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31st January   

Update: Justice Dying in Afghanistan...

Afghan death sentence for blasphemy supported in upper house
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

Free Pervez!The upper house of the Afghan parliament has supported a death sentence issued against a journalist for blasphemy in northern Afghanistan.

Pervez Kambaksh was convicted last week of downloading and distributing an article insulting Islam. He has denied the charge.

The UN has criticised the sentence and said the journalist did not have legal representation during the case.

The Afghan government has said that the sentence was not final. A government spokesman said recently that the case would be handled "very carefully".

Now the Afghan Senate has issued a statement on the case - it was not voted on but was signed by its leader, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, an ally of President Hamid Karzai. It said the upper house approved the death sentence conferred on Mr Kambaksh by a city court in Mazar-e-Sharif. It also strongly criticised what it called those institutions and foreign sources which, it said, had tried to pressurise the country's government and judiciary as they pursued people like Kambaksh.

 

31st January   

Two Faces of Malaysia...

Malaysian book censors ban 11 books about islam
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia bans islamic books

The Two Faces of Islam bookMalaysia has banned 11 books for allegedly giving a false portrayal of Islam, such as by linking the religion to terrorism and the mistreatment of women.

The government ordered the books, most of them released by U.S. publishers, to be blacklisted earlier this month because they are not in line with what we call the Malaysian version of Islam, said Che Din Yusoh, an official with the Internal Security Ministry's publications control unit.

Some of them ridicule Islam as a religion, or the facts are wrong about Islam, like associating Islam with terrorism ... or saying Islam mistreats women, he said. Once you mention something which is not correct, it's not proper.

The banned books include eight English-language ones, such as The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and its Role in Terrorism, Secrets of the Quran: Revealing Insights Into Islam's Holy Book and Women in Islam. There are also three books written in the local Malay language.

Government authorities regularly review the contents of books and publications that could have sensitive material, mostly regarding religion and sex, Che Din said.

 

31st January   

Update: Lynch Mob Mentality...

Muslims murder wrong man for blasphemy
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas

Pakistan flagIslamic extremists have murdered a Pakistan man after mistaking him for his brother who had been accused of blasphemy against Islam.

Simon Emmanuel was the brother of Younis Tasadaq, who was imprisoned in 1998 on charges that he had committed blasphemy against Islam. Due to pressure from human rights organizations, however, Tasadaq was released and fled to the United States in 1999. Last year, he decided to visit his ailing mother, and when certain extremist Muslims found out about his arrival, they decided to kill him. At midnight on January 9, 2008 a group of extremists arrived at the house where Tasadaq was staying and shot his older brother to death, mistaking him for Tasadaq.

The Pakistan police in the area attempted to cover up the shooting by treating it as a suicide case and did not register a case against the killers.

 

30th January   

Update: I Don't Believe in Blasphemy...BUT...

Archnutter of Canterbury proposes Blasphemy II
Link Here

Rowan WilliamsThe Archnutter of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called for new laws to protect religious sensibilities that would punish “thoughtless and cruel” styles of speaking.

Williams, who has seen his own Anglican Communion riven by fierce invective over homosexuality, said the current blasphemy law was “unworkable” and he had no objection to its repeal ...BUT... whatever replaces it should “send a signal” about what was acceptable.

This should be done by stigmatising and punishing extreme behaviours that have the effect of silencing argument.

The Archbishop, delivering the James Callaghan Memorial Lecture said it should not just be a few forms of extreme behaviour that were deemed unacceptable, leaving everything else as fair game.: The legal provision should keep before our eyes the general risks of debasing public controversy by thoughtless and, even if unintentionally, cruel styles of speaking and acting.

Dr Williams said: It is clear that the old blasphemy law is unworkable and that its assumptions are not those of contemporary lawmakers and citizens overall. But as we think about the adequacy of what is coming to replace it, we should not, I believe, miss the opportunity of asking the larger questions about what is just and good for individuals and groups in our society who hold religious beliefs.

Dr Williams was criticised by the National Secular Society who accused him of promoting self-serving and dangerous ideas. Terry Sanderson, president, said that the Archbishop’s speech was a blatant pitch for new legislation to replace the blasphemy laws that the Government are planning to scrap.

The Government is at present consulting the Church of England about its plans to repeal the blasphemy laws before introducing the changes when the Criminal Justice Bill is in committee stage in a few weeks.

It is as if the prolonged and widespread debate on the recently-introduced religious hatred legislation had never happened, said Sanderson. Dr Williams takes us right back to the beginning with his special pleading for the protection of religious feelings – in other words, another form of blasphemy law that would be even worse than the one we’re about to ditch.

Sanderson pointed out that the Racial and Religious Hatred Act – which had been under consideration for five years - was now on the statute book. It was enacted only after a great deal of bitter dispute between religious interests and those who feared for free speech.

There is also now in law a concept of religious aggravation that can be applied to some public order offences. It carries a potential prison sentence of seven years. This is draconian and extreme by any measure – and now the Archbishop appears to want something else.

Sanderson said that the Archbishop appeared in his speech to be making excuses for those who rioted about the Salman Rushdie case and threatened the author with death. He also seems to think that those who created lethal street protests over the Danish cartoons had a point. The Archbishop’s speech is, at base, self-serving and dangerously illiberal,” Mr Sanderson said. “We certainly hope that the Government is not now going to bring forward something even more extreme as a quid pro quo for abolishing blasphemy.

Comment: Interpretation

31st January 2008

From MediawatchWatch see full article

Owing to the Archbishop’s opaque style of discourse, it is unclear whether or not Times reporter Ruth Gledhill is correct in her interpretation of his James Callahan Memorial Lecture. Other reports, from more overtly religious sources, do not put the same spin on it.

This appears to be the section which has led the Times to shout that he is calling for new legislation. It’s not quite there, is it? Williams said:

"It is clear that the old blasphemy law is unworkable and that its assumptions are not those of contemporary lawmakers and citizens overall. But as we think about the adequacy of what is coming to replace it, we should not, I believe, miss the opportunity of asking the larger questions about what is just and good for individuals and groups in our society who hold religious beliefs".

Whichever way you look at it, he was talking drivel.

 

30th January   

Update: Provocative Art...

Danish museums would like to preserve the Mohammed Cartoons
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Danish flag being burntDenmark's national library is to risk re-opening an international political storm by housing the cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad that provoked violent convulsions throughout the Islamic world two years ago.

The royal library in Copenhagen has declared the drawings to be of historic value and is trying to acquire them for "preservation purposes".

The library, widely acknowledged as the most significant in Scandinavia, has agreed to take possession of the caricatures on behalf of the museum of Danish cartoon art, a spokesman told the Art Newspaper.

Negotiations with the artists behind the 12 cartoons are said to be at an advanced stage. Several have agreed to donate the works for nothing but the museum may have to buy some of them. One has already been sold to a private buyer.

Jytte Kjaergaard, a spokeswoman for the library, said they were unlikely to be displayed publicly and insisted the decision was not intended to be controversial: We are not interested in an exhibition, we are interested in them being kept safe for future generations because they have created history in Denmark. This is the obvious place to keep them because we have all the security measures in place.

It would be very difficult for a private person to come in and sabotage them because to see them for research purposes you will need a letter of consent from your university professor. They will be treated like any rare book.

The library does not expect to have to pay large sums for the cartoons, after Denmark's main auction houses declined to handle any proposed sale.

However, another Danish museum has expressed interest in including the cartoons in an exhibition about freedom of expression. Ervin Nielsen, the director of the Danish media museum in Odense, said: If the library acquires them, we would like to show them together with media reports about the publication and the protests against it.

He said the feature would also cover the violent aftermath of the cartoon controversy. As we would document the incidents around the publication and not simply show the works, I do not expect strong reactions. We do not want to provoke, but inform.

Kasem Said Ahmad, spokesman for the Danish Muslim Society, which headed the original campaign against the cartoons, called the library's decision a "provocation" but said his organisation would ignore it as part of its new strategy. We will not be holding any demonstrations as we got nothing from the Danish courts when we tried to sue the newspapers. We will ignore all provocations in future.

 

30th January   

Budweiser Fans Protest...

Buddhists whinge at beer name
Link Here

Isaan BeerRepresentatives from the Isan Buddhism and Culture Promotion Network and several other groups in Northeast Thailand called on the company to change the name of the beer to avoid tarnishing the reputation of northeastern people.

They said the name Isan Beer could lead to a misunderstanding that northeastern people of Thailand, fondly called Isan people, are obsessed with drinking alcohol.

Such a misunderstanding, they claimed, could be deep-rooted to become a negative value for the younger generation and detrimental to the society and culture of the region.

They submitted an open letter to Khon Kaen governor and Boon Rawd Brewery executives to demand a change of the name. They also asked the company to stop advertising its product in the media as well as supporting cultural events in the province.

Should the company ignore their protest, they said, they would gather signatures of one million protestors to further submit their demand to the government.

 

30th January   

Justice for Bilkis Bano...

Prosecutions for anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat
Link Here

India flagBilkis Bano was living quietly as the pregnant, uneducated wife of a Muslim cattle trader. Then a Hindu mob gang-raped her and burnt 13 relatives alive.

Six years on, the frail, softly spoken mother has become a symbol of courage for Muslims and women across India after battling the system to bring her attackers to justice.

A special court in Bombay sentenced 11 Hindu men to life in prison this week for their roles in Ms Banu’s ordeal – one of the most notorious atrocities of the anti-Muslim riots that engulfed the western state of Gujarat in 2002.

The court also jailed a policeman for three years for falsifying evidence at the trial, which is seen as a test case for thousands of other victims of the riots – especially those who were raped. It refrained from using the death penalty and acquitted seven others, including five policemen accused of destroying evidence by burying Ms Bano’s relatives with salt to make their bodies decompose faster.

Ms Bano hailed the judgment as a victory for India’s 148 million Muslims and vowed to continue her struggle until the seven other suspects were convicted: This judgment does not mean the end of hatred that I know still exists in the hearts and minds of many people . . . but it does mean that somewhere, somehow, justice can prevail. This judgment is a victory not only for me but for all those innocent Muslims who were massacred and all those women whose bodies were violated because, like me, they were Muslims.

About 2,500 people, mostly Muslims, were burnt, beaten or hacked to death in the violence that began in March 2002 after 59 Hindu activists died when their train caught fire in the town of Godhra. Hindu groups blamed a Muslim mob for the fire, although an inquiry later found that it was an accident.

The Supreme Court also found that Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist chief minister of Gujarat, was complicit in the violence, comparing him to Nero, who played his lute as Rome burnt.

 

30th January   

Update: Religions of Peace...

Hindus beat up Christians
Link Here  full story: Hindus vs Christians...Tragic rivalry between hindus and christians

India flagSix Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) extremists stormed a house church, abducted two Christians and severely beat them onJanuary 17 in Madhya Pradesh state’s Rewa district.

Brandishing swords, knives, tridents and sticks, the alleged members of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal arrived on three motorbikes at a house church prayer meeting in Pathigaon village and began forcing Vijaya Kumar Maurya and Keera Lal to come with them to a police station, said the Rev. Augustine Jebakumar of GEMS, an indigenous Christian organization.

Other believers said they would like to accompany Maurya and Lal to the police station, at which point the Hindu extremists beat the two Christians, took them to a jungle, and beat them again.

 

29th January   

Separate Queues for Nutters Please...

Separate Supermarket queues for the sexes in Malaysia
Link Here

Malaysia flagIrked at shoppers who blatantly ignore the decade-old ruling for males and females to pay at separate check-out counters in supermarkets and department stores, Nik Aziz has called for stricter enforcement.

The Kelantan chief also ordered the local municipal council to slap compounds of up to RM1,000 on errant operators who failed to advise their customers to queue accordingly.

Errant shoppers, however, will be spared.

The directive takes effect immediately. As for families who do not want to be separated during the process, Nik Aziz said another counter could be set up for them.

Nik Aziz said although supermarket and department store operators had introduced separate check-out counters following the ruling in 1996, they had failed to ensure that their customers obeyed the ruling.

Speaking at a press conference later, Nik Aziz said the ruling on separate check-out counters for men and women was necessary to curb social ills among young couples who, among others, smooched openly. It would also prevent perverts from groping women while queuing up at the counters.

We want to nip the problem in the bud. Other shoppers are hesitant to step in and tell these people off for fear of being reprimanded. We want to instil the understanding that men and women cannot rub shoulders. By segregating the shoppers by their genders, these problems can be avoided and there will be less cases of adultery, pre-marital sex and rape.

Since there are more female shoppers, there are more counters for them but they can still use the counters for families. Males, however, must pay at their designated counter, he said.

 

29th January   

Forced Marriage and Honour Crimes...

Home Affairs Select Committee consultation
Link Here

Stop Honour KillingsA public consultation into domestic abuse, forced marriage and "honour crimes" is to be launched by UK MPs.

The six-week online inquiry by the Home Affairs Select Committee hopes to gain testimony from survivors of all forms of physical and psychological abuse.

Responses will help the committee formulate recommendations to ministers on how to tackle the issues.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, said domestic violence - whether by a relative, spouse or partner - constituted about 15% of all violent crime: Huge numbers of women and men are affected daily by these crimes. Yet their voices are not often enough heard. We want to listen to those who have experienced domestic abuse and forced marriage, since they know better than anyone else what works and what doesn't. What they say in the consultation will help us decide our recommendations to the government."

The consultation will run from 21 January to 29 February and all responses will be confidential and anonymous.

 

28th January   

Honour Killing Integrated into Religion...

Integrating too well in Berlin
Link Here

Stop Honour KillingsDeath came for Hatun Surucu at a cold bus stop here in Berlin three years ago. The 23-year-old was the sixth Muslim woman murdered by a relative in Berlin in as many months for being "too Western."

Hatun had divorced a cousin she had been forced to marry by her Turkish-Kurdish family when she was 16. She had stopped wearing a headscarf and was living with her 5-year-old son independent of her family. She was training to become an electrician and dating German men.

That last detail was probably why her (then) 18-year-old brother killed her.

He allegedly bragged to his girlfriend about what he'd done. One can only wonder at the patriarchal irony: bragging to his girlfriend about killing his sister for having a boyfriend. He was sentenced to prison for nine years and three months.

As for the Said sisters, 17-year-old Sarah and 18-year-old Amina, death found them on New Year's Day in the back of their father's taxi cab, where he left them after shooting them. Family members say their Egyptian-born, Muslim father was given to fits of violence, threats and gun-waving rants about how Western culture was threatening the chastity of his daughters.

When Muslims in the West are not in the headlines for the latest terror threat, they are scrutinized for how poorly they are integrating into their respective societies.

But these Muslim girls and women were murdered by their relatives for integrating too well. Others will die until there is a difficult resolution about Muslim girls and women that for too long has been denied and hidden beneath layers of knee-jerk defensiveness.

 

27th January   

Update: Allah Trademarked...

Malaysia seizes children's books that contain the word 'Allah'
Link Here  full story: Oh My God...Only muslims can use the word Allah in Malaysia

Malaysia flagAdding to the furor over whether non-Muslims have the right to use the word “Allah” in their publications and religious practice, it is reported that officials confiscated English-language Christian children’s books because they contained images of prophets.

The government reportedly said Internal Security Ministry officials confiscated the books because their illustrations of prophets offended the sensitivities of Muslims. Islam, which shares some prophets in common with Christianity, prohibits the portrayal of prophets.

Enforcement officials of the Publications and Al-Quran Texts Control Department under the Internal Security Ministry reportedly confiscated the books from three bookstores in Johor Bahru, Senawang and Ipoh in mid-December.

The books have been sent to the department’s headquarters in Putrajaya for investigation. Managers of the MPH bookstores reportedly said they will wait for the Internal Security Ministry’s decision on the books.

In a statement released on January 17 , the Rev. Dr. Hermen Shastri, general-secretary of the Council of Churches Malaysia questioned how the books could be offensive to Muslims when they were not meant for them. In the strongly worded statement about the seizures, Shastri said government officials have no right and have overstepped their bounds by confiscating Christian literature.

He urged the prime minister and his Cabinet to take immediate action to put a stop to such seizures and to amend administrative rules and regulations especially in the Internal Security Ministry that give a free hand to enforcement officials to act at their whim and fancies.

At the same time, the debate over whether non-Muslims can use the word “Allah” in publications and religious practice was stoked when the Internal Security Ministry told the Sun on January 16 that it had confiscated a total of 163 publications comprising 18 titles from bookshops nationwide.

A ministry official told the daily that the seizures were made because the word “Allah” was used in the books. But Deputy Internal Ministry Minister Johari Baharum reportedly said that the ministry did not target Christian books.

 

27th January   

Update: Unauthorised Best Seller...

Tom Cruise book is selling well to Australia
Link Here  full story: Scientology Censors...Scientogists quick to litigate against critics

Tom Cruise: An Unaurthorised BigoraphyAn underground market for the new unauthorised Tom Cruise biography has sprung up on auction site eBay, with Australian buyers willing to pay a significant premium for the book.

There were dozens of auctions for Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography - many offering multiple copies - and bidders willing to pay up to $61.50. The book is available on Amazon.com for about $30, including shipping.

The book is now number one on the Amazon best-seller list.

It will not be printed in Australia and US distributors have now said they will no longer export the book, by British author Andrew Morton, outside the US and Canada.

But eBay sellers are getting around the ban on the book by having partners make bulk retail purchases in the US.

We've got two shipments coming, the first is 150 books," said a man selling the books on ebay, Wojtek: We're buying multiples of 100 at a time. The demand is quite substantial, we need to get in as many as we can as quick as possible.

 

26th January   

Update: Wilders' Wind Up...

EU security concerns about release of Geert Wilders' film
Link Here

Geert WildersEU justice ministers have expressed concern about a far-right Dutch lawmaker's plan to make a potentially inflammatory film about the Koran, ministers and officials have said.

They said that Dutch justice officials had raised the issue at informal talks in Slovenia, and had called for EU support, amid concern that the short film could reignite tensions with Muslims after the Danish cartoons affair.

It would, of course, have important repercussions for other countries of the European Union as well, Luxembourg Justice Minister Luc Frieden told AFP, on the sidelines of the talks: It is our moral duty to call upon everybody, to make people aware, so that they do not abuse their fundamental rights of freedom of expression: We must also protect those who may be hurt or harmed by irresponsible statements.

Far-right deputy Geert Wilders has been in the spotlight since he announced in the Netherlands in November that he plans to make a short film to show that Islam's holy book is "a fascist book" that "incites people to murder".

Dutch observers fear that Wilders will burn or tear up the Koran in it.

It remains unclear if and when the movie will be shown. Wilders told Saturday's edition of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that it would be several weeks yet, after earlier giving a date of the end of January.

De Telegraaf said it had viewed some rushes from the film: The opening shot shows to the left the cover of the Koran, and to the right the words 'Warning: this book contains shocking pictures'. Then images such as a decapitation in Iraq, a stoning in Iran and an execution in Saudi Arabia, where sharia (Islamic law) is applied are shown, it said.

In another twist to the story, Wilders' party spokesman said the lawmaker would take legal action against a clip circulating on the Internet where a poster with his picture is riddled with bullets.

Wilders has been under heavy police protection since the 2004 murder of Dutch director and columnist Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh was killed by a radical Muslim after he directed a film criticising the position of women in Islam.

Numerous Islamic associations have already urged Muslims in the country to stay calm and not allow themselves to be provoked.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said the Netherlands is ready to act quickly if the film causes unrest, and stressed that "provocations" have no place in the Dutch tradition of tolerance.

 

26th January   

Vulgar Whinging...

US catholics whinge at performance of Jerry Springer: The Opera
Link Here

Jerry Springer: The Opera DVDUS Catholics are calling for the cancellation of Jerry Springer – The Opera in Concert scheduled for performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City on January 29 and 30.

The controversial production is being opposed by The American TFP and its America Needs Fatima campaign. The group’s web site, www.tfp.org, is asking its readers to voice their concern by signing an e-mail protest addressed to Mr. Sanford Weill, Chairman of the Carnegie Hall Board of Directors.

The e-mail message states: The show is vulgar beyond description and is an egregious display of blasphemy. Over 82% of America is Christian. Millions feel insulted by this show.

We’re hoping Carnegie Hall will just cancel the show and avoid becoming a center for the promotion of blasphemy and indecency, said TFP spokesman Robert Ritchie. The show mocks everything Catholics hold sacred: the crucifixion, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The Annunciation is described as a rape. Nudity and profanity abound and Catholic beliefs are ravaged.

 

26th January   

Update: Blasphemy Against Human Rights...

UN not impressed by Afghan death sentence for blasphemy
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

Free Pervez!The United Nations has called on Afghanistan to review the case of an Afghan journalist sentenced to death this week for blasphemy, saying it had doubts about whether the trial had been fair.

An Afghan court sentenced Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, a reporter with the Jahan-e Now daily paper, to death on Tuesday after he was found guilty of blasphemy.

The pressures for punishment, warnings to journalists, as well as the holding of this case in closed session without Mr Kambakhsh having legal representation point to possible misuse of the judicial process, Bo Asplund, chief UN representative in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

Afghanistan’s constitution commits it to upholding Islamic and universal human rights values, which are clearly compatible. We urge a proper and complete review of this case as it goes through the appeals process.

 

26th January   

Update: Atheism Banned in Turkey...

Atheist website blocked by court order
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Gagged at protestToday we got a letter from the head of the number one Turkish atheist site which has been removed by the Turkish government twice. Once under the original domain and again under another domain. Unfortunately, the owner is unable to fight this in court because to do so, he would have to identify himself which, if you're familiar, will end up resulting in his head being chopped off by the peaceful and loving Muslims who work for Allah. If you speak Turkish and you are an atheist please support this site:

Ateizm.org , the most prominent non-profit Turkish web site on atheism and religions was closed for the second time in December 2007, under orders from a Turkish court. Ateizm.org was established in 2000 by three young Turkish atheists who devoted themselves to the enlightenment of Turkish people. Ateizm.org hosts an online discussion board named Ateistforum, one of the busiest forums for the Turkish speaking online community over the Internet.

Many aspects of Ateizm.org are considered to be revolutionary for Turkey. First time in the history of Turkey every conceivable aspect of Islam is being openly, scientifically, honestly and courageously discussed and criticized. Over the years many thousands of articles appeared in the forum, many of which referred to the verses of Koran and Hadits. With the possible exception of Ilhan Arsel and Turan Dursun's studies, Koran had never been criticized in Turkey so much before. In addition to these short communications, numerous satires, short stories, poems, comments and lengthy articles were published. A few years after the inception of Ateizm.org, a separate science forum was established and started to enlighten young Turkish minds.

During its lifetime Ateizm.org was hacked three times and experienced some serious hosting problems. We survived all of them with flying colors and started over wherever we had left. Last year, however, our web site encountered a different and more ominous kind of problem. In June 2007, without warning, our web site was closed to its Turkish audience with a court order based on a legal action taken by a Turkish creationist named "Adnan Oktar" (now widely known by his pen name "Harun Yahya"Eye-wink. Since ateizm.org was hosted in the US, it remained accessible from abroad, but inaccessible to its main audience in Turkey. If we hired a lawyer and challenged the court order, we probably would have won our case. But we do not want to disclose our identities. This is our biggest weakness. According to our lawyer, there is no way to take a legal action in Turkey and remain anonymous at the same time. Many Turkish intellectuals who were against Islam and outspoken about their views on religion were murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in the past. We do not want to risk our lives.

Since we were unable to challenge the court order, we chose to change our domain name to Ateizm1.org and remained in operation. We continued to bitterly criticize a Turkish creationist organization called "Science Research Foundation" ("Bilim Arastirma Vakfi" or "BAV"Eye-wink and its honorary president Harun Yahya. In December 2007 Ateizm.org (then called Ateizm1.org) was closed to Turkish audience for the second time by another court order.

During 2007 Turkish Telecom has been busy blocking access to many other web sites(*), including YouTube, but they had to back off from YouTube ban due to public outrage.

We know that if Turkish media or Turkish Government is criticized in Europe or US, they listen and pay more attention to it. Becoming a full member of the European Union is crucial for Turks, therefore whenever issues related to democracy, freedom of speech, human rights and alike are raised in the West, they are taken seriously, sometimes even addressed by the government, particularly if the issue is something that affects Turkey's image or credibility in the West. Therefore it is vitally important that we find prominent international allies eager to support our cause by publicizing this issue as much as possible. We need a lot of noise!

Some of the web sites blocked by Turkish Telecom in 2007:

mfipb.com
antoloji.com
calinmisgenclik.com
calinmis-genclik.com
sozluk.sourtimes.org
gizliweb.com
19.org
superpoligon.com
adnanoktar.com
cevaplar.wordpress.com
yahyaharun.com
adnanoktar.wordpress.com
bilimvedin.blogspot.com
cevaplar.wordpress.com
kisiselgoruslerim.blogspot.com
ateizm.org

 

25th January   

Appealing Humour...

Continuing French court case over Mohammed cartoons
Link Here

Charlie Hebdo special editionPhilippe Val, the editor of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo who was acquitted last year of charges of “offending Muslims”, was back is court yesterday on the same charges.

The Paris Grand Mosque accepted the March 07 ruling, but it was appealed by the Union of Islamic Organisations of France and later by the Saudi-based World Muslim League.

The verdict is expected next month.

The Muslim associations aimed to show that reprinting the cartoons was a provocation equal to anti-Semitic acts or Holocaust denial which are banned under French law.

The weekly Charlie Hebdo, which put out a special edition with the cartoons, argued religions are not beyond criticism and letting Muslims censor the media would curtail a basic right.

 

25th January   

Update: Super Easily Offended...

Malaysian censors beat their chest
Link Here

Fasil TahirA Private Malaysian television station 8TV has been banned from broadcasting live and delayed telecast concerts for three months.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said it has also imposed a ban on artiste Faizal Tahir for live or delayed concerts aired by other TV stations for the same period.

MCMC corporate communications department director Muhamad Tahir Muhamad Noor said in a statement that the rulings, following an investigation into the live Rockin' Birthday Concert by 8TV on Sunday where Faizal bared his chest

He said 8TV had failed to comply with conditions for a live and delayed telecast: The commission found the artiste’s act was intended without taking into account the sentiments and sensitivities of the viewers and public values.

During the Rockin' Birthday Concert, Faizal, a former member of nasyid group Mirwana, took off his shirt, exposing his body painted with an “S” in red.

 

25th January   

Delayed Offensive...

Dutch security concerns about release of Geert Wilders' film
Link Here

Geert WildersA politician has warned that a "fear of Islam" is governing Holland after he delayed the release of a short film attacking the Koran.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, who compares the Muslim holy book to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, sparked government panic after saying the anti-Islam film would be released tomorrow.

As Dutch police prepared for a weekend of riots and Wilders was told by the authorities that he would have to leave country, he launched a new attack on "intolerant" Islam while announcing that his 10-minute film attacking the Muslim faith would be postponed for two weeks.

Iran's parliament, the Majlis, this week warned of extensive repercussions from Muslims throughout the globe if the film was broadcast.

 

25th January   

Info-Ethics...

Pope would like to impose religiously distorted ethics on the media
Link Here

Pope  BenedictPope Benedict XVI has said the media were too often used irresponsibly to spread "violence and vulgarity" and impose "distorted models" of social and family life. He urged the world's communicators instead to adopt what he called "info-ethics".

In a message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Communications Day, Pope Benedict said the media often sought to create reality rather than report it, with agendas dictated by "the dominant interests" of the day. This is what happens when communication is used for ideological purposes or for the aggressive advertising of consumer products. When communication loses its ethical underpinning and eludes society's control, it ends up no longer taking into account the centrality and inviolable dignity of the human person he said.

He added For this reason it is essential that social communications should assiduously defend the person and fully respect human dignity. Many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for 'info-ethics', just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life. He said the media in order to attract listeners and increase the size of audiences, do not hesitate at times to have recourse to vulgarity and violence and overstep the mark.

He praised new media such as the internet, which were changing the very face of communications, but said they were often misused. A new "info-ethics" would help to prevent the media from becoming spokesmen for economic materialism and ethical relativism, the true scourges of our time, and from being exploited for indiscriminate self-promotion or ending up in the hands of those who use them to manipulate consciences.

 

24th January   

The Abomination that is Westboro Baptist Church...

Nutters to picket Ledger funeral
Link Here

Westboro Baptist picketA radical Kansas-based church plans to protest actor Heath Ledger's funeral over his Academy Award-nominated role in Brokeback Mountain.

The Westboro Baptist 'Church' in Topeka claims Ledger died and is in Hell because he played a gay cowboy in the critically acclaimed Ang Lee film.

The church released a statement the same day as the star's death, quoting a Bible passage that states, Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.

 The group reportedly also plans to picket the Academy Awards this year.

 

23rd January   

Blasphemy as Intimidation...

Afghan student sentenced to death for supposed blasphemy
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

Free Pervez!A court in Afghanistan has sentenced a local journalist to death for blasphemy.

Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, was arrested on October 27 for allegedly distributing material he downloaded from the Internet and deemed offensive to Islam among fellow students at northern Balkh University.

Based on the crimes Perwiz Kambakhsh committed, the primary court yesterday sentenced him to the most serious punishment which is the death penalty, Balkh province deputy attorney general Hafizullah Khaliqyar told AFP.

The reporter's brother and fellow journalist Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi told AFP that Khaliqyar had threatened to arrest journalists who 'support' Kambakhsh at a media briefing where officials defended the arrest of the reporter.

Ignoring the threats, journalists were gathering outside Ibrahimi's house to organise a 'possible' protest.

Ibrahimi said the trial was held behind closed doors and without any lawyer defending him.

Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders appealed to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to intervene. We are deeply shocked by this trial, carried out in haste and without any concern for the law or for free expression, which is protected by the constitution, Reporters Without Borders said: Kambakhsh did not do anything to justify his being detained or being given this sentence. We appeal to President Hamid Karzai to intervene before it is too late.

The group said Kambakhsh was supposedly arrested because of a controversial article commenting on verses in the Koran about women, although it has now been established that he was not the article's author. It seems more likely that the charges were a pretext meant to intimidate and stop his brother from reporting about the plight of women.

Kambakhsh has the right to appeal to higher courts.

 

23rd January   

Update: What Human Rights?...

Canadian editor quizzed about publishing Mohammed Cartoons
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in Canada...Canada's Human Rights works against free speech

Canadian Human Rights CommissionWatch Ezra Levant, editor of the Canadian Western Standard, put up a robust defence of his right to publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons.

He was scandalously called to account for himself by the Alberta Human Rights Commission. See him tell them off:

Here’s a transcript from his opening statement:

For a government bureaucrat to call any publisher or anyone else to an interrogation to be quizzed about his political or religious expression is a violation of 800 years of common law, a Universal Declaration of Rights, a Bill of Rights and a Charter of Rights. This commission is applying Saudi values, not Canadian values. It is also deeply procedurally one-sided and unjust. The complainant – in this case, a radical Muslim imam, who was trained at an officially anti-Semitic university in Saudi Arabia, and who has called for sharia law to govern Canada – doesn’t have to pay a penny; Alberta taxpayers pay for the prosecution of the complaint against me. The victims of the complaints, like the Western Standard, have to pay for their own lawyers from their own pockets. Even if we win, we lose – the process has become the punishment.

 

23rd January   

Update: Converting to Repression...

Judging Egypt by its unjust judges
Link Here  full story: Religious Intolerance in Egypt...Court challenge over imposing islam on ID cards

Egypt FlagMohammed Higazi is lucky that he was not present in an Egyptian courtroom on Tuesday. An Islamic fundamentalist lawyer made death threats against the Egyptian for converting to Christianity. To the dismay of Higazi's lawyer the judge made no objection.

What made matters even worse, the judge went so far as to express his loathing off the accused because he had converted. There was no verdict but the judge vowed that he would never let Higazy be registered as a Christian. He defended his decision by saying that Islam is the principal religion in Egypt. No mention was made of the freedom of religion established in the constitution which is a fundamental right of all citizens.

Higazy and his pregnant wife have been hiding for months at a secret location. He is the first convert who is attempting to get a judge to change the faith on his identity card from Muslim to Christian. Egyptian identity cards must report the faith of the holder. While freedom of religion exists theoretically, in practice Muslims are not allowed to change their religion in the municipal register.

When Higazy's wife, who is also a convert, became pregnant last year he decided to make the change official. Otherwise my child will automatically be registered as a Muslim. However, his application was rejected.

Higazi's lawyer Ramsis el-Naggar, who specialises in conversions, says there is no freedom of choice in Egypt, unless you're a Muslim. His law firm now represents some 400 converts. Most of his clients were originally Christian, for one reason or another converted to Islam, and now want to return to Christianity. Sometimes his clients are people who regret that they changed their faith. However, many times his clients are the victims of government bureaucracy, such as children whose Christian fathers became Muslims.

So far El-Naggar has only achieved success in cases in which he could prove the person had never changed faith. In 2004 he won for the first time in the case of Mira Makram. Her husband had converted to Islam in 2002 and had forced her to sign a statement confirming that she had converted to Islam. Her religion was changed to Islam in the register without her knowledge. After two years of legal proceedings.the judge ordered that the change be rectified. Fundamentalists called for the death of Mira Makram.

 

22nd January   

Update: Unauthorised Unauthorized Biography...

Amazon.com won't export Tom Cruise book
Link Here  full story: Scientology Censors...Scientogists quick to litigate against critics

Tom Cruise: An Unaurthorised BigoraphyThe publishers of Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography have told US Amazon not to send the book to customers from outside of the USA and Canada.

The following notice has now appeared on the page detailing the book:

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Publisher has authorized the distribution of this book only to customers within the United States and Canada.

However good old eBay has no problems getting this book to people outside North America.

It seems that a fair few enterprising individuals have bought stocks in the US and are distributing them via eBay.

 

21st January   

Stopping FGM...

Good progress towards a law against FGM in Kurdistan
Link Here

Stop FGM campaign logoThese are busy times for Pakhshan Zangana. Head of the women's caucus in the Iraqi Kurdish parliament in Arbil, she is on the verge of pushing through a piece of legislation that is the first of its kind in the Middle East — a law criminalizing female genital mutilation (FGM). 68 out of 120 deputies signed our bill, so we could have got it passed by ministerial decree, Zangana says. But law-making is the job of parliament, and we want everybody to debate this issue openly." The bill received its first reading on Dec. 3 and is likely to be passed by February.

Affecting up to 90% of women in Egypt, Sudan and Somalia, FGM is widely seen as an African phenomenon. But it also happens to a lesser extent throughout the Middle East, particularly in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq.

If the Iraqi Kurds are leading the way today, it is partially thanks to a handful of local women's organizations that have struggled for greater awareness of the issue since the early 1990s. But the real breakthrough came in 2005 when WADI, a German non-governmental organization, published the results of its survey of 39 villages in the Germian region, east of Kirkuk.

Of 1,554 women and girls aged older than 10 interviewed by WADI's local medical team, over 60% said they had undergone the operation. Larger surveys completed since show the practice is prevalent among local Arabs and Turkmen, as well as Kurds. The surveys provide the first solid statistics on a tradition which — while practiced relatively openly in parts of Africa — is so veiled in secrecy here that brothers are often unaware their own sisters are affected.

 

20th January   

Historical and Religious Nonsense...

Bishop whinges at Corpus Christi play
Link Here

Corpus Christy bookAustralian nutters have condemned a play shortly to open in Sydney depicting Jesus as a gay man who is seduced by Judas. The play also features Jesus conducting a gay marriage between two apostles.

The play, named Corpus Christi, is due to open next month as part of the city's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

A senior Sydney churchman called the play historical nonsense. It is deliberately, not innocently, offensive and they're obviously having a laugh about it, Robert Forsyth, Anglican bishop of South Sydney, was quoted saying.

The play's director Leigh Rowney, who claims to be a Christian, accepted the play would offend some Christians but said he was keen to provoke debate about Christianity.

Playwright Terrence McNally, who is gay, received death threats when the work was performed in the United States, the Sun-Herald reported.

 

20th January   

America's Most Wanted Honour Killer...

On the run in Texas
Link Here

Stop Honour KillingsA man on the run from police since his teenage daughters were found shot to death in a taxicab on New Year's Day had threatened to hurt one of the girls for dating a non-Muslim boy.

Amina Said, 18, and her sister Sarah, 17, were found after one of the girls called 911 from a cell phone and said she was dying. A capital murder warrant has been issued for Yaser Said, 50, who has not been seen since the Lewisville High School students were found dead.

Gail Gattrell, the sisters' great-aunt, has called the deaths an "honor killing".

The police documents also show that Patricia Said fled with her daughters in the week before the girls were killed because she was in "great fear for her life."

The police department on taped a segment for America's Most Wanted in hopes of finding him.

 

19th January   

Update: Belarus Bollox...

Belarus editor given 3 years for publishing Mohammed cartoons
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Danish flag being burntMinsk City Court in Belarus have imprisoned Aleksandr Sdvizhkov, an editor at the now-shuttered independent weekly Zgoda (Consensus) newspaper, for reprinting controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006. Sdvizhkov was charged with “incitement of religious hatred” and sentenced to three years in a high-security prison.

Sdvizhkov was arrested on November 18 and his trial began on January 11 in Minsk, according to local news reports. He was tried behind closed doors.

Aleksei Korol, Zgoda’s former editor-in-chief, told CPJ he was shocked by the sentence given to his former colleague. The court ruling is disproportionate to his actions, said Korol, adding that Zgoda’s staff apologized to the Belarusian Muslim community at the time.

Belarusian Islamic leader Ismail Voronovich said he wanted authorities to reprimand the journalist, not jail him. I thought that this case was closed and the newspaper was back working.

Sdvizhkov reprinted the controversial cartoons in Zgoda in February 2006, prompting authorities to begin an investigation into possible “incitement of religious hatred”; a month later, the paper was shuttered. Sdvizhkov fled Belarus to avoid imprisonment and returned last November to attend his father’s funeral. While in the country, the Belarusian Security Service arrested him.

 

18th January   

Anti Islamic Islamic Terrorists...

Government rename terrorists and propose to ban their websites
Link Here

Home Office logoMinisters have adopted a new language for declarations on Islamic terrorism. In future, fanatics will be referred to as pursuing "anti-Islamic activity".

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that extremists were behaving contrary to their faith, rather than acting in the name of Islam.

Security officials believe that directly linking terrorism to Islam is inflammatory, and risks alienating mainstream Muslim opinion.

In her first major speech on radicalisation, Smith repeatedly used the phrase "anti-Islamic". In one passage she said: As so many Muslims in the UK and across the world have pointed out, there is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorise, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief. Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic'.

The strategy emerging across Government is to portray terrorists as nothing more than cold-blooded murderers who are not fighting for any religious cause. Al Qaeda inspired terrorism is instead being described by key figures as "more like a death cult".

Last night the Home Office stressed that no phrases have been "banned". But senior Whitehall sources have made it clear that the "war on terror" and "Islamic extremism" will not be used again by people at the top of Government or those involved in counterterrorism strategy.

In her speech, Smith said extremists who use the internet to radicalise young children would be pursued in the same way as paedophiles.

The Home Secretary described the internet as a key tool for the propagandists for violent extremism. Let me be clear: the internet is not a no-go area for government.

In the next few weeks, I will be talking to industry and, critically, those in the community about how best to do this - and how best to identify material that is drawing vulnerable young people into violent extremism. Where there is illegal material on the net, I want it removed.

Illegal material will be tracked down and removed using tactics already deployed against online paedophiles. Those guilty of grooming youngsters for terrorism could face prosecution under incitement laws.

Smith said: If we are ready and willing to take action to stop the grooming of vulnerable young people on social networking sites, then I believe we should also take action against those who groom vulnerable people for the purposes of violent extremism

Her plans also include a new unit to sift through intelligence gathered by police and security agents. The unit will be told to identify, analyse and assess not just the inner circle of extremist groups, but those at risk of falling under their influence.

There will also be measures to restrict extremist material in libraries and galleries.

Meanwhile, internet service providers said that it was not their job to police the internet for offensive comment. They said they worked with charities such as the Internet Watch Foundation which monitored the web for such content and blocked access to sites hosting illegal content where possible, but that censorship was a job for the authorities.

If we spent time searching the web's millions of pages for extremist content then we'd do nothing else, Jody Haskayne, a spokesperson for Tiscali, said. It's not an ISP's job to censor the internet.

 

18th January   

Insulting Faith in Humanity...

Islamic intolerants seek death of Afghan blasphemers
Link Here

Afghanistan flagThe media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RsF) has called on Kabul to save an Afghan journalist whom religious leaders want executed and release a man under arrest for publishing a Koran in translation.

RsF said the Council of Mullahs had called for death for Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a journalism student at Balkh University in northern Afghanistan, for writing articles about the role of women in Islam that they said insulted the Muslim faith.

The calls for the death penalty for Kambakhsh highlight the growing influence of fundamentalist groups on intellectual debate, it said in a statement.

RsF also appealed for the release of Ghaus Zalmai, who was arrested in November for publishing the Koran in the local language Dari (Afghan Persian) which, according to the religious leaders, misinterpreted verses about adultery and begging.

The translation into Dari sparked an emergency debate in parliament and protests in at least two parts of the country. Muslims consider the Koran in Arabic as the literal word of God.

Parliamentarians have even accused him of being 'worse than Salman Rushdie', RsF added.

 

18th January   

No Honour in Warrington...

Unlawful Killing of girl refusing arranged marriage
Link Here

Stop Honour KillingsA coroner this morning returned a verdict of unlawful killing on a Muslim teenager who vanished from home after refusing an arranged marriage, saying she was the victim of a "very vile" murder.

Ian Smith, East and South Cumbria coroner, said the way Shafilea Ahmed's body had been hidden in a riverbank miles from home convinced him she was murdered, and said she probably died shortly after going missing.

After the verdict Cheshire Police vowed to continue investigating the death of the "beautiful and vulnerable young girl" until the killer or killers had been brought to justice.

Miss Ahmed, 17, disappeared four months after being taken to Pakistan by her parents to meet a potential husband. She refused to go ahead with the ceremony and even drank bleach in protest.

Her inquest heard she regularly suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her parents and was terrified about being forced into marriage.

The inquest heard that early in 2003 she ran away from home, only to be coaxed back on the promise she would not be taken to Pakistan. However, that trip went ahead and she was introduced to a suitor, but refused to go ahead with any wedding.

In September, Miss Ahmed, who wore western clothes and wanted to be a solicitor, disappeared from her home in Warrington, Cheshire.

Her parents, Iftikhar and Farzana, were arrested on suspicion of kidnap, and other members of her family were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. All were released without charge.

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, head of the Muslim Parliament in Britain, has called on his community to rise up against a culture of fear and help stamp out forced marriages and honour killings after the third high-profile court case in Britain in the past year.

Update: Parents charged with murder

10th September 2011. See article from dailymail.co.uk

The parents of suspected honour killing victim Shafilea Ahmed have been charged with their daughter's murder -- eight years after she disappeared.

Shafilea, 17, went missing from her home in September 2003 after complaining that her parents were trying to force her into an arranged marriage.

Her parents Iftikhar Ahmed and his wife Farzana were initially arrested on suspicion of kidnapping their daughter in December 2003. They were questioned by police but were released in June 2004 without charge when the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was insufficient evidence against them.

The couple were re-arrested on suspicion of murder in September last year but have always denied any involvement in their daughter's disappearance or death.

The charges are believed to have come after fresh evidence was handed to police by Shafilea's sister, Alisha, who was two years younger.

 

17th January   

Impossible Censorship...

Scientologists litigate to get Tom Cruise Video off YouTube
Link Here  full story: Scientology Censors...Scientogists quick to litigate against critics

Tom Cruise: An Unaurthorised BigoraphyScientologists are attempting to block the spread of a video clip in which Tom Cruise zealously espouses his faith in the church.

If you're on board, you're on board, just like the rest of us, he tells those of wavering faith. We are the authorities on getting people off drugs, we can rehabilitate criminals and unite cultures.

Cruise's emotional testimonial is accompanied by a guitar riff playing the theme from Mission: Impossible. Cruise, a Scientologist for 20 years, has recently emerged as one of the controversial church's most outspoken proselytisers. Some suggest that the actor has been elevated to one of the highest echelons of the secretive church, cryptically known as OT-VII.

Apparently meant for Scientologists' eyes only, the video is a nine-minute testimonial in which Cruise, wearing a black polo neck, encourages Scientologists to practise their faith relentlessly.

Infamously litigious, the Church of Scientology has been busy firing off lawsuits alleging breach of copyright wherever the video pops up, notably on YouTube and Google Video. Unfazed by potential legal issues, a number of gossip websites are busy re-posting the controversial video as soon as it disappears.

On Gawker.com, Nick Denton wrote: It's newsworthy, and we will not be removing it.

So far, the church is having little success in keeping the video off the internet, and as soon as it is taken down it pops up somewhere else. Not unlike the movie and music industries, the Church of Scientology is constantly battling with websites to prevent unauthorised distribution of its intellectual property.

 

17th January   

Repression Dressed as Morality...

Chechnya dictate headscarves
Link Here

BurkhaThe authorities in Chechnya are engaged in a drive to revive and institutionalise Chechen national repressive values, with instructions issued from on high telling women what they should and shouldn’t wear.

Outside the entrance to the Youth Chamber in the Chechen capital Grozny hangs a new sign saying: Women without headwear not allowed in the building. Similar signs have appeared outside many other government buildings.

The Press House got its signpost with similar wording last month, but changed it a week later for a slightly politer one saying: Women are respectfully asked to observe national dress traditions.

Either way, though, the rules are being strictly enforced – the security guards refuse to allow women in if they are not wearing headscarves, whether they are guests or are employed by the press ministry or one of the newspapers located in the building.

The dress code for women is just part of a wider campaign launched late last year to promote morality and the revival of national traditions, after pro-Moscow president Ramzan Kadyrov spoke out on the issue on a number of occasions.

On one visit to the Chechen State University in Grozny, Kadyrov appeared unhappy at the un-Chechen-like way students were dressed.

Now female students are not admitted to classes at the State University unless they are wearing dresses rather than other forms of clothing, while their male counterparts have to wear ties.

Professor Baudin Bakhmadov, dean of the law faculty, and a supporter of the move: The new rules impose discipline on the students and require them to adopt a more respectful attitude towards study. Introducing such rules is conducive to respect for the traditions of the Chechen people and for Muslim standards.

 

16th January   

Muggles and their Religions...

Vatican newspaper whinges at Harry Potters
Link Here

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows bookAn article in the Vatican’s official newspaper has condemned JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books for posing a danger to children by promoting witchcraft and the occult.

In a damning indictment of the bestselling books, among the most successful in publishing history, the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, has called the teenage boy wizard the wrong kind of hero.

Under the headline 'The double face of Harry Potter’, the lengthy article concludes: Despite the values that we come across in the narration, at the base of this story, witchcraft is proposed as a positive ideal.

The ends justify the means because the knowledgeable, the chosen ones, the intellectuals know how to control the dark powers and turn them into good.

This a grave and deep lie, because it is the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with a secret knowledge.

The characterisation of common men who do not know magic as 'muggles’ who know nothing other than bad and wicked things is a truly diabolical attitude.

 

15th January   

Grotesque Iran...

Human rights groups protest against Iran's barbaric punishments
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Stoning scene from filmIran's penal code lays down the size of stones crowds should use to bludgeon adulterers to death, Amnesty International has discovered.

This regulation is specifically designed to increase the suffering of the victims, according to an Amnesty report.

Article 104 of the Iranian penal code states the stones used should not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones.

Although Iran imposed a moratorium on such executions in 2002, two people were stoned to death in 2006 and one last year. Nine women and two men are under sentence of death by stoning. More women suffer this punishment because evidence from a man carries twice as much weight as a woman's in Iran's courts.

Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty UK, said: Execution by stoning is a grotesque penalty which the Iranian authorities should abolish immediately.

Meanwhile Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi's rights group have also protested against the amputation of hands and feet as a punishment in Iran, warning of "new dimensions" in rights violations.

Unfortunately, the violation of human rights in Iran has not only been expanded in some fields, it has also found new dimensions, the group of human rights lawyers led by Ebadi said in a statement.

In the past days, several criminals in the province of Sistan-Baluchestan were sentenced to the amputation of hands and legs for actions against security, it said. And the verdict has also been carried out.

 

13th January   

No Lesbianism in Egypt...

But a lesbian movie kiss winds up the nutters
Link Here

Egypt flagA lesbian sex scene in an Egyptian film has outraged religious scholars, who are telling people not to watch the 'sinful' movie.

An Islamic Studies professor at Cairo University wants the Egyptian authorities to prosecute the director and both actresses involved in the scene.

Dr Abdel-Sabour Shahin believes the film, Hina Maysara (Until Further Notice), promotes homosexuality and debauchery and destroys morality in society.

Muslim teachers at Al-Azhar University have also slammed the film and support Shahin's indignation. One professor at the University, Elwi Amin, claimed there was no lesbianism in Egypt. He also said that watching scenes of a sexual nature, whether homosexual or heterosexual, was a sin: Many people in Egypt do not even know what the word 'lesbianism' means. This is the influence of immoral Western culture which controls the media,

Director Khaled Youssef asked people to watch the film before they made up their minds: I will not respond to those who criticise without even watching the movie. Lots of people accuse me of apostasy and immorality based on seeing the film poster.

Although Egyptian law does not explicitly forbid homosexuality, the practice is considered taboo in what is a conservative and mostly Muslim country. The Egyptian government has been known for arresting homosexuals on the grounds of offences against public morals and sensitivities or violating the teachings of religion and propagating depraved ideas and moral depravity.

 

11th January   

Update: Unorthodox Coke...

Church images removed from Russian Coca-Cola
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols

Russian colaCoca-Cola's main Russian bottling distributor has removed religious images from its drinks refrigerators after a group of Russian Orthodox believers accused it of blasphemy.

Local people in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 400 km from Moscow, complained to the prosecutor's office last month about pictures of an orthodox cross and onion-shaped church domes on the outdoor refrigerators.

At the time, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. said it would not drop the marketing campaign and there had been no negative reaction in other Russian cities where similar images were used on the sides of the refrigerators.

Russia's tolerance towards Western influences has lessened, with the Kremlin's political rhetoric notably hostile to the United States, the birthplace of Coca-Cola.

I would assure people that we used these images to promote Russian culture and not to offend anybody's feelings, a spokeswoman said, confirming the company's decision.

She said it would take some time to remove the offending images from hundreds of outdoor sales refrigerators.

 

11th January   

Stony Grounds...

Afghanistan nutters gunning for Indian soaps
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Afganistan flagAfghanistan's spiritual guardians have discovered a dangerous new peril: Indian soap operas.

The Islamic Council of Scholars won the backing this week of a powerful government minister in its campaign to get dozens of wildly popular Bombay dramas off Afghanistan's television screens.

The Minister of Information and Culture has written to television executives to threaten prosecution if they show footage that offends morality. He is particularly concerned about Indian soaps.

His announcement came after dozens of clerics met President Karzai a week ago to demand a ban on shows that they claim are spreading immorality and un-Islamic culture. The dramas have won thousands of devotees in Afghanistan who enjoy the escapist world of the fictional Bombay rich. Anywhere else, the family dramas with wooden acting and creaking sets would be thought tame. They have, however, offended the country's new moral enforcers, who fear that the soaps will fuel a craze of “stone worship”, or veneration of Hindu idols.

The enforcers are also urging the Government to take action to get a young generation of rappers and pop stars off air. The old men accuse the musicians of polluting the nation's moral standards and they have chastised Afghans who watch television when they could go to the mosque.

Saad Mohseni, the director of Tolo TV, said: We have so many problems in this country - kidnapping, terrorism, inflation - so why is the Government making a big deal about something which is pleasing to the eyes and ears of most Afghans?

 

11th January   

Islam Dressed as Secularism...

Camp TV falls victim to declining tolerance in Turkey
Link Here

The Petulant VirginFor more than 30 years a cross-dresser with a razor-sharp wit and a merciless tongue has won the affection of millions of Turks. And his success on television has been vaunted as evidence of the tolerance of Turkey's unique mix of Islam and secularism.

But for the past year Huysuz Virjin (the Petulant Virgin) has been replaced by his less exotic self, Seyfi Dursunoglu, in a show aired on a private television channel. The 76-year-old entertainer claims to have been forced to trade in his trademark blonde wig, silk stockings and sexy gowns for more conventional male garb after Turkey's broadcasting watchdog, the RTUK, put pressure on television stations to ban cross-dressing.

RTUK denies such censorship. But Dursunoglu insists that he is the victim of a creeping conservatism that he believes has infected the country ever since the mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) party came to power five years ago. Although he was allowed to appear in drag for a special new-year programme, he says that as a performer, I am no longer as free.

 

11th January   

Immoral Church...

Catholics oppose safe sex
Link Here

Patrick O'DonoghueThe Vatican has backed a Roman Catholic bishop who has told Catholic schools in his diocese to reject "safe sex" education because it is "dangerous and immoral".

The Bishop of Lancaster, the Rt Rev Nutter Patrick O'Donoghue, said in a document calling for traditional moral teaching that "so-called" safe sex was based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against Aids.

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, the secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, said in a letter that the document was fully in line with Vatican teaching.

However, Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP who chairs the influential Commons committee on schools, said he feared that it presaged a new fundamentalism among some Catholic bishops, encouraged by the Vatican.

 

11th January   

Low Caste Humanity...

Man accused of killing his daughter after she married below her caste
Link Here

Stop Honour KillingsA suburban Chicago man is accused of setting an apartment fire -- killing his pregnant daughter, her husband and their young child -- because the son-in-law didn't seek permission for the marriage, prosecutors said.

Subhash Chander from Illinois, was ordered held without bond on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of intentional homicide of an unborn child and one count of aggravated arson.

Prosecutors allege Chander used gasoline to start the fire late Saturday. The India native told police he disliked his son-in-law because he belonged to a lower caste and had married his daughter without his consent, said Cook County First Assistant State's Attorney Robert Milan.

His son-in-law was beneath him in his opinion, Milan said.

 

10th January   

Modernisation or Repeal?...

Nutter Vaz talks of 'modernisation' of blasphemy law
Link Here

NSS logoThe Church of England gave a cautious welcome last night to the government's pledge to consult it before taking a final decision on repealing the ancient offence of blasphemy.

Downing Street's announcement that it is consulting the churches, particularly the Anglican church, before scrapping the offence came only hours before a Commons vote on the issue.

Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said the government had faced defeat: It is a pretty arcane law. It is old and unnecessary, and it does need to be modernised. What they need to do is bring that forward as quickly as possible. [if it is unnecessary why does it need modernising?...it needs repealing. I guess nutter Vaz is eyeing the chance to extend it to all religions]

A Church of England spokesman said last night it became clear last year during the debates on the crime of incitement to racial and religious hatred that the church was open to the idea of the blasphemy law being abolished. But first there has to be adequate time to assess the impact of the new legislation, he added.

The government has said it will introduce amendments to the criminal justice bill when it reaches the Lords if the consultations with the churches prove positive. I think it is right there is a proper process and a proper consultation before there is change in legislation, said a Downing Street spokesman.

Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP whose amendment to the criminal justice and immigration bill provoked the government move, welcomed the concession: As a result of the government's acceptance of the need to repeal ... Britain will no longer have an ... illiberal blasphemy offence and will be in a far better position to ensure respect for human rights in countries like Sudan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society said the blasphemy law was harsher now than when one of his predecessors was jailed for the offence in 1921: In a multicultural society no one should have the right not to be offended; we should protect people, not beliefs.

Don Horrocks of the Evangelical Alliance warned repeal would signal that protecting Jesus, God and the Bible was no longer regarded as so important.

 

10th January   

Registered as Incompetent...

Marriage registrar refuses gay partnership ceremonies
Link Here  full story: Religious Incompetents...Unable to do the job for religious reasons

General Register Office logoA marriage registrar has sparked a major legal challenge to the acceptance of gay weddings by refusing to carry out the ceremonies.

The woman, a devout Christian, is taking action against Islington Council, saying the civil partnership ceremonies she has been asked to perform are against her religious beliefs.

More than 300 gay couples a year have been tying the knot in the North London borough since the ceremony became legal in 2005 – but the unnamed registrar has refused to take any part in them.

Her stance has escalated into a full-scale dispute with her employers, who she is now taking to an employment tribunal, in the first case of its kind.

Last night Islington Council, which is now Lib Dem-dominated, confirmed the tribunal was pending and said: A claim has been made to an employment tribunal which Islington Council is defending robustly. The council does not intend to comment further.

 

10th January   

Update: Case Crossed Out...

BA not discriminatory over crucifix ban
Link Here

BA: Fly the CrucifixA British Airways worker who was suspended for wearing a cross around her neck to work has lost her case alleging religious discrimination.

Nadia Eweida took her case to an employment tribunal after complaining that a manager had banned her wearing the Christian symbol.

But the tribunal in Reading rejected her claim yesterday on the grounds that she had breached the firm's regulations without good cause. The tribunal, under its chairman, Robin Lewis, said yesterday: The complaint of direct discrimination fails because we find that the claimant did not, on grounds of religion or belief, suffer less favourable treatment than a comparator in identical circumstances.

Eweida, who turned down an offer of £8,500 from BA to settle out of court, said she was disappointed by the decision but would fight on. I'm speechless really because I went to the tribunal to seek justice. I cannot be gagged about my faith. It's not over until God says it's over.

Following the dispute, British Airways revised its guidelines and now allows a limited number of religious symbols to be worn.

Responding to the decision yesterday, BA said: We have always maintained that our uniform policy did not discriminate against Christians and we are pleased that the tribunal's decision supports our position.

 

9th January   

Young Wives Tales...

Kurd sentenced to 6 months for blasphemy
Link Here

Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam bookThe Kurdish author of Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam, who lives in Norway, was sentenced in absentia in Iraq to prison for blasphemy.

A court in Halabja sentenced Mariwan Halabjaee to six months behind bars for claiming in his book the prophet Mohammed had 19 wives, married a 9-year-old when he was 54 and committed murder and rape.

Halabjaee has been hiding out in Norway, where he has been granted asylum, for about 18 months.

The author of 14 books said he has received death threats and been told there is a fatwa demanding he be put to death unless he seeks forgiveness.

 

9th January   

Update: China Shows a Little Christianity...

Bible publisher released in China
Link Here  full story: Christianity in China...Restricting Christianity

Bible banChina Aid Association (CAA) has learned that Christian bookstore owner, Shi Weihan has been released on bail.

Chinese officials have decided against a formal trial for Shi, and criminal charges against him have been dropped.

Eyewitnesses told CAA that Shi was in good spirits and relatively stable physical condition. Shi's family members asked CAA to thank the international community for their "tireless efforts" in seeking his release.

Shi, and some of his colleagues, were detained for 37 days under charges of illegal printing and distribution of Christian literature.

Sources state that the Beijing Haidian District prosecution office assigned to Shi's case determined that they were unable to proceed with formal charges due to "insufficient evidence".

Regardless of the reason for Shi's unconditional release, it is evident that international attention and pressure on the case were instrumental in influencing the court's decision, said CAA.

 

9th January   

Divorced from Reality...

Testing validity of SMS divorce in Egyptian courts
Link Here  full story: I Divorce You...Easy divorce for men in muslim states

I Divorce You 3 times in smsAn Egyptian woman whose husband sent her a divorce declaration by text message is to take the case to court to find out if the separation is legally valid.

After missing a call from her husband on her mobile phone, Iqbal Abul Nasr said she received a text message from him saying I divorce you because you didn't answer.

Under Sharia (Islamic) law, men don't have to file for divorce through the courts, but need only issue a unilateral declaration, I divorce you, repeated three times, to end their marriage.

Ms Abul Nasr, an engineer from Cairo, had been sent two previous divorce text messages from her husband.

If the court declares the troubled couple divorced, theirs will be Egypt's first reported case of divorce by SMS.

The subject of text message divorce is much debated in the Muslim world, and the practice has been banned in several countries, including Malaysia.

 

8th January   

Parliamentary attempt to abolish blasphemy law...

Amending the Criminal Injustice Bill
Link Here

NSS logoThe Your help urgently needed

We have been working closely with our Honorary Associate Dr Evan Harris MP, who has identified an opportunity to challenge the blasphemy law in the House of Commons.

On Wednesday, 9 January, Dr Harris will table as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. Below is a letter we have been working on with him which will appear in the Daily Telegraph signed by a large number of other Honorary Associates and prominent supporters of the NSS as well as some other worthy names from a religious and other spheres.

The letter itself makes the case forcibly:

In the light of the widespread outrage at the conviction of the British teacher for blasphemy in Sudan over the name of a teddy bear we believe it is now time to repeal our own blasphemy law.

The ancient common law of blasphemous libel purports to protect beliefs rather than people or communities. Most religious commentators are of the view that the Almighty does not need the "protection" of such a law. We are representatives of religious, secular, legal and artistic opinion in this country and share the view that the blasphemy offence serves no useful purpose. Yet it allows small partisan organisations or well-funded individuals to try to censor broadcasters like the BBC and to intimidate small theatres, the printed media and book publishers.

Far from protecting public order — for which other laws are more suited — it actually damages social cohesion. It is discriminatory in that it only covers attacks on Christianity and Church of England tenets and thus engenders an expectation among other religions that their sensibilities should be also protected by the criminal law (as with the attempt to charge Salman Rushdie) and a sense of grievance among minority religions that they do not benefit from their own version of such a law.

As the Law Commission acknowledged as far back as 1985, when they recommended repeal, it is uncertain in scope, lack of intention is no defence and yet it is unlimited in penalty. This, together with its chilling effect on free expression and its discriminatory impact, leaves it in clear breach of human rights law and in the end no one is ever likely to be convicted under it.

The Church of England no longer opposes its abolition and the Government has given no principled reason to defend its retention. We call upon MPs to support the amendment proposed by Dr Evan Harris, Frank Dobson and John Gummer (tbc) tomorrow during the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill Report stage proceedings and for the Government — which rightly criticises countries like Sudan for their blasphemy laws — to give it a fair wind."

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, is backing the new cross-party attempt by MPs to abolish Britain's blasphemy laws. They are supported by figures including Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the former Bishop of Oxford. Other signatories to the letter include Philip Pullman, the author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Ricky Gervais and Richard Dawkins, the Oxford academic and atheist and Nick Hytner the director of the National Theatre.

If you support the abolition of blasphemy laws, we urge you please to write immediately to your MP, preferably by email, explaining you would like them to support Dr Harris's amendment on Wednesday and add in your own words why you think this is important. You could perhaps use some of the ideas in the above letter, but please do not reproduce them all.

It is best if you can to contact your MP by email – you can find out details if you don't know them from this website: www.theyworkforyou.com/mp This allows you to write to the correct MP by putting in your postcode. Whatever method you use to contact your MP, it is essential to include your name and full address.

If for any reason you would prefer to write by letter, you can send it by fax by phoning 020 7219 3000 and asking for the MPs office and requesting a fax number. Alternatively you could write to them at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, but in view of the urgency we would urge you to use email or fax if possible.

The NSS has been fighting for the abolition of blasphemy for the whole of its 140 year history. We have been working with Dr Harris on this important issue for some weeks including over the seasonal break assisting with research and soliciting the support of many influential individuals. We know you will want to add your support.

Please act straight away, there is very little time.

 

8th January   

Intolerance Marathon...

Bible publisher imprisoned in China
Link Here  full story: Christianity in China...Restricting Christianity

Bible banA Christian bookshop owner has been arrested in China for printing copies of the Bible.

Police seized Shi Weihan the owner of Holy Spirit Trading Company. He is accused of conducting "illegal operations" and remains in custody, more than a month after his arrest.

The police confiscated almost all of the Christian literature and Bibles stored in the home he shares with his wife, Zhang Jing, and seized all the books in his bookshop.

Ms Zhang said that, while the books in their shop were legally printed and sold in China, her husband privately published many Christian books and Bibles without authorisation and distributed them among local home churches: this was the reason for his arrest: He was worried about publishing these unauthorised books. But the church needed these books and so he felt it was a risk worth taking."

China Aid Organisation (CAA) says the country has launched a crackdown on unauthorised religious groups ahead of the Olympic Games. Shi's bookshop, in an upmarket office block, is less than two miles from the main Olympics venue.

With eight months to go before the Olympics, the government is taking great pains to paint itself to the international community as a country of religious tolerance. It says local Christian groups will be encouraged to hand out Bibles to athletes and spectators during the event.

The CAA says Shi is being held in an unheated cell and is subjected to sleep deprivation. Ms Zhang says she has been denied visitor rights to see her husband and so is "not clear" about his condition.

China detains thousands of members of religious groups every year; some 70 members of a Protestant home church in eastern Shandong province are still being held after their arrest in early December for taking part in an "illegal religious gathering," according to the CAA.

 

8th January   

Sozzled...

Methodists attempt to inflict their temperance nonsense on others
Link Here
Methodist Church logo

The Methodist Church has appealed to the Government to revisit 24-hour licensing laws in light of what it calls Britain’s “significant” binge drinking problem.

The Methodist Church’s Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, Anthea Cox, said: Christmas and New Year are a time when many people want to celebrate, and the majority drink sensibly.

But the last two weeks have shown that we have a significant problem with binge drinking and this has lead again to trouble for some drinkers and a rise in crime and casualty treatments.

We call on the Government to revisit licensing as well as encouraging initiatives that support people in responsible drinking and seeking alternatives to alcohol.”

 

7th January   

Update: Mohammed Masks...

Netherlands artist threatened by islamic intolerants
Link Here

Gay men with mohammed masksThe Dutch were debating the limits of freedom of expression last week after an artist who photographed gay men wearing masks of the prophet Muhammad was forced into hiding and her work removed from a museum exhibit.

Speaking on the telephone from an unspecified location in the Netherlands last week, the artist, an Iranian exile who goes by the pseudonym of Sooreh Hera, said she had been threatened with “execution”. She accused the director of the municipal museum in The Hague of cowardice for caving in to Muslim extremists.

Her story is a reminder of the tensions that have put the Netherlands and other European countries on the front line, sending dozens of people threatened by extremists into hiding since 2004, when a Dutch film-maker was murdered on the street and his collaborator driven into exile.

This leaves Hera, in no doubt that she is in real danger. They said to me, ‘We’re going to burn you naked or put a bullet in your mouth’, she said, referring to menacing e-mails: They say, ‘Now you are locked in your home and you cannot go out any more’.

She said that by photographing gay Iranian exiles in masks of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Ali, his son-in-law, she had wanted to expose a “hypocritical” attitude towards homosexuality in countries such as Iran, where men can be hanged for homosexual conduct: They condemn homosexuality but in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia it is common for married men to maintain relations with other men. Works of art can be provocative. It is not an artist’s job just to paint flowers. Art should shine a light on social issues.

The photographs were part of an extensive collection of images by Hera of mostly Dutch gay men. Another part of her exhibit was a video featuring hard rock music and images of Iranian clerics interspersed with pictures of naked men.

Wim van Krimpen, director of the museum, initially praised Hera’s collection of photographs as “exceptional”. Last month, however, he announced that the masked men could not be included in the forthcoming exhibition because certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive.

The museum director was very afraid, said Hera. He gave in to pressure from the Islamists. It is censorship. In protest, she withdrew the rest of her photographs from the exhibition and Ranti Tjan, director of a museum in Gouda, agreed to put them on show. He received threats from extremists and was under police protection last week. Hera declined to discuss her own security arrangements.

She said she would like to attend the opening of the show in Gouda if it went ahead, but that it might be too dangerous. There are times when I am very afraid, she admitted, times when I feel like a prisoner.

 

7th January   

Update: Time to Go...

Going into the no go area of criticising islam
Link Here  full story: From the Ghetto...Bishop Michael Nazir claims muslim no go areas

Bishop Nazir-AliReligious groups have demanded the resignation of the Bishop of Rochester after he claimed that Islamic radicals had turned parts of Britain into "no-go" areas for non-Muslims.

Mohammed Shafiq, from the Ramadhan Foundation, said: Mr Nazir-Ali is promoting hatred towards Muslims and should resign.

Ajmal Masroor, of the Islamic Society of Great Britain, said: It's a distortion of reality. Our communities are far more integrated than they were 10 years ago. If the Church of England had an iota of fairness they would take serious action.

But senior figures from the Church of England have backed the Bishop of Rochester's remarks about faith and said Christians in predominantly Muslim areas could feel isolated and nervous about how to express their belief.

The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev John Goddard, said his colleague had raised serious questions about the role of faith, race and culture in British society.

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, said it was becoming difficult for Christians to share their faith in areas where there was a high proportion of other faiths.

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, said: I don't think that view is factually correct. I'm not sure where these no-go areas are, I don't recognise that description.

 

7th January   

Proven Good Luck...

Soldiers wearing religious amulets are less likely to become prisoners
Link Here

AmuletAmulets consecrated by the late Thai monk, Luang Poo Jiam of Wat Intrasukaram, have become a compulsory uniform accessory for about 4,000 soldiers from Isaan deployed in Pattani. They have been ordered to wear the amulets at all times or face a punishment of three nights behind bars.

Maj-Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn, deputy commander of the 2nd Army Region and currently commander of the Pattani Task Force, said he had issued Luang Poo Jiam amulets to all the men in the four battalions deployed to the far South from the Northeast, and given strict orders that they wear them at all times.

It is not an unpopular order as amulets and Buddhist soldiers go hand in hand in the far South. Some soldiers have over 100 amulets with them. Wearing amulets gives them confidence and they believe a sacred object will protect them from danger. This amulet makes me feel safe even if I don't have a bulletproof vest, one soldier said.

Luang Poo Jiam was the abbot of Wat Intrasukaram in Sangkha district of Surin. He consecrated about 100,000 amulets shortly before he died two years ago at the age of 97. It is one of the most sought-after collections for people in the Northeast.

 

7th January   

Acting Against God...

Iran amputates hand and foot from 5 robbers
Link Here

Iran flagIran amputated the right hand and left foot of five criminals convicted of armed robbery and hostage-taking, the student ISNA news agency reported on Sunday.

The amputation, a legally permissible punishment in Iran, was carried out in the presence of doctors in the southeastern city of Zahedan, capital of the restive Sistan-Baluchestan province.

The men were found guilty of "acting against God" and "corruption upon this Earth" for taking part in the robberies and taking hostages.

The report did not say whether the punishment was carried out in prison or in public.

 

6th January   

Don't Go There...

Senior bishop talks of British no-go areas for non-muslims
Link Here  full story: From the Ghetto...Bishop Michael Nazir claims muslim no go areas

Bishop Nazir-AliIslamic extremists have created "no-go" areas across Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter, one of the Church of England's most senior bishops warns today.

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester and the Church's only Asian bishop, says that people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he compares the threat to the use of intimidation by the far-Right, and says that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christianity to be the nation's public religion in a multifaith, multicultural society.

His comments come as a poll of the General Synod - the Church's parliament - shows that its senior leaders, including bishops,also believe that Britain is being damaged by large-scale immigration.

In the Synod survey, to be published this week, bishops, senior clergy and influential churchgoers said that an increasingly multi-faith society threatens the country's Christian heritage and blamed the divisions on the Government's failure to integrate immigrants into their communities.

It found that more than one in three believe that a mass influx of people of other faiths is diluting the Christian nature of Britain and only a quarter feel that they have been integrated into society.

The overwhelming majority, 80%, said that the Government has not upheld the place of religion in public life and up to 63% fear that the Church will be disestablished within a generation, breaking a bond that has existed between the Church and State since the Reformation.

Bishop Nazir-Ali was criticised by Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain. He said: It's irresponsible for a man of his position to make these comments.

He should accept that Britain is a multicultural society in which we are free to follow our religion at the same time as being extremely proud to be British. We wouldn't allow 'no-go' areas to happen. I smell extreme intolerance when people criticise multiculturalism without proper evidence of what has gone wrong.

 

5th January   

Update: Allah be Banned...

'Allah' back on the banned words list for christians
Link Here  full story: Oh My God...Only muslims can use the word Allah in Malaysia

Herald logoThe Malaysian government has reiterated that non-Muslims cannot use the word ''Allah,'' sparking concern Friday among Christians who use it to refer to God in their Malay-language Bible and other publications.

Abdullah Zin, the de facto minister for Islamic affairs, told reporters that the Cabinet is of the view that ''Allah'' refers to the Muslim God and can only be used by Muslims.

The use of the word 'Allah' by non-Muslims may arouse sensitivity and create confusion among Muslims in the country, Abdullah said.

His statement is the latest twist in a long-drawn controversy involving The Herald, a weekly organ of Malaysia's Catholic Church. It was told by the Internal Security Ministry last month that its Malay-language section would be banned unless it stops using ''Allah'' as a synonym for God.

But the paper was surprised when the ministry made an apparent about-turn last weekend by renewing its annual permit - a government requirement for all publications in Malaysia - without imposing any conditions. The paper assumed it was a tacit approval for the use of ''Allah.''

Abdullah's comments Thursday, however, threw the issue into fresh confusion, and will likely renew complaints by ethnic minorities that their rights are increasingly undermined because of government efforts to bolster the status of Islam, Malaysia's official religion.

The Herald's editor, Rev. Lawrence Andrew, said its latest issue on Wednesday still uses ''Allah,'' but he could not say whether upcoming editions would omit the word.

He declined to comment further, noting the paper has initiated court action to get a legal endorsement for what it says is its Constitutional right to use ''Allah.''

 

5th January   

Update: Hatred of Gay Hatred Censorship...

Nutter opposition to growing support for gay hatred legislation
Link Here  full story: Gay Hate Law in the UK...Christian MPs and ban on anti gay speech

CCFON logoReligious MPs have submitted an amendment to enable religions to continue preaching against homosexuality:

Nothing in this part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion of, criticism of or expressions of antipathy towards, conduct relating to a particular sexual orientation, or urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct relating to that orientation.

Pink News reports that the amendment is almost certain to be defeated as the homophobic incitement proposal has gained cross-party support.

In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk published today, the Lib Dem spokesperson on Justice David Heath said: We (the party) have been convinced for some time that there is, first of all a reservoir of extreme prejudice against gay people. Secondly, prejudice is one thing, having it manifest itself as attacks, in one form or another, is something that we should be very concerned about. I am convinced by the evidence that there is a real problem. That's why, as far as I'm concerned, the case is proven for having something of this kind. Anyone who is expressing themselves in a reasonable way, even if what they're saying is wholly abhorrent to most right thinking people, will not be get caught under this law, unless what they're saying is an incitement to hatred against a whole class of people.

Stonewall Chief executive Ben Summerskill rejected concerns that a law banning incitement to religious hatred would be used to silence the voices of religious people who regard homosexuality as a sin: We are crystal clear that people are perfectly entitled to express their religious views. We are also crystal clear that the temperate expression of religious views should not be covered by the legislation.

Justice minister Maria Eagle has also confirmed that Christians will continue to have the right to express their homophobic views: If you are a preacher and on Sunday morning you tell your sermon of your beliefs and the beliefs of your denomination about gay people then that's different to going and standing outside a gay club and using threatening words and behaviour. The intent is the key. That is very clearly unacceptable and that's where we are pitching the offence.

 

4th January   

Gone, Yet Still...

Statue of Christ with an erection causes predictable uproar
Link Here  full story: Jesus Hard Up...Terrence Koh's Jesus with erection shocks

Terence Koh's JesusA statue of Jesus Christ with an erection at an art exhibition has caused predictable uproar among Christians.

Artist Terence Koh doctored the traditional 30cm (1ft) high statue of Jesus to be the provocative centrepiece of his display of 74 plaster models, entitled Gone, Yet Still.

Visitors to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and church leaders have accused gallery officials and Koh of showing disrespect to the Christian faith.

Rev Christopher Warren, a Roman Catholic priest at St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle, condemned the work of art: For Christians, the image of Jesus is very special and to interpret it in a sexualised way is an affront to what we hold dear. While Jesus was a human being in every way, to portray him in this way will offend.'

Beijing-born Koh, who was raised in Vancouver, Canada before moving to New York, has become known as 'Asian punk boy' because his artistic themes tend to focus on punk and pornography.

A spokesman for the Baltic said all graphic exhibits carried a public advisory notice in both guidebooks and the gallery space itself.

The exhibition runs until January 20 as part of the Zabludowicz Collection.

 

3rd January   

Nonsense Prevails at the UN...

General Assembly resolves to protect religion from defamation
Link Here

UN logoOn December 18 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted a raft of resolutions recommended by its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). There was also one long campaigned for by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference: combating defamation of religions.

Draft resolution VI on Combating defamation of religions (document A/C.3/62/L.35), was approved by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 52 against, with 30 abstentions.

The resolution would have the Assembly express deep concern about the negative stereotyping of religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief, still in evidence in some regions of the world. The Assembly would emphasize that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which should be exercised with responsibility and may therefore be subject to limitations, according to law and necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others; protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals; and respect for religions and beliefs.

The only religion actually mentioned in the document is Islam paragraph 9: Stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular.

This was adopted with 108 in favour and 51 against. The developing world voted in favour and the developed world voted against.

 

3rd January   

Preaching Peace...

Whilst practising fisticuffs in church
Link Here

Fight in the Church of the NativityThe cradle of Christianity was rocked by an unholy punch-up when Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows in a dispute over how to clean Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

The ancient place of worship, built over the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been born in a stable more than 2,000 years ago, is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards a part of the holy site.

The brawl apparently began when Greek Orthodox priests set up ladders to clean the walls and ceilings of their part of the church after the Christmas Day celebrations.

Armenian priests claimed that the ladders encroached on their portion of the church, which led the two sects to exchange angry words which quickly turned to blows.

Witnesses said that the robed and bearded priests scuffled for more than an hour using fists, brooms and iron rods as weapons.

Photographers who came to document the annual cleaning ceremony instead recorded the entire event.

Five priests were lightly injured in the melee, which was eventually broken up by a dozen unarmed Palestinian policemen. Two of the policemen were hurt in ending the brawl.

 

2nd January   

A Pope Possessed...

Pope conjures up exorcism squads
Link Here

PopeThe Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the supposed rise of Satanism.

Vatican chiefs are concerned at what they see as an increased interest in the occult.

They have introduced courses for priests to combat what they call the most extreme form of "Godlessness."

Each bishop is to be told to have in his diocese a number of priests trained to fight demonic possession.

The initiative was revealed by 82-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican "exorcistinchief," to the online Catholic news service Petrus.

Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on, he said: Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist.

He said the Pope wants to restore a prayer seen as protection against evil that was traditionally recited at the end of Catholic Masses. The prayer, to St Michael the Archangel, was dropped in the 1960s by Pope John XXIII: The prayer is useful not only for priests but also for lay people in helping to fight demons.

Father Paolo Scarafoni, who lectures on the Vatican's exorcism course, said interest in Satanism and the occult has grown as people lost faith with the church: People suffer and think that turning to the Devil can help solve their problems. We are being bombarded by requests for exorcisms.

The Vatican is particularly concerned that young people are being exposed to the influence of Satanic sects through rock music and the Internet.

 

2nd January   

Married to Sharia...

Islam always takes upper hand marital disputes
Link Here

Malaysia flagA Hindu woman has had her attempt to stop her estranged husband from divorcing her in an Islamic court, and converting their youngest son to Islam, thwarted by Malaysia's highest court.

Subhasini Rajasingham's husband had already converted himself and their elder son, now four, to the religion in 2006. Subhasini also wants a divorce but says it should be decided in a civil court.

The court said that as a principle, marital disputes involving a converted Muslim spouse and a non-Muslim partner should only be decided in a civil court and not in the sharia court. But at the same time, the court said Subhasini's husband has the right to approach the shariah court to seek redress.

Civil-rights groups have voiced fears that minority rights have become subordinate to Islamic jurisprudence because of a series of rulings that have gone in favour of Muslim spouses.

Family law is a controversial area in Malaysia's courts. Non-Muslims complain that civil courts give up their responsibility to their Islamic counterparts too easily in cases involving a Muslim conversion.

In Malaysia marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims are forbidden. Therefore, once a spouse converts to Islam, the union is broken in the eyes of Islamic courts.

 

1st January   

Oh Shi'ite!...

Barclaycard Director ousted over shi'ite pun
Link Here

Barclaycard mock upA director of Barclaycard has left the company after making a joke deemed offensive to Muslims.

Marc Howells who earned £200,000 a year, was addressing senior executives about the credit card company's quarterly figures when he tried to make them laugh with the quip.

Howells said: The results were like Muslims - some were good, some were Shi'ite.

Some outraged colleagues forced embarrassed laughs while others were stunned into silence.

A source at Barclaycard who said: No-one could quite believe their ears when he came out with his Shi'ite joke. There were a few embarrassed guffaws, but everyone except him knew he was for the high-jump the moment he said it.

His pun was later reported to senior management, however, and after some discussion he left the company last month before any disciplinary process could begin.

 

1st January   

Politics is a Fag...

Jesus is a Fag placard discussed by ministers
Link Here

Jesus is a fag bannerThe Northern Ireland Parades Commission is to meet with the organisers of Belfast Pride over a placard displayed at this year's event that outraged Christians.

Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds raised the issue in the Commons earlier this month.

The Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Paul Goggins, told Dodds that the Parades Commission has written to Pride organisers asking for a meeting "to discuss the matter further."

In August Belfast city councillor Christopher Staltford led calls for restrictions on future gay parades, claiming he was offended by the placard, which read: "Jesus is a fag."

In a discussion on BBC Radio Ulster in August P A MacLochlainn said that in his view the details of Jesus' life as presented in the Bible led him to conclude that he was a homosexual.

Yesterday Maglochlainn again defended the placard, telling the Belfast Telegraph: Someone participating in the parade was holding the placard. I defend the right of that person to carry it. To not allow someone to carry such a placard would restrict freedom of speech and religious freedom. The DUP shouldn't be so ready to shout blasphemy.

 

1st January   

Peace and Goodwill...

But no peace and goodwill for Orissa christians
Link Here  full story: Hindus vs Christians...Tragic rivalry between hindus and christians

Church set on fireHindu extremists attacked Christians celebrating Christmas in eastern India, ransacking and burning at least six village churches. One person was killed.

Four hundred and fifty police were deployed to quell the violence in the remote district of Orissa state where the churches – most nothing more than mud and thatch houses – were attacked.

There were conflicting reports of what sparked the unrest in Orissa, which has a history of violence against the state's tiny Christian minority. Some reports said Christians had attempted to attack a hardline Hindu leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad group, who led an anti-conversion movement.

But the Catholic Bishops Conference of India said the fighting began when Hindu extremists objected to a show marking Christmas Eve, believing it was designed to encourage Hindus at the bottom of the religion's caste hierarchy to convert to Christianity.

An argument over the Christmas show got out of hand and some of the Hindus opened fire on the Christians, wounding three of them, said John Dayal, a spokesman for the Bishops Conference.

The Hindus then went on a rampage on Christmas Day, chasing people out of six churches and setting the buildings ablaze, he said.

Update: Casualties

3rd January 2008

At least four Christians are feared dead, many injured and more than 50 churches and 200 homes are either destroyed or damaged in Orissa state in anti-Christian violence that began Christmas Eve.