Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Nothing new in Bangladesh

Feb 27th, 2015 5:18 pm | By

The BBC reports on the murder of Avijit Roy and what it means for Bangladesh and other dissenters.

Hundreds of people gathered in Dhaka to mourn the blogger’s death.

Mr Roy’s family say he received threats after publishing articles promoting secular views, science and social issues on his Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona (Free Mind).

He defended atheism in a recent Facebook post, calling it a “rational concept to oppose any unscientific and irrational belief”.

His Mukto-mona website on Friday bore the message in Bengali “we are grieving but we shall overcome” against a black background.

Like Charlie Hebdo last month.

In a forthcoming article to be published in the Free Inquiry magazine of April-May 2015, Mr Roy likens religious extremism to a “highly contagious virus”.

I have a column in that issue. What’s it about? Charlie Hebdo and Raif Badawi, and the nature of the Saudi regime. It’s almost as if there’s only one subject these days.

Death threats against atheist writers and bloggers are nothing new in Bangladesh.

Prominent writer Taslima Nasreen had to leave Bangladesh after she received death threats from hard-line Islamists in the mid-1990s.

She wrote on her blog: “Avijit Roy has been killed the way other free thinker writers were killed in Bangladesh. No free thinker is safe in Bangladesh.

“Islamic terrorists can do whatever they like. They can kill people with no qualms whatsoever.”

That’s what god-obsession gets you.

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

Freethought in Bangladesh

Feb 27th, 2015 4:50 pm | By

The BBC Bangladesh World Service talks to Taslima about the murder and about the safety of freethinkers. Her segment starts at about 4:20 but the whole thing is interesting.


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

As they were

Feb 27th, 2015 4:28 pm | By

I’ve just seen a horrific photo just after the attack on Avijit Roy and Rafida Ahmed Banna, which I’m not going to post, but in a comment on the post there is one from shortly before it, so it’s one of his last moments. It seems worth sharing.

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

Guest post: And I always think to myself, why is that accepted?

Feb 27th, 2015 11:38 am | By

Guest post by Josh the SpokesGay

I’ve got something to say about ageism and Madonna. I’m looking at you, my feminist friends. For the moment, please put aside how much you totally hate her (or think she can do no wrong) and consider this on its own.

Madonna is right when she complains about sexist ageism in the Rolling Stone article. Full stop. She’s right. And most of you agree with that, even though many of you couldn’t get past the ham-handed way she said it.

“No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black or dare to say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay,” Madonna continues. “But my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What’s the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination? They’re judging me by my age. I don’t understand. I’m trying to get my head around it. Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they’re not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don’t follow the rules. I never did, and I’m not going to start.”

Ham-handed, yes. Lots of people would, in fact, say something degrading about being black or gay. But what I’m pretty confident Madonna is getting at (spare me the charge of trying to massage her words because I’m just a huge fan; boring) is that the kind of people in polite society who would, in fact, never dare to criticize a performer for being black or gay will do so on the basis of that performer being a woman. That is a plain fact. I’ve been noticing this for years and commenting on it for years, often here at Butterflies and Wheels.

Look. Madonna is an egotist. Stipulated. She’s narcissistic. Stipulated. She’s a rich white woman, probably the most famous woman in the world. She ain’t hurting. She’s also a person and a woman in a misogynist culture; she doesn’t just “not suffer” from that just because she’s super rich. People can be lots of different things at the same time, which I know you know even though some of my friends gloss right over that.

Madonna has also made a career out of appropriating styles and cultures that wouldn’t get anything but scorn if they weren’t adopted by a pretty white woman. There’s a whole lot of behavior Madonna should rightly be taken to task for.

Stipulated. OK? Madonna is not the oppressed-est woman to walk the face of the earth.

Like most privileged white people, she’s too blasé about how she characterizes stigma and discrimination. I get it. It’s tone-deaf, and sometimes worse. No, we’re NOT past racial discrimination, or trans discrimination, or any of the plethora of oppressions. I also get it because I’ve said those things: “You wouldn’t dare be so casual about that shit if we were talking about gay people.” It’s hard to do that without sounding like (or giving support to the idea that) you think whatever flak you’re getting pales in comparison to racist/homophobic/transphobic abuse.

I know. It is problematic. I know why it pisses folks off to hear stuff like this. People, especially rich famous people, need to do a whole lot better about being aware of where they’re situated as compared to the “nobodies.”

But I’ve watched a bunch of my friends basically throw a fit over what Madonna said. Reams of digital ink spilled about how dumb she is, how obnoxious, how she must think she’s the most downtrodden woman on earth. Here’s the important part–this is all said while ignoring the obvious. Self-centered as she is, it’s highly unlikely that she thinks, on balance, that she’s worse off than your average workaday gay person, or person of color. And even if she did, it’s remarkable that no one I noticed complaining even approached acknowledging what they know to be true: It IS normalized to talk this way about women in a way it’s becoming socially unacceptable to talk with regard to other minority groups.

Come the fuck on. I know you know this.

The reality is that misogyny, from the most “mild” sexism to the most virulent rape threats, is totally normalized in our public conversation. In a way that other oppressions aren’t. In polite society you’re supposed to at least pay lip service to the idea that it’s out of bounds to criticize someone for being black qua black, gay qua gay, etc. Yeah, that ain’t good enough by a country mile, and it papers over real bigotry. Lip-service liberalism—“I think everyone should be treated equally!”—is a piss poor substitute for real, comprehensive solutions to our problems of bigotry. I know that. I’m not holding it up in order to claim, “therefore people of color have it better.” Please take that on board before you rush to tell me I’m ignoring intersectionality. But there is a qualitative difference with sexism. It’s so normalized that people you really think know better don’t even notice it.

Truth: You don’t even have to pay lip service to the idea that it’s not cool to tell a woman to put her sexuality away at a certain age. Or that she’s embarrassing. Or desperate. Or [insert whatever degrading thing you like because it’s OK cuz everyone knows it’s “inappropriate” to do these things as an older woman]. The word “feminist” is a goddamn dirty word. It is most certainly NOT required to pretend you give a shit about women as people. It just ain’t. You get to do that with impunity.

It’s so normalized that many of you, people I respect and am happy to fight alongside with, couldn’t seem to acknowledge it going on right in front of you. Because rich spoiled Madonna must think she has it so hard, so fuck her, amiright?

By making that the only conversation in reaction to her statement (or to Patricia Arquette’s, who made similarly sloppy remarks recently), you’re enacting it. I’ve seen so many of you all stand up and call foul when the slut-shaming crap gets hurled at younger performers like Beyoncé or Miley Cyrus. Yet it doesn’t seem to bother many even a little tiny bit when it gets thrown at an older woman.

Perhaps it does, and I just never see it. But I’m a bit skeptical, you’ll forgive me, when I see my so many of you never say anything about the vicious, misogynist shit that gets hurled at Madonna simply because she’s 56 and she won’t put her drawers on. But lots of folks are super-ready to dismiss her entirely when she notes it because we all know Madonna’s merely and only a spoiled princess. What’s important, apparently, is making sure you communicate to the world how stupid and vapid you think she is, and that she cannot say anything truthful or noteworthy about the double-standard of sexual performance and age applied to men and women.

I’m tired of it. Not because Madonna needs my help, but because she’s right, and I’m tired of otherwise informed people ignoring it. Or worse, participating in it. Some of you have taken to Twitter to talk about how Madonna is “embarrassing herself” merely because she showed off her ass and she’s 56. I’ve seen you do it. Even those of you who proclaim how sex-positive you are. Some of you who hail Beyoncé as the most empowerful groundbreaking-est best-est EVER feminist.

I see you. Do you see you?

And if it weren’t Madonna, it would be some other older woman, I’m sure. But I’ve been following her career for 30 years and she has been saying this all along. She was talking about double standards for women back in the goddamn 80s. She got called a narcissistic slut then, and she gets called a narcissistic slut now. It’s just as bad, perhaps worse, now that we’re all supposed to pretend we’re “post-feminist”.

I’m not asking you to be a fan, or to think M’s brand of sexual performance is per se “liberating” or “feminist.” These are complicated questions. But I’m damned disappointed in so many people who throw in to trash her when she’s saying something you well know is true, and that you call out freely when it happens to a performer you don’t happen to dislike the way you dislike Madonna.

She’s right. And you’re a hypocrite.

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

Nothing new in Bangladesh

Feb 27th, 2015 11:09 am | By

The newspaper The Hindu talked to Taslima about the murder of Avijit Roy.

 “It was Avijit’s criticism of all kinds of religious fundamentalism including Islamic fundamentalism that may have been the cause behind the murder,”Ms. Nasreen, who knew Mr. Roy for about two decades, told TheHindu.  She also said that such attacks on writers “is nothing new” in Bangladesh.

 “There is no freedom of speech in Bangladesh. Such murders of writers had taken place there before,” she added. In 2013, another blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider who advocated secularism, was allegedly murdered by extremist elements. In 2004 writer Humayun Azad was attacked near the Dhaka University campus, during the book fair. He later died mysteriously in his apartment in Germany.

The Hindu also quotes Bengali film director Gautam Ghosh.

 “The incident indicates that all kinds of tolerance, whether religious or political, were decreasing. Such attacks are attempts to muzzle the voice of free thinkers,” he said. The social media in Bengal and across the world condemned the incident.

 Ganamancha, a platform of leftist activists, claimed that the “religious fundamentalists” in Bangladesh carried out the attack. “Rationalist activities are increasingly coming under attack in the South-Asian sub-continent as was seen in the assassination of Govind Panasare (senior Communist Party of India leader) and Narendra Dabholkar (noted rationalist) by extremists in India,” said a statement issued by Ganamancha.

Theocrats on a rampage.

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

Maybe we crossed a line

Feb 27th, 2015 10:45 am | By

Padraig Reidy wrote about rights as opposed to responsibilities at Index on Censorship a few days ago.

How does one avoid being a potential target for murder by a jihadist? If you’re Jewish, you probably can’t, unless you attempt to somehow stop being Jewish (though I suspect, much like the proto-nazi mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, IS reserves the right to decide who is a Jew).

Everyone else? Well, we can be a little quieter. We can, perhaps, not hold meetings with people who have drawn pictures of Mohammed. We can, perhaps, recognise that the right to free speech comes with responsibilities, as The Guardian’s Hugh Muir wrote. The responsibility to be respectful; the responsibility not to provoke; the responsibility not to get our fool selves shot in our thick heads.

This seemed to be the message coming after last weekend’s atrocity in Copenhagen.

And here we are now, with a new atrocity. Should Avijit and Rafida have been more “responsible” as in “silent”? No. The people who attacked them with machetes are the ones who need to be more responsible, and ethical, and law-abiding.

[A]lready, amid the condemnations and what ifs? and what abouts? that have dogged us since this wretched year kicked into gear with the murders in Paris, already, the pattern seems set. Young Muslim men in Europe get guns, and then try, and for the most part succeed, in killing Jews and cartoonists, or people who happen to be in the same room as cartoonists. Then the condemnation comes, then the self-examination: what is it that’s wrong with Europe that makes people do these things?

It’s too secular, too interrogative, too disobedient.

Maybe we caused offence. Maybe we crossed a line when we allowed those cartoonists to draw those pictures. Maybe that’s it. We’ve offended two billion or so Muslims, and of course, some of them are bound to react more strongly than others. So we’d best be nice to them in future (we leave the implied “or else” hanging). And being nice means not upsetting people.

This is, as I’m fairly certain I’ve written before, a patronising and divisive way of looking at the world. Patronising because of the casual assumption that Muslims are inevitably drawn to violence by their commitment to their faith, and divisive both because it sets a double standard and because it entrenches the notion that Muslims are somehow outside of “us” in European society.

And the notion that all Muslims think the same thing, and that same thing is the most reactionary and repressive possible. Neither of those notions is true.

However much cant we spill about “no rights without responsibilities” (that is, the preposterous “responsibility” not to offend), the fact that people are being murdered for who they are rather than what they did should make us realise that there is no responsibility we can exercise that will mitigate the core problem: a murderous totalitarian ideology has taken hold. It has territory, it has machinery, it has propaganda, and it has a certain dark appeal, just as totalitarian ideologies before have had.

And no amount of submitting to its demands will make it stop killing us.

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

An inspiration

Feb 27th, 2015 10:09 am | By

A moving statement from CFI yesterday on the murder of Avijit Roy, ally and friend.

* * * UPDATE: Read Dr. Roy’s final article for Free Inquiry, to be published in the upcoming April/May issue: “The Virus of Faith.” [PDF] * * *

We at the Center for Inquiry are shocked and heartbroken by the brutal murder of our friend Dr. Avijit Roy in Bangladesh, it is speculated at the hands of Islamic militants. Dr. Roy was a true ally, a courageous and eloquent defender of reason, science, and free expression, in a country where those values have been under heavy attack.

Dr. Roy was the founder of the website Mukto-mona, an online network of freethinkers of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent, as well as the author of several books, and a contributor to our own magazine Free Inquiry and our Free Thinking blog. When seven Bangladeshi atheist bloggers were arrested for blasphemy in 2013, Dr. Roy worked closely with us to connect us with the bloggers and their families, focus the international community’s attention on the injustice, and help organize and promote protests around the world.

“I cannot overstate how great a loss this is,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s chief UN representative and friend of Dr. Roy. “Avijit was brilliant, yes, and a devoted advocate of free expression and secularism, but also just a very good person. Avijit was an inspiration to countless other freethinkers, in Bangladesh and around the world, and he was an inspiration to me. I valued our friendship deeply, as I valued his contributions to our shared mission. I will miss him, and the global freethought community will feel the impact of his loss. His example will no doubt continue to shine.”

It’s heartbreaking.

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

The secular government reacted by arresting some atheist bloggers

Feb 27th, 2015 9:37 am | By

People in Bangladesh are fighting back.

The couple were on a bicycle rickshaw, returning from a book fair, when two assailants stopped and dragged them on to the pavement before striking them with machetes, local media reported, citing witnesses.

Hundreds of protesters rallied in Dhaka to denounce the murder, chanting slogans including “we want justice” and “raise your voice against militants”.

Imran Sarker, the head of the Bangladesh bloggers’ association, said the protests would continue until those responsible were apprehended. “Avijit’s killing once again proved that there is a culture of impunity in the country,” Sarker told Agence France-Presse. “The government must arrest the killers in 24 hours or face non-stop protests.”

Warning if you read this article: there’s a photo of Rafida Ahmed Banna on a stretcher, soaked in blood. It’s a bit of a shock to see if you’re not expecting it.

Police have launched an inquiry and recovered the machetes used in the attack but could not confirm whether Islamists were behind the incident.

But Roy’s father said the writer, a US citizen, had received a number of “threatening” emails and messages on social media from hardliners unhappy with his writing. “He was a secular humanist and has written about 10 books,” Ajoy Roy told AFP.His most famous work was Biswasher Virus (Virus of Faith).

The Center for Inquiry, a US-based charity promoting free thought, said it was “shocked and heartbroken” by the brutal murder. “Dr Roy was a true ally, a courageous and eloquent defender of reason, science, and free expression, in a country where those values have been under heavy attack,” it said in a statement.

We can’t afford to lose true allies. There aren’t nearly enough of us.

Roy’s killing also triggered strong condemnation from his fellow writers and publishers, who lamented the growing religious conservatism and intolerance in Bangladesh.

“The attack on Roy and his wife, Rafida Ahmed, is outrageous. We strongly protest this attack and are deeply concerned about the safety of writers,” said Sarker.

Pinaki Bhattacharya, a fellow blogger and friend of Roy, claimed one of the country’s largest online book retailers was being openly threatened for selling Roy’s books.

“In Bangladesh the easiest target is an atheist. An atheist can be attacked and murdered,” he wrote on Facebook.

Atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was hacked to death in 2013 by members of a little-known Islamist militant group, triggering nationwide protests by tens of thousands of secular activists.

So the government acted to protect the rights and freedom and lives of the atheist bloggers, right?


After Haider’s death, Bangladesh’s hardline Islamist groups started to protest against other campaigning bloggers, calling a series of nationwide strikes to demand their deaths, accusing them of blasphemy.

The secular government of the Bangladeshi prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, reacted by arresting some atheist bloggers.

So murdering atheists is ok, while being atheist is a crime. Thanks, BossGod.

The government also blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem the furore over blasphemy, as well as stepping up security for the bloggers.

On Friday Sarker said: “Communal and militant groups have threatened the very spirit of our nation. Yet instead of crushing them, the government was keen on appeasing them by arresting secular bloggers.”

But none of this has anything to do with “true Islam.” It’s all impostors and usurpers.

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

No action taken

Feb 26th, 2015 6:15 pm | By

The IHEU on the murder of Avijit Roy and the potentially lethal attack on Rafida Ahmed Bonna.

“Abhijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. He will be murdered when he comes back.”

These were the words of an Islamist activist referring to Avijit (or Abhijit) Roy early last year. The man making the threat, who is well-known to the authorities, has repeatedly and openly talked about wanting to see secular and freethought writers dead, and those under threat have complained that authorities have ignored his threats and incitement, despite his credible links to Islamist extremists and similar murders taking place.

Tonight, IHEU joins with freethinkers and humanists from Bangladesh in calling for an end to this fatal appeasement of death threats by the authorities in Bangladesh.

Avijit Roy was a well-known writer, founder of the freethought blogging platform Mukto-Mona, which he described to IHEU as “an Internet congregation of freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, atheists, and humanists of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent”. He had previously provided IHEU with analysis around the arrest and threats against “atheist bloggers” in Bangaldesh in 2013.

Bob Churchill comments:

This loss is keenly felt by freethinkers and humanists in South Asia and around the world. He was a colleague in humanism and a friend to all who respect human rights, freedom, and the light of reason. Our thoughts are with his family, and his many friends, supporters, and admirers who will be deeply hurt by this senseless crime.

We cannot know the assailants who carried out tonight’s vicious murder. But we do know this: Those who have openly made the most serious and credible threats on Roy’s life have been allowed to do so with impunity and now he is dead. As Roy himself warned, Bangladesh is appeasing the most insidious and violent strains of Islamism, and he knew his own life was under threat. That appeasement of theocratic demands and naked threats must end, now.

We mustn’t be pushy, now. We must respect the faith of people of faith, even when they’re attacking us with machetes.

Bangladeshi writer and activist, Asif Mohiuddin, who spoke in a plenary session at last year’s World Humanist Congress about the threats by Islamists against himself and others for for their humanist writings and secular activism, said of Avijit Roy tonight:

“He was like my brother. This a great loss for the nation, and for all freethinkers in the world. We called him Richard Dawkins of Bangladesh. He was the nicest person I ever met. Just yesterday he wished me well on my birthday, today he is dead. I can’t believe this! He was my dearest friend and we worked together for 6 years against religious fundamentalism.

He was my hero, and hero of many young freethinkers in Bangladesh. Many young people were inspired by him so much. Now we have a big atheist and agnostic community, gay and lesbian community, that was possible only because of him. He was our support in every step. Whenever we had any problem, he solved that very quickly.

I am very much upset. Please do something, create some pressure on Bangladesh government by writing. Many freethinkers are in risk, they will die.”

Then there are extracts from emails Roy wrote about the Islamist who called for his murder.

The following text is from emails exchanged from 21 March 2014 onwards; the first email was almost certainly sent to multiple organisations and media. (The square brackets are his own, except where otherwise stated with emphasis in italics.)

[21 March 2014] I am often involved in causes that rally support for free speech movements in Bangladesh through my writing and activism. Recently, I found that I have been targeted by a group of militant Islamists and terrorists. Farabi Shafiur Rahman, an extremist who is allegedly linked to the radical Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami and Hizbut Tahrir [a terrorist organization that operates in 40 countries (including Bangladesh) around the world] has given me a death threat through a facebook status. It is worth noting that he is the same Farabi who threatened to kill a Muslim cleric officiated at Ahmed Rajib Haider’s (a popular blogger known by the psuedonym Thaba Baba, who was hacked to death last year by machete-wielding Islamic militants) funeral last year during Shahbagh Movement. Police at that time arrested Farabi on charges of “instigating the murder” but he was granted bail. Although he has continued to threaten many progressives in Bangladesh, no official action has been taken against him.

There’s more. It’s all sickening.


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

#Free Raif

Feb 26th, 2015 5:34 pm | By

In Copenhagen:

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

Outside the embassy

Feb 26th, 2015 5:29 pm | By

In Vienna today:

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

Guest post: For all three luminaries

Feb 26th, 2015 5:22 pm | By

Originally a comment by Gem Newman on Follow, peasants.

They’re still pestering our group to join. The group’s organizer finally got fed up and said that we wouldn’t, because a lot of these guys were “gross”. That prompted this response from them:

Gross thoughts? I don’t understand.

Is there anyone else in your group I could speak with?

I’ll put it this way. In the last month I’ve traded more than 400 emails with group leaders.

They don’t normally have this much unexplained anger.

I mean, come on, really. How can you be a serious person and have so much hate for all three luminaries? Keep it to one, please!

I’d had enough at this point, so I had to chime in again:

Hey, you can talk to me, if you want. I founded the Winnipeg Skeptics five years ago.

While I would have perhaps phrased things a little more diplomatically, I’m certainly no more interested in having the Winnipeg Skeptics associated with Dawkins, Harris, or (especially) Shermer than Ashlyn is. Given what they’ve said recently, and the reaction that we’ve seen in some quarters of the various secular communities, you can’t possibly be naïve enough to be surprised when some people don’t respond positively to your “luminaries”.

As I said, you can talk to me, but you probably don’t want to. I may have started the group, but Ashlyn is the group’s organizer and leader, so talking to me won’t get you anywhere.

You should also probably learn to take “no” for an answer.

This apparently annoyed them a little, because they fired back:

Hi Gem,

I already marked you as a no.

You are a smart, evidence-based person, right? So I have to tell you that you have your facts wrong.

You are the one who is naïve. From the thousands of groups that I have reached out to, and have traded email personally with about 400 of them, yours seems to be the only one shaking with loathing about the academics who have done so much for the secular movement.

Perhaps you’ve fallen victim to groupthink, the idea that your tiny community of friends represents the viewpoint of the world. No one’s going to take you seriously with that attitude.

The fact is, if you are open to facts, that Richard Dawkins personally has more Facebook followers than the whole secular movement put together, and while some people have their concerns, we generally love him. You are the one in the minority.

Hey, facts are facts, I guess.

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

Fascinating, tell me more

Feb 26th, 2015 5:03 pm | By

It’s been a busy day. I’m hoping to help make something happen.

Meanwhile, I got an email from an acquaintance who believes every bit of Republican propaganda he ever hears or reads, no matter how outlandish it may be.

This is today’s consignment of Republican propaganda shameless bullshit:

Image result for bullshit

The word “Dhimmitude” is found in the new health care bill; so what does it mean?

Thought this was interesting and worth passing on.

Obama used it in the health care bill.
Now isn’t this interesting?
It is also included in the health care law.

Dhimmitude — I had never heard the word until now. I typed it into Google and started reading. Pretty interesting. It’s on page 107 of the healthcare bill. I looked this up on Google and yep, it exists. It is a REAL word.

Dhimmitude is the Muslim system of controlling non-Muslim populations conquered through jihad (Holy War). Specifically, it is the TAXING of non-Muslims in exchange for tolerating their presence AND as a coercive means of converting conquered remnants to Islam.

ObamaCare allows the establishment of Dhimmitude and Sharia Muslim diktat in the United States .
Muslims are specifically exempted from the government
mandate to purchase insurance, and also from the penalty
tax for being uninsured. Islam considers insurance to be
“gambling”, “risk-taking”, and “usury” and is thus banned.
Muslims are specifically granted exemption based on
How convenient. So I, as a Christian, will have crippling IRS liens placed against all of my assets, including real estate, cattle, and even accounts receivable, and will face hard prison time because I refuse to buy insurance or pay the penalty tax.
Meanwhile, Louis Farrakhan (the Muslim) will have no such penalty and will have 100% of his health insurance needs paid for by the de facto government insurance.Non-Muslims will be paying a tax to subsidize Muslims. This is Dhimmitude.

I recommend sending this on to your contacts.
All American citizens need to know about it !!” href=”“>“>
Health Insurance Exemptions
Apr 13, 2010 … Dhimmitude
is the Muslim system of controlling non-muslim populations
… The ObamaCare bill is the establishment of Dhimmitude
and Sharia …” href=”“>“>

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

Meet Avijit Roy

Feb 26th, 2015 12:06 pm | By

A 2007 interview with three members of Mukto-Mona, one of them being Avijit Roy, who was murdered in Dhaka yesterday. His wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya was badly injured.

Ahmede Hussain

How has Mukto-Mona evolved? Can you please explain the idea behind Mukto-Mona for our readers?

Avijit Roy: Mukto-Mona came into being in the year 2000, with the intention of debating and promoting critical issues that are of the utmost importance in building a progressive, rational and secular society, but usually are ignored in the mainstream Bangladeshi and South Asian media. On 26th May, 2001, I created a Yahoo group under the name Mukto-Mona. A year later, it was developed into a complete web site (, which, to the best of my knowledge, was the first South Asian Humanist and Rationalist forum on the net. Our aim is to build a society which will not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy but would rather be based on reason, compassion, humanity, equality and science.

Since its existence, Mukto-mona has been able to draw the attention of many like-minded thinkers including many distinguished authors, scientists, philosophers and human rights activists from all around the world. We have always tried to raise our voices wherever people’s freedom and civil liberties have been attacked. For example, we were (still are) acrid critics of Bush’s policy of aggression and invasion of Iraq in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror.’

Within the subcontinent, we have affiliations with the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations and the Science and Rationalists’ Association of India (SRAI) led by Prabhir Ghosh. The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has also provided continuous encouragement and support to us. Mukto-Mona forum is approaching 3000 members.

In a region where a majority of the people live in abject poverty and do not have access to the Internet, how can Mukto-mona help establish a secular society?

Avijit Roy: Despite our limited resources, mind you, Mukto-Mona is not an NGO run by donations from foreign countries. We carry out activities with our own funds i.e. donations collected from our members of advisory and editorial board (who are mostly expatriate Bangladeshis such as researchers, activists, students, etc) we are trying to target the most neglected areas. For example, as our first project, we undertook the reconstruction of a primary school in remote Roumari in Bangladesh. We have additionally promised to continue our support for more years provided the school authority promote secular and rational thinking among the students. We undertook that project for many reasons: that was a place of poor rural people and thus was neglected by the rich class/government. Secondly, the most important stage of life when we can instill a value/lesson in the minds of our children is when they are in primary school.

We have started publishing books on science and rationalism. In a few remote areas, our activists have formed Rationalist Forums drawing likeminded youth and students. Such forums or associations provide a sense of cohesiveness in the mind of young humanists and they do not feel they are isolated. In the future, we plan to work on mobilising and uniting youth toward rationalism and humanism in every part of Bangladesh.

Fortunately, we are not alone. There exist vast number of like-minded people in the world and nothing can beat the internet in making friends with such people. For example, we have humanists of Bangladesh and other South Asian origin in our group from virtually every corner of the world. Lots of people are showing eagerness to help Mukto-Mona in every possible way but we have been cautious in our response because we simply don’t want to turn into yet another NGO. Ours is not just an organisation, it symbolises a movement, an ideal.

This is a very bad day.

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

More of us killed

Feb 26th, 2015 10:17 am | By

This is baaaaaaaaaaaaaad

Blogger and writer Avijit Roy has been killed and his wife, blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonna, severely injured when unidentified miscreants hacked them at TSC of Dhaka University on Thursday night.

Avijit, son of former DU teacher Dr Ajay Roy and also the founder of Mukto-mona Blog, and his wife have been admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital in critical condition immediately after the attack.

Later, he died while undergoing treatment around 10:30pm, said Shahbagh police station OC Sirajul Islam.

This is horrifying.

They’ll kill us all.

DU Proctor Amjad Ali said: “I came to know the writer had been receiving threats from militants because of his anti-communal activism.”

Among the teachers of Dhaka University who rushed to Dhaka Medical College hospital hearing the news of the attack, were Professor Dr Abul Barkat, Professor Anwar Hossain.

Professor Anwar Hossain said the those, who are against the country’s liberation, democracy, free thoughts and attacked Humayun Azad, have perpetrated this.

Liton Nandi, Dhaka University Chhatra Union president, told the Dhaka Tribune they were set to bring a torch procession, protesting the attack and killing in a short time.

We need to get Taslima the hell out of the subcontinent.

Earlier in 2014, online bookstore stopped selling books by the well-known writer after an Islamic militant issued death threats on Facebook to the website’s owner.

The decision to withdraw his books was prompted by death threats posted to Facebook by Farabi Shafiur Rahman, an Islamist extremist allegedly linked to Jamaat-e-Islami.

Farabi accused Avijit of defaming Islam and the “prophet” Mohammed and accused chairman Mahmudul Hasan Sohag of “promoting atheism” by selling his books.

In his Facebook post, Farabi specified the office address of and called upon his “Islamist friends” in the adjacent locality to attack.

He also told Sohag that he would suffer the same fate as Ahmed Rajib Haider, a popular blogger known by the psuedonym Thaba Baba, who was hacked to death last year by machete-wielding Islamic militants.

One by one, they’re picking us off.


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

Guns keep you safe!

Feb 26th, 2015 9:51 am | By

Except of course when you accidentally shoot yourself with them and die.

A Michigan woman who fatally shot herself in [the] eye was adjusting her bra holster, police said Wednesday.

The shooting happened at the home of Christina Bond, 55, on New Year’s Day.

“She was having trouble adjusting her bra holster, couldn’t get it to fit the way she wanted it to. She was looking down at it and accidentally discharged the weapon,” St. Joseph Public Safety Director Mark Clapp told the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Well, that’s a shame. But up until that point, she was way extra safe because of that gun! So it balances out in the gun’s favor.

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

“That’s good fathering,” he says

Feb 26th, 2015 9:08 am | By

David Futrelle does some high spot notification on Jeff Sharlet’s report on the Voice for Men conference last year. I find this useful because I find Sharlet’s piece tough going – too much story-telling detail cluttering up and obscuring the interesting substantive parts. I have the same problem with his book The Family. Both are too much like fiction – presented too much as stories, with the usual familiar atmospheric detail of most contemporary literary fiction, which I tend to get very impatient with.

My favorite part is Futrelle’s intro –

A few days before alleged “men’s human rights” website A Voice for Men held its first convention last summer, the site’s founder and head boy Paul Elam put up a post imploring the alleged human rights activists planning to attend the event not to go around calling women bitches and whores and cunts, because the news media would be there, and this might make his little human rights movement look bad.

I’m paraphrasing here; Elam was a teensy bit more euphemistic, telling his followers that anyone caught “trash-talking women, men, making violent statements … anything that can be used against us” would get a very stern talking-to and, if they persisted, would be asked to leave.

Elam’s warning didn’t stick. Indeed, the woman in charge of publicity for the event – you may know her as JudgyBitch or Janet Bloomfield, neither of which is her real name – went on a bit of a Twitter rampage, happily denouncing critics of the group as, yep, “whores.”

Now that’s what I call scene-setting.

Here’s the first highlight, which I think is the best:

1) The Men’s Rights Activist who boasted that he would have disowned his daughter if she had pressed charges against the man she said raped her.

At a convention afterparty, the man in question told this little story to Sharlet, Elam, and a few others:

When one of his daughters came home one night and said she’d been raped, he said, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Sitting with us, he hikes his voice up to a falsetto in imitation: ” ‘Oh, I just got raped.’ ” He laughs. There’s a moment of silence. A bridge too far? “I told her if she pressed charges, I’d disown her.”

Elam, whose attention has drifted, grins through his beard. “That’s good fathering,” he says.

I wonder if someone could get him interested in life in the caliphate.

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

The real caliphate

Feb 25th, 2015 5:44 pm | By

That Atlantic piece by Graeme Wood about what ISIS really is – it’s worth reading.

Here’s the deal: it’s not just Islamism (which is bad enough), it’s the caliphate. That’s why it’s so attractive to so many people, and that in turn of course is why it’s so scary.

The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.

We get it wrong if we think it’s just more of the same, like al-Qaeda only more so, Wood says. It’s not. It’s not modern plus jihadism.

There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.

The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers.

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Hmm. By its most ardent followers – but then there are the less ardent followers. You know how people are – some are ardent, and others are sort of ardent and sort of not, and maybe tomorrow they’ll decide to do something else. But then the ardents can kill millions and millions of people while they have the upper hand, so there’s that.

Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.

But there is this impulse to deny it…

Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.

Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.

Well yes, the shifting social mores, like women walking around in the world without a real human’s permission. I think Said was wrong about a lot of things.

Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.

And besides, who says religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington? Jeez, if only it didn’t.

Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”

I recognize that tradition!

Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.

According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”

All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

That part doesn’t surprise me, it’s what I’ve assumed all along. It’s the part about the caliphate and its “legitimacy” I didn’t know.

The last caliphate was the Ottoman empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century and then experienced a long decline, until the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, euthanized it in 1924. But Cerantonio, like many supporters of the Islamic State, doesn’t acknowledge that caliphate as legitimate, because it didn’t fully enforce Islamic law, which requires stonings and slavery and amputations, and because its caliphs were not descended from the tribe of the Prophet, the Quraysh.

Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon. He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1,000 years—was a communal obligation. He and his loyalists had “hastened to declare the caliphate and place an imam” at its head, he said. “This is a duty upon the Muslims—a duty that has been lost for centuries … The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it.” Like bin Laden before him, Baghdadi spoke floridly, with frequent scriptural allusion and command of classical rhetoric. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi.

That last sentence is…frightening. It explains a lot, and it’s frightening.

To be the caliph, one must meet conditions outlined in Sunni law—being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority. This last criterion, Cerantonio said, is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law.

The caliph has that.

It’s all pretty sickening. That’s enough of it for today.

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

Stop executing “apostates” and “blasphemers”

Feb 25th, 2015 4:43 pm | By

A press release of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain:

Stop executing “apostates” and “blasphemers” and release them now!

On 22 February 2015, a Saudi court sentenced a man in his twenties to death by beheading for apostasy.  The identity of the man has not been made public but, according to Al-Shabaka, he was arrested last year and is charged with becoming an atheist and insulting Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, on social media.

This heinous ruling comes against the backdrop of the recent attacks on freedom of expression in Paris and Copenhagen.  Whilst the Saudi government hypocritically condemned the Paris massacre as a “cowardly terrorist attack that was rejected by the true Islamic religion”, it condemned a man to death for similar “crimes” only a matter of weeks later. This ruling follows the recent case of Raif Badawi, a blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years’ imprisonment for a website promoting public discussion of religion and politics which has been deemed “insulting to Islam”.

Apostasy and blasphemy are punishable with death in Saudi Arabia and also in a number of other countries, including Iran and Mauritania.

In Iran, 30 year old blogger Soheil Arabi, has been sentenced to execution for “insulting the prophet” on Facebook.

In December 2014, a 28 year old Mauritanian journalist Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir was sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet”.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is outraged at these death sentences. “Apostates” and “blasphemers” have not committed any crime and should be immediately released. The real crime is imprisoning and executing people for their beliefs and expression.

Clearly, there is no place in the 21st century for such medieval laws. Apostasy and blasphemy laws must end. And they must end now.

To demand the release of the unnamed atheist facing execution, please contact the Saudi embassy in your country of residence or Tweet @SaudiEmbassyUK.

Sign the petition in support of Raif Badawi here.

Join Facebook page to defend Sohail Arabi here or tweet @khamenei_ir.

Sign a petition in support of Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir here.

For more information, contact:
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731


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

Everyone agreed that she was an extremely disobedient woman

Feb 25th, 2015 4:23 pm | By

Update: This is not an actual report. Taslima’s head is on her neck where it belongs.

Taslima reports on her beheading at the hands of Islamist terrorists yesterday.

Bengali writer Taslima Nasreen was beheaded yesterday by Islamist terrorists at her home in New Delhi where she had been living in exile. A video of the decapitation was posted on social media sites this morning.

It was inevitable. Author of 41 books of poetry, essays, and novels, Ms Nasreen, known for her powerful feminist writings against the injustices and inequalities of religions, had to live under a succession of death fatwas.

They can’t behead her 41 books. Poor dears, that must be so frustrating for them.

Despite repeated bans on her books and threats on her life, Ms Nasreen never censored herself. Many people said that she was brave; others called her stupid. Everyone agreed that she was an extremely disobedient woman.

Now that is an epitaph. I want it for myself…but I can’t claim to be as disobedient as Taslima, because there’s so much less that I’m expected to obey.

Although she managed to acquire a semblance of domestic normalcy in her New Delhi apartment, Ms Nasreen considered herself “homeless everywhere”. She was never allowed to return to the country of her birth. She was also not allowed to reside in West Bengal where she had lived for four years before her deportation in 2007.

Ms Nasreen, however, had a great sense of humor. It could be sensed in the extremely graphic video of her execution. Bemused with her masked assassin struggling with his rather blunt blade, she asked him to pick up a much sharper knife from her kitchen that she had got from Germany.

Taslima does Galgenhumor beautifully.

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