Notes and Comment Blog

Prairie voles are Christians

Jan 24th, 2014 4:03 pm | By

Hey, Patricia Churchland does the Colbert Report. Oxytocin, prairie voles and montane voles, bonding, the self is in the brain, what about the soul?

Any time people try to tell you how great Sam Harris’s take on morality is, just tell them to read Patricia Churchland instead.


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

Sentenced to village-rape

Jan 24th, 2014 1:48 pm | By

And then there’s the quaint old custom of gang-raping women to punish them.

A young woman in West Bengal was gang-raped this week on the order of a village council, to punish her for planning to marry a man from outside the village, according to the Indian police.

The episode began on Monday when Khaliq Sheikh, the man from outside the village, asked the young woman to marry him, and she accepted his proposal, the police said. When Balai Mardi, the chief of the village, heard about it, he quickly sought to block the marriage.

According to local news media accounts, villagers went to the young woman’s house and detained Mr. Sheikh, and the next day, he and the young woman were taken to the village square, tied to separate trees and accused of breaking community rules.

It’s a question of Village Values, you see. Like Family Values in the US, but slightly more brutal.

Mr. Mardi ordered the couple to pay fines totaling 27,000 rupees, or about $442, Mr. Yadav said in a telephone interview. Mr. Sheikh paid his portion and was allowed to leave, but when the young woman’s family refused to pay, Mr. Mardi ordered villagers “to enjoy her,” said a police officer who spoke on condition that he not be named.

She was then raped repeatedly in Mr. Mardi’s mud-and-thatch hut, according to local news reports.

Then Mr Mardi threatened her and her family, saying he’d burn down their house if they told the police, but they told the police anyway. They must not have the right Village Values.



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

In Modi’s Gujarat

Jan 24th, 2014 1:39 pm | By

State textbooks in Gujarat glorify Nazism, according to the Times of India.

Welcome to high school education in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, where authors of social studies textbooks published by the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks have found faults with the freedom movement and glorified Fascism and Nazism.

While a Class VIII student is taught ’negative aspects’ of Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement, the Class X social studies textbook has chapters on ‘Hitler, the Supremo’ and ‘Internal Achievements of Nazism’. 

The Class X book presents a frighteningly uncritical picture of Fascism and Nazism. The strong national pride that both these phenomena generated, the efficiency in the bureaucracy and the administration and other ‘achievements’ are detailed, but pogroms against Jews and atrocities against trade unionists, migrant labourers, and any section of people who did not fit into Mussolini or Hitler’s definition of rightful citizen don’t find any mention.

The headline on the article is

In Modi’s Gujarat, Hitler is a textbook hero

Modi could be the next Prime Minister of India. It’s alarming.

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

Into the pit

Jan 24th, 2014 1:23 pm | By

A 70-year-old man has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in Rawalpindi.

Muhammad Asghar was arrested in 2010 after writing letters to various people claiming to be a prophet, reports say.

His lawyers argued for leniency, saying he has a history of mental illness, but this was rejected by a medical panel.

Disgusting in every way. So what if someone wrote a bunch of letters claiming to be a prophet? What a harmless inconsequential who could possibly care action. Giving him a ticket comparable to a parking ticket would be a ludicrous abuse of state power; sentencing him to death is just off the charts. Ignoring his mental illness for the sake of sentencing him to death is another step down into the pit of sadistic shitness.

Mr Asghar, who is from Edinburgh, Scotland, was accused of writing letters to police officers claiming to be a prophet. He is thought to have lived in Pakistan for several years.

“Asghar claimed to be a prophet even inside the court. He confessed it in front of the judge,” Javed Gul, a government prosecutor, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

So what, you fucking fool. It doesn’t matter. He could claim to be Tinker Bell or Sasquatch or Elmer Fudd’s third wife; it wouldn’t matter. Pakistan has enough real crimes to pursue without squandering its time on the persecution of a religious fantasist.

But his lawyer told the BBC’s Saba Eitizaz that she was forcibly removed from the case by the judge and that proceedings were carried out behind closed doors.

His lawyer says she will launch an appeal against the verdict, which was delivered late on Thursday. Higher courts in Pakistan have been known to overturn blasphemy verdicts handed down in lower courts because of insufficient evidence.

Mr Asgharn has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and had treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh, but the court did not accept his medical reports from the UK, reports say.

He has been in jail since his arrest in 2010 and his lawyer says he has also tried to take his own life in jail on one occasion.

Oh it’s just too foul to contemplate.

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

The bus proceeds smoothly on its way

Jan 24th, 2014 12:23 pm | By

There was an open meeting of the Cambridge Student Union last night at which the Liberal Democratic MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert gave a talk. Tehmina Kazi reports one thing he said (and is fine with my quoting her):

Best quote from Cambridge MP and highly-regarded Lib Dem Julian Huppert at last night’s Graduate Union talk: “The chances of Maajid Nawaz being deselected as a parliamentary candidate as a result of the petition are approximately… ZERO.”


It’s still bad that they issued that very un-liberal statement about not hurting people’s feelings by tolerating satire of their religions, but it’s good that they’re not scouting for a nice cliff to drop him off.

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

They have to be blokes, do they?

Jan 24th, 2014 11:40 am | By

You know how people keep telling us – over and over, with an air of patient “everybody knows this” superior wisdom – that “cunt” is not a sexist epithet in the UK? It’s used solely for men, so much so that it would sound weird to call a woman it? That it’s lost its original meaning i.e. female genitalia?

As in this comment by “Minow” on January 8 for instance:

What offensive word? “Cunt” obviously. The others wouldn’t be “offensive” enough to be worth mentioning.

No it was ‘bitch’ according to press reports. Nimmo is British and it is quite rare in Britain to use ‘cunt’ for a woman, it sounds a bit peculiar, like calling a woman a ‘cock’. This might be changing as we Americanize in that way but I think it is still generally true. ‘Cunts’ have to be blokes, usually hard-arses in a bad way.

I call Rachel Bailey to the stand.

Scott and Bailey, Season 3 episode 5. Spoiler alert – a suspect trips up when Rachel is interviewing him, and he says something that convicts him. She is telling the roomful of detectives what happened, and concludes with “…and that’s when he called me a – ” pause “…rhymes with stunt, brunt, front” and everyone laughs.

It’s at 42:25 in case anyone wants to check my arithmetic.

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

We want to live in a democracy, not a madhouse

Jan 23rd, 2014 6:32 pm | By

Well here’s a good thing I didn’t know about – a talk that Charlie Klendjian of the Lawyers’ Secular Society (he was on that Big Questions episode, sitting I think next to Maajid) did in December, in which he does a fine job of needling Universities UK.

Well, well, well. Who would have known?

In the year 2013, in a western liberal secular(ish) democracy, segregation is not segregation
as long as it’s…driven by “genuinely-held” religious beliefs.

It’s a brave new world.

Talking of bravery, or rather the lack of it, I had never actually heard of “Universities UK” or
their Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge until a few weeks ago.

They really are exploring the outer reaches of the old saying that “any publicity is good
publicity”, aren’t they? Yep, I’ll give them that. Well you’ve certainly got your publicity, Nicola,
so congratulations to you and your team on that. Sterling effort. Quick round of applause,
please, everyone, for Nicola and her team.

A comrade, definitely.

So, now I have this conspiracy theory. I’ll tell you about it if you promise not to tell anyone,
ok? Seriously, this is massive, it’s right up there with fake moon landings.

I think Universities UK don’t actually care about free speech, or not in any meaningful sense. I
think they only care about keeping Islamists happy. At any cost. Any cost whatsoever. If that
includes turning the clock back on hard-fought gender equality then so be it.

Well if they’re so keen to turn the clock back with this “separate but equal” policy of theirs,
then I think we should turn the clock back too. I think we should borrow another phrase from
history, this time from the anti-drugs campaigns of the 1980s: “JUST SAY NO”

If Islamists want to separate men and women, or implement any of their other madcap
seventh century ideas, everyone should JUST SAY NO. Say it with me, come on, it’s panto
season, “just say no” after three…1, 2, 3…JUST SAY NO.

You are allowed to say no to Islamists, Nicola. There’s no law against it. Yet.

Seriously. Such a comrade.

Today he wrote a statement on the matter of Maajid Nawaz and Jesus and Mo and the LibDems.

The LibDems, you remember, said yesterday:

The Liberal Democrats are a party of respect, tolerance and individual liberty. We fundamentally believe in freedom of expression and as such defend Maajid’s right to express his views. But as a party we urge all candidates to be sensitive to cultural and religious feelings and to conduct debate without causing gratuitous or unnecessary offence.

Maajid made his own statement:

My view, that as a Muslim I was not offended by this cartoon, originally featured on a BBC programme without advanced knowledge that I would be shown the image. I then posted this to my social media in order to clarify my view, which was by now televised, that as a Muslim I was not offended.

But moderate language and a respect for others’ opinions is at the heart of both Liberalism and my understanding of what Prophet Muhammad (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) teaches us. I wish to take this opportunity to re-assert that although I do not agree with those who have interpreted my comments in a way that I did not intend – and although I continue to hold to my belief in both Islam and freedom of speech – I respect the right of all those who have taken offence to express themselves peacefully.

I do regret if, in expressing my own views, I have caused inadvertent offence to any side in this debate.

In conclusion, I bid you all salam (peace) and request that we all allow ourselves to put this unfortunate incident behind us.

So here is Comrade Charlie Klendjian’s at the LSS:

The LSS fully supports Maajid’s right to tweet a Jesus and Mo cartoon and we feel no need to qualify that support with the word ‘but’.

We stand with Maajid and we are dismayed at the reaction to such a harmless act, and in particular we are appalled at the explicit death threats against him.

For the LSS the issue of offence is irrelevant to a discussion of free speech. The question here is whether someone has the right to post the cartoon. It’s an embarrassingly simple question deserving of an embarrassingly simple answer. The answer is ‘yes, because it does not infringe anyone else’s rights’. This is GCSE-level morality and human rights, if that.

We haven’t had blasphemy laws in the UK since 2008 and we don’t miss them. We don’t want them back – not today, not tomorrow, not ever. And nor do we want an unwritten, de facto blasphemy law in its place. The LSS opposes all blasphemy laws anywhere in the world. Anyone who thinks freedom of expression should be limited on the grounds of offence or disagreement fails with flying colours to understand the function and importance of free speech, and consequently they also fail to understand the very essence of freedom itself.

It’s not for Maajid to justify what he did; it’s for others to justify why he shouldn’t have done it. The burden of proof is squarely on their shoulders. So far the only ‘reason’ delivered up is that some people didn’t like the cartoon. The solution to that is mercifully simple: don’t look at it.

Holding religious ideas to account and challenging them – no matter how sacred some people might consider those ideas – goes to the very heart of secularism. Once we accept that certain discussions are beyond limits on the basis some people might be ‘offended’, we open the door to limitless harm. We enter a chaotic marketplace where the only currencies are intimidation and fear. We enter a competition where the winning prize is how offended someone claims to be. We want to live in a democracy, not a madhouse.

There’s more; read it all; it is just what we need.


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

Hostility from certain political quarters

Jan 23rd, 2014 12:45 pm | By

Luke Brinker at Media Matters wonders if NBC will cover the role of US conservatives in Russia’s anti-gay crackdown.

As the Kremlin launched its anti-gay crackdown last summer, NBC News largely ignored the issue, even as it hyped the upcoming Winter Olympics. NBC’s silence on Russia’s law banning so-called “gay propaganda” - which the Kremlin followed by banning the adoption of children by parents from pro-equality countries – raised the question of whether the network’s financial interests as the games’ broadcaster would outweigh the imperative of informing viewers about egregious human rights violations against LGBT Russians. Still, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus promised that NBC would “acknowledge” the crackdown. Meanwhile, assurances from anchor Bob Costas and NBC’s hiring of New Yorker editor and respected Russia expert David Remnick seemed to indicate a commitment to covering the controversy.

What NBC hasn’t made clear is whether it will highlight the intellectual and political involvement of several high-profile American conservatives in Russia’s crackdown on LGBT citizens. Doing so may well engender hostility from certain political quarters, but telling the story is crucial to fully understanding how Russia arrived at its current point of horrific, state-sanctioned homophobic persecution.

But how can anybody anywhere possibly be expected to do anything that might well engender hostility from certain political quarters? There would be press releases, and angry tweets, and petitions, and call-in shows, and shouting. It’s unthinkable.

According to information compiled by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and provided to Equality Matters, no fewer than 14 American conservative leaders have visited Russia to lobby lawmakers in support of the country’s anti-gay legislation, lend their support to Russian social conservatives, and help plan for the 2014 World Congress of Families (WCF), an annual “pro-family” confab sponsored by the eponymous Rockford, IL-based group and slated to be held in Moscow from September 10 to 14.

Seriously now, how is it the business of American conservative boffins to lobby Russian lawmakers? How is it their job to zoom around the planet urging legislators to be more savage and inhumane to marginalized people? I missed the memo that explains that.

Russia’s anti-gay laws – and the frightening climate of violence and vigilantism they have stoked – are significant in themselves. But the story of Russia’s crackdown extends far beyond Russia’s borders. As the exclusive broadcaster of the Sochi Olympics, NBC has vowed that it won’t shy away from holding Putin and other anti-gay Russian figures accountable. Will the network do the same for the American ambassadors of hate?

My bet is no, it won’t. But we’ll see.


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

Finalists have been adjusted

Jan 23rd, 2014 11:30 am | By

There’s a thing called the British Muslim Awards, which I don’t think I’d heard of until now. But now I have. Why? Because they dropped the Quilliam Foundation as a finalist yesterday.

FINALISTS FOR THE ‘SPIRIT OF BRITAIN’ CATEGORY have been adjusted to the below:

Christian Muslim Forum

Muslim Jewish Forum

In light of recent activity, The British Muslim Awards, after careful consideration, have come to the decision that it can no longer promote the Quilliam Foundation as a finalist, and thus it’s nomination has been removed with immediate effect.

Bad, stupid, regressive move.

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

With friends like these…

Jan 23rd, 2014 11:03 am | By

The MAB has a formulaic blurb at the end of its horrible press release.

Notes to Editors:

MAB is a British organisation dedicated to serving society through promoting Islam in its spiritual teachings, ideological and civilising concepts, and moral and human values. MAB has local branches across the UK that provide a wide range of events and activities.

MAB actively seeks to dispel the misconceptions about Muslims and helps to act as a bridge to promote better understanding between the UK and the Muslim World.

You know what? No it doesn’t. It doesn’t do that at all. It does the opposite. It entrenches the misconceptions that Muslims must by nature be dogmatic and authoritarian and fundamentalist and touchily aggressive.

If it really wanted to dispel the misconceptions about Muslims it would stop acting like the stereotype Angry Muslim and do the other thing. But it doesn’t. It’s a pathetic joke that it says it actively seeks to dispel the misconceptions about Muslims.

Muslims couldn’t have a more dedicated enemy than organizations like the MAB.

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

Abusive press release promoted by MAB

Jan 23rd, 2014 10:22 am | By

The Muslim Association of Britain, which is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (so it’s even more reactionary and theocratic than the Muslim Council of Britain, which is saying something) issued a press release on Jesus and Mo a couple of days ago. It’s as mindless and bullying and illiberal as you’d expect.

Even the title is like that.

Abusive website promoted by prospective Liberal Democrat candidate

Jesus and Mo is not abusive. It’s a satirical comic strip; it satirizes religion. That’s not abusive.

That’s blindingly obvious but we have to keep saying it, 400 times a day if that’s what it takes. We have to, because the more the theocrats say things like that the more they drag the whole conversation in that direction. Overton window. Splitting the difference. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Ok, the LibDems say, a satirical comic strip about religion may not be literally abusive, but it’s not “respectful” and so blah blah blah blah blah – and the conversation is dragged a few inches in that direction.

No. Fuck that noise. We are allowed to have satirical comic strips about religion. Period. No blather about respect or hurt feelings; no qualifications; no nervous shuffling. We are allowed to.

Back to the MAB’s sack of shit.

The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) strongly condemns the cartoon pictures of the Prophets Jesus and Muhammad (may peace be upon them) published on the website called ‘Jesus and Mo.’

Despite the attempts of the website to publish comments from various public figures in praise of the ‘religious satire’ posted on the site, the published material is -in the main- extremely offensive to believers of Islam and Christianity.

The attempts? The comments are there, and have been for years. The publication of them has been successful. No doubt the MAB meant something like “despite the attempts of the website to deflect criticism by publishing comments from various public figures…” so let’s look at that idea. Endorsement by a few names doesn’t mean the material isn’t offensive; that’s probably the claim. Of course it doesn’t; next question?

The depiction of the holy Prophets Muhammad and Jesus (the peace be upon them) is, we believe, as insulting as those published in Denmark and this organization urges all those responsible to recognize the offensive and potentially inflammatory nature of these cartoons and remove them from the Internet with immediate effect.

So not insulting at all then. Notice the not very veiled threat of “and potentially inflammatory nature” – as in, watch out or we’ll burst into flames, and then won’t you be sorry. And then the bullying demand at the end. No. Fuck off.

Whilst the Muslim Association of Britain recognizes the rights to free speech and artistic expression

No, it doesn’t. That’s a brazen lie. It just ordered Author to remove his cartoon from the Internet. It doesn’t recognize the rights to free speech and artistic expression at all.

Whilst the Muslim Association of Britain recognizes the rights to free speech and artistic expression, we strongly question the wisdom of any individual or organization that places at risk the dignity and values of anyone else, even if they might not hold those values. Not only is this against the ethics of the Muslim Association of Britain, we believe that it is also against the values of British society.

The cartoon doesn’t place at risk the dignity and values of anyone else. You know what does? You know what places the dignity of British Muslims at risk? Bullshit like this press release, which feeds right into the horrible stereotype that all Muslims are petulant touchy prickly indignant babies; that they don’t have the faintest glimmer of understanding of secular values and why they matter; that they want to make everyone on earth grovel to Islam.

In addition, we note with sincere regret that the chairman and co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation has given his support to the website and given their tacit approval to the material published. It is clear that he, who is the Liberal Democrat MP candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, in no way represents or reflects the views and opinions of the vast majority of the
Muslim community in Britain. We, therefore question why such an individual would be put forward to represent a constituency of people of different cultural backgrounds.

If the MAB is right about that, it’s a tragedy. We’re always being told that “the vast majority of the Muslim community in Britain” is not unreasonable and illiberal in the manner of the MAB or the MCB, but groups like the MAB and the MCB do their damndest to demonstrate the very opposite. I hope the MAB is wrong about the majority, but I’m not confident.

We are astonished that the Liberal Democrat Party would wish to be represented by someone who is insensitive and quite clearly not concerned about causing offence to religious communities. We therefore call on the Liberal Democrat leadership to reverse its decision to appoint this Muslim candidate who is clearly out of touch with the views and opinions of both Christian and Muslim groups.

Again – we are allowed to be unconcerned about “causing offence to religious communities.” We are allowed to. It’s not the 10th century; it’s not even the 19th century; we are allowed to satirize, mock, criticize, laugh at religions. Get used to it.


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

Bible belt nation

Jan 22nd, 2014 6:01 pm | By

At the ACLU blog, an exceptionally nasty example of theist bullying in the public schools.

…when my stepson, who has been raised a Buddhist, enrolled in the sixth grade at our local school, Negreet High, it became personal, and I could no longer turn a blind eye to the very real harms that occur when school officials violate the separation of church and state.

My stepson started at Negreet in the same class as one of my children. By the end of the first week of school, he was having serious stomach issues and anxiety. We couldn’t figure out why. In the mornings, my wife would pull over on the side of the road as they approached school so he could throw up. At first, we thought he was sick and we let him stay home. Soon it became apparent that this was not a cold, but something much worse. Our children informed us that their teacher had been chastising and bullying my stepson for his Buddhist beliefs.

On a science test, their teacher had included a fill-in-the-blank question: “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” When my stepson didn’t know the answer (“Lord”), she belittled him in front of the entire class. When he wrote in “Lord Buddha” on another exam, she marked it wrong. As she was returning that exam to students, one student proclaimed aloud that “people are stupid if they think God is not real.” In response, my stepson’s teacher agreed, telling the class, “Yes! That is right! I had a student miss that on his test.” The entire class broke out in laughter at my stepson.

That’s religion for you – a reason to gang up on an outsider and make him feel sick.

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

So they get antsy when Christians are a little flippant

Jan 22nd, 2014 5:38 pm | By

There’s no need to worry, it’s all taken care of.

Evidence of Harm by Religion:

Another source.

The reason atheists and skeptics get so upset when I say it’s good to cut down trees is that this world is all they have. If it gets completely wrecked, it’s all over for them. That’s what they believe . . . that life then ends. That’s unless Mother Nature or Father Evolution (whoever they believe made everything) makes some more trees, etc. Of course if it has to start all over again, they have to wait for around 4.5 billion years. That’s what they believe, and I guess that’s a little too long for them to wait. So they get antsy when Christians are a little flippant about creation. But we can’t help it. We don’t value creation as though our life depends on it. That’s because we know and trust Him who made all things, and if humanity wrecks this earth, we have His immutable promise that He is going to make all things new.”

So go ahead, just torch the place, it will be fine.

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

Change of plan

Jan 22nd, 2014 5:05 pm | By

Remember the cheering bit of news a couple of years back that Ireland had decided to close its embassy to the Vatican? Well stop being cheered, because it’s decided to take it back. It’s reopening the damn thing.

The Vatican Embassy will be housed in a separate building to the Irish Embassy to Rome, which is now housed in the Villa Spada, which housed the old Vatican embassy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said new “modest” office accommodation will be found. Only one diplomat will be required to staff the new Embassy, and its focus will be on development aid.

Sources said the decision is a recognition of the change in papacy, and Pope Francis’s focus on overseas aid.

What about the fact that the Vatican is still not a real country, that its population is smaller than that of an average small town, that its population is unusually skewed toward men, that it owes Ireland’s people a debt of several trillion dollars for many decades of human rights abuses? What about all that?

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith welcomed what he described as the Government’s U-turn.

“I’m glad that the Labour Party has been forced into this U-turn. The reasons given for closing the embassy in the first instance were completely bogus and it was a mistake,” he said.

“Like so much with this Government, the primary consideration is PR and spin. They closed the Vatican Embassy when they thought it would be popular and now they are reopening it when they think it might be popular.”

Kiss the pope’s bum why don’t you.

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

“Liberal”? Hahahaha

Jan 22nd, 2014 3:51 pm | By

Drat. I’m seeing people reporting that the LibDems have issued a statement saying “yes yes free speech but all the same respect respect respect and Maajid was a naughty boy” (that’s a rough paraphrase). The trouble is I can’t find a source for the statement, which is irritating.

Maryam quotes it in a post from a few hours ago.

It’s not surprising that the Liberal Democrats have again sided with Islamist values at the expense of Muslims, ex-Muslims and others.

Not surprising but frustrating nonetheless.

In the latest saga, they have decided to admonish their candidate Maajid Nawaz who has received death threats for merely stating the obvious: he – like many Muslims – is not offended by Jesus and Mo cartoons. Muslims are not a homogeneous bunch after all but are treated as such by the LibDem Party.  To them, Muslim values are considered one and the same with Islamist values: medieval, intolerant, and forever offended… Which is of course why they are more concerned with a cartoon causing “unnecessary offence” then death threats made against Nawaz by one of their own members, Mo Shafiq, who has effectively incited violence against Nawaz through his deliberate use of the term ‘Gustakh-e-Rasool’, which means ‘enemy of the prophet’. It’s the same lack of concern they have shown when another of their members Salah Al Bandar threatened Nahla Mahmoud with death by calling her a “Kafira” and “Murtada” who has offended Islam and brought “fitnah”.

After all, in the world according to the LibDems, death threats is what “Muslims” do. But saying a cartoon isn’t offensive to Muslims – as Nawaz did – well that just shows a lack of sensitivity…

Really. Why are there so many people in a rage about a cartoon image of a couple of guys named Jesus and Mo saying hi and not at all in a rage about threats threats and more threats?

But about this statement.

In a statement, they write: “The Liberal Democrats are a party of respect, tolerance and individual liberty. We fundamentally believe in freedom of expression and as such defend Maajid’s right to express his views. But as a party we urge all candidates to be sensitive to cultural and religious feelings and to conduct debate without causing gratuitous or unnecessary offence.”

That’s infuriating, but where did they say it?

Harry’s Place also quotes it, but also without a link or source. Where are people quoting this from? It’s annoying, and bad blog etiquette, to post a bit of news like this and not include a link or even mention a source. I’ve asked everyone I can think of, but it’s nearly midnight over there so it’s hopeless. Chris Moos told me it was from the Evening Standard, but I can’t find it there.

So if anybody knows where it is, please share the link.

At any rate. Whatever the source is, if the LibDems officially said that, then that’s outrageous. Out fucking rageous.

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

In arguments with a wise atheist barmaid

Jan 22nd, 2014 10:08 am | By

Tom Chivers at the Telegraph (sad how sometimes the Telegraph is better than the Guardian and the New Statesman) is a fan of Jesus and Mo.

I’ve been a fan of the webcomic Jesus and Mo for years. The idea is a simple one: the two religious figureheads J Christ and Mohammed share a house and discuss matters of religious philosophy, often in arguments with a wise atheist barmaid at their local. It’s funnier than I’ve made that sound.

Except it sounds quite funny…but yes, it’s even funnier than that.

It is, of course, irreligious and arguably blasphemous. (In its very first edition or episode or whatever you call it, Mo points out that it’s forbidden to depict him pictorially. Jesus asks what he’s doing in a cartoon, reasonably enough, and Mo claims he’s a body double.) It’s also very clever, informed by philosophical and religious argument, and – as mentioned – funny.

But. Despite all that, there are people who get in a rage about it.

I’d love to be able to report that the fears of well-meaning liberal milquetoasts are overblown and that actually British Muslims are far too grown-up to get upset about a line drawing on a website. And, of course, the huge and overwhelming majority are. But a few – and it is mainly Muslims – are not.

I’m not sure. Unless by “get upset about” he means “get upset enough to do anything about”…In that case he would be right, and maybe that is what he means.

So to the upshot.

Nawaz received numerous death threats ["I would be glad to cut your neck off, so your kufr [unbeliever] friends won’t be amused by your humour. In sha Allah [if Allah is willing] may my dua [act of worship] get accepted”], and Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, Muslim commentator Mo Ansar and George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford, all called for him to be dropped as a PPC.

(UPDATE: Mo Ansar has got in touch since this piece was published, saying that he hasn’t called for Nawaz to be dropped, only for “1. Full investigation by LibDems 2. Apology from Nawaz 3. Whatever sanction LibDems see fit“. I’d hardly call that a great advertisement for liberalism anyway, but he’s also called for people to sign this petition to have Nawaz sacked. He says this is different from actually calling for Nawaz to be sacked. I am happy to make this clear, while also admitting that exactly how it is different is a bit beyond me.)

It’s not different at all and Mo Ansar is being a chickenshit.

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

Despised among mainstream Muslims

Jan 22nd, 2014 9:36 am | By

The Islamist blog 5Pillarz has another reactionary bullying post about Maajid Nawaz.

After posting a caricature of Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Isa (peace be upon them) on Twitter last week, I can confidently say that the heat is now on Maajid Nawaz, writes Dilly Hussain.

Aw, that’s why understanding syntax comes in so handy. Whoever wrote that subhead managed to say that Dilly Hussain posted a caricature of Mo and Jesus on Twitter last week, which is clearly not what was intended.

It was only a matter of time before the founder of the despised (among mainstream Muslims) Quilliam Foundation was going to pull a stunt like this to gain brownie points among his secular liberal fan base.

Ain’t that typical? Bullying via “mainstream” claims.

They really ought to think twice about that, the zealots. We keep being told that most Muslims are not literalist fundamentalist theocratic shits, but when the literalist fundamentalist theocratic shits keep insisting that they’re mainstream and the reasonable liberal types are fringe – well they’re not doing their fellow-Muslims any favors.

But this time he has taken his bitter and revolting views too far and angered Muslims on an unprecedented scale, at the same time risking his position as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for the Liberal Democrats.

His “bitter and revolting views” – that the god of his Islam is big enough not to be bothered by a satirical cartoon? That’s bitter and revolting?

At the time of writing this article, the petition calling for the removal of Nawaz as PPC for Hampstead and Kilburn had exceeded well over 13,000 in 48 hours, whilst a counter petition led by Chris Moos of London School of Economics (LSE) just about reached 3000.

So we should conclude from that that the zealots outnumber the liberals?

No, more likely we should conclude from that that zealots by their nature are more likely to get worked up than liberals are. That can be a great flaw in liberalism, of course, in that it often allows zealotry to defeat liberalism.

[T]he overwhelming majority of Muslims have supported the petition out of genuine disgust and offence over the dishonouring of Allah’s (swt) prophets, and remained relatively calm in their responses on social media among Nawaz’s cyber entourages. The likes of the National Secular Society, Council of Ex-Muslims and British Muslims for Secular Democracy, are just waiting to pounce on emotional reactions by Muslims to rally their cause of nifaq.

So even British Muslims for Secular Democracy are the enemy? Really? So 5Pillarz is frank about preferring authoritarian theocracy?

Well at least we know where we are.


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

Hiding in plain sight

Jan 21st, 2014 4:16 pm | By

Al Jazeera America takes a look at forced marriages in the US.

Vidya Sri was a typical American teenager in the Queens borough of New York. She went to school, hung out with her friends and took dance classes. But all that changed when she was 18 and started dating her first real boyfriend, a sweet Irish Catholic boy.

That was in 1987. Alarmed that Sri was dating someone who wasn’t Indian, her father shipped her off to India to live with relatives. Nearly every day for four years, she was pressured to get married. It became a condition of her return to the United States. Finally, she gave in and married a man she did not know.

And that went as well as you would expect – she didn’t like him, she didn’t want to have sex with him, she was miserable.

Sri was a victim of forced marriage, a practice in which women — and sometimes men — are forced to marry against their will. The Tahirih Justice Center, a national nonprofit organization that helps immigrant women and girls who have been abused, determined that there were as many as 3,000 confirmed or suspected cases of forced marriage in the U.S. from 2009 to 2011.

But it could be more; it’s hidden; it’s humiliating and shaming.

For those who might think that forced marriage isn’t much of an issue in the U.S., a host of organizations, scholars and victims beg to differ. A constellation of factors — from cultural misunderstandings to lack of legislation — keeps the issue in the shadows here, although activists are hoping that a growing awareness in Europe will bring changes in the U.S. as well.

The AHA Foundation, an advocacy organization founded by vocal women’s rights defender Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who escaped her own forced marriage in 1992, funded a recent survey of immigrant populations in New York conducted by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. The results show that the issue of forced marriage is very much alive and probably underdocumented.

The FLDS contribute a large number all by themselves – and they don’t get counted because they hide. They really hide.

Sayoni Maitra is a legal fellow at Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit agency in New York state that provides crisis intervention for victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking and forced marriage. Like Curtis and Boughey, Maitra agreed that the lack of legislation targeting forced marriage causes victims to fall through the cracks.

The U.S. lags behind other countries when it comes to recognizing forced marriage as an issue of violence against women, Maitra said. And many agencies and individuals could help but don’t get involved because they think of it as a cultural practice and not domestic violence.

Or to put it another way, domestic violence that is ok because it is a “cultural practice.” Some guy getting drunk and punching his wife or girlfriend, that’s domestic violence, but a stone-cold sober guy chastising his wife for disobeying him, that’s a cultural practice.

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

They sinisterly misinterpret

Jan 21st, 2014 3:51 pm | By

Mo Dawah is doing something to restore my faith in the capacity of at least one or two people to refrain from going apheshit over pretend-insults like drawing a cartoon of what was that guy’s name again?

MoDawah @kingofdawah

We Must Not Allow Our Cohesion To Be Threatened By Those Who Threaten It By Saying It Is Threatened …

“I am the community leader of peace. So I urge the whole community to stay calm. Until my signal.”

You must not take things I say out of context or I’ll be offended. If you tell me to stop taking things you say out of context, also offended.

Going to start a petition to protest against people stereotyping me as intolerant just because I started a petition promoting intolerance.

We need more co-operation between community leaders and the rest of society for peace and cohesion. So co-operate with us, or else.

We must protest against people saying community leaders are sinister, simply because we do & [say] things they sinisterly misinterpret as sinister

I absolutely support my right to tell you what you can say, think, tweet or do, in order to save the honour of the community.

Anyone who describes my strategy to punish those who offend me as the community leader version of The Schlieffen Plan is an absolute rotter.

Very offending.

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

They are free to read it or ignore it, as we are free to read it and laugh

Jan 21st, 2014 12:44 pm | By

I gather that yesterday on BBC Asian Network Mohammed Shafiq said that Jesus and Mo shows the two “having gay sex.” Author sent an email correcting this falsehood, and the network read it in full. Author tweeted the text of the email. (It’s been retweeted 104 times so far.)

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