“Happy” People Are Released, Rouhani Reacts

Well, the young people who were arrested for “Happy” video are now released.

I’m happy to see Rouhani is reacting as well.

This is a very obvious allusion to the “Happy” arrests, and a reminder of his own campaign promise. Plus, I was reading pro-Rouhani papers and they all condemned the arrests. If they had ignored them, then it’d be a sign that the powers above are stopping them, but now that they are reacting things look better. Rouhani administration failed when it came to Hatami kiss fiasco, happy to see him back in action and doing the right thing.

I had no doubt that they would be release very soon. The regime never keeps people with such offenses in jail for a long time, especially when there is so much international attention. I think the arrest and Rouhani’s reaction can be put into context – the right wingers are clashing with Rouhani over hijab. They have chosen the correct issue, because all the clergy in Qum are against relaxing the police brutality over hijab, and Rouhani needs their support desperately. I think he will continue to tread lightly, trying to defend his moderate values while not going on an all out war on this.
However, there’s no doubt that the tensions over this issue are getting high. It began with a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Interior against Rouhani, and things have escalated.
Let’s see what happens next.

Such a Depressing Week for Iran

It feels like we’re back to Ahmadinejad time. Now as we all know Rouhani cannot transform Iran and it was to be expected that the problems would continue, but faced with public disapproval they had reigned it in a bit lately, and it seems they’re letting it go. Bad news after bad news.

First bad news is that the talks have reached obstacles and have stalled. With both P5+1 and IAEA. Via Reuters:

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Iranian Far Right Revolutionary Guard Website: “Men Have a Right to Rape Women without Hijab”

Warning: There’s some really fucked up shit about rape included in this post, be aware.

So, this has been a rough week.

We had this guy who flatly said that lack of hijab infringes upon men’s “right” to rape women.

Yes, seriously. The link is here, in case you are familiar with Persian.

Oh, and he’s not a nobody righting for a blog which belongs to a fringe. Tasnim is a far-right website which belongs to the Revolutionary Guard, one of the most powerful branches of the regime, if not the most powerful.

Now, I’m an Iranian. This means that I frequently hear really really fucked up arguments about hijab. But this guy has his foot so far up his mouth that he can tickle his prostate with his toes.

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The Real Benghazi Scandal

This was originally a Facebook status but I decided it merits a blog post, although it’s short.

The Republican obsession with the Benghazi “scandal” might seem like an amusing thing, but there is real moral failure at the heart of it. The Libyan government has declared a no-fly zone above the city, and there has been many attacks between Islamists and militias, and 43 innocent people were killed, and 100 injured. Benghazi is a very unstable city, and real catastrophe is going on.

The GOP has appropriated the very word Benghazi and instead of paying attention to the real crisis, the word bring a faux scandal to mind. Benghazi should be about the pain of Libyans.

Also, please stop saying 4 people were killed in Benghazi attack. 14 people were killed. Those 10 other people were Libyan security forces fighting for the safety of the Americans and they sacrificed their lives. Remember them. [Edit: I'm sorry, but this is a factual error. The security forces were killed the same day but in separate attacks].

That’s all.

Book Review: “Beyond An Absence of Faith”

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Beyond an Absence of Faith:  is an anthology of 16 accounts of atheists talking about their deconversion and struggle with religion. It’s been co-edited by Jonathan MS Pearce (who writes the blog The Tippling Philosopher) and Tristan Vick (who writes Advocatus Atheist) and our own Jeremy Beahan (of Reasonable Doubts) wrote a foreword to it. It also happens to be my number one favorite atheist book that I have ever read. In this review I want to explain why.

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Link Round-Up 5/18/2014

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter and add me as a friend on Facebook.

Headline: Marwa Berro is coming to FTB! Hooray! “I’m retiring Between a Veil and a Dark Place and moving on to the Freethought Blogs network.”

Important: Please remember to help the children of a murdered atheist.

Topic of the week: Neil deGrasse Tyson said something about philosophy which was philistine and sadly quite below him. There were responses. The most famous one came from Massimo Pigliucci. James Croft also chimed in and then wrote another article asking for asking people to tone it down. Check out this episode of Skeptic Canary for the perspective of two philospher skeptics, Jonathan MS Pearce and Dan Fincke. Sincere Kirabo has a nice summary of the situation too.

Click more for the rest of links.

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Afghan Election: Abdullah and Ahmadzai Go to the Second Round

So today the results of Afghan election are officially announced. The election will not be concluded in the first round, and a month from now there will be another round.

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Via Telegraph:

After almost six weeks of counts, recounts and fraud investigations,Afghans now know who will proceed to a second round in the country’s long-winded process to replace President Hamid Karzai.

Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, who claimed 45 per cent of first-round votes will face Ashraf Ghani [Ahmadzai], a former finance minister, whose energetic campaign and social media nous propelled him to 31.6 per cent, on June 14.

Both have promised to sign a much-delayed deal to allow American troops to stay in the country beyond the end of the year and stood on similar, ideology-free platforms.

So far the election has been a victory for the supporters of democracy around the globe. These are the reasons:

  • People of Afghanistan showed a proverbial middle finger to the Taliban and other Islamist groups trying to stop these elections from happening, turn out was high, and among women too.
  • This is the first time in recent history that the president in power is leaving power and handing it to a new person with no violence and in a democratic fashion.
  • The security forces and the NATO managed to keep violence at a minimum.
  • There were few complaints, both candidates ultimately accepted the results, so not perfect, but progress.
  • The candidate of the current administration didn’t even go to the second round, both remaining candidates were among the opposition, so no Putin/Medvedev shenanigans, a good news.
  • And best of all: the Islamist candidates placed at 4th and 6th, garnering only 9% of the votes put together. Suck on that, political Islam.

A very good day for Afghanistan, and I wish the best for Afghan people.

ADL: Iran Is the Least Antisemitic Nation in Middle East

Anti Defamation League has gathered international data on antisemitism around the globe. Here you can explore the data.

Overall, it is not good news. The blog No Cross, No Crescent summarizes the data thus:

New data from the Anti-defamation League reveal, in chilling numbers, how bad the situation actually is. In an unprecedented survey covering 86% of the entire world population, they have gauged negative attitudes toward the Jews, and the results aren’t pretty. In total, 1.09 billion people in the surveyed nations are estimated  to harbor antisemitic views; and 35% have never heard about the Holocaust. Worse, only 33% of the surveyed population believe the Holocaust is a reality as described by history; 32% believe it is either a myth or grossly exaggerated.
And, to no one’s surprise, antisemitism is the worst in Middle East, and the problem is the worst among Muslims. Look at this chart:

mus1I’m disappointed that antisemitism is not much much lower than what the numbers are.

Of course, I’m more interested in the data concerning Iran. And this blogpost deals with that.

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Check Out James Croft’s Response to Me

Well, me and James Croft are officially pen-pals!

A year ago James Croft wrote an article about how to criticize religions responsibly, and about a month ago I wrote an open letter to James in response to that article. I didn’t strongly disagree with him but took an issue with one of his points, and now he has written back, an article called We Must Criticize Islam – Responsibly.

Like always, it’s eloquent, nuanced, reasonable, and very admirable in the moral sentiment. I think this exchange between me and James can be a very good example of a rational and civil exchange of ideas carried out with mutual respect. I feel very proud to be part of it.

Thank you, James.

The Nuclear Talks Are Underway Again

The purpose of this post is to bring you up to date with the political situation in Iran.

Last night Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, and Catherine Ashton, the P5+1 representative, had dinner, and the talks are underway today. They are planning to draft the final deal.

As any person versed in Iranian politics knows, both sides of the regime are sending signals regarding the talks. On the side which is against the talks, you see the usual, showing muscles and showing strength, trying to intimidate the internal opposition. On the pro-negotiation side, you also see an aggressive defense of their own movements.

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