Link Round-Up 9/19/2014

Story of the Week: Ayan Hirsi Ali was again the target of ex-Muslim silencing and censorship. Sadly, this time even the Yale Atheists joined the repressive forces. Yale University proved to be brave and didn’t censor her. You can read her talk here. Mohammad Syed and Anish Nair write why the statements made by Yale Muslims and atheists are wrong.

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Iranian Sentenced to Death for Insulting Prophet Mohammad

Via the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:

A blogger found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in his postings on Facebook has been sentenced to death. An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the blogger, Soheil Arabi, will be able to appeal the decision until September 20, 2014.

Agents from the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Sarallah Base arrested Soheil Arabi, 30, and his wife in November 2013. Arabi’s wife was released a few hours later, but he was kept in solitary confinement for two months inside IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, before he was transferred to Evin’s General Ward 350. Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court, under Judge Khorasani, found Arabi guilty of “sabb al-nabi” (insulting the Prophet), on August 30, 2014.

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According to the source, Soheil Arabi has another judicial case. On September 4, 2014, Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati sentenced Arabi to the maximum punishment of three years in prison on charges of “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the state,” through his writings on Facebook.

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What Choice Is a Free Choice? And Why Religion Destroys the Freedom of Choice.

When we talk about freedom of choice we usually mean that in a legal sense, but we can argue that there are many layers and aspects to what makes a choice truly free, when we think about this concept in terms that are not legal. Freedom is a concept which takes different forms in different aspects of life. We say that people are free to disagree with the scientific evidence, in the legal way. If I “choose” to disbelieve evolution, the government has no right to censor me or to demand me to believe otherwise. But I am not “free” to publish my opinions in a scientificn journal, even if that journal is not owned by private sector. Although I am a taxpayer, I am not free to publish my creationist thoughts in a journal funded by my task money. However I am still free to find evidence against evolution and if my creationist article conforms to scientific standards I will be published in the same journal. So there is freedom among the scientific community to dissent, but that freedom is not the same as civil freedom to dissent. I assume that the reader will agree with this, and I use this as an example merely before bringing up the main topic of this post.

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Obama Is Right to Be Wrong about IS

President Obama made a speech about the terrorist group IS and laid out his strategy about how to gradually “degrade and destroy” IS. Overall I think it was the best one could do in the current situation, and I believe objections to it would come from reality-divorced ideologues from the right (who want more war at any cost and do not consider how being erratic in war against IS could spiral into a disaster) and left (whose opposition to military intervention is an article of faith and have no problem with genocides and rapes if not committed by a western government), as it seems to be prudent, careful, and based on a coalition with the globe, as evident by John Kerry’s travel to Arab countries to gain their support, and would involve Europe as well. You can read a summary of his plan here. Does that mean Obama can prevent a disaster? Who knows? I don’t think it’s unlikely that in spite of Obama’s tactful and rational strategy, all would still fail. It’s a very tricky subject.

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Loose Muslims Vs. Moderate Muslims

I have come across a sentiment, both from Iranians and non-Iranians, and today I suddenly realized it’s demonstrably false. Usually westerners (and some Iranians) say “Yes, I know a lot of Iranians who are completely different from the regime, they drink alcohol, have sex, etc, they’re very moderate!” And I think that’s false.

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Conservative Ayatollah: 3G Internet Is Immoral and Inhumane

One of the ongoing battles between the Rouhani administration and the conservative establishment of the regime is internet freedom. Rouhani administration has attempted unsuccessfully to unblock Facebook and Twitter. Before Rouhani the speed of internet was slowed down intentionally, but that changed a lot during his time, the minimum speed people could but was increased and the obstacles were removed, and 3G internet was introduced. Now a conservative cleric has taken it upon himself to battle this and has issued a fatwa against 3G.

makarem

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Link Round-Up 8/17/2014

Story of the week: Robin Williams passed away. David Wong of Cracked has a moving article on the link between comedy and depression. Salon has an interesting compilation of his best moments and Vulture has more moments. Jerry Coyne has the best overview of the reactions of the atheist community to his death. Ashley Miller discusses the role of depression in the light of his death. This is some teachers inspired by his role in Dead Poets Society, a sentiment I expressed in my own obituary as well.

JT Ebehard and Dan Fincke have both touching tributes.

Lauren Bacall was another great actor we lost. Here is a review of her great career. Richard Brody explains how being a strong woman shaped her career. This NPR article includes some of her interview highlights. But my favorite article after her death was Amy Davidson’s. And you can see her life narrated in pictures.

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Hijab and the First Woman Fields Medal Winner

As I’ve already told you on this blog, Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman and the first Iranian to win the highly reputable math prize the Fields Medal. Now of course the interesting part is how the Iranian media reacted to this event.

The answer is, the most contentious thing was her hijab. Yes, the concept of hijab became the center of attention.

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Welcome Hiba to FTB!

So, my favorite ex-Muslim blogger is on FTB. I have mentioned Hiba Krisht (previously known as Mawa Berro) on this blog many times before, and if you are interested in ex-Muslims issues, I personally don’t know any better blogger to turn to. This is really an honor for FTB to host her. Read her author bio:

Hiba Krisht is a writer and professional translator from Beirut. An apostate from Islam, she grew up between an international expatriate community in Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah guerrilla warfare culture in Lebanon. Her literary work appears in or is forthcoming from The Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, 580 Split, Mizna, and the Evergreen Review among others. She is a recipient of the 2012 Jane Foulkes Malone Fellowship from Indiana Univeristy and the 2013 JoAnn Athanas Memorial Award in literature from the National Society of Arts and Letters. She received her BA in English literature and her MA in philosophy from the American University of Beirut. In her blog, she explores womanhood and politics post-Islam, with a recurring focus on the residual effects of 15 years of wearing the Muslim veil. She is working on a memoir expansion of her blog in book form.

I already know that memoir is going to be one of the best memoirs I will read.

This is her blog, Between a Veil and a Dark Place, and this is her first post, in which she thoroughly introduces herself. Read it! You will see why she’s amazing.