Designs by a wonderfully acid British cartoonist

Nick Cohen has a piece in the Observer on censorship at UK universities. He starts, as he should, with Chris and Abhishek.

On the morning of 3 October, Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis put on joke T-shirts, of the kind students wear the world over, and went to man the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society stall at the London School of Economics freshers’ fair. The bullying the university authorities visited upon them for the next 36 hours should provoke the most important free speech court case to hit British universities in years. It certainly deserves to. [Read more...]

Xianityophobia

Right right right, I’m an “Islamophobe,” and criticizing Islam is punching down because Muslims are a despised group. (The second part is true, but the first part doesn’t follow. Punching Muslims is punching down, but punching Islam isn’t, because Islam itself is what punches down. Islam has huge, illegitmate power in many many parts of the globe. Punching Islam does not equal punching Muslims. Yes one can be a stalking horse for the other, but that doesn’t make them identical.) So allow me to be a Christianityophobe for a few minutes. Not that I wouldn’t be anyway, but I feel like pointing it out.

Russia. Russia seems to be getting more and more priest-ridden and believer-whipped. This time it’s believers shouting about a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and getting it shut down. [Read more...]

Pakistan tells the world

Via Paul Fidalgo’s Morning Heresy – the Prime Minister of Pakistan says the UN “should frame laws to stop blasphemous acts.”

Oh, yes, absolutely, because that kind of thing is working out so well in Pakistan. Asia Bibi for instance, accused of “blasphemy” by a petulant neighbor. Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, murdered for attempting to help Asia Bibi. A homeless man beaten to death by a mob after he was accused of “blasphemy” and arrested. A Christian girl arrested for “blasphemy” and a few days later an imam arrested and charged with framing the girl for a “blasphemy” that never happened, and a whole neighborhood full of Christians in Islamabad is emptied as a result. [Read more...]

It’s OK, we’re on the 10th floor

Alom Shaha notices an excess of timidity about discussing Islam.

“We can’t publish this, we’ll get firebombed.” Apparently this was the response from one of the staff at Biteback Publishing, the UK publishers of my book, The Young Atheist’s Handbook, when it was first presented to them. Thankfully, Iain Dale, the managing director, laughed at the idea, saying, “it’s OK, we’re on the 10th floor” and went on to publish the book anyway. [Read more...]

My useful advice

Career advice: don’t do anything book-related in Malaysia. They bust people for managing bookstores that distribute Irshad Manji’s book.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A Borders bookstore manager in Malaysia has been charged with distributing a Canadian writer’s book that was banned as being against Islam.

The government in the Muslim-majority country regularly bans books it considers threats to religious stability. “Allah, Liberty and Love” was banned in late May.

Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz could face a two-year prison sentence and fine if convicted of the charge that was filed Tuesday.

For managing a bookstore that distributes a book, a decent book, a hopeful book, a book by a Muslim. She’s a progressive, liberal, reformist Muslim, yes, but she is nevertheless a Muslim. Managing a bookstore that carries that book doesn’t seem like a crime worthy of a two-year prison sentence. Well it doesn’t seem worthy of any sentence, or of being charged.

So don’t go into the book trade in Kuala Lumpur.

 

Insulting Islamic values in Twitter messages

Another entry in the annals of Persecuting and Prosecuting People For Having an Opinion That Reactonaries Dislike.

A court here on Friday charged Fazil Say, a classical and jazz pianist with an international career, with insulting Islamic values in Twitter messages, the latest in a series of legal actions against Turkish artists, writers and intellectuals for statements they have made about religion and Turkish national identity.

Mr. Say, 42, who is also a composer, is accused of “publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation,” the semiofficial Anatolian news agency said. A trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 18, with Mr. Say facing up to 18 months in prison if convicted. [Read more...]

Banned as it contradicted the Quran and Hadith

More squalid airless stupidity from Malaysia: banning Irshad Manji’s book and confiscating copies from bookstores.

The Home Ministry has banned  the controversial book by liberal Muslim  activist Irshad Manji as it could cause confusion among Muslims.

In a statement yesterday, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said  the book Allah, Liberty and Love and its translated version Allah, Kebebasan dan  Cinta was banned as it contradicted the Quran and Hadith.

The fact that a book “could cause confusion” is an imbecilic reason to ban it. The fact that it could cause confusion among a particular brand of theists is even more so. The fact that it contradicts the Quran and Hadith is an appalling reason to ban it. It represents obedience to arbitrary rules and demands written down many centuries ago in the guise of Roolz from Godd; not being allowed to contradict something so absurd at this late date is pathetic, tragic, horrible.

He said the decision was made following a report by the Islamic Religious  Development Department (Jakim).

“Based on the report, it says that the book promotes mixed marriages between  Muslims and non-Muslims. This could lead to pluralism.

“It also contains insulting elements towards the prophet, which were  described in such a way that could pollute the sanctity of Islam.”

The deputy minister also said that the book defended secularism by confusing  the Islamic faith.

Worse and worse and worse. Religious xenophobia and anti-pluralism; brainless worship of a long dead man; brainless worries about pollution and sanctity (cue Jonathan Haidt explaining why it’s not brainless at all, only different); anti-secularism and dogma preferred to putative “confusion” (which clearly means just dissent).

“The book also says the five fardhu prayers can be done in various movements  and languages more than five times a day. This statement may confuse the  public.”

He said the ban was made according to Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses  and Publication Act 1984 as its content could cause disturbance to the  public.

In a related development, Jawi enforcement division senior principal  assistant director Wan Jaafar Wan Ahmad said they would monitor book stores to  prevent them from distributing the books.

I’m embarrassed to be a human being.

And then there are the foul comments underneath the article…

Donohue’s success

Useful background on the Catholic League.

The Catholic League was founded in 1973 by Jesuit priest Virgil Blum. William Donohue assumed leadership in July 1993. Since then, the membership has grown from 27,000 to 200,000. According to Donohue, the League has “won the support of all of the U.S. Cardinals and many of the Bishops as well…We are here to defend the Church from the scurrilous assaults that have been mounted against it, and we definitely need the support of the hierarchy if we are to get the job done.” Thus it can be considered an arm of the Church. It supplements or replaces priest-controlled organizations of the past described by Blanshard and Seldes. The League apparently has a single mission: suppression of all mainstream criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. [Read more...]

A bargain

It can seem strange how entirely alien the whole idea of free discussion can seem to people who (I suppose) have never had any experience of it.

A Bangladesh court on Wednesday ordered authorities to shut down five Facebook pages and a website for blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed, the Koran and other religious subjects, a lawyer said.

Judges at the high court in Dhaka ordered the telecommunications regulator, home ministry officials and police to block the offending pages immediately.

“These pages contain disparaging remarks and cartoons about Prophet Mohammed, the Muslim holy book of Koran, Jesus, Lord Buddha and Hindu gods,” Nawshad Zamir, a lawyer of the petitioner who brought the case, told AFP.

“They mostly targeted the prophet and the Koran. These pages hurt the sentiments of the country’s majority Muslim population and the followers of other religions.”

One, no they don’t, not necessarily. It’s not as if “these pages” by existing force themselves on the notice of all people everywhere. Two…well it’s Minchin’s fucking obvious again, but ok: if that’s your standard then nobody can say anything about anything, including you. The prophet and the Koran “hurt” my “sentiments,” but I don’t get to block them. I get to make disparaging remarks about them, instead.