Accused of posting a blasphemous picture to Facebook

I sometimes post blasphemous pictures or news links or remarks on Facebook. Probably more than sometimes. You could probably say I do that quite often. It’s possible that I do it several times a day. I don’t keep track, but that’s possible.

It’s a good thing for me that I don’t live in Lahore.

The New York Times reports on what happens to people who do when there’s a whisper about “blasphemy” somewhere in the neighborhood.

A woman and two of her young granddaughters were burned to death Sunday night in the eastern city of Gujranwala after a member of their Ahmadi minority sect was accused of posting a blasphemous picture to Facebook, the police said.

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The sooner you go to the treatment centre the better chance you have of surviving

Tulip Mazumdar reports on the Ebola crisis in Guinea for the BBC.

This is the final resting place of the latest victim of Ebola: a four-month-old baby boy called Faya.

He caught the virus from his mother, who died a few weeks earlier.

His is the 20th anonymous grave in this dark and lonely clearing.

“I was there with him just before he died,” says Adele Millimouno, a Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF) nurse recruited from a nearby village.

“I had been feeding him milk. I stepped away, just for a short break, but then I was called back and he was dead. I was totally devastated.”

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Guest post: Feminism is full of seriously brain-stretching rationality

Originally a comment by Maureen on Let’s sit down and discuss that proposition itself.

Richard Dawkins claims to be struggling against the forces of darkness – however defined – in order to have a logical and rational discussion on sensitive subjects. In order to do that, though, you would need facts. I don’t see that he even mentions facts, let alone informed opinion, let alone research.

No-one, not even intellectual super-stars, can be expected to conduct such a discussion as a pure intellectual exercise, nor would a wise man choose Twitter as the forum. How do you have a dialogue when you don’t know to whom you are talking or what knowledge or preconceptions they bring to the imaginary table?

Curiously enough, I have been having logical and rational discussions – some intense, some more relaxed – for a good fifty years on all these “sensitive” subjects but every last one of them informed by knowledge and experience, developing knowledge and experience not 140 characters plucked out of thin air. One is tempted to ask, “Richard Dawkins, where have you been all these decades?” [Read more...]

Let’s sit down together and discuss that proposition itself

The title of Dawkins’s new post asks a question: Are there emotional no-go areas where logic dare not show its face? The first paragraph re-words the question.

Are there kingdoms of emotion where logic is taboo, dare not show its face, zones where reason is too intimidated to speak?

My answer is yes, of course there are. Not the ones he has in mind, necessarily, but there are some. There are plenty of situations where reason just isn’t wanted, only sympathy or affection or solidarity or just warm-bodiedness will do. There are others where only joyous abandon is wanted.

But that’s interpersonal; RD is talking about public discourse. That’s different. Discourse by definition rests on at least minimal reason and logic. But does that mean emotion must be banished? [Read more...]

They are afraid

Oh no. Richard Dawkins has another post on the “mild rape is less bad than ferocious rape” paradigm he’s been using to illustrate Logic lately. It’s not going to calm the heaving waters.

For now I’ll just quote the last paragraph.

It is utterly deplorable that there are people, including in our atheist community, who suffer rape threats because of things they have said. And it is also deplorable that there are many people in the same atheist community who are literally afraid to think and speak freely, afraid to raise even hypothetical questions such as those I have mentioned in this article. They are afraid – and I promise you I am not exaggerating – of witch-hunts: hunts for latter day blasphemers by latter day Inquisitions and latter day incarnations of Orwell’s Thought Police.

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No shelter for you

Golly, now there’s a new twist on dear old gender segregation – in Israel, a “men only” bomb shelter.

While people all around Israel have spent the past two weeks scrambling for cover during rocket attacks, it seems that in some places, only men’s lives are considered worth protecting. In the Ashdod rabbinate building, the bomb shelter has a sign on it reading “For men only,” and women who happened to be in the rabbinate during recent raids were not allowed into the bomb shelter. [Read more...]

The doctor died

Very bad news: the doctor who was leading Sierra Leone’s fight against the worst outbreak on record has died from the virus.

The death of Sheik Umar Khan, who was credited with treating more than 100 patients, follows the deaths of dozens of local health workers and the infection of two US medics in neighbouring Liberia.

Ebola is believed to have killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in February, according to the World Health Organisation. The contagious disease has no known cure. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.

Khan, 39, hailed as a “national hero” by the health ministry, had been moved to a treatment ward run by the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières in the far north of Sierra Leone.

Damn. I heard him chat with a reporter while at the hospital last week, saying he was optimistic. I was hoping he would make it.

“It is a big and irreparable loss to Sierra Leone as he was the only specialist the country had in viral haemorrhagic fevers,” said the chief medical officer, Brima Kargbo.

Very bad news.

Guest post: Funny thing about the ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ verse

Originally a comment and another comment by Marwa Berro (who will be blogging here under her real name starting August 1!) of Between a Veil and a Dark Place on A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim.

Funny thing about the ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ verse. It is almost always (quite conveniently) quoted out of context. It actually means the exact opposite, that you can’t be internally compelled to see the one and only Truth, but you sure as hell can be punished for being evil enough to refuse to see it. The rest of the verse and the one following it:

[ 2:256] Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

[ 2:257] Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith the patrons are the evil ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein (For ever).

The ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ verse turns out to be literally a preamble to explaining how/why anyone who believes otherwise is wrong, evil, and doomed to utter damnation.

Cuz that’s not normative or exclusionary at all.

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Punished by angels from dusk to dawn

Sara Khan of Inspire has an eloquent piece at the Telegraph on the Trojan Horse affair and its implications for Muslims who are not fans of bigotry and hatred. Sara of course is one such Muslim.

One of the most shocking findings, from both Birmingham City Council’s report and from the Government’s own investigation into the Trojan Horse affair, was the incredulous hate peddling promoted to young children by fundamentalist Muslims who attempted to infiltrate a number of schools. Children had been told not to listen to Christians because they were “all liars”; and how they were “lucky to be Muslims and not ignorant like Christians and Jews.” Schools put up posters warning children that if they didn’t pray they would “go to hell” and girls were taught that women who refused to have sex with their husbands would be “punished” by angels “from dusk to dawn”. One of the ringleaders of the Trojan Horse plot told an undercover reporter that “white women have the least amount of morals”, white children were “lazy” and that British people have “colonial blood.”

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