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31st July   

Everybody Burn-Quran Day...

High Court petition asks for a permanent Facebook block in Pakistan
Link Here

Facebook logoA petition has been filed before the Lahore High Court seeking a permanent ban on Facebook, a social networking website, in Pakistan pointing out introduction of another anti-Islam competition by the website.

The website had already faced an interim ban in country for holding a blasphemous caricature competition.

The petition was filed by Chairman Judicial Activism Panel (JAP) Muhammad Azhar Siddique stating that the website Facebook has again announced a contest named Everybody Burn-Quran Day and also displayed blasphemous pictures of Khana-e-Kaaba. In view of the facts submitted above, it is respectfully prayed to block/ban Facebook permanently in Pakistan.

He also prayed that the authorities in Pakistan be directed to this effect that no material with respect to blasphemy of any religion be published, displayed, visualised or aired in country.

Doves....Not

Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

On September 11, members of the Dove World Outreach Center – a Gainesville, Florida church – plan to burn copies of the Koran to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The protest is just the latest in a series of provocative actions from the self-described New Testament Church, which seems as interested in getting attention as it is in sharing the Word with the world.

 

31st July   

Diary: Destructive 4thought.tv...

Stephen Green gets a 5 minute slot on Channel 4 to rant against gays
Link Here

4thought4thought.tv
Channel 4 7:55pm
Monday 2nd August 2010.

Sexuality has become a major battle ground for the world religions. 4thought.tv offers a series of radically different perspectives on homosexuality and sin.

Stephen Green, national director of the lobby group Christian Voice, quotes from the Book of Revelations in the Bible to support his belief that God's plan for sexuality is heterosexual. Green believes that there has been a homosexualisation of British society, and that the gay lifestyle is inherently hedonistic and destructive.

Airing directly after this film will be the radically different view of Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay who believes that those who use the Bible to condemn homosexuality are hypocritical - surely they should also advocate the stoning of adulterers.

 

31st July   

Updated: Humanity Ebbs...

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

Iran flagAn Iranian woman convicted of adultery has been sentenced to death by stoning.

Sakineh Mohamamadi e Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, was accused of having extramarital relations with two men who ended up killing her husband.

Infidelity is illegal in Iran, and usually punished with lashes and prison time. While the Iranian penal code allows for the death sentence in infidelity cases, execution by stoning is rare.

The case began in 2005 when Ashtiani was arrested for having illicit relationships. She was convicted by a local court a year later and sentenced to 99 lashes and an unknown amount of time in prison, where she has remained since.

Following the original case, however, Ashtiani and her boyfriends were accused of murdering her husband. Ashtiani was convicted and sentenced to death by stoning.

She has denied any wrongdoing but reportedly asked local authorities for a pardon, stating simply If I have done any wrong, I repent. The request for clemency was denied.

Update: EU speak out against stoning

7th July 2010. Based on article from huliq.com

EU flagWhile Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and her attorney wait anxiously to see whether Iranian authorities carry out the sentence of death by stoning for adultery, worldwide pressure continues to mount to halt the execution, with the European Union the latest to speak out.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has called on Iran to halt the stoning of Ashtiani along with two other scheduled executions. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to hanging for a murder he committed as a minor, and Zeynab Jalalian, a Kurd, is awaiting execution as an enemy of God.

Ashton had especially harsh words for Ashtiani's punishment, calling stoning a particularly cruel method of execution which amounts to torture. She also noted that Ashtiani's and Haddadi.'s exedcutions violate international conventions on civil, political, and children's rights.

Comment: Stop Stoning and Sharia Laws!

7th July 2010. By Maryam Namazie
See also iransolidarity.blogspot.com

stop stoning messages 11 July is the International Day against Stoning – a day we would do well to mark especially given that Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani faces imminent death by stoning for adultery.

Appealing on her behalf, her two children have said: Today we reach out to the people of the world. It is now five years that we have lived in fear and in horror, deprived of motherly love. Is the world so cruel that it can watch this catastrophe and do nothing?

Don't stand by and watch. Let's end this once and for all.

To show your condemnation against stoning and support for Sakine, during the week of 5-11 July, take stones to your city centres , universities, media outlets, workplaces… and put them in a public place, with a message in support of Sakine and against stoning and executions. See also iransolidarity.blogspot.com

With daily reports of such brutality, some will still not stop asserting that Sharia law is misunderstood and wrongly associated with medieval punishments - yet this is what Sharia's penal code demands. The image of Sharia law is draconian because the reality is such.

Update: Stoning Cancelled

9th July 2010. Based on article from news.bbc.co.uk

Iran flagThe authorities in Iran have announced that a woman convicted of adultery will not be stoned to death.

But it is not clear whether they have lifted the death sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has been in prison in Tabriz since 2006.

There has been an international campaign to prevent her being stoned.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said stoning was a medieval punishment and that its continued use showed Iran's disregard for human rights. If the punishment is carried out, it will disgust and appal the watching world, he told a news conference in London.

Offsite: 15 more cases

9th July 2010. See article from guardian.co.uk

Twelve Iranian women and three men are on death row awaiting execution by stoning despite an apparent last-minute reprieve for a mother of two who had been facing the horrific sentence after being convicted of adultery.

...Read the full article

Update: No Stoning But...

10th July 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Iran flagSakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani will not be stoned, the regime has said, but now her family fear she will be hanged instead

Iran has also imposed a media blackout over the case of a 43-year-old mother of two who was sentenced to be stoned to death and whose fate is still unclear despite an apparent reprieve .

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is still facing execution by hanging after being convicted of adultery, her son told the Guardian today.

Newspapers, agencies and TV channels in Iran have been banned from reporting Mohammadi Ashtiani's death sentence, despite an international campaign launched by her children, which has been joined by politicians and celebrities from all over the world.

Last night the Iranian embassy in London issued an opaque statement saying that Mohammadi Ashtiani would not be stoned to death. According to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, she will not be executed by stoning punishment, it said.

Update: Under Pressure

24th July 2010.  Based on article from guardian.co.uk

sakineh ashtianiIran has put fresh pressure on the woman it last month sentenced to death by stoning, demanding the names of those involved in the campaign for her release.

The case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has drawn international attention after her children launched a campaign for her release. After a global outcry last month, Iran's judiciary said Sakineh would not be put to death by stoning, but still faced execution by hanging.

Ashtiani has been interrogated inside Tabriz prison over the names of the people who have been in touch with her family and the way her photo has been distributed among the media, the Guardian has learned.

Sakineh's photo, which has been distributed all over the world, has become a defining image for human rights activists campaigning against stoning in Iran.

Sakineh has been under big pressure since the world has paid attention to her case , a source close to her family told the Guardian. Recently she was questioned and asked to advise her children to remain silent, otherwise they will be arrested too. International attention is the only hope for Sakineh's release , the source added.

Update: London Rallies to Ashtiani's cause

26th July 2010. Based on article from bbc.co.uk

Ragged Union JackA rally has been held in London to protest over a woman sentenced to death for adultery in Iran.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was originally told she would be killed by stoning, but the penalty was put on hold following international anger.

Human rights campaigners gathered in Trafalgar Square, London, to protest against medievalism and barbarity .

They called on the international community to make the world stand still over Ashtiani's treatment.

Demonstrators in Trafalgar Square waved placards reading: Turn all stones towards the Islamic regime of Iran .

Others at the event on Saturday held banners calling for the abolition of the death penalty, while members of the public signed a petition against the punishment.

Campaigners said similar demonstrations were being held in more than 30 countries to put pressure on Iran in the hope of securing the release of Ashtiani, who has been in jail in the north-western city of Tabriz since 2005.

Update: Ashtiani's Lawyer Arrested

26th July 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Iran flagThe lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who faced death by stoning, now faces re-arrest and his wife and brother-in-law have also been held by Iran's authorities.

Authorities in Iran have issued an arrest warrant for an acclaimed Iranian lawyer and arrested his wife and brother-in-law over his involvement in the case of a woman sentenced to death by stoning.

Lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei's office in Tehran was ransacked, and he was interrogated in Evin prison for four hours on Saturday over his human rights activities and involvement in the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

He was released, then called back for further questioning before being set free. Authorities then issued an arrest warrant. When they were unable to find him the authorities arrested his wife, Fereshteh Halimi and her brother Farhad Halimi to try to force him to surrender. However, it is still unclear whether Mostafaei has been arrested or he has managed to evade officials.

Mostafaei is not a normal lawyer, he is also a human rights activist and he has represented several stoning cases and juvenile offenders in Iran, said Soheila Vahdati, an Iranian activist who is based in California.

Mostafaei writes regularly for Iranian media and his blog and his role in making Iranians aware of the human rights abuses in Iran has made it difficult for the Iranian regime to tolerate him anymore, she said.

Update: Hanging

31st July 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

sakineh ashtianiThe Iranian woman whose sentence of death by stoning was commuted to hanging after an international campaign, has sent a message from inside Tabriz prison calling for further support so that she might be reunited with her children.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, said she thinks of nothing other than hugging her children and that she was mentally broken when authorities flogged her 99 times in front of her then 17-year-old son, Sajad.

She thanked the world for launching the campaign for her release but said part of her heart is frozen . Every night before I go to sleep, I think who would throw stones at me? , she said.

The message was read by Mina Ahadi, of the Iran Committee against Stoning (ICAS), at a press conference in Conway Hall, in London, this morning .

At the conference, ICAS presented a document showing Mohammadi Ashtiani had in fact been convicted of adultery. She was originally sentenced to 99 lashes, but her case was reopened when a court in Tabriz suspected her of murdering her husband. She was acquitted, but the adultery charge was reviewed and the death by stoning sentence handed down on the basis of judge's knowledge .

The documents provided by ICAS show that two of five judges who investigated Mohammadi Ashtiani's case concluded that there was no forensic evidence of adultery. It's shocking, she's sentenced to death by stoning because three judges think, just think, that you had an illicit relationship outside marriage, said Maryam Namazie of the ICAS.

 

31st July   

Update: Promises Promises...

Egyptian Governor Suspends Church Renewal until Bishop's Home is Torn Down
Link Here  full story: Copts in Egypt...Egyptian christian copts denied religious freedom

Egypt flagBishop Agathon, 75 clergy and nearly 150,000 Copts from parishes all over the Diocese of Maghagha & Edwah have staged a sit-in in Maghagha since Sunday 25 July 2010, protesting against the intransigence of the Governor of Minya.

During the sit-in, the Copts held banners asking for their rights to have a church, amidst chants of With our soul and our blood, we will build our church.

Governor Ahmad Dia-Eldin has suspended the licence obtained for the renewal of the diocese in Maghagha, including the church after the old complex was pulled down as agreed. The pretext given was that the 45 sq. metres rooms where the Bishop lives and the public toilettes were not pulled down as well. The Bishop said that during negotiations, the Governor agreed verbally in front of all those present to keep the Bishop's rooms until new ones have been built. Otherwise where will I put my head to sleep and keep my papers? Said His Grace: The Governor now changed his mind and insists on adhering to the written agreement without his 'giveaways' and requires as a condition their immediate removal.

After nearly three and a half years of negotiations and appeals to President Mubarak, an agreement was reached early March 2010, between the Governor and the Bishop. The signed conditions were that the old buildings of the Coptic Diocese of Maghagha including the falling-apart church, which was built in 1934 through a Royal decree, were to be pulled down and in exchange the Governor of Minya would issue a licence for the renewal of the Diocese on adjacent land owned by the Church.

After the church was pulled down, the Bishop and congregation celebrate masses since March 16, 2010, in a make shift tent in the summer heat exceeding 45C. Where stones are hurled inside the tent at us by Muslims, said one local Copt.

 

30th July   

Afghan TV station Shut Down...

Highly hazardous to the government's rule
Link Here

Afghanistan flagAfghanistan Council of Ministers shut down the private television network Emrooz charging it with fomenting religious differences and disrupting national unity.

An announcement issued by the office of the president states that the continued activity of this television network was highly hazardous to the government's rule and therefore the Ministry of Intelligence and Culture was charged to immediately shut them down.

Najibollah Kabuli, member of Afghanistan's parliament and head of Emrooz television condemned the move saying that this action is a result of pressure from Shiite religious leaders and his own opposition to Iranian policies.

In the past months, a number of demonstrations were staged in several cities of Afghanistan to protest the alleged execution of tens of Afghan nationals in Iran. The demonstrators expressed severe anti-Iran positions in the course of the demonstrations condemning Iranian leaders and burning images of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei. Reportedly, Najibollah Kabuli was the organizer of the Kabul demonstrations and he also participated in the event.

 

29th July   

Updated: Sexualisation Warps Nutter Minds...

Australian chrsitians call for more censorship over vague claims of sexualisation
Link Here

Australian Christian LobbyIn the face of supposed new evidence of the increasing levels of children sexually abusing other children the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has called for both major political parties to immediately commit to a comprehensive review of the classification system across all media.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said the classification system is broken and that the lack of effective regulation of what is being viewed and read in the community must be acknowledged as at least part of the reason behind the appalling growth in sexualised and sexually abusive behaviour in children.

Revelations by the Australian Crime Commission's National Indigenous Task Force that between 40 and 90% of sexual offending against children was committed by other children – and that the problem is not confined to indigenous communities – should deeply concern all Australians and demand an urgent response from our political leaders, Wallace said.

There has been widespread acknowledgement of the role of the media environment in sexualising children but despite inquiries and talkfests, nothing gets done.

Children don't learn sexualised behaviour in a vacuum and we know that viewing pornography is often associated with this problem. However it goes much further than this, with children continually being bombarded with overtly sexual messages by everything from billboards to films to music videos. When the problem is getting this bad it is time for real action to be taken.

Wallace said a comprehensive review is needed because Australia's classification system has not kept pace with technology and is effectively a toothless tiger even when standards are breached – with no real penalties for those involved.

Growth in technology has meant that Australia's classification system doesn't even apply to a range of new media content, such as mobile phone applications. And where the classification system does apply it is completely ineffective – with standards rarely being enforced and the penalties being laughable even when they are.

 

28th July   

Exposed Sensitivities...

Author ordered to pay damages over book revealing a family's life in Kabul
Link Here

gp Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad, author of international bestselling novel The Bookseller of Kabul , has been ordered to pay 125,000 kroner in damages for invasion of privacy.

The Bookseller of Kabul is descriptive of the lives of fundamental Islamic people and touches on aspects such as honor killings and prostitution, as well as the main character's and his family's thoughts.

According to Celebrity Café magazine, Suraia Rais, wife of the real bookseller, accused Seierstad of using inaccurate information in her book regarding her family's personal lives and relationships.

Oslo District Court (Tingrett) decided that The information (in the book) about Rais's thoughts and feelings is sensitive, reports Dagbladet. The court also ruled against Seirstad's publisher, Cappelen Damm, who is also obliged to pay the plaintiff a further 125,000.

Seirstad's lawyer, Cato Schiøtz, says he was astonished by the ruling and was determined to advise his client to appeal the decision

Seierstad wrote the novel after living with the Rais family for three months in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban.

A few more clues about the contended sensitivities may be found in a review on UK Amazon : Penetrating, prejudicial and convincing - a unique read

Sultan Khan is the head of a prosperous Kabul family. A bookseller by trade, he has seen his books burnt by one regime, defaced by another, then burnt again. As the Taliban regime falls in 2001, he meets Norwegian war correspondent, Seierstad. They agree that Seierstad should live with his family for several months. This book is the stunning result.

It reads like fiction -- penetrating, prejudicial and convincing but, although names have been changed, it is an honest, warts and all, account of life in Kabul. Khan, seemingly urbane, educated and liberal, is the tyrannical head of large family – mother, siblings, two wives and five children. Khan's subjugation of the women in his family is shocking from a Western point of view: As Seierstad moves into his home, Khan takes a second wife, a sexy, uneducated sixteen-year-old, dishonouring and cutting to the quick his loyal and educated first wife: his youngest sister is treated as little more than a slave. And it is this that is the meat of the book; the personal power struggles that exist within the family – struggles which Khan will always win.

The shocking portrait of women's lives, even under the liberalising regime of Afghan leader Karzai, is frightening, repulsive even from a western perspective, but there is nothing here to suggest that Khan is anything other than a typical head of the family. His mother, sisters, wives and daughters, seem to lose identity under the burqa, which hides not only their femininity and personality, but also their imaginations. Not here will you find justification of the regime: these women resent, in different ways, their position.

 

28th July   

Updated: Failed Justice...

Brothers on bollox blasphemy charge murdered outside Pakistan court
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas

Pakistan flagIn an incident which highlights the total collapse of security and the rule of law in Pakistan, two Christian brothers, who were accused of distributing blasphemous pamphlets, were shot dead outside a court in Faisalabad.

According to reports, two unidentified gunmen shot dead Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajjad, and also left their police escort critically wounded, as they were leaving the court after a hearing .

Both brothers were rushed to hospital where they were pronounced dead, The Daily Times quoted a local official, as saying.

Both Emmanuel and Rashid were arrested earlier this month along with some others on charges of igniting religious hatred by distributing sacrilegious pamphlets.

A senior church official in Faisalabad, James Aftab, said that the men had been implicated in a fake case.

Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti blamed the local mosques in Faislabad for the attack on the two brothers.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has taken serious note of the incident and directed Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take all steps to ensure the safety of minorities in Faislabad and maintain law and order in the city.

Update: Minorities Minister Accused of Blasphemy

28th July 2010. Based on article from continentalnews.net

Allama Ahmed Mian Hammadi, a Pakistani Muslim cleric, has claimed that Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities has himself committed blasphemy by branding the recently murdered Christian brothers as victims of Pakistan blasphemy laws.

Bhatti had spoken out about the murder of Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajid, by unidentified masked gunmen inside a courthouse in Faisalabad. The brothers had been accused of supposedly blaspheming Muhammad, a charge they had both denied

According to Hammadi's statement, published in Daily Jasarat, a Pakistani Urdu daily newspaper, the Muslim cleric said that Muslims cannot tolerate blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad: It is not a cruelty to kill blasphemers, rather blasphemy itself is such an enormous brutality that the one who commits it neither has got a right to live in this world nor is there any pardon for the blasphemer. Muslims won't tolerate even a slightest blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. If Shahbaz Bhatti committed blasphemy he would be beheaded.

Update: Sentenced

2nd May 2011. See article from tribune.com.pk

An Anti-Terrorism Court found Maqsood Ahmad guilty of killing two blasphemy accused in 2010 and sentenced him to death on four counts.

Ahmed was brought to the court amid tight security. A large crowd, including many Sunni Tehrik activits, had gathered in front of the court. Many of the activists expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict.

ST's Mahmood Ahmed said they would soon file an appeal against the verdict at the appropriate forum. He said the man had killed two blasphemers and deserved better treatment.

 

28th July   

Offsite: Malaysian Taliban...

Religious police terrorising muslims enjoying Kuala Lumpur nightlife
Link Here  full story: Malaysian Taliban...Muslims flogged for drinking and pre marital sex

Malaysia flagA morality crackdown has seen Malaysian Islamic authorities hand out caning and jail sentences for illicit drinking and sex, and launch raids on homes and clubs in the glare of media flashlights.

Despite the highly publicised cases, every weekend Kuala Lumpur's top clubs are packed with fashionably dressed youngsters including Muslim Malays -- many offspring of the nation's elite -- socialising and drinking openly.

I'm a bit more wary after all these cases but it doesn't really affect my mood to go out and party, says Muaz Omar, a civil servant who goes to pubs with friends to watch live band performances. People who drink still do go out because even private parties at home are subjected to raids, there is no longer a safe haven .

We don't accept any behaviour that is not condoned by Islam, Che Mat Che Ali, the head of the Islamic affairs department in Kuala Lumpur, tells AFP.

The department has rounded up nearly 500 individuals in Kuala Lumpur so far this year for offences including drinking and khalwat , or close proximity which bars Muslims from being alone with a member of the opposite sex.

...Read the full article

 

26th July   

Updated: Comic Nutters...

Westboro Baptists will picket Comic-Con on grounds of idolatry
Link Here

preacher Comic fans beware: The man who believes that god hates...well...everyone but his family is headed to San Diego Comic-Con on July 22.

Fred Phelps on the official Westboro Baptist Church site, wrote:

If these people would spend even some of the energy that they spend on these comic books, reading the Bible, well no high hopes here. They have turned comic book characters into idols, and worship them they do! Isaiah 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. It is time to put away the silly vanities and turn to God like you mean it.

The destruction of this nation is imminent - so start calling on Batman and Superman now, see if they can pull you from the mess that you have created with all your silly idolatry.

Hopefully the creative guys at Comic-Con can come up with an amusing counter action.

Update: Bite my shiny metal ass

26th July 2010. Based on article from inewp.com

Futurama Specials DVD Billy West Fortunately, those at Comic-Con knew about Westboro's plans and prepared to meet them head on in a counter-demonstration. Obviously, Phelp's followers were massacred.

Led by an individual in a Bender costume from the cartoon Futurama, Comic-Con nerds dressed in various outfits held humorous signs that effectively counter-demonstrated.

Memorable moments include Bender megaphoning Bite my shiny metal ass to the Westboro congregation while holding a sign that read Kill All Humans and a person in a Buddy Jesus getup holding up a God Loves Everybody sign contradicting Westboro's signs that read God Hates Fags , God is Your Enemy , You're Going To Hell . Signs like God Hates Kittens and God Hates Jedi also accompanied the counter-protest.

 

26th July   

Update: Abduction...

Thousands of Coptic christians protest against the abduction of their priest's wife
Link Here  full story: Forced Conversion in Egypt...Muslims kidnap and forcibly convert christian girls

Egypt flagThe unexplained disappearance of a Coptic priest's wife in Upper Egypt has led a sit-in staged by thousands of Copts at the Coptic Patriarchate in Cairo, to protest what they consider collusion by the state security services. There are rumors that Islamists have abducted her. They promised to continue with their sit-in until the state security divulges her whereabouts.

Nearly three thousand demonstrators, joined by clergy, protested the lack of protection for Copts by state security, chanting They abducted the wife of our priest, tomorrow they will abduct us and Where are our abducted girls or is it because they are Christians?

Police surrounded the Cathedral to prevent the demonstrators from going out to the streets.

On Monday, July 19, Father Tedaos Samaan, priest at St. Georges Church in Deir Mawas, Minya Governorate, returned home to find that his wife was missing from the previous night. He said that he was on a short visit to his parents with his toddler son, as his teacher wife Kamila Shehata was on a short placement to another school.

According to Father Tedaos, the last times he spoke to his wife was at 9.15pm when she told him that she was at home, and was on her way to overnight at her parent's home, 100 meters away. She never arrived there.

Anba Agapios, Bishop of the dioceses of Delga and Deir Mawas, deplored the treatment by officials of the state security apparatus in Minya. They told him that they have the priest's wife with them and promised to deliver her to her family within hours and then they came back and retracted their statements and their promises to him. Consequently he asked his congregations to go to Cairo and stage a sit-in at St. Mark's Cathedral, until state security acts. He appealed to Copts in all the Egyptian governorates to stand together alongside their brethren during their sit-in.

Father Tedaos said that apart from his wife, there have been five other Coptic females who were abducted from Deir Mawas in the last 50 days.

Father Tedaos appealed to President Mubarak for the return of his wife.

 

25th July   

Converted to Oppressive...

Bhutan set to introduce anti-conversion law
Link Here

Bhutan flagBhutan's government have proposed an anti-conversion law. The amendment bill would punish proselytizing that uses coercion or other forms of inducement.

Christians fear that it is vaguely worded, and that vigilantes could use it to jail them for for charity work to feed, clothe and otherwise care for, the poor.

Now, under section 463 [of the Penal Code of Bhutan], a defendant shall be guilty of the offense of proselytization if the defendant uses coercion or other forms of inducement to cause the conversion of a person from one religion or faith to another, reported the government-run Kuensel newspaper on July 9.

There was always a virtual anti-conversion law in place, but now it is on paper too, said a senior pastor from Thimphu on condition of anonymity. Seemingly it is aimed at controlling the growth of Christianity.

Kuenlay Tshering, a member of Bhutan's Parliament and the chairperson of its Legislative Council, told Compass that the National Council had proposed that offenses under the proposal be classified as misdemeanors, punishable by one to less than three years in prison. Tshering said that the amendment bill may be passed during the next session of Parliament, after the National Assembly deliberates on it in the winter session.

 

25th July   

Update: Burkha Bus Ban...

Passengers refused bus boarding after niqab cited as a security threat
Link Here

niqabTwo Muslim women have claimed they were refused a bus ride because one had her face covered by a veil.

The students were in London and boarded a Metroline bus from Russell Square to Paddington. But they said when they presented their tickets the driver told them they were a threat to passengers and ordered them off the bus.

An investigation has been started by the firm as a matter of urgency .

Yasmin, who was wearing a hijab, and Atoofa, dressed in a niqab - which covers the face - were in London to hand in university work

Yasmin said at first she boarded the bus by mistake when it was not in service to ask if it was going to Paddington station, but was told by the driver to get off: About 10 minutes later... the passengers started getting on. When I went forward to show my ticket he said, 'Get off the bus'. I presumed he was still angry because I got on the bus before.

He said, 'I am not going to take you on the bus because you two are a threat.' I realised it wasn't due to me getting on the bus, this may be a racist attack.

The women complained to another bus driver who offered advice on where to complain.

A spokesman for bus operator Metroline said: We take this very seriously and will make a thorough investigation into the allegations as a matter of urgency. However, Metroline can unequivocally state that such views would not be representative of the company in any way and that we are committed to respecting equality and diversity for all.

 

24th July   

Priests Just Want to Have Fun Too...

Italian church harangued by more errant priests
Link Here

panora An Italian Catholic diocese has denounced homosexual priests for their double life and said they should not be in the priesthood.

The Diocese of Rome was responding to a magazine article on three homosexual priests that gave details of alleged sexual encounters and trips to clubs.

The diocese said the honour of all the others was sullied by their behaviour.

The Church holds that all sexual activity outside marriage is sinful and regards homosexual acts as unnatural. '

The article in the conservative magazine Panorama , entitled Gay Priests' Nights on the Town, carried pictures and interviews with the men. The research was carried out over a month using hidden cameras. It recorded sexual encounters, including one in a church building.

 

24th July   

Dangerous Lies...

18 months in jail for consensual sex and a little white lie
Link Here
wedding vows

  Do you promise to be faithful
to her until death do you part?....
And do you understandeth
the consequences of a
false declaration?...
I'm waiting....

A Palestinian man has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with a woman who had believed him to be a fellow Jew.

Sabbar Kashur was sentenced to 18 months in prison after the court ruled that he was guilty of rape by deception. According to the complaint filed by the woman with the Jerusalem district court, the two met in downtown Jerusalem in September 2008 where Kashur, an Arab from East Jerusalem, introduced himself as a Jewish bachelor seeking a serious relationship. The two then had consensual sex in a nearby building before Kashur left.

When she later found out that he was not Jewish but an Arab, she filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.

Although Kashur was initially charged with rape and indecent assault, this was changed to a charge of rape by deception as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

Handing down the verdict, Tzvi Segal, one of three judges on the case, acknowledged that sex had been consensual but said that although not a classical rape by force, the woman would not have consented if she had not believed Kashur was Jewish.

The sex therefore was obtained under false pretences, the judges said. If she hadn't thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated, they added.

 

23rd July   

Update: A New Inquisition...

Civitas reports on blasphemy laws making a come back under the Public Order Act
Link Here  full story: UK Religious Hatred Law...Law abuse by the authortites

New Inquisition Jon Gower Davies Hate legislation removes an increasing quantity of matters traditionally dealt with in civil society to the domain of the state and the courts. In a new report from the independent think tank Civitas, A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today , Jon Gower Davies, formerly the Head of Religious Studies at Newcastle University, reveals the bizarre and oppressive nature of judicial attempts to prosecute individuals for religious hatred - this new legal concept has resulted in some singularly worrying court cases.

Blasphemy Law by the Backdoor

The Blasphemy Law was abolished in 2008, but has re-emerged in a new and radically augmented guise. Today, individuals are not charged with blasphemy, but with causing religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress under the Public Order Act. Jon Davies argues that the growth in accusations of hate crime threatens freedom of speech because they destroy the possibility and practice of open, sociable and critical discussion of religion.

Hatred in the legal sphere

Whilst the total number of racial and religious hate crimes fell from 13,201 in 2006-7 to 11,845 in 2008-9, the volume of hate legislation has rapidly expanded. Yet legal definitions of hatred are elusive. A government action plan states: A (religious) hate crime is a criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a persons religion or perceived religion.

In addition, hatred is not only presented as an offence on its own account, but can also be seen as something which aggravates ordinary public order offences. When an ordinary offence is aggravated by hatred based on race, religion, gender, or age, then the sentence too is aggravated (i.e. increased).

Judges become theologians!

Jon Davies argues that these definitions are without substance, and inevitably result in confusion and silliness in their application. The attempt to define a hate Incident in terms of hostility results in perilous imprecision: it is not possible to know when individuals have been hated - or, indeed, when they have themselves been hating! - and for how long and to what depth and to what effect. The essence of the criminal justice system should be justice and impartiality, but turning religious hatred into a criminal offence turns police, the Crown Prosecution Service and judges into surrogate theologians - a kind of theocracy (an uncomfortable theocracy at that) by the backdoor.

Are judges, even judges giving the "right" verdict, so qualified in theology that they feel able to offer doctrinal guidance? Is the Crown Prosecution Service so prudent in its understanding of "religious hatred" that it should be free, with no penalty for error, to mobilise the power and resources of the state against ordinary citizens who make comments about religion?

A danger to freedom of speech

One of the great triumphs of liberalism has been to separate the discovery of factual truth from the assertion of religious doctrine. And yet, when Judge Richard Clancy dismissed the case against the hoteliers, Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, in December 2009, he commented that it might be best for individuals not to engage in discussions about religion! As a result: It becomes "wise" to "be careful", to restrict the compass of what we say about what we believe, or do not believe, or about what others believe or do not or should not believe, and to turn what were once vigorous public conversations into a frightened, if safe, if amiable and fundamentally humourless chat about small and dwindling things. (p.49)

Because freedom of speech is the prevailing view in Britain, we are not as alert to the risk of its overthrow as we should be. The freedom to speak our minds without fear or favour is worth fighting for. In A New Inquisition , Jon Davies shows why the liberal majority needs to reassert the convention that the law should be used not as a weapon to suppress unpopular opinions, but rather as the protector of free speech.

 

23rd July   

Seeing Demons Everywhere...

Malaysian nutters ban muslims from wearing Manchester United gear
Link Here

manchester united logoMuslims have been told by religious leaders in Malaysia to stop wearing Manchester United football shirts because the image of the famed red devil is forbidden in Islam.

The Johor Religious Council adviser and the Mufti of Perak both state that images of crosses, liquor brands and devils on football shirts are an insult to Allah and should not be worn by Muslims.

Manchester United is a hugely popular brand in Malaysia.

Other football shirts deemed unacceptable by the religious leaders include Brazil, Portugal, Serbia, Barcelona and Norway because their crests all carry images of a cross.

There is no excuse for wearing such garments because it means, as a Muslim, you are idolising the symbol of another religion, Datuk Nooh Gadot, the Mufti of Johor, said: On this matter there is absolutely no compromise in the name of entertainment, fashion or even sports.

The Mufti of Perak, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, said that Muslims wearing such football shirts leads to a path of sin because displaying the symbol of another faith means the wearer is prioritising that faith over Islam.

The warnings about sinful red devil shirts have sparked furious reactions on the many Malaysian fan sites. One comment read: Soon, they will suggest changing the arithmetic symbols such as + and x , because these symbols are not halal.

 

22nd July   

They Should Have Seen It Coming...

Ofcom fines TV channel advertising money grabbing psychic
Link Here
ouija-board

  Ofcom Sanctions Committee:
Shall we fine them?

Ofcom has fined DM Digital Television Limited £17,500 for seriously and repeatedly breaching advertising rules.

In February 2009 the digital station – which broadcasts mainly in Urdu to the UK Asian community – broadcast an advertisement for a spiritual healer called Professor Mohammed Zain.

The Advertising Standards Authority subsequently received a complaint from Manchester Trading Standards, which been contacted by the social worker of a viewer who had approached Professor Zain after seeing the advert.

The viewer had paid money to Professor Zain on two occasions for help in finding a partner. According to the viewer, Professor Zain told her to credit his account with £110 and to pray for one week and then to call him back. When she did this, he told her to credit his bank account with a further £1,400 and in return he would find her a partner. The viewer proceeded to transfer the requested money.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the advertisement was in breach of the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code because it was misleading and likely to exploit the vulnerable and that it represented advice to individuals, based on psychic or faith based practices for personal problems.

In serious cases the ASA can refer matters to Ofcom as the backstop regulator, which has the power to fine broadcasters for breaching advertising rules.

Ofcom considered that the breach was serious because it resulted in actual financial harm to a viewer.

Ofcom also concluded that the breach demonstrated a repeated failure on behalf of DM Digital to ensure that the material it broadcast met the requirements of the TV Advertising Code.

 

22nd July   

Update: Qur'an Slammed on EastEnders...

With predictable whinges from the easily offended
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Eastenders logoThe BBC have defended an episode of EastEnders following complaints from viewers who said they were upset by a scene in which a Muslim character slammed down a copy of the Qur'an.

The gay character of Syed Masood, played by Marc Elliott had been struggling with his love for Christian Clarke (John Partridge) in the face of disapproval from his devout family. He dropped the religious text in frustration during the episode, screened earlier this week,

The BBC said yesterday that it had not intended to cause offence, but merely to demonstrate Syed's utter confusion .

 

22nd July   

Stupid Over Reaction...

Council PC ethics nonsense about a tweet calling scientology stupid
Link Here

electrometer stupidA Cardiff councillor who referred to Scientology as stupid on a social network site has been referred to an ethics committee.

A Church of Scientology member complained about John Dixon's post on Twitter.

The Public Services Ombudsman has ruled there is a case to answer under the councillors' code of conduct.

Liberal Democrat Dixon claimed he tweeted in a private capacity and his freedom of speech should be protected.

The referral follows trip by Dixon to London last year, where he walked past a Scientology centre. He commented on his Twitter page: I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off.

The comment was spotted by a member of the organisation and a complaint made to the Ombudsman for Public Services in Wales.

The watchdog has found there is a case to answer under the code of conduct for councillors and has passed the matter on to Cardiff City Council's standards and ethics committee.

Dixon, who is part of the council's ruling Lib Dem-Plaid coalition group, said his freedom of speech should be protected: I wasn't making a comment about an individual and in fact, if you look at the context of the tweet in question, the tweet beforehand was about me going to pick up my wedding ring. I think I was quite simply expressing an opinion in a private capacity and local government conduct does not apply .

 

22nd July   

Update: Failed Humanity...

Couple sentenced to stoning in Pakistan
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Pakistan flagA couple have been sentenced to be stoned to death for alleged adultery by a tribal court in north-west Pakistan, with the woman's life now considered in grave danger.

The man involved, Zarkat Khan, has run away while the woman is in the custody of the court.

The death sentence, handed down in Manjakot village last month, will be carried out once the man is found, a member of the tribal court said.

The woman, whose name is being withheld at the request of human rights groups, is being held in a nearby village, according to campaigners. She is married and believed to have three children.

Maroof Khan, who said he sat on the tribal court, or jirga, that heard the case said the couple were guilty and must be punished. He said they would be shot, not stoned: We burned down the man's house, as is our tradition, he said. When we get hold of them, we'll kill them, there's no doubt about that. It was a clear-cut case. This is our custom. We will just shoot them. Finished.

The local government administration confirmed that the jirga had passed a verdict of stoning to death, or sangsar as it is locally known, but claimed that it had interceded and the couple were now in safe hands.

 

21st July   

More Bad Vibes for the Pope's Visit...

Government censor embarrassingly popular petition protesting at the pope's visit
Link Here

10 Downing Street logoThe British government has removed from its website a petition protesting Pope Benedict XVI's Sept. 16-19 visit to England and Scotland.

The petition had urged the British prime minister to dissociate the government from the pope's intolerant views and not to support the state visit financially. The secularist coalition Protest the Pope sponsored the petition, which had attracted more than 12,300 signatures.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who drafted the petition, said July 16 that the government had removed the petition three months before it was due to close, and that it had not allowed signatures since April.

This looks like an attempt to prevent the petition from embarrassing the government by gaining a large number of signatures in the run-up to Pope Benedict's visit, Tatchell said in a statement.

The Protest the Pope petition had criticized Pope Benedict for his alleged intolerant opposition to women's rights, gay equality, embryonic stem-cell research and condom use to prevent the spread of HIV.

It urged the prime minister to rebuke the pope for allegedly covering up the clerical sex abuse of children and, according to the petition, his rehabilitation of the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, and his plan to make a saint of Hitler's pope, Pius XII, who refused to publicly condemn the Holocaust.

In its response, posted on the prime minister's website, the government explained it would fund only the state aspects of the visit, with the Catholic Church meeting the costs of pastoral events.

There are issues on which we disagree with the Catholic Church, the statement said. However, we believe that Pope Benedict's visit will provide an opportunity to strengthen and build on our relationship with the Holy See in areas where we share interests and goals and to discuss those issues on which our positions differ.

The Protest the Pope coalition is planning a march and rally in London to coincide with the pope's Sept. 18 prayer vigil in London's Hyde Park.

 

21st July   

Update: Religion of Selfishness...

Guide dogs for the blind ejected from public buses
Link Here  full story: Religious Incompetents...Unable to do the job for religious reasons

guide dogBlind passengers are being ordered off buses or refused taxi rides because Muslim drivers or passengers object to their unclean guide dogs.

One pensioner said he had twice been confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog, and had also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal.

The problem has become so widespread that the matter was raised in the House of Lords last week, prompting transport minister Norman Baker to warn that a religious objection was not a reason to eject a passenger with a well-behaved guide dog.

National Federation of the Blind spokesman Jill Allen-King said the problem was common, and getting worse .

The tension stems from Islamic nonsense about a dog's saliva being impure.

 

21st July   

Update: Cut off from Humanity...

Amputations for theft in Somalia
Link Here

Somalia flagIslamic authorities in Somalia ordered the public amputation of the right hands of two men who admitted theft as hundreds of people, including women and children, looked on, a judge said on Saturday.

The court handed down its verdict according to Islamic sharia law after the two accused admitted their guilt, judge Abu Yusuf Sheik Hasan told journalists: They paid for their crimes.

 

21st July   

Update: Voting Revealed...

Spanish parliament rejects burkha ban
Link Here

Spanish flagSpain's Parliament has rejected a proposal to ban women from wearing in public places Islamic veils that reveal only the eyes.

However, the Socialist government has said it favors including a ban on people wearing burqas in government buildings in an upcoming bill on religious issues to be debated after parliament's summer vacation break.

Following a lower chamber debate, 183 lawmakers opposed the ban, 162 voted for it and two abstained.

 

20th July   

Update: More Inhumanity...

Another pending stoning in Iran
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Stoning scene from movieAn Iranian teen is reportedly awaiting execution by stoning after she was charged with adultery less than a year after her forced marriage to an older man.

Azar Bagheri, who was married at age 14, has been languishing on death row for the past four years while Iranian courts wait for her to turn 18, when the sentence can be carried out, The Australian Sunday Times reported.

Mina Ahadi, an Iranian human rights activist, told the newspaper that Bagheri was denounced by her husband after he accused her of committing adultery with two men.

Bagheri has been subjected to two mock stonings, the newspaper reported, during which she was removed from her cell at Tabiz prison in northwest Iran and buried up to her shoulders as if being prepared to be pelted to death by stones.

Bagheri's attorneys, according to the report, are now planning to ask judges to reduce her sentence to 99 lashes.

 

20th July   

Update: Un-British...

Burkha ban unlikely in Britain
Link Here

Ragged Union JackBanning the wearing of the Islamic full veil in public would be un-British , the UK immigration minister has said.

Damian Green told the Sunday Telegraph trying to pass such a law would be at odds with the UK's tolerant and mutually respectful society .

It comes after Tory MP Philip Hollobone introduced a private members' bill which would make it illegal for people to cover their faces in public.

Green said that the French ban was very unlikely to be copied in the UK: Telling people what they can and can't wear, if they're just walking down the street, is a rather un-British thing to do. We're a tolerant and mutually respectful society.

Green said that, unlike France, the UK was not aggressively secular .

 

19th July   

Fuhrer Fury...

Art causes a stir in Italy
Link Here

virgin of the 3rd reichThe pastor of the Italian city of Pietrasanta, together with local Catholic associations, have lodged a complaint with city officials over a picture of the Virgin Mary holding a child-like Adolph Hitler in her arms.

The picture titled, The Virgin of the Third Reich belongs to the collection of Italian artist Giuseppe Veneziano, known in the region for his works mocking various historical figures including Jesus Christ and Pope Benedict XVI.

The picture was used on a poster promoting the Zeitgeist Expo, which will feature various works by Veneziano at the Panichi Palace in Pietrasanta starting this weekend.

The mayor of Pietrasanta, Domenico Lombardi, has publicly apologized to Catholics for the picture and organizers of the expo have pulled the controversial piece from the Zeitegeist program: I assume all responsibility for the publication of this picture, but I had not seen it beforehand, and had I, I would have selected another one . I apologize if the painting offends anyone's religious sensibilities.

Veneziano also has complained to reporters about the decision to pull the piece and said he was a victim of censorship.

 

19th July   

Update: Disapproving BUT...

Big names defend the right of Westboro Baptists to spew hateful nonsense
Link Here

Friends Voltaire Hall Evelyn Beatrice Odd bedfellows are standing side by side with Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in a demonstration of First Amendment fundamentalism. They've filed a friend of the court brief in favor of the right to infuriate families of the fallen with those vicious funeral protests.

The list includes the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the E.W. Scripps Company, the Hearst Corporation, NPR, The New York Times, and the Tribune Company (parent of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times).

Jeff Schogol of the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported these companies joined other free-press advocates in supporting these hateful incitements:

The media organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church, which protests near service members' funerals because it believes that troops' deaths and other national tragedies are divine revenge for America's tolerance of gays and lesbians.

The father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq in 2006, sued the church for picketing near his son's funeral with signs that said God hates you, You're in hell and Semper Fi fags. They also distributed a flier with Snyder's picture on it that read Burial of an Ass.

Snyder's father, Al, won at trial, but he lost an appeal and was ordered to pay more than $16,000 in court costs. The latest case will be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall.

While not defending the Westboro Baptist Church's actions, the 22 media organizations argued that the church is protected by the First Amendment. They also contend that the case could have a chilling effect on news gathering if Al Snyder prevails.

In the brief, the media groups argue that speech cannot be deemed too offensive to be protected by the First Amendment.

 

19th July   

Updated: Mickey Mouse Justice...

Russian gallery curators convicted of blasphemous art
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Russia...Art exhibitions winds up the nutters
mickeys last supper

  Another Mickey Mouse Christ

Two men who organised an art exhibition in Moscow in 2007 have been found guilty by a Russian court of inciting hatred.

Andrei Yerofeyev and Yuri Samodurov had set up the Forbidden Art exhibition at the Sakharov Museum in Moscow.

Both curators were convicted of inciting religious hatred and fined, but escaped prison sentences. The two were ordered only to pay fines of up to 200,000 rubles ($6,500).

The show provoked condemnation from the Russian Orthodox Church, among others, for artworks that included a depiction of Jesus Christ with the head of Mickey Mouse.

There was also a spoof ad for Coca Cola with the slogan This is my blood that visitors looked at through peep holes.

Yerofeyev, an art expert, and Samodurov, the former director of the Sakharov Museum, said they organised the exhibition to fight censorship of art in Russia.

Update: Book of the Banned

19th July 2010. Based on article from freethinker.co.uk
See also article from readrussia.com

vagrich bakhchanyan crucifix Art that a Russian court found blasphemous this week are about to get a much wider audience.

In the wake of the trial of art expert Andrei Yerofeyev and the Sakharov Museum's then-director Yuri Samodurov, a magazine called Russia! has announced its intention to publish a book, The Banned Art , containing the offensive exhibits in January, 2011.

The magazine has already posted pictures of some of the blasphemous pieces featured in Forbidden Art 2006?.

 

19th July   

Updated: Protecting Children from Harm...

GodBlock internet filter to block religious websites
Link Here

godbck logo When installed, GodBlock will test each page that your child visits before it is loaded, looking for passages from holy texts, names of religious figures, and other signs of religious propaganda. If none are found, then your child is allowed to browse freely.

In the last century, the United States has seen a resurgence of fundamentalist religion. Fundamentalist Evangelicals, Mormons, Baptists, Muslims, and Jews have held back progress in science, human rights, civil rights, and protecting our environment. How can we reverse this trend and join the rest of the world in the gradual secularization of society and government?

Most deeply religious people are born into their religion, but even children raised in a secular household are vulnerable to content on the web. That's why we've produced GodBlock. GodBlock is a web filter that blocks religious content. It is targeted at parents and schools who wish to protect their kids from the often violent, sexual, and psychologically harmful material in many holy texts, and from being indoctrinated into any religion before they are of the age to make such decisions.

Update: Etherware

19th July 2010. See article from theregister.co.uk

Hang on though: does this software actually exist? As of today, Godblock appears to be still at the vapourware stage. The site offers Mac and Windows Vista/XP versions, but attempting to download either results in the disappointing message: We're sorry! GodBlock isn't ready yet. But please join the mailing and we'll let you know as soon as it is.

 

19th July   

Offsite Slavers Winning in Afghanistan...

'Leave your job or we will cut your head off your body...'
Link Here  full story: Education in Afghanistan...Violence prevents the education of women

Afghanistan flagWomen in Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan say they are once again being threatened, attacked and forced out of jobs and education as fears rise that their rights will be sacrificed as part of any deal with insurgents to end the war in Afghanistan.

Women have reported attacks and received letters warning of violence if they continue to work or even contact radio stations to request songs.

One female teacher at a girls' school in a southern Afghan province received a letter saying: We warn you to leave your job as a teacher as soon as possible otherwise we will cut off the heads of your children and will set fire to your daughter.

...Read full article

 

18th July   

Impaired Judgment...

Nutters whinge at Californian art exhibit
Link Here

moral values jeri wyrickA California public library has come under nutter fire for displaying anti-religious paintings as part of its current art show.

The most controversial of the paintings on display at the Sacramento County Public Law Library is called Moral Values by San Francisco attorney-artist Jeri Wyrick. The painting depicts a large Bible with a label reading: Warning: May Impair Judgment.

The painting is part of the library's art show called A Creative Merger II: Justice and Peace. Wyrick has three paintings on display in the art show.

On the library's website for the art show, Wyrick describes her paintings as anti-religious. She said Moral Values was inspired by the 2004 presidential election when George W. Bush won his second term. She said that exit polls of those who voted for Bush show their main concern for America's future was not terrorism or the war in Iraq, but moral values, such as gay marriage.

I came to the conclusion that there must be something about religious faith which renders people stupid, Wyrick explained in the painting's description.

Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute is calling on the law library to remove the painting and its description that says religion makes people stupid. The legal group – which specializes in defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties – has sent a letter to the Board of the Sacramento County Law Library to ask that Moral Values be immediately removed.

It is outrageous that our local public law library is actively promoting anti-religious paintings by an artist who calls people of faith stupid, said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, in a statement Thursday. We are demanding that the library remove this blatant violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which forbids government sponsored hostility towards religion.

 

18th July   

Update: The Eyes Have It...

French burkha ban advances through parliament
Link Here

France flagFrance's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing burqa-style Islamic veils.

Proponents of the law say face-covering veils don't square with the French ideal of women's equality or its secular tradition. The bill is controversial abroad but popular in France.

The ban on burqas and niqabs will go in September to the Senate, where it also is likely to pass. Its biggest hurdle will likely come after that, when France's constitutional watchdog scrutinizes it. Some legal scholars say there is a chance it could be deemed unconstitutional.

In Tuesday's vote at the National Assembly, there were 335 votes for the bill and just one against it. Most members of the main opposition group, the Socialist Party, walked out and refused to vote, though they in fact support a ban. They simply have differences over where it should be enforced, underscoring the lack of controversy among French politicians on the issue.

The bill passed Tuesday bans face-covering veils everywhere that can be considered public space, even in the street, but the Socialists only want it in certain places, such as government buildings, hospitals and public transport.

The legislation would forbid face-covering Muslim veils in all public places in France and calls for euro150 ($185) fines or citizenship classes, or both. The bill also is aimed at husbands and fathers — anyone convicted of forcing someone else to wear the garb risks a year of prison and a euro30,000 ($38,000) fine, with both penalties doubled if the victim is a minor.

Officials have taken pains to craft language that does not single out Muslims. While the proposed legislation is colloquially referred to as the anti-burqa law, it is officially called the bill to forbid concealing one's face in public.

It refers neither to Islam nor to veils. Officials insist the law against face-covering is not discriminatory because it would apply to everyone, not just Muslims. Yet they cite a host of exceptions, including motorcycle helmets, or masks for health reasons, fencing, skiing or carnivals.

 

18th July   

Update: Deadly religion...

Religious fighting breaks out again in Nigeria
Link Here  full story: Mob Rule...Churches, temples and mosques attacked by mobs

Nigeria flagPolice say Christians and Muslims have clashed in eastern Nigeria, leaving eight people dead and 40 seriously wounded.

They say six mosques and one church were also torched.

Police say the fight involved Muslim and Christian youths in Wukari, a town in Taraba state and was over the building of a mosque at the local police headquarters.

Taraba state police commissioner Aliyu Musa says a Christian mob opposed to the construction of the mosque set fire to it.

He says the group of Muslims responded by attacking a nearby church, leading to the eruption of violence between the two sides.

 

14th July   

Update: Twisted Version of the Christian Faith...

Eastenders winds up the nutters with a crazed killer preacher storyline
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

lucas johnson Hundreds of angry Christians have blasted the BBC over the storyline in long-running soap, Eastenders , which sees Pentecostal preacher Lucas Johnson turn into a crazed killer.

Viewers have complained that the plot is offensive to their faith, with others questioning whether the channel would air a similar storyline with a Muslim cleric.

They story has seen devout Lucas fail to help dying ex-wife Trina, strangle love rival Owen to death and most recently, murder his wife, Denise after confessing all transgressions to her.

A BBC spokesman has called the plot challenging but said: There's no suggestion Lucas' behaviour is connected to those of the Christian faith. The BBC said on it's website: Lucas is a very damaged and dangerous individual who has created a twisted version of the Christian 'faith' in his mind.

 

13th July   

Update: Inspired to Murder...

Cleric writing in Al Qaeda magazine calls for the deaths of Mohammed cartoonists
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

inspire magazine A muslim cleric has placed the Seattle cartoonist who launched Everybody Draw Mohammed Day on an execution hitlist.

The Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki  singled out artist Molly Norris as a prime target : A soul that is so debased, as to enjoy the ridicule of the Messenger of Allah, the mercy to mankind; a soul that is so ungrateful towards its lord that it defames the Prophet of the religion Allah has chosen for his creation does not deserve life, does not deserve to breathe the air created by Allah and enjoy a life provided for by Allah. Their proper abode is Hellfire.

In Inspire , an English language Al Qaeda terrorist mag, Awlaki damns Norris and eight others for blasphemous caricatures of Muhammed. The 67-page magazine is seen by terrorism experts as a new attempt to reach and recruit Muslim youth in the West. The other cartoonists, authors and journalists in Awlaki's crosshairs are Swedish, Dutch and British citizens.

Norris initially grabbed headlines in April when she published a satirical cartoon on her Web site that declared May 20th Everybody Draw Mohammed Day as a way to mock Viacom and Comedy Central's decision to censor an episode of South Park that showed Mohammed dressed in a bear suit.

David Gomez, the FBI's assistant special agent in charge of counter-terrorism in Seattle, said Norris and others were warned of the very serious threat. We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target.

 

13th July   

Foster Parent Reinstated...

The state has no business enforcing people's religion
Link Here

Old BaileyA foster parent struck off after a Muslim girl in her care converted to Christianity has won the right to be reinstated.

Gateshead Council's decision to remove the carer from the register had provoked controversy. The carer, who had looked after children for ten years and had a perfect record, was blamed for failing to protect and preserve the girl's Muslim faith when she was baptised, even though she was over 16 and had made up her own mind to change her religion.

Gateshead's decision was quashed by a court in Leeds last week, prompting criticism of the former head of its children's services, Maggie Atkinson, who is now Children's Commissioner for England.

The carer, a devout Christian in her 50s, was asked to look after the Muslim teenager after the girl was threatened with an arranged marriage and faced violence from her family.

She said she never pressurised the girl to convert to Christianity and the council was aware that she was attending a Christian church, but her foster manager became incandescent with rage when she was baptised.

Council officials advised the girl to reconsider her decision, and struck the carer off in November 2008.

 

12th July   

Not Keen...

Malaysia's censorship minister whinges about nudity in the media
Link Here

Malaysia flagDr Rais Yatim, Malaysia's minister for Information, communications and culture, says actors will not be allowed to violate the tenets of Islam and appear naked in films.

Something that is prohibited in Islam and is still done is a violation. So, we are not keen to discuss this matter, The Star Online quoted Rais as saying at a recent press conference.

The minister said stripping naked in films was not the culture in Malaysia, but Hollywood and Bollywood films probably influenced some producers.

We are not for naked scenes in films. It should not be highlighted because it is unsuitable with our way of life, the minister said.

Asked if Dalam Botol, a film starring actor Arja Lee, should be banned because of its portrayal of nudity, Rais said it was for the censor board to decide.

 

12th July   

Update: Constitutional Concerns Unveiled...

France to consider constitutional aspects of burkha ban
Link Here

France flagA proposed law against the wearing of the full Islamic veil in French public spaces is to be sent to France's Constitutional Council after being voted on by the Parliament. That was the surprise announcement by Jean-Francois Cope, head of the ruling UMP party in parliament, during a debate on the text by the French National Assembly.

The Constitutional Council of France is charged with examining the compatibility of laws with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution. But there's a strong chance that they will reject a general ban on the Muslim veil, making it a risky bet for the majority party.

 

12th July   

Update: Going for the Jugular...

Muslims attempt to behead 'apostate' in Egypt
Link Here

Egypt flagThe latest in a string of failed attempts by Muslim fanatics on the life of Egyptian Muslim-born Maher el-Gowhary who publicly converted to Christianity in 2008, took place on Sunday July 5, 2010.

As Maher left his secret lodging, somewhere in metropolitan Cairo with his lawyer, two unknown men on a motorbike, attacked him with daggers. They were aiming at my neck to behead me, said Maher in an interview with the newly launched US-based Hope Coptic TV Channel. Something inspired me to turn and give them my shoulder, instead of facing them, which was lucky.

He said that he fell to the ground covered in blood. Had it not been for the interference of passers-by who were unaware of my identity and my efforts to quickly stand up and defend myself, I would have been dead by now, he said.

During the attack, one of the men shouted the Islamic Jihadi cry of Allah is Great, while stabbing him. The attackers called him an infidel, and cursed his Christian faith. Maher said that he was left with heavy wounds, however, he fears seeking medical treatment. He condemned the negative attitude of the Egyptian authorities and held responsible for the attempts made on his life the religious leaders who call for the killing of others just for being non-Muslims.

Shortly after his conversion to Christianity became public, Maher and his 15-year-old daughter Dina, who also converted to Christianity, were forced into hiding. They have been living on the run, changing lodging as frequent as once or twice a month for fear of their identity being discovered.

The Fatwa issued by Sheikh Youssef El-Badri calling for the shedding of his blood, caused them to live in constant danger in the face of the reactionaries and advocates for the enforcement of Islamic apostasy laws, which call for the death of a convert.

 

12th July   

Reigning in the Clerics...

Bangladesh bans punishment fatwas
Link Here

Bangladesh flagThe Bangladesh High Court has outlawed punishments handed down by religious edict, or fatwa, after a series of cases of Muslim women being beaten and caned, a state lawyer said.

The court ruling came on public interest litigations by human rights groups who highlighted examples of women being publicly whipped for crimes like adultery, having a child out of wedlock or even just talking to people of other faiths.

In some cases, rape victims were flogged for being a participant to their assault.

The judges have ruled that all extrajudicial punishments in the name of fatwa, or religious edicts, are illegal and without lawful authority, the government's deputy attorney general Akram Hossain Chowdhury told AFP.

The ruling also provides jail terms for clerics or any members of village courts who order such punishments by invoking Islamic sharia law.

Human rights lawyer Shadeen Malik hailed what he described as a landmark ruling: The cases of beatings, whippings and public humiliations of people, especially poor rural women, would be drastically reduced following this verdict.

 

11th July   

Update: Painting a Nasty Picture...

Chechnya head praises paintball attacks on women not wearing headscarves
Link Here

paintballThe Kremlin-backed head of Russia's Muslim Chechnya region has praised assailants who targeted women with paintball pellets for going bareheaded.

Eyewitnesses have said men in camouflage, often worn by police and security forces in the volatile region, fired paintball guns from cars about a dozen times last month at women who were not wearing headscarves.

I don't know (who they are), but when I find them I shall announce my gratitude, Ramzan Kadyrov said in a weekend interview on state-run regional television channel Grozny, according to a Reuters.

The attacks highlighted tension over Kadyrov's efforts to enforce Muslim-inspired rules that in some cases violate Russia's constitution.

Russian rights group Memorial, which has blamed the attacks on law enforcement officers, said in a statement on Thursday: Kadyrov's interview clearly demonstrates the restriction on women's rights in Chechnya -- he openly defends unlawful acts.

Kadyrov called the victims of the paintball attacks naked women who had most likely been forewarned. Even if they were carried out with my permission, I wouldn't be ashamed of it, he said of the paint-pellet attacks.

In the same interview, Kadyrov lambasted journalists and called rights activists enemies of the people .

 

11th July   

Lady Footballers Sacked...

Full body sack as a football strip not enough for Iranian authorities
Link Here
black burkas

  We can live with the burkha. But both sides
having to wear black is a bit tricky

The Iran government has banned the new national women's football team kit as it does not comply with the Islamic framework .

FIFA, football's world governing body, had banned the team in April after the Iranian Olympic Committee insisted they play in head scarves.

In Iran all women are required to cover their hair in public to conform to the Islamic dress code.

In May, the Iranian Football Federation said it had reached a compromise with FIFA whereby the under-15 team would play in caps at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore on August 14-26.

On Wednesday, the women's youth team tried on the new kit during a demonstration match. But, according to Mehr news agency, the official in charge of women's affairs at Iran's Physical Education Organisation stormed off when she saw that the strip did not conform to what had been ordered.

The team would not attend the games if they had to wear the new outfit, she was quoted as saying. We do not approve of the strip because the manufacturer did not make the strip that we expected, she said: These strips should not only be approved by international federation officials but also by Iran's Sharia law and they should comply with the Islamic framework. We will not send the team (to the Singapore games) at any cost.

 

10th July   

Offsite: Your Freedom...

Stop policing our thoughts, including the hateful ones
Link Here

Spiked logo Kicking off spiked's proposals for which laws should be thrown in the shredding machine of history: rip up the religious hatred act.

Introduced by the New Labour government in 2006, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act is an attack on what is for spiked the most important freedom of all, the freedom upon which all other freedoms are built, the freedom without which we cannot be free-thinking, free-associating, independent citizens: freedom of speech. The act captures the dual fear that has motivated the authorities' many, myriad attacks on free speech over the past decade and more: their fear of ideas, which they consider to be toxic and virus-like, and their fear of the masses, whom they look upon as an easily stirred-up mob, a pogrom waiting to go forth and decimate.

...Read full article

 

9th July   

Passion for Censorship...

Playboy terminate Portuguese issue over Jesus pictorial
Link Here

playboy portugese jesus editionPlayboy magazine is to terminate its Portuguese edition after an outcry over a photo shoot depicting Jesus Christ alongside topless models. It emerged yesterday that the Portuguese version of the men's magazine had recruited Christ as an unlikely cover star in a purported photo tribute to the late author Jose Saramago.

The pictures show an airbrushed, idealised Jesus with familiar centre-parting, long hair, beard and robes radiating an unearthly glow as he watches various topless models. Two women enjoy a lesbian clinch, another reads a book, a fourth seems to be a prostitute touting for business while the last woman appears to have died in Christ's arms.

We did not see or approve the cover and pictorial in the July issue of Playboy Portugal, a spokeswoman for Hugh Hefner's empire told Gawker. It is a shocking breach of our standards, and we would not have allowed it to be published if we had seen it in advance.

As a result of this and other issues with the Portuguese publisher, we are in the process of terminating our agreement.

Jose Saramago's 1991 novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ is a fictional retelling of the life of Christ, seen from his perspective. Its publication caused outrage because it depicts a human, passionate Christ who ends up firmly opposed to God's plan to create a new religion through him.

In one particularly criticised scene, a shepherd tries, unsuccessfully, to persuade Christ to have sex with a sheep. The book caused such controversy in Catholic Portugal that Saramago moved to the Canary Islands to escape, dying there on June 18 this year.

 

9th July   

Dangerous Sexuality...

UK Supreme Court finds in favour of gay asylum seekers
Link Here

Uk Supreme CourtFive supreme court justices said gay and lesbian asylum seekers should not be expected to exercise discretion in their home countries to avoid persecution. Their ruling met with cheers and applause from campaigners.

Lord Hope, one of the judges, said that for many years some countries had simply insisted homosexuality did not exist, which avoided the evil of persecution.

However, anti-gay sentiment had dramatically worsened in some places, fanned by the rampant homophobic teaching that right-wing evangelical Christian churches indulge in throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and the ultra-conservative interpretation of Islamic law that prevails in Iran .

The gulf was set grow, he said. More and more gays and lesbians are likely to have to seek protection here as protection is being denied to them by the state in their home countries.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said the ruling was a vindication of the coalition government's decision to halt the deportation of asylum seekers whose sexual orientation had put them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution: I do not believe it is acceptable to send people home and expect them to hide their sexuality to avoid persecution . Asylum decisions will be considered under the new rules.

The Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Simon Hughes, said he hoped the ruling would go some way to restoring Britain's reputation as a human rights haven. He appealed to other countries to follow.

But Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the campaign group Migrationwatch, said the ruling could apply to millions of people around the world . He added: An applicant has now only to show that he or she is homosexual and intends to return and live openly in one of the many countries where it is illegal, to be granted asylum in the UK. The Home Office said this was unlikely, as each individual had to prove they faced a personal threat of persecution or imprisonment.

 

9th July   

Seeking Higher Authority...

Indonesian church closed by local authorities take their case to the UN
Link Here

Indonesia flagThe Gereja Kristen Indonesia (GKI) Taman Yasmin Church in Bogor, West Java has filed a religious discrimination appeal with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, church leaders said.

Since April 11 the congregation has held services on the roadside in front of the sealed church. The church pastor, the Rev. Ujang Tanusaputra, told Compass: We are going to continue worshipping by the roadside as part of the struggle to remove the seal, he told Compass.

Tanusaputra said that the church had received an official building permit from the Bogor City government. Yet, somehow, because of a group that objected to the presence of a church, our construction was stopped and later sealed, he said.

He said that even though the church brought suit against the sealing in court – and won – the congregation is not permitted to worship in the building, which is 80% completed.

The construction was going smoothly until a Muslim group began demonstrating and the government sealed the building to appease them.

On June 20 Compass visited the church's Sunday worship, where about 200 people met in a service limited to one hour. Approximately 100 policemen were present with at least 10 vehicles and nearby water cannon.

 

9th July   

Offsite: One Law for All...

What isn't wrong with Sharia law?
Link Here  full story: Sharia Law in the UK...Shariah tribunals operating in Britain

OneLawForAll logo The recent global day against the imminent stoning of Sakine Mohammadi-Ashtiani in Iran for adultery is an example of the outrage sparked by the brutality associated with sharia law's penal code.

What of its civil code though – which the Muslim Council of Britain's Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra describes as small aspects that concern marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children ? According to human rights campaigner Gita Sahgal, 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 …

Now a report, Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights, reveals the adverse effect of sharia courts on family law. Under sharia's civil code, a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's. A man can divorce his wife by repudiation, whereas a woman must give justifications, some of which are difficult to prove. Child custody reverts to the father at a preset age; women who remarry lose custody of their children even before then; and sons inherit twice the share of daughters.

...Read the full article

 

8th July   

Nastiness in India...

Muslim lynch mob amputate lecturer's hand over blasphemy accusation
Link Here

India flagMuslim fanatics in Kerala chopped off the right hand of a college lecturer, accusing him of setting a question paper with a derogatory reference to Mohammed.

Lecturer T J Joseph was returning home from church when he was accosted by the attackers. We had just got into our car when a van pulled up in front. Around eight people armed with swords and knives emerged and pulled out Joseph after smashing the windscreen. They then chopped off his right hand and stabbed him in the left thigh, said Joseph's sister, Mary Stella, a nun. When we tried to prevent them, they attacked me and and our mother before exploding bombs and fleeing.

The 52-year-old lecturer was rushed to a private hospital where his condition is serious.

Police recovered the van in which the fanatics reached the scene. Two men, said to be activists of the Popular Front, a new incarnation of the hardline National Democratic Front, have also been taken into custody. Special police squads are searching sensitive areas in and around the town. Personnel from this district and neighbouring places are working as a team and we'll nab the assailants soon, said IG B Sandhya.

In March this year, Islamic outfits had carried out protests against Joseph, who was a lecturer in the church-run Newman college in Thodupuzha in Idukki district over a portion in the Malayalam question paper for an internal examination for BCom students. They claimed that the question paper insulted Mohammed. The college later suspended Joseph who had set the questions and a criminal case was registered against him. The case is pending trial.

Update: Sacked

8th September 2010. See article from asianews.it

Dismissed without a pension; that is the fate of Professor TJ Joseph, who was accused of blasphemy for a text on Mohammed and whose hand was cut off last July 4 by unknown assailants.

According to the official announcement, the dismissal takes effect from 1 September and is derived from having offended the religious sentiments of students .

Update: Appeal

17th October 2010. See article from twocircles.net

Prof TJ Joseph who was dismissed from the Newman College in Thodupuzha following a blasphemy case approached the tribunal against his dismissal. The petition filed at the University Appellate Tribunal reportedly says that Prof Joseph was denied natural justice as the dismissal order was made without hearing him.

Prof Joseph, in the petition, reportedly denied the allegation that he had set the controversial question paper with malafide intentions to hurt a particular community. The Tribunal under P Muraleedharan is expected to sit for a hearing in the case today. The college management had earlier itself sent a caveat notice to the Tribunal asking it not to take any decision without hearing its version.

Update: Torturers Charged

19th January 2011. See article from cathnews.com

Members of a radical Islamic group in the south Indian state of Kerala has been charged over chopping the hand of a Catholic professor.

The police filed the charge on January 14, six months after members of the Popular Front of India chopped the hand of P. J. Joseph, who taught in a Catholic college in the southern Indian state. Joseph had incurred the wrath of Islamic militants for allegedly preparing a question paper that supposedly cast aspersions on Mohamed.

According to the charge sheet, the main accused in the case, a man named Sawad, has absconded. The case has 54 accused, but many have reportedly fled the country.

Sawad and six others were directly involved in the barbaric attack, B. Sandhya, Inspector-General of Police, Kochi, told ucanews.com.

Update: Acquitted

26th December 2013. See article from ndtv.com

A Kerala college lecturer whose hand was chopped off allegedly by muslim extremists over his comments on the religious character Mohammed in a question paper, has been acquitted by a court of charges of hurting religious sentiments, reports PTI.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate at Thodupuzha let off TJ Joseph, accepting his plea that he had prepared questions for the graduate course without any mala fide intention.

Joseph, a former lecturer of Malayalam literature at the Newman College, was attacked on his way to church in July, 2010, by religious activists who chopped off his right hand.

espite the shock and condemnation that followed the attack, Joseph was sacked by his college. (read) His plea challenging the dismissal is pending before the University Appellate Tribunal.

Update: Reinstated

23rd March 2013. See article from week.manoramaonline.com

The Kothamangalam diocese has decided to reinstate Prof T J Joseph, former faculty member of Malayalam department at Newman College, Thodupuzha, into service.

Joseph was dismissed from service following a controversy over setting a question paper for an examination. It was claimed that a question in it had hurt sentiments of the muslim community.

Joseph's right palm was chopped off by a group of religious extremists on July 4, 2010, alleging blasphemy and ever since his family has been reeling under severe mental trauma and financial crisis.

He will be re-inducted before March 31, the date of his retirement, subject to the approval of the Government and MG University.

 

7th July   

Land of the Not So Free...

Travel Passes Required in the USA
Link Here

big brother obamaAt the Long Beach, California, airport, a 28 year-old married student, Halime Sat, tried to board a plane to Oakland. She was denied access. Ms. Sat, a resident of Corona, California, has suddenly been put on the government's no-fly list. She has no criminal record nor affiliation with any outlawed organization anywhere in the world. The only crime committed by this young German citizen, who is married to an American: Flying while Muslim.

Ms. Sat is one of a ten plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleging that thousands of people have been added to the no-fly list and barred from commercial travel, without any opportunity to learn about or refute the basis for their inclusion on the list. Plaintiffs in the case include a disabled U.S. Marine Corps veteran stranded in Egypt and a U.S. Army veteran stuck in Colombia.

Ms. Sat was only trying to fly from one place to another in the state where she is a permanent resident. Denying people such fundamental rights in complete secrecy and without due process is unconstitutional and un-American. They become pariahs, deemed unworthy to fly — but no one says why.

While Muslim residents like Ms. Sat are being kept off our nation's airlines, Latinos in the Southwest are worried about what might happen to them on the Arizona highways. The ACLU of Southern California is so concerned about what the Arizona police that they have issued a travel alert to educate Latinos (but not just Latinos) about the dangers of driving to Arizona.

The ACLU is distributing a cardboard pocket guide in Spanish and English, explaining what to do if people are stopped by the police in Arizona. I should say, our guide is for Latinos and those who look as if they might be Latino — because Arizona's new law gives police broad powers. They are required to investigate the immigration status of every person they come across whom they have reasonable suspicion to believe is in the country unlawfully. To avoid arrest, citizens and immigrants will effectively have to carry their papers at all times. The law also makes it a state crime for immigrants to willfully fail to register with the Department of Homeland Security and carry registration documents.

These powers are so broad, they've created a new Arizona-specific crime: Driving while Latino.

 

7th July   

Update: Hair Brained...

Iran provides guidance on acceptable hairstyles
Link Here  full story: Dress Code in Iran...Religious police enforce repressive dress code
hair covering face

  Approved islamic hairstyle

In an attempt to rid the country of decadent Western cuts , Iran's culture ministry has produced a catalogue of haircuts that meet government approval.

The list of banned styles includes ponytails, mullets and elaborate spikes. However, quiffs appear to be acceptable, as are fashioning one's hair in the style of Simon Cowell or cultivating a 1980s-style floppy fringe.

The journal of Iranian hairstyles approved by the ministry of [culture and Islamic] guidance was previewed at a government-approved hairdressing show in Tehran.

The proposed styles are inspired by Iranians' complexion, culture and religion, and Islamic law, said Jaleh Khodayar, who is in charge of a Modesty and Veil Festival later this month at which the guide will be promoted.

Update: New for 2011

21st June 2011.

Necklaces have just been added to the list of western fashion accessories banned for men.

 

7th July   

Cruel and Barbaric...

Hand amputation for convicted Iranian thief
Link Here

Iran flagIranian authorities have cut off the hand of a convicted thief after a court ruling in the western city of Malayer, the hardline Kayhan newspaper has reported.

Under Iran's Sharia-based Islamic law, amputation is permissible for crimes such as thefts.

Kayhan said the thief had previously been caught and sentenced several times, before the judge ruled for amputation.

Update: 5 More

25th July 2010. Based on article from torontosun.com

Iran amputated the hands of five convicted thieves inside a prison in the western city of Hamedan, the semi-official ILNA news agency said.

The average age of the five thieves on whom the hand amputation verdict was carried out was over 25 and they had committed major thefts, the agency quoted local judiciary official Akbar Biglari as saying.

Biglari said the amputation verdict is not automatic for all those who commit a theft and some 14 criteria should be met before the punishment is carried out.

When a hand gets used to robbery and causes harm to people it must be shortened, Biglari said.

 

6th July   

The Wrong Sort of Sexuality...

Iranian man sentenced to hang for gay relationship
Link Here

Iran flagAn Iranian youth in Tabriz has been sentenced to death by hanging for the charge of having homosexual relations.

Mohammad Mostafai, attorney for the accused announced that three other people accused in the case were acquitted of the same crime.

According to Iranian law, homosexual relations are against the law and given the death penalty.

Four were accused of having homosexual relations and were sentenced to death in the preliminary court. Mosatafai adds after appealing to the Supreme Court, three of them were acquitted while Ebrahim Hamidi's death sentence was upheld.

 

5th July   

Free to Choose Hell...

Pennsylvania law censoring religious words in business names struck down
Link Here

i choose hell productions logoA US federal court has struck down a Pennsylvania statute that forbids business names containing:

  • Words that constitute blasphemy
  • profane cursing or swearing
  • words that profane the Lord's name.

The case arose after George Kalman was refused permission by state regulators to register his film company under the name I Choose Hell Productions LLC.

Kalman says he chose the name because he believes it expresses his personal philosophy that it is better to struggle through difficult times in life than to commit suicide, even if life is hell.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that the statute violated the First Amendment prohibition on establishment of religion, and promoted only Christian religious views. Words used by the Pennsylvania Corporations Bureau to flag proposed names for closer scrutiny included terms such as Christ and Jesus but not those related to other religions, such as Allah or Mohammed.

Additionally the court held that the statute violated Kalman's right to free speech by treating speech differently on the basis on the viewpoint expressed, as business names perceived as pro-religion were permitted.

The court also ruled that the statute used to turn down his company's name violated Kalman's free speech rights by allowing anonymous government officials to refuse business names that offend them.

The court struck down the statute as unconstitutional.

 

5th July   

Update: Love Your Neighbour...

Unless he wants to go lap dancing in Oxford
Link Here  full story: Lap Dancing in Oxford...Thirst for nutter 'outrage'

St Ebbe's churchOxford nutters have lost their appeal at Oxford Magistrates to overturn the variation of a licence to run a lap dancing club 50 yards from their church.

The Rev Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe's Church, lodged an appeal after Oxford Council's Licensing Committee granted the variation last December to Greene King to run Thirst Lodge.

Roberts said: We still feel that granting a variation of the licence to permit lap dancing at this sort of establishment was totally inappropriate because of its proximity to the church and because these types of clubs can make women feel vulnerable—there are hundreds of young female students who live nearby and women who park their cars in the nearby Westgate Car Park. We wouldn't be keen to see such a club anywhere because lap-dancing degrades God's gift of sex.

A petition signed by 800 people and several hundred letters were received by the Court prior to the hearing. Roberts told the Court a further concern was the site of the club, which he described as adjacent to one of the gateways into the university city .

He added: We are obviously disappointed about the decision because it doesn't fit with the council's intention to regenerate this area of the city and doesn't take into account that women should be able to feel as safe as possible when they are out at night.

The church was supported in its action by the Christian Legal Centre. Its founder and director, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said the licence granted would have to be reviewed after one year because Oxford City Council had adopted a new regime which changes the way that lap dancing clubs are licensed.

The Christian Legal Centre is urging supporters to ask their councils to adopt the new regime that gives more powers to local authorities to protect the culture of their town centres. It is important to oppose these clubs not just on a legal basis but on a moral basis, she said: It is vital that local churches stand up for Christian values in the public square and we are grateful to St Ebbe's Church for taking this lead.

 

5th July   

Not So Bright Sparks...

Charges brought for arson attack on Lars Vilk's house
Link Here

burning manTwo brothers suspected of setting fire to the home of the Swedish Muhammad cartoonist Lars Vilks have been charged with arson in an attack on May 15th.

The house suffered extensive damage in the fire which was started in the evening. A kitchen window was shattered and flammable liquid was sprayed into the kitchen and while a curtain caught fire and the flames spread to a kitchen cupboard, the wall and ceiling, it later went out by itself.

The evidence against the men included two fire-damaged jackets, a knife, two plastic bottles and a lighter, as well as a pair of underwear and a jackknife. In one of the jackets that police found at the crime scene, they found a key to the home of one of the brothers.

Further incriminating evidence supporting the charges against the brothers includes the fact that one of the brothers admitted himself to hospital on the same night with burns to his leg and smelling of gasoline.

Police were also able to demonstrate from the analysis from a seized PC that one of the brothers had searched for Vilks' address on the internet.

 

3rd July   

Update: Cartoon Terrorist...

Kurt Westergaard attacker charged with terrorism
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Kurt WestergaardDenmark's top prosecutor has charged a Somali man with terrorism for allegedly trying to kill a cartoonist who caricatured Muhammad.

Joergen Steen Soerensen said that the man, who cannot be named under a court order, wanted to seriously frighten the population and destabilize Denmark in the attack on cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

The man allegedly broke into Westergaard's home in January, armed with a knife and an axe. Police shot him in the arm and leg.

 

2nd July   

Update: Forced to Seek Help...

More victims of forced marriage seek government help
Link Here

Forced Marriage Unit poster There has been a sharp increase in the number of men seeking help with forced marriages, the government has revealed.

The rise of over 65% in calls from men to the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) last year is so significant that experts now believe far more British men are being forced into wedlock than had been thought.

The calls we receive are the tip of the iceberg, said a spokesman for the FMU: It now seems likely that men account for one in five of all the forced marriages that take place to British citizens.

Professionals and communities can be very intolerant towards men being forced into marriage, even if they have learnt to be sympathetic to women in the same situation, said the spokesman for the FMU: It can be hard to persuade people to believe it even happens.

But the threats to these young men are very real. We received a call recently from a young man taken to Pakistan. He didn't know he was going to be married, and when he refused, he was locked in a room. Every day, his father came in to beat him – we're talking broken legs and sexual abuse.

Last year, the FMU gave advice and support to 1,682 men and women regarding suspected forced marriage. More than 220 calls and emails involved male victims, up from 134 in 2008. As of the end of May this year, there have been 88 calls from men for help.

The majority of calls come from men linked to Pakistan, followed by India and Bangladesh. But the FMU has also received calls from British men with links to the Middle East, Africa and eastern Europe.

Men report being forced into marriage because they are gay or bisexual, or because their families suspect that they are. But it can also be a result of family commitments to relatives abroad or their own expectations, securing visas or an attempt to control their son's behaviour or protect a family's reputation. This kind of abuse must not be tolerated, said Lynne Featherstone, equalities minister.

 

2nd July   

Keds Put their Foot in it...

Sneakers with Dalai Lama image wind up some buddhists
Link Here

keds dalai lama shoesA new line of Keds' sneakers called Tibetan Buddhist Shoes bearing images of the Dalai Lama, the Buddha, holy mantras, Tibetan national flag and other images has been called a gross denigration of the faith which has millions of followers around the globe!

One of these millions, Chime Tenzing, wrote:

We live in a 24x7 interconnected world where information is available at finger's click. Thus people at Keds cannot feign ignorance about these sacred images and their importance in Buddhist culture and their roles in the practice of the dharma. Hence Keds' Buddhist shoes are affront to Tibetans and a total disregard to their cultural values.

In the Buddhist context, Keds has committed an unpardonable sin by taking the sacred images of Buddha, the Dalai Lama and the holy Buddhist scripts out from their rightful places to the grubby American feet and neon-lit streets. With this single act of sacrilege and blasphemy, Keds has invited the wrath of the irate deities and would inescapably earn bad karmas for the future of its much treasured company.

 

1st July   

Update: Facing Down Repression...

Spanish town of Coin bans the burkha
Link Here

Spanish flagA small town in southern Spain became the latest municipality in the country to ban the use of the face-covering Islamic veil in public buildings.

The municipal council in Coin, a town of some 21,000 near Malaga, approved the measure by a large majority.

The ban will be imposed in all public buildings, including schools and sports centres, but not in the rest of the town.

Update: Catalonian Burkha Ban Rejected

6th July 2010. Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

Catalonia's parliament has rejected a move to ban the wearing of the Islamic burqa in public places across the Spanish region after reversing an initial vote.

A resolution moved by conservatives and centre-right nationalists was passed, but opponents said there had been a technical error and some absentees at the moment of the vote.

After the session was suspended, the parliamentary speaker ordered the vote to be put again, prompting a walk-out by the motion's supporters and a victory for its left-wing opponents.