No Jaipur Literature Festival for you

Yesterday Praveen Swami reported that

Local intelligence officials in Rajasthan invented information that hit men were preparing to assassinate eminent author Salman Rushdie in a successful plot to deter him from attending the Jaipur Literature Festival, highly placed police sources have told The Hindu.

I didn’t post about it yesterday only because it was a little thin (and it’s absolutely extraordinary), so I decided to wait.

Now Salman Rushdie has said on Facebook and Twitter:

I have investigated this myself and am now convinced that the story is true. I was lied to by the Rajasthan authorities, and don’t know when I have felt so angry.

Staggering. So much for secular India.

The organisers have refused to hand over the tapes

The police are still policing the writers who read from The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur festival yesterday.

A day after author Salman Rushdie made it clear that he would not be coming to India, alleging that he was told that underworld hitmen were out to get him, the raging debate at the Jaipur Literature Festival is still on. The police have now asked for the tape recordings of author Amitava Kumar reading out excerpts from Mr Rushdie’s controversial book – Satanic Verses – which is illegal in India. The organisers of the event, however, have refused to hand over the tapes. [Read more…]

Muscle v truth and humour

Salman Rushdie stayed away from the Jaipur Literary Festival because of threats. So, defying the organizers of the festival, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar read from The Satanic Verses, then Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi joined them.

And then what happened? According to Stephanie Nolen, South Asia correspondent for the Globe and Mail, who is at the festival and tweeting from and about it, the four writers are being investigated by the police. Since she tweeted that from the festival, it must mean that the cops were “investigating” the writers up close and personal, right then and there. [Read more…]

Are you now or have you ever been an Islamophobe

The UCL Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society put out a statement today. They’re tired of the whole thing and don’t want to talk about it any more.

What makes a student society is the ability to be open, foster community and – most importantly – encourage critical debate. The principal objective of our Society is to maintain a sceptical view on everything, be it astrology, numerology or theism. I am personally a strong believer of freedom of speech and I believe that it is a vitally important freedom to maintain. Freedom of speech guarantees the space for intellectual discourse, and in that space, people should be able to say what they want, without being afraid of censorship on the grounds of offence.

In other words – thank you so much for your valuable input, Ahmadiyya Male Muslim Youth Association UK, but we’ll take it from here. We would actually like to run our organization in a way that fits with our reasons for belonging to it in the first place rather than according to your reasons for wanting to kick up a fuss. We’re terrifically grateful for your energetic – indeed, truth be told, rather insistent – offers to help, but we think we know better how to run our own organization than you do. We would draw your attention to that lack of input from us on how you should run your organization; there’s a reason for that.

By our publication of this image there was no intention to offend and i am sorry to hear that people took personal offence when viewing it. However, ‘offence’ was certainly inadequate grounds for the removal of the image to be requested by the UCL Union. Their policies need clarification to prevent this same situation from arising in the future.

Yes they do.

Meanwhile, in case anyone’s blood pressure should fall dangerously low, the LSE Students Union has leapt into the breach created by the UCL ASH’s retirement. The LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society has also put out a statement.

Today we were contacted by the LSE Students Union to “discuss some of the issues around recent postings on facebook etc.”

We think this might have to do with the accusations of “Islamophobia” that were levelled against us during Thursday 19th Union General Meeting after some “Jesus and Mo” cartoons were posted on our facebook group and Marshall Palmer posted an article on his blog about the cartoon controversy at UCL.

Any accusation of “Islamophobia” against the LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society are baseless. We will be meeting SU officials tomorrow 20th to discuss this issue.

And so the secret police continue their vital work.



More from the bully boyz

And then we drop in on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association UK – which is actually not a “youth association” at all because it addresses members as “Brothers,” so clearly it’s only for male youth. Anyway we drop in on it and find its views on how to get more deference and obedience from people who don’t share its religious commitments.

You should all now be aware that we have been running a campaign over the past week in response to the decision take by Atheist Society of UCL to post a cartoon depicting the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the Holy Prophet Jesus (as) having a beer (God forbid) at a pub frequented by some of the UCL students.

To defend the honour of our beloved Prophets, a press release was issued along with a number of articles. Our message to the UCL Atheist Society was simply that they should use their right to ”freedom of speech” in a responsible way which demonstrates both tolerance and respect. [Read more…]

History has told us that these things cause offence

The president of UCL’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society, Robbie Yellon, has stepped down to be replaced by former vice president Michael Thor. Yellon quit because of all this mishegas about the Jesus and Mo image.

“Robbie stepped aside because he signed up as president to organise events and run a student society,” said Michael Paynter, secretary for the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies.

“He did not appreciate the stress he would be under when dealing with a controversy like this, so he wanted to make way for someone else.”

A small but no doubt pleasant victory for the shit-stirrers. The BBC goes on to make the shit-stirrer case. [Read more…]

Behold, theocracy in action

Ann Marie Waters on last night at Queen Mary College.

This week I was due to give a talk to students at Queen Mary College, London on sharia law and human rights. Rather fittingly – and as if to prove my point – my human rights were quashed by a person demonstrating one of the effects of sharia law; the threat of violence for criticising religion.

Or to put it another way, both are instantiations of theocracy. Both are what you get when you have theocracy. You get god-centered everything, with humans expected to obey the imagined god slavishly and harsh punishments if someone thinks god is being defied.

Just before I was due to start, a young man entered the lecture theatre, stood at the front of the room with a camera and proceeded to film everyone in the audience. That done, he informed us that he knew who we were, where we lived and if he heard a single negative word about the Prophet, he would track us down. (I am told he made further threats as he left the building). [Read more…]

“If I hear that anything is said against the holy Prophet Muhammad”

Yesterday evening, One Law for All Co-Spokesperson Anne Marie Waters was to speak at a meeting on Sharia Law and Human Rights at the University of London. Maryam continues:

It was cancelled by the atheist group organisers after police had to be called in due to Islamist threats. One Islamist filmed everyone at the meeting and announced he would hunt down those who said anything negative about Islam’s prophet. Outside the hall, he threatened to kill anyone who defamed the prophet. Reference was made to the Jesus and Mo cartoon saga at UCL.

The University’s security guard – a real gem –arrived first only to blame the speaker and organisers rather than those issuing death threats. He said: ‘If you will have these discussions, what do you expect?’ [Read more…]

He annoyed the religious sentiments of Muslims in the past

Now to look at each one in more detail, though not calmly.

Protests from “influential Muslim clerics” in India have prompted the organizers of a literary festival in Jaipur to take Salman Rushdie’s name off the list of speakers. He was scheduled to speak at three events during the five day festival.

The BBC explains in the way it invariably does.

Mr Rushdie sparked anger in the Muslim world with his book The Satanic Verses, which many regard as blasphemous. [Read more…]

1 shut up. 2 shut up. 3 shut up.

Damn. Things have gone crazy – so crazy that it’s hard to keep up. Just to give you the bare list –

Salman Rushdie

will miss the opening day of the Jaipur literary festival, organisers say, after protests by influential Muslim clerics in India.

A talk on sharia and human rights

organised by the Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society at Queen Mary, University London, had to be cancelled after threats of violence. The talk was due to be given by Anne Marie Waters of the One Law For All campaign, which campaigns against the use of Sharia in the UK.

Rhys Morgan was

called into a meeting with his head of year at his sixth form college, about the Jesus and Mo cartoon. He reports being harassed at school and being ostracized for posting the cartoon. He was later called in again to be told that they were considering expelling him if he didn’t take the cartoon down.

According to Rhys on Twitter a few minutes ago, they weren’t considering it; it was a certainty: take it down or you’re out.

Details to follow.