the Charlie Hebdo discussions at the BBC.

The deaths at the magazine prompted waves of soul-searching about free speech, and whether cartoons that deliberately set out to offend are worth defending – especially when they sought to mock and satirize a religion and a figure that so many hold dear.

That kind of claim prompts such thoughts. Yes, many hold their religion dear; yes, many hold particular figures – however long-dead – in their religion dear. Is that a reason to treat the religions and the figures as taboo? It can’t be, because that very holding dear is one of the mechanisms that keeps … Read the rest

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What shall we then do?

May 9th, 2015 11:00 am | By

So what are we supposed to do? If we accept the idea that challenging Islam inevitably means challenging the followers of Islam, i.e. Muslims, what are we to do about that? Stop challenging Islam, in order to avoid giving pain to Muslims or pleasure to people who like to bully Muslims?

The concern is a real one. It is of course true that challenges to a religion will give pain to some of its followers, assuming they are aware of them. We don’t know how large a fraction of those followers, or how severe the pain will be, but we can be reasonably sure neither number will be zero. It’s also true that challenges to a religion will give a … Read the rest

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A sneer too many

May 8th, 2015 5:47 pm | By

There’s another one. This article is much longer, and more “sophisticated” in what I think is a rather bogus way. What Rafia Zakaria says isn’t all wrong, by any means, but it’s…I don’t know what to call it. Academic, perhaps. Too sophisticated by half. Unfeeling. And, in places, just nasty.

My subject today is after all a philosophical one, dealing with my opposition to the PEN American Center’s decision to honor the French magazine Charlie Hebdo with the 2015 Freedom of Expression Courage Award. The star-studded gala, tickets to which cost more than a thousand dollars a person, took place on Tuesday evening, May 5, 2015. Thunderous standing ovations were given to the recipients. The fact that six writers

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Satire and wit to demolish puffery and dogma

May 8th, 2015 12:49 pm | By

Stephen Eric Bronner, at the beginning of Reclaiming the Englightenment, talks about Horkheimer and Adorno and about the ethos of the Enlightenment and says that making sense of it

is impossible without recognizing what became a general stylistic commitment to clarity, communicability, and what rhetoricians term “plain speech.”

Horkheimer and Adorno thought they needed a very difficult style in their resistance to the culture industry.

Their esoteric and academic style is a far cry from that of Enlightenment intellectuals who debated first principles in public, who introduced freelance writing, who employed satire and wit to demolish puffery and dogma, and who were preoccupied with reaching a general audience of educated readers. [pp 8-9]

Who employed satire and wit to Read the rest

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Instead of listening to the minimally informed voice in your head

May 8th, 2015 11:29 am | By

There’s one compensation in all the stupid treacherous bullshit about Charlie Hebdo, and that is the discovery of new best friends. Mihir S Sharma is my new best friend for this morning. He has thoughts on The vanity of good souls:

I have already stated, in this column, my reasons for thinking that the highest duty of any writer – or indeed human being – is to refuse to ignore oppression and silencing, even if that silencing is ostensibly on behalf of a marginalised community. Without allies from outside, it is difficult for any stomped-on member of a community to escape. And the focus on that individual, instead of the community to which they are forced to belong by

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Goodbye George

May 8th, 2015 10:28 am | By

Wretched news on the UK election front, of course. The Tories got an actual god damn majority. All my UK friends are saying goodbye NHS. Miliband, Clegg and Farage have all resigned as party leaders.

The one silver lining is that George Galloway LOST to Naz Shah. The horrible Islamist bully from the “Respect” party lost to a Muslim woman from Labour.

Goodbye George. Become obscure.

Snaps from yesterday via Furqan Naeem:

 

 … Read the rest

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