Notes and Comment Blog


Secularist of the Year shortlist

Jan 30th, 2014 10:08 am | By

And guess who’s on it, proudly modeling their Jesus and Mo T shirts?

Also Gita, and Nick. An excellent shortlist!

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



Guest post by Gordon Willis: Why shouldn’t they learn to be reasonable?

Jan 30th, 2014 9:47 am | By

Originally a comment by Gordon Willis on A right for all children, as mentioned in Islam.

It’s the problem with ideologists, whether they’re religious or secular, and it’s the same problem with rigid moralists, because they too are ideologists. They really believe that everyone has to be identical, that there is only one correct pattern for a human being, and everyone is required conform to it, by god, social realism or proper principles. Diversity is sin: that is, the existence of sin is proved by the fact that not everyone is the same, and some are so different as to be frighteningly incomprehensible to the simplistic mind.

Of course, they talk blissfully about individuality as a marvellous gift of god or a wonderful fact of nature, but when outside their fuzzy imaginations they really don’t like the actuality, oh, not at all! It is then that they talk disapprovingly about mere facts of nature, like the moralists they ultimately are. They point to wicked things done by others, and are unable to see that their own acts are also wicked, because what is condemned as badness in them by others is true adherence to sacred or politically correct or moral precepts in their own minds. And when I say “wicked”, I really do mean it, for all wickedness is at root the belief that I am absolutely justified or that what I want takes precedence over any consideration of others, or simply that others (women)* do not really matter. I am convinced that wickedness is about such things: it is simply me rather than you, my (conception of) god rather than you or yours, my ownership or security rather than yours. It is ultimately selfishness, even when it appears as political or religious expediency.

Morally stupid, narrow, bigoted, arrogant, self-preferential and cowardly, all in one miserable bunch of powerful and power-seeking fools. And they are all men! It’s all a man’s imposition of his will upon the rest of the world, and especially upon women, who most of all have to be kept in their places (otherwise hell would break loose, wouldn’t it?) After all, we know what happened in the Garden of Eden, don’t we? Man is shamefully tempted by vile Woman who listens to dirt-eating talking snakes instead of doing what she is told by the gardener whose enjoyment of the cool of the day is totally ruined for ever and ever and becomes eternally most cross.

Perhaps imposing the fear of hell has been too successful: even the moralists secretly believe it — they just don’t know they do (there are countless very fiery demonic Wedges which have fine but exceedingly sharp ends). Perhaps it is time to consider the conservative mind as a real cause of compassionate concern. These people need to be helped. They must certainly be stopped from trying to run everything, seeing as their incompetence is killing everyone else. But they can’t help themselves — it’s how they are, or how they were brought up (or it’s how we all are, beyond a certain point which is closer to some than to others). I don’t want them to lose their rights and be sectioned, but why are they allowed to go on destroying our lives? Why shouldn’t they learn to be reasonable? How many hangings from cranes, stonings, suicide bombers, kamikaze pilots, concentration camps and lampshades do we need?

* or women, Jews, muslims, christians, women, slaves, women, children, the working class; or competitors, women, heretics, other men, philosophers, scientists, women…

 

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



A right for all children, as mentioned in Islam

Jan 29th, 2014 5:17 pm | By

The Federal National Council in Abu Dhabi passed a law last week that mothers have to breastfeed their babies up to the age of two. Yes a law, that they have to.

Salem Al Ameri (Abu Dhabi) insisted that breastfeeding was a right for all children, as mentioned in Islam.

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) said that because labour laws already allow working women to take time to breastfeed, adding the requirement to the legislation showed consistency.

The clause was added to the law once it was passed to the council’s health, labour and social affairs committee for review.

Sultan Al Sammahi (Fujairah), a member of the committee, said it was the right of all children to be breast fed up to the age of 2.

But what about the rights of the woman to decide for herself?

The what? The who?

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



Doesn’t that suggest that you deliberately set out to court outrage?

Jan 29th, 2014 4:56 pm | By

Thanks to Chigau, here is Author talking to Jeremy Paxman, Author in a shadow with his voice distorted to sound like Some Grey Bloke.

Paxman asks how Jesus and Mo started, and Author says he’d had the idea of a religious satire cartoon for a long time but it was the Danish cartoons fiasco that prompted him to start. ”Doesn’t that suggest that you deliberately set out to court outrage?” Paxman asked.

Whether it did or whether it didn’t, that’s not a reprehensible thing to do. Satire; comedy; outrage; they’re all permitted. There can be bad stupid satire and outrage done in a bad cause, but that doesn’t mean that all outrage is haram.

More talk, and back he came. ”But you do understand that depicting the prophet is a great offense to Muslims.” About as much as I understand that refusing to eat fish on Friday is a great offense to Catholics. Other people’s religious taboos are their problem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JETbhvU2BYw

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



Disguised as Marie of Romania

Jan 29th, 2014 3:55 pm | By

Jesus and Mo Author was on Newsnight talking to Jeremy Paxman an hour ago – which I didn’t know until it was over, so I missed it, because the BBC doesn’t let people watch outside the UK. He was incognito of course, with the shadow thing and the spooky voice thing.

What we can see, though, is a segment from Channel 4 (yes them again) in which Mo Shafiq and his bully friends meet with the LibDems but are disappointed in their attempt to get Maajid Nawaz deselected.

On a happier note, they also talk to Mohammed Amin of the Conservative Muslim Forum, who says the threateners and shouters are the ones who are giving Muslims a bad name and damaging the image of Islam. ”Jesus and Mo cartoons do nothing to damage the image of Islam among normal human beings,” he said. That is correct! Well said!

Then there’s Paddy Ashdown, who seems oddly intent on insisting that Maajid’s refusal to be “offended” by the Jesus and Mo image is a “minority Muslim view” but who also says Maajid is not going to be deselected and that Mo Shafiq is a pain in the ass. Not quite in those words.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RW7tPlZc–Y

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



Guest post by Chris Muir: Must We Burn Maajid Nawaz?

Jan 29th, 2014 11:50 am | By

Chris Muir reviews Maajid Nawaz’s memoir Radical.

There’s no getting around it. The Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, Maajid Nawaz, is a controversial guy. Described by Muslim crackpot Anjem Choudary as a ‘traitor to the faith’ and suggested to be a secret Islamist by Christian crackpot Glenn Beck, it’s clear he has ruffled more than a few feathers. In fact, it would take the entirety of this blog post to list the enemies he’s accrued – many of whom are a lot more dangerous than the aforementioned talking heads.

In spite of this, Nawaz has fiercely loyal supporters. Recently, after another Liberal Democrat activist, Mohammed Shafiq, spearheaded a campaign to have Nawaz deselected as the Lib Dem Hampstead and Kilburn PPC, Nawaz’ supporters launched a petition in his favour which has accumulated more than 6000 signatures at the time of writing. What bonds Nawaz’s supporters, whether they’re atheists or theists, right wing or left wing, is their belief in and defence of liberalism.

So just who is this man, capable of infuriating religious extremists and hooligans alike? Where did he come from? And why should you listen to him? Well, put simply, because he knows what he’s talking about.

In Radical, Nawaz’s recently released autobiography, he recounts the extraordinary journey which took him from being just another teenaged, rap-loving, ‘b-boy’ in sleepy Southend to a highly dedicated recruiter for the notorious Islamic extremist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, to then subsequently found the world’s first counter-extremist think-tank, Quilliam.

Radical is a fascinating autobiography, telling a truly exceptional life story. But it’s more than that. It’s a mission statement and a case study. Nawaz’s story gives us a unique insight into how a Brit, raised with Western values, can grow to deplore the country he calls home. How one can assume a supranational identity, bound not to country but to an alien ideology. Radical is Nawaz’s vow to once again separate that ideology from his religion. He wants to communicate that Islamism and Islam are not the same.

Islam is a religion of peace, he argues, but is being used to bind Muslims to a deceptive yet highly convincing meta-narrative calling for a caliphate. By conflating legitimate grievances regarding the effect Western foreign policy has had on Muslims in other countries with half-truths and propaganda, these recruiters have successfully established a siren call to the alienated and the angry. It is an ideology that has resonated with the disaffected and been enflamed by further Western military interventions, allowing a hegemony to be established.

Nawaz has a gift for communicating in prose. What really brings the book to life is his ability to paint a picture. Even knowing the dark path he’ll later take, it’s impossible not to sympathise with his young self when we read of the barbaric violence he witnesses at the hands of racist thugs, or the discriminatory way he is treated by the police just because he isn’t white. The young Nawaz is relatable, vulnerable, normal – which is why his decline into extremism is particularly striking. It’s striking because it’s clear that religion has little to do with why the young Maajid becomes entangled in jihad.

Whilst reading Radical I couldn’t help but recall Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion. Dawkins identified in The God Delusion that it is faith itself which allows extremism to breed. He argues that the very concept of faith – the willingness to accept instruction or explanation, no matter how irrational, as long as told in the name of God – creates a pliable mind, easily manipulated by extremists to further their own ends. After all, one is surely more likely to kamikaze into a building if they think they’ll be rewarded in the afterlife. I think this is a reasonable conclusion to reach, but It wasn’t until I read Radical that I realised it’s a reductive and simple explanation. Radical has been for me, an ‘antitheist’, what Dawkins would call a ‘consciousness raiser’.

I no longer think of the issue of extremism in black and white, in absolutes. The many shades of grey, and the many disparate components of the process of radicalisation are now visible to me. Radical feels like the breakthrough moment of a culture shift, and I wish Maajid and his movement all the success in the world.

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



The jargon of authenticity

Jan 29th, 2014 11:13 am | By

Stephen Evans of the National Secular Society writes an excellent open letter to Channel 4 about the Black Egg censorship of the image of Mo, sending it via the Huffington Post UK.

We were surprised and extremely disappointed to see that Channel 4 News took the decision to cover up the image of Mohammed when showing the Jesus & Mo cartoon, and we are thus keen to elicit the rationale behind that particular editorial decision.

During the report, it was noted that this decision was taken so as not to cause offence to some viewers; however we would like to point out that by your making this decision you have effectively taken a side in a debate where a Muslim man has suffered violent death threats after he explicitly said he did not find the cartoons offensive. You have taken the side of the reactionaries – the side of people who bully and violently threaten Muslims, such as Mr Nawaz, online.

That’s exactly what they have done, and it’s disgusting. Why would anyone do that? I don’t buy the claim that it’s personal fear. I have to suspect it’s something more like a deeply entrenched assumption that the reactionaries are the more “authentic” Muslims and that therefore it’s more compassionate or progressive or postcolonialist or whatever to side with them instead of with not so “authentic” Muslims like Nawaz. It doesn’t take much thought to perceive how massively insulting that is to Muslims as a group – indeed, how “Islamophobic” it is.

Oh look, Evans says the same thing. I annotated as I went, so I hadn’t read that paragraph yet.

Given that your editorial decision seems to be have been weighted by a concern with offence, we might also note that you ended up with a report that was, in fact, very offensive to many; offensive to those who take seriously and cherish our basic freedom to speak and question, and offensive to many Muslims, whose voices you do not hear because you insist on placating the reactionary voices of people claiming to represent what it is to be an ‘authentic Muslim’.

Exactly. Well of course it’s not an original thought with either of us; we’ve been seeing it for years and years. People have been accusing Salman Rushdie of being “inauthentic” for decades because he’s a cosmopolitan.

Whilst we understand that you covered both sides of the issue through your report and subsequent interview, we were keen to highlight the dangerous precedent you have set by taking the editorial decision to censor the Jesus & Mo cartoon, and the deeply symbolic implications that decision has.

Really. Stop doing that. Stop making terrible decisions like that.

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



Kicking back

Jan 29th, 2014 10:23 am | By

From the Onion – Woman Takes Short Half-Hour Break From Being Feminist To Enjoy TV Show.

Oh yes, I know how that goes.

Jenkins, 29, told reporters that after a long and tiring day at her office, all she wanted to do was return home, sit down on her couch, turn on an episode of the TLC reality show Say Yes To The Dress, and treat herself to a brief half hour in which she could look past all the various and near constant ways popular culture undermines the progress of women.

“Every once in a while, it’s nice to watch a little television without worrying about how frequently the mainstream media perpetuates traditional gender roles,” Jenkins said before putting her feet up on her coffee table and tuning in to the popular program that follows women as they shop for wedding gowns. “No mentally cataloging all the times women are subtly mocked or shamed for not living up to an unrealistic body image, no examining how women are depicted as superficial and irrationally emotional, and no thinking about how these shows reinforce the belief that women should simply aspire to find a man and get married—none of that. Not tonight. I’m just watching an episode of Say Yes To The Dress and enjoying it for what it is.”

Huh. What I watch for when I turn off the feminist part of my brain is kind of the opposite – stuff like Deadliest Catch where it’s all guys muscling everything and calling each other “girls” when they drop something.

Jenkins acknowledged that she witnessed dozens of moments in which the brides-to-be abandoned the notion that they should be valued for their personalities and intellects and instead seemed to derive their sole sense of worth from embellishing their appearance. However, she said she was able to consistently remind herself that this was “Natalie time” and that the feminist movement “could do without [her] for 30 minutes.”

“Normally, I’d be pretty irritated at the thought of millions of people across the country mindlessly watching such a backward representation of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, but tonight I’m just unwinding and not letting it get to me,” Jenkins said. “It’s actually been kind of nice to push all the insinuations that marriage is the one true path for women to achieve happiness and fulfillment to the back of my mind and just lie back and have a good time.”

For sure. It’s very soothing watching giant waves crash over the deck and drench all the dudes.

While affirming that she had fully recommitted herself to the cause of gender equality as soon as the show’s credits ended, Jenkins admitted she was already looking forward to the next time she could let herself disregard the many ways women are reduced to stale caricatures on national television.

“Honestly, it’s pretty exhausting to call out every sexist stereotype or instance of misogyny in popular culture, so sometimes I have to just throw my hands up and grant myself a little time off,” Jenkins said. “And given the state of modern media, momentarily suspending my feminist ideals is the only way to get through a night of TV without becoming totally livid or discouraged.”

As of press time, Jenkins’ sense of relaxation and contentment had been entirely undone by the first 30 seconds of 2 Broke Girls.

Switch to the Discovery channel! There’s bound to be something about lumberjacks or moonshiners or guns or cars.

H/t Pieter

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



Jesus and Mo and the Black Egg

Jan 29th, 2014 9:22 am | By

Author has his response.

black

Damn right. By doing that stupid, stupid, stupid thing yesterday Channel 4 simply re-enforced the stereotype that all Muslims are enraged bullies who demand the power to silence anything they dislike.

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



Opponents of the book launch wanted to please the Taliban

Jan 28th, 2014 6:02 pm | By

The Guardian has more detail on the suppression of Malala’s book launch.

Malala Yousafzai’s book was due to be launched at an event on Monday at Peshawar University but organisers were forced to scrap it after the intervention of two senior members of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP).

The episode underlines the antipathy among many Pakistanis towards the 16-year-old who campaigned for education in the face of Taliban opposition.

While she has been hailed in the west for her campaign against extremism, in Pakistan she is widely regarded with suspicion, with many people believing conspiracy theories that the story of the Taliban attempt to assassinate her as she travelled to school in October 2012 was untrue or exaggerated.

Well of course there’s antipathy among many Pakistanis. Many Pakistanis are very conservative and theocratic.

The event that was to have been held at the university’s Central Asia Area Study Centre had been intended to raise awareness of a book which is not widely available in Pakistan.

Few booksellers dare stock it after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is particularly strong in KP, threatened to attack shops selling copies of I Am Malala.

Organisers said they came under enormous pressure to abandon the event, with ministers, the police and university officials all intervening.

“They all made so many excuses,” said Khadim Hussain, director of the Baacha Khan Education Foundation and one of the organisers. “First they said it was a security risk, then they said the book was not relevant to the study centre.”

He said opponents of the book launch simply wanted to please the Taliban.

And cheer them up over their failure to kill Malala. Poor Taliban.

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



Push banana

Jan 28th, 2014 5:21 pm | By

Another PBUH from Gnu Atheism.

 

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



Political pressure had also been put on

Jan 28th, 2014 5:00 pm | By

Meanwhile, in Peshawar – there was going to be an event to launch Malala Yousafzai’s book today, but it got canceled because some bullies demanded that it should be.

The book launch had been organised by Peshawar University’s Area Study Centre in collaboration with the Bacha Khan Education Trust (BKET), a non-profit education network set up by the secular Pashtun ANP party, and a civil society NGO called Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO).

Dr Hussain of BKET said that police had informed organisers they could not provide security for the programme. But he added that political pressure had also been put on the university administration to suspend the event.

“Two ministers of the KP government put pressure on the university administration to call off the programme. Some important state functionaries also made telephone calls to senior professors of the Area Study Centre,” he told BBC Urdu.

Peshawar’s police chief Ijaz Khan told the BBC that the book launch was stopped “due to security concerns”.

He added that the centre had not provided any information to the police about the programme, which meant that arranging security in such a short time was not possible.

“Also, the university administration itself had voiced some reservations over Area Study Centre’s plans for the book launch, after which permission for the programme was withheld,” he said.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shah Farman told the AFP news agency that the local government had indeed halted the ceremony.

“It is true that we stopped them and there were many reasons for that.”

All of them bad.

 

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



We’ve taken the decision

Jan 28th, 2014 4:08 pm | By

Now for some video that’s not Pete Seeger singing. Channel 4 did a piece on Maajid Nawaz and Jesus and Mo and Mo Shafiq this evening. And what did they do in the process? They covered up Mo.

The journalist who gave a brief background explained, ”We’ve taken the decision to cover up the depiction of Mohammed so that we don’t cause offense to some viewers.”

So they caused offense to some other viewers, who find it highly offensive to give in to the petulant demands of reactionary religious bigots.

She talked to Chris Moos after that. Then Jon Snow said that Nick Clegg is meeting tomorrow with “dozens of Muslim groups” who are offended by Maajid’s tweet to discuss the matter.

Dozens? Dozens of groups? That sounds exaggerated. But besides that the whole thing just sounds like a horrendous train wreck. He needs to tell them to stop being so bossy, deal with it, and go away. But he won’t.

Update: Never mind.

I should have watched the whole thing before I posted. (I hate watching videos. I get so impatient.) Somebody must have whispered in Jon Snow’s ear while Shafiq was ranting. He interrupted him to inform him that Clegg says tomorrow’s meeting was scheduled long ago and he has no intention of discussing this issue. Whew. That’s a relief. Shafiq looked very disconcerted for a second.

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



Joe Hill

Jan 28th, 2014 3:49 pm | By

Says Joe, “But I ain’t dead.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_yC4ffyGiw

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



We shall not be moved

Jan 28th, 2014 11:08 am | By

We’re women and men together, we shall not be moved.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt7soE8gVf8

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



Solidarity Forever

Jan 28th, 2014 11:06 am | By

Now we stand outcast and starving, ‘mid the wonders we have made.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ly5ZKjjxMNM

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



Deep in my heart, I do believe

Jan 28th, 2014 11:04 am | By

Pete Seeger.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b24Ewk934g

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



A danger to community cohesion

Jan 28th, 2014 10:48 am | By

More tunnel-visioned dogma-drunk hate-mongering for your enlightenment.

isocUniversity of Plymouth Islamic Society

ATTENTION ALL STUDENTS!! …… MASS DEMONSTRATION ALERT!

The university has decided NOT to listen to the concerns of hundreds of it’s British & international students regarding banning the Quilliam Foundation event this Wednesday!

Maajid Nawaz (the chairman of QF) has recently posted offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus (peace be upon them) from a comic strip called “Jesus and Mo” which features them drinking at the bar, in bed together and other filthy behaviors. This is as offensive, if not more than the Denmark cartoons which caused a worldwide response in 2005. The Chaplaincy have invited Usama Hasan a senior lecturer who is due to speak at PLYMOUTH UNIVERSITY THIS WEDNESDAY has shown support for Maajid Nawaz’s actions.

We are calling upon ALL STUDENTS to join us to demonstrate against QF:

WHEN? THIS WEDNESDAY 29th JAN
TIME? 6:15PM
WHERE? ROLAND LEVINSKY BUILDING (outside the entrance opposite the library)

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD TO EVERYONE

FOR MORE DETAILS SEE https://www.facebook.com/events/1472832456277722/?ref=22

So we go to the linked Event page.

Join us in protesting and leafleting against the Quilliam Foundation appearing at Plymouth University. The Quilliam Foundation have been invited to speak and we strongly object. The QF founder tweeted on 12th January offensive caricatures of the Prophets Mohammed and Isa (Jesus), peace be upon them. They claim to be a moderate Muslim group but have welcomed right wing extremist Tommy Robinson and Steve Carroll from the racist English Defence League. QF is a think tank that has received over £1million from the government. In return they have provided lists to the govt of alleged extremist sympathisers which included the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Safety Forum and even the Islam Channel.

We do not want the QF in Plymouth, they are a danger to community cohesion and peaceful relationships that exist here between the mainstream Muslim as well as diverse communities. We urge you to turn up and help us protest and leaflet to let people know what QF really stand for which is fuelling Islamaphobia and harming community relationships, and that they are not welcome here in Plymouth.

This event has been organised by both local Muslims and non Muslims.

It’s this kind of thing that fuels “Islamophobia,” not the kind of thing Quilliam does.

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



Maajid explains his reasons

Jan 28th, 2014 9:36 am | By

At Comment is Free.

Muslims are not one homogenous tribe requiring representation through a Citizen Khan-like community leader. Neither are we still colonial subjects who must speak through our Brown Sahibs. We Muslims are free. Our prophet left no heir. We have never had a pope or a clergy. We are commanded to worship God alone, and for our sins we are answerable to no one but Him.

The doors of Muslim ijtihad (religious reasoning) have always remained open, and modern Islamist attempts to impose theocratic orthodoxy on us will therefore be resisted. Unity in faith is theocracy; unity in politics is fascism.

That’s Irshad Manji’s approach to Islam, too.

On 12 January I participated in a BBC debate on human rights and religious rights. Two students were wearing T-shirtsdepicting a stick figure of Jesus saying “Hi” to a stick figure called Mo, who replied: “How you doin’?” Some Muslims, having just argued for their own right to veil, took issue with the students. I argued that just as Muslim women have the right to veil, atheists have the right to wear these T-shirts.

I am acutely aware of the populist sentiment in Britain that derides Muslims who seek special treatment for their sensibilities, so I tweeted the bland image and stated that, as a Muslim, I did not feel threatened by it. My God is greater than that.

Surely that was clear all along? Wasn’t it? Muslims who seek special treatment for their sensibilities don’t do their fellow Muslims any favors, so Maajid offered himself as an example of a Muslim who doesn’t seek special treatment for his sensibilities.

But what was the response? Much of it was an uproar of demands for special treatment for sensibilities. One might almost think the point had been missed.

My intention was not to speak for any Muslim but myself – rather, it was to defend my religion from those who have hijacked it just because they shout the loudest. My intention was to carve out a space to be heard without constantly fearing the blasphemy charge, on pain of death. I did it for Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab who was assassinated by his bodyguard for calling for a review of Pakistan’s colonial-era blasphemy laws; for Malala Yusafzai, the schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban for wanting an education; and for Muhammad Asghar, a mentally ill British man sentenced to death for “blasphemy” last week in Pakistan.

Which is a damn good reason.

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



A bad development

Jan 28th, 2014 8:33 am | By

A joint statement in the Liberal Democrat Voice by Maajid Nawaz and Mohammed Shafiq.

We wish to make a statement about the recent concern expressed over issues related to conflicting views on depictions of Prophet Muhammad.

We recognise that, when it comes to this question, some Muslims of various persuasions may take different views. However, we also recognise that there are many Muslims who have taken offence, and we assert that images of the spiritual leaders of all religions should be deemed to be respectful.

Stop right there.

No.

No.

No. Your religion is your religion, and it is not binding on me or on anyone else who does not choose to be bound by it. I don’t have to be respectful of it. I don’t have to even in the mild sense that I should bow to that assertion. I don’t accept that should. I reject it.

I don’t even accept that “spiritual leader” is a meaningful or reasonable category. I think it’s a stupid phrase, that does harm. I think it’s just a flattering label for a theocratic bully, someone who uses god and goddy language to make arbitrary power look holy. I think that dressing up of arbitrary power should be debunked and undermined by every means available, including cartoons and caricatures and mockery. So no.

No.

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