Notes and Comment Blog

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

This is not Akram’s house

Feb 24th, 2015 10:19 am | By

This won’t end well. The BBC reports that IS has grabbed up a bunch of Christians in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 90 men, women and children were seized in a series of dawn raids near the town of Tal Tamr.

Some Assyrians managed to escape and made their way east to the largely Kurdish-controlled city of Hassakeh.

The militants have reportedly taken the male captives to nearby Abdul Aziz mountain, while the women are being held in the village of Tal Shamran, where activists say most of those captured came from.

The men will be killed and the women will be enslaved. That’s the purpose of separating them.

Islamic State’s online radio station, al-Bayan, reported on Tuesday that its members had seized “tens of Crusaders”.

Osama Edward of the Sweden-based Assyrian Human Rights Network, who has relatives in the area, told the BBC that his wife’s elderly aunt and her cousin were among the hostages.

“My wife tried to call her cousin’s house and there was somebody who picked up the phone and said: ‘This is not Akram’s house. This is the Islamic State’s house’.”

Allahu akbar.


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

Geneva today

Feb 23rd, 2015 6:24 pm | By

Caroline Fourest opened a Geneva summit on free expression today.

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Hillel Neuer @HillelNeuer · 13h 13 hours ago
Courageous journalist @CarolineFourest, ex-Charlie Hebdo, opens @GenevaSummit: “No shelter anymore; ppl die in Paris”

She tweeted:

“Les démocrates doivent nous aider à défendre le droit au blasphème qui permet la démocratie.” @GenevaSummit

Democrats have to help us defend the right of blasphemy which allows democracy.

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And another tweet:

Saa, l’une des élèves ayant réussi à échapper à Boko Haram raconte son évasion au @GenevaSummit

Saa, one of the students who succeeded in escaping from Boko Haram tells the story of her escape at the Geneva Summit

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

“The GamerGate thing is absolutely horrible”

Feb 23rd, 2015 5:13 pm | By

The CEO and president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe says Gamergate sucks.

In an in-depth and reliably entertaining interview with Metro’s David Jenkins, Ryan labelled the online movement “absolutely horrible”.

Asked for his thoughts on the matter Ryan said: “Well, more females are playing games now than ever before. I think the GamerGate thing is absolutely horrible. I agree, I read what you wrote about it, again your language was intemperate – as befits your views on an issue…”

Referencing Jenkins’ passionate views on the hate group – which last year gave rise to a sustained campaign of abuse targeting female game developers and vocal critic Anita Sarkeesian, leading to one of the gaming industry’s most depressing periods – Ryan said he shared the same opinion.

Shocking about the intemperate language though. I can’t bear that kind of thing myself.


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

Whither philosophy?

Feb 23rd, 2015 5:02 pm | By

There was a debate at the British Academy last week about whether or not philosophy is dead, apparently inspired by Stephen Hawking’s related claim that scientists rather than philosophers “have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” (That really is a different claim. Discovery isn’t all there is, and not doing it isn’t the same as being dead.) The Times Higher tells us things about the debate.

According to Tim Crane, Knightsbridge professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, Professor Hawking himself proved that philosophy is unavoidable, since he put forward a lot of philosophical views. Unfortunately, these amounted to “bad philosophy, because he is unaware of it as a discipline and a practice with a history,” Professor Crane said.

Philosophers say that a lot. That’s probably because there are a lot of people doing that kind of bad philosophy.

“If you’re pro-reason,” said Rebecca Goldstein Newberger, a research associate at Harvard University who is currently a visiting professor of philosophy at the New College of the Humanities in London, “you need all the resources you can get.” Recent outbreaks of “philosophy jeering” such as Hawking’s were ill-informed, incoherent and irresponsible – faced with today’s extremes of irrationality”, she added.

I’ve seen a good many of those.

Stephen Law, senior lecturer in philosophy at Heythrop College, put the case for philosophy’s role in “raising autonomous critical thinkers”.

He asked whether, since “I have an unavoidable responsibility to make my own moral judgement, a responsibility I can’t hand over to some supposed expert… shouldn’t our education system both confront us with that responsibility, and also ensure we have the intellectual and emotional maturity we’ll need to discharge it properly?”

If recent decades had seen “great moral advances in our attitudes towards women, gay people and other races”, this was “largely as a result of our being prepared to question received moral opinion and to think things through in just the way philosophy requires of us”, he continued.

It’s also because of changes in feelings though. The two are connected, but feelings are prior, for good and ill.

And the academic discipline itself has become very conformist, Crane said.

Professor Newberger took a similar line, reflecting that she had “only managed to maintain my enthusiasm for philosophy by staying away from philosophers”.

Goldstein, he meant, but anyway it’s a good line.


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

From Buenos Aires to Montréal

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:57 am | By

And – in front of the Saudi embassy in Argentina – via Amnistía Internacional Argentina.

And another photo from Montreal


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

In Montreal

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:38 am | By

Now Ensaf has posted photos from her meeting with the mayor of Montreal.

How amazing she is. All that courage and aplomb.


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

“A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife”

Feb 23rd, 2015 10:25 am | By

Universities and student unions don’t generally invite Nazis to give talks, do they? Free inquiry is good, open discussion is good, but that isn’t necessarily taken to mean that it’s good to have proponents of genocide give talks to university students, is it?

I’m wondering why Islamist preachers with fascist leanings get invited to give talks at universities.

A controversial preacher who described homosexuality as a “scourge” has been invited to speak at a London university the day before a national gay pride event takes place there.

More than 500 people have signed a petition against allowing Haitham al-Haddad to speak at the University of Westminster’s Islamic Society event on Thursday.

Dr al-Haddad has called homosexuality a “criminal act”, as well as saying there is a “proper” way of performing FGM. He has also argued that the authorities should not become involved in domestic disputes, saying: “A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them.”

The trouble is, many people take that kind of thing literally and as authoritative and binding. A man is free to hit “his wife” because it’s something between them. That’s not abstract or general; it’s very concrete and very particular. The more male preachers say things like that, the more women will be hit.

A spokesman for Student Pride said: “Considering Westminster is a Stonewall Diversity Champion and is such an advocate of our event it is disappointing that on the eve of our tenth anniversary such an anti-gay speaker has been allowed to speak on campus.

“Homosexuality is not a scourge, and Student Pride has been fighting views like this from its foundation, it’s clear and unfortunate news that there is clearly much work to do.”

Open inquiry is good, but another thing that’s good is progress in including all people under the umbrella of equal rights. These can be competing goods. I think the second should trump the first when the list of speakers is being drawn up.

H/t Chris Moos

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

Sentenced to beheading

Feb 23rd, 2015 9:23 am | By

Life proceeds in a normal way in Saudi Arabia, as another court sentences someone to death for “abusing Islam.” Emirates 24/7 reports, complete with mandatory groveling to the prophet.

A Saudi court sentenced a local man to death after he was found guilty of insulting Islam and its Prophet (PBUH), a newspaper reported on Monday.

The unidentified man, in his 20s, was also charged with ripping a copy of the Holy Koran, filming the act and publishing it on social networks, ‘Sharq’ said.

“The court sentenced the man to beheaded after finding him guilty in those charges,” the paper said in a report from the northeastern town of Hafr Albatin.

That’s some of that “violent extremism” we hear so much about, I guess.

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

More every day

Feb 23rd, 2015 8:52 am | By

In Raif Badawi news today –

Ensaf Haidar is meeting with the mayor of Montreal, who according to a tweet by Breakfast Television Montreal  is expected to introduce a motion at City Council condemning the flogging of Raif.

Elham Manea tweets

We call on his majesty King Salman to free #RaifBadawi and unite him with his family – (picture of @Amnesty_Schweiz )

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That’s Elham in the middle, I think.

LiberalInternational tweets

Tomorrow, LI will jointly give the @GenevaSummit Courage Award to @raifbadawi #FreeRaif #humanrights

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

And if you do not like it here

Feb 22nd, 2015 5:50 pm | By

Ah the mayor of Rotterdam – what an admirable guy. A story from January 8, the day after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb appeared on television programme Nieuwsuur Wednesday night, and lashed out at Muslims living in this society despite their hatred of it. “It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom,” he said. “But if you do not like freedom, in Heaven’s name pack your bag and leave.”

“There may be a place in the world where you can be yourself,” he continued. “Be honest with yourself and do not go and kill innocent journalists,” Aboutaleb, a Muslim himself, said.

“And if you do not like it here because humorists you do not like make a newspaper, may I then say you can fuck off.”



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

Playing house with beheaders

Feb 22nd, 2015 5:36 pm | By

The Beeb has more details on the three addled teenage girls who ran off to be with IS, and how much fun they can expect to have there.

Dr Erin Saltman, from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which offers independent expertise in counter-terrorism, said IS propaganda targets young women specifically with the promise of being part of a humanitarian movement.

She said: “They are the wives and mothers of the future jihadists so quite a lot of dedication and time has been put into trying to allure these younger women to come and join in these efforts.

“They are very much restricted to the house and home for the most part. There is strict sharia law in the region.”

Imprisoned in a house by themselves, in other words. No friends, no school, no shopping trips, no music, no films, no hanging out, no evenings at the pub…no anything. Just being raped, and doing household chores. I wonder how long it will take them to realize they ran away into a nightmare.

But if they and their families are very lucky they’ll be found before they cross into Syria.

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said it was “absolutely extraordinary” that four girls from the same year at the same school had travelled to Syria, with the apparent aim of joining IS.

He said “very difficult questions” were being asked about how friends, family and the police had not managed to dissuade the three girls from going to Syria when their best friend had travelled to the country in December.

Home Secretary Theresa May said it was important “to look at the whole question of the ideology that is driving these actions” and the government was working on extremism strategy.

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the idea of the schoolgirls travelling to Syria was “very disturbing” and showed more action was needed to counteract extremist recruitment messages.

“Extremism” blah blah “extremist” blah blah – that’s an empty word. Imagine if they were “extremist” humanitarians or “extremist” volunteers with MSF – how welcome that would be. The issue isn’t “extremism,” it’s what they’re extreme about.

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


Feb 22nd, 2015 4:54 pm | By

Just as I said. Amir Taheri in the New York Post

The three-day White House conference on “violent extremism” exposed anew Obama’s inability or unwillingness to understand the challenge of Islamist terrorism, let alone to lead the fight against it.

The conference was billed as a global event bringing together people of different views from more than 60 countries. In practice, however, it acted more as an echo chamber for Obama’s politically correct approach.

“Violent extremism” is misleading, to say the least. (Is there extremism without violence?) The generic term obscures the fact that we face a specific form of terrorism rooted, nurtured and waged in the name of Islam.

Just exactly what I said. I said it on the 19th, Taheri said it on the 20th. No doubt I gave him the idea. (Kidding, kidding.)

Obama did defend his evasion: “Al Qaeda and ISIL [a k a ISIS] and groups like it . . . try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam,” he said. “We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.” Operatives of al Qaeda and ISIS “are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists,” he said.

He says that as if the two are opposites, so opposite that it’s simply not possible to be both. That’s ridiculous. There have been many religious terrorists throughout history, and there are many of them now. The two are not opposites at all, but connected at the most basic level. The commands of religion are arbitrary, because there is no way to appeal them to their putative source. What could be more congenial to terrorism than arbitrary commands?

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

Where this campaign is urgently needed

Feb 22nd, 2015 11:42 am | By

Leo Igwe points out that Africa badly needs the anti-blasphemy campaign.

On January 30 2015, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) launched a campaign aimed at abolishing “blasphemy laws” worldwide. The campaign is gaining momentum across Europe and beyond. But there is still no significant support from groups in Africa. Meanwhile Africa is a continent where this campaign is urgently needed.

The campaign focuses on getting world leaders to understand that blasphemy laws are incompatible with human rights and democratic values in this 21st century. Campaigners plan to get states to repeal legislations that criminalize “insult to religion”, hurting religious sentiments, or any laws that restrict questions, criticism, or ridicule of religion or religious concepts. Blasphemy laws exist in many states across Africa. They are used as tools to oppress and discriminate against religious minorities.

The places that most need to get rid of blasphemy laws are the least likely to do so.

Unfortunately, many people across Africa may regard this campaign as a western issue, that has no social or cultural significance for the region. No, this is not the case. The abolition of blasphemy laws is in the interest of Africa and African emancipation. The campaign will be of immense benefit to the cause of African renewal. In fact, this campaign could become one of the defining moments of African intellectual awakening and rebirth, if only African humanist and human rights groups can seize the opportunity.

Read the rest.

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

Because it is required by Islam

Feb 22nd, 2015 10:44 am | By

Pakistan Today reports that FGM is very popular in Malaysia, and getting more so all the time.

Syahiera Atika, a 19-year-old Malaysian girl  has happily embraced western-style capitalism but in contrast strictly follows the local interpretation of Islam as she informed the Vice of her circumcision.

Female circumcision involves the surgical removal of all or part of a woman’s clitoris. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classed this procedure as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

WHO also defines it as an operation that “involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

Syahiera however, rejects the notion that it is inhumane and says that ”I’m circumcised because it is required by Islam.” She refers to it as ‘wajib’, which means any religious duty commanded by Allah.

That’s your problem right there – this idea that there is such a thing as “wajib”; this idea that there is such a thing as a religious duty commanded by Allah aka God aka The Supreme and Sacred Boss; this idea that there is such a thing and that that’s all you have to know about it; this idea that there is such a thing and you have to obey it. That’s where the being fucked up comes in: this terrible destructive idea.

“I don’t think the way we do it here is harmful,” she said, adding that “it protects young girls from pre-marital sex as it is supposed to lower their sex drive. But I am not sure it always works.”

Well guess what, if it does “work” in the sense of lowering their sex drive, it’s not just “young girls” who are “protected” – because they stop being young girls, don’t they, and go on to be women, and that’s their ability to enjoy sex taken away for good.

WHO has declared FGM to provide no medical benefits whatsoever. It simply reflects the deep-rooted inequality between the sexes. For this reason, the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 unanimously passed a resolution calling it a “human rights violation” and urged states to ban the practice.

Some Malaysian medical practitioners also defend the practice by passing judgment onto other countries. “We are very much against what is going on in other countries like Sudan,”says Dr Ariza Mohamed, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at KPJ Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

“That is very different from what we practice in Malaysia,” she said adding “and there is a big difference between circumcision and female genital mutilation.”

Nope, there is not. “Circumcision” is simply a euphemism for mutilation.

All Malaysians however, do not support the practice. Syarifatul Adibah, who is the Senior Programme Officer at Sisters in Islam, a local women’s rights group, insists that female circumcision isn’t once mentioned in the Quran.

Instead she points to its popularity as a stemming from an increasingly conservative interpretation of Islam. “Previously it was a cultural practice but now because of Islamisation, people just relate everything to Islam. And when you link something to religion, people here follow it blindly, they don’t enquire,” she explained.

And what does that mean? It means that most people become more Islamist, without necessarily being actual Islamists, as in members of Islamist organizations and so on. It means that the normal, mainstream Islam has become sharply more reactionary and peremptory and intrusive, and thus the whole society becomes all that. It happened in Pakistan, and it’s happening in pretty much all majority-Muslim countries.

The practice is not banned in Malaysia, although public hospitals are prevented from performing the surgery. More concerning however is that in 2009 the Fatwa Committee of Malaysia’s National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs ruled that female circumcision was obligatory for all Muslim women, unless it was harmful.

But of course it is harmful, of its nature. But the Fatwa Committee of Malaysia’s National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs isn’t going to see it that way.

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

Grooming in Bethnal Green

Feb 22nd, 2015 10:06 am | By

Three teenage girls from London went traipsing off to Syria to play house with IS last Tuesday. Sara Khan says it’s grooming, just as it’s grooming when teenage girls go into prostitution.

As the prime minister expressed deep concern over the disappearance of the three east London schoolgirls who are thought to be on their way to join Islamic State (Isis) fighters in Syria, the head of Inspire, a human rights organisation working with Muslim women, called on schools to do more to burst the “romanticised notion” of Isis that is being peddled to young people by a slick online propaganda machine.

The head of Inspire, Sara Khan, said the tactics used by those luring young girls to Syria and Iraq to marry them off to jihadis or force them into domestic servitude, were the grooming methods of paedophiles.

“We need to stop using the phrase ‘jihadi brides’,” she said. “This is grooming, a child safety issue, and we need to make that distinction. These are normal teenage girls who should be in school, with their families, and have sacrificed everything to run off and join this crazed group.”

Normal teenage girls are full of pubertal longings that they don’t know what to do with. It isn’t just sex – it’s more generalized than that. It’s adventure, escape, wider horizons – it makes them suckers for grooming.

Khan added: “They are getting all their info online where it’s so glorified and romantic. Like it’s all one big happy family out there. Well it isn’t. Parents need help and the most practical suggestion I can make is keep your daughter’s passport under lock and key.” Inspire launches a campaign on Monday called Making a Stand, to help parents cope with the Isis threat.

The three missing girls, Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase, all attend Bethnal Green academy where they are said to be top students.

They left the UK unchallenged on a lunchtime flight to Istanbul on Tuesday and security camera images of them at Gatwick airport were released on Thursday by police. Commander Richard Walton said there was still a chance the girls could be found and stopped from crossing into Syria, especially as snowstorms were affecting transport out of Istanbul.

It’s so pathetic. If they get there they’re in for such a horrible shock.

At the East London Mosque worshippers were shocked at the girls’ disappearance. Bil Hassan, 27, from Tower Hamlets, said: “You look at the pictures and they look like lovely girls. That’s the shocking element of it. These aren’t scary faces, theses are young girls. There are a lot of theories of why they went – grooming, love for Isis – but people are driven by a sense of adventure and that is part of it.”

Dr Zaza Elsheikh said: “They want a sense of belonging and seek excitement in the same way that people join gangs. They believe going to Syria is better than their lives here. They are small fish and they want something bigger.”

Exactly. I remember that want from when I was fifteen. I was lucky; I lived an hour by bus from New York so I could easily just run away from home for an afternoon and spend it noodling around Greenwich Village, doing nothing in particular. But Shamima and Kadiza and Amira were already in London, so I guess just running away to Chelsea or Bloomsbury or Oxford Street didn’t quite do the trick.

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

This Street UK is not that Street UK

Feb 22nd, 2015 9:18 am | By

Andrew Gilligan at the Telegraph spots another mess – another case of a government body tangling itself up with an Islamist group, either cluelessly or…not. Oxfordshire County Council has hired a group called Street UK to “mentor” people.

The contract is part of Oxfordshire County Council’s response to Operation Bullfinch, which saw seven men convicted of 59 sex crimes against children and sentenced to a total of 95 years in prison. Five were of Pakistani origin and two were North African.

The trouble is, Street UK is an Islamist group.

…the council has engaged Street UK, which it describes as a “national youth charity,” for a “pilot mentoring programme” in Oxfordshire’s Muslim communities to “work closely with those at risk of perpetrating child sexual exploitation and divert them away from such activity.” Street UK is in fact a group which had its government grant cancelled in 2011 after paying for the publication of a booklet by Salafi Manhaj, which issues regular fatwas enforcing a Salafist, or ultra-literal and conservative, view of Islam.

What’s the thinking here? That Salafists will be really good at this “mentoring” thing because they hate women and girls so fiercely?

Street UK’s website published advice on clothing and music from anti-Semitic and extremist Salafi clerics. Its founder, Abdul Haqq Baker, an ultra-conservative Salafist, was chairman of Brixton Mosque, attended by Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Zacharias Moussaoui, 9/11’s “twentieth hijacker”. He says he tried to warn the authorities about them and opposes violence.

“This form of Salafism is strongly opposed to terrorism but promotes an extreme and separatist view of Islam,” said Haras Rafiq, director of Quilliam, an anti-extremism think tank. “They are not the right people to be working with potential abusers – or anyone else.” Despite this, Oxfordshire is far from the only public authority to employ the group. The Sunday Telegraph has established that Street UK has secured work to prevent child abuse from at least three other local safeguarding boards: Staffordshire, North Yorkshire and the east London borough of Havering.

See, terrorism isn’t the only problem. Opposition to terrorism is necessary but not sufficient. Misogynist puritans who oppose violence are not the right people to be mentoring anyone.

However, it is not clear where the money paid to the group has gone. Street UK does not appear to be a charity and has no connection to the charity of the same name, which deals with financial services. It was a company, but published its last accounts in 2010 and has now been dissolved. Its website is no longer operational.

Uh oh…could all these government bodies have been confused into paying a lot of money to one Street UK simply because it thought it was a different Street UK? Could the wrong Street UK have named itself that in order to create such a confusion?

I’m guessing they could have.

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

We shall overcome

Feb 21st, 2015 5:37 pm | By

Raquel Evita Saraswati posted a couple of photos from the Oslo demonstration of solidarity.


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

Many of them teenage girls

Feb 21st, 2015 5:22 pm | By

The Guardian reports on the peace vigil in Oslo today.

Norwegian Muslims organised a peace vigil in Oslo on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Jews a week after fatal shootings in Denmark targeted a synagogue and free-speech seminar.

As the mainly elderly Jewish congregation filed out of the synagogue after Shabbat prayers, a group of young Muslims, many of them teenage girls wearing headscarves, formed a symbolic ring outside the building to applause from a crowd of more than 1,000 people.

It’s good that many of them were girls, with or without hijab. It’s good to see girls and women out front.

…a traditional Shabbat ceremony was held in the open air with many demonstrators adding their voices to the Hebrew chants.

Norway’s chief rabbi, Michael Melchior, appeared visibly moved when he said it was the first time the ceremony had taken place outdoors with so many people.

Ervin Kohn, a Jewish community leader, said: “It is unique that Muslims stand to this degree against antisemitism and that fills us with hope … particularly as it’s a grassroots movement of young Muslims,” adding that the rest of the world should “look to Norway”.

Go young Muslims. Take over.

The initiative by Norway’s Muslim youth to link arms with Norwegian Jews in a circle around Oslo’s synagogue was an effort to denounce recent violence by jihadis against Jewish communities in France and Denmark.

Impetus for the vigil came from some young people among Norway’s Muslims, who make up roughly 3% of the nation’s 5.3 million population.

They wanted to demonstrate support for the country’s estimated 1,300 Jews, following one of the attacks in Copenhagen last weekend that killed a 37-year-old volunteer security guard outside the city’s synagogue.

In other words it was a demonstration, not a literal move to “protect” the synagogue. It was a symbolic gesture.




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

In memory of Özgecan Aslan

Feb 21st, 2015 4:47 pm | By

Hurriyet reports on a protest in Istanbul’s Taksim Square in which men wore skirts to protest violence against women.

“I would walk around in Taksim wearing a skirt, if you can do that…”

For many Turkish men, this is a common phrase they use when they want to assert a claim or make a bet. It has turned into reality when a group of men went to Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square wearing skirts, keeping their word they have been pledging for the past few days on social media.

On Feb. 17, Erkan Doğan had donned a skirt in Istanbul’s Asian side neighborhood of Kadıköy to demonstrate in memory of slain 20-year-old student Özgecan Aslan.

Doğan’s individual action had inspired social media calls for a massive “skirt-wearing” march over the weekend to show Turkish men’s support for the women who were victimized by the recent wave of male violence in Turkey.

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Work it, guys.

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

Better mongering

Feb 21st, 2015 12:36 pm | By

As Harald said – not everything is shitty in Europe now. Reuters reports:

More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.

“Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that,” Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the protest’s organizers told a crowd of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Norwegians who filled the small street around Oslo’s only functioning synagogue.

“There are many more peace mongers than warmongers,” Abdullah said as organizers and Jewish community leaders stood side by side. “There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds.”

Indeed. Warmongers can cause terrible destruction, even working alone, but that doesn’t make them the majority. Let’s monger a bunch of peace & love.

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