Those who are wanted by their countries of origin

Malaysia today is defending its extradition of Hamza Kashgari back to Saudi Arabia where he could easily be executed for saying he has questions about Mohammed.

International rights groups have slammed the deportation but Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia was not a safe haven for fugitives.

Jiddah-based newspaper columnist Hamza Kashgari, 23, was detained Thursday at the Malaysian airport while in transit to New Zealand. He was deported Sunday despite fears from rights groups that he may face the death penalty if charged with blasphemy over remarks he tweeted that many considered offensive.

“I will not allow Malaysia to be seen as a safe country for terrorists and those who are wanted by their countries of origin, and also be seen as a transit county,” Hishammuddin said.

“Those who are wanted by their countries of origin” is it. What if they are “wanted” by their countries of origin for being gay? For being critical of their government? For leaving the religion of their parents? For marrying without the permission of their parents? For not wearing the hijab? For using an electrical switch on “the sabbath”? For laughing at the wrong moment? For not bowing low enough?

Is there any reason too stupid, too vicious, too trivial, for a country to “want” people and Malaysia to obey that “want”?

Probably not, given the profound triviality and viciousness and stupidity of Saudi Arabia’s reasons for “wanting” Kashgari.

He said the deportation followed a request from the Saudi government. Allegations that Kashgari could be tortured and killed if he was sent back home are “ridiculous” because Saudi Arabia is a respectable country, he said.

Oh is it. Is it really. Tell that to foreign domestic workers there. Tell it to people executed for “adultery.” Tell it to women arrested for driving cars. Tell it to convicts sentenced to having their hands and feet amputated. Tell it to everyone who has been hassled by the Mutawwa’in.

Local rights group Lawyers for Liberty said Kashgari arrived in Malaysia on Feb. 7 from Jordan and was leaving the country two days later to New Zealand to seek asylum when he was detained.

“The cold hard truth is that Malaysia has bent over backwards to please Saudi Arabia, breached international law by not allowing (Kashgari) to seek asylum and instead handed him on a silver platter to his persecutors,” it said.

For shame, Malaysia.

Free Hamza Kashgari

You know the drill – same old same old. Join this Facebook group. You know the media report it when causes get big support on Facebook, so join. I added a few people, because you can’t just invite any more – but I’m shy about adding because it seems so presumptuous, so if I neglected to add you, add yourself. And all your friends. Don’t be shy!

And sign the petition.

And say harsh things about Malaysia as well as Saudi Arabia.

At Maryam’s place

Maryam’s post on the Free Expression Rally is up.

So is her post on Malaysia’s outrageous deportation of Hamza Kashgari.

Malaysia’s home ministry has said that ‘The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities’. Which basically means that any asylum seeker or refugee must be returned as it is a case for the government in question!?

Maryam is kept very busy by all these attacks on our right to say what we think.

Tragic failure of education

Via the LSESU ASH Facebook page and later via Alex Gabriel, a poster advertising an event put on by the LSE Socialist Worker Student Society. It reads:

Religious discrimination is irrefutably on the rise at LSE. Both the Atheist Society’s efforts to publish inflammatory “satirical” cartoons in a deliberate attempt to offend Muslims, and the ‘Nazi themed’ drinking games serve to highlight a festering undercurrent of racism. [Read more…]

“Open to all” does not mean “pleasing to all”

The LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society issued a statement yesterday.

It starts with thanks for support from various groups (including One Law for All) and a chronology of the exciting events of the last couple of weeks, the first being an invitation from the SU to come in for a chat.

Friday 20th

In the meeting, the LSESU advanced that we were not providing a safe space for Muslim students to interact, as the pictures on our Facebook page were offending Muslims.

But again – why is an Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society expected to provide a safe space for Muslim students to interact? Why is that an issue? Are all student societies expected to provide a safe space for their own opposites to interact? Wouldn’t such an expectation render all student societies utterly meaningless and void? Or is it only the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society that is expected to do that? But in that case…why the fuck?

On the 25th the SU clarified this point somewhat:

When activity comes under the banner of the Student’s Union it should be open to all members…….. The images which are posted there present a clear barrier to entry for a large number of students at LSE……. the cartoons has caused not only reflects negatively on the LSE SU brand but more importantly has caused significance offence to our members.

So there we have the fundamental confusion: the confusion of being open with having no “barriers” when barriers are understood as “anything some students might dislike.” The activity is open to all members, but that doesn’t require it to be attractive to all members. At that rate there could be no musical society, because some people dislike music; there could be no socialist society, because socialism would “present a clear barrier” to free-market libertarians; there could be no feminist society, for reasons which there’s no need to spell out.

ASH made the same point crisply in response to the SU:

Disagreeing and even being offended by some of the contents of a social space do not represent a barrier to entry.

It must be dispiriting to be at university with people who have to be told that.

January 30th

We asked the SU to “cite the relevant literature that shows conclusively that “Muslim students cannot look at pictures of the prophet Muhammad”.” No answers received.

The LSESU Socialist Workers Society posted the posters on campus that included the following statement:

“The Atheist Society’s efforts to publish inflammatory “satirical” cartoons in a deliberate attempt to offend Muslims serve to highlight a festering undercurrent of racism.”

Budding George Galloways, all of them.

…we have now changed the name of the Facebook group back to “LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society”.

During the two weeks of the on-going investigation, the LSESU has not been able to justify their request to remove the ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoons from our website and their request to change the name of our Facebook group with reference to the LSESU constitution or bye-laws.

The SU answered our letter, but was still unable to state explicitly the effective and binding bye-laws on which their request has been based. Therefore, we are back to our old name, and will stay with our name until the SU can prove to us that we are in violation of any of their regulations or bye-laws.

We await further developments.


Taslima’s readers and fans

Taslima Nasreen has a lot of tweets about the cancellation of (or move outside of) her book launch in Kolkata. News media have been quoting her tweets, so I might as well do a few too. (How nice it would be if she had a blog.) She is getting plenty of support. The bullies don’t have a monopoly, by any means.

Wow! Veiled girls buying & reading my books. I hope they would soon remove their veils & start living w dignity.

Dhaka: Eminent writer Syed Abul Maksud holds Taslima Nasreen’s autobigraphy books ‘Nirbasan’ at Ekushe Boimela.

One from twelve hours ago:

Dhaka Book Fair in Muslim Majority Bangladesh now successfully launched my book. Kolkata Book Fair in Muslim minority India could not.

More publications that will uphold love for truth

Now it’s Taslima Nasreen’s turn.

Taslima Nasreen has faced protests at the launch of her latest memoir, with an event at the Calcutta Book Fair cancelled. Ms Nasreen is not at the event, and tweeted that her publisher was forced to launch the book outside the hall.

It would be nice if she had a blog. Twitter is all very well, but a blog gives a person room to move. I do think Taslima Nasreen should have a blog. [Read more…]

Treason and offending

How not to understand free speech.

The case of a cartoonist charged with treason and offending India’s national sentiments reflects a growing debate over what constitutes freedom of expression in India. His accusers argue that while it is permissible to make fun of politicians, you cannot make fun of the state.

That’s how, right there. No no no, that’s entirely wrong. Yes you can make fun of the state. The state and the church or mosque are right at the top of the list of things you must be able to make fun of in order to have free speech at all. If free speech applies just to things that don’t matter, then it’s not free. [Read more…]

Richard, Nick, Salman, Ayaan

Richard Dawkins has a response to “Froborr.”

Ok I’m lying, he doesn’t really, but it might as well be. Plus it’s a response to all the “oh won’t you please think of the poor fragile believers?” wails that keep being wailed.

Actually he’s talking specifically about the Jaipur Festival (where he was one of the speakers) and Salman Rushdie and Nick Cohen’s new book – but he’s also talking generally, as is only natural, since all of those items have wide implications. [Read more…]