Suad al-Shammary was released today


The Beeb reports:

The new Saudi King Salman has issued a decree pardoning what are described as “public right” prisoners, which could include Mr Badawi.

Suad al-Shammary, a rights activist and lawyer who worked with Mr Badawi on his blog, was released on Friday.

She had been held for three months without charge over comments she made on Twitter, which her opponents portrayed as anti-Islamic.

Wo. If she can, Raif can.

Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar – who lives in Canada – told the BBC she was buoyed by Friday’s developments.

“I ask the world to remain by my side until Raif is released.”

Damn right.

She said she now hated Fridays – the day of lashings. “I turn into a mess, until I know his [Raif’s] fate.”

I bet Thursdays aren’t so hot either. Saturday through Wednesday? Well they suck too.

Until Raif is released.

This debate is not just French

Zineb El-Rhazoui was in Montreal the other day to talk about and fundraise for Charlie Hebdo.

According to El-Rhazoui, the most elementary defence against the rise of fundamentalism is to hammer home the point that religion holds no sway with the state .

“Secularism as far as I know, is the only way to permit everyone to live in the same society, even if people are different,” said El-Rhazoui. [Read more…]

It should have been this

Charlie Klendjian of the Lawyers’ Secular Society gave a talk yesterday at UCL ASH. He pointed out that “offence” is, in some contexts, code for blasphemy.

So, somehow we have accepted that we are allowed to cause offence generally, and we’re even allowed to offend virtually all religious sensibilities, for example with films such as the Life of Brian, artwork showing a crucifix in urine, or plays about Mormonism.

So it appears there is one exception to this rule that we’re generally allowed to cause offence. That exception, as we have seen, is Islam. Islam is refusing to play by the rules. We are not allowed to offend Islam.

I think we need a different word to “offence” for the purposes of this discussion. Don’t you? How about, I don’t know, the word “blasphemy”? Shall we just call it what it is? It’s blasphemy. [Read more…]

What does Silicon Valley think of women?

Newsweek has a story on sexual harassment in Silicon Valley, with a cover illustration that some people see as pretty sexist itself. Other people don’t see the problem.

newsweek cover

I’m not sure. At the first look I thought it was one of those having it both ways things – tutting about sexism but getting jollies from sexism all the same. Wink wink nudge nudge type of thing. But given the words right next to it…I think my first look got it wrong.


Down with blasphemy laws

The BBC alerts us to a new global campaign by humanist organizations against blasphemy laws.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) says that, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, the time is right for countries to abolish laws that protect religious sensibilities. But blasphemy laws nevertheless remain popular in many parts of the world.

We know, Beeb, that’s why the campaign is needed. [Read more…]

Urge the ambassador

Another action we can take, via Amnesty – send an email to Simon Collis, the new UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, asking him to

  • Prioritise Raif’s case in all meetings with the Saudi Arabian authorities
  • Meet with the Minister responsible in the Saudi Arabian government and ask permission to visit Raif in prison.

That will be a pain in the neck for the new ambassador, so he will want the Saudis to free Raif and let him leave the country immediately.

Uh oh, there’s no exit door in this corner

A thought has occurred to me about Saud-family Arabia and the torture of Raif Badawi.

They’re boxing themselves in. By repeatedly postponing the torture, they’re admitting that they can’t do it without causing permanent damage. They have no qualms about doing that, of course, but they know they’re under a spotlight, and it must be getting quite warm there.

Hello Era of Social Media.

They’re stuck. This isn’t going away, and in fact it’s doing the opposite – it’s both growing and intensifying. They clearly don’t feel happy about just going ahead and flogging Raif again anyway…but nor do they feel happy about letting the horrible infidels and apostates win.

They should have thought of that sooner.


I did a podcast a couple of days ago, talking about Does God Hate Women? It’s AtheistAirwaves, out of Corpus Christi, Texas.

The first 36 seconds is Susan Turpin (one of the four presenters) reading part of the angry summation at the end of the book. I enjoyed listening to that – it’s quite cool listening to someone read aloud words that you wrote. She did it with just the kind of biting emphasis I wrote it with.

I see PZ was on it a few months ago.