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29th April   

Update: Allah Heard in Court...

Malaysian catholics go to court to use the word 'Allah'
Link Here  full story: Oh My God...Only muslims can use the word Allah in Malaysia

Herald newspaperThe lawsuit by the archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur against the government of Malaysia has been adjourned until April 29. The archdiocese is claiming the right to use the word "Allah" in its Catholic weekly, the Herald.

The standoff over the use of the word "Allah" is just one more chapter in the difficulties facing the majority Muslim country, where a secular constitution is accompanied by Islamic courts charged with applying sharia.

On December 10, the domestic security ministry had prohibited the Malay-language section of the Herald from using the word "Allah" to designate the Christian God, claiming it could be used in this way only by Muslims. Fr Andrew Lawrence, the director of the newspaper, was forced to accept the restriction, but the archdiocese decided to sue the government.

The archbishop of the capital, Murphy Pakiam, maintains that the domestic security minister and the federal government are making a mistake: I am advised by my solicitors that I have a legal right to use the word 'Allah' in the Herald, and this legal right stems from the right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Archbishop Pakiam further reports that he has been under constant pressure from the government to conform to the "directives". At the same time, numerous threats have been issued, creating a climate of "apprehension".

The bishop concludes by describing as unreasonable and irrational" the justification of the ministry, according to which the use of the word "Allah" is a security issue which is purportedly causing much confusion and which threatens and endangers peace, public order and security". Over thirteen years of publication, he adds, no article in the Herald has ever caused any incidents.

 

29th April   

Losing Faith in Jordan...

Jordanian on trial for apostasy
Link Here

Apostasy CDOn trial for converting from Islam to Christianity, a Jordanian man may lose legal custody of his children and have his marriage annulled if found guilty of “apostasy.”

Mohammad Abbad fled Jordan last month after Muslims violently attacked him and his 10-year-old son in their home and his father sued him on charges of apostasy, or leaving Islam.

I can't win this case as long as I insist that I converted from Islam to Christianity, Abbad wrote from the safety of a nearby country. The court will annul my marriage, I will be deprived of my kids, I will be with no ID or passport, and my properties will be confiscated, he said, referring to a previous Jordanian apostasy verdict.

 

28th April   

The Great Jerusalem Bread Uprising...

Fears of devastation caused by the sale of risen bread
Link Here

BreadThousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in black coats and fur hats protested in Jerusalem against a court decision that allows stores to sell food banned by ritual law during Passover.

About 3,500 men gathered in Jerusalem's main ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood to pray and listen to rabbis warn that selling leavened food during Passover in contravention of Jewish law risked bringing destruction upon the city they regard as holy.

Leaven during Passover will bring devastation on Jerusalem, Rabbi Amram Hoffman told the crowd. If you don't cry over this leaven then Jerusalem won't stay in our hands.

To commemorate the biblical Israelites' hasty exodus from slavery in Egypt, Jewish law forbids eating leavened products during Passover.

Parliament passed a law in 1986 banning the display of unleavened food and supermarkets hide bread and other non-kosher products behind plastic covers while many restaurants close for the week.

But in a decision some religious Jews saw as an attack on their way of life, a Jerusalem court ruled two weeks ago that grocery stores and restaurants can display leavened food because they are not "public areas" covered by the 1986 ban.

Police had feared the protest might turn violent after trouble flared at previous Orthodox rallies over issues such as Jerusalem's annual gay pride event. But no incidents were reported.

 

28th April   

Offsite: A Blight on Society...

Is religion the new social evil?
Link Here  full story: Blights on Society...Poll finds that religion tops the list

Joseph Roundtree Foundation logoIn a poll conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in the United Kingdom, faith — defined here not as limited to extremism but rather in the broadest possible terms — was considered to be tantamount to “intolerance, irrational behaviour and the basis for justifying persecution”.

Many of those polled not only believed that faith was divisive but also that it brought about irrational educational and other policies.

As an Orthodox Jew respectful to all faiths, including those who do not believe in any organised religion or in any religion at all, I was a bit taken aback by all of this. When I was growing up, religion was perceived to be the light guiding the path of the individual in his or her quest to attain a well-rounded and beneficial existence. Now it is being seen as some form of moral lassitude.

...Read leader

 

27th April   

Update: Deviant Nonsense...

Indonesian jailed for believing in the wrong flavour of nonsense
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Indonesia...Blasphemy applied to slight deviations of belief

IndonesiaAn Indonesian court has sentenced an Islamic sect leader to four years in prison for "blasphemy".

Abdul Salam, who founded the Islamic sect al-Qiyadah al-Islamiah in 2000, was arrested last year after the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country's authority on Islam, declared the group heretical.

Salam has declared himself a prophet and has not required his followers to pray, fast during the month of Muslim holy month of Ramadan, or perform the Haj pilgrimage, three of the five pillars of Islam, the prosecutor said.

The chief judge trying the case at the South Jakarta district court said Salam, also known as Ahmad Mosaddeq, was guilty of: deliberately committing acts which are blasphemous to the religion. Throughout the trial the defendant did not admit even once that what he did was wrong.

Salam smiled after the verdict was read out, while radical Muslims fiercely opposed to his teachings shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great).

Salam's supporters, who filled the court's gallery, sang chants of praise for him.

 

26th April   

Party Politically Correct...

BBC and ITV censor Alan Craig's party political broadcast
Link Here  full story: Party Political Mosque...BBC and ITC censor party political about mosque

BBC logoA London mayoral candidate is taking the BBC and ITV to the High Court for censoring his party Election Broadcasts in the run up to the May 1 elections.

The Christian Choice candidate, Alan Craig, has instructed the Christian Legal Centre to file papers this morning at the Royal Courts of Justice after BBC and ITV officials instructed him to remove parts of his Party Election Broadcast which was aired on Wednesday evening.

Cllr Craig, a long-standing campaigner against the 'mega-mosque', due to be built in Newham close to the site of the Olympic Games, originally described the organisation behind it, Tablighi Jamaat, as 'separatist'.

However, BBC and ITV officials responsible for supervising the Broadcasts instructed him to moderate his views and change this description of the Islamic organisation if he wanted it aired.

Cllr Craig claims not only 'political interference' by the broadcasters, but says such action breeches his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of speech.

According to the Christian Legal Centre, Cllr Craig changed the word to “controversial” under duress. Late in the day ITV insisted that the agreed word “controversial” should be applied to the mosque plans not to the Islamic group. Cllr Craig's objections to the mega-mosque, however, have consistently been related to the nature of the Islamic group behind the project - the plans have not yet been published.

Cllr Craig said: BBC and ITV officials, none of whom were lawyers to our knowledge, clearly instructed us to 'tone down' our views and change the sense if we wanted the PEB broadcast. The legal language of 'libel' was mentioned by the BBC, and in the case of TV, we were forced to go back to the studios at the last minute to record a censored version of the PEB.

I am advised that libel is a defamation of an individual, and no-where in the broadcast do we defame individuals. My comments are reasonable and moderate and do not contradict the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. The BBC and ITV are not entitled to limit free speech and I look forward to the judge ordering them both to broadcast my original message.


Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: Providing that the content of an election broadcast is within the law, the BBC and ITV should enable the electorate to hear the unedited views of candidates and allow them to make up their own minds as to whether they agree or not.

The Christian Legal Centre will be calling for a Judicial Review of the BBC's and ITV's decision, and ask the judge to order, as a matter of urgency, the unedited Party Election Broadcast on both channels. The case will be heard next Monday when Cllr Craig will be represented by leading Human Rights barrister, Paul Diamond.

Update: The Censored Word

29th April 2008

Original version:

You may know about plans by a separatist Islamic group to build Europe's biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it's a bad idea that will bring division and I'm glad moderate Muslims support my stance in opposing it.

Censored version:

You may know about controversial plans by an Islamic group to build Europe's biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it's a bad idea that will bring division and I'm glad some Muslims leaders support my stance in opposing it.

 

26th April   

Nonsense Accepted as Gospel...

Cardinal wants unopposed BBC time to get christian message across
Link Here

Murphy O'ConnorThe BBC should not apply its impartiality rules when it comes to religion, and the Corporation should be biased in favour of Christianity, said Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor last week.

The Cardinal was speaking after a speech by BBC Director-General Mark Thompson in Westminster Cathedral. Thompson, a Catholic, said that the BBC intended to increase its religious coverage after the "success" of programmes like The Monastery and Extreme Pilgrim .

Murphy O'Connor also said that Christianity should have unopposed time to deliver its message on the BBC. Sometimes the adversarial aspect — if you've got one view you've got to have the opposite view — supplants what we need.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: Cardinal O'Connor speaks like a classic demagogue. His desire to have no contradiction to his message is authoritarian and anti-democratic. Religion already has hours of time of TV and radio in which no-one is allowed to question or comment. Thought for the Day is one such slot, where preachers of all hues are allowed to make blatantly political pitches for religious points of view, and no-one is allowed to interrupt. Mark Thompson's enthusiasm for the Catholic Church is beginning to suggest that his approach to religion is not entirely balanced or objective. If he listens to the Cardinal, he risks undermining the BBC's precious heritage of trust as an impartial voice for the whole nation – not just the Church.

 

26th April   

Update: Philippines in the Dark Ages...

Man escapes Philippines after being jailed for adultery
Link Here  full story: Adultery...Check the marital status of your girl

Philippines flagA Briton escaped from the Philippines with his girlfriend and baby daughter after being threatened with seven years in jail for adultery.

David Scott was remanded in custody last year with his married girlfriend Cynthia Delfino. The couple were accused of adultery by officials in the devoutly Catholic country.

They were told that their daughter, Janina, was to be handed over to Ms Delfino's estranged husband, Noriel Delfino, on the grounds that the child was born before the Delfinos' marriage was annulled, officials said.

Update: Escaped to Britain

20th August 2008m see article from dailymail.co.uk

A British man who faced a seven-year prison sentence in the Philippines for adultery is being allowed to return to the UK with his girlfriend and baby this week.

David Scott, 37, has had his application for partner Cynthia Delfino to accompany him granted by the Home Office on humanitarian grounds.

 

25th April   

Market Killing...

Nigerian lynch mob fired by blasphemy accusation
Link Here

Nigeria flagMarkets were paralysed in northern Nigeria's largest city Kano on Sunday when Muslim traders protested an alleged blasphemy of the prophet Mohammed by a Christian trader.

Hundreds of angry traders at the Sabon-Gari market were seen setting bonfires on major streets leading to the market, and called for the killing of the trader.

He was accused of putting blasphemous writings about Mohammed onto the walls of his shop.

A Kano police spokesman said the man escaped to the police station in the market, from where he was quickly ferried to the state police headquarters for protection: We have made several arrests of persons suspected of attempting to breach the peace while the suspect is in our custody pending conclusion of investigation .

He said the police used tear gas and fired shots in the air to disperse the protesters, while the market and other businesses were shut to prevent the situation from escalating.

 

25th April   

Settling Scores...

Blasphemy accusation used to settle UAE labour dispute
Link Here

UAE flagThree Filipino workers who supposedly tore a page of the Muslim holy book the Koran and scribbled on it are being investigated on charges of blasphemy.

Their employer lodged a complaint with police in the conservative emirate of Sharjah based on a statement by a colleague. The employee said he saw his three colleagues commit the act deemed to be blasphemous in the United Arab Emirates.

The three men and seven other workers had been involved in a labour dispute with their employer, which had been resolved by terminating their work permits ahead of their deportation, the consulate official told the newspaper.

Six employees had already been repatriated. But two of the jailed men were arrested when they tried to leave for Manila on March 29, unaware of the complaint which was lodged on March 17, the paper said. The third was taken into custody when he left his country's consulate, the official said.

The three have not been formally charged.

 

24th April   

Bollox Rule in Saudi...

Women still belong to men
Link Here

Saudi flagIn Riyadh, the college day begins for female students behind a locked door that will remain that way until male guardians come to collect them. Later, in a female-run business, everyone must vacate the premises so a delivery man can drop off a package. In Jeddah, a 40-year-old divorced woman cannot board a plane without the written permission of her 23-year-old son. Elsewhere, a female doctor cannot leave the house at all as her male driver fails to turn up for work. These scenes make up the daily reality for half of the Saudi Kingdom, the only country where women legally belong to men.

After more than a decade of lobbying, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has finally been granted access to Saudi Arabia, where it has uncovered a disturbing picture of women forced to live as children, denied basic rights and confined to a suffocating dependency on men.

The House of Saud, in alliance with an extremist religious establishment which enforces the most restrictive interpretation of sharia, Islamic law, has created a legal system that treats women as minors unable to exercise authority over even trivial daily matters.

This is a demoralising and sometimes ridiculous reality in which women cannot open bank accounts for their children, take them to the dentist or even on a field trip without the written permission of the father.

The oil-rich kingdom lies at the bottom of the UN rankings on female empowerment and women make up only 4% of the workforce.

The frustrations of a female doctor are typical of those faced even by educated women: When I take my daughter to the doctor's, they ask me where my husband is, and refuse to do anything until he comes to authorise it. Even if it is something small like an ear infection.

Another woman who, despite the legal barriers, owns her own business, describes the farcical difficulties she faces: Only women can enter my premises. If a delivery man needs to drop something off we have to exit the premises first. It is ridiculous.

Women were denied the right to vote in the kingdom's first municipal elections because there were no separate voting booths for them.

Even progress that is achieved often serves to underline the fundamental problem – that of legal guardianship of men over women. In the words of one Saudi woman: We still need to get a male guardian – husband, father or brother – to sign a form saying where we are allowed to work and when. It is like we are their property.

 

23rd April   

YouTube Bend for Scientology...

YouTube delete Jason Beghe criticising scientology
Link Here

YouTube logoA video interview showing American TV actor Jason Beghe criticising Scientology has been removed from YouTube.

The 48-year-old was the first celebrity to speak out against the religion, telling how his 12 years with the church damaged him and accusing Scientology of being “destructive” and a “rip-off”.

After Beghe's criticism of the church made headlines yesterday, YouTube suspended the account of the prolific Scientology critic who posted the video, making the clip unavailable to viewers.

But the suspension has angered YouTube users who have thrown their weight behind Mark Bunker, who uses the name XenuTV1 on the site. By this morning, 45 YouTube members had used their sign-ons to re-post Bunker's interview with the Cane and CSI actor.

In the clip, Benghe said: My experience personally, and what I've observed for myself, is that Scientology is destructive and a rip-off. It's very, very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological and mental, emotional health and evolution. I think it stunts your evolution.

One YouTube user, Vongoloid, uploaded the video with the message: Actor Jason Beghe exposes... Scientology to Mark Bunker of Xenu TV. YouTube suspended Mark's account, XenuTV1, so I am putting this up for justice.

Angry viewers posted comments below the re-hosted clips Unsuspend his fuckiing account, YouTube, wrote one: Banning free speech is a major no no. Knock it off.

 

23rd April   

Update: Bible Seller for the High Jump...

Bible publisher re-arrested in China
Link Here  full story: Christianity in China...Restricting Christianity

Bible banA bookstore owner in Beijing has been re-arrested for publishing Bibles and Christian literature after he had been released in January due to “insufficient evidence.”

Shi Weihan was re-arrested on March 19 and has been held without any family visits allowed, according to his wife Zhang Jing. Shi was first arrested on November 28, 2007, and held until January 4.

His wife said she had received no word on her husband's condition, and she has been prohibited from bringing him any food or change of clothing since his re-arrest.

Operating a bookstore located near the Olympic Village, Shi had never had any problems with authorities before his arrest last November, according to a long-time friend. His bookstore operated legally, and it sold only books for which he had obtained government permission.

The arrest of Shi appears to be part of a crackdown on religious groups that the government fears could raise dissident voices during Olympic Games set to begin in August.

 

22nd April   

Update: Speaking with Nutters...

Marriott Hotels agree to meet nutters to discuss adult TV in rooms
Link Here  full story: Nutter Friendly Hotels...Nutters campaign against hotel room adult movies

Marriott logoMarriott International will meet in Washington May 14 with anti-porn nutters that have petitioned the hotel chain to remove adult movies from its rooms.

Coming in response to an April 3 letter signed by 47 "pro-family" groups, the meeting may or may not serve to further the groups' agenda, as making such a broad change to the corporation's policy would be a very complex proposition, Marriott officials say.

Marriott is a publicly traded company, so Mr. Marriott would not make a unilateral decision, said VP of communications Roger Conner, referring to CEO J.W. Marriott Jr., to whom the letter was addressed.

This is the first time a major hotel chain has agreed to meet with anti-adult lobbying groups, but even so, Conner stressed that it's the individual properties and not Marriott International that decide whether or not to offer adult programming, and that receive compensation for it from Lodgenet and other providers.

Adult industry attorney Paul Cambria, however, pointed out to Cybercast that, Adult entertainment is completely protected by the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court has said so time and time again.

 

22nd April   

Update: My Nonsense is Bigger than your Nonsense...

Rival christian groups come to blows in shared church again
Link Here

Fight in the Church of the NativityChristianity's holiest shrine, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, was the scene on Palm Sunday of an unseemly brawl when dozens of Greek and Armenian orthodox priests and worshippers exchanged blows.

When police tried to break up the fight, they were pummelled with palm fronds.

All hell broke loose when Armenian clergy forcibly ejected a Greek priest from their midst. The pushed him to the ground and kicked him, according to witnesses.

The church, built over the site where Jesus was allegedly buried and resurrected, has an unhappy history of rivalry among several Christian denominations.

Each denomination jealously guards its share of the basilica, and fights over rights of worship at the church have intensified in recent years, particularly between the Armenians and Greeks.

Under what is known as the status quo, the Holy Sepulchre is divided among the Armenians, Roman Catholics and the Greek Orthodox who have the largest share. The Coptic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox churches also have duties to maintain specific areas.

 

22nd April   

Ex-ExMuslims...

Dutch Ex-Muslims disbanded on fears of assault
Link Here

I am an ex muslim t-shirtThe leader of the Dutch chapter of the Ex-Muslim movement, Ehsan Jami, has decided to disband the group, claiming that people are too frightened to join because of Islamist threats.

Jami sits on the municipal council in Voorburg, formerly for the Labour Party, now as an independent. He presented plans for a committee for former Muslims last year. He was subsequently assaulted in the street and was provided with additional protection.

Jami is currently holding discussions with a political party on the possibility of his standing for a seat in parliament in the next election.

 

21st April   

Update: Barber Shopped...

Turkish barber to get appeal against blasphemy charge
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Saudi...Blasphemy laws used to settle private scores

Saudi flagThe case of a Turkish barber who was sentenced to death at the Jeddah General Court on March 31 on charges of blasphemy will be sent to the Appeals Court in Makkah next week.

Sabri Bogday was sentenced to death after two men, one Saudi and the other Egyptian, reported to the authorities that he had sworn at God and Muhammad at his barbershop in Jeddah early last year.

A source told Arab News that Bogday admitted in court to swearing and did not challenge the witnesses' testimonies. He also said that he was in no conflict with the two witnesses — an important point, since, according to Saudi law, the testimony of an accuser is not accepted if it can be shown that he or she has some ulterior motive.

The source added that the judges did not give Bogday the chance to repent.

Arab News also learned that the death sentence was based on a “hadd” ruling (a clear verdict based on laws from the Qur'an and Sunnah) and not a “ta'azir” ruling (a judicial interpretation of the Shariah law). In both cases the death sentence can be appealed. However, since the verdict in this case is based on a “hadd” ruling, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah would not be able to pardon the victim.

At the final court hearing three weeks ago, a death sentence was announced in spite of Bogday denying that he swore at God and the Prophet. The ruling was issued based on the witnesses' testimonies and Bogday's previous admission in court.

Sources said officials from the Turkish Consulate did visit the Jeddah General Court at the beginning of the trial, but did not assign Bogday a lawyer. Hussein Al-Sharif, head of the National Human Rights Society (NSHR) for the Makkah Province and a professor of law at King Abdulaziz University, said that he hopes the Turkish Consulate will intervene and assign a lawyer for the Appeals Court.

 

20th April   

Free Speech Bleeding to Death?...

Brigitte Bardot on trial for criticising religious slaughter
Link Here  full story: Brigitte Bardot...Brigitte Bardot under duress for views on islam

Greeting for EidLegendary French actress Brigitte Bardot has gone on trial facing a charge of inciting racial hatred after making comments concerning the religion of Islam.

She faces a possible two-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of €15,000 if she is found guilty.

The star, who is pursuing career as an animal rights activist, has faced similar charges of inciting racial hate on four prior occasions.

The latest charges came about after the star publicly published a letter she sent to French president Nicolas Sarkozy last year lambasting the Muslim religious festival of Eid al-Adha - due to its traditions of slaughtering a sheep.

In the letter she says: I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts.

Prosecutor Anne de Fonette told the court she was seeking a tougher sentence than on previous occasions, stating: I am a little tired of prosecuting Mrs Bardot.

The verdict is expected in several weeks.

 

20th April   

Update: Early Skirmishes...

Gay film debuts in a muslim country to warm response
Link Here  full story: Jihad for Love...Brave film about being gay in islamic countries

A Jihad for Love bannerAt this year's Istanbul International Film Festival, one of the major attractions is A Jihad for Love , a documentary about a taboo subject: homosexuality in Islamic countries. Homosexuality is strictly banned in most interpretations of the Koran. This is the first time the film is being screened in a Muslim country.

The ending of A Jihad for Love , was greeted with rapturous applause from a packed audience. The film, which Indian Muslim director Pervez Sharma filmed in 12 countries and took six years to make, is an intimate look at the lives of 12 gay Muslim men and women.

Much of the material was filmed in secret in Muslim countries that ban homosexuality. But Sharma says the film is as much about the Muslim faith as it is about homosexuality: It shows people, Islam is not a problematic monolith, but that is lived in very diverse ways, in different countries, that it is living religion. It is the world's fastest growing religion, for a reason, and it certainly enables the discourse about Islam to shift. It takes it away from violence and takes it towards love, and that is why I called the film A Jihad for Love .

While homosexuality is legal in Muslim-majority Turkey, it remains a taboo subject for many. This member of the audience appreciated that the wall of silence was broken.

The response was not all positive. Several of Turkey's Islamic newspapers condemned the film, calling it an attack on the Islamic faith. According to orthodox interpretations of the Koran, homosexuality is strictly forbidden.

The film and its filmmakers will tour the world for the next couple of years. Screenings are planned in India and Indonesia. The filmmakers hope the Arab world will eventually open its doors and allow A Jihad for Love to be seen.

 

20th April   

Blights on Society...

Poll finds that religion tops the list
Link Here  full story: Blights on Society...Poll finds that religion tops the list

Joseph Roundtree Foundation logoA poll by the charity, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has uncovered a widespread belief that faith - not just in its extreme form - was intolerant, irrational and used to justify persecution.

Pollsters asked 3,500 people what they considered to be the worst blights on modern society, updating a list drawn up by Rowntree, a Quaker, 104 years ago.

The responses may well have dismayed him. The researchers found that the “dominant opinion” was that religion was a “social evil”. Many participants said religion divided society, fuelled intolerance and spawned “irrational” educational and other policies.

One said: Faith in supernatural phenomena inspires hatred and prejudice throughout the world, and is commonly used as justification for persecution of women, gays and people who do not have faith.

Many respondents called for state funding of church schools to be ended.

The findings contrast with Rowntree's “scourges of humanity”, which included poverty, war, slavery, intemperance, the opium trade, impurity and gambling.

Poverty and drugs remain, but are joined by issues such as family breakdown, young people's behaviour and fears over immigration.

Tom Butler, the Bishop of Southwark, rejected the indictment of faith. He said: People meeting together, week after week, for worship, support and education in church, synagogue, temple, gurdwara and mosque can not only help people build local community but can teach children to become good citizens.

However, Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said he was extremely pleased. Britain has had it with religion, he said.

 

20th April   

Converting to Freedom...

Turkish muslims may change religion
Link Here

Turkey flagTurkey's Office of Religious Affairs has announced that Muslims may forsake Islam for another religion.

The decision sets up a conflict between Turkey's government, which asserts a strong secular identity, and the Islamic religion, which teaches that apostasy is punishable by death.

The Turkish government has been trying to achieve a delicate balance between the demands for greater religious freedom, especially in light of the country's application for membership in the European Union, and the rising sympathy for militant Islam among the country's people.

 

19th April   

Inciting New EU Laws...

EU agree to offence of inciting terrorism via the internet
Link Here

EU logoEuropean Union ministers have agreed to punish incitement to terrorism through the internet.

At a meeting in Luxembourg, EU justice and interior ministers tightened existing laws. Public provocation to commit terrorist attacks, as well as recruiting and training people for terrorism will be punishable offences throughout the EU.

EU officials said the decision to punish propaganda, recruitment and training for terrorism through the internet filled an important gap in European legislation.

They described the internet as a virtual training camp for militants, used to inspire and mobilise local groups.

Earlier this month, the EU anti-terrorism co-ordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, said the threat of terrorism in Europe had not diminished and about 5,000 internet sites were being used to radicalise young people.

National courts will now be able to ask internet service providers to remove such sites. But under pressure from Nordic countries and civil rights campaigners, ministers made clear that the new provisions may not be used to restrict freedom of expression.

Britain, Spain and Italy already punish public incitement to terrorism.

And as if to make the point

See full article from the Independent

A Muslim activist who became known for his publicly expressed extremist views was jailed for four and a half years yesterday for terrorism-related offences committed during a series of inflammatory speeches at a London mosque.

Judge Nicholas Price said that Abu Izzadeen a British-born convert to Islam, was a "leading light" in a group of men who used a gathering at the Regent's Park mosque in November 2004 to call for volunteers to fight British troops in Iraq and appeal for funds to finance insurgents abroad.

The judge said Izzadeen and his co-defendants had abused the right to freedom of expression. Izzadeen and Simon Keeler, another British-born convert from Whitechapel in east London, were singled out as having led the incitement. They were sentenced to serve four and a half years.

Judge Martin told Izzadeen: I am left in no doubt that your speeches were used by you as self-aggrandisement and not as an expression of sincerely held religious views. I find that you are arrogant, contemptuous and utterly devoid of any sign of remorse.

Abdul Muhid, also from Whitechapel, was sentenced to two years for fundraising for terrorism abroad. He will serve the term once he finishes a four-year sentence for soliciting murder during protests against the publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohamed. The other defendants were given prison terms between two years and three years nine months.

 

19th April   

Update: Moraliser Jailed...

Iran vice chief jailed for buying sex
Link Here

Iran flagAn Iranian police chief in charge of fighting vice in Tehran was jailed today for reportedly consorting in a brothel.

General Reza Zarei was jailed after being caught with six naked women at a brothel in the Iranian capital.

Ali Reza Jamshidi, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary, confirmed today that Zarei had been taken to jail. He refused to elaborate further about the case. But officials, speaking anonymously, have supported the allegations.

The order to raid the alleged brothel was reportedly given directly by Iran's Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi.

Zarei was in charge of a program to clean cities from corruption and in recent months had reported arrests of young men and women for illicit relationships and not respecting the Islamic dress code.

Under Iranian law prostitution is punishable by death. But in the past decade, prostitutes are becoming more visible on Iranian streets, mainly due to economic hardships. The rise in prostitution has led to suggestions that brothels be legalised and monitored. Some Iranians say brothels could be run according to Islamic rules, perhaps under the Shiite Muslim tradition which allows men and women to enter into “temporary marriages”, sometimes for less than 24 hours.

 

18th April   

UAE Bans War...

UAE state issues fatwa against God of War
Link Here

God of War Sharjah municipality in the UAE has launched a crackdown against the distribution of an old video game which has been banned.

Several residents complained about the game as it contains material offensive to religion, values and social norms.

The 18-rated video game God of War is based on Greek mythology that encourages players to kill different "gods" to reach the next level of the game. It contained sexual scenes.

A UAE national said: I knew that it was banned, but many of my friends were able to buy pirated copies from Dh5 to Dh10. I was shocked to see how much it contradicted Islamic values, said Khalid Bin Deemas, adding that it was dangerous as the video game was popular among children.

The permanent fatwa committee has instructed all concerned government departments to forbid the sale of such games and to confiscate them.

A Sharjah Municipality official confirmed that they continue to confiscate all video games that contain language and scenes that offend the religion, values and traditions of the country, including God of War. The games were confiscated during recent inspections.

 

18th April   

Teaching about Islam...

British convert teacher murdered in Somalia
Link Here

Somalia flagA British teacher killed in Somalia was targeted because he had converted from Islam to Christianity, his widow has claimed.

Daud Hassan Ali, 64, was shot in the early hours of Monday outside a school his charity had just finished building.

A British colleague, Rehana Ahmed, 33, and two Kenyan teachers were also killed in the attack on Hiran English School, in central Somalia. All four were reportedly shot in the head.

The Islamist al-Shabab Movement, the armed youth-wing of the Council of Islamic Courts movement, has admitted attacking the town, but it has not accepted responsibility for the killings.

Mr Ali's widow, Margaret, 64, said her husband had been targeted by Islamists who, she said, believe it is OK to kill any man who was born into Islam and left the faith.

She said her husband knew it was a risk going back to Somalia as a Christian, but said he was there to teach, not convert others to his faith. He was a teacher. He never made any attempt to convert anyone to Christianity, and only practised his faith in private, she said.

 

17th April   

Update: Taliban Telly Ban...

Afghanistan reverting to old ways
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Taliban flagAn Afghan legislative committee has drafted a bill seeking to introduce Taliban-style Islamic morality codes.

The draft, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, needs approval by both chambers of the Islamist-dominated parliament and President Hamid Karzai signature to become a law.

Women and girls are obliged to not wear make-up, wear suitable dresses and observe hijab (veil) while at work or classrooms, said one article of the draft.

It also aims to ban women dancers performing during concerts and other public events as well as on television. The mass media including television and cable networks must avoid broadcasting programmes against Islamic morals, it said without giving details.

Men and young boys must avoid wearing bracelets, necklaces, "feminist dresses," and hair-bands, the draft reads.

The proposals also demand an end to dog and bird-fighting, pigeon-flying, billiards and video games, all past times favoured by many Afghans.

It demands separate halls for men and women during wedding parties.

Update: Shameful President

22nd April 2008

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai defended a decision by his government to ban Indian soap operas, saying they violated his nation's moral standards and culture.

The culture ministry has given several privately run television stations until today to stop showing certain popular serials based on tales of love, disputes and the daily lives of Indian Hindu families.

At least one has already been taken off air after the ban, which authorities say was prompted by a call from religious scholars who labelled the shows “un-Islamic”.

Asked about the move, Karzai told a media briefing his government was committed to media freedom ...BUT... like the rest of the countries in the world, we want our television broadcasting to be in line with our culture, based on our society moral standards,

 

17th April   

Flogging an Intolerant Religion...

Lesbians flogged and jailed in Nigeria
Link Here

Nigeria flagAn Upper Sharia Court in Kaduna, Nigeria has sentenced a lesbian couple, Hajiya Aiâsha and Malama Hauwa to a six-month imprisonment for living contrary to the teachings of the Sharia.

The lesbians had told the court that they had been married for five years.

The Sharia Judge, Mustapha Umar ordered that apart from the 20 lashes given to each of the lesbians at the court premises, they should also spend the next six months in prison with no option of fine for violating the tenets of Islam.

 

17th April   

Blasphemy Debate...

Hindu murdered by muslims after accusations of blasphemy
Link Here

Pakistan flagScores of people demonstrated against the recent murder of a Hindu worker in a Karachi factory by his colleagues, who had accused him of passing blasphemous remarks about Prophet Mohammed.

Jagdish Kumar, a 22-year-old worker at a leather factory in Karachi, was murdered by his colleagues after he allegedly passed blasphemous remarks during a debate on religion.

Asghar Ali Narejo, Chairman of the NGO Council for All Under-privileged Segments Eminence,  led the protest outside the press club in Mirpurkhas, Kumar's hometown.

The protesters carried banners and placards and called on the government to take strict measures to end religious extremism and to order an impartial inquiry into the killing of Kumar.

They also urged the government to take appropriate measures to protect all citizens, irrespective of their faith.

Update: Blasphemy Used to Settle Personal Score

18th April 2008

A fact finding team of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has said that Jagdesh, a Hindu who was murdered on April 8 in Karachi on the suspicion that he had uttered blasphemous words, was killed because of a personal dispute with two fellow workers.

The deceased worker used to work in the 'stretching' department of Nova Leather Industries Private Limited, which is based in Karachis Korangi Industrial Area.

According to the HRCP report, Jagdesh had arguments with his two colleagues, who spread the word throughout the factory that Jagdesh was making blasphemous remarks. A mob of emotional workers then beat him to death.

Update: Murderer Not Charges

3rd May 2008

The three workers who carried out the beating were arrested, charged not with murder but with failure to inform the police that blasphemy was underway.

A H Nayyar, an Islamabad-based peace activist said: Not a single murderer who killed anyone for blasphemy has been punished for murder. In fact, such murderers get hero's treatment in police stations. And those police officials who openly honour such murderers have never been tried for their illegal and reprehensible action.

 

16th April   

Update: Fitna and Free...

EU will not develop new laws against blasphemy
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

EU logoEuropean Commissioner for External Relations and Neighborhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said in Saudi Arabia that the EU would not develop new laws against blasphemy.

Ferrero-Waldner was speaking in reference to the recent release of Fitna , a short film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, and Mohammed cartoons published in European newspapers in 2005 and 2006.

There are two principles involved in this matter: freedom of press and freedom of religion. Every individual has a right to express what he thinks is correct. Similarly, the other individual, who is not in agreement, can rebut in the same way, she said.

Ferrero-Waldner said that the Dutch government was quick to stress that the opinion made in the stupid film is not that of the government or its people: It is an individual opinion. We practice freedom of religion. You have to understand that Muslims have freedom to practice their religion in our country .

UNHuman Rights Council

Based on an article from myTELUS

UN logoIslamic countries have used a meeting of the United Nations' top human rights body to demand the prosecution of a Dutch politician whose anti-Qur'an movie has sparked Muslim protests.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and other members of the UNHuman Rights Council said the Netherlands should adopt laws against religious defamation.

We recommend to the government of the Netherlands that it must ... initiate prosecution against the author of the movie Fitna , Pakistan's representative Masood Khan told the 47-member council.

Nebahat Albayrak of the Dutch delegation told council members that the public prosecutor was investigating whether the film breaks any laws.

 

16th April   

Update: Canadian Human Rights Commission backs off...

Lately seen to be defending the 'right' not to be offended
Link Here

Canadian Human Rights CommissionThe Ontario Human Rights Commission said yesterday it will not proceed with a complaint against Maclean's magazine for an article titled The Future Belongs to Islam by columnist Mark Steyn that appeared in October 2006.

The Canadian Islamic Congress complained to the commission that the content of the article and the Maclean's refusal to provide space for a rebuttal had violated its human rights.

The commission said the Ontario Human Rights Code did not give it jurisdiction to deal with the content of magazine articles through its complaint process.

Steyn's article argued that high birth rates among Muslims points to them becoming the majority in Europe, an eventuality that would fundamentally transform the West. It also says some Muslims are violent radicals.

While freedom of expression must be recognized as a cornerstone of a functioning democracy, the Commission strongly condemns the Islamophobic portrayal of Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and indeed any racialized community in the media, such as the Maclean's article and others like them, as being inconsistent with the values enshrined in our human rights codes, the commission said in a statement: Media has a responsibility to engage in fair and unbiased journalism.

 

15th April   

Update: Shameful EU Parliamentarian...

Easily panders to the easily offended
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

EU logoPresident of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, said that he was against the anti-Islam film Fitna .

Talking to reporters in Doha on the sidelines of the eighth Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, he said that he understood the cultural differences between the Islamic world and Europe and that he was committed to dialogue based on partnership.

If there are people who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam, we do not believe they represented the mainstream of Muslim thinking… we [the EU] will not accept that Islam and terrorism are identical. We are not in favour of descriptions and pictures that identify violence with Islam. We are against any cartoons that could instigate violence, he said.

We are committed to the freedom of the press... BUT ...I am against publishing cartoons that hurt the feelings of others.

As a Catholic, I would feel insulted if someone derides the Pope. We might disagree with others but we have to respect them.

 

15th April   

Comment: Speaking of Nutters...

Warning against pandering to the easily offended
Link Here

Mark ThompsonMark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, has warned broadcasters against becoming overly-cautious in their reporting on Islam for fear of causing offence to Muslims.

Speaking at Westminster Cathedral Thompson, a practising Catholic, said there was a growing nervousness about discussion about Islam and its relationship to the traditions and values of British and Western society as a whole.

He said that the BBC and other major channels have a special responsibility to ensure that debates about faith and society and about any religion should not be foreclosed or censored.

In an effort to demonstrate that his remarks were not targeted solely at ensuring that Islam received journalistic scrutiny, Thompson also referred to his decision to broadcast Jerry Springer, The Opera despite an avalanche of complaints from Christians unhappy at the depiction of Jesus in the satire.

There is no point having a BBC which isn't prepared to stand up and be counted; which will do everything it can to mitigate potential religious offence; but which will always be forthright in the defence of freedom of speech and of impartiality, he said.

 

15th April   

Vacant Headed Nutters...

Nutters write to Marriott Hotels asking them to remove adult TV
Link Here  full story: Nutter Friendly Hotels...Nutters campaign against hotel room adult movies

Marriott logoNearly 50 nutter organisations are asking the Marriott hotel chain to take pornographic movies out of guest rooms.

In an April 3 letter to CEO John Marriott III, 47 pro-family nutters requested a meeting to discuss the issue. The letter goes on to say that pulling the pay-per-view movies would be in line with Marriott's public statement of promoting the well-being of children and families and stand against ... such tragedies as human trafficking and the exploitation of children.

Among the nutters who signed the letter are: Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Bishop Harry Jackson (High Impact Leadership Council), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Paul Weyrich (Free Congress Foundation), Dr. Richard Land (Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), Matt Staver (Liberty Counsel), and Robert Peters (Morality in Media).

Don Wildmon, the founder and chairman of the American Family Association, was one of the signatories to the letter. He says it is time for Marriott to put families first: Children can go [into a Marriott room and] accidentally ... access the porn. So we're asking Marriott simply to put people above profits and [to] drop the porn movies from their guest rooms."

Wildmon says so far, Marriott has not responded to a request to meet with representatives of the pro-family groups to discuss the matter.

According to a press release from AFA, Marriott has approximately 2,800 hotels in the U.S. -- and about 2,400 of them offer in-room pornographic movies.

 

14th April   

Stitched Up...

Saudi to execute barber over neighbourly spat with tailor
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Saudi...Blasphemy laws used to settle private scores

Saudi flagA Turkish barber accused of swearing at God is sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia.

Sabri Bogday from the southern Hatay province went to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia 11 years ago and opened a barbershop.

According to reports, Bogday argued with his neighbor, an Egyptian tailor, and was arrested after the tailor told the police that he had sworn at God.

While Bogday has been in prison for the past 13 months, the Egyptian who made the allegation has disappeared.

When he was sentenced to death in the last court session and prison authorities came to his cell and told him to call his family for the last time, the family panicked and is now calling for Turkish authorities to intervene. The family also fears Bogday might be executed before the appeals court deals with the matter.

His mother Atra Bogday said her son is a very polite and God-fearing individual, dismissing the claims that he had sworn at God: His Egyptian neighbor lied .

His wife Muazzez said: I confronted the tailor when my husband's friends told me what happened. He said it's none of his business. We later learnt that he closed down his shop and fled. He didn't attend a single court session.

Both Turkey's President Abdullah Gl and Foreign Ministry officials are said to be closely monitoring the case. Bogday's appeal is expected to be heard within 15 days.

 

13th April   

A Traditional Affair...

Nutter and founder of CCTV resigns after extra-marital affair
Link Here

Gay Aim: Abolish the familyRemember the Christian Congress for Traditional Values (CCTV). They have appeared several times on Melon Farmers for being holier than thou. For example:

The CCTV advert showed a man, woman, boy and girl with the statement Gay aim: abolish the family .

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints against the ad, ruling that it could be inflammatory. The poster broke advertising rules on social responsibility, decency, matters of opinion and truthfulness, the ASA said: We considered the statement and the way it appeared was likely to cause offence both to the mainstream gay community and supporters of equality .

The ASA added that it was also likely to be seen as controversial and possibly inflammatory by a significant number of people who saw the poster in an untargeted medium. We concluded that the poster was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and might lead to anti-social behaviour.

Now Christian Congress for Traditional Values was established by Bishop Michael Reid who was the head of Peniel Church.

And guess what, Reid has been pursuing his own aim of family abolition by undertaking a long time extra-marital affair.

He has now resigned saying: It is with great sorrow and regret that I have resigned from the church board and have stepped down from official duties. I confess that I have sinned by committing adultery. I recognize that I have failed in my duties and acted in a way that harmed the Church. I take full responsibility for my actions and so I resigned. I apologize to my wife and family and all of you whose trust I have betrayed and ask for your forgiveness and prayers.

The website of Christian Congress for Traditional Values has been replaced by a statement of apology

 

13th April   

Iraq Condones Honour Killing...

Clerics argue that a man has a right to kill an errant wife
Link Here  full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Stop Honour Killings Iraq's powerful Islamic parties and leaders are resisting efforts to reform a law that sanctions lenient punishments for those found guilty of so-called honor killings.

Article 111 of the Iraqi penal code, first approved in 1969, stipulates that a man can be sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison if he kills or disables his wife or girlfriend immediately after witnessing her engaging in a sex act with another man. The same penalty applies if a defendant is convicted of killing or disabling the woman's sexual partner. And if the defendant has no criminal background, such sentences are usually commuted.

Acting minister of state for women's affairs, Narmin Othman, is leading a campaign to change the Baath-era law. She argues that men accused of killing their wives or girlfriends should be charged with murder, the penalty for which is life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Othman's initiative has received the support of about 60 members of parliament, including members of the Iraqi List and the Kurdish Alliance. But members of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's United Iraqi Alliance and the Sunni-led Iraqi Accord Front both oppose the legislation, meaning that the reform legislation has little chance of passing.

Qais Al-Ameri, a member of the United Iraqi Alliance, argues that honor killings are permitted under sharia law: Illicit sex is the most dangerous thing in a society, and there should be severe punishments against those who practice it.

Nor have leading clerics shown any indication they would support eliminating the statute. After meeting opponents of honor killings, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Yakoobi, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Fadhila party, made it clear he believes men have the right to kill women they find engaged in illicit sexual activity.

 

12th April   

Update: Hindu Love Guru Nonsense...

Nutters demand preview
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love Guru Nutter clamour is growing against the upcoming Hollywood movie The Love Guru over denigrating Hindu traditions.

The movement is spearheaded by Hindu chaplain and Indo-American leader Rajan Zed.

Zed has been saying that from the information available about the movie, it appears to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously.

Swami Pooja Saraswati, a spiritual leader says: I watched the trailer of the movie Love Guru and was shocked that any respectable movie producer would so blatantly ridicule a great world religion, a culture, spiritual path and sincere way of life, portraying it as farce. Producers Paramount Pictures will agree to make changes suggested by Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders, during the premier of this insulting film before millions of Hindus, yogis and people of high spiritual consciousness around the world feel hurt, offended and outraged, she added.

Reverend John J. Auer, Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Reno added his support: Neither Zed nor I have any interest in censorship... HOWEVER ...it is crucial that every faith tradition be given the chance to be heard in response to any portrayal in popular culture of elements of that tradition that might be easily misrepresented and/or misunderstood .

Alison Pratte, a yoga leader, has stated, I was offended after watching the trailer of The Love Guru . The depiction of the main character in the movie seems more than a harmless spoof. It is loaded with an ignorant stereotype of a culture and religion that is already misunderstood and stigmatized. This movie will only cause more ignorance and bring shame to a beautiful tradition that has existed for thousands of years.

The Love Guru is a comedy film starring Mike Myers (who is also the co-writer and co-producer), Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake and Ben Kingsley, is directed by Marco Schnabel and due for release on June 20 this year. In this film, Myers as Pitka, an American, raised in an ashram in India, moves back to US as Guru to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality.

 

12th April   

Update: Tube Unblocked...

YouTube unblocked in Indonesia except for Fitna pages
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna Indonesia's ISPs have restored access to YouTube and MySpace after a ban on the sites for carrying a the controversial film Fitna .

An association of Indonesian ISPs has announced that they would only block access to specific pages carrying the film.

The decision to lift the internet ban followed protests by web users who were unable to access several sites including YouTube, Multiply and MySpace, an industry official said: We don't need to block the sites but only links that broadcast the film. If the film is moved to another site, we will keep on chasing and block it .

 

11th April   

Update: Biblical Fitna...

Saudi blogger makes Christian version of Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Bible verse from Schism A Saudi blogger has made a short video featuring Bible texts allegedly calling for war and Christian extremists preaching violence, in response to Fitna

Raed al-Saeed said that the purpose of his 6-minute video was to show Islam should not be judged by watching Dutch filmmaker Geert Wilders's movie Fitna , which links terror attacks by Muslim extremists with texts from the Quran, Islam's holy book.

It is easy to take parts of any holy book that are out of (context) and make it sound like the most inhumane book ever written," al-Saeed said in a statement posted at the end of his video.

Al-Saeed said he lifted footage showing alleged Christian extremists and British soldiers beating up Iraqis from YouTube and used the same methods Wilders did. However, al-Saeed said his movie, entitled Schism , was not directed against Christians.

Al-Saeed is a popular and often cited Saudi blogger, and runs an events management business in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The idea for the video came after he watched Fitna , which in Arabic means strife. He put Schism together and released it a day later, al-Saeed said.

Al-Saeed also used verses from the Bible, including one from 1, Samuel 15, that calls for attacks on Amalekites: Go and attack the Amalekites! Destroy them and all their possessions. Don't have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies. Slaughter their cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys .

Within 12 hours of posting, his video was removed from YouTube with a message from the site saying the content was inappropriate. I sent it again with a message saying, 'Before you delete Schism, look at Fitna. Delete both if you deem them inappropriate,' said al-Saeed.

Late Thursday, al-Saeed's could still be accessed on YouTube and other Web sites. The blogger said it has been viewed by over 5,000 users.

 

11th April   

Grave Disrespect...

French vandals desecrate muslim war graves
Link Here

Muslim gravesVandals desecrated 148 Muslim graves in France's biggest war cemetery, hanging a pig's head from one tombstone and daubing slogans insulting France's Muslim justice minister.

President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed "profound outrage" at the "sordid" attack on the Muslim quarter of the Notre Dame de Lorette cemetery, near the northern town of Arras last night.

The attack came almost exactly a year after a similar incident in which neo-Nazi vandals scrawled swastikas on 52 of the cemetery's Muslim graves.

The state prosecutor for Arras, Jean-Pierre Valensi, says: The slogans directly target Islam and they gravely insult Rachida Dati, the justice minister, who is the daughter of north African immigrants.

Muslim community leaders were allowed to visit the scene.

This is shameful to see, says the regional head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, Bahssine Saaid: We need to work together... to stop this problem of racism.

 

11th April   

Jordan Condones Honour Killing...

Law imposes light sentence for honour killing
Link Here  full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Stop Honour Killings A Jordanian criminal court has sentenced an Egyptian to only six months in prison for murdering his Jordanian wife for committing adultery last year.

The court prosecutor had charged the suspect, whose identity was withheld, with premeditated murder, but the tribunal immediately reduced the charge to a misdemeanour because the defendant committed his crime in defence of "family honour," judicial sources said.

Another court also sentenced a 30-year-old mechanic to only three months in jail after finding him guilty of murdering his younger married sister.

The man opened fire on his sister, headed to the nearest police station and turned himself in, claiming he killed her to "cleanse his family's honour" because she had been missing for over a week.

Jordanian law allows for sentences to be reduced when "family honour" is involved.

 

10th April   

Sex education is un-Indian...

India censors school sex education booklet
Link Here

Kama Sutra India is preparing a new manual to teach sex education in schools. But it will be bereft of diagrams and will barely mention the phrase "sexual intercourse", after protests from politicians and parents.

The country's health ministry has been forced to delete even mildly graphic references in the manual after religious conservatives reacted with alarm to the notion of sex being discussed in the classroom.

Criticism by conservatives of an early draft of the manual led to it being banned outright in nine states. Now the health ministry has come up with a new version which, the minister responsible admits, has been "mellowed down".

The message remains the same but it is simply being put across in a more sensitive and appropriate way, said Sujatha Rao, who helped draft the new version: We don't have to do things the same way as in the West. We have to consider our own cultural and social norms.

One of the first elements to be cut was an anatomical flip chart that taught schoolchildren about contraception. All references to homosexuality, a criminal offence in India, were also dropped.

Sex education is un-Indian, said Ram Madhav, of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh organisation: Look at what it has done in the West - divorce, adultery, teenage pregnancies and people having sex as casually as having a Pepsi.

With a population of 1.13 billion and rising, an HIV epidemic that has infected nearly six million, and government studies suggesting more than half of Indian children have suffered sexual abuse, proponents of the manual say proper sex education is desperately needed.

Update: Censored

21st June 2008

Intercourse and masturbation are words that will find no mention in a new sex education module being devised for school students.

Unlike last time, there will be no graphic flip charts either. The new adolescent education programme may roll out in November. The officials behind it are hoping there will be no hue and cry like last time when six states banned it, saying it was too explicit and would corrupt the minds of the young.

 

10th April   

Offsite: Say my Religion is Peaceful or I will Kill You...

Intimidation and censorship are no answer to inflammatory film
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna At the time of this writing, the dissemination on the worldwide web of the deliberately provocative anti-Islam film Fitna , made by the Dutch populist MP Geert Wilders, has not provoked violent protest on the scale of the Rushdie affair or the Danish cartoons. If things remain this way, that is progress of a kind.

In the meantime, three questions need to be asked about the film. The first is "Should Mr Wilders be murdered for making it?" That's what some demonstrators outside the Dutch embassy in Indonesia called for, waving banners saying Kill Geert Wilders . Theirs is an attitude that the British writer Douglas Murray has sharply characterised as say my religion is peaceful or I will kill you . More seriously, even before the movie was released, al-Qaida issued a fatwa calling Muslims everywhere to assassinate Wilders, thus further increasing the threat to a man who is already under 24-hour protection.

Now, that Wilders should not be murdered for making a film may seem so obvious that it hardly needs saying. But it does need saying, again and again; in truth, it's the first thing that needs to be said. For one of the most deeply corrosive realities of our time is that not just one but many people across the world are living under death threats, in hiding or with round-the-clock security, simply because they have said, drawn or done something that is alleged to "insult Islam".

...Read full article

 

10th April   

Comment: Wishful Thinking...

Religions brought under consumer protection laws
Link Here
Babptism: religious cooling off period

Ok ok, here's your cooling off period.
Now give us all your worldly goods
as you promised

A whole list of disclaimers must be added to the preachers' spiel if they are to avoid an avalanche of writs following the repeal next month of the Fraudulent Religions Act, to be replaced by the new Consumer Protection Regulations.

Promises to raise the dead, secure good fortune or heal through the laying on of hands are all at risk of legal action from disgruntled followers. Preachers say they will be forced to issue disclaimers, such as 'this is a scientific experiment, the results of which cannot be guaranteed'. They claim the new regulations will leave them open to malicious civil action by sceptics.

The problem is that very little in the multi-million-pound religious industry in Britain is for free, and anyone charging or accepting 'gifts' in exchange for a service is bound by the new regulations. There are charges for services, religious readings and healing. Religious mailings - letters promising religious services in exchange for a cheque. Religious services via telephone, online and satellite TV keep the tills ringing further.

For the past half-century, 'genuine' preachers have been protected by the 1951 Fraudulent Religions Act, under which prosecutors had to prove fraud and dishonest intent to secure a criminal conviction, which was difficult. With that protection gone, there will now be nothing between the preacher and the trading standards officer, and no need to prove fraud. Instead it will be up to the trader, in this case the preacher, to prove they did not mislead, coerce or take advantage of any 'vulnerable' followers.

A legal specialist said: Now there is no difference between a religious and a double-glazing salesman in law.

 

9th April   

All in the Name of Islam...

Terrorist plot against multiple transatlantic flights
Link Here

Hollywood airplane bombA British terrorist cell planned to detonate suicide bombs on seven transatlantic flights over North America, causing catastrophic loss of life, a court was told yesterday.

The flights chosen by the alleged terrorists – based in Walthamstow, East London – were scheduled to leave Heathrow Terminal 3 one afternoon carrying almost 2,000 passengers and crew.

Peter Wright, QC, opening the prosecution case against eight men accused of the plot, said that the attacks would have had “a truly global impact”.

Wright said that the eight defendants shared a common interest in “inflicting heavy casualties upon an innocent civilian population, all in the name of Islam”.

The defendants all deny charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion on an aircraft. The trial continues.

 

8th April   

Art Grabs Christians by the Balls...

Nutter outrage over Vienna art exhibition
Link Here

Alfred Hardlicka workNutter outrage, has prompted Vienna's Dommuseum, the art gallery attached to St. Stephen's Catholic cathedral, to remove some of the works in a supposedly blasphemous exhibit of paintings and sculptures. One of the most noted works in the exhibit depicts Christ and his Apostles as homosexuals engaged in an orgy.

The Gloria TV website carried a short film of the exhibition and Catholics around the world responded condemning the depiction of Christ as an active homosexual.

The artist, Alfred Hrdlicka, a Marxist and self-proclaimed atheist, had titled the exhibition of his work Religion, Flesh and Power, and said that he was pleased it was being displayed in the Catholic museum.

He told Reuters, however, that he had been surprised that the museum had agreed. For me it was quite surprising the museum wanted to show the piece in the first place. If the Cathedral Museum is having problems now, it's not really my affair, it's for the Cathedral Museum to deal with.

The museum's curator, Bernhard Boehler, replied to the complaints saying, I don't see any blasphemy here. People can imagine what they want to. He referred to a depiction of the flagellation of Christ that showed a Roman soldier holding the Lord's genitals.

Boehler told Reuter's news service that the work that drew the most complaints was the painting of the Last Supper that depicted Christ and his Apostles in a homosexual orgy. The museum said many of the complaints came from overseas where people had read about the exhibition online.

A statement from the Cardinal's office said that the removal of the works has nothing to do with censorship, [...BUT...] rather corresponds with the understood 'reverence for the sacred'.

 

8th April   

Update: Fitna: Judged Fit...

Dutch court backs Wilders over free speech and Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna A judge has ruled in a case against MP Geert Wilders brought by the Dutch Islamic Federation that Wilders is not guilty of spreading hate, although his statements are provocative.

However the judge ruled that members of parliament have to be able to express their opinions strongly.

In a written statement the judge at the Hague District Court said Wilders' right to free speech allows him to criticise radical Islam and passages from the Muslim holy book.

 

8th April   

Indonesian Church Closure Programme...

110 churches closed by islamic extremists from 2004 to 2007
Link Here

burning churchIslamic extremist groups and local governments in Indonesia closed 110 churches from 2004 to 2007, according to religious and human rights organizations.

The Wahid Institute, a moderate Muslim non-governmental organization, along with the Communion of Churches of Indonesia, the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia and the Indonesian Human Rights Commission reported that discrimination and violence against churches was most common in the provinces of West Java, Banten, Central Java, South Sulawesi and Bengkulu.

Radical Muslim groups attacking churches included the Islamic Defender Front, the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, Hizbullah Front, Muslim Clergy Members Forum  and the Muslim Safety Forum.

Some of these groups coerced local governments to send letters to churches prohibiting any activities. When churches did not comply, they would be burned or otherwise damaged.

A Joint Ministerial Decree issued in 1969 and revised in 2006 requires an official permit for any place of worship – whether Muslim, Christian or otherwise – operating throughout Indonesia.

Under the revised decree, any group applying for a permit must have 90 adult members with identification cards, and ID numbers must be provided with the application. This requirement – along with the decree's stipulation that at least 60 neighbors must give their written consent before an application is made – renders many small Christian churches easy targets for Islamic radicals and hostile local governments.

 

7th April   

Easily Fearing the Easily Offended...

Suggestions that the BBC veto muslim jokes
Link Here

Blind Faith book Comedian and writer Ben Elton has accused the BBC of being too "scared" to allow jokes about Islam.

Elton, who co-wrote critically acclaimed sitcoms such as The Young Ones and Blackadder, said the BBC's reluctance to run material that might offend Muslims was based on fear rather than morality.

Speaking in an interview with Christian magazine Third Way , Elton was asked if too much deference was shown to religious people: I believe that part of it is due to the genuine fear that the authorities and the community have about provoking the radical elements of Islam.

There's no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass. They might pretend that it's, you know, something to do with their moral sensibilities, but it isn't. It's because they're scared. I know these people.

Elton said it was difficult to use even common sayings: I wanted to use the phrase 'Muhammad came to the mountain' and everybody said, 'Oh, don't! Just don't! Don't go there!'.

It was nothing to do with Islam, I was merely referring to the old proverb, 'If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.' And people said, 'Let's just not!' It's incredible.

Elton's comments were refuted by the BBC. No subject is off limits for BBC comedy, a BBC spokesman said: [ ...BUT... ] The treatment should not cause harm or offence.

 

7th April   

Update: Sacrifice for Fitna...

25,000 rally against Fitna in Pakistan
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Dutch flag being burntMore than 25,000 people rallied in the largest protest in Pakistan so far against Fitna , urging their government to expel the Netherlands ambassador.

They call this freedom of expression, but it's freedom of aggression, keynote speaker Munawwar Hasan, a leader of the main Islamic party Jamat-e-Islami, told the crowd Sunday as it chanted God is great.

The 15-minute film by Geert Wilders has sparked weekly protests in Pakistan, usually drawing hundreds of people after prayers on Friday. But police officer Syed Suleman estimated Sunday's crowd at 25,000, while organizers claimed more than 100,000 people turned out.

Wearing head bands inscribed We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the sanctity of the prophet, they marched for two kilometers, then gathered on Karachi's main street to listen to speeches.

They also burned an effigy of Wilders as speakers said their government should sever diplomatic ties with Western countries supporting the publishers of cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad.

Hasan said this rally, named "The glory of the prophet march," was not against the West in general, but was aimed at creating awareness among Muslims that they need to unite against a war against Islam.

Update: Legal Protest

20th April 2008

Hundreds of Pakistani lawyers took out a protest rally in Lahore condemning publication of blasphemous caricatures by Danish newspapers.

The procession was led by Lahore Bar Association (LBA) President Manzoor Qadir. The lawyers chanted slogans and held banners inscribed with slogans in the honour of the Holy Prophet, while marching.

Addressing the rally, Manzoor Qadir said that Denmark was committing blasphemous acts at the behest of America and Israel. He asked the government for severing diplomatic ties with the Danish government and for imposing ban on the Danish products. He also demanded the government that it should expel the Danish and Dutch diplomats. He regretted that 57 Muslim states in the world were unable to check this evil practice.

Update: National Assembly

20th April 2008

Strongly protesting against growing incidents of blasphemy, the Pakistani National Assembly resolved to urge the United Nations to take steps including introduction of international laws in thwarting said disturbing trend.

The house also strongly condemned the publication of blasphemous caricatures in newspapers of Denmark and blasphemous western movies. The lower house unanimously adopted the resolution moved by Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman.

 

7th April   

Update: Fitna: The Revenge...

Iran group in biblical version of Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna A Non-Governmental Organization in Iran has started production of a documentary called Beyond Fitna ' respond to far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders' provocative dissertation Fitna .

The Iranian organization is called 'NGO Islam and Christianity' and their documentary deals with incitement of violence in the Bible. Muslims believe that the book deemed holy by Christians today is a distorted version of the original Bible.

Beyond Fitna focuses on the orders given to worldwide Christians in the Bible for stoking violence, committing genocide, attacking others, beheading and burning women and children who have been taken into captivity.

The documentary recycles film clips from crimes committed by extremist Christians under the inspirations of the said Bible teachings, and aims to provide a response to the allegations made by Pope Benedict XVI, who called Islam a religion of violence.

 

7th April   

Close Proximity to Represssion...

Nutters want to impose religious law on non muslims
Link Here

Malaysia flagA seminar on Syariah Law review wants non-Muslims found committing khalwat (close proximity) with Muslims to also be held liable.

This was among the proposals made at the two-day seminar organised by the Islamic Institute of Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) and the Syariah Judiciary Department Malaysia.

Syariah Court of Appeal Judge Mohd Asri Abdullah said the seminar had proposed that non-Muslims committing khalwat with Muslims should also be sentenced accordingly, but in the civil courts: The Muslims can be sentenced in Syariah courts, and the non-Muslim partners can probably be sentenced in the civil courts, to be fair to both parties.

He said the proposal, contained in a draft resolution at the seminar, would be forwarded to the Attorney-General's Chambers: It is up to the Attorney-General's Chambers or the relevant authorities to decide how to create such a law.

Another proposal is to impose heftier penalties - of up to four times the current penalties - on Muslims caught for khalwat, prostitution, consuming alcohol and involvement in gambling activities.

Datuk Mohd Asri said Ikim and the department were proposing that the law be amended to impose stiffer penalties of RM1,000 fine, or five years' jail or 12 strokes of the rotan for Syariah Lower Courts and RM20,000 fine, or 10 years' jail or 24 strokes of rotan for Syariah High Courts.

Current limits are a maximum of three years' jail, or RM5,000 fine, or up to six lashes or any combination of these, and different states provide different penalties for these offences.

 

6th April   

Visions of a Visions of Ecstasy Release...

Repeal of blasphemy laws signals end to long standing film ban
Link Here

Sacred Flesh DVD A landmark decision to ban a film showing Christ being caressed on the cross on the grounds that it was blasphemous could be reversed after almost 20 years.

The 1989 ruling by the BBFC to refuse a certificate for Visions of Ecstasy , a low- budget film depicting the 16th-century Spanish mystic St Teresa of Avila caressing the body of Jesus on the cross provoked a nutter furore.

While the film's director, Nigel Wingrove, believed he was making art, the board, under its heavily censorious director James Ferman, took a different view and said its mix of pornography and religion risked upsetting the Anglican Church.

Now, however, in a sign that Britain's social mores have moved on, Craig Lapper, of the board's examining body, has invited Wingrove to resubmit the film for classification.

The invitation comes ahead of the repeal in June of the blasphemy law, which has long been a source of anger for those working in the creative industries who complain it is an archaic piece of legislation that stifles art.

A decision to allow the film's release would bring to an end one of the most controversial chapters in British cinematic history. The board's decision was seen as an attack on freedom of speech by organised religion. The debate raged all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which upheld the decision to ban the love scene, thereby killing the film's release.

Wingrove, now a distributor of horror movies, said the suggestion he should resubmit his most notorious work had come completely out of the blue and that he was in two minds about whether to agree: If I made the film now I would make it very differently. I was exploring areas of dark eroticism, but I had worked chiefly in prints, not films. People say I should put it out, but on a personal level I have reservations. If I did release it, I would need to put it into context and perhaps release a documentary to accompany it.

Visions of Ecstasy was Wingrove's most famous battle with the board and one he did not see coming. I can be incredibly naive, he said. I was gobsmacked by the reaction. I can see why some people might have been offended, but it was pretty mild stuff really.

Nevertheless, the obscure film became a focal point of political protest as the barrister Geoffrey Robertson took up Wingrove's case and a campaign was launched to secure the film's release. A lot of people had their own agenda, Wingrove said: They wanted the law of blasphemy repealed. He likened the courtroom battle in Strasbourg to a scene from the Nuremberg trials with all those people pontificating on my little 19-minute film; it was absurd.

Now, however, Wingrove may find himself an unwitting cause célèbre again as secular groups encourage him to seek a release licence as a way of signalling the death knell of the blasphemy law.

The restraining effect of the blasphemy law on artists and writers has long been a blot on Britain's tradition of free speech, said Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society. It has put into the hands of bigots a weapon to punish those who want to criticise or satirise religion. We hope that the BBFC will now give a certificate to Visions of Ecstasy as a signal to film makers that they need no longer censor themselves when exploring religious themes.

A board spokeswoman stressed the invitation to Wingrove to resubmit his film for classification was Lapper's personal decision. Craig was being helpful, the spokeswoman said, pointing out that the repeal of the blasphemy law in June probably convinced Lapper that the time was right to review the film's ban.

 

6th April   

Update: Not Fitna for Indonesians...

YouTube blocked on Government instructions
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna The Indonesian government has ordered the country's ISPs to block Youtube for publishing the 15 minutes anti-Muslim film Fitna made by the Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

Some of the country's ISPs followed the block order, but Fitna could still be viewed through other providers.

A letter was sent to Internet providers asking them to block any site or blog posting the film Fitna . Not only YouTube has uploaded the film, so it is up to the ISPs' discretion to block these sites, communications and information ministry official Ferdinandus said.

 

6th April   

Murderous Face of Saudi...

Woman murdered over fears of Facebook immorality
Link Here  full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Stop Honour Killings A young Saudi Arabian woman was murdered by her father for chatting on the social network site Facebook.

The unnamed woman from Riyadh was beaten and shot after she was discovered in the middle of an online conversation with a man, the al-Arabiya website reported. The woman was murdered in August but her death was highlighted following Maliki's comments.

The case was reported on a Saudi Arabian news site as an example of the "strife" the social networking site is causing in the Islamic nation.

Saudi preacher Ali al-Maliki has emerged as the leading critic of Facebook, claiming the network is corrupting the youth of the nation: Facebook is a door to lust and young women and men are spending more on their mobile phones and the Internet than they are spending on food.

More than 6,500 people have signed the online petition in a bid to stop the conservative Muslim kingdom following Syria in banning access to the network from local internet servers.

 

6th April   

Macedonia Builds on Repression...

Building regulations used to ban building by undesirable religions
Link Here

Macedonia flagAs Macedonia's minority faiths face obstruction or de facto bans on building new places of worship or extending existing ones, the country's new Religion Law - which comes into force on 1 May - appears likely to do nothing to help end the problem, says Drasko Djenovic of Forum 18, a news agency dedicated to lifting the lid on persecution in Eurasia.

There have been long-running denials of permission to disfavoured communities to build, extend or establish legal ownership over places of worship. In addition, the authorities have also demolished Serbian Orthodox places of worship which they deemed to be "illegal".

The new Religion Law was approved by parliament in the capital Skopje in September 2007. Many believe provisions in the law were deliberately framed to prevent the Serbian Orthodox Church's branch in Macedonia from ever gaining legal status.

 

5th April   

Update: All War and No Play...

Unislamic dancing to be banned from Afghan TV
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Afghanistan flagAfghanistan's lower house of Parliament has passed a resolution seeking to bar television programs from showing dancing and other practices deemed un-Islamic.

The decision came just days after the private Tolo TV channel aired a dance number featuring men and women together on an Afghan film awards program.

The Information and Culture Ministry condemned the scene, saying dancing by men and women together was completely against the culture of the Afghan, Muslim society.

The parliamentary resolution, drafted by a commission for cultural and religious affairs, said dancers should not be shown on television, and un-Islamic scenes should be cut from Indian TV series broadcast in Afghanistan, said Din Mohammad Azimi, a lawmaker and member of the commission.

The resolution, which is not now legally binding and cannot be enforced, will go before the upper house of Parliament for consideration, Azimi said. It would also have to be approved by the president before becoming law.

Tolo TV's owner Saad Mohseni said the dancing on the awards show Friday was very tame by any standard and the women were dressed modestly.

 

5th April   

The Last Tango in Bristol...

Muslims pressure schools into dropping gay awareness books
Link Here

Two primary schools have withdrawn storybooks about same sex relationships after objections from Muslim parents.

One story, titled King & King , is a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before marrying one of their brothers. Another named And Tango Makes Three features two male penguins who fall in love at a New York zoo.

Bristol City Council said the two schools had been using the books to ensure they complied with gay rights laws which came into force last April. They were intended to help prevent homophobic bullying, it said.

But the council has since removed the books from Easton Primary School and Bannerman Road Community School, both in Bristol.

The decision was made to enable the schools to "operate safely" after parents voiced their concerns at meetings. Around 40 are said to have gathered at Easton to speak to staff and another 50 at Bannerman Road.

Members of the Bristol Muslim Cultural Society said parents were upset at the lack of consultation over the use of the materials. Farooq Siddique, community development officer for the society and a governor at Bannerman Road, said there were also concerns about whether the stories were appropriate for young children.

He added: In Islam homosexual relationships are not acceptable, as they are not in Christianity and many other religions but the main issue is that they didn't bother to consult with parents.

A spokesman for Bristol City Council said the council had "temporarily withdrawn" the use of the materials in question and was liaising with various groups to ensure that the topic can be addressed in an inclusive manner in the curriculum.

 

5th April   

UnIslamic Islamic Execution...

Pakistan minister to take action against those involved in stoning
Link Here  full story: Stoning in Pakistan...Pakistan couple stomed to death in tribal area

Stoning scene from filmPakistan's Law and Justice Minister Farooq H Naek has directed the Mohmand Agency administration to take act against those involved in the stoning to death of a man and woman to death, after the pair were kidnapped from Nowshera.

The minister issued a statement condemning the heinous incident, and said the couple had been killed in an un-Islamic, barbaric, gruesome and uncivilised way . Naek said those who carried out eh killing would be punished in accordance with the law and the government would not condone such acts.

The minister issued the directive following media reports. According to reports, a self-proclaimed Qazi (Islamic jurist) had ordered the stoning of the couple.

 

4th April   

Update: UNHuman Rights...

UN vote marks the end of Universal Human Rights
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logoFor the past eleven years the organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), representing the 57 Islamic States, has been tightening its grip on the throat of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On 28th March 2008, they finally killed it.

With the support of their allies including China, Russia and Cuba (none well-known for their defence of human rights) the Islamic States succeeded in forcing through an amendment to a resolution on Freedom of Expression that has turned the entire concept on its head. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression will now be required to report on the “abuse” of this most cherished freedom by anyone who, for example, dares speak out against Sharia laws that require women to be stoned to death for adultery or young men to be hanged for being gay, or against the marriage of girls as young as nine, as in Iran.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan saw the writing on the wall three years ago when he spoke of the old Commission on Human Rights having become too selective and too political in its work. Piecemeal reform would not be enough. The old system needed to be swept away and replaced by something better. The Human Rights Council was supposed to be that new start, a Council whose members genuinely supported, and were prepared to defend, the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yet since its inception in June 2006, the Human Rights Council has failed to condemn the most egregious examples of human rights abuse in the Sudan, Byelorussia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and elsewhere, whilst repeatedly condemning Israel and Israel alone.

Three years later Annan's dream lies shattered, and the Human Rights Council stands exposed as incapable of fulfilling its central role: the promotion and protection of human rights. The Council died yesterday in Geneva, and with it the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary we were actually celebrating this year.

There has been a seismic shift in the balance of power in the UN system. For over a decade the Islamic States have been flexing their muscles. Yesterday they struck. There can no longer be any pretence that the Human Rights Council can defend human rights. The moral leadership of the UN system has moved from the States who created the UN in the aftermath of the Second World War, committed to the concepts of equality, individual freedom and the rule of law, to the Islamic States, whose allegiance is to a narrow, medieval worldview defined exclusively in terms of man's duties towards Allah, and to their fellow-travellers, the States who see their future economic and political interests as being best served by their alliances with the Islamic States.

Yesterday's attack by the Islamists, led by Pakistan, had the subtlety of a thin-bladed knife slipped silently under the ribs of the Human Rights Council. At first reading the amendment to the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression might seem reasonable. It requires the Special Rapporteur: To report on instances in which the abuse of the right of freedom of expression constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination …

For Canada, who had fought long and hard as main sponsor of this resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, this was too much.

Canada's position was echoed by several delegations including India, who objected to the change of focus from protecting to limiting freedom of expression. The European Union, the United Kingdom (speaking for Australia and the United States), India, Brazil, Bolivia, Guatemala and Switzerland all withdrew their sponsorship of the main resolution when the amendment was passed. In total, more than 20 of the original 53 co-sponsors of the resolution withdrew their support.

On the vote, the amendment was adopted by 27 votes to 15 against, with three abstentions.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights died with the vote. Who knows when, or if, it can ever be revived.

I used to wonder what States who felt it necessary to kill people because they change their religion thought they were doing in the Human Rights Council. Now I know.

...Read the full article

 

4th April   

Praying for the Buses to Run on Time...

Bus driver wins damages over false claims
Link Here


Blakey from on the buses

I'll get you Butler...
prayers aren't gonna help you now

The original story ran as follows:

A muslim bus driver told stunned passengers to get off so he could pray.

We thought it was a wind-up at first, like Jeremy Beadle, a 21-year-old plumber said

Eventually everyone started complaining. One woman said, What the hell are you doing? I'm going to be late for work'.

After a few minutes the driver calmly got up, opened the doors and asked everyone back on board. But they saw a rucksack lying on the floor of the red single-decker and feared he might be a fanatic. So they all refused.

The driver told The Sun: I asked everyone to get off because I needed to pray. I was running late and had not had time. I pray five times a day as a Muslim — but I don't normally ask people to get off the bus to do it.

A spokesperson for bus company London United said: We are aware of a reported incident involving our route 81. We are currently undertaking a full investigation into the matter.

Update: Prayer's Answered

11th April 2008

London United Busways say they have carried out a full investigation after driver Arunas Raulynaitis rolled out his prayer mat to perform his daily prayers, facing Mecca on the number 81 bus in Langley.

Bosses have analysed evidence, including CCTV footage, and say the driver was actually on his 10-minute break when the incident took place at around 1.30pm on Thursday.

They added that the control room had in fact radioed Mr Raulynaitis to terminate the bus outside Langley Fire Station in London Road because it was running late due to road works. Passengers were asked to leave the vehicle while they waited for another bus to pick them up to complete their journey.

Update: Allegations were entirely false

27th February 2009. See article from guardian.co.uk

A London bus driver today accepted £30,000 in damages from the Sun over a claim that he ordered passengers off his vehicle so that he could pray.

The story in March last year caused Arunas Raulynaitis considerable distress and embarrassment, his solicitor, Stephen Loughrey, told Mr Justice Eady at the high court in London.

Loughrey said the newspaper now accepted that the allegations were entirely false and that Raulynaitis did not order any passengers off, there was no rucksack and no one refused to reboard because they feared he was a fanatic.

Loughrey told the court: While it is the case that Raulynaitis did pray on the bus, he did so during his statutory rest break, as he is of course entitled to do. Not a single passenger was inconvenienced in any way. It transpires that an individual who noticed Raulynaitis at prayer chose to film this act on a mobile phone and sent the video to the Sun, which then reproduced stills from it alongside the article, as well as the footage itself on the Sun's website."

Loughrey said the article not only created an utterly false impression of Raulynaitis's attitude toward his passengers, but also wrongly cast serious aspersions on his religious faith.

He added that News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that publishes the Sun, had already published an apology and agreed to pay substantial damages plus costs.

 

3rd April   

Update: Fitting the Stereotype...

Taliban claim attacks on Dutch soldiers were revenge for Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna The Taliban has said two attacks on Dutch forces in Afghanistan were in retaliation for the anti-Islamic film Fitna. 

In a communique posted on the Internet, the Taliban said its Shura Council leadership announced reprisal operations against Dutch forces because one of the members of the Dutch parliament produced a film that hurts Islam, and he published it with bad intentions.

The Taliban statement referred to two attacks on Sunday, which it said killed a large number of "occupier soldiers."

The Dutch Defence Ministry said five Dutch soldiers were wounded in two separate incidents on Sunday, including one soldier who lost both his legs. None died.

 

3rd April   

Bullecer Bullshit...

Not using contraception in the Philippines correlates to delusional belief
Link Here

Philippines flagNutters from AIDS-Free Philippines and some church-based groups are campaigning against the airing of advertisements promoting the use of condoms and contraceptives.

Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, Human Life International–Pilipinas country director, yesterday said these advertisements are sending the wrong message to young people, especially young women. What they are advertising is contrary to what is true, he added. Bullecer claims that these contraceptives cause cancer of the breast and cervix, hypertension and heart disease.

AIDS-Free Philippines, together with the Couples for Christ Bacolod, and Family and Life Apostolate of the Diocese of Bacolod are asking the ADBOARD, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas to immediately stop the airing both on television and radio of all “condoms and contraceptive” advertisement.

In the absence of a vaccine or cure, “abstinence and chastity” still are the best proven and most effective weapons against the world's dreaded disease – AIDS, the group claims.

 

3rd April   

Tribal Brutality...

Couple stoned to death in Pakistan for adultery
Link Here  full story: Stoning in Pakistan...Pakistan couple stomed to death in tribal area

Stoning scene from filmA woman and her alleged paramour were stoned to death by militants in Pakistan's Mohmand tribal agency after a "qazi court" found them guilty of adultery.

This was the first instance of a case of adultery resulting in rajam or stoning to death in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan.

Earlier, couples found guilty of adultery by militants or tribesmen were executed by firing squads.

The woman, identified as Shano from the Mohmand Agency, had allegedly eloped with Daulat Khan Malikdeenkhel of Bara on March 15.

The couple was stoned to death in the Khwezai-Baezai area on Monday, the Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Some members of the Pakistani Taliban movement "captured" the couple at Nowshera in the North West Frontier Province when they were returning from Karachi, Asad said.

The qazi found the couple guilty of adultery and sentenced them to death by stoning. The sentence was carried out in Khwaezai-Baezai.

The woman's body was buried in the same area by some locals. The man's body was taken to hospital and handed over to his relatives.

 

3rd April   

Iraq Dishonours Civilisation...

Law imposes light sentence for honour killing
Link Here  full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Stop Honour Killings The country's powerful Islamic parties and leaders are resisting reform of a law that sanctions lenient punishments for those found guilty of so-called honour killings.

Article 111 of the Iraqi penal code - passed in 1969 - allows a lesser punishment for the killing of women if the male defendants are found to have had “honourable motives”.

Under the law, a man can receive a maximum of three years in prison if he immediately kills or disables his wife or girlfriend after witnessing her engaging in a sexual act with another man. This sentencing also applies if the defendant immediately kills or disables the other man.

In most cases, the sentence is commuted if the defendant has no criminal background

Acting minister of state for women's affairs Narmin Othman is leading a campaign to change the Ba'ath-era law. She is pushing for parliament to ditch the honour killings statute, so that men accused of such crimes are prosecuted for murder, the punishment for which is life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Othman's initiative is primarily backed by secularists and has received the support of about 60 members of parliament from the secular Iraqi List and the Kurdish Alliance, according to Iraqi List MP Maysoon al-Damalogy.

However, representatives from the Shia United Iraqi Alliance and the Sunni-led Iraqi Accord Front both oppose the legislation.

 

3rd April   

Update: Egypt IDed as Repressive...

Christian converts still blocked in Egypt
Link Here  full story: Religious Intolerance in Egypt...Court challenge over imposing islam on ID cards

Egypt flagChristian-born converts to Islam in Egypt wishing to return to their former faith have found their way blocked by an appeal before the country's Supreme Constitutional Court.

Judge Muhammad Husseini asked Egypt's top judicial body on March 4 to review the constitutionality of a law granting citizens the right to change religions.

Egypt's top administrative court used Article 47 of Egypt's civil law to justify allowing 12 converts to Islam to return to Christianity last month. Husseini has demanded that the constitutional court rule on whether Article 47 conflicts with the Egyptian constitution's second article, which designates Islam as the main source of legislation.

The test before the Supreme Constitutional Court is if there is a conflict between Islamic sharia and the right to change one's religion, said human rights activist Hossam Bahgat.

This is a new legal fight that the Supreme Constitutional Court has never dealt with in the past, said Bahgat, of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). We see it as the single most important court case since the amendment that made Islamic sharia the main source of legislation.

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat amended the constitution in 1980 to make sharia the main source of legislation, in order to bolster support from Islamists against his secular and leftist rivals.

The cases of several hundred converts to Islam seeking to return to Christianity have been frozen pending the constitutional court's verdict. Even the 12 Christian converts to Islam who won a legal battle to return to their original faith last month have been blocked from obtaining documents listing their change of faith.

Egypt's Civil Status Department turned down Bishay Farag Bishay, one of the 12, when he requested new documents, Egyptian Christian weekly Watani reported. The newspaper reported on March 9 that officials claimed their computerized system could only enter one word in the religion section. But Egypt's top administrative court had stipulated that Bishay and the 11 other converts write Christian, previously proclaimed Islam as his/her religion, in the February 9 ruling.

But one human rights activist said that Egypt's Interior Ministry had promised to solve the issue. Abu-Seada of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said that authorities planned to list only converts' current faith on official documents, while keeping their religious history on file.

 

3rd April   

Humanity Mutilated...

So Egyptian FGM is supported by islam
Link Here  full story: Stop FGM...The nasty world of female genital mutilation

Stop FGMIslamists and conservative clerics are fighting proposed legislation in the Egyptian parliament that would increase penalties for female circumcision and raise the minimum age of when a girl can marry. The Islamists view the bill as an affront to Sharia law.

The legislation drafted by the government-backed National Council for Motherhood and Childhood would impose a prison sentence of as long as two years and a maximum fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds, or about $1,000. The proposal would raise the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18. The bill has been met with a storm of anger by a number of delegates from both the majority and the Islamist opposition led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Opponents say the new restrictions are an attempt by the government to impose a Western agenda on an Islamic society. Some clerics, in opposing the bill, state that Islamic Sharia law condones female circumcision and imposes no minimum age of marriage. Religion does not prohibit or criminalize female circumcision, prominent Islamic scholar Mustafa al-Shaka said.

The bill's architects hold that there is a national consensus on the criminalization of female circumcision. Nobody can deny that the Egyptian society resents the negative health effects caused by [female] circumcision, said Moushira Khattab, secretary-general of the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood. Thus, the punishment of those who conduct that practice is a must.

Female circumcision remains a widespread practice in Egypt. About 70% of Egyptian girls are believed to be victims of the practice.

 

2nd April   

Update: Netherlands to Prosecute Wilders?...

Or is the Dutch ambassador placating Qatar?
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna The public prosecutor of the Netherlands is looking into Fitna , and based on the prosecutor's findings, charges could be filed against the far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders in a court, Dutch Ambassador to Qatar Hans Van Vloten Dissevelt told Gulf Times yesterday.

Dissevelt said Dutch leaders had time and again unequivocally made it clear that the film did neither convey the stance of the government nor the people but the personal view of an individual.

In Holland, we have full freedom of expression. There is absolutely no censorship. People are expected to behave responsibly and those who cross the limits will be accountable for their actions, the ambassador said.

Besides the public prosecutor, some NGOs are also considering taking Wilders to court, the envoy said. If the judge found Wilders has crossed the limits, he would be sentenced.

Asked why the government could not prevent the launch of the film Fitna , the ambassador said the Dutch government was not in a position to stop people from expressing their views before hand.

He said his country was pleased with the response to the film from governments and people around the world. Most of the people realise that it has got nothing to do with the Dutch people or their government. They have been able to identify the difference between the standpoint of a nation and the viewpoint of a national. A country should not be punished for the action of a single citizen.

 

1st April   

Update: Fitna Censored...

Mohammed cartoon cut from Fitna which is banned in Indonesia
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna Geert Wilders, author of Fitna , has said he will edit out a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad shown in the movie.

Wilders said he would remove images of a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad, showing the Islamic prophet wearing a turban with a bomb in it.

Wilders's announcement comes after the Danish Union of Journalists said it would sue the MP for copyright infringement. The picture's author, Kurt Westergaard, said he was not contacted with a request for permission to use the picture: I don't want my drawing to be used in something that I don't know anything about. Had Mr Wilders contacted me, we could have talked together and I could have found out what he wanted with the drawing.

Wilders's office said the picture would be replaced with another cartoon of the prophet Muhammad. Additional, minor edits will also be made, said Wilders's representatives.

Meanwhile, UK website Liveleak.com, which removed Fitna from its website on Friday after staff received death threats, reinstated it two days later. We will not be pressured into censoring material which is legal and within our rules, reads a statement heading the video.

We apologise for the removal and the delay in getting it back, but when you run a website you don't consider that some people would be insecure enough to threaten our lives simply because they do not like the content of a video we neither produced nor endorsed but merely hosted, it added.

Even later the video on LiveLeak has been removed again for the copyright reason mentioned above. There is a note that an edited version will appear soon.

See full article from the BBC

Indonesia flagIndonesia has banned Fitna. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch right-wing Freedom Party (PVV), would also be barred from the archipelago. Yudhoyono said world leaders had a moral responsibility to prevent the making of such films.

See full article from the BBC

Dozens of Indonesians have demonstrated outside the Dutch embassy in Jakarta over Fitna.

Some protesters hurled eggs and plastic water bottles at the embassy as riot police formed a wall to keep them away. The demonstrators from the Muslim group Islamic Defenders Front, held placards saying Geert Wilders is a Christian terrorist , Kill Geert Wilders and Holland go to hell!

Hundreds of Indonesian school students also demonstrated against the film in central Java on Sunday.