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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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He doubts, he imagines

May 8th, 2015 10:10 am | By

More provincial ignorant backstabbing from people on the left, this time Jon Wiener in the Nation replying to Katha Pollitt.

The headline is terrible, for a start.

Defend Charlie Hebdo’s Publishing Disgusting Cartoons About Muslims? Yes. Give Them an Award for It? No.

That’s probably an editor, because Wiener said “about Islam,” not Muslims. Bad editor. Bad headline.

It’s a simple distinction, but somehow it’s been overlooked by a lot of those who support the decision by PEN to give its “Freedom of Expression” award to Charlie Hebdo. Those who signed the protest against the award (I was one of them) agree that Charlie Hebdo had a right to publish cartoons about Islam, no matter how disgusting, and not be

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A busy day for Ensaf

May 7th, 2015 5:48 pm | By

Wow.

Justin Trudeau:

Justin Trudeau, MP @JustinTrudeau 7 hours ago
One year ago, #RaifBadawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison + 1,000 lashes by Saudi Arabian gov’t. @pmharper – it’s time to act. #FreeRaif

Il y a 1 an, #RaifBadawi était condamné à 10 ans de prison et 1 000 coups de fouet. @pmharper – il est temps d’agir. #libérerRaif

And news from Greystone Books:

Vancouver, BC – Greystone Books announces the acquisition of 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think (World, English language) by imprisoned Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi. The book gathers a selection of Badawi’s pivotal texts, in which he expresses his opinions on life in an autocratic-Islamic state under the Sharia and

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Guest post: Those Who Say ‘We Cannot Poke Fun at Islam’ Don’t Get It

May 7th, 2015 5:03 pm | By

Guest post by Leo Igwe.

People across the world are slowly being coerced into treating Islam with ‘respect’ or, better, with fear. We are gradually getting to a point where criticising the Islamic faith is a form of death sentence.

The reason which some people give for this ugly development is that ‘Many people believe in Islam.’ They say: ‘There are over I billion muslims in the world’. And my question is: And so what? That billions of people, including children, youths, illiterates and semi illiterates, profess Islam or believe that something is true does not make it true, does it? Billions of people have held mistaken, absurd and irrational claims over the centuries and still do. Majority can carry … Read the rest

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Guest post: Simply the way of thinking of the Western tribe

May 7th, 2015 4:22 pm | By

Originally a comment by veil_of_ignorance on Myths about Charlie Hebdo.

There are quite a few voices from the Left who not only explain Islamism but who also downright justify it as the “will of the people” or voice of the marginalized. Irrespective of the fact that Islamism is as petty bourgeois as it can get. Beyond that, there are clear links between certain parts of the Left and Islamist organizations – Galloway is a good example, as is StopTheWar, as is Amnesty/CAGE.

On the other hand, progressive voices from the MENA region are oftentimes ignored or played down. The American Left’s solidarity with the Rojava cantons – one of the most impressive progressive projects in the last 20 years … Read the rest

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Une fois de plus, bravo à #CharlieHebdo

May 7th, 2015 1:11 pm | By

Some more beautiful snaps from the PEN gala when Charlie accepted the award, via Alain Mabanckou on Twitter.

Alain Mabanckou @amabanckou · May 6
Une fois de plus, bravo à #CharlieHebdo : j’ai eu grand plaisir à présenter le prix Courage reçu à #NYC au #PENgala

[One more time, bravo to Charlie Hedo: I had the great pleasure of presenting the Courage prize, received in NYC at the #PENgala]

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What does it actually say?

May 7th, 2015 12:58 pm | By

The new Jesus and Mo.

The Patreon.… Read the rest

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The outrage from the majority of the writing community has been unequivocal

May 7th, 2015 12:52 pm | By

The historian Amanda Foreman rebukes the calumnies against Charlie in a terrific op-ed on Charlie at the Wall Street Journal.

The heartfelt standing ovation for Gerard Biard and Jean-Baptiste Thoret—who accepted the Freedom of Expression Courage award on behalf of the magazine—had its own eloquence. Unusually, the many writers in the room didn’t need to say anything to make themselves heard. Simply being at the dinner was a statement, a Rubicon moment for those who believe that universal human rights is a cause worth dying for. Just as boycotting the awards has become the rallying event for those who believe that it comes second to other considerations.

I don’t much want to die for any cause, but if I … Read the rest

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Myths about Charlie Hebdo

May 7th, 2015 12:40 pm | By

Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic writes about Charlie, with some useful information.

A subsidiary myth has grown up around Charlie Hebdo: that anti-Jewish hostility in its pages was forbidden. This false belief is offered as proof of the magazine’s “Islamophobic” tendencies (about the term “Islamophobia,” please read my interview with the prime minister of France, Manuel Valls).

This myth arose in part because of a controversy concerning the cartoonist known as Siné, who was fired from the magazine in 2008 after implying that the son of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy would “go a long way in life” after converting to Judaism. Critics of Charlie Hebdo point to this incident as proof thatCharlie Hebdo maintained a double

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