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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In Iran: The Noose Around Reformists’ Neck Gets Tighter

A little more than a year has passed since Rouhani became the president of Iran, but it seems that the conservatives are in full oppression mode. I have already told you how Rouhani’s minister of science was removed by the conservative parliament for the “crime” of doing his job and implementing reforms. But the events of these days show that the conservatives are continuing to restrain Rouhani in his place. These events usually seem too domestic and too insignificant, but they are significant, so in this blogpost I will explain why they matter.

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Why As An Iranian I’m Skeptical of Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater”

The trailer of Jon Stewart’s Rosewater was released. I ought to be very  excited. No event was more defining of my life than the 2009’s Green Movement. Jon Stewart is a witty comedian with honorable sensibilities, whose coverage of 2009 events, sending Jason Jones to Iran to cover the election and then how he handled the protests, made him famous and popular in Iran. I have watched all Daily Show episodes since that time, and no other American has been as influential in my understanding of contemporary United States. Plus, the Green Movement deserves to have books and movies. So what’s wrong? Why I’m not excited? Why do I feel the movie is going to be a failure in my eyes?

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Crisis Group on Nuclear Talks: A Focus on Irreducible Core Interests rather than Maximalist Stances

Crisis Group is one of the best resources one has to understand international policy better. I have frequently read their reports, and I fully agree with their stances. Ali Vaez frequently appears on Persian TV and I consider him the best commentator on Iran’s international policy. Anyway they have a 40 page report on how the nuclear talks could be successful, and it’s a must read for everyone interested in the subject. The report itself is not new but it’s been edited and it should be read.

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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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