I kid you not

In an interview with Algerian El Khabar newspaper in Arabic, George Galloway, the Respect MP, says the Mohammad caricatures are worse than the murder of innocent civilians on 11 September in New York and July 7 in London!

Silly me; I always thought slaughtering civilians was somehow worse than offending them…

I guess it takes an Islamist to think like one.

Anyway, here is the quote as translated by the BBC Monitoring Service in case you think I make this stuff up:

…frankly what happened is an insult to Islam and Muslims. Personally, I condemn these barbaric and evil acts. Today, the objective of the Western states is to control the oil of the Muslims whatever the price. In fact, the cartoons published in Denmark did not surprise me because the Western states have been waging fierce attacks against Islam for years. These began by humiliation, insults and then occupation. Today they reached the point of ridiculing the prophet. This incident is worse than the 11 September attacks in the US and the 7/7 incidents in London. Therefore, today it is the right of Muslims to express their anger and to defend their right and faith…’

For more gems from Galloway – and trust me there are a lot more in this one interview – go to http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net. BTW, thanks to Rumy H for bringing this to my attention.

Sound familiar?

Elham Afroutan who was arrested on 29 January 2006 with six colleagues for the republication of an anonymous satirical piece in a local Iranian publication called Tammadon-e Hormozgan is reportedly in a coma or has died in the custody of the Islamic regime of Iran. She and the others were arrested for a piece entitled “Open fight against AIDS” which compared the advent of Khomeini and AIDS and suggested that president Ahmadinejad could be regarded as the current physical embodiment of the disease. The newspaper’s offices were ransacked and torched and the publication suspended as well.

Sound familiar?

I suppose Islamists and their dim-witted apologists will consider Elham and her colleagues racists, ‘Islamophobes’, insensitives, intolerants, and inciting hatred and violence. That is if they ever manage to utter a word about her and the regime’s innumerable victims.

But we know better.

Clearly, one is not threatened by Islamists for ridiculing Mohammad alone but for ridicuing and opposing any and every one of Islam’s representatives on earth as well as much more. Take a look at the hundred thousand executed by the Islamic regime in Iran for being corrupt, anti-Islamic, infidels, apostates, unchaste… if further convincing is needed.

More importantly though, Elham and her colleagues must be defended by all decent human beings. To do so, visit Amnesty International’s urgent action at http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130152006?open&of=ENG-IRN.

Human beings first!

In this day and age it is supposedley no longer the individual but religion that is guaranteed rights, equality, tolerance, respect…And most often at the expense of individuals.

The concept of rights, equality, respect and tolerance were concepts raised vis-à-vis the individual not beliefs. But today, it seems mainly applicable to the latter.

We are told time and time again to respect people’s beliefs, religion and culture, to tolerate them, to accept the equality of all beliefs – irrespective of how reactionary or misogynist they are. Of course human beings are worthy of the highest respect but why all beliefs? Are we to respect fascism, Nazism, white supremacy? Are we to respect beliefs that regard women and children as inferior and sub-human? And are such beliefs equal to humanitarian and progressive ideals fought for by generations?

Of course people have a right to their beliefs – even if they believe in pure nonsense. Moreover, the right to belief was a historically important gain and right but again it was and is for the individual – not for belief’s sake.

It’s as if beliefs, religion, Islam have become legal persons with rights superseding that of real human beings – so much so that Islamists can compare their demand for a ban on the reprinting of the Mohammad caricatures to the ban on child pornography!

Attempts to destroy any distinction between individuals and beliefs is part and parcel of the world we live in today. That is why any criticism and ridiculing of or opposition to religions, god and prophets are being deemed libellous, defamatory, racist, inciting hatred, violence?! Of course this is not the case.

Only an unequivocal defence of universal rights and a demand for secularism and de-religionisation of rights will challenge the attempts at redefinition by vile political religious movements.

(The above is part of a speech given at Westfield State College in Massachusetts, USA on February 15, 2006.)

Islam must be criticised!

It’s interesting how free speech, the right to criticise and ridicule god, prophet or religion, the separation of religion from the state and secularism as well as the non-right to threaten to kill, suicide bomb and massacre people are not applicable to Islamists and Islam!

I must admit, those of us who have fled the Islamic Republic of Iran are very familiar with this outlook on things. Cultural relativism’s equal opportunity for all values and beliefs has often been shoved down our throats by many of the very same politicians, publishers and editors, telling us time and time again to respect ‘our’ culture and religion though it has been imposed by sheer force.

Now this racism of lower standards and relative rights regarding Islam is being applied to the European press as well! Beware!

From Jack Straw to frightened politicians and editors across the board, in unison with Ahmadinejad and others Islamists and their apologists, we are told that free speech and a free press do not mean the freedom to ‘insult’, ‘offend’, be ‘inflammatory’, ‘insensitive’ or ‘disrespectful’ to the ‘beliefs of Muslims’.

I ask you, what use is free speech then if it merely deals with the mundane?

In fact, such freedoms only really begin to matter when they protect that which is sacred, uncomfortable and even offensive.

People in Iran have for decades been massacred, annihilated and beheaded for insulting and offending Islam – whether by improper veiling, for their sexual relations and sexuality, political opposition to god’s rule on earth, demands for basic rights, and even for simply dancing, laughing, listening to music and yes, caricaturising and ridiculing. The banners, placards and fatwas threatening to do the same on the streets of Europe are very much business as usual for this movement and not in the least surprising.

Those who naively assert that the caricatures have encouraged this violence and ‘extremism’ have not yet recognised or understood this political movement. Or in the case of the likes of the Muslim Council of Britain or the Islamic Human Rights Commission (an oxymoron) and their apologists, are merely making more excuses for their brethren.

But come on, all can see that violence is intrinsic to this reactionary right wing movement, has always been so and hardly needs ‘encouragement’ from some caricatures. The herds of Hezbollah thugs on the streets of Europe and the Middle East are Islamists organised by Islamic states and groups after self-appointed and parasitic imams from Denmark toured Saudi Arabia and Egypt with a portfolio of the caricatures – and some more – to organise the mayhem on various streets across the world.

This political movement has to be challenged and stopped. One essential component of the battle that is ensuing is the uncomfortable task of criticising, and questioning its banner – Islam.

‘ What is clear is that when you come face to face with movements, which threaten freethinkers like Taslima Nasrin with death, you are obliged to once again refer to the Koran and say that this reaction is feeding from a well, which exactly formulates all this backwardness. The Koran could have been a historical book like many other historical books; people could look at it and not show much sensitivity but when a movement makes it the banner of a contemporary political struggle, then people are forced to take its banner from it, review it, look at it and … discredit it.’ (Iran will be the Scene of a Mass Anti-Islamic Offensive, Interview with Mansoor Hekmat, 13 June 1999.)

For those who are afraid to take this religion head on, don’t worry – we are doing it for you here and in Iran…

(This was first published in WPI Briefing 190, February 6, 2006.)

Defend Free Speech and Secularism

I’ve set up a petition on petitiononline in defence of free speech and secularism. The text reads as follows:

We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the threats of death and bombings by Islamists to limit, censor and silence any critique of Islam.

Criticism of religion – any religion – including caricaturing religious figures, however offensive, are integral components of unconditional freedom of expression, secularism, and the separation of religion’s intervention in the public sphere.

These are rights fought for and gained by the enlightenment and progressive social movements.

We must not allow anyone or any movement to erode these fundamental rights and values.

All states are duty-bound to:

* Condemn threats made by religious groups and movements to limit, censor and silence free speech

* Unconditionally defend free speech and the separation of religion’s intervention in people’s lives

* Immediately prosecute all those issuing threats against persons and places. e.g. threats to kill, or carry out suicide bombings.

Do sign on and get others to do so as well. The link is: http://new.petitiononline.com/namazie/petition.html

Offensive, Shmoffensive

An email I received says my blog and the reprinting of the caricatures of Mohammad are insulting and offensive. Of course they can be offensive to those who feel their strongly held beliefs or their representatives are being ridiculed.

But so what?

Whilst we may all sometimes be offended by some things, it is religion and the religious that are offended all of the time.

They alone seem to have a monopoly on being offended, saying their beliefs are a no go area, and silencing all those who offend. The problem is exacerbated because of the political Islamic movement. Generally, someone like Mel Gibson might just seem like a wacko who has produced a really lame movie but Islamists do it with bomb scares and threats in Europe and of course hangings and assassinations in countries like Iran where they are in power.

The email says most people in Europe are condemning the caricatures; I don’t think they are. Most believe it is a right to print them, especially since such a right was one that was fought for and won primarily against the church several centuries ago. Rowan Atkinson, the Life of Brian and so on are all testimony to that. That anyone has apologised is more a testament to the fear the political Islamic movement instils rather than an attempt to rectify a mistake made. That is also why all the positive emails I have received speak of the courage that is needed to print the caricatures. Why printing caricatures needs courage speaks volumes about the reactionary movement that is making the lives of millions, primarily in the Middle East, intolerable. This right wing movement kills, it maims, it humiliates – with Islam as its banner – and we are not even allowed to ridicule.

The email says Mohammad is sacred to many and shouldn’t be ridiculed – but I am sorry, he is not sacred to me. Why must I only be allowed to speak of that which does not offend others? If that were the case, there wouldn’t be very much to say. No one sets out to offend individuals – I know I certainly don’t – but the problem is that the religious are offended by practically every 21 century human value! In any case, nothing is sacred to me except the human being.

What I find most interesting from the email I have received, though, is how selective such opponents are. Religion, including Islam, considers a woman as worth half a man, gays as perversions, extra marital affairs as punishable by stoning to death, and so on and so forth but it is a few caricatures that are offensive!

I suppose this is the topsy turvy world we live in and why I will not stop speaking out against it.

Apologise for what? On Caricatures of Mohammad

The repeated calls for an unreserved apology for publishing ‘offensive’ and ‘insulting’ caricatures of Mohammad reminds me of the apologies that should be made to me and many like me.

I’d like the offended Islamists – from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Islamic Jihad to the Saudi government… – to apologise; not for their backward and medieval superstitions and religious mumbo jumbo but for their imposition of these beliefs in the form of states, Islamic laws and the political Islamic movement. If any of them want to apologise for the mass murder of countless human beings in Iran and the Middle East, and more recently in Europe, for veiling and sexual apartheid, for stoning, amputations, decapitations, Islamic terrorism and for the recent brutal attack on Tehran bus workers and so on and so forth, just email me direct.

On a more serious note, though, of course no apology is due them.

As if.

If the Jyllands-Posten has naively apologised it is only because the Islamists demands are always followed with bomb scares and death threats – even after the apology has been made!

Jyllands-Posten should know better. Poking fun at or criticising beliefs and religions are not only permissible but a necessity given the havoc religion is wreaking today.

In defence of free speech, secularism, and 21 century values, I too am reprinting the caricatures here in line with the daily France-Soir which carried the headline “Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God”…

I urge everyone to do the same.