Notes and Comment Blog

“Africa has its own reality”

Jul 8th, 2013 3:15 pm | By

Religion News Service reports that African religious leaders are very annoyed at Obama for telling them not to shit on gay people. Well yes that makes sense – how dare Obama tell good god-fearing clerics not to shit on people? Shitting on people is a god-given right of clerics.

In a news conference in Senegal during his three-nation tour, just as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on same-sex marriage, Obama said African nations must grant equal protection to all people regardless of their sexual orientation.

“My basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you … people should be treated equally,” Obama said. “And that’s a principle that I think applies universally.”

Blasphemy! God wants gay people to be shat on, because he hates them. How dare Obama not know that?

“For religious leaders, in my point of view, this issue of homosexuality which he mentioned had really blocked the hospitality which the religious leaders desired to reserve for him,” said the Rev. Pierre Adama Faye, a Senegalese Lutheran leader.

Faye said he understood Obama’s remarks coming on the heels of the Supreme Court rulings. But he said Africa has its own reality, different from that of the U.S. In Senegal, churches and mosques reject the practice.

Africa has its own reality, in which it’s quite all right to shit on people for being gay, in fact it’s a religious obligation. By the same token the US used to have big chunks of territory where it was quite all right to shit on people for being black. Then after some upheaval and some conversation with elevated voices, people decided it wasn’t quite all right after all, and the custom changed. People can change their minds about the reasons it’s ok to shit on people; they can even end up deciding it’s never ok. The religious leaders in Africa could do that if they tried.

Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, a Senegalese Muslim leader who coordinates the Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa, said faith leaders have the duty to speak out, especially if outside forces want to impose their will.

“The subject of homosexuality must not be used as a tool to blackmail and coerce society to defy God’s command, which is more important than any world power,” he said.  “We will oppose any manner of arm-twisting that threatens us to embrace it in our societies.”

That’s a horrible, hateful thing to say. Fuck God’s command. It’s not a command, and if it were, you should say fuck it. We’re not talking about murder or rape or assault. Those are all bad things, which people shouldn’t do; you shouldn’t “embrace” those things; but same-sex love and sex are not like that and you should use your brain to figure that out.


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

Even without a second miracle

Jul 8th, 2013 2:07 pm | By

The new pope is helping some previous ones get to be saints.

Showing more of his sprightly personality and his priorities, Pope Francis sped two of his predecessors toward sainthood on Friday: John Paul II, who guided the Roman Catholic Church during the end of the cold war, and John XXIII, who assembled the liberalizing Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

In approving the sainthood of John XXIII even without a second miracle attributable to the pontiff, Francis took the rare step of bypassing the Vatican bureaucracy.

Ok but so how does all this work? Are there rules, or is it just whatever the pope feels like? And if popes can speed other popes, why mess around, why not just make it that all popes are saints?

And then how does it actually work? Is the current pope magic? Does he make people into actual saints by being magic and saying the right words while being magic? What’s the mechanism here? Is it a placebo or is there an active ingredient? Or to put it another way, if being a saint is a real thing, how can it be up to a pope whether someone is one or not?

You might think the church is fine with magic but actually it isn’t. It frowns on magic. It wants everyone to be very clear that religion is a different thing altogether. Religion is grown up and serious and real, and magic is just childish and spooky, also dangerous.

But then how can popes make people be saints? Especially when there is no second miracle and they have to bypass the Vatican bureaucracy?

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Francis was eager to canonize John XXIII. “Despite the absence of a second miracle it was the pope’s will that the sainthood of the great pope of the Second Vatican Council be recognized,” he said. But he played down the fact that Francis had bypassed a second miracle. “There are lots of theologians who in fact discuss the principle of the fact that it’s necessary to have two distinct miracles.”

Oh, I see. They’re on it. Ok then – I feel much better about it now.


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


Jul 8th, 2013 11:10 am | By

A pregnant child in Santiago Puerto Montt, Chile.

A young girl in Puerto Montt is 14-weeks-pregnant after being raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She is not able to have an abortion as the procedure is illegal in Chile in all cases. The man has confessed to sexually abusing the child.

She’s 11.

The mother spoke in defense of her boyfriend, who was arraigned in court in the southern city of Osorno.

“She wasn’t violated and he would not have used force,” she said, adding that the relationship between them was consensual.

Ah, that’s nice. The child is 11 years old – and her mother says she had “consensual” sex with her mother’s boyfriend? That is some loving mother.

This case has brought new, fierce criticism of Chile’s current abortion laws, which as of 1989, outlaw all cases without exception. Politicians have spoken out on the issue via social media.

You mean girls of 11 shouldn’t be forced to bear children? That can’t be right.

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

At the Youth Defence March

Jul 7th, 2013 3:40 pm | By

A nasty fella.

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

Shut up and listen to ME

Jul 7th, 2013 3:08 pm | By

Last week American Atheists unveiled an atheist monument in Starke, Florida.

Kent Eric Hovind jumped up onto the monument to nag everyone about god.

I think that’s rude and belligerent.

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

Pregnancy is sacred and women are monsters

Jul 7th, 2013 10:03 am | By

There’s this website called The Irish Catholic, where you can read a guy called John Waters explaining how horrible women are. He starts with a little thought experiment by someone else.

‘What is the difference, in human rights terms, between a situation in which a distraught male goes in to his doctor and says that his partner is making him suicidal and that he fears that unless he/she (the doctor) arranges to have the partner killed he will kill himself, and a situation in which a distraught female goes to her doctor and says that her unborn child is making her suicidal and that she fears that unless he/she (the doctor) arranges to have the child killed she will kill herself?”

I received this single-sentence letter last week from a reader, who had sent it out to several newspapers in the previous week, in a fruitless bid to have it published.

The letter is interesting, and the refusal to publish it equally so. But even more interesting is the emotions I intuit it to generate in the average reader, who, if he or she is anything like me, will instantly comprehend why it was not published, and may even be inclined to feel that the intuited reasons for its non-publication are, at the very least, not entirely outrageous. In other words, something about the proposition contained in that sentence seems unreasonable, and this sense of its unreasonableness is probably very widely shared, if not universally held. Even people who consider themselves ‘pro-life’ will stop somewhat short of endorsing the comparison made in the letter, perhaps feeling it to withhold sympathy from the ‘distraught female’ referred to. And yet, if you think that an unborn child is a full human being from the moment of conception, there is no wiggle-room, and no absurdity in the question above, because there can be no moral distinction between the idea of killing an adult woman and killing an unborn child.

No, that’s not “interesting.” None of that is “interesting.” It’s disgusting, but it’s not interesting.

You don’t get to “think” that a fertilized egg is a full human being. You don’t get to “think” that a cat is a dandelion or that a corn muffin is a luxury yacht. You don’t get to think that one thing is a completely different thing. You don’t get to treat obvious nonsense as a reasonable claim. A fertilized egg, even a fertilized human egg, is simply not a full human being. It’s something that will over time develop into a full human being (unless there is a miscarriage or abortion), but that isn’t the same thing as actually being the thing it will develop into. A marigold seed is not a “full” marigold. A newly-laid eagle egg is not a “full” eagle. Catholics don’t get to make up their own ontology just because they’ve been pumped full of dogmatic “beliefs” by a guild of celibate men.

Waters says a lot more and ends up with his explanation of why women seek abortions.


There is no reason to assume that a pregnancy ought to be anything other than a source of joy to the woman involved. In the vast majority of the very limited number of cases in which this is not so, the factors underlying the difficulty usually relate not to objective circumstances but to either intuited societal disapproval or selfishness on the part of the woman involved.

I wonder if John Waters has ever actually met any human beings.

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

If she’d had the abortion it would be a short movie

Jul 6th, 2013 5:48 pm | By

It turns out there’s this movie star who is a feminist. Uh oh! Right? Men are people too you know. Human rights. Don’t talk to me about women’s rights; human rights.

Who is this twisted radical person who is a feminist? Ellen Page, of the irritating Juno in which our quirky brave intelligent heroine age 16 decides to have the baby and give it to some nice people instead of having a nasty filthy ol’ abortion, because girls of 16 have nothing better to do than bear children.

Apparently she didn’t realize it was an anti-abortion movie until this reporter pointed it out to her, which seems odd for a feminist.

There is, though, an unfortunate irony that one of the very few young actresses happy to describe themselves as a feminist remains most closely associated with a film that many saw as having an anti-abortion message. In Juno, Page, playing the eponymous 16-year-old, decides to have an abortion, only to bump into a classmate in front of the clinic who is protesting against abortions. “Your baby has fingernails!” her classmate tells her.

“Fingernails, really?” Juno replies. She then decides not to terminate her pregnancy.

Was she surprised by the furore the film sparked?

“No because I know what people are like in America about women’s ability to make choices for themselves in regards to their bodies. The only thing that was annoying was people taking it as a pro-life movie because she had the baby,” she says. After all, Page continues, “if she’d had the abortion it would be a short movie”, which is a fair point*. But her voice rises a little when she adds: “And at least we say the word abortion,” suggesting she knows that’s a pretty weak argument.

But the problem wasn’t that Juno had the baby, I say. It was that she decides not to have the abortion because of something a pro-life protestor said.

“Ohhhh, I see, that’s a good point,” she says, sitting back in her chair.

No, it was also that she had the baby.

But apart from that she’s pretty good. (I saw her talking to George Stromboulopooulos recently and she was pretty good then too.)

Ask an American female celebrity today whether she is even a feminist and you are likely to get ignorant verbal diarrhoea (Lady Gaga: “I am not a feminist – I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male and beer and bars and muscle cars”) and fearful denials (Björk: “[To say I'm a feminist] would isolate me.”) The best Beyoncé could muster when recently asked if she considered herself a feminist was: “That word can be very extreme … I do believe in equality … But I’m happily married. I love my husband.” She was, she conceded, “a modern-day feminist”, and that is probably true, seeing as, if you are a female celebrity, being a “modern day feminist” seems to involve distancing yourself from the word. “At this point,” New York magazine writer Maureen O’Connor blogged in response to Beyoncé’s comments, “women who have a vested [interest] in being popular – ie celebrities – are still afraid of the word feminism.”

It’s a good thing I don’t have a vested interest in being popular, isn’t it.

Like nearly all of Page’s films, The East aims to unsettle the audience as opposed to seeking mass popularity, and Page agrees that she finds it “satisfying” to be in something “that provokes people, even if it’s not positive”. More importantly, perhaps, Izzy – like all of Page’s roles – is a tough, independent woman who isn’t there just to bolster the leading man. Does Page feel a responsibility to seek such roles out?

“Yeah absolutely,” she replies before I finish the question. “Also if I played those other kinds of roles I would just die a slow death. But yes, I think it’s really important, but it can be hard. Only 23% of speaking roles in films today are for women. It feels we’ve gone backwards.” Partly in response to this, she has started writing her own script “which is definitely feminist – definitely. But of course, if you just write a script in which the woman has control over her destiny and love isn’t the main thing in the film, that’s seen as super feminist.” She is also slated to direct a movie, starring Ana Faris, but filming is still some way off: “It’s hard to get stuff made, especially if it’s about women. Everything’s about in-ter-nat-ion-al bank-a-bility,” she sing-songs to words, mockingly.

So has she ever encountered sexism in Hollywood?

“Oh my God, yeah! It’s constant! It’s how you’re treated, it’s how you’re looked at, how you’re expected to look in a photoshoot, it’s how you’re expected to shut up and not have an opinion, it’s how you –” she pauses. “If you’re a girl and you don’t fit the very specific vision of what a girl should be, which is always from a man’s perspective, then you’re a little bit at a loss.”

A dangerous radical. Yay.

*No it isn’t. You could have stuff happen after the abortion. It’s not very feminist to think Juno’s story would stop once she was no longer pregnant.

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

Allons enfants

Jul 6th, 2013 4:51 pm | By

Greetings to the new Council of Ex-Muslims in France.

On Saturday, members of the Council of Ex-Muslims in France met to launch their group publicly and discuss their mission: to promote liberty and equality for all people, regardless of their faith. Their Facebook page explains:

“We are a group of atheists and non-believers who have, because of this fact, been threatened or faced restrictions in our personal life. Many of us have been arrested for blasphemy.”

Maryam was there today for the launch, with Waleed Al-Husseini and Caroline Fourest among others.

Palestinian blogger Waleed Al-Husseini first organised the council, after being accused of making blasphemous comments towards the Prophet Mohammed, and seeking refuge in France.

The Council is composed of some thirty members, representing nearly a dozen nationalities.

It follows on the heels of the UK’s Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, headed up by Maryam Namazie. A similar council also exists in Germany.

And there will be more, until some day they are no longer needed because everyone will be free to join or leave any religion at any time.

Maryam has some pictures on Twitter.

Maryam and Waleed.

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Drinks after the launch.

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 Cheers, apostates everywhere!

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

The hope of Egypt

Jul 6th, 2013 4:06 pm | By

Via Maryam – an Egyptian boy age 12 talks more political sense in two minutes than most people manage in a lifetime.

How come there are only seven women in the constituent assembly, and six of them are Islamists?

For example, they say that women are equal to men in all matters, except in matters that contradict sharia. But then, sharia allows men to “discipline” their wives. This can’t work in society.

[Reporter] Why not, what’s the problem?

The problem is it’s outrageous.

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

Boko haram and murder halal

Jul 6th, 2013 11:16 am | By

Horrifying news from Nigeria – Mamudo, in Yobe state, in the north. At least 29 students and a teacher killed in an attack on a school; some of the victims were burned alive.

A reporter from the Associated Press found chaotic scenes at the hospital in nearby Potiskum, where traumatised parents struggled to identify their children among the charred bodies and gunshot victims.

Survivors said suspected militants arrived with containers full of fuel and set fire to the school.

Some pupils were burned alive, others were shot as they tried to flee.

Another message from a god of hatred, no doubt.

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

Lights out! Party’s over!

Jul 6th, 2013 11:03 am | By

Jesus and Mo gloat about the absence of evidence for evolution.


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

Cardinal Dolan caught lying about the church funds

Jul 6th, 2013 10:27 am | By

Timothy Dolan again. Remember Timothy Dolan? Former archbishop of Milwaukee? Now archbishop of New York? Also a cardinal?

The Timothy Dolan who whined and complained, in March 2010, about the unfair and meany way journalists would keep reporting on the Catholic church’s habit of protecting priests who rape children. He seems to have removed that post from his archepiscopal blog now, but the Internet archive still has it.

So Friday’s headline, only the most recent, stings us again:  “Doctor Asserts Church Ignored Abuse Warnings,” as the psychiatrist who treated the criminal, Dr. Werner Huth, blames the Church for not heeding his recommendations.

What adds to our anger over the nauseating abuse and the awful misjudgment in reassigning such a dangerous man, though, is the glaring fact that we never see similar headlines that would actually be “news”:  How about these, for example?

–    “Doctor Asserts He Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since Dr. Huth admits in the article that he, in fact, told the archdiocese the abusing priest could be reassigned under certain restrictions, a prescription today recognized as terribly wrong;

–    “Doctor Asserts Public Schools Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since the data of Dr. Carol Shakeshaft concludes that the number of cases of abuse of minors by teachers, coaches, counsellors, and staff in government schools is much, much worse than by priests;

–    “Doctor Asserts Judges (or Police, Lawyers, District Attorneys, Therapists, Parole Officers) Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since we now know the sober fact that no one in the healing and law enforcement professions knew back then the depth of the scourge of abuse, or the now-taken-for-granted conclusion that abusers of young people can never safely work closely with them again.

What causes us Catholics to bristle is not only the latest revelations of sickening sexual abuse by priests, and blindness on the part of some who wrongly reassigned them — such stories, unending though they appear to be, are fair enough, — but also that the sexual abuse of minors is presented as a tragedy unique to the Church alone.

No, it isn’t, but even if it were, you self-justifying piece of crap, that would be because of the way you presume to inhabit the moral high ground and to tell everyone else what to do. The point is that your claims to moral elevation are disgusting and contemptible, and your attempts to boss everyone and to meddle with politics while enjoying tax-exempt status are an outrage.

And you haven’t learned a god damn thing.

Files released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday reveal that in 2007, Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan, then the archbishop there, requested permission from the Vatican to move nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation.

That’s our morally elevated cardinal and archbishop – maneuvering to protect the church’s vast – and tax-exempt – bank account from the claims of people who were raped by that church’s employees. Cynical, callous, and selfish – that’s your man Cardinal Dolan.

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has emphatically denied seeking to shield church funds as the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. He reiterated in a statement Monday that these were “old and discredited attacks.”

However, the files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.

So he’s a liar as well.

The release of more than 6,000 pages of documents on Monday was hailed by victims and their advocates as a vindication and a historic step toward transparency and accountability. They were well aware that the archives would bring unusually intense scrutiny to the country’s most high-profile prelate, Cardinal Dolan, who as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the archbishop of New York has sought to help the church turn the corner on the era of scandal.

Cardinal Dolan has been regarded by many Catholics as part of the solution. In public appearances, he has expressed personal outrage at the harm done to children, apologized profusely and pledged to help the church and the victims heal.

But the documents lift the curtain on his role as a workaday church functionary concerned with safeguarding assets, persuading abusive priests to leave voluntarily in exchange for continued stipends and benefits, and complying with Rome’s sluggish canonical procedures for dismissing uncooperative priests who he had long concluded were remorseless and a serious risk to children. In one case, the Vatican took five years to remove a convicted sex offender from the priesthood.

Can we stop treating these people as moral authorities? Like, right now?

In 2007, the year Cardinal Dolan asked to transfer the funds, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision that in effect lifted an unusual law that had long shielded the church from sexual abuse lawsuits. When he was later accused of trying to shield church funds, Cardinal Dolan said on his blog in New York that it was “malarkey” and “groundless gossip.” Archbishop Listecki and former Auxiliary Bishop Sklba invoked a theme that many other church officials have used in the past to explain their conduct: that their missteps reflected a broader lack of awareness about child sexual abuse in society.

Archbishop Listecki wrote that he did not want to make excuses, but that church officials had relied on the advice of doctors and therapists who were “seemingly more concerned about ‘Father’ than about the children.” He said the documents would reveal “the progression and evolution of thinking on this topic.”

However, the Rev. James Connell, a priest in the Milwaukee Archdiocese who helped to form a group called Catholic Whistleblowers, said in an interview that he did not find this claim credible.

“I was in high school in the 1950s,” he said, “and I learned about statutory rape in high school. An adult having sexual activity with a minor is a crime. We knew about it then, so you can’t claim that social thought changed.”

Besides which, the whole point of the Catholic church and its claims to moral authority and right to boss everyone – the whole point, I say – is that it’s timeless and absolute. It’s not supposed to be dependent on things like learning about statutory rape in high school! IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE DIVINE FUCKING REVELATION. If baby Jesus forgot to tell them that fucking little children in secret and threatening them so that they’ll keep the secret is not a nice thing to do – WHAT ELSE DID BABY JESUS FORGET TO TELL THEM?

They are not the moral bosses of us. They are benighted, ignorant, reactionary, misogynist party bureaucrats who protect themselves and each other at the expense of everyone else.


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

Whose life?

Jul 6th, 2013 9:17 am | By

There’s an anti-abortion rally going on in Dublin, a rally the organizers have the nerve to call “pro-life.” Pro whose life, you disgusting creeps? Not pro Savita Halappanavar’s life. Not pro the life of the children she wanted and planned to live to have in the future.

Thousands of people are taking part in a ‘Rally for Life’ in Dublin city centre this afternoon.

Earlier, Archbishops Diarmuid Martin and Éamon Martin concelebrated mass in St Saviour’s Church in Dominick Street in advance of the rally.

Dr Martin told the congregation that every human life was sacred from the “moment of conception” until natural death.

The rally will pass through the city centre from Parnell Square to Leinster House.

Among the speakers will be Declan Ganly who is expected to call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to put the Protection of lIfe During Pregnancy Bill 2013 to a vote of the people.

In hopes that the people will vote no, don’t protect [the woman's] life during pregnancy, let her die the way Savita died.

The church is shameless.

Pro-life groups from all over the country were represented at the march with an initial gathering stretching across two sides of Parnell Square but that number was expected to grow at the rally in Kildare Street – outside the Dail

There was a large garda presence. A small pro-choice  counter demonstration was taking place at  the spire on O’Connell Street.

Earlier Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said  in a homily  at Mass in Church of St. Dominick, Dublin that the Christian message is a message which respects life and respects every human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death and at every moment in-between.

“It respects the life of the unborn; it cherishes and wishes to protect the lives of mothers and mothers to be,’ the Archbishop said.

No it doesn’t. The archbishop told a lie there.

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

Council of Ex-Muslims of France launches tomorrow

Jul 5th, 2013 6:07 pm | By

Le 1er juillet 1766, le jeune Chevalier de la Barre (1745 –1766) fut torturé et mis à mort, son corps ensuite brulé sur un bucher en compagnie du  Dictionnaire Philosophique de Voltaire: son seul crime fut d’avoir refusé de soulever son chapeau au passage d’une procession religieuse.

Aujourd’hui, d’innombrables Jean-François Lefevre de la Barre sont menacés, torturés, emprisonnés, mis à mort pour apostasie, blaspheme, hérésie et pour refus de se plier aux dictats islamistes.

En commémoration de l’assassinat de La Barre et en solidarité avec les nombreux hommes et femmes qui, comme lui, refusent et résistent aujourd’hui, nous annonçons le lancement d’une nouvelle organisation: le Conseil des ex-Musulmans de France, qui aura lieu le samedi 6 juillet 2013, de 14 à 17h à la Maison des Ensembles, 3-5 rue d’Aligre, Paris 75012. ( Salle au premier étage, à côté des locaux de Femmes Solidaires et de Clara Magazine).

Le bloggeur palestinien Waleed Al-Husseini, la cinéaste tunisienne Nadia El-Fani, la journaliste laïque Caroline Fourest, la sociologue algérienne Marieme Helie Lucas, la fondatrice du Conseil des ex-Musulmans de Grande Bretagne Maryam Namazie et beaucoup d’autres seront parmi les intervenants…

Le Conseil des ex-Musulmans de France se donne les objectifs suivants:

Nous réclamons les droits universels, l’égalité totale, et nous nous opposons à toute tolérance envers des croyances inhumaines, envers toute discrimination et tout mauvais traitement, infligés au nom du respect de la religion et de la culture.

2. La liberté de critiquer les religions. L’interdiction de toute restriction à la liberté inconditionnelle de critique et d’expression, sous couleur du caractère sacré  de la religion.

3. La liberté de religion et d’athéisme

4. La séparation de la religion d’avec l’Etat, le système éducatif, et le système légal.

5. L’interdiction des coutumes, règles, cérémonies ou activités religieuses qui sont incompatibles avec ou violents les droits et libertés des peuples

6. La prohibition de toute coutume culturelle ou  religieuse qui freine ou s’oppose à l’autonomie des femmes, à leur volonté et à l’égalité. La prohibition de la ségrégation des sexes.

7. La prohibition de toute interférence par quelque autorité, familiale ou parentale, ou par les autorités officielles dans la vie privée  des femmes et des hommes et dans leur relations personnelles émotionnelles et sexuelles, et leur sexualité.

8. La protection des enfants contre toute manipulation et abus  par la religion et les institutions religieuses

9. L’interdiction de toute forme de soutien financier, matériel ou moral accordé par l’Etat ou les institutions de l’Etat aux religions, aux activités religieuses et à leurs institutions.

10. L’interdiction de toute forme de menaces et d’intimidations religieuses.

Nous comptons sur votre présence et votre soutien,

Waleed Al-Husseini, bloggeur palestinien

Maryam Namazie, Conseil des ex-Musulmans de Grande Bretagne

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

Sisters: don’t leave it to the men

Jul 5th, 2013 5:23 pm | By

One of my favorite talks at Empowering Women Through Secularism: Elida Radig.

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

No written penal code

Jul 5th, 2013 4:48 pm | By

Human Rights Watch has more on Wajeha al-Huwaider.

A Saudi court convicted two Saudi women’s rights activists on June 15, 2013, for inciting a woman against her husband. Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Oyouni were each sentenced to 10 months in prison and two-year travel bans.

Al-Huwaider, a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East advisory committee, told Human Rights Watch that she believes authorities pursued this case to punish her for unrelated women’s rights activism over the last 10 years. Al-Huwaider and al-Oyouni said they intend to appeal their convictions.

“Saudi authorities are using the courts to send a message that they won’t tolerate any attempt to alleviate the dismal status of women’s rights in the kingdom,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Saudi authorities should immediately drop this case and stop harassing Saudi women who call for reform.”

Al-Huwaider told Human Rights Watch that her and al-Oyouni’s involvement with the Canadian woman began in 2009, when she received messages from Johanne Durocher, the woman’s mother, who is in Canada, pleading for activists to help her daughter, Natalie Morin. Morin is married to a Saudi citizen, Sa’eed al-Shahrani, and lives with him and their three children in the Eastern Province city of Dammam.

Durocher told them that al-Shahrani, a former police officer, was abusing Morin by locking her in their house and denying her adequate food and water. Durocher had helped draw international media attention to the case in 2009 by lobbying Canadian government officials to intervene and organizing protests over the case in Canada.

Al-Huwaider said that she and al-Oyouni organized several trips by other activists to deliver food and supplies to the woman, but that they did not attempt to visit Morin until the afternoon of June 6, 2011, when they received distressed messages from Morin herself. The messages said that Morin’s husband had left for a week-long visit to see relatives in another town and that her supplies of food and water were running out. When al-Huwaider and al-Oyouni approached the house to offer assistance they were confronted by police who were apparently waiting for them to arrive. The officers immediately arrested them and took them to a Damman police station for questioning.

Saudi makes it easy for the judges by letting them make up the laws as they go.

In Saudi Arabia, which has no written penal code, judges and prosecutors have wide latitude to arbitrarily define certain acts as criminal behavior and then argue that defendants committed these “crimes.” The charge against al-Huwaider and al-Oyouni is “inciting a woman against her husband.”

Heads they win, tails she loses.

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


Jul 5th, 2013 2:32 pm | By

As expected, there’s fighting in Cairo. The Islamists were never going to shrug and say ok, were they.

Tensions in Cairo escalated after Egyptian troops opened fire on crowds that had gathered outside the Republican Guard headquarters, where Mr Morsi is believed to be held.

Three people were killed and dozens more wounded, including the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen whose head was grazed by shotgun pellets.

Tens of thousands of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood – to whom Mr Morsi belongs – had massed outside Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque throughout the day.

By evening, the crowd had filled nearby streets and the Brotherhood’s supreme leader, Mohammed Badie, told the crowd: “We shall stay in the squares until we bring President Morsi back to power.”

It was never going to work – a democratic election that elected people who reject democracy and elections. It’s the terrible flaw that democracy has: it works only as long as everyone plays by the rules. When everyone doesn’t, it becomes a choice between the military and some other kind of brute force.

Jeremy Bowen explains the obvious for us.

This country’s citizens tend to respect, even venerate, the armed forces. But its intervention in politics, and its removal of President Morsi, has alienated a big section of the community.

Two Egypts exist side-by-side.

One is made of men and women, supporters of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, who are as angry as Mohammed Ramadan. They are furious that what they see as the democratic will of the people has been flouted, and they are in no mood to accept meekly what has been done to them.

Men “and women”…I doubt that part. I doubt that many women are included in that angry group. It’s just a form of words.

For all the talk of rebooting Egypt’s political system, the fact is that its experiment with democracy has failed dismally.

The leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political party, together the biggest political and social movement in the country, have been rounded up and locked away in a way that happened often in the years before 2011.

The army’s intervention does not of itself do anything to tackle Egypt’s huge economic problems. The country is deeply divided.

It is not a good beginning for a new era.

No, it’s not, but neither was the election of the MB (and the Salafis). That was already a massive failure of Egypt’s experiment with democracy.


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

By the window

Jul 5th, 2013 11:32 am | By

Marie-Thérèse took this photo of Maureen and PZ in conversation last Saturday in Dublin.


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

Not a pincushion

Jul 5th, 2013 11:19 am | By

Athlete has bad headaches, goes to “therapist” who decides that sticking a needle in her chest will fix her headaches. Lung collapses, athlete’s life is trashed. This is called “traditional Chinese medicine.”

The therapist accidentally pierced Ms. Ribble-Orr’s left lung during acupuncture treatment that was later deemed unnecessary and ill-advised, causing the organ to collapse and leaving it permanently damaged. An Ontario court has just upheld the one-year disciplinary suspension imposed on therapist Scott Spurrell, rejecting his appeal in a case that highlights a rare but well-documented side effect of acupuncture.

Mr. Spurrell, who learned the ancient Chinese art on weekends at a local university, had no reason to stick the needle in his patient’s chest, and had wrongly advised Ms. Ribble-Orr that the chest pain and other symptoms she reported later were likely just from a muscle spasm, a discipline tribunal ruled.

It’s time for people to stop calling acupuncture things like “the ancient Chinese art” and other such honorifics. It’s just sticking needles in people for no medical reason. It’s bad and stupid and calling it an ancient art doesn’t make it any less so.

Acupuncture involves inserting solid needles into the body at specific points to encourage natural healing, improve mood and relieve pain, among other benefits, according to the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute. Proponents tout it as a safe, drug-free alternative to traditional medicine, one that is used by close to one in 10 Canadians, a 2007 Alberta study suggested.

A Danish analysis of randomized clinical trials in 2009, however, concluded that acupuncture offered only a slight, clinically irrelevant benefit over placebo acupuncture for pain.

How “safe” can it really be when it involves sticking needles into people? “Safe” is things like murmuring incantations, it’s not sticking needles into people.


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

Wajeha Al-Huwaider

Jul 5th, 2013 10:09 am | By

Katha Pollitt reports on a horror story from Saudi Arabia.

After proceedings that stretched out over nearly a year and violated many legal  norms, Wajeha Al-Huwaider, the prominent Saudi Human rights activist and  co-organizer of protests against the ban on women drivers, has been sentenced to  ten months in prison, along with her colleague Fawzia Al-Oyouni. (I interviewed  Al-Huwaider here.) After they serve their terms, both will be banned from travel for two years.

What did they do? They tried to help a Canadian woman whose Saudi husband is holding her hostage.

They were accused of kidnapping and trying to help Nathalie Morin, a  Canadian woman married to a Saudi, flee the country in June 2011. Morin, who has  said her husband locks her in the house and is abusive, has been trying for  eight years to leave Saudi Arabia with her three children. (There’s a  so-far-unsuccessful campaign, spearheaded by her mother, to get the Canadian  government to intervene.) Al-Huwaider says they were responding to a frantic  text message from Morin, who said her husband had gone away for a week and left  her locked in the house without enough food or drinkable water. When they  arrived at the house with groceries, they were arrested.

The two activists were found not guilty of kidnapping, but the judge convicted them of “Takhbib”—inciting a woman against her husband.

So in Saudi Arabia husbands are allowed to imprison their wives and children without enough water and food? And women who try to rescue such wives and children get ten months in jail? Interesting.

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