This is why we’re defending free expression – for the likes of Hamza Kashgari

Hamza Kashgari, a young journalist, was banned from writing in Saudi Arabia by the Saudi Minister of Information and has reportedly been forced to flee after being accused of blasphemy, atheism, and apostasy and following calls for his head.

His crime? Tweeting about Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, including about how he’s equal to him and how he hates some of Mohammad’s characteristics… (Only some?)

The Saudi Minister of Information ‘wept’ upon reading Hamza’s tweets ‘offending’ the prophet (and not as you might expect when he heard that someone must flee for his life for merely tweeting and despite having had to apologise)…

And, dear readers, this is why we’re defending free expression on 11 February – for the likes of Hamza Kashgari.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: It seems the Saudi government is trying to get Hamza back from wherever he has fled to in order to prosecute him. We need to step in and defend him so watch this space so we can see what we can do to help him.

(Via @SaudiHope on Twitter)

11 February: Be there or be square!

Join the International Day for Free Expression
Defend the right to criticise religions and beliefs
Saturday 11 February 2012

London, UK
Rally at Old Palace Yard (across from the House of Lords)
2:00-4:00pm

Speakers are: Richard Dawkins (Scientist); A C Grayling (Philosopher); Alex Gabriel (Blogger); Anne Marie Waters (One Law for All); Caroline Cox (Peer); Derek Lennard (Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association); Faisal Gazi (Spittoon.org); Gita Sahgal, (Centre for Secular Space); Hasan Afzal (Stand for Peace); Jennifer Hardy (Queen Mary Atheism Humanism and Secularism Society); Jenny Bartle (National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies); Jim Fitzpatrick (MP); Kate Smurthwaite (Comedian); Kenan Malik (Writer); Lilith (Poet, Anti-Injustice Movement) ; Marco Tranchino (Central London Humanist Group); Mark Embleton (Atheism UK); Maryam Namazie (One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain); Nick Cohen (Writer); Nick Doody (Comedian); Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters); Rashid Ali (Centri); Rhys Morgan (Student activist); Roy Brown (International Humanist and Ethical Union); Rupert Sutton (Student Rights); Sohaila Sharifi (Equal Rights Now); Sue Cox (Survivors Voice Europe); Sundas Hoorain (London School of Economics Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society); Susan Zhuang (University College London Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society); Keith Porteous Wood (National Secular Society); and Yasmin Rehman (Campaigner). There will also be messages from Jesus and Mo creator. Iranian Secular Society’s Fariborz Pooya will be the Master of Ceremonies. For more information, go to its Facebook Page. [Read more…]

You don’t need to speak Arabic to know that Sharia stinks

I had a ball in Sheffield when I went to speak about Sharia law at the invitation of the Sheffield Humanist group. Some Islamists came to the meeting to try and win their case. Poor things. They spent the entire time giving me the evil eye and whispering about their strategy and all they could muster was this: one of them got up at the end of my talk and said something in Arabic. I responded in Persian. But of course his point was how a person could speak about sharia when they don’t speak Arabic.

Err well lots of people.

Islamists can’t have it both ways. They say that they represent a billion or more ‘Muslims’ – many of whom don’t speak a word of Arabic. But if you speak against Sharia – you’re not allowed to unless you speak Arabic. (Oh and if you do speak Arabic, they have other excuses up their sleeves.)

Well, I’ll tell you how I can speak about Sharia – I have lived through it and survived to tell the tale of its medievalism and barbarity.

But as an aside, according to this piece of ‘logic’, someone should have told the black South African that s/he couldn’t resist racial Apartheid because s/he couldn’t speak Afrikaans…

By the way, some woman came up at the end of the session to say that I should have been nicer to the poor chap since he made a valid point!? Yes, let’s leave it to the well meaning to feel sorry for the Islamist…

Anyway, the video of the very fun night should be available soon and when it is I will be sure to post it for you.

If we are really a majority, which I believe, can we please see it on the streets for a change?

One Law for All spokesperson Maryam Namazie was interviewed for this week’s Pod Delusion at the recent Centre for Free Inquiry conference on Blasphemy. She spoke about the need to support Atheist societies on campus and called for people to take to the streets to defend free expression on 11 February.

“I think the rally is important for two reasons. One is that Atheist student groups don’t feel alone, because they are being bullied, they are being intimidated, and they’re being called all sorts of things, for merely posting a ‘Jesus and Mo’ image on their Facebook page, or expressing their beliefs. I want to give them a sense that they’re not alone. There are a lot of people who support them, who’ll defend their right to free expression. [Read more…]

Sheffield and Stockholm

I will be speaking in Sheffield on Sharia law today. Details:

1 February 2012 Sheffield: Maryam Namazie will be speaking at a meeting organised by the Sheffield Humanist Society on Wednesday 1st February at The Friends Meeting House, 10 St James Street, Sheffield S1 2EW from 6:30 to 8:00pm. The talk will be on “One Law for All, Sharia and Secularism”.

I leave on Friday for a talk in Stockholm on Saturday. Details:

4 February 2012 Stockholm: Sweden Maryam Namazie will be speaking on the ‘Arab Spring and Women’s Rights’ at a public meeting in Stockholm, Sweden at 13.00 hours. ABF huset, Sveavägen 41, Stockholm. For more information, contact: Afsaneh Vahdat, 070-246 84 54

If you are in Sheffield or Stockholm, maybe I’ll see you?