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30th June   

Butt Sensitive...

Bikini bus adverts banned in Manhattan's jewish districts
Link Here

georgi advertThe makers of Georgi Vodka have staged a demonstration complete with bikinis, booze, and a lawyer crying constitutional foul. They paid a handful of scantily clad babes to rally outside a bus depot on Manhattan's West Side.

The purpose of the protest, says the vodka company, was to shame the Manhattan Transport Authority (MTA) into reversing it's policy of accommodation when religious groups request racy ads be removed from buses in Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods.

At issue in this case are 2 ads featuring vodka bottles nestled next to buxom butts covered by white bikini bottoms. Georgi Vodka distillers say the ad is tasteful and the MTA ban is censorship and an infringement their First Amendment rights.

The bikini ad ban applies to buses at three depots in Brooklyn which have been accommodating the borough's Hasidic leaders for a decade now.

 

30th June   

Updated: A Trinity of Nutters...

Three ladies statue taken down in Indonesia after accusations that 3 symbolises the christian trinity
Link Here

tiga mojangFollowing the recent dismantling of his Tiga Mojang (Three Ladies) statue in Bekasi, Nyoman Nuarta has called on members of the public to explain claims that the statue is obscene and blasphemous.

 Nyoman said the groups' interpretation of the statue was silly and utterly misleading . I made the statue by considering aspects of local [West Javanese] culture and never thought about attaching any religious symbol to it.

Why did I make it three [ladies]? It was simply because the statue would be put in the center of a boulevard circle so it could 'welcome' motorists from all surrounding three streets.

He also denied that the statue had shown obscenity: I am a master of beautiful statues. If someone feels offended by such works of art, please ask them which part of the statue makes them feel sexually aroused? he said.

On Saturday, the Bekasi municipal administration decided to take down the statue, which resembles three ladies standing in traditional West Javanese attire, after a series of protests from local hard-line Islamic groups which have considered the statue obscene and symbolizing the Christian Trinity concept.

Update: Religious Tit for Tat

23rd June 2010. Based on article from thejakartaglobe.com

The ludicrous removal of the Three Ladies statute has revealed on ongoing religious tussle in Bekasi, a city neighbouring Jakarta.

The congregation of the HKBP Filadelfia Protestant church in Bekasi, has been holding services on the roadside after the city prohibited the church from holding religious activities. Needless to say that this has resulted in angry muslim demonstrators demanding they pray elsewhere.

Rev. Palti Panjaitan, leader of HKBP Filadelfia spoke of one such incident: Around 6:30 a.m., there was an announcement at the mosque next to our church calling people to demonstrate. Half an hour later around 200 people crowded in front of our church with drums, shouting statements about jihad . He called the police, who drove the protestors away at around 8:30 a.m. When the protesters saw some members of the congregation they hurled terrorizing statements. A lot of my members cried and immediately went home, refusing to come back to church. The protesters called us names, calling us haram [forbidden by Islam], and threatened to kill us, he said.

In view of the increasing religious tension in Bekasi, members of hard-line muslim groups gathered to discuss a coordinated response to bring the city more in line with Islamic principles. Habib Rizieq Shihab leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), gave a speech claiming that : the phenomenon of 'Christianization' is happening not just in Bekasi but all over Indonesia.

Abdul Qodir Aka, a local official with the FPI, told the Jakarta Globe that the congress's objective was to create recommendations for the Bekasi administration on what steps it should take in the wake of recent incidents of defamation of Islam.

Abdul Qodir was referring to Abraham Felix, a 16-year-old student of SMA 5 high school in Bekasi. Pictures of Abraham stomping on a Koran, the Islamic holy book, and one of him allegedly putting it in a toilet were posted on a blog, enraging the local Islamic community. Police arrested Abraham in May on suspicion of creating the blog. He was charged with Article 156 of the Criminal Code for religious blasphemy.

Abdul Qodir said that the Islamic Congress was supported by the Bekasi administration, and was the culmination of talks between members of the local FPI chapter and Mayor Mochtar Mohamad.  Abdul Qodir said: We also demanded the removal of the Tiga Mojang [Three Girls] statue. The statue in the Harapan Indah residential complex was taken down on at 12 a.m. on Saturday by the Bekasi administration, following pressure from the FPI, which deemed the statue at odds with conservative Muslims' views.

Update: War against Christianization

30th June 2010. Based on article from thejakartaglobe.com

In a move that could add to already simmering religious tensions in Bekasi, a new group calling itself the Bekasi Islamic Presidium is planning a roadshow aimed at persuading every mosque in the city to prepare for the possibility of war against Christianization.

The group, consisting of nine members representing different Islamic organizations in the city, was formed on the last day of the Bekasi Islamic Congress at Al Azhar Mosque that was convened to address the so-called Christianization problem.

Among its recommendations is the formation of Islamic militant groups, or laskar, within each mosque and the drafting of Shariah-based policies by the Bekasi administration.

All Muslims should unite and be on guard because … the Christians are up to something, Murhali Barda, head of the Bekasi chapter of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), told the Jakarta Globe: Apparently they want to test our patience. We are planning to invite them for a dialogue to determine what they really want. If talks fail, this might mean war .

Abdul Qadir Aka, secretary general of the proselytization board at FPI Bekasi, said the militant groups were important: When the need arrives we will have units that can be mobilized . We cannot just depend on the FPI. We have hundreds and even thousands of mosques in Bekasi. Imagine what we can do together.

The units, he said, would also serve as morality police targeting activities such as drinking alcohol, prostitution, casual sex and gambling, all forbidden in Islam.

 

28th June   

Dancing with Spirits...

'Outrage' at striptease on Ayers Rock
Link Here

alizee sery on ayers rock video A French dancer has caused 'outrage' among Australia's Aboriginal people for performing a strip show on the top of Ayers Rock, which they regard as sacred territory .

Alizee Sery stripped down and put on an exotic show for a friend with a video camera on the top of the rock - which the Aborigines call Uluru - and posted it on YouTube.

Aborigine John Scrutton, who lives in the Northern Territory city of Darwin, described people who show no respect to the rock as evil . Aboriginal lore and law should be brought into effect - not all of us blackfellas are living in the dirt in humpys (a crude traditional dwelling).

What Miss Sery had done, he said, was the equivalent of someone defecating on the steps of the Vatican.

 

28th June   

Unthreatening Insult...

Protests against a press insult of the muslim community dismissed
Link Here

the press logoA local Dewsbury columnist who wrote that had the Cumbria mass-murderer been carrying the Qur'an he would have been celebrated by so-called British Muslims will not face prosecution, Dewsbury police announced.

Writing three days after Derrick Bird murdered 12 people in Cumbria, the local paper's columnist, Danny Lockwood, wrote that had Bird been carrying a copy of the Qur'an, he would have been celebrated as a hero by tens of thousands, possibly more, of so-called 'British' Muslims.

Lockwood made the analogy in his weekly column Ed Lines hitting out at the Home Office's decision to allow Muslim scholar Zakir Naik into the county.

A spokesman for Dewsbury Police confirmed to The Muslim News that 70 people had lodged a formal complaint: We received a number of complaints about the content of the article which appeared in The Press. We then had to liaise with the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on the matter and enquiries were ongoing at that stage. Following that week we received notice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that the matter would not be perused any further.

A CPS spokesman told The Muslim News: It should be noted that the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 contains wide exemptions for freedom of speech, specifically saying that nothing in the Act shall prohibit or restrict 'discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions'. According the legal guidance evidence would have had to be obtained revealing that Lockwood used threatening language to stir up religious hatred. Threatening is the operative word, not abusive or insulting. So using abusive or insulting behaviour intended to stir up religious hatred does not constitute an offence, nor does using threatening words likely to stir up religious hatred.

Of course if Lockwood had made his comments in public, then all there fine words about freedom of speech would have been forgotten about. The CPS could have then done him under catch all public order offences where mere insult is enough to get a conviction.

A petition was circulated which asks for a retraction and full public apology. It also calls for local people, businesses and politicians of all persuasions to boycott the paper. A protest was also organised with 300 demonstrators gathering outside Dewsbury Police Station on June 6.

Local campaigner, Abdul Hai, told The Muslim News he and many of Dewsbury's Muslims were appalled by the CPS's decision not to bring charges; this newspaper, and particularly this columnist, has been writing things like this for ten years or more. Sadly we've become used to it but this is the straw that broke the camel's back. People are upset and people are angry.

Lockwood has since apologised, writing a week after making the controversial comparison.

 

27th June   

Update: Peephole into Repression...

Museum curators on trial for Forbidden Art exhibition
Link Here

Sakharov MuseumIt was bad enough that an art exhibition attracted the attention of Russia's authorities. It was worse that the exhibition was in Moscow's Sakharov centre and museum, one of the few institutions in Russia that stands squarely behind the tradition of human rights, exemplified by the saintly physicist and dissident for whom it is named.

Now prosecutors have said that they want the organisers of the 2007 Forbidden Art exhibition, the director of the centre, Yuri Samodurov, and Andrei Yerofeev, an art historian, to be sentenced to a three-year jail term for debasing the religious beliefs of citizens and inciting religious hatred .

The prosecutors' move has aroused a furious reaction from the dwindling ranks of Russia's intelligentsia, and in the non-Kremlin media. In an open letter to the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Yerofeev apologises for unintentionally hurting believers' feelings, but also blasts the church for teaming up with hardline officials and rightwing extremists. Which, of course, was one of the messages of the exhibition.

Three years ago one of the leading Russian contemporary art curators, Andrei Yerofeev, organised an exhibition called Forbidden Art , in the Andrei Sakharov centre in Moscow, where he presented a collection of art works banned from previous exhibitions. To draw attention to political censorship Yerofeev put all the works behind a curtain with one hole in it, above human height, so that in order to see the works one had to climb a stool and peep through the hole. Only people who really wanted to see the art works of art were able to. However, Yerofeev, as well as Yury Samodurov, the director of the Sakharov centre at the time, were accused of inciting hatred and insulting religious feelings, and prosecuted.

The exhibit featured several paintings with images of Jesus Christ. In one, Christ appeared to his disciples as Mickey Mouse. In another, of the crucifixion, the head of Christ was replaced by the Order of Lenin medal, the highest award of the Soviet Union.

This week the prosecutors demanded a jail sentence of three years for each of them. The verdict will be announced on July 12th. The trial was instigated by the so called People's council , a movement of militant religious radicals with strong anti-Semitic views which claims to have the official backing of the Orthodox church.

 

27th June   

Update: KFC Wake Up and Smell the Bacon...

Five KFC restaurants drop halal menu
Link Here  full story: Halal Resturants...Halal restaurants prove divisive

bltKFC has scrapped its policy of serving halal food only in 5 of its takeaways, following customer protests.

Thousands of regular customers complained, including Alan Phillips, who was furious when the Burton-on-Trent branch refused to serve him his favourite Big Daddy chicken burger with bacon and cheese topping.

The KFC in Burton-on-Trent is one of five reverting to the old non-halal menu after poor sales

Another that will drop the trial halal menu is the Colne takeaway in Burnley, Lancashire, where thousands of people joined a Facebook group called No Halal at Colne KFC.

Takeaways at: Accrington, Lancashire, Old Kent Road, London, and Hyde Road, Manchester, as well as Burton and Colne, will revert to full menus on 19 July.

A spokesperson for KFC blamed low demand. He said: We introduced our trial in areas where we expected a large demand for halal restaurants, and as with any trial, we continually evaluate results, and adapt as necessary. There are always areas which are more successful than others, and despite positive feedback, a few stores haven't met our forecasts, so for that reason, we have decided to stop trialling halal in five restaurants as of 19th July. We are continuing our trial in other areas and are still offering halal in 96 restaurants, and will review the trial over the coming months.

 

26th June   

Updated: Most of the Internet is Considered Sacrilegious...

Pakistan High Court bans 9 major internet websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Google logoPakistan's High Court has banned nine leading websites in response to allegations that the websites were posting blasphemous material.

It also directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to make sure that the websites are immediately blocked.

The nine websites targeted in the court order include Google, Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, YouTube, Bing, In the Name of Allah and Amazon.

A petition filed by a citizen, Muhammad Sidiq, claimed that the websites were publishing and promoting sacrilegious material while twisting facts about the Quran.

Justice Mazher Iqbal Sidhu, of the Bahawalpur bench of the high court, also ordered the PTA chairman to appear in court on Monday with all relevant documents in this case

The Bahawalpur legal fraternity has decided to observe a day's strike in support of the historic court decision as well as to protest against the websites.

PTA officials maintain that they have received no instructions to block the websites. They had heard of the court decision only through media reports.

Update: Major websites restored but will be checked for blasphemy

26th June 2010. Based on article from news.bbc.co.uk

Blasphemy Douglas Preston

  Blasphemy on Amazon!

Pakistan will start monitoring seven major websites, including Google and Yahoo, for content it deems offensive to Muslims. YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail and Bing will also come under scrutiny, while 17 less well-known sites will be blocked.

Officials will monitor the sites and block links deemed inappropriate. The new action will see Pakistani authorities monitor content published on the seven sites, blocking individual pages if content is judged to be offensive.

Telecoms official Khurram Mehran said links would be blocked without disturbing the main website.

 

26th June   

Updated: Feverish with Censorship Lust...

Indonesian minister speaks about celebrity sex video
Link Here  full story: Ariel Celebrity Porn Video...Indonesian celebrity home videos online

luna mayaIndonesia's communications and information technology minister said sex videos allegedly featuring celebrities made him feverish , adding that the country needed a rule to ban negative content on the web.

In the absence of such a ban, Mi-nister Tifatul Sembiring said he would summon ISPs to help stop the spread of the clips, Antara news agency reported.

He said he hadn't seen the video but a report on them from his subordinates made him feverish . Why would anyone tape such a private thing?

Following the passage of the controversial 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction Law, the ministry had proposed a regulation that would justify government control of multimedia content. The plan was dropped following uproar and a rebuke from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Police have summoned the celebrities suspected of being featured in the videos — vocalist Nazril Ariel Ilham, Luna Maya and Cut Tari — for questioning next week. All three have denied appearing in the videos, while police have said it was possible that the suspect would be one of the people featured in the clips.

The police added that they were hunting those suspected of producing and distributing the videos. Tifatul said under the pornography law, anyone making sex tapes — even for private purposes — could be guilty of violating the law.

Maya is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme and has appeared in advertisements with Ariel for a soap made by Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever. A spokesman for Unilever said the soap ads had been cancelled this week.

Update: Calls for the celebrities to be stoned to death

24th June 2010. Based on article from news.smh.com.au

Stoning scene from movieSinger Nazril Ariel has been at the centre of the Peterporn controversy, named after his band Peterpan, since the two grainy but explicit videos went viral on Indonesian websites earlier this month.

Ariel surrendered today after police named him a suspect for breaching the anti-pornography law. If he hadn't surrendered we would have arrested him, police deputy spokesman Zainuri Lubis said.

As the videos continued to circulate online, hundreds of radical Islamists rallied in Jakarta to demand adulterers be put to death by stoning.

As a divorcee, Ariel should be stoned along with married television celebrity, Cut Tari, who allegedly appears with him in one of the X-rated videos, a muslim spokesman said.

Those people who have sex before marriage should be caned with a stick 100 times in public. Adulterers should be half-buried and stoned to death, said protest coordinator Fadilah Karimah" The more people who see it the better.

The celebrities deny uploading the clips but could still face up to 12 years in jail for breaches of the country's 2008 anti-pornography law. Tari and Ariel could also face up to nine months in prison for adultery.

Update: Charged

26th June 2010. Based on article from news.bbc.co.uk

One of Indonesia's top celebrities has been charged under an anti-pornography law for his alleged role in sex videos which have appeared on the internet.

Pop star Nazril Ariel Irham and two other celebrities, TV presenter Luna Maya and soapstar Cut Tari, have denied involvement in the sex tapes.

Zainuri Lubis, deputy spokesman of the National Police, told the BBC that Ariel had been charged with the making and distribution of the sex tapes under the controversial anti-pornography law.

He is the first high-profile person to be charged under the law, which came into effect in 2008 despite strong opposition from the public and members of government.

Local reports have quoted Indonesian police saying they have plans to detain the two female celebrities who are also allegedly featured in the sex tapes for their own protection.

Update: Luna Maya Arrested

18th July 2010. Based on article from mcot.net

Actress Luna Maya was arrested in the National Police Headquarters here Wednesday evening for being considered not cooperative in the porn video case.

Luna is arrested because she is strongly suspected being involved in the making of porn video recordings with Ariel, Senior Police Commissioner Marwoto Seoto said.

The police earlier named actresses Luna Maya and Cut Tari suspects in the sensational porn video case.

The police had also carried out a scientific crime investigation on the three celebrities in which their physical characteristics were compared with those of the actors in the porn video scenes.

Update: Still in Custody

23rd October 2010. See article from google.com

An Indonesian rock star held for more than four months over a homemade sex video that found its way online has finally been charged and could face up to 16 years in jail, reports said.

Nazril Ariel has been charged with distributing pornography under several articles of the criminal code including the 2008 anti-pornography law, The Jakarta Globe reported.

A lawyer for the singer said no charges had been laid but that their client would be held in custody beyond, when many had expected him to be released due to a lack of evidence to warrant a trial.

Update: On Trial

24th November 2010. See article from bbc.co.uk

One of Indonesia's top celebrities has gone on trial for his alleged role in sex videos which appeared on the internet.

Pop star Nazril Ariel Irham has been charged under Indonesia's controversial anti-pornography law. He could face 12 years in jail for the two home-made films, which are said to feature him and two female companions.

The scandal has attracted huge attention in Indonesia. About 500 people nonetheless gathered outside the court as proceedings were held behind closed doors, AFP news agency reported.

The singer was accompanied by his girlfriend, TV presenter Luna Maya, who is said to be the woman in one of the two videos. The woman alleged to appear in the other, Cut Tari, is a soap opera star previously linked to the singer. The two women are not facing charges. All three deny involvement in the sex tapes.

 

26th June   

Update: Downing Street Protest Against Sharia...

A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights
Link Here  full story: Sharia Law in the UK...Shariah tribunals operating in Britain

sharia law in britain Several hundred people joined One Law for All on 20 June at Downing Street to show their opposition to Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and to demand universal rights and secularism.

A new report Sharia Law in Britain was published on the day to coincide with the rally. Human rights activist Gita Sahgal said of the report: I think it is highly significant that in Britain there has been silence where there should have been condemnation. There is active support for 'Sharia laws' precisely because it is limited to denying women rights in the family. No hands are being cut off, so there can't be a problem. Unfortunately for us, senior law officers will find that human rights expert bodies often have a similar attitude. They have done little research on the impact of family laws and the denial of justice caused by parallel systems of justice. That is why the findings of this report are so important. It is such dedicated work that changes the thinking of the experts.

MC Fariborz Pooya of the Iranian Secular Society said: The One Law for All Campaign has brought to centre stage an important debate about the kind of society we want to live in whilst defending the rights of everyone irrespective of religion, race, nationality…; this Campaign is truly the voice of the voiceless.

Anna Waters of One Law for All's Legal Team said: Any reasonable interpretation of the Human Rights Act shows us that there are certain things that it doesn't allow - and one of the things it doesn't allow is for a woman to have an inferior or second class status when she stands before a judge in a court of law. This is exactly what is happening…

Gerard Phillips of the National Secular Society said that Sharia Law was nothing less than an attack on human rights and on equality. He went on to say: It undermines our democracy. It must be opposed.

The rally also heard from others including Naomi Phillips of the British Humanist Association, poets from the Anti-Injustice Movement and singer Adam Barnett.

Protestors then joined a march organised by Iran Solidarity to the embassy of the Islamic regime of Iran. Patty Debonitas of Iran Solidarity UK said: By coming today you are showing your solidarity with the people here who are victimised under Sharia law and people in Iran who are being victimised under the state power of Sharia. The rally was held on 20 June to mark the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan at a protest in Tehran last year and link the fight against Sharia here with that in Iran and elsewhere.

 

26th June   

Update: Euro Burkha Bans...

Council of Europe votes against a general burkha ban
Link Here

Council of Europe flagMPs from 47 countries have unanimously voted against a general ban on the wearing of the burka in public.

The Parliamentary Assembly of Europe's human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, passed a resolution warning that if governments imposed such a ban they would be denying women who genuinely and freely desire to do so their right to cover their faces.

The resolution was part of a report on Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia, which also called on European governments to work to educate Muslim women, their families and communities on their human rights and to encourage them to take part in public and professional life .

But Spain Disagrees

Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

Spanish flagThe Spanish Senate has approved a motion urging Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government to ban Islamic all-body veils in public places.

The government needed to take legal measures against the niqab, which covers the entire body except for the eyes, and against the burqa, which hides even the eyes, the motion said.

It was approved with the narrow majority of 131 votes against 129.

Spain should outlaw any usage, custom or discriminatory practice that limits the freedom of women, said the document, which was drafted by the main conservative opposition People's Party (PP).

Eight Spanish municipalities, located mainly in the north-eastern region of Catalonia, have outlawed or are planning to outlaw all-body veils in public places. The Senate is now seeking a nationwide ban.

As Does France

Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

France flagFrench lawmakers will begin on July 6 to debate a government proposal to ban the Muslim full-face veil from public spaces, a minister said.

The lower house National Assembly will read the bill before it passes to the Senate in September and it could be adopted into law soon after.

As Do Some in the UK

Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

Ragged Union JackA Kettering MP who has led calls to ban Muslim women from wearing the burka in Britain is to ask Parliament to restrict its use.

Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering, will present his Private Members Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Hollobone, who previously likened wearing the garment to going around with a paper bag over your head , said: The ruling clearly demonstrates that members of the council of the EU are out of touch with popular opinion.

What they said does leave open the possibility of restrictions on the wearing of burkas for security and other reasons – it doesn't forbid any measure. If motorcyclists have to take their helmet off when they go into shops and banks the same rules should apply to people wearing the burka.

 

26th June   

Festival of Intolerance...

Jewish dancers stoned off the stage in Hanover
Link Here

Germany flagMembers of a Jewish dance troupe were pelted with stones and insulted during a neighborhood festival in Hanover, Germany.

A dance troupe of the Liberal Jewish Community in Hanover was pelted with stones and insulted during a district festival.

After correlating pictures, 30 muslim children and teenagers of mostly Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi, Iranian and possibly also Turkish origin, were involved in throwing pebbles and calling insults at the eight adult dancers.

The Jewish folklore group were forced to leave the stage. The international cultural festival continued after a break, the police were not notified.

Mayor Stephan Weil responded with dismay to news of the attack: I'm extremely sorry, especially for the dance troupe, but also for the neighborhood, that such an event would be abused for racist purposes, Weil told the members of the Hanover integration council on Tuesday. He said the city council will lodge a complaint and will above all check why the organizers didn't turn to the police.

The Liberal Jewish Community will also lodge a complaint for dangerous bodily harm and incitement, says president Ingrid Wettberg.

 

26th June   

Updated: Veiled Threats...

Al-Jazeera presenters quit over being forced to wear head scarves
Link Here

Al Jazeera logoFive women presenters have resigned from the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera after being accused of not dressing modestly enough.

In a row which has split the channel, the five complained about harassment from a senior editor, whom they accused of making offensive remarks about their appearance.

After the channel refused to back them, the five women, some of the best-known faces in the Middle East thanks to the channel's popularity, quit.

An internal inquiry has since cleared the official, the deputy editor-in-chief Ayman Jaballah, and asserted that the channel had the right to dictate how its presenters appeared.

The issue is likely to refocus attention on the difficulties Al-Jazeera faces in trying to reconcile its mission to be the BBC of the Middle East with the conservativism of some of the societies in which it broadcasts.

Al-Jazeera has become by far the most popular satellite television station in the Middle East since its launch in 1996, Its name, meaning The Island, is a reference to the island of Qatar, which lies off Saudi Arabia in the Gulf.

It claims to present its news impartially but from an Arab perspective allegedly missing or underplayed in the West.

Offsite Comment: Al-Jazeera deserves only to be switched off.

26th June 2010. See article from community.brandrepublic.com

women on tv in iran

Hardly gives viewers confidence about
free and unbiased reporting

Al-Jazeera has shot itself in the foot and is it seems attempting to blow its efforts to establish itself as a channel that can easily appeal to non Muslims after five of its female presenters resigned after religious inspired harassment about their appearance.

Al-Jazeera deserves only to be switched off.

...Read the full article

 

26th June   

Offsite: Dummies...

Background to the repressive annual harassment of women over dress codes
Link Here  full story: Dress Code in Iran...Religious police enforce repressive dress code

sawn off dummiesThe Iranian authorities have signalled ominously that this summer's crackdown against those deemed to be dressed or behaving immodestly will be particularly harsh.

Mashhad, Iran's second biggest city, announced plans to massively increase fines for women who fail to observe the obligatory dress code, from 50,000 tomans (Dh180) to 1.3 million tomans (Dh4,780) – roughly US$1,300 – a significant sum in a country where a teacher's monthly salary is around $500.

And the interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, declared recently that enforcement of the Modesty and Hijab plan would be pursued more seriously this year.

But, analysts say, the clampdown risks heightening social tensions at a time when much of the populace is already seething, whether from economic or political dissatisfaction – or both.

Hardliners have alleged that resistance to the dress code is being encouraged by the opposition green movement . Tehran's police chief, Hossein Sajedinia, was quoted by Iran's Mehr news agency last Tuesday saying that street mannequins and harassers are organised and they must be seriously dealt with .

Mannequin is the authorities' scornful term for women who flout the dress code by wearing figure-hugging coats and thrust-back headscarves, sporting a dash of make-up or flashing a bare ankle.

Sajedinia said police have been equipped this year with cameras to film immodestly attired women, with the footage to be used as irrefutable evidence in court.

Real mannequins – dummies in the windows of women's clothes shops – are also under fire: those with curves are outlawed. Dutiful shopkeepers saw off heads and breasts.

In a tub-thumping sermon in Mashhad recently, a hard-line ayatollah, Ahmad Alam al Hoda, declared: Badly veiled women and girls are like the foot soldiers of the United States. Knowingly or unknowingly, he added, such women were fighting on the enemy's front .

...Read the full article

 

25th June   

Just Fucking Around...

Sports Illustrated cleared of blasphemy in South Africa
Link Here

Sports Illustrated South African Edition Sports Illustrated magazine has been cleared of blasphemy in South Africa.

The ruling followed a complaint by a member of the public against an article in the March edition about the pursuit of sporting perfection.

Deputy press ombudsman Johan Retief said the article included a joke about St Peter and Jesus playing golf in heaven.

He said the joke went that when Jesus hooked his first tee-shot, an angel guided the ball back into play, the dove of peace caught the ball in its beak and dropped it on the green, from where the holy spirit blew the ball into the hole.

So St Peter said to Jesus: 'Do you wanna play golf or do you wanna fuck around?'

Retief said the complainant, André Williams, maintained the article went too far by telling a joke about Jesus, and that the word fuck was a swearword that amounted to blasphemy.

However Retief said that in the joke, St Peter felt done in, and that Jesus was not playing fair: The phrase 'fuck around' is used to express this feeling, and does not as such amount to swearing. 'Fuck you' would have been swearing. Although it can be said that the use of the phrase 'fuck around' constitutes bad taste, it does not, by definition, amount to a breach of the Press Code.

Retief dismissed the complaint.

 

25th June   

Dogged by Easy Offence...

Dogs banned on London buses for fear of 'offence'?
Link Here

dogs on busLetter to the Telegraph:

On two occasions last week my dog was barred from London buses, not because she's particularly fierce or big, but on religious grounds. A friend and I had taken her to the park, and as I went across to the grocer, my friend took Daisy, a Manchester terrier, to the bus stop.

As they tried to board the bus, the driver stopped her and told her that there was a Muslim lady on the bus who might be upset by the dog . As she attempted to remonstrate, the doors closed and the bus drew away.

When a second bus arrived, she again made to embark, but was stopped again – this time because the driver said he was Muslim. I know that Muslims consider dogs to be unclean, but last time I looked this wasn't a Muslim country and London Transport was a non-denominational organisation.

 

25th June   

Update: Bill Unveiled...

Burkha Ban Bill introduced in new South Wales Upper House
Link Here

Australia flagAustralian Christian Democratic Party MP Fred Nile has succeeded in introducing a bill to ban the wearing of the burqa in the NSW Upper House.

Nile introduced his private member's bill, seeking to ban the wearing of the burqa and other face veils in public.

Last month, a debate on the same bill was voted down by the NSW Upper House.

The bill has been adjourned until September 2010.

 

24th June   

Update: Hair Brained...

Somalia muslims order beards to be grown
Link Here  full story: Sharia in Somalia...Somalia adopts sharia law

osama bin ladenSomalia's Islamist movement Hezb al-Islam has ordered men in Mogadishu to grow their beards and trim their moustaches, officials said, further imposing the strict Sharia form of Islamic law.

The latest edict by Hezb al-Islam follows a similar order issued late last year by the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab group. The two groups control most of Somalia.

Men are ordered to grow their beards and trim their moustaches and anyone found violating this law will face the consequences, senior Hezb al-Islam official Moalim Hashi Mohamed Farah told reporters.

To grow one's beard is a moral teaching left by our Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him, so it is a duty to keep this religious practice alive and punish men who shave their beards and grow their moustaches, he said.

Mogadishu's male population appeared resigned to the new law, arguing that avoiding the wrath of the country's hardliners was worth the time and effort of a little extra facial grooming. The new law will affect almost every household in Mogadishu because most men don't grow beards here, said Hasan Muse, a clean-shaven Mogadishu resident.

 

24th June   

Mingling with Repression...

Saudi party goers to be flogged for the mingling of the sexes at a party
Link Here

floggingFour women and 11 men were sentenced to flogging and prison terms for mingling at a party, judicial officials said.

The men, who are between 30 and 40 years old, and three of the women, who are under the age of 30, were sentenced to an unspecified number of lashes and one or two year prison terms each.

The fourth woman, a minor, was sentenced to 80 lashes and was not sent to prison.

The officials said the police saw the group partying until dawn last month.

 

23rd June   

Update: Up Front Proposals...

Front Against Censorship proposes to repeal censorial Maltese law
Link Here

FRont against censorship posterThe Front Against Censorship has handed MPs a document proposing the abolition of censorship in Malta.

The group said that explicit and mandatory censorship of the arts and entertainment was being imposed mainly through the courts as a result of outdated laws; the Malta Broadcasting Authority, the Board of Film and Stage Classification and also the University of Malta which is supposed to nurture artistic freedom and not suppress it.

It is highly unacceptable and even offensive by EU standards, let alone by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that censorship is prevailing in Malta of the 21st century.

The group said it was not referring to the censorship of hate-speech which maliciously belittled specific groups in society, but about censorship which only seemed to defend and uphold the morality of the predominant religion, or any other religion for that matter.

We believe that the Catholic Church has a right to preach its values to society openly and freely. We will defend that right should it be denied in some form or other, directly or indirectly. We will never agree, however, that the values of the Church are the values of Maltese society in its entirety, despite the fact that the Roman Catholic faith is predominant. Individuals should have the right to express themselves in a free and unfettered manner in the same way that the Chursh is free to preach its values openly and freely.

The Front proposed the repeal of Article 163 of the Criminal Code, which states that:

Whosoever by words, gestures, written matter, whether printed or not, or pictures or by some other visible means, vilifies the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion which is the religion of Malta, or gives offence to the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion by vilifying those who profess such religion or its ministers, or anything which forms the object of, or is consecrated to, or is necessarily destined for Roman Catholic worship, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from one to six months.

Similarly, it proposed the removal of article 164 of the Criminal Code, which imposes similar constraints on criticising other religions recognised by the State. This article states that:

Whosoever commits any of the acts referred to in the last preceding article against any cult tolerated by law, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from one to three months.

The group said it was calling for a change in the definition of pornography in article 208 of the Criminal Code. Under the current law, that which is considered obscene and pornographic is decided by a particular parliamentary committee. The only time this committee met was in 1975.

The definition given was Work is obscene or pornographic when its dominant feature is the exploitation of, or unnecessary emphasis on, sex, criminality, fear, cruelty and violence. We propose that this definition should be changed to any product which graphically depicts sexual acts with the intent of causing sexual arousal. The distribution and production of pornography should not be illegal as long as it does not involve human trafficking, the abuse of minors, the exploitation of the human person or any other criminal acts defined by law.

The group called for the repeal of article 7 of the Press Act which states that:

Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, directly or indirectly, or by the use of equivocal expressions, shall injure public morals or decency shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine or to both such imprisonment and fine.

It also called for the abolition of the role of a centrally-appointed Classification Board for theatre performances and film, which has the authority to block and censor and to establish a set of criteria for self-classification in the performing arts based on a consultation exercise among the performing arts community. All classification systems (including self-classification for performances and classification for cinema) should be based on a list of established and transparent criteria, which should be made publicly available, and which should be re-evaluated from time to time in the light of international developments in these art forms.

Lastly, it called for the removal of article 13 of the Broadcasting Act which states that :

nothing is included in the programmes which offends against religious sentiment, good taste or decency or is likely to encourage or incite to crime or to lead to disorder or to be offensive to public feeling.

The Front said this should be replaced with a paragraph which allows such mentioned content from 10pm onwards.

 

23rd June   

Chaperones...

Religious rights vs sex offender restrictions
Link Here

New Hampshire state sealA New Hampshire sex offender is asking the state's highest court to allow him to go to church with a chaperone.

The case of Jonathan Perfetto of Manchester marks the first time the New Hampshire Supreme Court is being asked to rule on whether a probation condition that effectively bars church attendance violates a person's constitutional rights to religious freedom.

Perfetto was convicted in 2002 of possessing child pornography. A condition of his probation is that he have no contact with children. A lower court denied Perfetto's request to attend Jehovah's Witnesses services with a church elder acting as a chaperone.

 

22nd June   

Painting a Repressive Picture...

Russian muslim women without headscarves attacked by paintball snipers
Link Here

paintballWomen in Russia's volatile Muslim Chechnya region have said that police had targeted them with paintball pellets for not wearing headscarves.

The attacks highlight tension over efforts by Chechnya's firebrand Moscow-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, to enforce Muslim-inspired rules that in some cases violate Russia's constitution.

A car carrying men in military uniform slowed down to approach us, one started filming on his mobile phone, and when they sped away we noticed paint all over our clothes, a woman in the Chechen capital Grozny said on condition of anonymity.

Several witnesses told Reuters that men in camouflage, which is worn by many Chechen police and security officers, had fired paintball guns at women from cars with tinted windows in multiple incidents this month.

This week, fliers from the self-proclaimed paintballers appeared in the city of Gudermes, site of Kadyrov's opulent residence, warning women that if they did not cover their heads the attackers will be forced to resort to tougher measures .

 

21st June   

Updated: Unacceptable Behaviour...

Home Secretary bans Zakir Naik from preaching in Britain
Link Here

zakir naikAn Indian Muslim preacher has been banned from entering the UK for his unacceptable behaviour , the home secretary says.

Zakir Naik, a 44-year-old television preacher, had been due to give a series of lectures in London and Sheffield.

The home secretary can stop people entering the UK if she believes there is a threat to national security, public order or the safety of citizens. That includes banning people if she believes their views glorify terrorism, promote violence or encourage other serious crime.

May said: Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behaviour. Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK. Exclusion powers are very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate on issues.

This is the first person who has been excluded from the UK since Ms May became home secretary last month.

Naik is based in Mumbai (Bombay) where he works for the Peace TV channel. The BBC's Sanjiv Buttoo says that he is recognised as an authority on Islam but also has a reputation for making disparaging remarks about other religions.

Update: Appeal

21st June 2010. Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

The Indian Muslim preacher banned by the home secretary from entering the UK for his unacceptable behaviour is to challenge the ruling in the courts.

The Islamic Research Foundation said in a statement: In the wake of the exclusion order and based on legal advice, Dr Zakir Naik intends to bring the matter before the High Court ... and request a judicial review to have the exclusion order overturned.

 

21st June   

Update: Not Quite the Whole Truth...

Cherie Blair ticked off for giving lenient sentence to religious man
Link Here  full story: Religious Discrimination in UK Courts...Lighter sentences for religious people?

ojc logoCherie Blair has suffered the humiliation of a secret dressing down from a top judge after sparing a Muslim criminal from jail because he was religious , it has emerged.

The revelation has given rise to accusations of a cover-up by the Office for Judicial Complaints - because it originally issued a statement claiming Blair had been cleared of wrongdoing while sitting as a judge.

The secret tribunal claimed last week that an investigation found her decision to give a lenient punishment to Shamso Miah did not amount to misconduct.

However, it has emerged that a complaint by the National Secular Society that religious belief should not earn a convict a lighter sentence had actually been partially substantiated and Blair will receive informal advice .

A letter emerged saying that Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke and the Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge had expressed some concern about the impact [of the comments] on the public perception of the judiciary and the sentencing process.

All judges must, of course, be very mindful of how they express themselves when dealing with sensitive issues of equality and diversity - including religion, race and sex - so as not to create the impression that some individuals can expect more leniency than others.

It added: They have agreed, however, that Recorder Booth should receive informal advice from a senior judge about the comments she made in this particular case, but that is not a formal disciplinary sanction.

 

21st June   

Update: Sharia Law in Britain...

A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights
Link Here  full story: Sharia Law in the UK...Shariah tribunals operating in Britain

sharia law in britain A new report by One Law for All has found Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals to be in violation of UK law, public policy and human rights.

Based on an 8 March 2010 Seminar on Sharia Law, research, interviews, and One Law for All case files, the report has identified a number of problem areas:

  • Sharia law's civil code is arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular. With the rise in the acceptance of Sharia courts, discrimination is being further institutionalised with some UK law firms additionally offering clients advice on Sharia law and the use of collaborative law.
     
  • Sharia law is practiced in Britain primarily by Sharia Councils and Muslims Arbitration Tribunals. Both operate on religious principles and are harmful to women although Muslim Arbitration Tribunals are wrongly regarded as being of more concern because they operate as tribunals under the Arbitration Act 1996, making their rulings binding in law.
     
  • Sharia Councils, on the other hand, claim to mediate on family issues but in practice often this differs little from arbitration: they frequently ask those appearing before them to sign an agreement to abide by their decisions; they call themselves courts, and the presiding imams, judges. Their decisions are then imposed and regarded as having the weight of legal judgements.
     
  • There is neither control over the appointment of judges in Sharia Councils or Tribunals nor an independent mechanism for monitoring them. Clients often do not have access to legal advice and representation. The proceedings are not recorded, nor are there any searchable legal judgements, nor any real right of appeal.
     
  • Sharia law cannot be compared to secular legal systems because it is considered sacred law that cannot be challenged. There is no scope to look at the interests of the individuals involved, as required by UK family law.
     
  • These legal processes ignore both common law and due process, far less Human Rights, and provide little protection and safety for women in violent situations.
     
  • There is a general assumption that those who attend Sharia courts do so voluntarily and that unfair decisions can be challenged in a British court. Many of the principles of Sharia law are contrary to British law and public policy, and would in theory therefore be unlikely to be upheld in a British court. In reality, however, women are often pressured by their families into going to these courts and adhering to unfair decisions, and may lack knowledge of English and their rights under British law. Moreover, refusal to settle a dispute in a Sharia court can give rise to threats and intimidation, or at best being ostracised.

According to Maryam Namazie, spokesperson of the One Law for All Campaign and an author of the report, The existence of a parallel legal system that is denying a large section of the British population their fundamental human rights is scandalous. Our findings show that it is essential to abolish all religious courts in the UK. Their very existence and legitimisation puts pressure on vulnerable women not to assert their civil rights in a British court. As long as Sharia Councils and Tribunals are allowed to continue to make rulings on issues of family law, women will be pressured into accepting decisions which are prejudicial to them and their children.

The report recommends that Sharia courts be closed on the grounds that they work against rather than for equality, and are incompatible with human rights. Recommendations include:

  1. initiating a Human Rights challenge to Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and/or Sharia Councils
  2. amending the Arbitration Act under which the Muslim Arbitration Tribunals operate in a similar way to which the Canadian equivalent of the Arbitration Act was amended in 2005 to exclude religious arbitration
  3. launching a major and nationwide helpline and information campaign to inform people of their rights under British law
  4. proposing legislation under the EU Citizens Rights Initiative to address the issue EU-wide
  5. strengthening secularism and the separation of religion from the state, the judicial system and education, in order to more fully protect citizenship rights.

 

21st June   

Updated: Bangers and Booze...

Paris police ban provocative street party
Link Here

sausage and booze advertFrench police have banned a street party whose organizers planned to serve alcohol and pork-based sausage in a heavily Muslim Paris neighborhood.

Police said that the party, called Sausage and booze, was banned because it could have been viewed as a provocation in the Goutte-d'Or neighborhood of northern Paris, where Muslims pray on the streets on Fridays because there are not enough mosques. Alcohol and pork are banned in Islam.

Organizers said they were organizing Friday's party to protest Islam's encroachment on traditional French values in the neighborhood.

Muslim groups had announced a counterparty serving halal food.

Supporters of the event wrote on the Facebook page that they would still gather in Goutte d'Or on Friday. It's official – Muslims can pray in the street but we don't have the right to eat pork there. France is now ruled by sharia, one supporter wrote. The Reuters report adds: The Paris event page also carried announcements of similar 'sausage and wine' parties in Lyon, Toulouse, Brussels and London, where the event is called a 'bacon and beer' party.

Update: Porc de Triomphe

21st June 2010. Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

Several hundred people have attended a party serving sausage and wine on a Paris street after the event was banned from a different location.

Organizers had planned on holding the event in a heavily Muslim neighborhood of the French capital. The so-called Sausage and Booze gathering was seen as offensive to Muslims, and police banned the event earlier this week.

That didn't stop some 300-400 people from turning out for the party Friday. Some carried French flags.

Instead of the neighborhood originally chosen, it took place on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue near the Arc de Triomphe. Police officers looked on as revelers tucked in to sausages and drank wine from plastic cups.

 

20th June   

Symbolic Compensation...

Mufti easily offended by a Serbian newspaper to the tune of 100 million Euros
Link Here

blic logoSerbia's Islamic Community have protested against a photomontage published in the daily Blic and demanded a symbolic compensation of 100 million euros (124 million dollars).

Daily Blic ran a photomontage of the leader of the Islamic community Muamer Zukorlic dressed in an Orthodox Christian bishop robe.

We are demanding an apology from the editors and owner of Blic daily and a symbolic compensation of 100 million euros, the community said in a statement.

If Blic refuses, it will face charges and the Islamic Community will call all citizens to boycott the daily, the statement added. The Islamic Community said Muslims in Serbia were offended by the photomontage as it insults the deepest religious feelings of Muslims.

 

20th June   

They Took Me and Told Me Nothing...

A new report from Human Rights watch on FGM in Kurdistan
Link Here

they told me nothing A significant number of girls and women in Iraqi Kurdistan suffer female genital mutilation (FGM) and its destructive after-effects, Human Rights Watch said in a new report. The Kurdistan Regional Government should take immediate action to end FGM and develop a long term plan for its eradication, including passing a law to ban the practice, Human Rights Watch said.

The 73-page report, 'They Took Me and Told Me Nothing': Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan, documents the experiences of young girls and women who undergo FGM against a backdrop of conflicting messages from some religious leaders and healthcare professionals about the practice's legitimacy and safety. The report describes the pain and fear that girls and young women experience when they are cut, and the terrible toll that it takes on their physical and emotional health. It says the regional government has been unwilling to prohibit FGM, despite its readiness to address other forms of gender-based violence, including domestic violence and so-called honor killings.

The evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch suggests that for many girls and women in Iraqi Kurdistan, FGM is an unavoidable procedure that they undergo sometimes between the ages of 3 and 12. In some cases documented by Human Rights Watch, societal pressures also led adult women to undergo the procedure, sometimes as a precondition of marriage.

The previous regional government took some steps to address FGM, including a 2007 Justice Ministry decree, supposedly binding on all police precincts, that perpetrators of FGM should be arrested and punished. However, the existence of the decree is not widely known, and Human Rights Watch found no evidence that it has ever been enforced.

In 2008, the majority of members of the Kurdistan National Assembly (KNA) supported the introduction of a law banning FGM, but the bill was never enacted into law and its status is unknown. In early 2009, the Health Ministry developed a comprehensive anti-FGM strategy in collaboration with a nongovernmental organization. But the ministry later withdrew its support and halted efforts to combat FGM. A public awareness campaign about FGM and its consequences has also been inexplicably delayed.

The new government, elected in July 2009, has taken no steps to eradicate the practice.

 

20th June   

Update: Summer Dress...

Iranian president comes out against the annual dress code 'crackdown'
Link Here  full story: Dress Code in Iran...Religious police enforce repressive dress code

Mahmoud AhmadinejadIran's combative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has attacked a key policy of his supporters in the religious establishment.

Ahmadinejad baffled conservatives in the ruling elite by declaring his opposition to the annual summer crackdown on immodest appearance and behaviour in the young.

In a television interview marking the anniversary of his re-election, Ahmadinejad said he did not approve, and that the police actions were designed to create tumult .

The government does not agree with this behaviour and will respond to and control it as much as it can, he said. It is an insult to ask a man and woman walking on the steet about their relation to each other. Nobody has the right to ask such questions.

Mohammad Taqi Rahbar, the leader of the conservative religious grouping in parliament, said Ahmadinejad was betraying the people who voted for him and taking the side of the opposition Green Movement: Those who voted for you were the fully veiled people, he said. The badly veiled 'greens' did not vote for you, so you'd better consider what pleases God is not pleasing a number of the corrupt.

 

20th June   

Rash Decision...

Malawi nutters refuse measles inoculations
Link Here

Malawi flagMore than 100 members of a Christian religion have barricaded themselves in an abandoned building in southern Malawi over their refusal to give their children the measles vaccine, a regional health official has said.

Members of the Seventh Day Apostolic Church say their doctrine forbids them from taking medication when they fall sick, as they believe prayer will bring divine healing.

The week-long stand-off in the district of Mulanje follows an outbreak of the highly contagious disease which has killed 48 people in the southern African country this year. Another 9,600 cases have been registered, the government said.

 

20th June   

Update: A Banning Habit...

Geneva political party proposes a ban on all religious clothing
Link Here

geneva flagThe radical party in Geneva (FDP) want to ban the residents of the canton from wearing any religious clothing. The ban will not affect tourists.

An 1875 law, still in effect, bans the wearing of ecclesiastical clothing in the public space. According to a press statement by the FDP, deputy Jean Romain proposes to update and replace the ban on ecclesiastical dress by one on religious clothing.

The new bill does not specifically ban the burqa, but it is included in it. Jean Romain says that he doesn't see why priests are forbidden to wear their church clothes in Geneva and not Raëlians or ayatollahs.

 

20th June   

Review: The Future of Islam...

Analytical review of book by John Esposito
Link Here

Future Islam John L Esposito ReligiousWatch readers might be interested in this review of John Esposito's recent book The Future of Islam published by Oxford University Press.

It is a lengthy analytical review (quoting the book where relevant) but is divided into the following sections each of which stands by itself:

(1) The West is to Blame
(2) The Muslim Mainstream!
(3) Islam's Reformers
(4) Muslims in the West

(4.1) Integration or What?
(4.2) Outside Influences
(4.3) Going Seriously Wrong

(5) Pluralism and Separation of Church and State

(5.1) Pluralism
(5.2) Separation of Church and State

(6) The Nature of Islamic Reform
(7) Problems must be tackled – Thesis 92

 

19th June   

Update: Immaculately Conceived...

Pregnant nun ice cream advert has the desired effect
Link Here

antonio federici advertA controversy-courting Italian ice-cream maker has run an advert featuring a heavily pregnant nun with the strapline immaculately conceived .

40 people have complained to the advertising censors of the ASA saying that it is offensive to Christians because it mocks the birth of Jesus.

The ad, which is featured in magazines The Lady and Grazia, features a pregnant nun enjoying a pot of Antonio Federici ice-cream.

The Advertising Standards Authority has launched an investigation to see if the campaign breaks the advertising code on the grounds of taste and decency.

Matt O'Connor, creative director at the ice-cream company, argued that it is an intelligent, challenging and iconoclastic piece of advertising . O'Connor, who points out that he is an Irish Catholic himself.

 

19th June   

Updated: UNdiscriminatory...

World's leading intolerants make UN call for an end to islamophobia in the west
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logoMuslim states have said that what they call islamophobia is sweeping the West and its media and demanded that the United Nations take tougher action against it.

Delegates from Islamic countries, including Pakistan and Egypt, told the United Nations Human Rights Council that treatment of Muslims in Western countries amounted to racism and discrimination and must be fought.

People of Arab origin face new forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance and experience discrimination and marginalization, an Egyptian delegate said, according to a U.N. summary.

And Pakistan, speaking for the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the council's special investigator into religious freedom should look into such racism especially in Western societies.

Acting for the OIC, Pakistan has tabled a resolution at the council instructing its special investigator on religious freedom to work closely with mass media organizations to ensure that they create and promote an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for religious and cultural diversity.

Diplomats say the resolution, which also tells the investigator to make recommendations to the Human Rights Council on how its strictures might be implemented, is bound to pass given the majority the OIC and its allies have in the body.

Update: UN Religious Censor

19th June 2010. Based on article from foxnews.com

The United States and its allies suffered a series of setbacks at the United Nations as the misnamed Human Rights Council flirted with media censorship.

Concerns about censorship were raised after the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has tremendous sway in the United Nations, successfully pushed through a resolution that creates a watchdog to monitor how religion is portrayed in the media.

The OIC claims it will promote religious tolerance by ensuring that religion is not defamed. But the United States and the European Union members on the council opposed the resolution, fearing that it will censor the press and muzzle freedom of expression.

The resolution now opens the way for the Human Rights Council to select a special investigator on religious freedom to work closely with mass media organizations to ensure that they create and promote an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for religious and cultural diversity.

 

19th June   

Update: Pakistan Starts a Hate Facebook Group...

Seeking the prosecution of Facebook founder over supposedly blasphemous Mohammed cartoons
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Facebook logoFollowing publication of what Pakistan's government and religious leaders regard as blasphemous images on the Internet, the authorities successfully shut down Facebook access throughout the country. They are now moving to do the same with such sites as YouTube and Google. Last month more than 10,000 sites were banned on pretext of blasphemy.

On May 31st a High Court judge, Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, ordered the government to take action in respect to alleged blasphemy on Facebook. On June 11th in consequence of this order, the Deputy Attorney General authorised and initiated the first stage of investigation and prosecution of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

The Deputy Attorney General on June 11th lodged with police a First Information Report (FIR) against the owner of Facebook .

A FIR is the document that Police register when a case is lodged against anyone. This document then becomes the prime source of evidence and on the basis the legal case will move.

The FIR refers to section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which reads Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

The actual FIR details the charge in respect of an offense under Section 295-C Pakistan Penal Code and punishment under this offense is death penalty or rigorous life imprisonment

The next hearing is scheduled for 12th July 2010. It is highly likely that this prosecution will be initiated in time for the 12th July hearing. At that point arrest papers may be issued and Zuckerberg will become a wanted felon.

 

19th June   

Updated: Soccer Jihad...

World Cup predictably banned in Somalia
Link Here  full story: Sharia in Somalia...Somalia adopts sharia law

world cup 2010 logoAl Shabaab militant muslims have reportedly banned youth in southern Somalia from watching the world cup football game.

Teenagers in Kismayo  say they were told not watch the world cup football game which is continuing in South Africa.

Sources say Al Shabaab officials often visit the schools in Kismayo and ask the management to allow them to address to the students and urge them to participate to their war which they say it is Jihad (Holy War) in the country.

Update: Executed

19th June 2010. Based on article from dailytelegraph.com.au

Somali muslim militia executed two football fans and arrested dozens of others for breaking a ban on watching the World Cup, Reuters has reported.

Gunmen from the Hizbul Islam group raided homes in the Afgoi district near the capital Mogadishu on Sunday and Monday.

Hizbul Islam killed two people and arrested 35 others, all World Cup fans, Ali Yasin Gedi, vice-chairman of the Elman rights group, told Reuters.

 

19th June   

Intolerance in Afghanistan...

Apostates sentenced to death in Afghanistan
Link Here

Afghanistan flagA group of Afghan Christian refugees, who escaped to India to save their lives, describe the hardships they face in their homeland, where Muslim converts to Christianity are put to death. They call on the international community to put pressure on the Afghan government to spare those sentenced to death.

VijayKumar Singh, from the Delhi Bible Fellowship, has launched an appeal to the Christians of India to express their support for Afghan Muslim converts to Christianity who were convicted on conversion charges and sentenced to death on 31 May. Speaking to AsiaNews, Singh said, We need Christians' help all over the world to stop the Afghan government from arresting Dari-speaking Afghan Christians and condemning them to death by public execution.

A local TV station, Noorin TV, recently broadcast a documentary showing photos and videos of secret Afghan Christian Converts , which revealed names and showed the faces of alleged Afghan Christian converts.

This was enough to spark riots and demonstrations throughout Afghanistan with protesters baying for blood to enforce the Afghan constitution, based on Sharia, arrest the culprits, and execute anyone who renege his or her religion in favour of another.

A number of prominent public figures also spoke out on the matter, calling for immediate action. One lawmaker even said that killing a Muslim who converts to Christianity was not a crime .

Waheed Omar, the spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, told reporters that the president was personally taking an interest in this case, and had ordered his interior minister and the head of the country's spy agency to carry out a full investigation and take immediate and serious action to prevent this phenomenon.

 

19th June   

Religions Stunned...

European Parliament votes to require labeling of meat produced from cruel religious slaughter
Link Here

European Parliament logoThe European Parliament has voted in favour of a new regulation which will see kosher meat labelled as meat from slaughter without stunning in a move which Jewish bodies claim is discriminatory .

The decision was made as part of a proposal for a regulation on the provision of food information to consumers.

Around 70% of an animal killed by shechita is consumed by the non-kosher market and Henry Grunwald QC, chairman of Shechita UK, the lobby organisation which defends religious slaughter, said the decision will have a serious impact on the kosher meat industry.

He said: This ill-conceived amendment discriminates against kosher food and will have a significant impact on the kosher meat industry across Europe.

 

18th June   

Diary: One Law for All...

Venue change for Rally Against Sharia and Religious Laws
Link Here  full story: Sharia Law in the UK...Shariah tribunals operating in Britain

OneLawForAll logo Rally Against Sharia
Richmond Terrace junction with Whitehall opposite Downing Street
20th June 2010, 2-4pm

Join us on June 20 to break that silence and take a stand against Sharia law and Islamism and in defence of universal rights and secularism. Be there to stand in solidarity with people living under and resisting Sharia law everywhere and demand an end to racism and cultural relativism.

June 20 is particularly poignant because it is the first anniversary of Neda Agha-Soltan's cold-blooded murder in broad daylight by the Islamic regime of Iran at a protest there. All Neda wanted was freedom.

Fundraising concert

Tickets are now available for a two-hour fundraising concert on 26 September 2010 at Conway Hall from 1800pm for 1830pm by top flight international musicians Olivier Pons, violin; Helen Linden, cello; and Folke Graesbeck, piano.

Art competition

After a successful 2009 art competition, One Law for All is organising a second edition to expose the discriminatory nature of Sharia and religious-based tribunals and/or promote equal rights for all citizens.

 

17th June   

Football Worship...

Church of Football advert taken down after catholics complain
Link Here

church of maradonaIn its recent attempt to capture that ever-important viral video demographic, Hyundai created a World Cup commercial which it first released on YouTube, in which, among other things, worshippers take Eucharist on their knees receiving slices of pizza rather than communion.

It's now been pulled by Hyundai after certain Catholic groups complained.

The ad begins with Latin singing in an Argentine church complete with a stained-glass window of a soccer ball. Worshippers (mocking the religious devotion some in Argentina have for the game) are taking Eucharist on their knees receiving slices of pizza rather that communion. The commercial also shows a soccer ball covered with a crown of thorns. It's all based, says Hyundai, on the Iglesia Maradoniana - the Maradona Church - in which followers worship Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona.

The commercial aired on TV during the US-England game, provoking the largest uproar. This ad is an outrageous affront to Catholics and a mockery of our most sacred beliefs and practices, said Fr. Marcel Taillon, a parish priest in Rhode Island.

It's one thing to gently poke fun at extreme devotion to sports, Deacon Greg Kandra wrote on Beliefnet.com: It's another to satirize Holy Mass by ridiculing its symbols, sacramentals and gestures.

It didn't take Hyundai long to apologise:

We take comments of this nature very seriously. Because of feedback like yours, we have removed the ad from all Hyundai communications and stopped airing it.

We credit the passionate World Cup viewers and Hyundai owners for raising this issue to us. The unexpected response created by the ad, which combined both soccer and religious motifs to speak to the passion of international soccer fans, prompted us to take a more critical and informed look at the spot. Though unintentional, we now see it was insensitive. We appreciate your feedback and hope you will accept our sincere apologies.

The ad is gone. But the awesome idea of serving pizza during communion lives on.

 

17th June   

Update: Barcelona Burkha Ban...

Barcelona bans the burkha and Spain proposes to make the ban nationwide
Link Here

Spanish flagThe Spanish Minister of Justice, Francisco Caamano, has said the country's future law on religious freedom will limit the wearing of the burka in public spaces.

The garment covers the wearer's entire head, shoulders and face, and doesn't contain a slit of eyes as in the case of the similar garment niqab.

Caamano's announcement came just one day after Barcelona became the third Spanish city to announce that the wearing of both garments would be forbidden in public buildings for security reasons.

Tarragona became the fourth city in Spain to adopt the same measure on the same day.

The minister insisted the law would have to be approved by the Spanish parliament, but said the decision on a national level would take into account more than just security factors: It is difficult to make elements such as the burka compatible with the dignity of human beings and with fundamental elements in public spaces, such as identification.

 

17th June   

Update: Dangerous Generalisation...

Danish MP to be prosecuted for generalising muslim honour killings
Link Here  full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Denmark flagThe Danish parliament has voted to remove a far-right politician's immunity from prosecution so he can face charges over comments about muslims.

Jesper Langballe, a veteran member of the Danish People's Party (PPD), a crucial ally of the centre-right government, wrote in a newspaper column published in January that Muslims kill their daughters (over crimes of honour) and turn a blind eye while they are raped by their uncles . [He would have been factually correct if only he had prefixed the statement with 'some'].'

The column, which discussed the status of women in Islam and the Islamisation of Europe , triggered a political storm and his comments were condemned by Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.

The Crown Prosecutor decided to pursue Langballe on the grounds that his comments broke anti-racism laws, and sought the lifting of his parliamentary immunity.

 

16th June   

Update: Nutters in Torment...

Australian nutters go to court seeking a ban on Salo
Link Here  full story: Salo in Australia...End of long time ban on Pasolini's film

Australian Christian LobbyNutter groups and Australian senators are launching a legal bid to reinstate the ban on the Italian film Salo .

Last month the Classification Board approved a DVD of the film, with explanations of its context. The move overturned a refusal of classification in 1998. Salo has also been cleared by the Review Board after the Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O'Connor, asked for a rethink.

Now FamilyVoice Australia, the Australian Christian Lobby and the Not So Liberal senators Julian McGauran and Guy Barnett have started a Federal Court appeal against the film's release. They will argue that approving the film's R18+ rating defied proper process and the law.

Our chief censors, by releasing this movie, have redefined paedophilia and its acceptance, Senator McGauran claimed: The movie shows disturbingly strong depictions of torture, degradation, sexual violence, mutilation.

The Pier Paolo Pasolini film, made in 1975, tells of four Fascists in Mussolini's Italy who kidnap teenagers and subject them to sexual and mental torture.

 

16th June   

Bollox Morality...

Teacher dismissed from nutter school for conceiving child 3 weeks before wedding
Link Here

Florida state sealWhen Christian school teacher Jarretta Hamilton informed her employers that she was pregnant, she expected to have a discussion about maternity leave.

Instead, she was asked when her baby was conceived, and, after admitting it was three weeks before her wedding, she was fired.

Hamilton is now suing Southland Christian School, in St Cloud, Florida, over the loss of her job in April 2009, and for emotional stress caused when the school released details about why she was dismissed.

In a pending lawsuit, the couple also claim the school's principal, Jon Ennis, invaded Hamilton's privacy by telling other teachers and the parents of her students the exact reason she was fired.

When they let me go, they told the entire staff in a staff meeting that I had been fired and the reason why they let me go. And then they called all of my parents to my fourth-grade students and told them as well, Hamilton said.

The school, which has strict morality rules, which ban teachers from fornication before marriage, said Hamilton was informed of the values when she was hired as a fourth-grade teacher in January 2008.

 

16th June   

Monomulticultural...

Dutch muslims upset by pig sculpture
Link Here

pigMuslims in Venray are upset by a sculpture including a pig in the Limburg city. That's what council member Hayrettin nvar claims.

nvar insists that from now the multicultural society should be taken into account. In Islam, pigs are an impure animal.

Alderman Patrick van der Broeck explains that there's no intent to offend with the artwork. The pig is a reference to the intensive animal husbandry in Venray.

 

15th June   

Bremner Chilled...

Rory Bremner speaks of fears when joking about islam
Link Here

Rory Bremner Creased Up DVD The political satirist Rory Bremner has claimed that the chilling effect of fundamentalism means that every time he writes a sketch about Islam he fears that he is signing his own death warrant.

Speaking to Sir David Frost in a BBC documentary about the future of satire, Bremner argued that self-censorship was the biggest problem for practitioners of topical comedy today.

Bremner spoke of fears for his own personal safety: The greatest danger now is that one of the toughest issues of our time is religion.  When [I'm] writing a sketch about Islam, I'm writing a line and I think, 'If this goes down badly, I'm writing my own death warrant there.' Because there are people who will say, 'Not only do I not think that's funny but I'm going to kill you' – and that's chilling.

If you're a Danish cartoonist and you work in a Western tradition, people don't take that too seriously. Suddenly you're confronted by a group of people who are fundamentalist and extreme and they say, 'We're going to kill you because of what you said or have drawn.' Where does satire go from there, because we like to be brave but not foolish.

Frost ludicrously said he was surprised that Bremner felt that his life could be placed in danger by telling a joke.

 Frost on Satire will be broadcast on BBC 4 on Thursday.

 

14th June   

In League with the Devil...

Catholic League whinges at Lady GaGa video
Link Here

gp Religious imagery in Lady Gaga's new Alejandro video has infuriated Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League in the US, who bashed out a press release slamming the promo.

Lady Gaga is playing Madonna copy cat, squirming around half-naked with half-naked guys, abusing Catholic symbols – they're always Catholic symbols – while bleating out Alejandro enough times to induce vomit… She has now become the new poster girl for American decadence and Catholic bashing, sans the looks and talent of her role model.

The promo, which Gaga has called a celebration and an admiration of gay love , sees the saucy singer in her underwear writhing on a bed with semi-naked male dancers in a bondage-style scene. The video also shows Gaga dressed in a latex nuns' outfit, suggestively swallowing a set of rosary beads, and appears to include references to Madonna's famous videos for Like A Prayer and Vogue.

P Z Myers, over at Pharyngula, commented:

Donohue does have a point, I hate to say. I watched the whole thing, with its muscular young men gyrating in jackboots and tight shorts and nothing else, the weird headgear, the sadomasochistic imagery, the black leather uniforms, the flaming homoeroticism, and I was thinking, yeah, all that does remind me of Catholicism.

 

13th June   

Playing Guess the Nutter...

London bikini advertising posters defaced
Link Here

hm bikini advertStreet adverts featuring women in bikinis have been defaced in apparently targeted attacks.

Most show women in swimwear by chain store H&M but another features a couple kissing to promote the Bollywood film Kites .

London residents suggested the images, which were daubed with black paint, could have been targeted by either religious or feminist nutters.

Women's rights and anti-censorship activists joined Muslims and Christians to condemn the vandals.

Police said 14 bus shelters around Tower Hamlets, including many in Limehouse, were hit last month. Residents told of similar damage in Waltham Forest. One said: It seems to be a dedicated group who obviously have some serious issues with these adverts.

After finding the black paint could be easily removed, the vandals switched to a sticky, tar-like substance which is harder to scrub off.

Agnes Callamard, of Article 19, a London-based organisation combating censorship, said: While one may dislike some ads and find them offensive, this cannot be a basis for blacking out' the picture.

Avedon Carol, of Feminists Against Censorship, said: The idea that somehow the image of women being sexy spreads all sorts of horribleness is reactionary and anti-women.

 

13th June   

Update: Don't Shoot Me...

Public Council for Morality wary of Elton John concert
Link Here  full story: Elton John...International tours censored

Dont Shoot Only Piano Player Officials in Belarus have asked the organizers of an upcoming Elton John concert in Minsk to prevent the promotion of homosexuality.

The Public Council for Morality is to study recordings of earlier performances by the British singer to make sure they have no elements inconsistent with the law and morality, the head of the organization said.

We have requested the organizers of the concert to give us records of Elton John's earlier performances, he said.

Nikolai Cherginets said the Council is particularly concerned over the openly gay singer's statement in an interview with a U.S. magazine that Jesus was a super-intelligent gay man.

Elton John will play at the Minsk Arena on June 26 as part of his European summer tour.

The Public Council for Morality was established in 2009 by the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Writers Union of Belarus, with the support of President Alexander Lukashenko.

 

13th June   

Update: Lenient Judgment...

Cherie Blair cleared of wrong doing after appearing to give lenient sentence to religious man
Link Here  full story: Religious Discrimination in UK Courts...Lighter sentences for religious people?

ojc logoCherie Blair has been cleared of wrongdoing as a judge after she chose to spare a Muslim criminal from jail. An investigation by a secret tribunal found her decision to give a lenient punishment to a religious person did not amount to misconduct.

The decision in favour of Blair followed a landmark Appeal Court judgment in April in a case concerning Christian rights which ruled that no religious belief should have special protection in law. The former Prime Minister's wife was sitting as a part-time judge at Inner London Crown Court in January when she sentenced Shamso Miah.

Miah pleaded guilty to assault after an argument in a bank queue ended when he broke another customer's jaw. Blair gave him a suspended six-month jail sentence and community service, saying: You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour. The suggestion that religious belief could earn a lighter sentence brought a complaint over Blair's conduct from the National Secular Society.

The Office for Judicial Complaints said no disciplinary action is necessary .

But the National Secular Society that brought the case complained about the secrecy surrounding the investigation. Terry Sanderson, president of the NSS, said: We hope this episode will serve as a reminder to the judiciary to treat everyone before them equally, regardless of their belief or lack of it, and never to act in a way that might give the perception that this might not be the case.

 

13th June   

Update: Kissing Civilisation Goodbye...

Saudi imprisons and flogs man for a public kiss
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

floggingA Saudi court has convicted a man and sentenced him to four months in prison and 90 lashes for kissing a woman in a mall.

The daily newspaper Al-Yom reported that Saudi religious police arrested the man and two women after they were seen on mall cameras engaging in immoral movements in front of other shoppers.

The paper says the man is to receive three batches of lashes and is banned from malls for two years. The women will be tried in another court.

 

10th June   

Treading on Eggshells...

A Danish pop star named Medina offends the easily offended
Link Here

You I Medina Denmark's answer to Lady Gaga, decided to put on a free concert in the southern Copenhagen suburb of Ishøj, home to one of Denmark's largest muslim communities.

But Medina, whose real name is Andrea Fuentealba Valbak, didn't get to sing more than a few notes before a hail of eggs began to rain down upon the stage. The perpetrators, reports tabloid B.T., were a gang of between 10 and 20 youngsters between the ages of 14 and 17 all with an immigrant background .

Their reason for attacking the songstress? Apart from taking exception to Medina's hot pants and sexually suggestive song lyrics, it appears that the gang were provoked by the singer's stage name which is also coincidentally the name of the second holiest city in Islam and the burial place of Mohammed.

With the backing of most of the 3,000 strong audience, Medina ripped into the trouble-makers and told them that their behaviour was disrupting the concert for everyone else. But the strain took its toll, and the pop star ended up leaving the stage in tears.

Her official Facebook page received hundreds of messages of support in the wake of the egg attack, and Medina was also defended by the muslim Conservative MP Naser Khader. In his blog he wrote that he gets just as angry as the singer when a tiny minority of troublemakers with misogynist beliefs use infantile or violent means to highlight their point of view and ruin things for everyone else .

 

10th June   

Slavery...

Christians ejected from Pakistan village over objections to sexual servitude
Link Here

Pakistan flagChristians in Pakistan drew wrath by objecting to sexual assaults on girls and women.

The head of a Muslim village last week ordered 250 Christian families to leave their homes in the Punjab Province, local residents said.

Abdul Sattar Khan, head of village and other area Muslim residents ordered the expulsions after Christian residents objected too strenuously to sexual assaults by Muslims on Christian girls and women, said a locally elected Christian official, Emmanuel Masih.

Most of the village's Christian men work in the fields of Muslim land owners, while most of the Christian women and girls work as servants in the homes of Muslim families, said Rasheed Masih, a Christian in the village who added that the impoverished Christians were living in appalling conditions.

The Muslim employers have used their positions of power to routinely sexually assault the Christian women and girls, whose complaints grew so shrill that four Christian men – Emmanuel Masih, Rasheed Masih, his younger brother Shehzad Anjum and Yousaf Masih Khokhar – sternly confronted the Muslims, only to be told that all Christians were to leave the village at once.

The Muslims had been telling the Christian women and girls that if they denied them sex, they would kick them out of their native village, Emmanuel Masih said.

Asked why they didn't contact local police for help, Emmanuel Masih and Khokhar said that filing a complaint against Muslim village head Khan and other Muslims would only result in police registering false charges against them under Pakistan's notorious blasphemy statutes.

 

9th June   

Update: Hanging Up his Turban Bomb...

Kurt Westergaard retires from the Jyllands-Posten
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Kurt WestergaardThe Danish cartoonist who caricatured the Prophet Muhammad and caused outrage in the Muslim world has announced his retirement. One has to stop at some point, Kurt Westergaard said yesterday, adding that he had been working since the age of 23, first as a teacher and then as an artist. He turns 75 on 13 July.

Westergaard said he hoped his retirement might help to lower the terror threat against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper where he has been working for the past 27 years.

Westergaard's cartoon, which he said took him 45 minutes to draw, was considered by many Muslims the most offensive of the 12 drawings. He has rejected calls to apologise to Muslims, insisting that poking fun at religious symbols is protected by Denmark's freedom of speech.

He said he was quitting his profession with a good conscience.

 

8th June   

Confusing the Faithful...

Priest rants about religious art being a bit gay
Link Here

virgin carmen A Catholic priest at a Dominican Republic resort town wants to destroy artwork in his parish because the painting shows angels with a homosexual expression .

This confuses the faithful, he argues. The painting named Allegory of the Virgin of Carmen , was concluded 12 years ago by Dominican artist Roberto Flores.

The artwork adorns the interior of the church of Our Lady of Carmen . The priest argues that the church congregation feels uncomfortable by the painting and that the mural does not inspire religious sentiments because the angels there depicted have a diabolical, homosexual look in their faces. Further, he contends that it is not clear whether the angels are male or female.

 

8th June   

Negative Surveys of Islam...

YouGov survey reveals that Brits link islam with extremism
Link Here

yougov logoMost people in the UK associate Islam with extremism and the repression of women, a survey has found.

The online YouGov poll was conducted for Muslim organization, Exploring Islam Foundation.

Some 58% of those surveyed said they linked Islam with extremism.

Asked if Muslims had a positive impact on British society, four out of 10 disagreed with the statement while seven out of 10 said the religion encouraged the repression of women.

Half linked Islam with terrorism, just 13% thought it was based on peace and 6% associated it with justice.

BBC home editor Mark Easton says the survey, conducted by YouGov for the foundation, paints a negative picture of British attitudes to Islam.

 

8th June   

Negative Surveys of Islam...

German survey finds correlation between lads resorting to violence and being mosque going muslims
Link Here

Germany flagThe more devout a young Muslim male in Germany is, the more likely he is to resort to violence, according to a federally financed study seen by the German Press Agency dpa.

The study, based on interviews with 45,000 boys and girls aged 14 to 16, also concluded that male supremacist views and a preference for violent videos and computer games link closely with mosque attendance among the young. It compared Christians and Muslims.

The as-yet-unpublished research was jointly conducted by the federal Interior Ministry and the KFN criminology research institute in Hanover headed by Christian Pfeiffer.

In a conclusion, the authors said the finding might be explained by hypotheses of Rauf Ceylan, an ethnic Turkish scholar in German who studies religion. They said Ceylan had discovered that a majority of mosque clergy in Germany encouraged their congregations to practice a conservative form of Islam and to preserve their ethnic roots.

KFN conducted interviews in 2007 and 2008 in 61 cities with the aim of detecting how religious belief influences attitudes and behaviour.

The survey also found that young people who were intensely Christian were less likely to be violent than the average.

 

8th June   

Riots over Big Ben Pants...

Mob rule in Indian Kashmir
Link Here

big ben underwearMuslim protests broke out in Srinagar city, the summer capital of India-controlled Kashmir after underwear allegedly with impressions of a Muslim holy shrine was spotted in downtown by locals, officials and eyewitnesses said.

The protests erupted in old city after locals claimed to have spotted mosques painted on underwear being sold on a hand-cart. The residents took it as blasphemy and started agitation to protest it.

Police fired aerial shots and used tear-gas canisters to disperse stone-pelting youths. The clashes resulted in closure of shops and commercial areas in the city.

A senior police officer said over a dozen people, including at least four policemen, were injured in the protests. He denied however the blasphemous allegations and cautioned people about mischief mongers: The underwear garment in question was produced and examined and it was found that it carries the imprints and sketches of various buildings on it which resemble places like Big Ben in London, St. Paul's Cathedral of London and other places.

No sketch has any likeness to any Muslim religious place or building. The attempt to create tension in the society is a deliberate move to disturb the situation by indulging in blasphemous rumors. The general public is advised to remain calm and caution against such elements.

 

6th June   

If Music Be the Food of Love...Ban it!...

Iran bans music lessons from private schools
Link Here

Shoot Piano Player Region NTSC Iran has banned private schools from teaching music, saying it clashes with the country's Islamic values.

Said Ali Bagherzadeh, head of the private schools office in the Education Ministry said: The use of musical instruments is against the principles of our value system.

Teaching music in state schools has always been prohibited. A school that teaches music may be permanently closed and its director barred from opening another school. The ban applies to the use of all instruments, including those played in traditional Iranian music.

 

6th June   

Offsite: Revelations...

The oil plume in the Gulf of Mexico heralds the apocalypse
Link Here

Photographic Print Angel Revelation Heritage Images Blogs on the Christian fringe are abuzz with possibility that the oil spill is the realization of Revelation 8:8–11. The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed … A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died from the water, because it was made bitter. According to Revelation, in other words, something terrible happens to the world's water, a punishment to those of insufficient faith. The foul water, according to the New Oxford Annotated Bible, mirrors one of the plagues God called upon Egypt on behalf of his people Israel.

Though maybe it's Revelation 16:3: The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea died.

...Read the full article

 

5th June   

An Unsuitable Guest...

Channel 4 choose Peter Tatchell to make Pope documentary
Link Here

channel 4 logoChannel 4 has angered leading Catholics by commissioning Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner and outspoken critic of the Vatican, to make a documentary about the Pope.

The 60-minute programme is to be transmitted around the time of Pope Benedict's planned visit to the UK in September.

Tatchell is one of the founders of a group called Protest the Pope, which criticises the Pope's record on homosexuality, contraception and child abuse and says that he is an unsuitable guest of the UK government .

Channel 4 said that the programme will examine the impact that the Pope's pronouncements have had on both the developing and Western world, and that it will give voice to a range of views on the Pope.

Tatchell defended the programme, saying: This will be a robustly factual programme that explores the Pope's personal, religious and political journey since the 1930s, as well as the motives and effects of his controversial policies.

Ann Widdecombe, the Tory politician who famously converted to Catholicism, said: I think this will confirm the view that there probably already is in the Vatican that this is a profoundly anti-Catholic country. I wouldn't call this the right thing for any serious broadcaster to do, but they're doing it for the publicity, they're doing it to stir up controversy. Mr Tatchell certainly won't be sympathetic to his subject, so what's the point of doing it? It won't be skeptical, it will be hostile.

Christina Odone, the Catholic writer, said: Peter himself would be the first to admit that he is no authority on the subject. And perhaps it would be good, rather than have some polemical, knee-jerk reaction to the Pope if Channel 4 would be interested in actually shedding light on a figure who is so important, and so often misinterpreted and misunderstood - and of whom more needs to be known. I don't think the founding father of [gay rights pressure group] Outrage! is the right person for this.

Ralph Lee, head of specialist factual at Channel 4, said: The Papal visit in September provides an ideal opportunity to examine the impact of Benedict XVI after five years in office. In keeping with Channel 4's remit to provide a platform for diverse and alternative perspectives, equality campaigner Peter Tatchell will assess the effect of the current Pope's teachings throughout the world and the conflict between some of his values and those held by modern Britain.

 

5th June   

Threats and Harassment...

An imam's panacea for perceived social ills
Link Here

Spanish flagStreet walkers in Cartagena, on Spain's southern Mediterranean coast, have complained that the imam of a local mosque has launched a campaign of intimidation to get them off the streets.

Yazid Koudri, president of the Islamic community of Cartagena and the imam of the Ennour mosque, has been accused of sending a team of Muslim guards onto the streets to prevent the women from working.

Police confirm that they have received several complaints from prostitutes working in the streets around the mosque, including one woman who claimed the imam had tried to run her over in his car.

Others said the imam sent a team of his faithful onto the streets encouraging them to insult the sex workers and threaten violence .

Koudri has openly lobbied authorities to crack down on the red light district, which has emerged on several streets around the mosque in what local newspapers have termed a jihad against prostitution .

We are not against what these women do, Koudri stated: ...BUT... ask that they don't do it in the streets where our children walk.

The local prosecutor has applied for a restraining order to prevent the Imam going within 200 yards of the sex workers.

 

4th June   

Comedy of Nutters...

US campaigners unite against Comedy Central's planned JC programme
Link Here

Comedy Central logoA few weeks ago, Comedy Central announced that it had a new program in development called JC that is about Jesus Christ who moves to New York to escape his father's enormous shadow.

In response, a collection of Religious Right leaders have banded together to form Citizens Against Religious Bigotry.

The coalition of Jewish and Christian leaders are urging advertisers to boycott the show, based on Comedy Central programs, such as South Park , which have mocked or disparaged Christ and other religious leaders.

After we reveal the vile and offensive nature of Comedy Central's previous characterizations of Jesus Christ and God the Father, we expect these advertisers to agree wholeheartedly to end their advertising on Comedy Central and discontinue their support for unabashed, anti-Christian discrimination, said Brent Bozell, president of Media Research Center and founding member of Citizens Against Religious Bigotry.

Bowell said his group will publicize advertisers who agree to boycott the Comedy Central show and those who refuse.

Others joining the group protest are Family Research Council president; Michael Medved, syndicated talk radio host; Bill Donohue, Catholic League president; Tim Winter, Parents Television Council president; and Rabbi Daniel Lapin, The American Alliance of Jews and Christians president.

The group is sending a letter to potential advertisers, giving them two weeks to report on whether they will agree to boycott the program, warning that failure to respond will mean they support religious bigotry:

 

4th June   

Update: A Cure for Bullshit...

ASA censures religious centre for nonsense claims of miraculous healing
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

manchester miracle centreA circular for Mount Zion Restoration Ministries was headlined Come and See and had the strapline Real life testimonies from London Miracle Centre . The front cover featured pictures of three individuals, whose testimonies of miraculous and prayer-assisted healing were printed inside the circular, under the headings Miraculously Healed after Near Fatal Car Accident , Cancerous Cells Disappear After Prophetic Healing Service and Miraculously Healed of Cancer . The front cover also featured a picture of a man in a tuxedo with the caption 'Jesus Wants the Best for You in Life' Senior Pastor, Dr Abraham . The same picture appeared again inside the circular with the caption Senior Pastor: Dr Abraham Daniel-Joel . Issue

One reader challenged whether the:

  1. advertiser could substantiate the claims that they had cured cancer and the serious complications suffered by the car accident victim;
  2. ad was irresponsible and could discourage people from seeking essential medical treatment for serious medical conditions; and,
  3. use of the term Dr misleadingly implied that Dr Abraham Daniel-Joel held a general medical qualification.
  4. The ASA challenged whether the testimonials featured in the ad were genuine and could be independently verified.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

1. Upheld

We noted that the ad featured three testimonials that claimed Dr Abraham had cured cancer and serious head injuries sustained in a road accident. However, we also noted that we had not seen robust, independent evidence that demonstrated that Dr Abraham had successfully treated these conditions. We therefore concluded that on this point the ad was misleading.

2. Upheld

We noted that the ad stated ... I have seen the dead raised and I have witnessed nearly all types of healing miracles. Church ministries are like restaurants. Here ... we serve miracles. We also noted that the testimonials referred to series medical conditions, and suggested that Dr Abraham's healing abilities were responsible for curing them. Two of those testimonials also described explicit refusals to visit a GP, go to hospital or undergo emergency surgery. We therefore considered that the ad implied that Dr Abraham was able to treat serious medical conditions by healing alone, and we concluded that the ad could therefore discourage some people from seeking essential medical treatment for serious medical conditions.

3. Upheld

The ASA noted Mount Zions explanation that Abraham Daniel Joel had a PhD in Computational Fluid Dynamics. However, we considered that consumers were likely to understand the term Dr to mean that Abraham Daniel-Joel held a general medical qualification. Because we understood that was not the case we concluded that the use of the term Dr was misleading.

4. Upheld

We noted that the CAP Code required advertisers to hold signed and dated proof for any testimonial that they used, and stated that claims made in testimonials must be supported by independent evidence of their accuracy. Because we had not seen signed and dated copies of the testimonials used in the ad, or independent evidence that verified the claims made in them, we concluded that the testimonials were misleading.

 

3rd June   

Update: Campaigners Hacked Off by US Doctors...

US pediatricians back off from performing a 'nick' on a girl's clitoris
Link Here

US flagThe American Academy of Pediatrics has reversed its decision last month regarding the practice of female circumcision by immigrants from some African, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures.

The academy had suggested in a policy statement that doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial nick on girls if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision. The 'nick' involves piercing the clitoris and drawing blood.

Although the nick on a girl's clitoris is illegal in the United States, the academy's bioethics panel had noted it is practiced in some countries.

The policy statement ignited a storm of criticism from opponents of female genital cutting. Dr. Judith S. Palfrey, president of the academy, said: We're saying don't do it. Do everything that you can to support that family in this tough time, but don't be pulled into the procedure.

 

2nd June   

The Maldives are 100% Muslim...

Hardly surprising when they lynch anyone who isn't
Link Here

Maldives flagThe Islamic Foundation has called for self-declared apostate Mohamed Nazim to be stripped of his citizenship and sentenced to death if he does not repent and return to Islam.

Nazim claimed he was Maldivian and not a Muslim during a public question-and-answer session with Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik, the first time a Maldivian has publicly announced he is not a Muslim.

According to the Maldivian constitution all citizens are required to be Muslim, and the country is always described as a 100 percent Muslim country.

The man angered many in the approximately 11,000-strong crowd with his statement during Dr Naik's Misconceptions about Islam lecture. Dr Naik responded that Nazim had read the wrong books and deviated from Islam , and requested him to read correct books on Islam, and Inshallah, you'll come back to Islam.

However Nazim did not relinquish the microphone and pressed Naik to clarify the penalty for apostasy: In Islam, there are many cases, it doesn't mean death penalty, Dr Naik explained. But if the person who reverts who was a Muslim then converts to and becomes a non-Muslim and propagates his faith and speaks against Islam, and if it's Islamic rule, then the person should be put to death. But just because a person who is a Muslim becomes a non-Muslim, death penalty is not the ruling.

Nazim was escorted from the venue by police for his own protection, after members of the audience attempted to attack him.

He was taken to a police building where a crowd of protesters had gathered, calling for him to be punished. Shiyam confirmed that Nazim is now being held in an undisclosed location for five days while police investigate in consultation with the Islamic Ministry and the Prosecutor General's office.

The Islamic Foundation of the Maldives issued a press statement calling on judges to give Nazim the opportunity to repent and if he does not, then sentence him to death as Islamic law and Maldivian law agree.

Update: Acquitted

27th June 2010. Based on article from minivannews.com

The High Court has ruled in favour of the Criminal Court's acquittal of a Maldivian who allegedly claimed that there was no God and Prophet Muhammad was not a Messenger.

The Criminal Court judge earlier said the man had made the comments while drunk and therefore could not be convicted. The man's father had given evidence against him but the High Court ruled the father's evidence inadmissible because it was motivated by a personal grudge.

 

1st June   

Update: Losing Face...

Facebook cave in to nutter demand for censorship
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Facebook logoPakistan has lifted a ban on Facebook after the social networking site apologised for a page deemed offensive to Muslims and removed its contents.

Two weeks ago Facebook was blocked after a group used the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! page to encourage people to post images of the Prophet Mohamed.

In response to our protest, Facebook has tendered their apology and informed us that all the sacrilegious material has been removed, said Najibullah Malik, from the information technology ministry. But at least 1,000 sacrilegious web pages that were also blocked will remain inaccessible.

Impossible Demands

Based on article from weeklyblitz.net

Bangladesh flagA highly placed source in the Bangladeshi government told media that, the present government is considering lifting the ban if Facebook authorities can give assurance that no one will be allowed to upload any content against Islam or any of the leaders of the ruling party in the country.

We are willing to ensure freedom of expression ...BUT... at the same time, we cannot tolerate abuse of such freedom by any individual , said the source.

Another source at Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission told Weekly Blitz that, they have sent email to Facebook authorities on Monday [May 31, 2010] asking the site to remove anti Islamic and objectionable contents from it in order to help Bangladesh authorities in lifting the ban. We all know that Facebook is a popular social networking site, but we cannot afford to allow them continuing anti-Islamic or blasphemous campaign to hurt the religious sentiment of Muslims , said the source.

Update: Facebook restored to Bangladesh

9th June 2010. Based on article from mashable.com

Bangladesh flagBangladesh ended its ban on Facebook today after the social networking company agreed to block access to the images that the government deemed offensive, according to the AFP.

Facebook blocked access to the controversial images for users within Bangladesh, but they remain accessible for users in other countries — except Pakistan.

 

1st June   

Barbarianism...

90 killed as minority mosque is attacked in Lahore
Link Here

ahmadiyya community logoArmed militant muslims swarmed around two mosques of a minority Islamic sect in the Pakistani city of Lahore, raking worshippers with gunfire, taking hostages and killing at least 90 people.

A spokesman for a group describing itself as the Punjabi Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, during which gunmen lobbed grenades into crowds and opened fire from a minaret.

It was the bloodiest ever militant assault on the Ahmedi sect, highlighting how the fusion of Taliban and sectarian militant groups in Pakistan poses a deadly threat to besieged minorities.

Considered heretics by many Pakistanis for their worship of a nineteenth century religious figure, Ahmedis have suffered decades of state-sponsored discrimination.

Punjab province's chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, appealed for calm. Our security forces will fight this menace till the end, he said. Attacks on places of worship is barbarianism.

 

1st June   

Update: For the Dignity of Women...

Spanish town of Lerida bans burkhas in public buildings
Link Here

Spanish flagThe Spanish town of Lerida has become the first in the country to ban the Burka in municipal buildings.

The town council voted to prohibit the use of the veil and other clothes and accessories which cover the face and prevent identification in buildings and installations of the town hall.

The vote, by 23 to one with two abstentions, is the first of its kind in Spain.

The move is aimed at promoting respect for the dignity of women and values of equality and tolerance, the town hall said in a statement.

Update: Covered Band Wagon

3rd June 2010. See article from islamophobia-watch.com

The full council of El Vendrell (Tarragona), in line with the motion adopted in Lleida, will examine in the second week of June a proposal from CiU, to prohibit the use of the burqa and niqab in public facilities in the municipality.