All entries by this author

Pick your enemies

Feb 24th, 2015 10:56 am | By

Lots of people seem to think Patricia Arquette basically said gay people and people of color should stop fighting for their rights and instead fight for the rights of rich white women.

I don’t think she said that.

Soraya Nadia McDonald at the Washington Post tells the story:

…while the language in Arquette’s acceptance speech may have set off some silent alarms, her follow-up comments backstage proved more incendiary to some.

Said Arquette:

“The truth is, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are at play that do affect women, and it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color

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



This is not Akram’s house

Feb 24th, 2015 10:19 am | By

This won’t end well. The BBC reports that IS has grabbed up a bunch of Christians in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 90 men, women and children were seized in a series of dawn raids near the town of Tal Tamr.

Some Assyrians managed to escape and made their way east to the largely Kurdish-controlled city of Hassakeh.

The militants have reportedly taken the male captives to nearby Abdul Aziz mountain, while the women are being held in the village of Tal Shamran, where activists say most of those captured came from.

The men will be killed and the women will be enslaved. That’s the purpose of separating them.

Islamic State’s online

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Geneva today

Feb 23rd, 2015 6:24 pm | By

Caroline Fourest opened a Geneva summit on free expression today.

Hillel Neuer @HillelNeuer · 13h 13 hours ago
Courageous journalist @CarolineFourest, ex-Charlie Hebdo, opens @GenevaSummit: “No shelter anymore; ppl die in Paris”

She tweeted:

“Les démocrates doivent nous aider à défendre le droit au blasphème qui permet la démocratie.” @GenevaSummit

Democrats have to help us defend the right of blasphemy which allows democracy.

And another tweet:

Saa, l’une des élèves ayant réussi à échapper à Boko Haram raconte son évasion au @GenevaSummit

Saa, one of the students who succeeded in escaping from Boko Haram tells the story of her escape at the Geneva Summit

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“The GamerGate thing is absolutely horrible”

Feb 23rd, 2015 5:13 pm | By

The CEO and president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe says Gamergate sucks.

In an in-depth and reliably entertaining interview with Metro’s David Jenkins, Ryan labelled the online movement “absolutely horrible”.

Asked for his thoughts on the matter Ryan said: “Well, more females are playing games now than ever before. I think the GamerGate thing is absolutely horrible. I agree, I read what you wrote about it, again your language was intemperate – as befits your views on an issue…”

Referencing Jenkins’ passionate views on the hate group – which last year gave rise to a sustained campaign of abuse targeting female game developers and vocal critic Anita Sarkeesian, leading to one of the gaming industry’s most depressing periods

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Whither philosophy?

Feb 23rd, 2015 5:02 pm | By

There was a debate at the British Academy last week about whether or not philosophy is dead, apparently inspired by Stephen Hawking’s related claim that scientists rather than philosophers “have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” (That really is a different claim. Discovery isn’t all there is, and not doing it isn’t the same as being dead.) The Times Higher tells us things about the debate.

According to Tim Crane, Knightsbridge professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, Professor Hawking himself proved that philosophy is unavoidable, since he put forward a lot of philosophical views. Unfortunately, these amounted to “bad philosophy, because he is unaware of it as a discipline and

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From Buenos Aires to Montréal

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:57 am | By

And – in front of the Saudi embassy in Argentina – via Amnistía Internacional Argentina.

And another photo from Montreal

 … Read the rest

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In Montreal

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:38 am | By

Now Ensaf has posted photos from her meeting with the mayor of Montreal.

How amazing she is. All that courage and aplomb.

 … Read the rest

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“A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife”

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:25 am | By

Universities and student unions don’t generally invite Nazis to give talks, do they? Free inquiry is good, open discussion is good, but that isn’t necessarily taken to mean that it’s good to have proponents of genocide give talks to university students, is it?

I’m wondering why Islamist preachers with fascist leanings get invited to give talks at universities.

A controversial preacher who described homosexuality as a “scourge” has been invited to speak at a London university the day before a national gay pride event takes place there.

More than 500 people have signed a petition against allowing Haitham al-Haddad to speak at the University of Westminster’s Islamic Society event on Thursday.

Dr al-Haddad has called homosexuality a “criminal act”,

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Sentenced to beheading

Feb 23rd, 2015 9:23 am | By

Life proceeds in a normal way in Saudi Arabia, as another court sentences someone to death for “abusing Islam.” Emirates 24/7 reports, complete with mandatory groveling to the prophet.

A Saudi court sentenced a local man to death after he was found guilty of insulting Islam and its Prophet (PBUH), a newspaper reported on Monday.

The unidentified man, in his 20s, was also charged with ripping a copy of the Holy Koran, filming the act and publishing it on social networks, ‘Sharq’ said.

“The court sentenced the man to beheaded after finding him guilty in those charges,” the paper said in a report from the northeastern town of Hafr Albatin.

That’s some of that “violent extremism” we hear so … Read the rest

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More every day

Feb 23rd, 2015 8:52 am | By

In Raif Badawi news today –

Ensaf Haidar is meeting with the mayor of Montreal, who according to a tweet by Breakfast Television Montreal  is expected to introduce a motion at City Council condemning the flogging of Raif.

Elham Manea tweets

We call on his majesty King Salman to free #RaifBadawi and unite him with his family – (picture of @Amnesty_Schweiz )

That’s Elham in the middle, I think.

LiberalInternational tweets

Tomorrow, LI will jointly give the @GenevaSummit Courage Award to @raifbadawi #FreeRaif #humanrights

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And if you do not like it here

Feb 22nd, 2015 5:50 pm | By

Ah the mayor of Rotterdam – what an admirable guy. A story from January 8, the day after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb appeared on television programme Nieuwsuur Wednesday night, and lashed out at Muslims living in this society despite their hatred of it. “It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom,” he said. “But if you do not like freedom, in Heaven’s name pack your bag and leave.”

“There may be a place in the world where you can be yourself,” he continued. “Be honest with yourself and do not go and kill innocent journalists,” Aboutaleb, a Muslim himself, said.

“And if you do not like it here because humorists you do not

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Playing house with beheaders

Feb 22nd, 2015 5:36 pm | By

The Beeb has more details on the three addled teenage girls who ran off to be with IS, and how much fun they can expect to have there.

Dr Erin Saltman, from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which offers independent expertise in counter-terrorism, said IS propaganda targets young women specifically with the promise of being part of a humanitarian movement.

She said: “They are the wives and mothers of the future jihadists so quite a lot of dedication and time has been put into trying to allure these younger women to come and join in these efforts.

“They are very much restricted to the house and home for the most part. There is strict sharia law in the region.”

Imprisoned … Read the rest

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Compatibility

Feb 22nd, 2015 4:54 pm | By

Just as I said. Amir Taheri in the New York Post

The three-day White House conference on “violent extremism” exposed anew Obama’s inability or unwillingness to understand the challenge of Islamist terrorism, let alone to lead the fight against it.

The conference was billed as a global event bringing together people of different views from more than 60 countries. In practice, however, it acted more as an echo chamber for Obama’s politically correct approach.

“Violent extremism” is misleading, to say the least. (Is there extremism without violence?) The generic term obscures the fact that we face a specific form of terrorism rooted, nurtured and waged in the name of Islam.

Just exactly what I said. I said it on Read the rest

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Where this campaign is urgently needed

Feb 22nd, 2015 11:42 am | By

Leo Igwe points out that Africa badly needs the anti-blasphemy campaign.

On January 30 2015, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) launched a campaign aimed at abolishing “blasphemy laws” worldwide. The campaign is gaining momentum across Europe and beyond. But there is still no significant support from groups in Africa. Meanwhile Africa is a continent where this campaign is urgently needed.

The campaign focuses on getting world leaders to understand that blasphemy laws are incompatible with human rights and democratic values in this 21st century. Campaigners plan to get states to repeal legislations that criminalize “insult to religion”, hurting religious sentiments, or any laws that restrict questions, criticism, or ridicule of religion or religious concepts. Blasphemy laws exist

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Because it is required by Islam

Feb 22nd, 2015 10:44 am | By

Pakistan Today reports that FGM is very popular in Malaysia, and getting more so all the time.

Syahiera Atika, a 19-year-old Malaysian girl  has happily embraced western-style capitalism but in contrast strictly follows the local interpretation of Islam as she informed the Vice of her circumcision.

Female circumcision involves the surgical removal of all or part of a woman’s clitoris. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classed this procedure as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

WHO also defines it as an operation that “involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

Syahiera however, rejects the notion that it is inhumane and says that ”I’m circumcised because it

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Grooming in Bethnal Green

Feb 22nd, 2015 10:06 am | By

Three teenage girls from London went traipsing off to Syria to play house with IS last Tuesday. Sara Khan says it’s grooming, just as it’s grooming when teenage girls go into prostitution.

As the prime minister expressed deep concern over the disappearance of the three east London schoolgirls who are thought to be on their way to join Islamic State (Isis) fighters in Syria, the head of Inspire, a human rights organisation working with Muslim women, called on schools to do more to burst the “romanticised notion” of Isis that is being peddled to young people by a slick online propaganda machine.

The head of Inspire, Sara Khan, said the tactics used by those luring young girls to

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This Street UK is not that Street UK

Feb 22nd, 2015 9:18 am | By

Andrew Gilligan at the Telegraph spots another mess – another case of a government body tangling itself up with an Islamist group, either cluelessly or…not. Oxfordshire County Council has hired a group called Street UK to “mentor” people.

The contract is part of Oxfordshire County Council’s response to Operation Bullfinch, which saw seven men convicted of 59 sex crimes against children and sentenced to a total of 95 years in prison. Five were of Pakistani origin and two were North African.

The trouble is, Street UK is an Islamist group.

…the council has engaged Street UK, which it describes as a “national youth charity,” for a “pilot mentoring programme” in Oxfordshire’s Muslim communities to “work closely with those at risk

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We shall overcome

Feb 21st, 2015 5:37 pm | By

Raquel Evita Saraswati posted a couple of photos from the Oslo demonstration of solidarity.

 … Read the rest

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Many of them teenage girls

Feb 21st, 2015 5:22 pm | By

The Guardian reports on the peace vigil in Oslo today.

Norwegian Muslims organised a peace vigil in Oslo on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Jews a week after fatal shootings in Denmark targeted a synagogue and free-speech seminar.

As the mainly elderly Jewish congregation filed out of the synagogue after Shabbat prayers, a group of young Muslims, many of them teenage girls wearing headscarves, formed a symbolic ring outside the building to applause from a crowd of more than 1,000 people.

It’s good that many of them were girls, with or without hijab. It’s good to see girls and women out front.

…a traditional Shabbat ceremony was held in the open air with many demonstrators adding their voices

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In memory of Özgecan Aslan

Feb 21st, 2015 4:47 pm | By

Hurriyet reports on a protest in Istanbul’s Taksim Square in which men wore skirts to protest violence against women.

“I would walk around in Taksim wearing a skirt, if you can do that…”

For many Turkish men, this is a common phrase they use when they want to assert a claim or make a bet. It has turned into reality when a group of men went to Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square wearing skirts, keeping their word they have been pledging for the past few days on social media.

On Feb. 17, Erkan Doğan had donned a skirt in Istanbul’s Asian side neighborhood of Kadıköy to demonstrate in memory of slain 20-year-old student Özgecan Aslan.

Doğan’s individual action had inspired social

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