When blasphemy is a matter of life and death

Blasphemy is the order of the day on freethoughtblogs. In the Islamic regime of Iran, however, it is a matter of life and death. The regime’s supreme Sharia court has upheld the death sentence of 40 year old Ahmad Reza Hashempour who was arrested in 2007 for ‘membership in anti-religion and blasphemous websites.’ He’s been tortured, forced to confess on TV and become known as one of the ‘Heretics 3′. Vahid Asghari, aged 25, has also been condemned to death for maintaining a website against religion and Islam as has Saeid Malekpour, an Iranian-Canadian citizen.

Of course in a theocracy, anything you say against god’s rule on earth is deemed blasphemous. And whilst no such death sentence hangs over us here in Britain or the west, it will do us well to remember why it is important to be able to mock Islam and religion and why it is a necessity to do so.

(Via Mina Ahadi)

Jesus and Mo an act of discrimination? Who knew?

The UCLU Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society (ASH) President has just published a statement on their Facebook page on the Jesus and Mo image censorship attempt by the UCL Union saying: ‘We can now tell you that the University College London Union has recognized that mistakes were made and that the initial correspondence with our society was flawed. The Union is to review its stance on such matters and has said that this will not happen again. They can no longer call on us to withdraw the image. We welcome these developments, which set an important precedent for other universities.’

Good news indeed.

However, ‘the Union has considered the possibility that posting the image might have constituted an act of bullying, prejudice, harassment or discrimination.’

Really? How so? [Read more…]

Expressing concern is not enough; please take action now

Mina Ahadi has written an open letter to Catherine Ashton, Vice-president and high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy about the outrageous executions taking place in Iran.

Critics of Islam, political activists and others are executed daily in Iran; in the first few days of 2012 the Islamic regime of Iran has ‘upgraded’ its body count to three per day. It is not enough to issue letters of protest. This regime must be diplomatically isolated internationally. Its representatives must be expelled from international assemblies. Its embassies must be shut down. We don’t need economic sanctions that will put further pressure on the people of Iran; we need political pressure and the diplomatic isolation of this regime so that people in Iran can bring it down. She says, it’s not enough to express concern; they need to act now. Read her letter here. [Read more…]

Scientific proof that women cannot talk and remember at the same time

Sharia law is the same everywhere. Iran, Britain, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia – that is if it’s Sharia.

And under Sharia law a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s so you always need two women for every man, not just in financial transactions – as its proponents deceptively say (as if that’s not bad enough) – but in any matter of importance. We are told it’s because women are too ‘emotional’, menstrual, or so that if one errs the other can remind her. It’s about the nature of women. But for those ‘heretics, communists, and other atheists’ who ridicule this, finally here’s the scientific proof that women cannot talk and remember at the same time:

Oh well, that settles that then.

Don’t barter away our free expression

The UCL Atheist, Humanist and Secular Society (ASH) has published a report on the December event where Anne Marie Waters and I debated members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association on Sharia law. The debate can be seen here as can my blog entries on it here and here.

The report highlights an affliction that many humanist groups in particular, including student groups, have when it comes to dealing with Islamic groups.

The UCL ASH report’s unfortunate conclusion is a case in point. It says that apparently ‘the two sides of the motion maintained different concepts of ‘Sharia Law’, i.e. as it is practiced versus as it is truly described – which concept is the most relevant today is a question to brought forward’.

I wonder if they would reach the same conclusion had proponents of canon law been adamant that the inquisition had nothing to do with the tenets of Christianity…

This affliction arises partly because of the gullibility of these groups. They believe Islamists at face value despite all evidence to the contrary and are keen to label anyone they can as a ‘moderate’. In that specific December debate on Sharia for example, when I spoke of the Hadith on stoning, the Ahmadiyya speaker said none existed in order to prove that his Islam was not the Islam being practiced in countries where stoning to death takes place. Immediately, this was seen as proof of there being ‘different concepts’ of Sharia law. But the speaker was lying and admitted as much. To those saying he should not have lied, the speaker Ayaaz Mahmood later commented: ‘Had Maryam asked me, “Has the Holy Prophet (sa) ever ordered that a man be stoned to death?” To this, I would have had to answer yes, and then hope and pray that the moderator would give me a minute or two (which isn’t really enough) to explain the whole background of those specific Ahadith… But of course, at the time, the opportunity did not afford itself to give this entire explanation. So I gave her the direct answer to her question, which was a big, “NO”. Only to silence her. Because I didn’t want to get into this whole issue during the debate…’

Ayaaz Mahmood did the same with the verse in the Koran on wife beating (he said it was not a beating as no marks could be left!) and on Aisha’s age (she was 18 according to him but still playing with dolls) and so on… Rather than seeing through this, the group sees the discrepancies as ‘different concepts’ of Islam.

The affliction also arises partly due to the hegemony of a ‘pragmatic’ approach in the Humanist movement that is keen on promoting inter-faith work and coalitions irrespective of their consequences and actually seems to prefer it especially since it opens a space for humanism on par with religions.

Which brings me back to the current censorship attempt on the UCL ASH for using a Jesus and Mo image on their Facebook page. The UCL ASH and the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) insist that this has nothing to do with the Ahmadiyya Association. I am not so sure, particularly since this fiasco quickly follows a heated debate on Sharia law. And whilst the ASH has been insistent that the Ahmadiyya Association finds the publication of the image within its legal rights, the Ahmadiyya Association treasurer has also said that the Union might be within its legal rights to ask for the removal of the image… See the doublespeak? [Read more…]

Not an urban legend to ‘thigh’ babies

In comments about my post on religiously sanctioned paedophilia, it has been said that the practice supported by Khomeini of ‘thighing’ or placing a penis in between thighs of weening babies is an urban legend. I’ve explained how with brutalities such as these, there is no need for such legends; the realities are much bleaker. Here’s a video on the practice:

Here’s link to Khomeini’s Book in Persian. [Read more…]

The right to offend – even more crudely and savagely than Jesus and Mo

The University College London Union has insisted that the UCLU Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society (ASH) remove a Mohammad-related image from a web-comic from its Facebook event on the grounds that it may cause offence to Muslim students and as a result of ‘complaints’.

The group is fighting back and has set up a petition, which must be unequivocally supported. Finally a pulse in the atheist, secular, humanist student movement (but I will get to that in another blog entry)!

The Treasurer of UCLU Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association (the same group Anne Marie and I debated on Sharia law at the UCL in December) says that whilst the Society ‘are within their legal rights to keep their cartoon up and indeed, as they have done so, to put up more cartoons, regardless as to other people’s religious sentiments,’ they should remove it because it causes offense.

Of course in usual doublespeak, he adds that it may be that ‘the UCL Union is within their rights to request the UCLU ASH to remove the cartoon. The UCLU ASH is a branch of the Union and as such must abide by a particular code of conduct set out by the Union. It should be remembered that an act must be judged by its intention. It is obvious that the purpose of these cartoons is not to initiate discussion or reasonable criticism of Christianity or Islam but to insult and poke fun at. If the Union therefore judges this action as being deliberately hurtful and asks the UCLU ASH to remove the cartoon, it may be that UCLU ASH does not have reasonable grounds to resist. The Union must look to the sentiments of the whole of its student population and, being a branch of the Union, the UCLU ASH must abide by that decision.’

There has been huge support for the UCLU ASH Society. However, those supporting it because Jesus and Mo is ‘anything but savage and crass’ or because it is not ‘in any way driven by a wish to offend – they are quite witty, not crude or aggressive – and the ASHS might quite reasonably have assumed that those likely to be offended wouldn’t be hanging out on their Facebook page in any case’ miss the point. [Read more…]

Women cane morality police

Islamists have been harassing shop owners and female customers in rural towns around Egypt for ‘indecent behaviour’ and enforcing Sharia law. Shop owners have been told they can no longer sell ‘indecent’ clothing, barbers can no longer shave men’s beards, and customers ordered to veil and threatened with severe punishment if they did not abide by ‘God’s law on earth’.

Okay yes, I know business as usual… But when they burst into a beauty salon in the Nile delta town of Benha and ordered the women to stop what they were doing or face physical punishment, the women struck back, whipping them with their own canes before kicking them out to the street. [Read more…]

Religiously Sanctioned Paedophilia

The Director General of the Census Bureau in Hormozgan announced that there had been five marriages of girls under the age of 10 in the Iranian province. Latest national statistics for children ‘married’ under the age of 14 in Iran is 24,506 girls and 5, 519 boys. The total number of marriages from 10-18 years of age is 848,000.

But don’t be alarmed. A member of the Islamic Assembly (Majlis) and its ‘Judicial Commission’, Nayereh Akhavan (here’s a photo of her),  has said that there can be no ban on child marriages because there are ten year olds who have reached ‘sexual and intellectual puberty’ and because it would ‘contradict sharia’. We know Islam’s prophet consummated his ‘marriage’ with Aisha when she was 9.  And of course there is Ayatollah Khomeini ‘s book of sayings: ‘Tahrir al Wasilah’, where he says that a man can even have sex with a baby. [Read more…]

Good thing prayers don’t work

I get a lot of interesting emails to say the least. I don’t usually answer them or post them but I thought some of you at least could use a good laugh. Here’s one from ‘an enemy of the ex-Muslim Council':

In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful, and peace and blessings be upon His most beloved messenger Mohammed.

Hello,

I came across your page whilst browsing, and thought I would email with the intention of warning you of the day of judgement and advising you to change your name and your mission.

Why must you be a council of ex-muslims and not simply be an atheist council? Why still hang onto the word muslim? This is a very evil and bitter council ‘name’ to adopt. Why must you be so hateful towards Islam, when even ex christians and ex jews and ex catholics etc are respectful enough to avoid such insult? If you no longer wish to be muslim, then leave the faith and leave its name behind. [Read more…]

How very thoughtful! Stoning out of respect for Bible and Torah!

During a speech at the Catholic University of Ecuador, Islam ‘scholar’, Rahimpour Azghadi, says that stoning is not in the Koran.  [For the umpteenth time it’s in the hadith, which is why there is stoning under Sharia law.]

Nonetheless, he says, stoning is practiced out of – get this – respect for the Bible and Torah!

How very thoughtful! [Read more…]

Forced Marriages Dishonour Britain

Julie Bindel has recently published an article on forced marriages in Standpoint magazine. In it she says:

Maryam Namazie, an Iranian feminist and spokesperson for One Law For All, which campaigns against Sharia, believes that forced marriage is one of the main problems for Muslim girls and women. “In a place like Afghanistan a majority of females are in prison for ‘moral’ crimes, including refusing to marry the man chosen by their families,” she says. “This is increasingly a problem for women and girls here in Britain, especially with the rise of Sharia courts, which validate and rubber-stamp forced marriages.”

Criminalising forced marriages won’t end the practice overnight, admits Namazie but, as other supporters of the change have argued, criminalising domestic violence did not end violence against women in the home, and drink-driving still leads to death on the road despite the penalties. “But it will be an important start in battling it and making clear what is intolerable in our society. And it will help to protect countless citizens.” [Read more…]