Notes and Comment Blog

The “brothers” came in

Nov 30th, 2015 5:51 pm | By

So Maryam gave her talk at Goldsmiths…and “brothers” from ISOC did their best to disrupt it.

After my talk began, ISOC “brothers” started coming into the room, repeatedly banging the door, falling on the floor, heckling me, playing on their phones, shouting out, and creating a climate of intimidation in order to try and prevent me from speaking.

I continued speaking as loudly as I could. They repeatedly walked back and forth in front of me. In the midst of my talk, one of the ISOC Islamists switched off my PowerPoint and left. The University security had to intervene and remain in the room as I continued my talk.

Eventually the thug who had switched off my PowerPoint returned and continued his harassments. At this point, I stood my ground, screamed loudly and continued insisting that he be removed even when the security said he should stay because he was a student. When he was finally escorted out of the meeting, discussions on many issues from apostasy, the veil to Islamism and Sharia laws continued, including with some of the ISOC “sisters” who remained behind.

That’s their Islam, their religion of peace – one that can’t let people dissent from it.

In the Q&A, a women’s rights campaigner who had been kidnapped by Islamists in Libya and held for three days said that the attempts at intimidation reminded her of those dreaded days.

Another CEMB activist said one of the ISOC thugs disrupting the meeting threatened him by pointing a finger to his head.

The behaviour of the ISOC “brothers” was so appalling that a number of Muslim women felt the need to apologise, to which I explained that no apology was needed from those who were not to blame.

Absurdly, this very group which speaks of “safe spaces” has in the past invited Hamza Tzortzis of IERA which says beheading of apostates is painless and Moazem Begg of Cage Prisoners that advocates “defensive jihad.”

“Safe spaces” in which to advocate the stoning of women for having sex.

Despite the many attempts of the ISOC “brothers,” the meeting ended successfully and raised critical issues, including that criticism of Islam and Islamism are not bigotry against Muslims who are often the first victims of Islamism and on the frontlines of resistance. The meeting also helped expose the Islamists for what they are – thugs who cannot tolerate dissent.

Nonetheless, the Islamists at ISOC will need to learn that apostates, and particularly women, have a right to speak and that we will not be intimidated or back down.

Freedom of expression and the right to criticise and leave Islam without fear and intimidation is a basic human right. We have a responsibility to fight for these universal values at British universities and also across the globe.

A video of the talk will be made available shortly.

Well done Maryam.


State murder

Nov 30th, 2015 5:14 pm | By

News from our beloved ally Saudi Arabia, so very different from that horrid Islamic State that’s always killing people for no reason.

Sri Lanka has urged Saudi Arabia to pardon a domestic worker, sentenced to death by stoning after she admitted committing adultery while working in the Arab kingdom.  An official from Sri Lanka’s Foreign Employment Bureau said the married 45-year-old, who had worked as a maid in Riyadh since 2013, was convicted of adultery in August.

She had sex with someone. Saudi Arabia is going to throw stones at her to kill her, because she had sex with someone. This is our “ally.”

(You know how the stoning works, right? The woman is buried up to her shoulders, and the men stand in a circle around her and throw stones at her head. It takes awhile to kill her. She screams a lot.)


Suckled in the bosom of Fatwa Valley

Nov 30th, 2015 5:02 pm | By

Kamel Daoud in the New York Times on November 20:

Black Daesh, white Daesh. The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things. The Islamic State; Saudi Arabia. In its struggle against terrorism, the West wages war on one, but shakes hands with the other. This is a mechanism of denial, and denial has a price: preserving the famous strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia at the risk of forgetting that the kingdom also relies on an alliance with a religious clergy that produces, legitimizes, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism, the ultra-puritanical form of Islam that Daesh feeds on.

It’s rich, isn’t it? We pitch a huge fit over a fourteen-year-old kid who brings a clock to school, but we clutch the throbbing heart of Wahhabism to our oil-loving bosom, and then give it all our money. We jump at phantoms, we yank people off airplanes, we start wars, and all the time, we’re treating the official, state-based, “legitimate” version of IS as our great great great friend and trusted colleague. Saudi Arabia is an ally! We saw fit to shun South Africa, and rightly so, but Saudi Arabia is our god damn ally.

Wahhabism, a messianic radicalism that arose in the 18th century, hopes to restore a fantasized caliphate centered on a desert, a sacred book, and two holy sites, Mecca and Medina. Born in massacre and blood, it manifests itself in a surreal relationship with women, a prohibition against non-Muslims treading on sacred territory, and ferocious religious laws. That translates into an obsessive hatred of imagery and representation and therefore art, but also of the body, nakedness and freedom. Saudi Arabia is a Daesh that has made it.

And Daesh is a Saudi Arabia that lacks only a centralized state to make itself an official member of the family of nations. Oh wait, it also needs a shit-ton of oil.

The West’s denial regarding Saudi Arabia is striking: It salutes the theocracy as its ally but pretends not to notice that it is the world’s chief ideological sponsor of Islamist culture. The younger generations of radicals in the so-called Arab world were not born jihadists. They were suckled in the bosom of Fatwa Valley, a kind of Islamist Vatican with a vast industry that produces theologians, religious laws, books, and aggressive editorial policies and media campaigns.

And all of the laws and books and policies? They suck. They’re antediluvian, they’re fascist, they’re woman-hating and life-hating; they suck. There’s nothing good to say about them.

Daesh has a mother: the invasion of Iraq. But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex. Until that point is understood, battles may be won, but the war will be lost. Jihadists will be killed, only to be reborn again in future generations and raised on the same books.

Kamel Daoud, a columnist for Quotidien d’Oran, is the author of “The Meursault Investigation.” This essay was translated by John Cullen from the French.

Sue me, Saudi.

Seen from above

Nov 30th, 2015 4:13 pm | By

Scott Kelly sends a snapshot of California from the ISS.

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And how old is this ‘kid’?

Nov 30th, 2015 12:26 pm | By

I was running around outside most of last week so I didn’t see Dawkins’s latest adventures in publicly chastising a 14-year-old boy for saying he “made” a clock when he didn’t really “make” a clock in the strictest sense of “making” something. I’ve seen some of his previous adventures in that exciting field, and blogged about some of those, but I missed the latest, in which he really outdid himself. He outdid himself by such a margin that CNN took the trouble to report on it.

Eminent British scientist Richard Dawkins has drawn criticism on social media for what some say is an unfair comparison between Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teenager whose school project was mistaken for a bomb, and a young ISIS killer.

But Dawkins says he was merely drawing a parallel between their ages.

“HORRIFIED anyone thinks I could POSSIBLY liken Ahmed to a killer,” Dawkins said in a tweet Wednesday. “My ONLY point of comparison was their AGES: kids not immune to criticism.”

Yes. You know…it’s striking how many of these HORRIFIED anyone thinks he could POSSIBLY whatever it was that time, and that one, and that one, tweets he’s tweeted. He’s tweeted very many of them. He’s always finding himself having to tweet these all-caps horrified corrections. Wouldn’t you think he would spot the pattern, and correct for it? Wouldn’t you think it would dawn on him that people keep getting his meaning wrong, and that might not be solely because people are stupid? That he might be phrasing them clumsily? That in his eagerness to be provocative and witty, he often comes off just being rude?

Wouldn’t you think he could go back and look at that tweet again and realize that it does look as if he were saying what so many thought he was saying?

Or is that just me?

Dawkins, a leading voice in the atheist movement, was reacting to news that the Mohamed family was demanding $15 million in damages and an apology from city and school officials in Irving, Texas, over their treatment of the teen.

In September, the 14-year-old, who is Muslim, was detained, questioned and hauled off in handcuffs after bringing a handmade clock to school, which a teacher thought could have been a bomb.

“Don’t call him ‘clock boy’ since he never made a clock. Hoax Boy, having hoaxed his way into the White House, now wants $15M in addition!” Dawkins tweeted Tuesday.

Dawkins has been calling Ahmed “Hoax Boy” for weeks. It’s exceptionally obnoxious. Ahmed is fourteen. I flatly don’t believe he decided to devise a cunning plan to get invited to the White House for a brief visit, and that fiddling with a clock was that plan. I think a grown man, an Oxford academic, a best-selling author, should not be labeling him “Hoax Boy” in that childish and nasty way.

The evolutionary biologist has been vocal in his belief that the case — which made Ahmed a cause célèbre, prompted the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed to trend, and led to a personal invitation to the White House from President Barack Obama — was a “hoax.”

He has repeatedly insisted that Ahmed did not make a clock but rather “took a clock out of its case and put it in a box,” and has questioned the teen’s motives in doing so.

And repeatedly called him “Hoax Boy” – on Twitter, where he has 1.2 million followers.

And then he did even worse than that.

When Twitter users chided the 74-year-old scientist for “picking on a kid,” he responded by tweeting a link to a news story about a child ISIS killer.

“‘But he’s only a kid.’ Yes, a ‘kid’ old enough to sue for $15M those whom he hoaxed. And how old is this ‘kid’?” tweeted Dawkins, linking to a story about a young ISIS killer beheading a victim.

Photo published for Isis: Shocking video shows Islamic State child executioner beheading victim

And then he was surprised and HORRIFIED that people thought he was comparing Ahmed to the kid in the photo.

Me, I’m horrified that Dawkins is still on Twitter.

And there’s more. The story goes on. People protested and Dawkins responded in his usual clueless and belligerent way, and it’s enough to make you want to eject your lunch.

He’s mean; that’s all there is to it. He’s a mean bastard, and Twitter gives him a place to take his meanness out for exercise, and that’s what he does. Apparently nothing will convince him this is not a clever or useful or productive thing to do.

Any body at all?

Nov 30th, 2015 11:57 am | By


What it’s like being invisible

Nov 30th, 2015 11:09 am | By

Via Josephine Liptrott:

Greatest designer:

  1. man
  2. man
  3. man
  4. man
  5. man

Greatest comedian:

  1. man
  2. man
  3. man
  4. man
  5. man

Greatest author:

  1. man
  2. man
  3. man
  4. man
  5. man

Greatest woman:

  1. woman
  2. woman
  3. woman
  4. woman
  5. woman

Men do, women just be.

Yorks coast

Nov 30th, 2015 10:54 am | By

I happened to see this while looking for something else, and couldn’t resist it. It’s from a BBC feature on vintage railway posters.


One of those gentle violent guys

Nov 30th, 2015 10:40 am | By

The New York Times apparently perpetrated one of the most oxymoronic lines one could dream up in its initial reporting on the guy who killed three people and injured nine more at Planned Parenthood. Gawker has the record.

After what was likely a heated debate around the editorial desk, The New York Times decided to rework a story that described Robert Lewis Dear, the man who killed three people and wounded nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday, as “gentle.”

A story published on Saturday about Dear’s background used that adjective, defined as “[a person of] a mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender” to describe Dear, following that adjective with details about how he harassed women for years.

Jack Mirkinson tweeted a snapshot:

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Acquaintances described the guy as a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew. Some “gentle.” (Also, weren’t some of the neighbors women? Was he surrounded exclusively by men?)

To be fair, you can see how they screwed that up. The acquaintances they talked to probably said he seemed like a gentle loner and yet he had violent outbursts. Violent people can seem gentle at intervals; few people are all one thing all the time. But still. You can see how they screwed it up, but it’s more difficult to see how they failed to catch it before publication.

A deep concern

Nov 30th, 2015 9:19 am | By

A public Facebook post by the Goldsmiths ISOC dated 5 hours ago:

Goldsmiths Islamic Society expresses a deep concern regarding Goldsmiths Atheist, Secular & Humanist society’s event with renowned Islamophobe Maryam Namazie, which is due to be held tonight. Namazie is known to hold very controversial views i.e. labelling the the niqab as a “bin bag” and calling the veil a symbol of “far right Islamism”. She also regularly shares platforms with right wing fascists such as Douglas Murray, of the Henry Jackson Society. We feel that at such a sensitive time for Muslims, where islamophobic attacks have dramatically risen, it is dangerous for such a person to be given a chance to express such bigoted views. We feel such an individual will violate our safe space, and are disappointed that someone so controversial has been given a platform.

Yes, Maryam holds “very controversial views,” like the view that all Muslims should be entirely free to leave Islam whenever they want to, and the view that women should never be forced to wear a niqab or a hijab or any other religious gear, and the view that the laws should be the same for all people, not sorted and altered according to religion.

Maryam also holds the view that Muslims as a group should not be confused with Islamists, and the view that Islamism presses hardest on Muslims, and that it’s both possible and necessary to dissent from Islamism and Islam without demonizing Muslims in the process.

Goldsmiths ISOC is doing far more to muddy those waters than Maryam is. Whoever wrote that awful post is presuming to speak for Muslims in general at Goldsmiths, as if all Muslims at Goldsmiths are as illiberal and coercive as the jerk who wrote that post.



Nov 29th, 2015 4:46 pm | By

Via Ali Rizvi on Twitter:

In 2015 SArabia’s beheaded 150+ people, incl for “crimes” like sorcery: @SaudiEmbassyUSA @SaudiEmbassyUK #SueMeSaudi

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Sue me.


The country’s Shariah-based legal system ensures fairness

Nov 29th, 2015 4:37 pm | By

Adam Taylor at the Washington Post reports that Saudi Arabia considers itself profoundly different from IS, and that it plans to persuade everyone of this by suing people who say otherwise.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have long been annoyed that everyone keeps suggesting they are anything like the Islamic State. Sure, they say, perhaps some of the laws on the books may look similar to the punishments in the extremist organization, but the Saudi kingdom is a sovereign state that abides by the rule of law and uses these punishments with discretion.

Yes, it’s a “sovereign state,” for what that’s worth – which in their case is pretty much nothing. So it’s a sovereign state, so what? It’s a sovereign state with bad laws, bad judges, bad courts, bad government, bad ideas, bad you name it. It’s one of the worst countries on the planet.

According to a report in pro-government newspaper Al Riyadh, the Saudi justice ministry is planning to sue a Twitter user who suggested that a death sentence recently handed out to a Palestinian artist for apostasy was “ISIS-like.”

“Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity,” a source in the justice ministry told the newspaper, according to a translation by Reuters. The ministry would not hesitate to sue “any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom,” the source added.


Maybe they’re thinking of libel tourism. They’ve done that before:

When Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote “Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed and How to Stop It,” she assumed she would be protected by the First Amendment. She was, in the United States. But a wealthy Saudi businessman she accused in the book of being a funder of terrorism, Khalid bin Mahfouz, sued in Britain, where the libel laws are heavily weighted against journalists, and won a sizable amount of money.

The lawsuit is a case of what legal experts are calling “libel tourism.” Ms. Ehrenfeld is an American, and “Funding Evil” was never published in Britain. But at least 23 copies of the book were sold online, opening the door for the lawsuit. When Ms. Ehrenfeld decided not to defend the suit in Britain, Mr. bin Mahfouz won a default judgment and is now free to sue to collect in the United States.

That was 2008; the UK’s libel law has been somewhat improved since then, and the US has passed laws preventing people like Mr bin Mahfouz from suing here.

So where do the Saudis think they’re going to do this suing?

…the comparison to the Islamic State appears to be a particular bone of contention for the Saudi kingdom. Speaking to NBC News earlier this year, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki justified the use of capital punishments such as beheadings in the kingdom by saying the country’s Shariah-based legal system ensures fairness. “ISIS has no legitimate way to decide to decide to kill people,” Al-Turki said, adding that “the difference is clear.”

No, it isn’t, really. Yes there’s a legal system; no it’s not a good legal system or one that ensures fairness. The way Saudi Arabia decides to kill people is not legitimate either. Should we list all the people it’s killed illegitimately? All those maids beheaded on trumped up charges after they resisted rape or failed to serve the coffee hot enough? All those bloggers who dared to talk about liberal reforms?

So I guess I’d better get busy insulting Saudi Arabia more.

Pebble Beach to Carmel

Nov 29th, 2015 3:36 pm | By

You wanted visuals of the walk to the Carmel end of the Pebble Beach golf course the other day. I didn’t take pics myself so here are a few from Pebble Beach the company and a blogger.

This is the famous and infamous 9th hole. You can see how it would be rather tricky to play – and hot damn it’s a pretty place to take a stroll.

Here’s how it looks as you approach it.

Image result for pebble beach 9th hole

At the base of those cliffs there’s a little beach called Stillwater Cove.

This is approaching the far end – those houses are in Carmel, not on the course, and the beach is Carmel Beach.

Photo Galleries Hub

This one is near the beginning rather than the end, but it shows the hills I mentioned.

You can see why playing a round there would be on people’s bucket lists.


For apologists, the timing for dissent is never right

Nov 29th, 2015 3:07 pm | By

Yet again the BBC treats Maryam Namazie and the ExMuslims as some kind of horrid contaminant if not just plain traitors.

I was interviewed by Anne-Marie Tomchak for thirty minutes for BBC Trending on 26 November. Despite my also having referred 4 ex-Muslims, including those who maintained anonymity whilst Tweeting for#ExMuslimBecause due to fears for their safety, the programme spoke to Mobeen Azhar and Rashid Dar, two men who identified themselves as Muslims, about my segment which was highly edited for BBC World Service on 28 November.

The presenter Tomchak and the two Muslim men framed the entire discussion about apostasy and the basic human right to leave and criticise Islam without fear into one that was “hateful,” “bigoted,” “an attack on Muslims,” “Islamophobic,” “opportunistic,” “quite offensive”…

So the BBC actually thinks Muslims should not be allowed to leave Islam? It thinks Maryam and the ExMuslims are being “hateful” in saying Muslims can leave?

Why? The BBC is based in the UK. People in the UK are allowed to leave their religions (though it’s socially difficult for some, especially Muslims); that freedom is taken for granted. Why does the BBC make it its business to tell Muslims that they’re not allowed to leave their religion? Why does it treat her as some sort of criminal?

Tomchak and her “experts” insist that #ExMuslimBecause was “bad timing” due to the Paris attacks. For apologists,  the timing for dissent is never right.

Whilst we mourn our dead in Paris, we must not forget the countless others killed by ISIS and Islamists, including this very month in Lebanon, Nigeria, Mali, Iraq, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan… as well as those executed perfectly legally via Sharia laws in Iran, Saudi Arabia… The refugee crisis is in large part due to this unbridled brutality.

In fact, if there ever was a “right” time to challenge Islam and Islamism, it is now.

And why would we not be allowed to do that in any case? It’s not the 13th century. We’re allowed to challenge ideas, ideologies, institutions. We’re allowed to challenge them and we’re allowed to abandon them. The BBC shouldn’t be saying or implying otherwise.

Maybe this example will help Tomchak and the BBC understand what they have got so very wrong (though I am not holding my breath). What they’ve done in their report on #ExMuslimBecause is similar to labelling critics of the Magdelene Laundries or Symphysiotomy as “strident,” “Catholic bashers” or “openly hostile to the Catholic Church.”

Of course there are people who do exactly that: apologists for the Catholic church and all its actions. But they tend to be cardinals or Bill Donohue; they don’t tend to be the BBC.

I know the BBC and its “Muslim community specialists” would have preferred us to raise #ExMuslimBecause in private over coffee. Regressive laws and fascist movements, however, are not pushed back over private chats but via normalising the taboo and through very public challenges and renunciations.

Every movement – from the demand to end racial apartheid, for gender equality, and LGBT rights – were battles fought in the public square. The right to apostasy and blasphemy is no different.

Remove all the BBC’s bogus accusations and one fact remains: the right to religion comes with a corresponding right to be free from religion. #ExMuslimBecause is part of the effort to bring about that hugely important change.

And the BBC should not be crapping on it.

Tahir Elçi

Nov 29th, 2015 12:00 pm | By

Human Rights Watch on the murder of Tahir Elçi:

The November 28, 2015 assassination of Tahir Elçi, one of Turkey’s most prominent human rights lawyers and defenders, is a huge loss for the human rights community and all those who seek rule of law, democracy and justice, Human Rights Watch said today.  Human Rights Watch offered sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Elçi, head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association.

“This is a very dark day for Turkey – the murder of Tahir Elçi is a devastating blow not only to human rights activists but to all who want to see justice and rule of law prevail in Turkey,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Tahir Elçi played a key role in representing victims of human rights violations and was critical of abusive tactics whether by the state or by armed groups.”

Elçi was shot in the head with a single bullet on a street in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, where he worked and lived, shortly after holding a press conference in the old city. The full circumstances of the killing are at the time of writing unclear. A police officer was also killed nearby.

Elçi’s murder comes at a dark time for human rights in Turkey. The breakdown of the government’s peace process with the Kurds over the summer has seen a spiraling cycle of violence in the southeast.

Elçi had worked since the early 1990s as a human rights lawyer, first in the southeast in Cizre, his home town, and later in Diyarbakır, the largest city in region. He worked extensively to represent families of victims of egregious human rights violations by the security forces, including enforced disappearances and unlawful killings by suspected government agents.

Over many years, he played a key role in representing victims of these crimes before the European Court of Human Rights, and worked closely with international human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. He himself was a victim of torture and arbitrary detention, amongst other abuses, facts recognized by the European Court of Human Rights before which he and his colleagues also successfully brought their own case.

Turkey is on a very bad path.


That’s the look to give

Nov 29th, 2015 11:50 am | By

Shaheen Hashmat on Facebook:

My face when someone comes to an event on forced marriage and asks why we’re not campaigning against male circumcision 😂 ‪#‎fuuseforum‬ Photo by Julie Tørrissen


Where many millions of babies die

Nov 29th, 2015 11:12 am | By

Planned Parenthood thinks the shootup at its Colorado clinic was motivated by something as opposed to being random. Planned Parenthood thinks the shooter didn’t select its clinic just as he might have selected a Burger King or Applebee’s, but rather, on purpose, because of what it is – a place where women can end pregnancies they don’t want to or aren’t able to continue.

Planned Parenthood said on Sunday that news reports that the gunman who attacked its Colorado health clinic had uttered “no more baby parts” during his arrest showed that the suspect was motivated by an anti-abortion agenda.

The remark attributed to the 57-year-old suspect, identified by police as Robert Lewis Dear, was an apparent reference to Planned Parenthood’s abortion activities and its role in delivering fetal tissue to medical researchers, a hot button issue in the 2016 race for the presidency.

“We now know the man responsible for the tragic shooting at PP’s health center in Colorado was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion,” the organization said on Twitter.

It would have been a safe guess anyway.

Of course, the police and the media can’t decide things on that basis; it’s their job to be more careful than that.

But we can; the general public can; bloggers can.

Conservatives have accused Planned Parenthood, a non-profit that provides a range of health services, including abortion, of illegally selling baby parts, an accusation it has strenuously denied.

While calling the shooting “an incredible tragedy,” Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Sunday dismissed talk that harsh anti-abortion rhetoric may have contributed to the attack.

“What he did is domestic terrorism,” the former Arkansas governor told CNN, referring to the gunman.

“There’s no excuse for killing other people, whether it’s inside … Planned Parenthood clinics, where many millions of babies die, or whether it’s people attacking Planned Parenthood,” Huckabee said.

No. A pregnancy is not a baby, and ending a pregnancy is not killing a baby. Huckabee is justifying the shootup. If people really were killing babies inside that clinic, violence might be justified in an effort to stop the killing.

The Colorado Springs attack led Governor John Hickenlooper to call for both sides of the debate over Planned Parenthood’s activities to “tone down the rhetoric.”

Both sides? When’s the last time supporters of abortion rights killed an opponent? Besides never?


Nov 28th, 2015 9:38 am | By

So this is good news, and could be a sign of more good news – The Montreal Gazette reports that Raif Badawi’s sentence to flogging has been suspended.

A jailed Saudi blogger is having his sentence of 1,000 lashings suspended, the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs told newspaper La Liberté.

“A pardon is now underway thanks to the head of state, the king Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud,”State Secretary Yves Rossier told the Swiss newspaper.

Here’s hoping.

H/t Bjarte

A Vatican stitchup

Nov 28th, 2015 8:58 am | By

Apparently the “Vatican,” i.e. the pretend state that is actually just the Catholic church telling everyone what to do, can prosecute people for saying things. Reuters has the details:

Five people, including two Italian reporters, went on trial in the Vatican on Tuesday, to outrage from rights groups, on charges arising from publication of books in which the Holy See was portrayed as mired in mismanagement and corruption.

At the first session, dominated by procedural issues and dubbed “Kafkaesque” by one of the defendants, journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi said they had done nothing wrong and had simply fulfilled their professional duty.

“I am incredulous in finding myself here as a defendant in a country that is not mine,” Fittipaldi told the court, adding that publishing news was protected by the Italian constitution as well as European conventions and universal declarations on human rights.

Calling all journalists: do more reporting on the Vatican aka the Catholic church. Make it hot for the all-male administration of the intrusive self-protective religion. Report all the things.

While the Vatican follows a 19th-century Italian criminal code that is no longer used in Italy, the fundamental approach to criminal trials is similar to the Italian legal system of magistrates and prosecutors. Unlike Italy, the Vatican does not have jury trials.

A criminal law making it illegal to leak documents was introduced in 2013 after another leaks scandal that preceded the resignation of Pope Benedict that year.

That’s unclear. Is the law an Italian law or a Vatican law? If it’s a Vatican law, how can it apply to people who aren’t part of the Vatican? If it’s an Italian law, why is it? Why would Italy be enforcing the Vatican’s desire to keep its crimes and fuckups secret? And why would the Vatican be prosecuting? It must be a Vatican law – but I can’t see how a Vatican law would apply outside the Vatican.

A Vatican prosecutor told the court that the Holy See did not intend to muzzle freedom of the press and that the defendants were bring tried for the way the documents were leaked by the officials and obtained by the journalists.

I’m not at all sure the Vatican aka the Catholic church has any right to have secrets, given its history and the claims it makes on all of us.

Both journalists complained they had been forced to accept court-appointed lawyers and had been given documents needed for their defense only days, or hours, before the trial started.

Fittipaldi told reporters that he had not met his lawyer until the trial was about to start. The court ruled that a senior Vatican judge would have to decide if outside lawyers could represent the two but that judge was out of Rome.

How very like the Catholic church. The church and the Mafia are basically the same institution.

The human rights watchdog, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), urged the Vatican on Monday to withdraw the charges.

“Journalists must be free to report on issues of public interests and to protect their confidential sources,” the OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media, Dunham Mijatovic, said.

“I call on the authorities not to proceed with the charges and protect journalists’ rights in accordance with OSCE commitments,” she said.

The whole thing is a complete outrage. I look forward to getting home so that I can be all over it like a bad rash.

Paint by numbers

Nov 27th, 2015 2:52 pm | By

I’ve been thinking I should do a little dictionary of Social Justice Bullshit. I say “little” because there wouldn’t be much to put in it…more of a page than a dictionary. But there are some words and phrases, and they could do with some beady-eyed interrogation. Intent isn’t magic; check your privilege; my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit – you know the ones.

One word I really hate is “schooling.” Use it in a sentence, you say, so that we all know what we’re talking about. “I schooled her on the issue but she doubled down and went right on asking her terrible questions.”

You recognize it now, right? Used by “activists” entranced with their own certainty, to describe the way they disagreed with an Impure Person.

And you also see how it works, yes? It’s not that I disagree with Impure Person and we argued about it, it’s that I have the correct knowledge and Impure Person has lack of knowledge and needs me to school her.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word that way. I certainly hope I haven’t. I have often thought people were talking about something they didn’t know enough about, like the ones who kept saying Charlie Hebdo is racist, full stop – but even when I thought that I hope I didn’t tell them I was going to “school” them.

But people who consider themselves outstandingly virtuous activists do tell each other they “schooled” the designated ignoramus of the moment, and I never see them telling each other what an asshole thing that is to say. They know they have the right take on the issue at hand, so they know that anyone who has a different take is simply wrong, end of story. There is no different take. This isn’t a world of different takes. There is what the schoolers tell you, and there is error, and those are the only two categories that exist.

You don’t have to think about it terribly long or hard to realize this way of looking at the matter is unlikely to enrich anyone’s stock of ideas. It’s more like trying to live by a recipe than it is like thinking.