All entries by this author

Systematic discrimination against women persists

Jan 24th, 2015 11:29 am | By

Human Rights Watch sees Saudi Arabia rather differently from the way the people running the governments and sitting on the thrones do.

King Abdullah’s reign brought about marginal advances for women but failed to secure the fundamental rights of Saudi citizens to free expression, association, and assembly. Abdullah’s successor, King Salman, should halt persecution of peaceful dissidents and religious minorities, end pervasive discrimination against women, and ensure greater protections for migrant workers.

Over King Abdullah’s nine-and-a-half year rule, reform manifested itself chiefly in greater tolerance for a marginally expanded public role for women, but royal initiatives were largely symbolic and produced extremely modest concrete gains.

And that’s in a place where women are treated like disease-ridden vaginas – alluring and … Read the rest

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



If that’s bland and reassuring, what would scary look like?

Jan 24th, 2015 10:46 am | By

The Guardian also reports that the new Saudi monarch promises continuity with the previous monarch. What a surprise.

Salman’s first public remarks as monarch, even before Abdullah’s burial, were designed to send a bland and reassuring message of stability. “We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech on state TV.

“The Arab and Islamic nations are in dire need of solidarity and cohesion.” He used the phrase “the straight path” – language taken directly from the Qur’an.

Yeah cool – so they’ll keep on whipping and fining and imprisoning secular liberals, and looking the other way as citizens torture their foreign servants, and oppressing and suppressing … Read the rest

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



The palace told them to lower the flags

Jan 24th, 2015 10:21 am | By

Wtf?

Why would flags in the UK be lowered in tribute to the king of Saudi Torturer Arabia?

Some MPs are wondering.

A decision to mark the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia by flying flags in Whitehall at half-mast has been criticised by MPs.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it had asked government buildings to fly the union flag at half-mast for 12 hours in line with protocol that says this is appropriate following the death of a foreign monarch.

Any monarch, all monarchs? No matter what? Even when the country the monarch was monarch of just beat a man with 50 blows of a stick as punishment for having a website that … Read the rest

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



Measles then and now

Jan 24th, 2015 9:19 am | By

You know those people who say measles is just a harmless little childhood disease? Epidemiologist Tara Smith has a few things to tell them.

Last year was the worst year for measles in two decades. While we’ve seen fewer than 100 cases of measles in most years since the turn of the century, that number spiked to 644 cases in 2014, from 23 separate outbreaks in 27 states.

Before the vaccine, the United States saw approximately 4 million cases of measles each year and 400 to 500 deaths. These are the stats that vaccine-deniers tend to emphasize—a relatively low number of deaths compared with the number of infections. However, those statistics alone leave out a big part of

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



Charlie avec fouet

Jan 24th, 2015 8:58 am | By

A cartoon via Universalist Muslims on Facebook

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



Comparative statements

Jan 23rd, 2015 6:18 pm | By

Obama’s statement when Hugo Chavez kicked it.

Obama’s statement when King Abdullah kicked it.

That makes me want to vomit.

H/t Ahmed Akeel… Read the rest

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



Worldview Academy faculty speak and present

Jan 23rd, 2015 6:04 pm | By

Uh huh. “Worldview Academy” appears to be mostly a website, along with a program of “camps” it offers around the country. Judging by the “camp” in my state, which lasts 5 days and charges $745, these camps are really just quick proselytizing jaunts.

We are drawn together by the conviction to live out a biblical worldview in heart, mind, and life. Each summer, we gather in camps across the country to pursue the Reason for living. Just as iron sharpens iron, our faculty and students dialogue and search the scriptures to deepen our knowledge of Christ and come together in following Him.

Whatevs.

They say their faculty will come along and fix you up, but they don’t say … Read the rest

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Jack pulled out a piece of paper

Jan 23rd, 2015 5:52 pm | By

Oh here we go – “they are persecuting me because of my faaaaaaaaith when I all I want to do is say God hates everyone I disapprove of.”

A Colorado bakery is under investigation for religious discrimination after a baker refused to write anti-gay words on a cake.

In March of 2014, a customer named Bill Jack requested several cakes in the shapes of Bibles from the Azucar Bakery in Denver, Colo., according to the bakery owner, Marjorie Silva.

Silva says Jack pulled out a piece of paper with phrases like “God hates gays” and requested her to write them on his cakes.

A Fred Phelps wannabe; just what this world needs.

“After I read it, I was like ‘No

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



Time for the UK to cut these ties

Jan 23rd, 2015 4:42 pm | By

Sunny Hundal on the BBC blasts the UK government’s hugging of the Saudi regime.

Blogger Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticising Saudi Arabian clerics on his internet blog.

British blogger Sunny Hundal said this case, and others like it, mean the UK should stop “hugging” the Saudi regime.

In a personal film, he said it was time for the UK to cut these ties and “treat the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the contempt it deserves”.

We might as well be hugging IS.… Read the rest

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



Progressive Muslim voices are actually everywhere

Jan 23rd, 2015 3:33 pm | By

Via Tehmina Kazi, a brilliant piece at Open Democracy by a friend of hers, Akmal Ahmed Safwat, an oncologist in Denmark.

Instead of verbally denouncing terror, many Muslims in the West are now challenging the radical, ultra conservative and violent Wahhabi/salafi version of Islam that gives religious justification for hideous crimes. They are doing so through a growing movement of progressive Muslims such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Muslims for Progressive Values (USA) and the Liberal Muslim Network (Norway).

We progressive Muslims do not distinguish between atrocities committed by radical movements like Al-Qaida or Boko Haram and those committed by despotic dictatorships that dare to call themselves “Islamic” governments; the ones that administer the death penalty for apostasy and

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



His father blogged about free speech in Saudi

Jan 23rd, 2015 3:02 pm | By

Here’s a good one to pass around.

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



A wink and a Sid James cackle

Jan 23rd, 2015 12:36 pm | By

Padraig Reidy at Index on Censorship explains about the Sun’s page 3.

The Page 3 girl was a typical product of the British sexual revolution. What started, with the availability of contraception to women in the 1960s, as a liberation, quickly became another way to reduce them. Freed from the terror of unwanted pregnancy, women and girls were now expected to be in a permanent state of up-for-it-ness. The popular films of the late 60s and early 70s, the On The Buses, the Carry Ons, the Confessions…, portrayed British society as a parade of priapic middle-aged men, always attempting to escape their middle-aged, old-fashioned wives, in pursuit of seemingly countless, always available, young women.

It was fun, it was

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



Why it’s so hard to believe women

Jan 23rd, 2015 12:21 pm | By

Huh. I normally have zero interest in Jay Leno, but he said something good the other day. Emily Yahr at a Washington Post blog shares the details:

Just a couple of months ago, it seemed like some kind of taboo for high-profile entertainers to address the allegations that Bill Cosby raped dozens of women. But in the past two days, a couple of famous names in the tight-knit world of comedy have broken the silence — and spoken out in support of the women who have come forward.

The most surprising voice may be Jay Leno, the former “Tonight Show” host who essentially spent his entire career on NBC, home of “The Cosby Show.” Leno is also known for

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



Ominous headline: “New Saudi king promises continuity”

Jan 23rd, 2015 11:01 am | By

Booooooooo. Wrong. Bad move. Go back and start over. Lose a turn.

“Continuity” for Saudi Arabia means more fanatical religiosity governing everything, more theocratic meddling, more sadistic punishments for the utterance of liberal thoughts, more frenzied efforts to conceal the existence of women, more criminally bad treatment of foreign workers, more crawling before “god” and stamping on perceived inferiors.

Within hours of acceding to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom, King Salman, 78, vowed to maintain the same policies as his predecessors.

“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

The new king’s profile was updated on his official Twitter account, where

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



68 confirmed measles cases

Jan 23rd, 2015 10:32 am | By

You know that measles outbreak that started at Disneyland? Pediatricians say yo, that’s a hint that people should be vaccinated.

The leading U.S. pediatrician group on Friday urged parents, schools and communities to vaccinate children against measles in the face of an outbreak that began at Disneyland in California in December and has spread to more than 50 people.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said all children should get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine between the ages of 12 and 15 months old and again between 4 and 6 years old.

No, this is not like people who make Fords saying all people should buy Fords. It’s different from that.

“A family vacation to an amusement park –

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



Saudi ambassador to Germany is saying Raif won’t be flogged again

Jan 23rd, 2015 9:56 am | By

International Business Times has an exciting story dated a few hours ago…but sadly it seems to be based on a misreading of a Facebook post, so not so exciting after all. Ludovica Laccino reports that a Saudi official has said Raif won’t be flogged any more.

Saudi Arabian activist blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for advocating free speech, may not have to serve the full decade in prison.

Badawi family’s spokesperson, Dr Elham Manea, who is also an associate professor specialising in the Middle East at University of Zurich, said on Facebook that the news was delivered by a Saudi ambassador in Germany.

She wrote: “Saudi ambassador in Germany informed

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An Islam of manufactured dogma

Jan 22nd, 2015 6:20 pm | By

Ziauddin Sardar says Islam has a history full of freethinkers.

“This has nothing to do with Islam,” say the imams. “These callous and fanatic murders have nothing to do with us,” say the mullahs. “Islam means peace,” say the worshippers. These disclaimers, and variations on them, have been repeated countless times by Muslim commentators since the Charlie Hebdo killings. They are designed to distance people from guilt by association with those who kill and maim in the name of Islam.

But what about the sentence recently handed down to the (mildly) liberal blogger Raif Badawi in the Islamic state of Saudi Arabia? Ten years in jail, a massive fine, 1,000 lashes over 20 weeks (currently suspended because the first

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



London, Tunisia, Jordan

Jan 22nd, 2015 5:46 pm | By

Via Elham Manea on Twitter

London –

Tunisia -

Jordan -

The people

united

shall never be defeated.

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



Belfast and Dublin

Jan 22nd, 2015 5:40 pm | By

More protests in more places for Raif.

Via Amnesty on Twitter –

Belfast City Hall –

Via Amnesty Ireland -

The Saudi embassy in Dublin -

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



Salman takes over from Abdullah

Jan 22nd, 2015 5:08 pm | By

The king of Saudi Fascist Arabia has died and his half-brother has replaced him. The New York Times gives some background.

Abdullah’s reign was a constant effort to balance desert traditions with the demands of the modern world, making him appear at times to be shifting from one to the other.

When popular movements and insurgencies overthrew or threatened long-established Arab rulers from Tunisia to Yemen in 2011, he reacted swiftly.

On his return from three months of treatment for a herniated disk and a blood clot in New York and Morocco, his government spent $130 billion to build 500,000 units of low-income housing, to bolster the salaries of government employees and to ensure the loyalty of religious organizations.

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