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31st January   

Update: Atheists vs Bus Bigots...

Atheist bus advert ban reported to Australia's Human Rights Commission
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

AFA logoNational President of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, David Nicholls, is going to have to seek legal help to try to get his atheist bus ads approved.

APN Outdoor, the company who is in charge of advertising on buses in Adelaide and other cities, would not accept ads for an atheist bus campaign. According to a report on The Independent Weekly, Nicholl’s said: …they wouldn’t accept any ad from atheists. I spoke with sales staff in Adelaide, then higher sales staff in Brisbane, and finally to a sales executive in Sydney. He said APN would have to seek legal advice but they rang back in less than a minute saying they were not going to take our ad, no matter how it was worded.

As a result, the atheist group has decided to take the case to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Nicholls said: The world-wide response demands we act decisively to release freedom of expression from the arbitrary control of bus company advertising executives. We therefore have no option but to seek legal means to that end.

 

31st January   

Update: Bussing in the Nutters...

Canadian Nutters that are all for free speech...BUT...
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

CFAC logoThe Toronto-based Freethought Association of Canada has now won approval from the Toronto Transit Commission to place ads on buses and inside subway cars that read: There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Brad Ross, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission, confirmed that staff have decided the ads do not violate any of the TTC's rules. But that decision could be reviewed if complaints arise: Disallowing the ad may be a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code and potentially a violation of the Charter ... so we have to look at it from a legal basis. We don't feel that there's any grounds to disallow the ad.

Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said his group has not decided whether it will formally complain about the ads once they appear.

On the surface, I'm all for free speech. ...HOWEVER... though, these are attack ads, McVety said in an interview: These ads are not saying what the atheists believe, they are attacking what other people believe. And if you look at the dictionary definition for ... bigot, that's exactly what it is, to be intolerant of someone else's belief system.

 

31st January   

Cruelty to Children...

Man convicted for encouraging his son to take part in bloody religious ceremony
Link Here

ZanjeerA man has been convicted of cruelty for encouraging his 10-year-old son to whip himself during a Shia Muslim ceremony.

The boy took part in zanjeer matam, in which believers beat themselves with a wooden implement with chains and blades attached to it.

His father who also took part in the ritual at a Birmingham mosque, said he acted out of love and devotion .

He was given a six-month suspended sentence at Huntingdon Crown Court. He had denied being cruel to a child.

Mozammel Hossain, defending the father, from Rugby in Warwickshire, said that his client now knew that allowing a child to beat himself was illegal in the UK and he would not allow it to happen again.

Judge Nicholas Coleman, who watched footage of a ceremony during the trial, told the court that adults are free to make their own choices but children must not be allowed to take part. Not only did you allow him to participate in the ceremony, in my judgment, you actively encouraged him. The boy's injuries were slight but they could have been worse.

The judge imposed a six-month prison term, suspended for two years, and also ordered the man to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay ฃ500 in costs.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: Whether or not a young person consents to harming themselves is not the point in a case like this and the law is very clear. This man was responsible for his son and failed in his duty of care to protect him.

 

30th January   

Diary: Comedy for the Godless...

See Leicester Comedy Festival squirm over title: Kill Your God
Link Here

Saturday 14th February
Bowies, Leicester

Kill Your God was named one of the Highlights of the 2008 Glasgow International Comedy Festival by The Scotsman, The Heresy Project’s mission is to eradicate all religious persecution once and for all, by the simple process of eradicating all religion….

makes Richard Dawkins look like the Archbishop of Canterbury. Scotsman

hard-hitting, no-holds-barred comedy…satirising both religion and militant atheism Edinburgh Evening News

God is a nonsense and you’re all wrong List

But the Leicester Comedy Festival was not impressed by the name and insisted on changes. The show title has officially been changed for the duration of the Leicester Festival to The Heresy Project: Comedy for the Godless.

 

30th January   

Not Fare...

Cabbies fined for refusing to carry guide dog
Link Here  full story: Religious Incompetents...Unable to do the job for religious reasons

Guide DogA blind man has hit out at two cabbies who refused to carry him and his guide dog.

Jon Prashar was turned away twice outside Rochdale railway station as he tried to travel to a conference with his dog, Amber.

A quick-thinking colleague took a note of the taxis' registration numbers and an investigation was launched by council officials. The drivers, Talib Hussain and Mohammed Idress, were tracked down and prosecuted in a landmark case for Rochdale council.

Jon, who has been blind since birth, said: When we approached the first taxi I could hear the driver say 'no dog'. He then said Amber could go in the boot. I asked if it was an estate car because that would have been fine but it wasn't. There's no way she was going in a closed boot - she'd have freaked out. He then went to speak to the driver behind him and the pair of them drove off. Fortunately my colleague got their registration numbers.

Jon, who works in marketing, said: To be fair to the drivers they were both very pleasant. When they knew I was taking action one drove to my house to apologise. I don't think they were being malicious and they do a very unpleasant job. But something needs to be done to stop this from happening again.

A number of Muslim drivers have expressed concern about carrying guide dogs in their cabs. Dogs are generally not allowed inside Islamic houses as they are considered unclean. However, the Muslim Council of Britain has issued guidance saying Islamic law DOES allow guide dogs to be carried in cabs. They have even been allowed into mosques in the past.

Hussain was fined ฃ125 and Idress was fined ฃ100. Both were ordered to pay ฃ128 costs at Rochdale Magistrates Court.

 

29th January   

Updated: Twisted Nutter Logic...

ASA to censure Christian Voice for dangerous and nonsense claims about HPV vaccine
Link Here

ASA logoThe Advertising Standards Authority has recommended that a Christian group be censured for predicting that Government initiatives on teenage sexuality, including the HPV vaccine, will increase infertility among the young.

Christian Voice's Advertorial in the New Statesman earlier this year, which was headlined VIOLENT CRIME - SOWING AND REAPING, will be found to breach ASA codes on principles, substantiation and truthfulness.

The text of the advertorial said: There is a Biblical principle that we reap what we sow. It applies to nations as well as to individuals. What politicians sow, the people reap. When politicians sow evil, the people reap misery, and the poorest reap it the worst. The ad went on to describe the detrimental impact of government policies and legislation on society. It included the text Now we have the disaster of teenage infertility. Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it, but as all the targets revolve around pregnancy, no-one in power knows how many young people they are making sterile and nobody cares.

The officials demanded robust, scientific evidence that the HPV vaccine caused infertility in teenagers , missing the nutter view that it is the encouragement of promiscuity in Government teen sex initiatives which spreads the infections which do the damage, not the vaccine itself.

Their draft ruling says: the claim "Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it [teenage infertility]" was a statement of fact that was capable of substantiation. Christian Voice say requiring the substantiation of a future prediction in an opinion piece is preposterous and an infringement of freedom of speech.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today: It is a good job the Advertising Standards Authority was not around when the Old Testament was written, or we would be missing half the Christmas story. The ASA would have wanted Isaiah to substantiate his claim that 'a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son' (Isa 7:14). They would have demanded 'robust, scientific evidence' that virgins can conceive.

It is simple common sense to realise that with the HPV vaccine, girls will think they are covered against everything, especially if they are on the pill as well, so promiscuity will rise and there will be even more Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia cases and even more infertility.

It is preposterous for the ASA to think they can outlaw Christian freedom of speech and free expression of opinion. The ASA may not like the fact that sodomy is an abomination in holy scripture, but they cannot alter it. Nor can their officials change God's word that sex outside marriage brings judgment. The Free Presbyterian Church will not back down, and by God's grace neither shall we. We shall keep telling Government and the teen sex industry that they are betraying young people in this country and that only God's ways of chastity and fidelity will halt the rise in teenage pregnancies and infertility.

Update: ASA Censure Confirmed

29th January 2009. See article from asa.org.uk

An advertising feature in the New Statesman, on behalf of a religious group, had the headline VIOLENT CRIME - SOWING AND REAPING . Text underneath stated There is a Biblical principle that we reap what we sow. It applies to nations as well as to individuals. What politicians sow, the people reap. When politicians sow evil, the people reap misery, and the poorest reap it the worst.

The ad went on to describe what the advertisers considered to be the detrimental impact of government policies and various pieces of legislation on society. It included the text Now we have the disaster of teenage infertility. Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it, but as all the targets revolve around pregnancy, no-one in power knows how many young people they are making sterile and nobody cares. Text at the bottom of the ad stated: Christian Voice. Working for Godly government; praying for national repentance.

One complainant challenged whether the implied claim that the HPV vaccine would result in teenage infertility was misleading and could be substantiated.

ASA Decision

We considered that the claim Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it [teenage infertility] was a statement of fact that was a matter open to substantiation. We noted the webpage submitted by Christian Voice, but we did not consider that that webpage in itself was sufficient to support the claim. Because we had not seen robust, scientific evidence that the HPV vaccine caused infertility in teenagers, we concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Principles), 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Christian Voice not to repeat the implied claim that the HPV vaccine would result in teenage infertility.

 

29th January   

Freedom of Belief in Australia...

Church joins Atheist Foundation in saying that blasphemy should be lawful
Link Here

AHRC logoThe church and the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) are among more than 150 organisations and individuals to make submissions to a freedom of religion and belief project, being run jointly with the Australian Multicultural Foundation, RMIT University and Monash University.

The Australian Human Rights Commission discussion paper sets out to examine the extent to which the right of freedom of religion and belief can be enjoyed in Australia.

The church's six-page submission said blasphemy should be made lawful.

Blasphemy is not a common law offence at a national level but a few federal laws, such as the Broadcasting and Television Act, still include it as an objectionable item'.

We look for a society where religious discourse is conducted in safety and security, and people are free to disagree without danger or social exclusion or harm to person or property,
the church said in its submission: These conditions will entail the freedom to engage in robust debate and disagreement about religious beliefs and practices. We support the abolition of the common law offence of blasphemy and the repeal of any laws creating the offence of blasphemy.

The AFA said in its submission it backed an end to blasphemy laws, adding there were sufficient laws in place to prevent vilification.

The AHRC have extended the deadline for submissions to its discussion paper to February 28. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma said the discussion paper had already generated a lot of interest, but more comment was being sought.

 

29th January   

The Creation of Nonsense...

Texas puts an end to 20 years of teaching nonsense
Link Here

Texas state sealThe teaching of creationism – which states that God created the world and human beings – was dealt a blow in Texas this week, according to Andy Coghlan, a reporter for ABC News.

On a one-vote margin, the 15 member Texas State Board of Education stripped out of Texas science standards for public schools, creationist language that suggests there are weaknesses in evolution theory.

As noted by Coghlan, the words have enticed teachers and students to dispute the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theory for the past 20 years.

Experts say Texas’s actions could affect schools nationwide, because Texas is one of the country's largest purchasers of textbooks – and publishers are averse to producing different versions of the same material, according to reports by e School News.

 

28th January   

Update: Respecting Freedom BUT...

Pakistan muslims ask for UN protection for islam
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

Pakistan flagSpeakers at a seminar in Pakistan urged the UN to take stringent measures to force respect of every religion and formulate laws to stop blasphemy against Islam.

The West needs to change its view of Muslims, they said at the seminar titled World Situation, Peace and Religious Leaders organised by Mir Khalilur Rahman Memorial Society (MKRMS) in collaboration with Jamiat Ulema-e-Ahle Hadith.

Dr Babar Awan said Muslims belief was incomplete without belief in all messengers of Allah and respect of all heavenly books. He said Muslims respected West’s freedom of expression ...BUT... were deeply grieved and angered on the blasphemy of their Prophet and the Quran committed with blatant callousness by the western leaders in the name of freedom of expression. He said freedom of expression had its limits in the West and it must never damage religious feelings of any human being, adding that Muslims would never tolerate the blasphemy of the prophet and other sacred personalities.

He said that the world needed to change its view of Muslims, and to search for the reasons which led to the present day confrontation. He asked the UN to legislate to stop blasphemy and disrespect of religions which, he stressed, was essential for world peace.

Bishop Samuel Azriah said the need of the hour was to promote the message of love, peace and humanity since all religions called for respect and honour of other religions and to protect lives of those practicing other faiths. He said it was the collective responsibility of the entire world especially religious leaders. He warned that dangers of extremism were lurking and the world should try to understand the extremists and attempt to win over them.

Qazi Abdul Qadeer Khamosh said Islam strictly forbids killing of innocent people and exploitation of others. He expressed sorrow that Islam was being tarnished by demolishing schools and suicide attacks. He criticised the present policies of the government as ‘faulty’, saying suicide bombers could not be stopped by force but negotiations and other peaceful methods must be used.

 

28th January   

Update: Bonfire Party...

The Emir of Kano glories in the state's fight against porn
Link Here  full story: Censorship in Kano...Everything is banned in Negeria's Kano state

Nigeria flagThe Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero has destroyed pornographic films, posters and TV games worth millions of naira.

The emir performed the destruction of the films during a ceremony held at the Magistrate Court.

Addressing the gathering, the Emir commended the effort of the state government to fight against indecency, saying that the destruction of the pornographic films and its related items would assist greatly toward the eradication of deviance among the people , particularly the youth who he described as the leaders of tomorrow.

He assured that Kano Emirate will continue to support and cooperate with the state government to fight every corrupt practices with a view to sanitising the society, and urged the youth in the state to desist from participating in activities that would tarnish the image of their religion and culture.

 

28th January   

Preserving Thugee Culture...

The Talibanisation of India
Link Here

India flagThe young customers at Amnesia: The Lounge were enjoying an afternoon of drinking and dancing in one of the hippest spots in the city of Mangalore when a mob of 40 Hindu radicals barged in.

The activists from Sri Ram Sena (SRS) – or Lord Ram’s Army – screamed abuse and attacked several dozen men and women, mostly students, and smashed up the bar.

They chased the girls into the street, slapping them, pulling their hair and pushing at least two to the ground. The incident was recorded on CCTV.

Their reason? We are the custodians of Indian culture, said Pramod Mutalik, the founder of SRS, who claimed responsibility for the assault.

The incident, which was broadcast across India, was one of many recent cases of Hindu moral policing that has also focused on Valentine’s Day, kissing in Bollywood films and cheer-leaders at cricket matches.

The attack shocked middle-class India and prompted one Government minister to decry the Talebanisation of the country.

Renuka Chowdhury, the Minister for Women and Child Development, called for the SRS and its supporters to be banned from taking part in national elections, which are due by May. This is Talebanisation of India – it will not be tolerated, she said.

 

28th January   

Update: Mutilator Jailed...

4 months Jail for FGM in Denmark
Link Here  full story: Stop FGM...The nasty world of female genital mutilation

Denmark flagA Danish woman has been convicted of having two of her daughters genitally mutilated in Denmark's first such case to come before a court.

The mother, who is of African origin, was also accused with her husband of planning a trip to Sudan to circumcise another daughter, aged five.

She was given a two-year sentence but freed as she had already spent four months in jail.

A 2003 law makes genital mutilation punishable by up to six years in jail.

The father of the two girls, aged 10 and 12, said he did not know what was happening and was acquitted.

 

27th January   

Rapper Unrapped...

Ofcom finds background Qur'anic verses to be not in breach
Link Here

Galaxy logoSteve Sutherland
Galaxy Birmingham, 29 November 2008, 21:55

Ofcom received 229 complaints concerning a track by the rap artist, Busta Rhymes, included in the Steve Sutherland programme.

The track, Arab Money , included the repeated recitation of a segment from the Qur’an. The complainants considered the inclusion of the Qur’anic verses to be offensive and blasphemous. There was evidence that some of the complaints were part of an orchestrated campaign.

Ofcom noted that within the track the following words were heard (in Arabic) on a number of occasions. This was a quotation from the opening verses of the Qur’an: In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful: All Praise is due to God, Lord of the Universe .

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision

The Code does not make a judgement as to whether content might be blasphemous in the eyes of followers of particular religions. Broadcasters are free to include treatments, in whatever form, of aspects of any religion, as long as they comply with the Code.

However, Ofcom must judge whether a broadcaster applied generally accepted standards by ensuring that members of the public were given adequate protection from offensive material.

Ofcom acknowledged that this material may have been challenging and upsetting to certain members of the Muslim community. Ofcom noted the immediate and extensive steps taken by the broadcaster to apologise for any unintentional offence caused by the broadcasting of the material in this case.

However, when reaching a decision as to whether this material breached the Code, Ofcom must take into account the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

The Code places no restrictions on the subjects covered by broadcasters, or the manner in which such subjects are treated, so long as offensive material that is broadcast is justified by the context. In this case, a quotation from a sacred text was added as a backdrop to a song by a well-known rap artist, who, it is reported, is a follower of Islam.

The track was being played on a station specialising in contemporary black music, and Ofcom noted that the practice of sampling content from a diverse range of sources is common in this genre of music. Furthermore, the Qur’anic quotation in this case, was not directly referred to or commented upon in the other lyrics of the song.

The inclusion of these words could be classed as a cultural reference within the song, rather than being included for theological reasons. Just because a quotation from a sacred text is included within a song does not in itself constitute a breach of generally accepted standards.

Ofcom considered that the large majority of the audience would, in general, have not considered the material to be beyond what would normally be expected in a programme of this type, on this particular station.

Given this, the time of broadcast, and the likelihood that the degree of offence from these comments to the audience overall would be limited, Ofcom considered that the broadcast of this offensive material was, on balance, justified by the context.

Therefore, the programme was not in breach of Rule 2.3.

 

27th January   

Would You Credit It...

Nutters send hate mail to David Attenborough over a lack of credit to a god
Link Here

Life in Cold Blood book Sir David Attenborough has revealed that he receives hate mail from viewers for failing to credit God in his documentaries.

In an interview with this week's Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance.

Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give credit to God, Attenborough added: They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.

Attenborough went further in his opposition to creationism, saying it was terrible when it was taught alongside evolution as an alternative perspective. It's like saying that two and two equals four, but if you wish to believe it, it could also be five ... Evolution is not a theory; it is a fact, every bit as much as the historical fact that William the Conqueror landed in 1066.

 

27th January   

Nepalling...

Bollywood film banned in Nepal over birthplace of Buddha
Link Here

Chandni Chowk to China DVD The Bollywood film Chandni Chowk to China has been banned in Nepal because of a scene suggesting the Buddha was born in India, officials say.

Siddartha Gautama, who became the Buddha around 2,500 years ago, was born in what is now south-western Nepal.

Many Nepalis revere the Buddha and have been upset by the film. Protesters have burned tyres in the capital, Kathmandu.

The ban comes even though the offending scene has been cut from the film in Nepal at the request of the censor.

We've banned the screening of the movie in theatres across the country considering the growing public protests over controversial remarks in the film, home ministry spokesman Nabin Ghimire told AFP.

The film is a Bollywood co-production with the US studio, Warner Brothers. It tells of a lowly Indian chef who is mistaken for the reincarnation of a fabled Chinese warrior. Its official website says that it is the first ever Bollywood kung-fu comedy.

A spokesman for the ministry of information told AFP that while the offending scene had been deleted, it could not be removed from pirated DVDs and videos that are smuggled into the country. The spokesman said that the foreign ministry had also been asked to take immediate steps to stop any unedited screening of the film in other countries.

 

27th January   

Update: The Crime of Praying...

Parents on trial for reckless endangerment after diabetic child dies without medical assistance
Link Here  full story: Prayer Before Medicine...Suffering as prayer is prefered to medical aid

Wisconsin state sealKara Neumann, 11, had grown so weak that she could not walk or speak. Her parents, who believe that God alone has the ability to heal the sick, prayed for her recovery but did not take her to a doctor.

After an aunt from California called the sheriff’s department here, frantically pleading that the sick child be rescued, an ambulance arrived at the Neumann’s rural home on the outskirts of Wausau and rushed Kara to the hospital. She was pronounced dead on arrival.

The county coroner ruled that she had died from diabetic ketoacidosis resulting from undiagnosed and untreated juvenile diabetes. The condition occurs when the body fails to produce insulin, which leads to severe dehydration and impairment of muscle, lung and heart function.

About a month after Kara’s death last March, the Marathon County state attorney, Jill Falstad, brought charges of reckless endangerment against her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann. Despite the Neumanns’ claim that the charges violated their constitutional right to religious freedom, Judge Vincent Howard of Marathon County Circuit Court ordered Ms. Neumann to stand trial on May 14, and Mr. Neumann on June 23.

The free exercise clause of the First Amendment protects religious belief, the judge wrote in his ruling, but not necessarily conduct.

Wisconsin law, he noted, exempts a parent or guardian who treats a child with only prayer from being criminally charged with neglecting child welfare laws, but only as long as a condition is not life threatening. Kara’s parents, Judge Howard wrote, were very well aware of her deteriorating medical condition.

About 300 children have died in the United States in the last 25 years after medical care was withheld on religious grounds, said Rita Swan, executive director of Children’s Health Care Is a Legal Duty, a group based in Iowa that advocates punishment for parents who do not seek medical help when their children need it. Criminal codes in 30 states, including Wisconsin, provide some form of protection for practitioners of faith healing in cases of child neglect and other matters, protection that Ms. Swan’s group opposes.

The Neumanns are known locally as followers of an online faith outreach group called Unleavened Bread Ministries, run by a preacher, David Eells. The site shares stories of faith healing and talks about the end of the world.

A link from the site, helptheneumanns.com, asserts that the couple is being persecuted and charged with the crime of praying. The site also allows people to contribute to a legal fund for the Neumanns.

 

26th January   

Update: A Healthier World...

Obama opens up US AIDS prevention funding to those need it
Link Here

George Bush Wanted as an AIDS accomplice Barack Obama has made good on his promise to lift the heinous global gag rule that George Bush had imposed on his own first day in office.

The global gag rule deprived many overseas health clinics of crucial U.S. funding because they provided reproductive services or engaged in health care advocacy that the Bush Administration and its rabid rightwing base objected to.

As a result, these clinics—which serve as a lifeline to impoverished women all over the Third World—had to cut their services, see fewer patients, or close down.

Today, President Obama has taken a tremendous step in righting the wrongs perpetrated against women around the world by the Bush Administration, said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. Unsafe abortion kills nearly 70,000 women around the world each year. The gag rule prevented women’s health organizations that received U.S. funds from advocacy against restrictive laws that lead to these deaths.

The Center for Reproductive Rights added that the global gag rule had a devastating impact on health care providers and women in nearly sixty countries.

It hailed Obama’s decision, which he made by executive order, as a victory for providers and nongovernmental organizations and for the advancement of free speech and civil engagement.

But the Vatican is not so impressed

Based on article from news.bbc.co.uk

VaticanThe Vatican has predictably condemned President Obama's move to restore US funding for family planning clinics abroad that give advice on or carry out abortions.

One Vatican official warned against the arrogance of those in power who think they can decide between life and death. Another official said it dealt a blow to groups fighting against the slaughter of the innocents.

In an interview published in an Italian newspaper, senior Vatican official Monsignor Rino Fisichella urged Obama to listen to all voices in America without the arrogance of those who, being in power, believe they can decide of life and death. If this is one of President Obama's first acts, I have to say, in all due respect, that we're heading quickly toward disappointment.

 

26th January   

Update: The Voice of Gratitude...

Stephen Green whinges at the ASA
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

ASA logoThe Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled in favour of newly-launched bus advertisement which claims there is There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Surely religions should be breathing a sigh of relief that they don't have justify religious claims before being able to erect posters and beg money etc.

But Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice claims in a press release that the advertisements broke the ASA's codes on substantiation and truthfulness:

Christian Voice logoThe ASA website says: Advertisements are not allowed to mislead consumers. This means that advertisers must hold evidence to prove the claims they make about their products or services before an ad appears.

But in a ruling today, the ASA says the claim that there is probably no God is not capable of objective substantiation. It says further that the complaints were not 'serious' or 'widespread' enough.

Stephen Green said:

If the ASA had thought the humanists could provide evidence for their claim, they would have asked them for it. As they know there is no evidence for the proposition that 'there is probably no God', they have let their secularist friends off the hook.

The ASA have finessed Code 7.1, which says a ad should not mislead or be likely to mislead, ruling it would not be likely to mislead, so avoiding the thornier question of whether it actually does mislead. Which it does.

On 'taste and decency', the ASA have simply taken a subjective decision to dismiss the complaints of offensiveness. On planet ASA, complaints from people of faith are not given the same weight as those from secularists. But what do you expect when the ASA Council is appointed and run by a campaigning homosexual, Chris, Lord, Smith of Finsbury?

We always knew the ASA was just another tool of the politically-correct secularist establishment, but here's the proof. Their ruling is a good example of how the deck is stacked against Christians today, and the Church needs to wake up to the anti-Christian agenda right now. The good news is we now know that when the secularists decided to say: "There is probably no God", they had no reason for making that absurd claim, and time has not helped them come up with one. The bad news is that if Christians don't start standing up for their Faith and their Saviour soon, we shall see religious liberties trampled on, and the secularists will take us further down the road to their hell on earth.

 

26th January   

Update: Dangerous Dubai...

Dubai adultery laws abused for child custody reasons
Link Here

UAE flagMichael Cardy, a friend of a British mother convicted of adultery in Dubai, has said she is devastated after her appeal failed.

Marnie Pearce's sentence was reduced from six to three months and the court ordered her to be deported. She now fears she will lose custody of her two children.

Cardy insisted she was innocent and said there was no way on this earth she had committed adultery - claims made by her ex-husband, Egyptian national Ihab El-Labban. Cardy said Pearce needs to raise at least ฃ10,000 to hire a specialist lawyer so she can fight for custody of her children through the UK courts.

Cardy said: I'm not giving up hope; I won't stop fighting for that girl, I'm disgusted at the way a country can treat women. Men can abuse the law here because under Sharia law the man rules the roost.

Amnesty International said that if she were jailed it would consider her a prisoner of conscience. Criminalising the sex lives of consenting adults is never right, let alone using this to back-up family laws which already discriminate against women said Kate Allen, UK director of  Amnesty International.

Update: 2nd Appeal

8th February 2009

The family of mum-of-two Marnie Pearce, who was sentenced to jail in Dubai, hear she has gone into hiding.

Marnie is preparing to mount her next appeal against the three-month prison sentence she was given in January for adultery.

 

26th January   

Easily Eroded Faith...

Indonesian fatwa against yogic chanting
Link Here

yogaThe top Islamic body in Indonesia has issued a fatwa banning Muslims from practising some aspects of yoga.

The Council of Ulemas (MUI) said exercises containing Hindu elements such as chanting were forbidden and could weaken the faith of Muslims.

The move follows a similar ruling by the religious authorities in Malaysia last year.

Such religious edicts are not legally binding in Indonesia, but most Muslims consider it a sin to ignore them.

Maruf Amin, chairman of the MUI, said some yoga exercises involved the reciting of Hindu religious mantras, something which is forbidden, or haram , in Islam: Muslims should not practise other religious rituals as it will erode and weaken their Islamic faith .

But he said yoga could still be practised if it was purely as a sport or a means of exercise.

 

25th January   

Unreal Claims...

Catholics rant against unreal relationships on Facebook guided by their unreal relationship with a god
Link Here

Facebook logoThe Roman Catholic Church has once again revealed how in touch it is with modern times by calling for a ban on Facebook-like social notworking sites.

Archbishop Pompili of Cei (Italian Episcopal Conference) slammed social networks about what he called networked individualism which he said creates people who terminate links with the surrounding area .

He warned that relationships formed online were not real. Well, not as real in the same way as such important things like an invisible gods, angels, virgin births and Papal infallibility.

Facebook and its ilk create an online egocentrism and are responsible for drying up of real relationships, he said.

The chairman of the Cei, Bishop Mariano Crociata said that the Internet varies between elation and mistrust and it is time to find a middle way.

 

25th January   

Religion of Piece of Ass...

Australian PM calls cleric to account for condoning marital violence
Link Here

Abu HamzaA Muslim cleric who reportedly said men have a right to force their wives to have sex and to hit them if they are disobedient has been told to apologise by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Under no circumstances is sexual violence permissible or acceptable in Australia, Rudd said over cleric Samir Abu Hamza's reported remarks in a sermon posted on the Internet: I would call upon this Islamic cleric to publicly apologise and repudiate his remarks . Rudd said Australians would not accept any forms of violence against women, adding: Nor are they acceptable in my view to mainstream Muslim teachings.

The cleric said in his sermon, entitled The keys to a successful marriage, that it was a man's right to demand sex from his wife whenever he felt like it, the Daily Telegraph reported: If the husband was to ask her for a sexual relationship and she is preparing the bread on the stove, she must leave it and come and respond to her husband, she must respond.

Hamza also said Islamic law allowed men to hit their wives as a last resort but should not bruise them or make them bleed, the paper reported.

The Daily Telegraph said Hamza stood by his sermon, which was delivered in 2003 and posted to the Internet late last year.

 

25th January   

Unbelievable...

Obama is the first president to acknowledge America's non believers
Link Here

Barack ObamaIn a myriad of firsts, one of the more striking, but least noticed, was President Barack Obama's tip of the hat to religious non-believers.

His inaugural was the first time a US president has ever explicitly acknowledged not just Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus, but non-believers as well.

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers, Obama told the million-strong crowd.

This inclusiveness is a signature moment in American inaugural history, says David Domke, professor of communications at the University of Washington, who has analyzed religious language in seven decades of inaugural and State of the Union addresses, told USA Today.

Obama's speech was 'right in the middle' of recent presidents in the number of references to God — more than Reagan, fewer than George W. Bush — according to Domke's tally, the paper said.

Obama's acknowledgment of atheists drew praise from those used to being ignored.

For the first time in modern history, in front of a worldwide audience, and without missing a beat, the president of the United States acknowledged that nonbelievers are Americans, too, Reason Magazine wrote. Is it a plausible suspicion that Mr. Obama got wind of the statistics that say that unbelievers make up between 3 and 10% of the Unites States’ population, which makes them one of its largest “minorities,” and thus decided to include them in his speech?

 

25th January   

Update: No Honour in Lahore...

Murder for honour is judged not to be a crime in Lahore
Link Here

Pakistan flagThe Lahore High Court has declared murder to save a woman’s honour not a crime, a private TV channel reported.

According to the channel, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa ruled this while hearing a murder case. The court acquitted Ghulam Nabi and his son Iftikhar, saying murder to save a woman’s honour was not a crime.

The accused had killed one Yasin while saving a female relative’s honour. The trial court sentenced them to 10 years’ imprisonment but the court acquitted them.

 

24th January   

Update: A Victory for the Muslim Community...

Fitna banned from the House of Lords
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna APP reports that a scheduled screening of Geert Wilders’ film Fitna in the House of Lords has been cancelled. It was due to be shown on Jan 29th.

The decision was taken after a meeting between Lord Nazir Ahmed, Government Chief Whip of the House of Lords and Leader of the House of Lords, and representatives from the Muslim Council of Britain, the British Muslim Forum and others.

Protests and demonstrations have been cancelled,

Lord Ahmed called the decision a victory for the Muslim community

 

23rd January   

Update: Multiple Disbelief...

Two more faithless bus advertising campaigns in Canada
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

Canada flagTwo atheist groups will attempt to advertise their different views of non-belief to Canadians through separate advertising campaigns on public transit. 

The Humanist Association of Canada said this week it will launch a campaign in Vancouver and Toronto and one other city to send the message: there is a real and viable alternative to religion.

Last week, several atheist groups, through the Web site atheistbus.ca said they would be running a transit ad blitz similar to one launched recently in London, England. It will also use the same slogan as the British campaign: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. They have raised $16,000 and are now waiting for permission from the Toronto Transit Commission to put their posters on city buses. The campaign could begin next month.

Pat O'Brien, president of the Humanist Association, said his group considered working with atheistbus.ca but decided a pure atheist campaign would be too negative: We want to send a positive message. Atheism is what you're not; humanism is a positive world view.

The group is running a contest on its Web site to help create the catchiest slogan. O'Brien said that whatever slogan is chosen, it would have to get across the notion that you can be good without God as opposed to just saying there is no God.

 

23rd January   

Petition: In Defence of Geert Wilders...

A petition pledging a boycott of Dutch products should they prosecute critic of islam
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna To: The Dutch Government

WHEREAS Geert Wilders has exercised his fundamental human right of freedom of expression and spoken out, with facts and evidence, of the threat posed by radical Islam; 

WHEREAS certain elements within Islamic communities have threatened a boycott of Dutch goods if Geert Wilders is not punished by the Dutch government for exercising his freedom of expression; and

WHEREAS certain elements in Dutch industry and the Dutch government are suggesting that Geert Wilders be prosecuted civilly or criminally, in order to prevent such a boycott;

IT IS RESOLVED that, in the event that the Dutch government attempts, in any way, to punish or prosecute Geert Wilders, civilly or criminally, for exercising his freedom of expression, the undersigned will initiate a boycott of any and all Dutch goods.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

...Sign the petition

 

23rd January   

Update: An Insult to Western Values and Freedom...

Call to ban Rihanna from performing in Malaysia
Link Here  full story: Pop Stars in Malaysia...Malaysia not much into the world of pop stars

Rihanna Live DVD The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) is demanding that authorities ban R&B star Rihanna’s concert to be held in Kuala Lumpur on 13 February.

PAS alleges that her revealing outfits and suggestive dance moves are an insult to Asian values and outrage local cultural mores. 

According to Kamaruzaman Mohammad, a leader of the youth wing of PAS claimed that attending the concert is a form of support for Israel: Whether Rihanna realises it or not, we know that the taxes she paid also contributed to the war in Gaza .

 

23rd January   

Religious Deviation...

Researchers find that horror movies threaten islam
Link Here

Shock Horror Satanic worship spread by films and horror movies has become a threat to Muslim youths because they can deviate from their faith, according to research.

Highlighted in Berita Minggu, 10 researchers from Universiti Malaya found that such worship was increasing among Muslim youth.

In their report, based on a study conducted between Sept 2007 and Dec 2008, the researchers proposed that the syllabus of Islamic studies include certain elements to prevent students from being misled.

The report said the current syllabus did not focus on such deviationist teachings but emphasised only on the basic aspects of Islamic studies.

One of the researchers who is a lecturer in the Islamic Studies Academy, Assoc Prof Dr Che Zarrina Sa’ari said what was disheartening was that society saw drugs and mat rempit as the main threats without realising the danger of Satanism which involved polytheism.

 

22nd January   

Update: Nutters Must think There's No God...

Advertising censor wisely finds in favour of atheist bus adverts
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

ASA logoAtheist bus adverts have wisely been given the green light by the advertising censor, Advertising Standards Agency.

So far, 326 people have objected to the posters that have been placed on 800 buses around the country, which state: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Some claimed the adverts were offensive while others said that their central claim about God's existence could not be substantiated.

The ASA has admitted that the adverts go against the beliefs of many people. But it has decided that they do not breach any part of its code and is not launching an investigation.

The decision is a victory for the British Humanist Association, which organised the campaign, as it had insisted the posters were only intended to reassure non-believers and not mock the religious. The slogan was created by Ariane Sherine, a comedy writer, as an antidote to posters placed on public transport by Christian groups that threaten eternal damnation to passengers.
The ASA said in a statement:

The Advertising Standards Authority has concluded that the 'There's probably no God' bus ad campaign by the British Humanist Association is not in breach of the advertising code. The ASA will therefore not launch an investigation and the case is now closed.

The ASA carefully assessed the 326 complaints it received. Some complained that the ad was offensive and denigratory to people of faith. Others challenged whether the ad was misleading because the advertiser would not be able to substantiate its claim that God 'probably' does not exist.

The ASA Council concluded that the ad was an expression of the advertiser's opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation.

Although the ASA acknowledges that the content of the ad would be at odds with the beliefs of many, it concluded that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread offence.

 

22nd January   

Update: Fit for Trial...

Geert Wilders to be tried for comparing the Koran with Mein Kampf
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna The Far-right Dutch politician who produced a film, Fitna , claiming links between the Koran and terrorism is to be put on trial for his public statements against Islam.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), said he was surprised that the Amsterdam Appeals Court is to allow his criminal prosecution for inciting hatred and of discriminating against Muslims by comparing their religion to Nazism.

Mr Wilders' views constitute a criminal offence. [He] has insulted Islamic worshippers by attacking the symbols of the Islamic faith, the court stated, referring to his comparison of the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf .

Wilders said he was stunned by the judgment: This was the last thing I expected. The fact that I can no longer speak openly but have to go before the court makes this a very black day, not just for me but for freedom of expression in this country . What I do is to express my opinion on behalf of half a million people who voted for me and who think it should be possible to criticise Islam. We are fed up with the 'Islamisation' of the Netherlands.

The decision by the Amsterdam Appeals Court, the second-highest legal authority in the country, overturns an earlier ruling by the Dutch Prosecution Service, which last June dismissed hundreds of complaints against Wilders on the grounds that his utterances had been made in the context of public debate , a position that was endorsed by the Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, a Christian Democrat.

 

22nd January   

Trafficking in Nonsense...

The first bollox story about prostitution at the London Olympics
Link Here
Sermon on the mount

 Thou shalt not lie...
Unless you are preaching nonsense

Church of England dioceses are to call for a government crackdown on human trafficking in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics to prevent a repeat of the supposed mega brothels set up in German cities for the 2006 World Cup.

Nutters will discuss the matter at a General Synod next month following a motion set down by the dioceses of Newcastle and Winchester.

We do not want this same kind of thing for London 2012, said the Revd. Canon Michael Webb of Newcastle Diocese.

The dioceses called for the government, police and officials to combat the evil trade of trafficking and forced prostitution through legislation and enforcement. They pointed to the World Cup in Germany, where, they said, city officials adopted a pragmatic approach towards catering for the sexual desires of the estimated three million football fans who attended the tournament.

Sex huts for prostitution were set up, filled with 40,000 extra prostitutes, while special licences were issued allowing prostitutes to offer sex on the street, they said in a background paper.

Some studies however suggested that prostitution levels may have in fact decreased during the World Cup.

We wish to support and encourage H.M. Government to do everything in its power to ensure that nothing like this is allowed to happen in our cities, the dioceses added. [you mean like prostitution decreasing during Germany's world cup] .

Britain's Home Office said initial risk assessments have recognised potential risks created by London holding the Olympic Games: We are aware that the preparations for the London Olympics in 2012 could attract criminals who seek to profit from the fact that hospitality, catering and construction workers are required as well as the risk of an increase in prostitution, including those who have been trafficked.

 

22nd January   

Update: Less Barbaric by 2...

Sisters saved from stoning but others still facing death
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Iran flagIhe Iranian judiciary is to free two sisters sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, after they were cleared of the charges in a retrial, a press report said today.

Sisters Zohreh and Azar Kabiri were arrested in February 2007 after the husband of one of them presented a film allegedly showing them with other men.

Last week Tehran penal court judges acquitted the two sisters of adultery in a retrial and they will be freed soon', the reformist Etemad daily said.

In August 2007 the two received 99 lashes for an illegitimate relationship' and were then freed. They were later rearrested and sentenced in November 2007 to death by stoning for adultery.

The verdict was halted after Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi said the video was not sufficient evidence for the ruling and that their living conditions had not been considered in the trial, the report said. Their lawyer argued that the defendants could not be tried twice for the same offence.

Zohreh and Azar's husbands had withdrawn their complaint, declaring that the women in the video footage were not their wives, Etemad said.

Based on article from amnesty.org.uk

Gilan Mohammadi (female) and Gholamali Eskandari (male) are believed to have been detained since 2003. They are held in Esfahan Central Prison, in the centre of the country.

Amnesty International members are urging the authorities not to execute Gilan Mohammadi and Gholamali Eskandari and calling on them to order an immediate and effective moratorium on executions by stoning. The organisation is also urging the Iranian authorities to enact a law unequivocally banning stoning as a legal punishment.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: Stoning is a sickening punishment, specifically designed to maximise suffering. The Iranian authorities should abandon it immediately. We urge people in the UK to get behind the campaign within Iran to stop stoning forever, and to help us save Gilan Mohammadi and Gholamali Eskandari.

 

22nd January   

No Kano Do...

Never in the history of Islam have women taken to the street to press for their demands.
Link Here

Nigeria flagReligious police in the northern Nigerian city of Kano have told organisers of a planned protest by divorced women to cancel the event.

The head of the Sharia police, or Hisbah, said the planned protest was an embarrassment , and is un-Islamic.

The organisers have agreed to postpone their protest scheduled for 29 January.

Women's rights activists say divorced women are often thrown out of their homes, lose custody of their children, and many end up destitute.

The Director General of the Hisbah, Saidu Dukawa, said there were also security concerns over the protest. said the idea of street protests were un-Islamic , and morally wrong. Never in the history of Islam have women taken to the street to press for their demands .

 

22nd January   

Update: No Honour in Hamburg...

Man stabbed and killed his sister in the name of honour
Link Here

Germany flagAn attractive 16-year-old Muslim teenager was stabbed to death 23 times by her elder brother Ahmad to protect the family's honour .

Morsal Obeidi was the daughter of an Afghan jet fighter pilot who fled the country after the Taleban came to power. Together with his wife and five children the father settled in Hamburg, Germany.

At his trial which started recently a Hamburg Court was told Morsal liked listening to Western music and wearing make up. She also wore mini-skirts and tight jeans and enjoyed going out to discos with pals she met at school.

But instead Ahmad wanted her to wear a veil and go to a mosque for daily prayers.

Although he enjoyed going out drinking with his mates Ahmad did not think it was suitable for his sister to do the same.

The so-called 'honour killing' was allegedly the tragic end to Ahmad's violence against his young and pretty sister. Public prosecutor Boris Bochnick told the court that in the months leading up to the murder Ahmad had kicked Moral several times, hit her and also threatened her with a knife.

Although Morsal's brother has pleaded guilty to killing her, his defence is that he did not plan it but that it happened on the spur of the moment and was an honour killing. If the jury agrees it could make the difference between a guilty verdict of manslaughter or murder.

Update: Not Kabul

24th February 2009. See article from stophonourkillings.com

A German-Afghan man was sentenced to life in prison for the honour killing of his sister, creating mayhem in the court room as family members screamed, assaulted journalists and attempted suicide.

The 24-year-old Ahmad-Sobair O. was convicted of murdering his 16-year-old sister Morsal O. on May 15, 2008 because she had turned away from her family. The girl died after suffering 23 stab wounds in a Sankt Georg district parking lot in Hamburg.

He killed out of pure intolerance, Hamburg Judge Wolfgang Backen said while reading the verdict, adding that the murder was treacherous and a premeditated bloodbath after all other attempts to discipline his sister had failed.

His verdict sparked dramatic scenes in the court room as Ahmad Sobair O.’s family and friends wailed and hit the security glass behind which he was sitting.

The accused himself began screaming: You son of a whore! What is this, honour? I know no honour! He also yelled that had the trial taken place in Kabul, Afghanistan, he would have already been released long ago.

The murderer's mother then tried to throw herself out of a courtroom window, but was restrained by family members. Relatives of the accused also assaulted and threatened a journalist in the room.

 

21st January   

Update: Slightly Less Barbaric...

Iran commutes stoning sentence to 100 lashes
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Iran flagIran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi has commuted a sentence of stoning to death handed down to a woman convicted of adultery to 100 lashes.

The woman, identified as 48-year-old Kobra N, was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of her husband and engaging in an adulterous relationship. She was sentenced to eight years in prison for the first crime and stoning to death for the second.

The report said the woman served the eight-year jail sentence and was kept in prison for another five years awaiting the sentence of stoning to be carried out.

Ayatollah Shahrudi's decision to spare the woman leaves nine other people, seven women and two men, in Iranian prisons awaiting execution by stoning.

In August, the judiciary said it had scrapped the punishment in Iran's new Islamic penal code, whose outlines have been adopted by parliament but whose details are yet to be debated by MPs before final approval.

 

21st January   

Update: No Honour in Butchery...

Razor blade abortion in the name of honour in Afghanistan
Link Here

Afghanistan flagMaryam, 14, was raped by a man in  Bamyan Province, central Afghanistan, five months ago. Her mother and brother used razor blades to cut the girl open, take out the foetus, and bury it alive to hide the disgrace, according to Habiba Surabi, the governor of Bamyan.

Maryam had initially concealed the rape, fearing this could devastate her family and possibly end her own life. But five months later, when it became clear that she was carrying a baby, her family decided to “remedy” the problem.

The surgery was conducted violently, recklessly and without any medical arrangements. She was butchered like an animal, said a physician at Yakawlang hospital where the victim was in intensive care. Maryam’s abdomen was stitched up with an ordinary needle and thread, medical experts said. Dirty wounds led to her condition deteriorating rapidly. Five days later, she was reportedly taken to hospital half-dead.

Doctors informed the police and other authorities, and now her mother and brother are in custody. The alleged rapist has also been arrested, local people said.

Maryam’s life had been saved but extended treatment and care - unavailable in Bamyan Province - was needed for her to make a full recovery.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has called on the government to bring the man who raped Maryam as well as her mother and brother to transparent and unbiased justice.

 

20th January   

Updated: Good and Bad News...

Italian atheists wind up Genoa's church bigwigs with bus adverts
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

Feeding Intolerance campaignAtheists of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) have just announced a plan to begin a bus advertising campaign denying the existence of God.

The launch, according to this report, is set for the northern Italian city of Genoa on February 4, and the Italian atheists are certainly not mincing their words. Their campaign slogan is:

The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that we do not need him.

The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Genoa is furious. Father Gianfranco Calabrese, who is responsible for the diocese’s catechism: There are some methods which promote dialogue and others which feed intolerance. Head-on opposition always demonstrates intolerance.

Wow! Talk about pots and kettles.

Update: The Bad News

20th January 2008. See article from telegraph.co.uk

Genoa was chosen for the atheist bus campaign because it is home to the head of the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

Cardinal Bagnasco was said to be furious about the proposal and told his officials write to the bus company and advertising firm in charge of the campaign to express their opposition.

The is said to have been delighted when he was then given the news that at the last minute the campaign had been cancelled.

A spokesman for the Italian Union of Atheists and Rationalist Agnostics, which organised the campaign, said yesterday: It appears that buses can carry campaigns for underwear and holidays with no problem but if you ask for space to say God doesn't exist then you are denied.'

 

20th January   

Update: Pariah State...

Iran internationally condemned for recent stonings
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

EU flagThe European Union strongly condemns new cases of execution by stoning in the Islamic Republic of Iran

According to official confirmation and reports from other credible sources, three people were subject to execution by stoning in the city of Mashhad in the week beginning 21 December 2008. One of the three is reported to have managed to escape the stoning pit and survived. The other two were less fortunate and were stoned to death.

The European Union requests that the central authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran investigate this issue, and ensure that the practice of execution by stoning is effectively and permanently terminated in the country, in compliance with the International Covenant of Political and Civil Rights, which the Islamic Republic of Iran has signed and ratified, as well as the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons From Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as adopted by the UN General Assembly Resolution 3452 of December 1975, which Iran has approved.

Based on article from iranvnc.com

Amnesty logoAmnesty International condemned the execution by stoning of two men in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad that was carried out last month.

The London-based human rights group urged Iranian authorities to enact a law unequivocally banning stoning as a legal punishment.

Amnesty added: Pending the adoption of such a law, an immediate and effective moratorium on executions by stoning should be implemented.

Based on article from google.com

US flagThe United States joined international condemnation of the stoning death of two men in Iran for adultery, demanding an end to such cruel and unusual punishment there.

The United States joins the international community in expressing concern about the inhumane practice of stoning in the Islamic Republic of Iran, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement.

This cruel and unusual punishment is an inhumane practice that does not meet the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified. We call on Iran not only to permanently abolish the practice of stoning, but to offer all defendants fair and transparent trials.

 

20th January   

Update: An Education in the Lows of Humanity...

Pakistan taliban destroy schools to prevent the education of girls
Link Here  full story: School Burning in Pakistan...Taliban take offence at education, particularly for girls

Pakistan flagTaliban militants have blown up five schools in Pakistan’s troubled northwestern Swat valley, police said, one day after a government minister promised to keep them open.

The fresh attacks, one after another, follow a threat last month by a local Taliban commander to kill any girls attending classes after January 15 and blow up schools where they are enrolled.

Four boys’ schools and one girls’ school were blown up by militants, district police official Anwer Khan told AFP from Mingora, a bustling town in the scenic Swat valley, which used to be a popular tourist destination.

No one was injured in the bombings, but the school buildings were badly damaged, Khan said. Mingora schools were empty because of holidays.

Pakistan’s Information Minister Sherry Rehman on Sunday vowed to keep open all girls schools in Swat and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP): From March 1, all closed schools in Swat and NWFP will be reopened after the winter break .

Fearful of violent attacks that have already seen the torching of over 180 schools in the Swat Valley, school administrators have announced that more than 900 private schools will remain closed until the security situation improves. Government officials, struggling to organise adequate protection, have appealed to schools to extend their winter holidays until at least March. The future education of around 125,000 young women is uncertain as a result of the order, said to come into effect on January 15.

 

20th January   

Update: A Minority View...

Pakistan says much abused blasphemy laws will be repealed (again!)
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas

Pakistan flagThe Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, has said that Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws will be abolished.

The minister said he was struggling to ensure religious freedom, human dignity and social justice in Pakistani society: Religious minorities have been neglected, victimized and oppressed in Pakistan. They have faced constitutional and institutionalized discrimination and inequality but our government is committed to address the long-standing issues of minorities. We are making all-out efforts to uplift and empower minorities.

On January 14, a group of Christian lawyers from different parts of Pakistan held a meeting in Islamabad to discuss the issues being faced by religious minorities of Pakistan. The lawyers discussed minorities-related problems at length. The meeting also discussed steps taken by the Pakistan Peoples Party government for the betterment of religious minorities of Pakistan.

Pakistan has promised before but getting blasphemy laws repealed is easier said than done

 

19th January   

Ministry of Defence Tits...

MOD block morale boosting page 3 girls from visiting troops
Link Here

MOD logoSexy celebs have been banned from visiting front-line troops in Afghanistan and Iraq - in case they outrage Muslims.

The ban means the end of trips by the likes of TV babe Danielle Lloyd and model Nell McAndrew.

Ministry of Defence chiefs fear scantily-clad beauties will offend locals in Islamic countries where women are barred from flaunting themselves.

But British troops are furious at the move.

One man serving with The Rifles in Afghanistan said: Having girls visit is something for the boys to look forward to. It's tough out here and it gets a bit lonely too. But whenever we've had Page 3 girls and the like coming over it has been an event. It's all very well for pompous officers behind desks to take away our fun - but they have to realise the effect on morale.

The MoD now says: Visits need to take account of local sensitivities - for example, by ensuring appropriate clothing is worn.

 

18th January   

Update: A Saudi Christian...

Saudi blogger blocked and jailed for apostasy
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Saudi...Saudi bloggers arrested and imprisoned

Apostasy CDAccording to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHR), Saudi authorities have arrested the 28-year-old blogger Hamoud Bin Saleh and blocked his blog Masihi Saudi (A Saudi Christian).

The ANHR adds further that blogger Hamoud Bin Saleh was arrested due to his opinions and announcement at his blog that he converted from Islam to Christianity.

It was pointed out the blogger was released prior to the Saudi sponsored UN interfaith conference but was re-arrested once it was over.

 

18th January   

Religion-Negative...

Scientologists try to ban protestors on grounds of being HIV-positive
Link Here

Scientology is a dangerous cultThe Church of Scientology never has been shy about attempting to silence critics. Now, however, two gay activists - one of them a former Scientologist - claim the organization has broken the law by obtaining and disclosing confidential medical records belonging to those who oppose its policies.

Graham Berry, the attorney for gay activists "Angry Gay Pope" and "Happy Smurf" (the former Scientologist), called the public revelation of their HIV-positive status by lawyers for the Church of Scientology downright sickening, illegal and an insult to members of the LGBT community and HIV patients worldwide.

The disclosure of information protected under both state and federal law was part of an effort by the church to stop protests at its "Gold Base" near Hemet, California.

According to Happy Smurf, Scientology policy states that homosexuals are ‘low on the tone scale' and should be ‘disposed of quietly and without sorrow.' To that end, the men aver, the church is lobbying Riverside County to pass an ordinance that will restrict protesting at Gold Base.

Scientology considers the presence of two HIV-positive men to be a threat to the well-being of the alleged 500 church workers at the base, and is seeking to restrict protests in a move that may constitute a restriction on First Amendment rights of activists in Hemet, the activists and their attorney assert.

 

18th January   

Lashings of Beer...

Beer drinkers face the lash in Malaysia
Link Here

A caningA Malaysian sharia High Court has sentenced a man and a woman to caning for drinking beer.

Malaysians Mohamad Nasir Mohamad and Noorazah Baharuddin, were each discovered last year consuming beer in Pahang bars.

Part-time model Sari Dewi Shukarno, a resident of Singapore, faces similar accusations, according to the New Straits Times.

Pahang's Sharia High Court fined Mohamad and Baharuddin each $1,400 and ordered that they be publicly whipped for their crimes.

The caning is to shame them and should be done at any of the prisons in the country, judge Abdul Rahman Yunus told the Times.

Alcohol is widely available in the Muslim country, and the Quran calls indulgence in alcohol and gambling a great sin. But lawyer Pawancheek Merican, a shariah law committee member of the Malaysian Bar Council, told Agency France Press canings for consumption are unusual: It's rare but it's within the law and Muslims are subject to such law in this country.

Offenders are whipped with a long strip of rattan that cuts into the skin and leaves permanent scars. The law only concerns Muslims and it does not apply to non-Muslims.

 

17th January   

Update: There's Probably No God...

But there's plenty of nutters
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

Atheist bus posterA Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming There's probably no God.

Ron Heather from Southampton responded with shock and horror at the message and walked out of his shift in protest.

First Bus said it would do everything in its power to ensure Heather does not have to drive the buses.

Heather told BBC Radio Solent: I was just about to board and there it was staring me in the face, my first reaction was shock horror. I felt that I could not drive that bus, I told my managers and they said they haven't got another one and I thought I better go home, so I did. I think it was the starkness of this advert which implied there was no God.

The advertisements run on 200 bendy buses in London and 600 vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.

Based on article from mediawatchwatch.org.uk

MPs haven't been taking the wise advice and are getting wound up worrying about life.

Gregory Campbell has proposed Early Day Motion 424 : No God Advertising

That this House notes the recent advertising campaign based on London buses, There's Probably No God, the brainchild of the British Humanist Association; also notes the fact that the rationale behind it is that people can be less careful about their lifestyle choices and general approach to life's consequences by discounting the likelihood of a Creator and an afterlife; and recommends to Christian groups considering alternative advertising approaches to There's Probably No God to counter it with the simple addition of But What If There Is?

This has been signed by Nicholas Winterton, Bob Spink, Lee Scott, David Simpson and Ann Winterton.

Bob Spink has proposed Early Day Motion 403 : Offensive Advertisements On Public Transport

That this House notes that posters with the slogan `There's Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life', appear on 800 buses in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as on the London Underground; notes that this causes concern to Christian and Muslim people, many of whom feel embarrassed and uncomfortable travelling on public transport displaying such advertisements and would not wish to endorse the advertisements by using that public transport; regrets that the British Humanist Association backs the campaign; and calls on Ministers responsible for public transport and advertising media to investigate this matter and to seek to remove these religiously offensive and morally unhelpful advertisements.

This has been signed by Jim Dobbin, Gregory Campbell, David Drew, David Simpson, Ann Cryer and Marsha Singh.

 

17th January   

Extreme Tactics...

Wahhabi muslims use extreme tactics to obtain disproportionate influence in Kosovo
Link Here

Kosovo flagDespite several recent reports suggesting that radical Islam in Kosovo no longer represents a significant security threat, the beating of a prominent Albanian imam by Wahhabi Muslims indicates that the challenge within the Muslim community persists.

The disproportional yet unexplained influence of these extremists in the fledgling state's judicial and law enforcement institutions, cited by Islamic Community officials themselves, represents a challenge for the EU's nascent law-and-order mission, EULEX.

On 12 January, Radio-Television Kosova (RTK) reported that Mullah Osman Musliu, chairman of the Islamic Community in Drenas in central Kosovo had been attacked and beaten by nine Wahhabi extremists. These men were arrested, though four were soon released. The other five remain in police custody.

According to a transcript, the incident occurred when Musliu visited a mosque in the village of Zabel in order to elect a new local imam. Across the Balkans, religious-based violence has often centered on issue of candidates for such positions, with the Wahhabis often disagreeing, violently so, with the candidate supported by the mainstream Islamic community. Along with ideology, control over Islamic Community funds and properties is often the main reason for dispute.

The attack on Musliu represented the second time in recent months in which Islamic Community members were attacked by extremists, who take their inspiration, and funding, from the austere Wahhabi sect of Islam, official state religion of Saudi Arabia. This and other Muslim states were leading donors to post-war Kosovo, building hundreds of mosques in the process, though their contributions are said to have dried up considerably due to much of the population's disinterest in Islamic activities. ]

Calling the attack against him ] ]an attack against the institution , Musliu added: this was not an accident. This was well-organized. Everyone involved in that attack passed at least by two mosques to come and pray in the mosque I was in .

 

17th January   

Nonsense Forced Down their Throats...

Dentist forced scientology nonsense on his employees
Link Here

Scientology is a dangerous cultA Chicago dentist has agreed to pay $462,500 to settle allegations that he violated discrimination laws by forcing employees to submit to indoctrination in the tenets of the Church of Scientology.

The Chicago office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a civil lawsuit against James Orrington in September 2007, asserting he had discriminated against 18 female employees by subjecting them to sexual propositions and comments, and by requiring workers to engage in Scientology religious practices and learn about Scientology as conditions of their employment.

The complaint, filed in federal court in Chicago, also alleged that Orrington had breached U.S. civil-rights law by firing or taking retaliatory actions against employees who complained.

 

16th January   

Green Will Have a Coronary Bill...

Religious homophobia exemption clause to be deleted from UK Law
Link Here

anti gay protestThe new injustice bill contains a measure to protect people from incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

In May the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill created for the first time an offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

However, an amendment by Tory peer Lord Waddington, a former Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, was added to the legislation.

His amendment to the offence of using threatening language with intent to stir up hatred on grounds of sexual orientation said that urging someone to change their sexuality should not count of itself as threatening or as intended to stir up hatred.

While he claimed his amendment was about free speech, in effect it gives people leeway to claim they were just following their religious beliefs when inciting others to hate gay, lesbian or bisexual people.

If Christians can argue that their faith gives them a get-out clause, it could make a prosecution more difficult.

The Coroners and Injustice Bill, part of the government's legislative programme for this session of Parliament, contains a clause removing the Waddington amendment.

A spokesperson for gay equality organisation Stonewall, told PinkNews.co.uk:

Last year, the House of Lords voted to retain an exemption to the new incitement to hatred protections. Stonewall believes this is unnecessary and could mean that a very small number of people of extreme views attempt to avoid prosecution by citing a 'religious defence'. Stonewall is pleased that the government is now seeking to remove this exemption. It will mean stronger protection for lesbian, gay and bisexual people from those who stir up hatred against them.

 

16th January   

Man Made Blasphemy...

Afghan editor arrested for article about man made religions
Link Here

Payman Daily logoAn Afghan news editor has been arrested for a publishing a newspaper article rejecting that religions, including Islam, were passed to humans through divine revelations.

The news editor of a small Kabul newspaper, Payman Daily, was picked up after the allegedly blasphemous article was printed, the deputy attorney general, Fazel Ahmad Faqiryar, told AFP.

He was arrested for publishing an article in which he has rejected revelation. This is an insult to Islam and the rest of the religions, Faqiryar said.

The journalist, whom Faqiryar would not name, was being investigated. If found guilty under Afghanistan's law, which is based on Islamic Sharia law, he could face a sentence ranging from a reprimand to the death penalty.

The paper had earlier apologised for publishing the article.

 

14th January   

Update: Weird Faith...

Scientologists set their lawyers on the Daily Mail
Link Here  full story: Scientology Censors...Scientogists quick to litigate against critics

Scientology protestorGlosslip insiders have revealed that the Daily Mail’s story on Jett Travolta, titled Did John Travolta’s weird faith seal son Jett’s fate? was pulled from their website after threats from the Church of Scientology.

This is nothing new in the world of Scientology. Almost a year ago, gossip site Gawker was threatened with legal action from the highly litigious religion after posting a for Scientologist’s eyes only video featuring Tom Cruise discussing his strange religion. Gawker, citing fair use laws, refused to pull the video, and have been reaping a traffic bonanza since.

With the barrage of stories following the tragic death of 16-year old Jett Travolta, one has to wonder how much overtime the lawyers have been putting in trying to keep the media from looking too closely at their dangerous history of medical mishaps based on the groups anti-psychiatry beliefs.

 

14th January   

Update: Welcome to Saudi Britain...

Result of petition against sharia law in the UK
Link Here  full story: Sharia Law in the UK...Shariah tribunals operating in Britain

Welcome to Saudi Britain by Pat Condell Re the petition: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop Sharia Law from being binding in law under arbitration tribunals rules.

Further Details: Sharia law can be enforced in this country by the county and high courts. This is allowed under rules of arbitration when both parties in the dispute agree to give the tribunal (in this case a sharia court) the power to rule on the case. We state that this should be stopped, as sharia law is totally contrary to western values of fair and equal justice for all.

Result: Closed

Received 6572 signatures

Statement from No 10 Downing Street:

Shari’a law is the code of personal religious law governing the conduct of Muslims. It can extend into all aspects of people’s lives – personal, religious, family, civil and criminal.

Shari’a law is not part of the law of England and Wales. The Government does not intend to change this position in relation to the whole or part of the United Kingdom. However, provided an activity prescribed by Shari’a law does not contravene the law of England and Wales, there is nothing to prohibit it. Muslims can, for example, wear traditional dress and follow dietary rules. They are completely free to worship in the way that they want.

There can never be reliance on the fact that an act is permitted under Shari’a law as a justification for committing what is, under the law of England and Wales, a criminal act. Nor, for example, could someone expect a civil court, in reaching a decision on a contractual case under English or Scottish law, to apply the principles of Shari’a law.

Criminal matters, both small and serious, will always be heard in a Crown or Magistrate’s Court in England and Wales, and in Sheriff’s Courts in Scotland. The decisions made in an alternative court will not be recognised.

 

13th January   

Go On, Give us Another One...

Ofcom not offended by Jesus conjuring trick of turning water into wine
Link Here

Rowan Atkinson as vicarWe Are Most Amused
ITV1, 15 November 2008, 20:35

We Are Most Amused was a special comedy gala performance held to mark the sixtieth birthday of the Prince of Wales. The show included many of the UK’s leading comedians.

Ofcom received 540 complaints concerning a sketch, included in the programme, featuring Rowan Atkinson. In the sketch, Rowan Atkinson played a Christian clergyman delivering a comedic version of a biblical miracle story – the Wedding Feast at Cana.

The complainants considered the sketch to be offensive and blasphemous, and some complainants questioned whether a similar sketch would be permissible if the subject had been one of the world’s other religions, such as Islam. There was evidence that the complaints were part of an orchestrated campaign. [Stephen Green's Christian Voice being previously noted as organising such a campaign]

Playing the clergyman, Rowan Atkinson delivered the sketch as if reciting from the bible to a congregation. He described Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, and said:

And when the steward of the feast did taste of the water from the pots, it had become wine. And he knew not whence it had come. But the servants did know, and they applauded loudly in the kitchen. And they said unto the Lord: ‘How the hell did you do that?’ And inquired of him: ‘Do you do children’s parties?’ And the Lord said: ‘No.’ But the servants did press him, saying: ‘Go on, give us another one’.

Further on in the sketch, Ofcom noted there were the following passages:

…and he did place a large red cloth over the carrot and then removed it. And lo, he held in his hand a white rabbit. And all were amazed, and said: ‘This guy is really good; he should turn professional’. And there came unto him a woman called Mary…and Jesus said unto her: ‘Put on a tutu and lie down in this box’. And took he forth a saw and cleft her in twain.

…And he did go unto Jerusalem, and he did his full act before the Scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Romans. But alas, it did not please them in their hearts. In fact they absolutely crucified him.

Ofcom considered these complaints under Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision

Many complainants accused ITV of blasphemy. Ofcom is not required to determine whether the ITV committed blasphemy, but whether, in this case, the provisions of its Code had been breached.

Comedy has a long tradition of tackling challenging and sensitive subjects, such as religion. It is important and necessary, in line with freedom of expression, that broadcasters can explore such matters. Therefore broadcasters are free to include treatments, comedic or otherwise, of any religion, as long as they comply with the Code.

In particular, this was a comedy sketch, by a performer well-known for his depictions of clergymen in comedic situations. The sketch was an absurd interpretation of a well-known biblical miracle story, and was not intended as a serious interpretation of Christian belief, nor would it be realistic to make such an inference.

It superimposed onto the original story, the concept of how some people might react today, if Jesus were to appear in modern society. In making an analogy between miracles and magic, the comedian used the well-known comic device of placing theological figures in a contemporary and everyday human situation. The overall tone of the sketch was affectionate and not abusive of the Christian religion.

Ofcom considered that the approach would have been well understood by the vast majority of the audience and would not have gone beyond what would normally be expected in a programme of this type. Therefore, the programme was not in breach of Rule 2.3.

 

13th January   

Update: The Power of Prayer...

The tragedy of child deaths as parents choose prayer over medical treatment
Link Here  full story: Prayer Before Medicine...Suffering as prayer is prefered to medical aid

OregonWhen Dr. Seth Asser saw row after row of flat headstones marking children's graves in a small cemetery not far from the end of the historic Oregon Trail, he knew many of these early deaths should not have happened.

The children's parents relied on faith healing, instead of doctors. The pediatrician published a landmark study concluding many of the deaths could have been prevented if the children had received medical care. His study 10 years ago brought attention to the issue, and yet today three criminal cases — two in Oregon and one in Wisconsin — have revived concerns about exemptions that most states grant to parents who rely on faith healing instead of doctors to treat sick children.

Faith healing has deep roots in American history, and yet it may seem surprising that in the 21st century, children still die because parents choose not to seek medical help from physicians.

State laws across the nation exempt members of religious groups from prosecution if they choose faith healing over science. Asser and a colleague, Rita Swan, have been trying to get states to repeal such laws, arguing that safety should always come first, no matter what the parents believe.

We can't legislate good parenting, but at least we shouldn't have laws allowing bad parenting, said Swan, who now heads the advocacy group Children's Healthcare. But Swan and Asser have been lonely voices, partly because tragedies are rare and partly because legislators are loath to challenge parental rights, especially when they are intertwined with the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 30 states have specific exemption laws on the books.

Some states have revised their laws, including Oregon in 1999. After a stormy debate in the Oregon Legislature, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a compromise bill into law that eliminated the Oregon spiritual healing exemption in some manslaughter and criminal mistreatment cases.

Two pending criminal cases expected to test Oregon's revised law are against parents belonging to the Followers of Christ Church, the same religious sect that owns the cemetery visited by Asser in 2001.

Jeffrey Dean Beagley and his wife, Marci Rae Beagley, have been charged with failing to provide adequate medical care, in violation of their duties as parents. Their 16-year-old son, Neil, died in June from complications of a urinary-tract blockage that triggered heart failure. Doctors said a simple procedure could have saved his life.

In the other Oregon case, Carl Brent Worthington and his wife, Raylene, have pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment in the death of their 15-month-old daughter, Ava, who died at home from bacterial pneumonia and a blood infection, conditions the state medical examiner said were treatable.

In a 1998 study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, Asser and Swan, herself a former Christian Scientist, documented 172 faith-related child deaths in the United States between 1975 and 1995. They found that 140 of the children died from conditions for which survival rates with medical care exceeded 90%.

 

12th January   

Update: Continuing Inhumanity...

2 men executed by stoning in Iran
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Stoning scene from movieTwo men have been stoned to death for adultery at a cemetery in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad while a third escaped with his life, the Iranian newspaper Etemad Melli reported.

One of them named Mahmoud, an Afghan national, was able to save himself from the stoning hole with serious injuries, but two others died, it said.

Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi issued an ineffective directive in 2002 imposing a moratorium on such executions.

The group quoted by Etemad Melli voiced concern at the stoning sentence being carried out contrary to Ayatollah Hashemi Shahrudi's order and called on the authorities to put an end to this punishment.

Under Iran's Islamic law, adultery is still theoretically punishable by stoning, which involves the public hurling of stones at the convict buried up to his waist. A woman is buried up to her shoulders. The convict is spared death if he can free himself from the hole.

 

12th January   

Update: TaliDancingBan...

Pakistan Taliban ban dancing but are OK with murder
Link Here  full story: School Burning in Pakistan...Taliban take offence at education, particularly for girls

Pakistan flagPakistan's celebrated dancing girls are fleeing in fear of their lives as Taliban militants increase their strength in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province.

The bullet-ridden body of Shabana in the centre of Mingora sent two clear messages to the locals in the Swat Valley's largest town: un-Islamic vices will no longer be tolerated, and the Taliban is now effectively in control.

Shabana's body was found slumped on the ground, strewn with bank notes, CDs of her dance performances and pictures from her photo album. In case anyone had not grasped the message the local Taliban commander Maulana Shah Dauran broadcast a warning on one of its FM radio stations in the valley: his men had killed her and if any other girls were found performing in the city's Banr Bazaar they would be killed one by one.

This weekend the last of the bazaar's dancing girls, many of whom had trained under Shabana's wing and lived in her house, were seen loading their belongings on to trucks and fleeing to the relative safety of Karachi and Lahore, where their talents remain in great demand.

The banishment marks a key turning point in the battle for the Swat Valley between Taliban militants and the Pakistan Army. It followed recent orders to close down girls' schools in the valley, shut shops selling music CDs and films, and edicts on barbers to stop shaving beards.

The performances of the dancing girls in Banr Bazaar had been one of the city's last vices , but in the narrow street where, until last week, they plied their trade, signs were posted on doors stating: We have stopped dancing, please do not knock on the door.

 

12th January   

Clerical Error...

Iranian hidden camera captures adulterous cleric
Link Here

Iranian cleric caught in the act A hidden camera catches an Iranian cleric committing adultery, and the video rockets around the blogosphere, where a new generation can finally skirt state censorship.

A video scandal has hit the Iranian Internet scene. Like many online scandals in the West, it involves a model. Not Paris Hilton, but a supposed model of virtue: a cleric.

In the video—for weeks voted the top story on Balatarin.com (an Iranian version of Digg.com)—a robed cleric is caught on a hidden camera in a private room. He walks to the door to let a chador-clad woman enter.

Nobody saw you come in, did they? he asks her lightheartedly. As she removes her chador, they continue on to sex.

The cleric was apparently a member of the government-run Friday Prayers Committee in Hamadan province. Semi-official news sites tried to downplay the impact of the video, which leaked out of an Intelligence Ministry investigation. But their reports did acknowledge that the man involved was a married cleric, and that the video depicts the consummation of an unlawful affair.

Of course, it is hardly news that hormones do not always heed religious expectations, but this is the first video evidence of a cleric’s misbehavior to spread publicly. Iranians’ have been gleefull at exposing such hypocrisy.

It is reported that the Hamadani cleric has been sentenced to 100 lashes and banished to another province.

 

12th January   

Update: No Escape from Islam...

A rare victory for an Egyptian wanting to convert from islam
Link Here  full story: Religious Intolerance in Egypt...Court challenge over imposing islam on ID cards

Egypt flagAn Egyptian convert to Christianity who spent 31 years officially identified as a Muslim has won a rare legal victory to be officially registered in his “new” faith.

An Alexandrian administrative court awarded Fathi Labib Yousef the right to register as a Christian.

Yousef, in his early 60s, was raised Coptic but converted to Islam in 1974 in order to divorce his Christian wife. Becoming Muslim typically allows for an easy nullification of marriage to a non-Muslim within sharia (Islamic law), and conversion is often employed for this reason by both men and women in Islamic countries.

He reverted to Christianity in 2005. Yousef applied to the civil registry to acknowledge his change of religion the same year. But the government refused to acknowledge his re-conversion, so he filed a lawsuit against the Egyptian prime minister, interior minister and Civil Status Organization chairman.

The court awarded him the right to revert to Christianity since it is his right according to Egyptian civil law, said Peter Ramses, an attorney familiar with Yousef’s case. Ramses said this case is an important development for Egypt to live up to freedoms promised in the constitution. And Yousef is not assured that his official religious identity will stand. His attorney, Joseph Malak, said other Egyptian Christians have won the right to return to Christianity only to see government officials stop implementation.

Last year Egypt’s top administrative court allowed 12 converts to Islam to return to Christianity, but the decision was appealed before the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court. The court was going to rule in November concerning the legality of reversion to Christianity, but its decision has been postponed indefinitely. If the court had upheld the decision, Egyptian converts to Islam would have had the constitutional right to return to Christianity.

 

11th January   

Unethical BBC Ethics Department...

Anti religious interview edited to support religion
Link Here

Radio 2 logoThe BBC has been forced to apologise to an acclaimed psychologist and writer after editing her derogatory comments about religion so that a radio programme broadcast the opposite of what she had said.

Dorothy Rowe complained to the corporation that her interview on the Radio 2 programme What Do You Believe? had been edited so that the final version misrepresented her views. During a 50-minute recorded interview, Rowe had attempted to comment on the subject proposed by the programme's producer: Why so many people want to believe in God and search for faith. But she was aghast to hear how her words were eventually used.

In an email to the corporation Rowe stated: My words were edited to make it sound that I held a favourable opinion of religion in that it gave a structure to a person's life. What was not broadcast was what I had said about how such structures can be damaging to people. Being misquoted in this way concerned me greatly.

She said the interview sounds like I am giving unqualified praise to religious belief. There is no mention of what I talked... about at length, that religious belief can cause immense misery. I often summarise this with: 'The church keeps me in business'.

The row has provided ammunition for secular critics who accuse the BBC of using its programmes to promote religion. Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, who was interviewed for the same programme as Rowe, said: I gave a long interview, but when I listened to the finished product it contained just a couple of very brief soundbites from me which were not representative of the thoughts I had expressed... This programme was the most blatant piece of religious propaganda I have heard for a long time.

A spokeswoman for the corporation said: The BBC's religion and ethics department acknowledged that extracts from an interview with Dorothy Rowe - broadcast in the programme What Do You Believe? - misrepresented her views on religion and has apologised to her.

 

11th January   

Unpleasantly Surprised...

Netherlands calls on the Vatican to justify opposition to gay decriminalisation
Link Here

NetherlandsThe Vatican envoy to the Netherlands has been called to a meeting to defend the Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage by the Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister.

At the request of homosexualist activist groups, Maxime Verhagen, a Christian Democrat, has demanded that the Papal Nuncio to the Netherlands, Monsignor Fran็ois Bacqu้, respond to accusations that the Church opposes gay rights.

Verhagen said, The Netherlands is unpleasantly surprised by the opposition of Pope Benedict XVI to a UN declaration on human rights and homosexuality.

Verhagen noted that although there were points of agreement with the Vatican statements, the judgments of the Pope on homosexuality are cause for concern because they are unnecessarily offensive, as can be seen, and do not contribute to a worthy debate.

In December, the Vatican was attacked in the international press for refusing to endorse the UN motion claiming to decriminalise homosexuality. The motion, which is not legally binding, was introduced by Verhagen and by his colleagues from France, and has been signed by only 66 of the UN’s 192 member states. Thus far, although the United States, Russia, China, Guatemala, El Salvador and some African countries have also refused to endorse the resolution, only the representative of the Vatican has been publicly called on the carpet by Verhagen.

 

10th January   

Skittle Alley...

Israel easily offended by Pope's remark about Gaza
Link Here

GazaA diplomatic row between Israel and the Vatican cast doubt over Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit to the Holy Land, after a prominent cardinal said that Gazans were living in a big concentration camp.

In his annual speech to diplomats in the Vatican the Pope sought to damp down the dispute. He said that the war was provoking immense damage and suffering for the civilian populations in Gaza and Israel. He urged the rejection of hatred, acts of provocation and the use of arms and added: Violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned. The military solution is never an option .

His remarks came amid outrage from Israelis over a statement by Cardinal Renato Martino, the head of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace and a former Holy See envoy to the United Nations, who compared Gaza to a concentration camp. The cardinal criticised Israel for killing civilians who had taken shelter at a UN run school in Gaza.

Israeli officials said that they were deeply shocked that a man of religion is using the vocabulary of Hamas propaganda. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which monitors antiSemitism and hunts down Nazi war criminals, said that Cardinal Martino had used the language of a Holocaust denier.

Israeli Media Propaganda

Based on article from indexoncensorship.org by Dimi Reider

When I was in journalism school, we were taught that truth was the first casualty of any war. But in the current seismic violence in the Gaza Strip, truth was joined by three more casualties — decency, compassion and shame.

True, censorship is there. Not only are there no Israeli journalists in Gaza, but Israel is also preventing all foreign media from reaching the Strip, with even the circumspect decision by an embattled Supreme Court to let in a pool of eight journalists (foreign and Israeli) not being carried out. Foreign journalists have been detained, and online forums have been contacted and requested to remove threads which the IDF considered dangerous either to security or morale . The parliament has happily joined the bandwagon, with one prominent MK suggesting to block al Jazeera and al Arabiya due to the demoralising effect it has on our Arab population.

The media itself rushes to assist them with bucketfuls of self-censorship. But all this pales before the unabashedly jingoistic tone struck by the media.

News sections in newspapers are entirely devoted to drums of war from day one, when all media lauded the brilliant thinking of the surprise effect.  IDF statements are given as news items and the most extravagant quotes by the Israeli politicians are reported as they are. (The prize-holder for these is, undoubtedly, Tzipi Livni, with such profound statements as a ceasefire would damage negotiations and the war is necessary to promote peace.

Censorship Bombshell

Based on article from cpj.org

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Israeli military's bombing today of a Gaza City building that houses the offices of a number of international news organizations.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked the rooftop of Al-Johara Tower, an eight-story building located in Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, which houses more than 20 international news organizations.

Al-Jazeera reported that at least one journalist was injured while filing a report from the roof of the building. Satellite transmission equipment on the roof of the building was also damaged in the attack.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, defended the strike in an interview with Al-Jazeera, saying that communications equipment in the building could have been used by Hamas.

The Israeli military knows the location of TV facilities houses and news bureaus in Gaza. It is simply unacceptable that working journalists and their offices should come under fire in this way," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. Journalists enjoy protections under international law in military campaigns such as the one in Gaza. Israel must cease its attacks on the media immediately.

 

10th January   

Update: The Moral Monopoly...

BBC responds to requests for opening up Thought For the Day
Link Here

Thought for the Day BBC logoThe controller of Radio 4, Mark Damazer defends keeping Thought for the Day reserved for religious believers:

I regard this as a genuinely difficult question. There may be a case for widening the pool of contributors on Thought for The Day by having someone with an avowedly non-religious perspective. However on balance the BBC's position is that it is reasonable to sustain the slot with believers. Let me now set out the reasoning.

Thought for the Day is a unique slot in which speakers from a wide range of religious faiths reflect on an issue of the day from their faith perspective. In the midst of the three hour Today programme devoted to overwhelmingly secular concerns - national and international news and features, searching interviews etc - the slot offers a brief, uninterrupted interlude of spiritual reflection. We believe that broadening the brief would detract from the distinctiveness of the slot.

Within Thought for the Day a careful balance is maintained of voices from different Christian denominations and other religions with significant membership in the UK. We are broadcasting to the general Radio 4 audience which regularly engages with the comments and ideas expressed by our contributors from the world's major faiths - whether they are believers or not.

Outside Thought for the Day the BBC's religious output contains both religious and non-religious voices in programmes such as Sunday, Beyond Belief, Moral Maze. In these programmes atheists, humanists and secularists are regularly heard, the religious world is scrutinised, its leaders and proponents are questioned.

Non-religious voices are also heard extensively across the general output in news, current affairs, documentaries, talks, science, history. These programmes approach the world from perspectives which are not religious. As, of course, do the other 2 hours 57 minutes of Today.

 

10th January   

Update: Praise be to Al**h...

Malaysia rescinds ban on Malay language section of catholic newspaper
Link Here  full story: Oh My God...Only muslims can use the word Allah in Malaysia

Catholic HeraldNine days after imposing a ban on the Malay-language section of the Herald , a Catholic newspaper, Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs has lifted the ban – but stipulated that the publisher must not use the word “Allah” for God in its Malay section until the matter is settled in court.

Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald, told Compass that the letter made clear that the conditions set out by the government in its earlier  letter still stand. The publisher must print the word terhad ( restricted or limited in Malay) on the cover page of the newspaper to indicate that the weekly can only be sold in churches and is meant for Christians only. Fr. Andrew told Compass the publisher will comply with this condition, which he said was not an unreasonable request.

In addition, the ministry has continued to prohibit the publisher from using the word “Allah” as the Malay translation for God. The ministry maintained that the prohibition must remain in place until the dispute over the publisher’s right to use the word is settled in court.

 

9th January   

Update: There's Probably No God...

Advert censor ponders the unlikely existence of a god
Link Here  full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

Atheist bus posterThe advertising censor is being called upon to rule on the likelihood of God's existence after complaints were made about the atheist bus advert campaign.

Censors at the Advertising Standards Authority are now considering whether to tackle the question that has taxed the minds of the world's greatest thinkers for centuries.

It has recorded 48 complaints since Tuesday when buses first hit the streets emblazoned with the message: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. At least 40 more people were understood to have made objections by last night.

Most of those who have contacted the ASA consider the adverts offensive and say they break guidelines on taste and decency.

Stephen Green, the nutter behind Christian Voice is claiming they should be taken down because the statement in the adverts cannot be substantiated: If you're going to put out what appears to be a factual statement then you have to be able to back it up. They've got to substantiate this proposition that in all probability, God doesn't exist.

The ASA is now considering whether to investigate his complaint, which could lead to it reaching a deep ontological conclusion about a supreme being. If it ruled that the wording in the posters was unsubstantiated, it would be interpreted as effectively saying that in all probability God does exist. Ruling that the words were justified could be taken as an agreement that God probably does not exist.

Members of the public donated ฃ140,000 to the Atheist Bus Campaign after its founder, the writer Ariane Sherine, suggested there should be an antidote to religious posters on public transport that threaten eternal damnation to non-believers.

Some supporters of the movement had wanted a stronger slogan that denied God's existence categorically. But the word "probably" was included in order to meet ASA rules.

The British Humanist Association, which is co-ordinating the campaign, said it was confident the chosen wording will not be banned by the censor.

The ASA said: We are assessing these complaints to see whether there are grounds for an investigation.

There's Probably No God in Spain Either

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Meanwhile the posting of atheist advertising on Barcelona's buses has been branded an attack on all religions.

Next week, Barcelona will become the first city in Spain to copy the UK campaign when its buses use a direct translation of the slogan adopted in Britain. Madrid, Valencia and other cities are being targeted to run similar campaigns.

Probablemente Dios no existe. Deja de preocuparte y goza de la vida, it reads, translating as There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.

The campaign has provoked a reaction from the Catholic archbishopric of Barcelona. Faith in God is not a source of worry, nor is it an obstacle for enjoying life, it said in a statement.

It is an attack on all religions, said Javier Maria Perez-Roldan of the church's Tomas Moro centre, blaming the socialist government for the privately funded campaign: The government has created an atmosphere of belligerence.

 

9th January   

Senegal Intolerance...

Nine men sentenced to 8 years for gay sex
Link Here

Senegal flagNine men were handed unusually harsh sentences of eight years in prison after being tried on charges of conspiracy and unnatural acts, a term used to criminalize homosexuality, according to their lawyers and gay rights groups in Senegal.

The men were arrested on December 19 at the home of Diadji Diouf, a prominent gay activist who works with AIDS organizations to prevent the spread of the disease in the largely clandestine gay community in Senegal, according to Joel Nana, a program associate for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Diouf, who was among those arrested and sentenced, runs an organization that provides condoms and counseling to gay men in Senegal, a largely Muslim country that has become increasingly intolerant of homosexuality in recent years.

 

9th January   

Update: Relating to Gay Discrimination...

Christian who refused to counsel gay couples fails in his claim of unlawful discrimination
Link Here  full story: Religious Incompetents...Unable to do the job for religious reasons

Relate logoA Christian relationship counsellor who was sacked after he refused to give sex therapy to homosexual couples has lost his case for unlawful discrimination.

An employment tribunal ruled that the national counselling service Relate was entitled to dismiss Gary McFarlane after he said that encouraging gay sex went against his devout religious beliefs.

The decision prompted Christian groups to demand a rethink of religious discrimination laws, following a string of other high-profile cases in which courts have found against Christians who claim they have suffered as a result of standing up for their beliefs.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported McFarlane in his claim, said the religious discrimination law was in danger of becoming a dead letter , while the Christian Institute said there was a growing feeling among churchgoers that religious discrimination laws only applied to Muslims and other minority faiths.

McFarlane brought his claim for unfair dismissal after he was sacked in March 2008. In 2006, after he qualified as a psychosexual therapist, he made it clear to his employers that his strong Christian beliefs meant he did not feel able to give sex therapy advice to homosexuals. Fellow counsellors objected to his stance and claimed his views were homophobic, and in March 2008 he was sacked.

An employment tribunal panel unanimously rejected his claim, though the panel decided McFarlane had been wrongfully dismissed as Relate had not followed the correct dismissal procedures. The panel said McFarlane's claim had failed because: The claimant was not treated as he was because of his Christian faith, but because (Relate) believed that he would not comply with its policies and that it would have treated anyone else of whom that was believed, regardless of religion, in the same way.

 

9th January   

Inflamed by Nonsense...

Papua New Guinea woman burned alive as a witch
Link Here  full story: Witch Hunts...Witches still hunted even in modern times

Papua New Guinea FlagA woman in rural Papua New Guinea was bound and gagged, tied to a log and set ablaze on a pile of tires this week, possibly because villagers suspected her of being a witch, police have said.

Her death adds to a growing list of men and women who have been accused of sorcery and then tortured or killed in the South Pacific island nation, where traditional beliefs hold sway in many regions.

The victims are often scapegoats for someone else's unexplained death and bands of tribesmen collude to mete out justice to them for their supposed magical powers, police said.

Early Tuesday morning, a group of people dragged the woman, believed to be in her late teens to early 20s, to a dumping ground outside the city of Mount Hagen. They stripped her naked, bound her hands and legs, stuffed a cloth in her mouth, tied her to a log and set her on fire.

The country's Post-Courier newspaper reported that more than 50 people were killed in two Highlands provinces last year for allegedly practicing sorcery.

In recent years, as AIDS has taken a toll in the the nation, villagers have blamed suspected witches -- and not the virus -- for the deaths.

 

8th January   

Child Abuse in the Dublin Priesthood...

The dreadful consequences of trying to deny people sex
Link Here
confessional

Father, I have lustful thoughts.

Well bottle it up for now,
say 5 Hail Marys,...and we'll
deal with the mess when
you flip

A staggering 400 people are known or suspected to have suffered clerical sex abuse at the hands of priests in the Dublin diocese according to the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

The Catholic Church in Ireland is in dread in anticipation of publication of four separate reports on clerical child sex abuse from among those in its ranks.

It begins this week when Minister of State for Children Barry Andrews will present a HSE national audit on child protection practices in all the State's Catholic dioceses to the Cabinet.

Later this month the church's own independent watchdog, its National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) in the Catholic Church in Ireland, will present its audit of such practices in all Catholic dioceses on the island.

Then, at the end of the month, the report from the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation into how the archdiocese handled allegations of clerical child sex abuse between January 1st, 1975, and April 30th, 2004, is expected to be published.

No one believes it will make for pleasant reading.

And in February, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is expected to publish its report on the abuse of children in reformatories, industrial schools and orphanages run by 18 Catholic religious congregations throughout the State. This year promises to be yet another annus horribilis for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Where the Dublin Commission is concerned, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin described as staggering a figure disclosed by the archdiocese in another update last November of information from its files, that approximately 400 people are known or suspected to have suffered child sexual abuse by priests there since 1940. It was also pointed out that this was not the final figure.

That update disclosed that allegations of clerical child sex abuse have been raised against 140 priests who have served in the Dublin archdiocese since 1940, with suspicions raised against a further 32. Eight of the priests have been convicted, while a further three are before the courts.

 

8th January   

Update: God of Intimidation...

Malaysia censors catholic newspaper pending trial
Link Here  full story: Oh My God...Only muslims can use the word Allah in Malaysia

Catholic HeraldMalaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered the Catholic weekly Herald to cease publishing its Malay-language section pending the outcome of a court case over the newspaper’s right to use the Arabic word 'Allah' for God.

The government also included two other conditions: The newspaper can be sold only in churches, and it must be printed clearly on the cover that it is meant for Christians only.

The three conditions were included in the renewal notice of the weekly’s annual printing license issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. A hearing in the court case is scheduled for Feb. 27.

The publisher of the Herald has rejected the conditions imposed on the newspaper and submitted a letter of appeal to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald hopes to receive a revocation of the restriction from the ministry, before the first edition of the weekly for 2009 goes to print. Otherwise, the weekly will have to be scaled down to 24 pages, down by a quarter of its usual size.

Fr. Andrew reportedly said the ban was unacceptable and urged the government to let the court decide and not jump the gun. In a report by The Associated Press (AP) he described the prohibition as amounting to persecution: It curtails our freedom of expression and diminishes our rights as citizens .

 

7th January   

Anti Gay Gambia...

Gay tourists threatened with arrest and an imprisonment
Link Here

Gambia flagA 79-year-old man from the Netherlands has been found guilty of indecency with several Gambian men.

A court sentenced Frank Boers to pay 100,000 Gambian dalasis (ฃ2,500) in lieu of a two year prison sentence.

Boers was arrested at the city's international airport when officials found he was in possession of nude pictures of himself and some Gambian men and other pornography.

Gambia, a mostly Muslim country of 1.7 million people, punishes homosexual acts, even in private, with up to seven years in prison.

oers conviction follows the President Jammeh's pledge to crack down on gay people in the country. The Daily Observer reported that the President had issued: An ultimatum to homosexuals, drug dealers, thieves and other criminals, to leave the Gambia or face serious consequences if caught. Any hotel, lodge or motel that lodges this kind of individuals will be closed down, because this act is unlawful. We are in a Muslim dominated country and I will not and shall never accept such individuals in this country.

In the wake of their arrests the Foreign Office updated its guidance for British visitors.

Although there are no laws specifically covering homosexuality in the Gambia, the Gambian Criminal Code states that any person who has, or attempts to have, "carnal knowledge" of any person "against the order of nature" is guilty of a felony and could face imprisonment.

The Gambian courts may interpret homosexual acts as falling under this part of the Code.

The Code also states that gross indecency between men, whether in public or private, is a felony and anyone committing this felony could face imprisonment.

We have received reports that the police are actively enforcing this Code.

 

7th January   

Offsite: Art and Politics as Usual...

Giant Stalin poster censored from New York college building
Link Here

Stalin on the Cooper UnionIn the light of what happened to my project at Cooper Union [last month, the museum removed a giant banner with a reproduction of a Picasso drawing of Joseph Stalin, after protests from the Ukrainian church opposite], it is a bit ironic that the show was announced under the headline, Art and politics as usual .

...

When you do projects in a public space you are asking for trouble, both as an artist and as an institution, and one has to be prepared for attacks. No one had foreseen the Ukrainian reaction, or the already existing conflict between Cooper Union and the Ukrainian community. But any kind of public art has the ability to offend someone, even if it is not so intended. Any image or presentation that is ambiguous is likely to be read as offensive by someone. Therefore, when you make art in a public space the question is not how to avoid offending people, but how to deal with these reactions. Cooper Union decided that the best way was to take down the banner, and to try to silence the reactions with a statement that was so well balanced that it worked more as a cover-up than a starting-point for a discussion.

The intended provocation of the banners lies not primarily in the fact that I show an enlarged portrait of Stalin, but in the combination of one of the most famous artists from the 20th century, Pablo Picasso, and one of the most infamous dictators of the same period, Joseph Stalin. Normally these two short and powerful men would not figure in the same story, or in the same presentation of history. But here they are together, linked by a charcoal drawing.

...Read full article

 

6th January   

Thought For the Day...

Religion: Preaching tolerance whilst practising intolerance
Link Here

Thought for the Day BBC logoAn issue has arisen recently. It isn’t strictly a matter of censorship however it does involve a kind of restriction on broadcasting so I thought it was appropriate.

Radio 4’s Thought For The Day program, which provides a platform for religious viewpoints whilst deliberately excluding atheistic or humanist viewpoints. There is an organised campaign of opposition here .

More than 1600 people have pledged to write to the BBC and the organiser has just asked these 1600 to write in during the coming week (5/1/09). If you’re interested you can sign up or just send in an email or letter of complaint to the Beeb. Here is an example :

It should be interesting to see what happens. The Controller of Radio 4 said that he hears no appetite for change, but with the exception of the recent Jonathan Ross incident, Aunty usually only receives 50-100 complaints a quarter.

See also article from guardian.co.uk by Sue Blackmore:

I've always enjoyed Thought for the Day ( TFTD ), that two-minute spot in the middle of Radio 4's Today programme, which seems to be a brief respite from the hard news, and a chance for someone to give moral or ethical reflections on current events. The trouble is that only religious speakers are invited. Rabbis, priests, imams, chaplains, and monks are there, but never humanists, agnostics, or atheists.

Why not? Wouldn't it be better if they were? Morality is not the sole prerogative of the religious – there are even reasons to think that the irreligious are more moral. So why shouldn't we be invited to speak on TFTD ?

 

4th January   

Party Poopers...

Malaysia police raid small 'sex party' in private apartment
Link Here

Malaysia flagMalaysian police said that they will not press sex offence charges against 26 people who were arrested in a private apartment during a New Year bash in Kuala Lumpur.

The case has been transferred to the Narcotics Department instead as drugs were found in the 3.30am raid.

Those arrested included a woman TV newscaster, an actress, a disc jockey and several students, according to newspaper reports. When police stormed the 11th floor apartment in a building close to the Petronas Twin Towers, the occupants were all fully clothed and the few condoms found had not been used.

However, the media had dubbed the gathering as a sex party , and claimed that couples had been found in each of the three bedrooms.

The revellers were highly intoxicated and some broke down when arrested, the New Straits Times daily had reported. It said the apartment was fitted with disco lights and loud music was playing, and condoms, beer cans and half-eaten pizzas were strewn all over the floor.

 

4th January   

Update: The Evil that Men Do...

Iranian court approves another stoning
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Stoning scene from movieThe 27th Iranian Court District has approved of the stoning of a Afsaneh, woman from Shiraz, Iran.

The original stoning order of this woman came from the 5th Court District in Shiraz in Fars Province. It was then appealed to a higher court in the country, who approved the decision.

The court came to the conclusion that the defendant purposefully and consciously chose to commit murder. Her partner and accomplice to the murder, a man named Reza, was sentenced to 15 years in jail with 100 lashes.

The defendant's appeal to a higher court was rejected. This comes at a time when the spokesman for the Iranian Judiciary announced in a press conference that Iran would no longer enforce the law of stoning for any of the accused.

Gholamhossein Raesi, head of the Lawyers for Human Rights commission in the Fars province stated: This order was based on the 'knowledge' of 'feeling' of one Judge, and contradicts the law of Islam on punishments for adultery.

He explained that the crime of adultery could be proven two ways. First is based on the confession of the accused. The second is based on eye-witnesses. Therefore, according to law 99 in the Islamic criminal code, the judge's knowledge or feeling is illegitimate when trying the crime of adultery.

 

3rd January   

Nutters vs Swingers...

Deviant Texas nutters protest about lawful new years eve party fun
Link Here

Nutter protestA New Year's Eve party at a Texas swingers club in Amarillo caused an uproar among area churches.

About 20 nutters  from area churches joined to take a stand against what they say is an immoral club that promotes deviant sexual behavior.

They say about thirty people entered the Amarillo building for what they believe is a swingers party. Protesters used prayers and Bible verses as their weapons.

The City of Amarillo says the people legally have the right to gather and hold a party. They say they have inspected the building and it is up to city code. As far as they know nothing illegal is happening. The owner of the establishment will not comment.

 

3rd January   

Talibanistan...

Areas of Pakistan fall victim to sharia law
Link Here

Pakistan flagThe Taliban announced the enforcement of sharia in the Shakai, Sheikhan and Mulakhel areas of Hangu district in the Pakistan's NW Frontier Province.

The decision was made in a jirga and announced in mosques during the Friday sermons, and comes days after a similar decree in the bordering Orakzai.

Women have been stopped from visiting bazaars, other than for medical treatment, and that too only if they are accompanied by an elderly male relative. TV, CDs and video centres have been banned.

Sources in the area said the Taliban had been using loudspeakers installed in mosques to ask people to bring their issues to the Taliban Islamic courts to resolve them in accordance with Islamic law.

 

2nd January   

Military Nonsense...

Atheist US soldier sues military over being forced to partake in nonsense
Link Here

US ArmyAn atheist soldier suing over prayers at military formations claims a larger pattern of discrimination against non-christians exists in the military.

The lawsuit filed by Specialist Dustin Chalker and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in U.S. District Court also claims the military doesn't take complaints of religious discrimination seriously enough.

The Defense Department has identified fewer than 50 complaints about alleged violations of religious freedoms during the past three years spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.

She declined to comment on a pending lawsuit but noted that the military has policies against endorsing any religious view.

The revised lawsuit criticizes the Army's 2008 manual on suicide prevention, quoting it as promoting religiosity as a necessary part of prevention and describing connectivity to the divine as fundamental .

The lawsuit cites comments from a chaplain and a second soldier in Christian missionary publications about attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the two soldiers' desire to distribute Bibles.

The original lawsuit filed in September alleged Chalker had to attend events at Fort Riley where Christian prayers were given. Foundation president Mikey Weinstein said Chalker tried to pursue his complaints within the Army but was told they were unfounded .

 

1st January   

Nutter Niles Embarrasses Australia...

Australian beach lovers to cover up lest they offend muslims
Link Here

Bondi BeachNutter MP Fred Nile says he wants topless bathing banned in New South Wales to protect Sydney's Muslim and Asian communities.

The Reverend Prude Nile has rejected allegations that prudishness is behind a bill he has prepared to ban nudity, including topless sunbathing, on the state's most popular beaches.

Australia's reputation as a conservative but culturally inclusive society was at risk of erosion by more liberal overseas visitors, he said.

Our beaches should be a place where no one is offended, whether it's their religious or cultural views, he said: If they've come from a Middle Eastern or Asian country where women never go topless - in fact they usually wear a lot of clothing - I think it's important to respect all the different cultures that make up Australia.

Acting Premier Carmel Tebbutt and the NSW Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, have both said that topless bathing is an issue for local councils, not state governments.

NSW No So Liberal powerbroker David Clarke and Labor MP Paul Gibson have reportedly vowed to support the bill.

Speaking to reporters in Melbourne, acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the topless issue was one of context and clear signage: People want to go to the beach and use the beach in a variety of ways. Obviously family groups want to go to the beach, people who want to get a bit of sun all over also want to go to the beach. As long as people know what the rules are and know what to expect I think it is a matter for the individuals involved.

Waverley Council Mayor Sally Betts says she is aghast at moves by state politicians to outlaw women from sunbathing topless on NSW beaches. We've got alcohol-related violence, we've got under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour in the public domain - those are really important issues, Betts told Fairfax Radio Network. If the Reverend Nile really wants to help people he should focus on those issues.

 

1st January   

Update: Gambian Madman Explains...

British missionary couple jailed for comments about sharia law and churches being closed
Link Here

Gambia flagThe Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has told the country's Christian leaders that the convicted British couple, David Fulton (and his wife, Fiona, tarnished the image of the country and personally attacked him by saying a lot of untruths about his government.

The Gambian leader said the couple went to the extent of writing to inform the Bishop of England that the Gambian government condoned the practice of Sharia law.

Jammeh said the couple alleged that they were attacked by Muslim groups and that they managed to escape.

In this country, as far I am the President and head of state, we will continue to be tolerant, accept all criticisms. We believe that only one God created all of us and if we are all created by one God we are equal [ ...BUT... We lock up anyone who criticises the president!!!]

Jammeh stated further that the couple wrote that I am moving fast on this as we have just managed to thwart an attempt at bringing Sharia law into The Gambia and the trade off was that 20 unregistered churches were closed down.

 

1st January   

Love your Neighbour with a Machete...

Ugandan rebels kill in the name of the Lord
Link Here

DR Congo flagThe Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a rebel sectarian guerrilla army operating mainly in northern Uganda and parts of Sudan. The group was formed in 1987 and is engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government. It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Christian Holy Spirit which the Acholi believe can represent itself in many manifestations. The group claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and Acholi tradition.

Uganda's army has accused the Lord's Resistance Army rebels of hacking to death 45 civilians in a Catholic church in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Capt Chris Magezi said the scene was horrendous... dead bodies of mostly women and children cut in pieces. The attack happened on 26 December.

The armies of Uganda, South Sudan and DR Congo carried out a joint offensive against the rebels in mid-December after LRA leader Joseph Kony again refused to sign a peace deal. The LRA leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

1st January   

Offsite: Tradition of Evil...

FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan
Link Here  full story: Stop FGM...The nasty world of female genital mutilation

Stop FGM in Kurdistan banner Sheelan Anwar Omer, a shy 7-year-old Kurdish girl, bounded into her neighbor's house with an ear-to-ear smile, looking for the party her mother had promised.

There was no celebration. Instead, a local woman quickly locked a rusty red door behind Sheelan, who looked bewildered when her mother ordered the girl to remove her underpants. Sheelan began to whimper, then tremble, while the women pushed apart her legs and a midwife raised a stainless-steel razor blade in the air. I do this in the name of Allah! she intoned.

As the midwife sliced off part of Sheelan's genitals, the girl let out a high-pitched wail heard throughout the neighborhood. As she carried the sobbing child back home, Sheelan's mother smiled with pride.

This is the practice of the Kurdish people for as long as anyone can remember, said the mother, Aisha Hameed, 30, a housewife in this ethnically mixed town about 100 miles north of Baghdad. We don't know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it.

 ...Read full article