Better mongering

As Harald said – not everything is shitty in Europe now. Reuters reports:

More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend. [Read more…]

The time-tested institution

Oklahoma is not widely seen as one of the most salubrious of the united states in terms of its climate or geography or political culture or friendliness to the arts or promotion of science. It’s seen more as the state that combines the worst aspects of Texas and Arkansas, along with its fame as the spot Andrew Jackson chose as the destination for all the Native Americans he kicked out of fertile farmland in the southern states.

So I guess they decided to put a big ribbon on all that, by voting to ban advanced history classes in Oklahoma public high schools.

Unaware that their state has become a satire on the folly of man, an Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly voted to ban Advanced Placement U.S. History classes because these classes “only teach what is bad about America” and fail to teach “American exceptionalism.”

[Read more…]

How do we explain this tirade of abuse?

Brendan O’Neill explains about identity politics at the Spectator. In other news, birds fly north for the summer and water is wet.

His occasion for the surprise-free explanation is the Twitter-mobbing of Peter Tatchell and Mary Beard for signing an open letter about free speech and no-platforming.

How do we explain this tirade of abuse against someone I would describe as the grandfather of gay rights if I wasn’t [weren’t] worried that the use of such a gender-specific title might earn me a tsunami of online abuse? Why are people so incredibly thin-skinned? I think it’s down to the politics of identity. I think the more we’ve made the personal political, the more we define our social and political outlook with reference to what’s in our underpants or what colour our skin is, the more we experience every criticism of our beliefs as an attack on our very personhood, our souls, our right to exist. The problem here is the terrifying wrapping together of the biological and the political, the packaging up of the accident of your gender or race or sexuality with your political persona, to the extent that debate itself comes to be seen as a form of hatred, a ‘phobia’.

Fascinating, and yet – I can’t help noticing he’s not subject to any of the particular forms of hatred he is so magisterially looking down on. [Read more…]

The nightmare continues

Another horrendous piece of news – from Tom Porter at the International Business Times (which so far seems to be the only English news outlet reporting it) –

Isis supporters call for Charlie Hebdo survivor Zineb el-Rhazoui to be murdered by terrorist lone wolves

So that’s appalling.

Isis supporters have called for lone wolf terrorists to target Franco Moroccan cartoonist Zineb el-Rhazoui, who survived the attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last month.

Thousands of supporters of the jihadist group have tweeted under the hashtag translated as #MustKillZinebElRhazouiInRetaliationForTheProphet, reports Vocativ, posting her personal details, pictures of her husband and sister, and a map showing places she had visited taken from her Facebook account, as well as pictures of Isis beheadings.

Money has also been offered in reward for information on her or her husband’s homes or places of work, reports

What can we do. Murderers can defeat us, because they’re happy to murder.

Talk about free speech but don’t mention Raif Badawi

See update at the end.

Chris Stedman wrote a public Facebook post a couple of days ago about a little misunderstanding between him and the people at The National, an English-language newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates. They invited him to write an opinion piece.

I decided to use this opportunity to look at what I think are the most constructive aspects of a UAE-sponsored UN resolution that calls for interfaith dialogue, free expression, and the open debate of ideas.

I would still rather see more secular dialogue (which of course religious people can perfectly well engage in) than interfaith dialogue (which excludes non-religious people). But if the UAE is a fan of free expression and the open debate of ideas that has to be a good thing. Maybe they can exert some pressure on their neighbors to let Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu al-Khair out of prison.

Oh wait. [Read more…]

A week in blasphemy

The IHEU provides a great roundup of blasphemy and anti-blasphemy news, The week in blasphemy.

One item I haven’t yet flagged up here –

In Egypt, a student Sherif Gaber, was sentenced on Monday to a year in prison for making “atheist” Facebook posts in 2013 on the charge of “contempt of religion”.

“Sherif Gaber, 22, was studying at Suez Canal University in 2013, when teaching staff and fellow students reported him via a petition to the institution’s President. They said he had made posts supporting atheism on Facebook, and suspected him of being behind a page called ‘The Atheists’. [Read more…]

The international outrage and pressure was so overwhelming

Another Friday with no lashes for Raif Badawi – and no freedom either, and no relief from the horrible suspense, no relief from the horror of 950 lashes still hanging over him.

The Toronto Star talked to Elham Manea.

“He’s been imprisoned for (about) 1,000 days for doing nothing but expressing an opinion. It’s very unjust,” Manea told the Star.

“I think the international outrage and pressure was so overwhelming that in the end, it wasn’t possible to continue with (the lashes),” Manea said.

She added that Badawi’s supporters are waiting to see if the transfer of his case to a Saudi criminal court two weeks ago will help secure his release. “If not, the campaign will continue.” [Read more…]