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31st July   

Updated: Sharia Controlled Zones...

Religious vigilantes supposedly set to impose sharia on London's Waltham Forest
Link Here  full story: Sharia Law in the UK...Shariah tribunals operating in Britain

shariah control zoIslamic extremists in Britain are supposedly set to kick off their new Sharia law enforcement zones across the country, under which gambling, smoking, drugs and prostitution would be strictly prohibited.

According to The Daily Star, the move will see specific areas flooded with thousands of stickers saying, no gambling, no music or concerts, no porn or prostitution and no drugs or smoking. The posters declare, You are entering a Sharia controlled zone - Islamic rules enforced.

The radicals will kick off their controlled zones in the London borough of Waltham Forest later this month, the report claimed. They also claim their hardline rules will be policed by thousands of Sharia vigilantes on the streets.

The well known 'preacher' Anjem Choudary has called the scheme an alternative to government attempts to combat violent extremism under the Prevent strategy. He said:

This will mean this is an area where the Muslim community will not tolerate drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, usury, free mixing between the sexes - the fruits if you like of Western civilization.

This will be a very heavy leafleting campaign aimed at both the Muslim and non-Muslim community in terms of what the Sharia means economically, socially and politically.

Update: Posters Discovered in Tower Hamlets

19th July 2011.  See article from pinknews.co.uk

Extremist posters have been discovered in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets. It is understood the posters were found at council-managed housing blocks in Shadwell, next to the DLR and Overground station. The latest posters are identical to ones found in Waltham Forest and Newham.

Although they do not mention homosexuality, the posters are expected to cause concern among the local gay population.

A police spokeswoman said:

We are aware of a limit [sic] number of posters appearing in Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham. Officers are working closely with the local authority to have the posters removed as soon as possible.

Tower Hamlets council said:

The posters have been brought to our attention and with our partners, we have been removing them as and when they have appeared, and will continue to monitor the situation.

If any further posters are identified by the public, we would urge them to report it to the Metropolitan police on 0033 123 1212.

Update: March for Sharia

31st July 2011. See article from demotix.com

Around 70 men from Muslims Against Crusades marched from Leyton to Walthamstow calling for the setting up of Sharia Controlled Zones in the UK which Islamic rules would be enforced by Muslims. There were several small counter-demonstrations by groups including the English National Alliance.

Muslims Against Crusades are a very small extremist fringe Muslim organisation led by Dr Anjem Choudary.

Anjem Choudary claimed that this march, the start of what was described as part of the Islamic Emirate Project and intended to pave the way for the establishment of Britain's first Islamic Emirate had support from a wide range of organisations, in fact it was only supported by a very small circle of him and his fellow extremists.

There was considerable media interest in this event, aroused largely by a poster campaign in several East London Boroughs including Waltham Forest, with small posters being stuck on bus stops and lamp posts declaring the area a Sharia Controlled Zone

 

31st July   

Update: Sikhs Sporting Daggers...

Wearing of daggers okayed for the London Olympics
Link Here  full story: Religious Offensive Weapons...Sikhs claim religious requirement to carry knives

kirpanSikh sports fan Gurdev Singh was banned from entering Lord's cricket ground to watch this week's Test match between England and India.

Sikhs are allowed carry a small ceremonial dagger, known as a Kirpan, under provisions set out in the 1988 Criminal Justice Act, although the laws are vaguer about private property. The dagger is one of five articles of faith that baptised Sikhs must carry at all times.

Maylebone Cricket Club officials have since admitted their mistake and apologised to  Singh.

 Also Olympic organisers Locog have made a statement on kirpans:.

At Games-time, small symbolic ceremonial daggers, with a maximum blade length of three inches, carried for religious reasons will be allowed.

 

30th July   

Update: Inciting Violence...

First conviction under law against inciting religious hatred
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Old BaileyJailing Bilal Zaheer Ahmad for 12 years, Mr Justice Royce said he was sending out a loud and clear warning that Britain would not tolerate extremists preaching messages of hate and violence.

Ahmad who called on Muslims to murder MPs who supported the Iraq war, was the first person to be found guilty of inciting religious hatred under new laws banning the publication of inflammatory material.

The IT worker praised 21-year-old university student Roshonara Choudhry as a heroine for stabbing Stephen Timms in east London in May last year. Ahmad called on other Muslims to follow in her footsteps by attacking and killing politicians who had voted to support the war in Iraq. He posted a full list of MPs and provided an internet link to their personal contact details, suggesting constituency surgeries were a good place to encounter them in person.

The judge told Ahmad: You purport to be a British citizen, but what you stand for is totally alien to what we stand for in our country. You became a viper in our midst willing to go to as far as possible to strike at the heart of our system.

 

30th July   

Unacceptable Values...

Christian Values Network loses Microsoft and Apple support over funding of anti gay campaigns
Link Here
christian values network logoApple has removed its iTunes store from the Christan Values Network (CVN.org) after more than 22,000 people were angered by CVN's funding of anti-gay, anti-women organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council and called on Apple to take action.

The action follows Microsoft's similar decision to leave CVN two weeks ago, prompted by another customer-driven campaign on Change.org. Several other companies have also removed their online stores since then, including REI, Macy's, Delta Airlines, BBC America, and Wells Fargo.

Started by Ben Crowther, the campaign picked up significant momentum after 13,000 signed another petition. Crowther said:

From the beginning, I knew that once this issue was brought to Apple's attention, they would not want to be a part of CVN because it funds anti-gay hate groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Apple is a fair-minded business. I'm glad this petition helped make Apple aware of this issue, and I am thrilled that they removed iTunes from CVN.

 

30th July   

Eternal Damnation...

The Bishop of Wakefield recommends a nightclub called Religion
Link Here
religion wakefiled advertA new Wakefield nightclub has been accused by a bishop of trivialising people's faith by naming club nights Mass, Resurrection and Salvation. The club, Religion, also sells cocktails with names like Angel Wings.

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Right Reverend Stephen Platten, said: For people who are religious, those words are seen as key issues to their life.

The recently opened club advertises Monday Mass, offering massive offers on alcoholic drinks. Its Resurrection night promises to bring your Friday back to life and Saturday is billed as Salvation - the answer to your prayers.

Bishop Platten said: If any other aspect of people's lives was taken and trivialised in this way I think people would be upset. In particular, in this case, it affects Christian people.

 

28th July   

Update: Fear and Honour...

Religious threat sees cinema owners opt out of showing movie about honour killing
Link Here

khapWhile the khap panchayats (Religious caste based councils) are getting louder in their protest against screening of new Bollywood movie Khap-a story of honour killing in Haryana, the cinema owners, in the stronghold of these bodies, seem to have preferred to play safe by not screening the movie on its release on July 29.

Though, the cinema owners maintained that they had not received any threat from the khap panchayats, sources pointed out that apprehension of violence is one of the reason behind disinterest of the cinema owners in screening the movie at this stage.

Prominent locals though have taken a serious view of some khap individual's threat to obstruct the screening of the film in Haryana. They jointly submitted a memorandum to Rohtak district administration asking for necessary steps like providing security at the cinema halls.

In a joint statement issued in Rohtak by a group of academics, social activists, intellectuals and artists, expressed concern over the culture of intolerance being spawned by some khap zealots saying: Fearing a possible threat by the khap elements, Rohtak theatre owners have reportedly decided not to screen the film due for all India release. This is highly unfortunate and a direct attack on the right to freedom of expression. If one does not agree with the film, one is free to express dissent or approach the court if there is anything illegal in the film as the movie has been cleared by the Censor Board.

 

27th July   

But Try Telling that to the Governments of the World...

United Nations committee confirms that freedom of speech can only be limited in the most exceptional circumstances
Link Here

UN logoThe United Nations Human Rights Committee confirmed the central role of freedom of expression in human rights, making it clear that it can only be limited in the most exceptional circumstances, and calling for the first time for unrestricted public access to official information.

After two years of debate, the Committee has produced a General Comment that outlines the admissible restrictions on freedom of expression.

Although the General Comment does not discuss specific cases, the interpretations adopted Jul. 21 would apply to incidents involving freedom of expression, such as the violent protests triggered by the 2005 publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad by a newspaper in Denmark, or more recently, the wiretapping scandal involving Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch

Committee member Michael O'Flaherty said the strength of the General Comment is evidenced for example in the language that was adopted by the Committee around issues such as blasphemy and insult to religion, where the Committee made clear that limits on freedom of expression for these reasons can only be in the very exceptional situations laid out elsewhere in the ICCPR that deal with incitement to hatred and discrimination on religious or racial grounds and so forth.

Fabian Salvioli, another member of the Committee, said it did not linger on specific questions, like the Mohammad cartoons. That was not necessary, he said, because the paragraph on blasphemy is very clear. Statements and other forms of expression, even offensive ones, should not be penalised, unless they incite hatred, which is something different.

Article 19.3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) establishes that freedom of expression may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order or of public health or morals.

Article 20 of the ICCPR says: Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

Campaign group Article 19 Senior Legal Officer Sejal Parmar noted that Paragraph 50 of the General Comment states that prohibitions of displays (of) a lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the ICCPR except in specific circumstances envisaged in Article 20 of the Covenant.

The senior legal officer added that it would be impermissible for such laws to discriminate against one or certain religions or belief systems or their adherents over another, or religious believers over non-believers or for such laws to prevent or punish criticism of religious leaders or commentary on religious doctrine and tenets of faith.

 

27th July   

Extremist Parental Responsibility Law...

Children banned from religion in Tajikistan
Link Here

Tajikistan flagThe Upper Chamber of Tajikistan's Parliament has adopted two legal measures which will further restrict religious freedom, both of which particularly target the religious education of children, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. The controversial new restrictive Parental Responsibility Law would in practice ban almost all children under eighteen from participating in religious activity.

At the same time an amendment to the Criminal Code was passed would punish organisers of "extremist religious" teaching an undefined concept.

Both the new legal measures still need to be signed by President Emomali Rahmon to come into force. Both the Parental Responsibility Law and the Criminal Code amendments were adopted by the Upper Chamber unanimously and without a full discussion, the local media reported. They will now go to President Rahmon to be signed into law.

The Parental Responsibility Law includes numerous wide-ranging restrictions on all forms of education, and on children's and teenagers' behaviour. These include bans on jewellery and tattoos, as well as limitations on the names parents can choose for their children. But the part which appears to have caused most concern in Tajikistan is an effective ban on most children and their parents exercising their rights to freedom of religion or belief.

Article 8 of the new Law includes the clause: Parents are obliged (..) not to let children-teenagers participate in the activity of religious organisations, with the exception of those officially enrolled in religious education. Article 11 includes the state Religious Affairs Committee among the wide range of state agencies tasked with enforcing parents' responsibility for their children.

 

27th July   

Bible Nasties...

Limey, a holy book gets burnt and there's no sign of any threats of death and violence
Link Here

geraint ap iorwerthThe Rev Geraint ap Iorwerth cut up pages from the King James Bible and burnt the negative, nasty bits. The artwork was then mounted on a 9ft-by-7ft board and displayed in church.

Ap Iorwerth of St Peter ad Vincula Church in Wales, said: I cut out all the nasty bits of that Bible, the language of which is being celebrated this year, because I don't think you can separate it from the God it is representing.

The Bishop of Bangor has warned ap Iorwerth, who describes himself as a bolshie bastard on his Facebook page, that his actions could cause offence. The Rt Rev Andrew John said: Destroying parts of the Bible we don't like is disrespectful and will offend many people.

Iorwerth defended his actions telling Walesonline:

The charred remains were a memorial to the millions whose lives have been destroyed as a result of the cruelty of this kind of God and his followers.

It is incumbent upon me as a church leader to launch a national investigation into the fact that so many Christians continue to support the regime of the cruel and vile God that we read about in the Bible.

It is a regime that is the antithesis of everything that Jesus, the prince of peace, stood and died for.

 

26th July   

Surely a Religious Dimension...

Ealing Council looks to ban betting shops
Link Here

ealing council logo Betting shops have been labelled a blight on Southall as Ealing Council attempts to impose moral judgements on the area.

The council is carrying out a consultation as it asks residents to share thoughts on how to handle applications for gambling premises.

There are more than 90 betting shops across the borough. The biggest concentration is in Southall, which has 18, seven of which were built in recent years. [Surely this simply shows that these shops provide for a popular pastime].

Southall councillor Ranjit Dheer, who is also cabinet member for community services and safety said:

Speaking to residents and businesses, I know that there is a lot of anxiety about the impact of betting shops on the community. People see these places as magnets for anti-social behaviour, contributing to wider issues like alcohol and drug abuse, as well as prostitution. Southall is an area with a lot of people who do not have much money and thus turn to gambling, which means these shops make life worse for them.

Janpal Basran, manager of Southall Community Alliance, said:

I would welcome any review about the current licensing set-up. In Southall recently there's been a lot of concern about the number of new betting establishments. These places attract anti-social behaviour and you very often you see a lot of drunks and drug addicts hanging around outside.

A spokesman for the betting chain Ladbrokes said:

We are always happy to work with councils to allay any fears or deal with localised issues. We have actually done this recently when we opened a shop in Southall, agreeing to stringent conditions on opening times, levels of staffing and CCTV. I would also point out that there is no evidence of causality between the presence of betting shops and anti-social behaviour or crime.

Update: Moral Activism

9th November 2011. See article from ealinggazette.co.uk

William Hill has hit back at Ealing Council over proposals to restrict the number of gambling sites opening in Southall.

The council is looking into the possibility of making Southall a special policy area for licensing applications, giving it a greater say in turning down proposals.

Ranjit Dheer, cabinet leader for community services and safety, said a recent consultation with residents had identified concerns about the number of betting shops and incidents concerning anti-social behaviour, drugs and prostitution. [concerns, but no evidence of this actually happening].

Andrew Lyman, head of public affairs at William Hill said:

Betting shops are highly regulated environments and local authorities already have adequate powers to object to new licences and review existing ones.

The problem for moral objectors, who are now using planning as their weapon of choice, is that they are very rarely, if ever, able to show evidence that betting shops cause additional problems for the street scene.

Just the opposite in fact. Betting shops provide welcome entertainment, local jobs, pay business rates and add to the vitality and vibrancy of the high street.

There has not been any proper consultation with the betting industry on this issue. This is not localism, but minority moral activism.

 

25th July   

Update: Harmful Books...

Iran's supreme leader has a whinge at 'harmful' books
Link Here
Iran flagIran's former culture minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, has criticised the country's supreme leader for restricting access to literature after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly attacked harmful books and likened them to poisonous drugs.

In a meeting with librarians and officials from Iran's book industry, Khamenei spoke out against books with a cultural appearance but with specific political hidden motives. Not all books are necessarily good and not all of them are unharmful, some books are harmful.

Mohajerani who was culture minister until 2000 under the reformist president Mohammad Khatami, said the ayatollah was worried about literary, philosophical and social books that might raise questions about his legitimacy as the supreme leader. I think that he is very much concerned about books that can either implicitly or explicitly target his position as the supreme leader and also his legitimacy.

In his speech, Khamenei, whose pronouncements are often interpreted as official guidelines, refused to give more details on which books he deemed harmful. However, titles ranging from uncensored version of Plato's Symposium to Louis-Ferdinand Celine's Journey to the End of the Night and works by James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kurt Vonnegut and Paulo Coelho have been banned in recent years by Iran's ministry of culture and Islamic guidance which vets all books before publication:

Those responsible in the book industry should not let harmful books enter our book market on the basis that we let them [readers] choose [what they want to read].

Like poisonous, dangerous and addictive drugs which are not available for everyone without restrictions ... as a publisher, librarian or an official in the book industry, we don't have the right to make [such books] available to those without knowledge, he said. We should provide them with healthy and good books.

Mohajerani said:

His comments stem from a traditional clerical mentality that clerics guide people as shepherds guide their sheep, this is a viewpoint that doesn't have any place in today's life.

 

25th July   

Update: Nonsense Case...

Oxford church considers high court appeal against lap dancing licence on grounds that it undermines his god's good gift of marriage
Link Here  full story: Lap Dancing in Oxford...Thirst for nutter 'outrage'
coven oxford logoOxford's only lap dancing club has found a new home in the city even if the church claims that it undermines God's gift of marriage.

The Lodge has been granted a sexual entertainment licence at The Coven, in Oxpens Road, by a committee of city councillors. The Coven currently operates as a nightclub.

But the Rev Vaughan Roberts, of St Ebbe's Church, said: he was disappointed and surprised by the decision: We continue to believe that this kind of club is not good anywhere in our city because it undermines God's good gift of marriage and degrades women, he said.

Jon Payne, the barrister representing the church, said the church was considering its next move that could include launching a challenge in the High Court.

 

24th July   

Red Bull?...

Chechnya moves to ban energy drinks as unislamic
Link Here

Chechnya flagRussia's Muslim Chechen Republic is moving to ban non-alcoholic energy drinks like red bull as un-Islamic, it has been reported.

Chechnya's increasingly draconian interpretations of Islamic law, with alcohol all but banned and women required to wear head scarfs in state buildings, has drawn criticism that the North Caucasus republic is introducing laws that are often in breach of the Russian constitution.

Energy drinks are comparable to beer, Rukman Bartiyev, Chechen deputy health minister claimed.

 

24th July   

More Equal than Others...

14 MPs sign Early Day Motion claiming that christians are being discriminated against
Link Here

House of Commons logoEarly day motion 2081 Main content

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN PUBLIC LIFE

That this House welcomes the decision of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to intervene in supportof four cases involving discrimination against Christians that are presently with the European Court of Human Rights; notes that this is a long overdue recognition of the need to defend religious liberty and marks an important development in relation to a better understanding of the role of faith in public life; and further welcomes the Commission's advocacy for reasonable accommodation in the workplace as an acknowledgement of the place of conscientious objection for those with religious belief.

Signed by:

Benton, Joe Labour
Bottomley, Peter Conservative
Coffey, Therese
Crausby, David Labour
Dobbin, Jim Labour
Dodds, Nigel Democratic Unionist
Donaldson, Jeffrey Democratic Unionist
Durkan, Mark Social Democratic and Labour
Flynn, Paul Labour
Glindon, Mary Labour
Hancock, Mike Liberal Democrats [update: name later withdrawn]
Hemming, John Liberal Democrats [update: name later withdrawn]
Marsden, Gordon Labour
McDonnell, John Labour
Meale, Alan Labour
Sanders, Adrian Liberal Democrats
Shannon, Jim Democratic Unionist
Sheridan, Jim Labour
Streeter, Gary Conservative

 

22nd July   

Offsite: Colonial Repression...

Fake CIA vaccination programme proves that conspiracy theorists were right all along
Link Here  full story: Vaccination Against Religion...Clerics preach distrust of vaccination

Truth About Vaccines Making DecisionLast week it was claimed that the CIA had set up a fake vaccination programme in the town where Osama bin Laden was believed to be hiding in an attempt to obtain DNA evidence confirming the presence of family members. Genetic material retrieved from his infant relatives during vaccination would have been compared to a sample taken from Bin Laden's sister, who died in a US hospital in 2010.

Shakil Afridi, a senior Pakistani doctor allegedly recruited by the CIA to head the clandestine operation in March, has since been arrested by Pakistani intelligence for his collusion. The revelations mark a further decline in relations between the two countries, although the US is in talks with Pakistan officials to secure Afridi's release.

But the damage is likely to spread beyond diplomatic circles. By disguising its information-gathering exercise as a hepatitis B vaccination programme, the CIA threatens to erode trust in foreign-aid teams worldwide, undermining genuine efforts to eradicate life-threatening disease. It also plays into the hands of conspiracy theorists who think that medical aid is a new form of colonial repression.

...Read the full article

 

20th July   

Update: Mad Mullahs' Teapot Party...

Malaysian women fails to realise her right to freedom of religion
Link Here  full story: Freedom of Religion in Malaysia...No freedom of Religion in Malaysia

sky kingdomMalaysia's civil court has refused a woman permission to leave Islam to avoid being jailed for apostasy.

Kamariah Ali says she should not be tried under Islamic law because she is no longer a Muslim. She follows the Sky Kingdom sect, known as the teapot cult because it built a giant teapot to symbolise its belief in the healing purity of water.

But judges ruled that only Malaysia's Islamic courts could decide on the case because Ms Kamariah was born a Muslim. Malaysia's Islamic courts have authority over only Muslims and ex-muslims, the rest of the population are not bound by their rules.

Ms Kamariah had asked the civil courts to declare her freedom to worship, as guaranteed by the constitution, but not honoured by Malaysian law.

But the judging panel said she had to go through the Islamic courts system in order to renounce her faith - something that is nigh on impossible.

 

20th July   

Update: New law Unveiled...

Belgium burkha ban just about to come into force
Link Here

Belgium flagBelgium will become the second EU nation to ban the burqa and niqab after France. Starting next week, Muslim women who choose to wear the garment that covers their face and body will be fined EUR137.50 (£120) and spend up to seven days behind bars.

Nabila Ramdani, a Paris-born UK-based journalist and academic, told The Huffington Post that a lack of tolerance is the reason European countries are adopting the burqa ban. There's a more tolerant environment in the UK and they are much more inclusive than the French and Belgian societies. Britain has always been more inclusive and practically deals with multiculturalism. You see it everywhere with minorities represented in media, politics, business -- something you don't see in France or Belgium.

Update: Legal Challenge

27th July 2011.  See article from islamophobia-watch.com

The Belgian burqa ban is set to be challenged before the country's constitutional court by two women who willingly wear the full-body Islamic covering, their lawyer said.

Ines Wouters described the measure as disproportionate and discriminatory, arguing that it will further stigmatize the Muslim community. She said she would file her lawsuit with the constitutional court over the weekend. It calls for the burqa ban to not only be reversed, but also suspended until the court rules on the matter.

 

19th July   

Religious Vigilanteism...

Thugs break into mans house to administer a flogging for drinking
Link Here

Australia flagA man who recently converted to Islam was whipped up to 40 times by islamic vigilantes who broke into his Australia home to punish him for drinking, Seven Network reports.

The network reported that the Australian man told police that he woke up to four bearded men in his bedroom around 1am. Three of the men reportedly restrained him on the bed while a fourth used a cable to lash him in an attack that lasted about 30 minutes.

The attack was allegedly by fundamental Wahabi Mulsims.

Australian police said a 20-year-old Sydney man had now been charged after a recent convert to Islam was allegedly thrashed 40 times with an electrical cord for drinking alcohol in contravention of Sharia law.

Police searching for others involved in Sunday's incident, which was reported by the victim, also arrested a 16-year-old boy who allegedly assaulted them while they were carrying out a search warrant.

 

19th July   

Monocultural Multiculturalism...

Breast feeding banned in Oldham civic centre
Link Here

oldham council go logoA mother was banned from breast-feeding her baby in public by Oldham's civic centre bosses over claims it would cause uproar among Muslim visitors.

Emma Mitchell was warned by a receptionist that it wasn't allowed as some gentlemen had complained in the past and suggested she use the public toilets nearby.

Emma said: You wouldn't eat your dinner in the toilets, so why should my son? She rang the manager who said 'You absolutely can't do that here'.

A member of the complaints department then took her to a small room.

Oldham Council yesterday apologised unreservedly. Councillor Shoab Akhtar said: We do not have dedicated breast-feeding facilities available. However, staff are now aware they should make every reasonable effort to assist a mother's need to breast-feed, whether she requests a private room or not.

 

18th July   

Update: Doctors Who Want to Play God...

Survey of medical students find nearly half want to opt out of procedures against their beliefs
Link Here  full story: Religion on the NHS...Medical practictioners talk religion with patients

journal of medical ethics 45% of medical students surveyed hink doctors should be allowed to object to any procedure that conflicts with their personal, moral, or religious beliefs. 40% disagreed and 14% were unsure.

The survey, published in the Journal for Medical Ethics, found Muslim students were the most likely to support the right to refuse to treat a patient who wanted an abortion, contraceptive services, or who was drunk or on drugs, or who required an intimate examination and was of the opposite sex. 76% of Muslim students supported the right to object, as did over half of Jewish and Protestant students. Support was lower among Catholics, 46% and Hindus 34%.

The survey contacted 1437 medical students at medical schools in Leeds, London, and Cardiff, and asked them to complete an anonymous questionnaire to canvass their views on conscientious objection.

Report author Dr Sophie Strickland said: Once qualified as doctors, if all these respondents acted on their conscience and refused to perform certain procedures, it may become impossible for conscientious objectors to be accommodated in medicine.

 

18th July   

Pastafarian Headress...

Belief in the flying spaghetti monster recognised by the Austrian authorities
Link Here

pasta strair headressAn Austrian has won the right to be photographed wearing a pasta strainer for his driving licence on grounds of religious freedom.

Niko Alm announced the decision on his blog saying that after three years of struggle a psychologist had passed him fit to drive and so he could wear the kitchen implement for the official picture.

A self-styled pastafarian, Alm said he belonged to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which lampooned religion. Today I was able to get my new driving licence, and in it you can clearly see that I'm wearing a colander on my head to demonstrate my allegiance to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Alm wrote in his blog.

The spaghetti church was founded in 2005 and has engaged in a light-hearted campaign against religion. Key to the beliefs of pastafarians is that the world was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but, owing to the monster being inebriated at the time of creation, it has a flawed design.

 

17th July   

Update: Freedom of Speech Valued in the Netherlands...

The Netherlands rebuffs petition from islamic countries to gag Geert Wilders
Link Here

OIC flagIn June 2011, The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (just renamed from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference) petitioned the Netherlands to gag Geert Wilders.

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation strongly condemned the attacks on Islam and the supposed insult and vilification of Muhammad and his wives by the Dutch right wing politician Geert Wilders.

The 0IC Secretary General said that Wilders has taken upon himself a dangerous path of derailing inter civilizational harmony and peace by spreading and fanning hatred against Islam and Muslims in his own country as well as in other European countries.

Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu explained that the vilification of Islam and the sacred image of the Prophet Muhammad by Wilders has reached a stage when it can no longer be tolerated under any pretext including the right to freedom of expression. He urged the Government or Netherlands to take necessary appropriate action to contain the campaign of hatred and incitement by Wilders who is a coalition partner of the Dutch Government. He expressed serious concern that the silence of the Dutch Government in this respect may undermine the existing good bilateral relations between the 0IC Member States and the Netherlands.

Last week the Dutch cabinet responded to the demands from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal says:

The Dutch Government will continue to reject any call to gag a politician. The Netherlands enjoys freedom of expression and attaches great value to it.

 

17th July   

Failing Human Rights...

European Parliament passes resolution expressing concern at religious violence against minorities in Indonesia
Link Here

European Parliament logoThe European Parliament July 7 adopted a resolution on human rights in Indonesia, which makes reference to attacks on religious minorities such as Christians and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

The move by the European Parliament follows a resolution in the UK Parliament, which has been signed by 38 MPs so far, a letter of concern signed by members of Congress in the US and a resolution in the Swedish Parliament, all highlighting the violent persecution of minorities in Indonesia.

The European Parliament resolution expresses grave concern at the incidents of violence against religious minorities, particularly Ahmadi Muslims, Christians, Baha'i's and Buddhists...at the local blasphemy, heresy and religious defamation by-laws, which are open to misuse, and at the 2008 Joint Ministerial Decree prohibiting the dissemination of Ahmadiyya Muslim teachings, calling on the Indonesian authorities to repeal or revise them.

In June a delegation from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) returned from a three-week visit to Indonesia with first-hand evidence of increasing violence against religious minorities, particularly Christians and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. CSW visited churches in Bekasi and Bandung which have been forced to close, and met pastors who have faced increasing harassment, threats and attacks. CSW also met with the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and heard from victims of violence in Cisalada and Cikeusik.

 

17th July   

Murderous Cult...

Cult leader on trial for the murder of 4 year old, allegedly as he was considered gay
Link Here

north carolina logoThe leader of a religious cult could face the death penalty for killing a four-year-old boy because he thought he was gay.

Prosecutors are pushing for Lucas Moses to face the sentence after he was charged for two counts of first-degree murder against four-year-old Jadon Higganbothan and 28 year-old Antoinetta McKoy, who was looking to abandon the Durham-based sect in North Carolina.

The court was told how Moses, head of the polygamist Black Hebrew Israelites, shot Higganbothan for gay behaviour after he found him hitting another boy on the bottom.

Moses also forced Vania Sisk, the mother of the four-year-old to shoot McKoy, while another two women who lived with Moses, Lavanda Harris and Larhonda Smith, have also been charged for their parts in the killings.

As reported by ABC, Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline said: In the religious belief of that organisation, homosexuality was frowned on.  Cline told the court how Higganbothan was taken to the garage and shot while the Lord's Prayer in Hebrew was played on speakers to mask any noise.

 

16th July   

Update: Towering Judgement...

European Court of Human Rights turns down challenges to Swiss minaret ban
Link Here  full story: Minarets Referendum...Swiss vote on banning minarets

European court buildingsThe European Court of Human Rights has rejected two cases brought by Muslims against Switzerland's constitutional ban on the construction of new minarets.

The court said it would not consider the cases because the plaintiffs cannot claim to be 'victims' of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which the court enforces. The plaintiffs had said the ban violated their religious rights, but judges in Strasbourg said they had not proven the ban had any concrete effect on the plaintiffs.

Switzerland held a referendum in November 2009 in which citizens voted to ban the construction of new minarets. The vote inserted a new line in the Swiss constitution stipulating that the construction of minarets is forbidden.

The Strasbourg court is due to consider three more cases on the minaret ban.

 

15th July   

Updated: Beyond Belief...

Multicultural arts censorship in Britain
Link Here

beyond beliefHow do we define a community? That question has been all too rarely asked in the debate about cultural diversity and community empowerment. In fact, much cultural policy as it has developed over the past two decades has come to embody a highly peculiar view of both diversity and community. There has been an unstated assumption that while Britain is a diverse society, that diversity ends at the edges of minority communities. The claim that The Satanic Verses is offensive to Muslims, or Behzti to Sikhs, or indeed that Jerry Springer: The Opera is offensive to Christians, suggests that there is a Muslim community, or a Sikh community or a Christian community, all of whose members are offended by the work in question and whose ostensible leaders are the most suitable judges of what is and is not suitable for that community.

...Read the full article

Update: Believable Self Censorship

15th July 2011. See article from thestage.co.uk

Munira Mirza, the Mayor of London's adviser on culture, has warned that the arts sector has become very nervous about offending ethnic and religious minority communities, resulting in an era of self-censorship.

Speaking at an event organised by Index on Censorship, Mirza said:

I think a different type of censorship has emerged over the last 20 to 30 years which is not explicitly controlled by the state, but is almost internalised within the arts sector and by thinkers, writers and intellectuals.

There is a culture now of people thinking twice about what they say about particular communities. I think, as it happens, that people from those communities are less inhibited. I think there is a greater fear on the part of the establishment and the people outside those communities.

The arts world, on some level, has become very nervous about saying things which are deemed to be offensive or controversial.

The Index on Censorship's event was scheduled around the launch of its pamphlet, Beyond Belief - Theatre, Freedom of Expression and Public Order.

 

14th July   

Dangerous Picture...

Tunisian cinema under attack for advertising atheist film
Link Here
ni allah ni maitreLast week several dozen men attacked a cinema in Tunis that had advertised a film publicly titled in French Ni Allah, Ni Maitre (No God, No Master) by Tunisian-French director Nadia El-Fani, an outspoken critic of political Islam.

Police later arrested 26 men, but Salafists gathered outside the justice ministry two days later to demand their release, leading to scuffles with lawyers. Security forces were heavily deployed in central Tunis to stop protests after Friday prayers last week.

Secular media and intellectuals have reacted with alarm, warning that freedoms in Tunisia are in danger of being lost if Islamists across the spectrum of Islamist politics are not stopped.

An avowed atheist, director Nadia El Fani is a lightning rod for Islamists who has campaigned for removing an article in Tunisia's constitution naming Islam is the religion of state. She says it precludes the rights of Jews, Christians, atheists and others. There is a battle now to make people understand better that if we are to safeguard the liberty gained in ousting the dictator, we must protect all liberties, she said, speaking from France. What is clear is that there are many who want to live religion as they want. In Tunisia today I do not have the right to say that I do not believe in God.

Fani said she had now changed the documentary's title to La Laicite Maintenant (Secularism Now) at the behest of French distributors after it showed at Cannes this year.

 

14th July   

Registering as Repressive...

Hungary proposes repressive law to restrict minority religions
Link Here
Hungary flagReligious liberty campaigners say a proposed law in Hungary would saddle the country's minority religions with a burdensome registration system, discriminating against small faith groups based on their size and historical significance.

If passed, the legislation would represent a serious setback for religious freedom in Hungary, jeopardizing the registered status of more than a hundred religious organizations in the country, the Institute on Religion & Public Policy said last month.

Many religious groups that previously obtained official recognition under Hungary's 1990 Religion Law would lose registration, face a narrower definition of religious activity and meet more stringent conditions to re-register. One condition would require religious groups to prove a decades-long history in the country and count more than 1,000 members.

Smaller or newer faith groups, which don't belong to the dominant religious tradition, can find themselves without legal standing and without a 'voice' to protest their treatment, said John Graz, secretary-general of the International Religious Liberty Organization: It has been demonstrated, time and again in many other places, that attempts to regulate religion in this way almost invariably lead to discrimination.

 

14th July   

Updated: Ultimate Intolerance...

Iranian christian set to be executed for leaving islam
Link Here  full story: Apostasy in Iran...Apostasy, heresy and witchcraft capital offences
Iran flagIran's Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence of a Christian pastor for leaving Islam. He was reported to have been given a choice on Saturday, July 2, to repudiate his faith in Christ or be executed.

Yousef Nadarkhani, 33, had appealed to the Supreme Court after he was sentenced to death in 2010 on charges of apostasy, or abandoning Islam, by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Iran's Gilan Province.

The advocacy group Middle East Concern, which has closely followed the case, said his lawyers have yet to receive written confirmation of the Supreme Court's ruling, but understand that the [death] sentence could be implemented at any time, unless he recants his Christian faith.

Update: Overturned

4th July 2011.  See article from uk.news.yahoo.com

Iran's supreme court has overturned a death sentence handed down to Yusef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor accused of apostasy for having converted from Islam, his lawyer told AFP on Sunday.

The supreme court has annuled the death sentence and sent the case back to the court in Rasht (his hometown), asking the accused to repent, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said.

Dadkhah said he himself was sentenced on Sunday by a Tehran court to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime. The lawyer said he had been criticised for having cooperated with the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, an organisation founded by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, as well as for giving interviews to foreign radio stations: I have 20 days to lodge an appeal.

Update: Unconfirmed

6th July 2011.  See article from christiantoday.com

Christian Solidarity Worldwide says doubts have been raised over reports that the death penalty has been overturned for an Iranian pastor.

The Agence France-Presse reported on Sunday that Iran's supreme court had decided to annul Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani's death sentence for apostasy.

CSW said Christians in Iran had challenged the report. The organisation stated that there had still been no written confirmation of the court's decision on Nadarkhani's appeal and that this was due to be given to his lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, next week.

Update: Death Sentence Confirmed

14th July 2011. See article from bosnewslife.com

Iran's Supreme Court says Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani can be executed if he does not recant his faith in Christ, according to a written verdict released by rights activists.

The Supreme Court also asked a lower court in the pastor's home town of Rasht, which issued the original death sentence, to re-examine some procedural flaws in the case but has given local judges a free hand to decide whether to release, execute or retry Nadarkhani in October, said advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which obtained the verdict.

His release or retrial is not expected however as the lower court already ruled that Pastor Nadarkhani must be executed by hanging.

His lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, a prominent Iranian human rights defender is also facing legal difficulties. On Sunday July 3 a court in Tehran sentenced him to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime. He is currently appealing the sentence.

 

14th July   

Update: Freedom Trimmed...

Gaza arrests first banned male hair stylist
Link Here
Shaving Pack Barbers Straight CutthroatHamas has started to enforce a ban on male hairdressers as it seeks to impose a more repressive code of Islam on Gaza.

Hamas arrested a male stylist this week, the first such detention since the party introduced the ban in March last year.

Since the surprise arrest, the handful of Gaza's male hairdressers has reportedly shied away from the salons where they work, fearful of sharing a similar fate.

 

12th July   

Update: More Equal than Others...

The Equality and Human Rights Commission to back supposedly hard done by christians
Link Here

EHRC logoFour British Christians with religious discrimination claims at the European Court of Human Rights have been backed by the UK's equality watchdog.

The claimants include an airline worker who was prevented from wearing a cross and a relationship counsellor who refused to deal with gay couples.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said judges had interpreted equality law too narrowly. This made it difficult for employers to protect freedom of religion.

John Wadham, legal group director at the commission, said:

  • Our intervention in these cases would encourage judges to interpret the law more broadly and more clearly to the benefit of people who are religious and those who are not. The idea of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person's needs has served disability discrimination law well for decades. It seems reasonable that a similar concept could be adopted to allow someone to manifest their religious beliefs.

 

11th July   

Update: Nonsense Committee...

Parliamentary inquiry into discrimination against christians
Link Here

gary streeterA select committee-style inquiry on Christianity is to be held in order to clarify how the law affects believers, amid increasing claims of religious discrimination and persecution.

The public hearings, scheduled to last for about three months this autumn, will invite peers and politicians to examine legislation on hate crime and equality and evaluate whether changes are needed.

The inquiry is the idea of Gary Streeter MP, a Christian who chairs the cross-party group Christians in Parliament. He said that, while there was religious freedom in Britain, some groups were whipping up an alternative view and generating fear where there did not need to be any. He said: That fear is growing, that voice is growing. There is a particular problem. In the last 12 months, we have had legal cases that provoked concern. These now need to be tackled.

Streeter said the panel would invite submissions from legal professionals, businesses, individuals and social policy groups from faith and non-faith backgrounds:

The outcome of our inquiry might be that the law needs to be nudged back in certain areas and we won't shy away from saying so.

The public at large don't care what we do but, in the Christian community, there is a measure of concern about the issue. They will be pleased to see Christian parliamentarians doing something. They will be pleased to receive some reassurance that the fear whipped up is not necessary.

It's only people of the Christian faith running up into the law; secularists aren't doing that. We are not putting one group of people above one another.

The bishop of Bradford, Nick Baines, welcomed the inquiry:

It will be a good thing to have people in parliament doing this kind of thing. They can nail down some of the myths.

I don't believe Christians are being persecuted. Having said that, I do think there is still a degree of religious illiteracy which is prejudiced against Christians in some circumstances. To say we're being persecuted is nonsense.

 

11th July   

Faith in Violence...

Bangladesh riots in against a more secular constitution
Link Here

Bangladesh flagPolice in Bangladesh fired rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of Islamic activists demonstrating for the restoration of a religious pledge to the nation's constitution.

Scores of demonstrators and police officers were injured during anti-government clashes in the industrial towns of Fatullah and Kanchpur.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and various Islamist parties called for the nationwide strike from Sunday morning to demand the vow in absolute faith in Allah be reinstated as a pillar of the constitution.

The government last month made changes to bolster the secular character of the original 1972 constitution. Islam was retained as the state religion.

 

11th July   

Update: Forlorn Hope...

London march to protests against Pakistani abuse of blasphemy laws
Link Here

Ragged Union JackThe Pakistani Christian community in Britain has led a protest against Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Human rights groups say that the blasphemy laws are frequently used to level false charges against Christians in order to settle personal scores or seize property or businesses from them.

The protest in central London last week was joined by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a Pakistani Christian, and Dr Martin Stern, a Jewish Holocaust survivor and former medical student at Peshawar University. It was organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association.

Petitions urging pressure on Pakistan to revise its harsh blasphemy laws were handed over at both addresses.

 

11th July   

Update: New Laws Unveiled...

New South Wales passes law to identify anyone hiding from justice behind a burkha
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas

Australia: New South Wales flagPolice in Australia's New South Wales state have been given more powers to remove burkas and other face coverings to identify crime suspects.

Anyone who refuses to show their face could now be jailed for up to a year or face a heavy fine.

Islamic groups in the state said they were comfortable with the new measure.

I don't care whether a person is wearing a motorcycle helmet, a burka, niqab, face veil or anything else, the police should be allowed to require those people to make their identification clear, Premier Barry O'Farrell said: I have every respect for various religions and beliefs but when it comes to enforcing the law the police should be given adequate powers to make a clear identification.

Anyone in New South Wales who refuses to remove their face covering could now be fined A$5,500 (£3,672, $5,882) or put in prison for a year.

The changes come after the high-profile case of Carnita Matthews, who last year was sentenced to six months in prison for falsely accusing a policeman of trying to forcibly remove her burka during a random breath test. But she won on appeal after a judge ruled that the prosecution could not prove she had made the false complaint because officers were not able to see her face.

 

5th July   

Diary: International Day Against Stoning...

11th July
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution
international day against stoning logoDear friends

11 July, the International Day against Stoning, will soon be here.

As you know Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is still languishing in prison. The authorities recently mentioned her case saying that no final decision had yet been reached on her stoning sentence and that Sakineh must remain in prison. Falsely accused of murdering her husband, her only crime is that she is a woman in Iran. Her lawyer, Sajjad Houtan Kian, also remains in prison for having had the courage to defend her and other women with stoning sentences in Tabriz prison; he has been sentenced to four years imprisonment, been put under a lot of pressure and lost 20 kilos (44 pounds) as a result.

The campaign to Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been an important one. It has spoken out in defence of humanity, and against the barbaric punishment of stoning everywhere. It has mobilised immense pressure against and condemnation of the Islamic regime of Iran from millions across the globe. These are accomplishments we must all be proud of.

On 11 July 2011, the International Day against Stoning, let's once again step up the pressure to demand Sakineh's immediate release and an end to stoning. Join us by either standing in a city square with a photo or poster of Sakineh, tweeting, or by organising an act of solidarity or a flash mob to raise awareness and attention. On 11 July, in 100 cities worldwide, let us once again raise the banner of humanity against one of the barbarisms of our time.

We look forward to your action and support.

Warmest wishes

Mina Ahadi, International Committee against Stoning and Execution
Patty Debonitas, Iran Solidarity
Maryam Namazie, One Law for All

 

4th July   

Abominable Preachers...

Nutters protest at participants at the London Pride parade
Link Here
leviticus18 22

  About all the Bible has to say on the subject...
That lying with both men and women
is an abomination

A group of Christian anti-gay activists protested against the London Pride parade at the Pall Mall.

The nutters displayed yellow placards with verses extracted from the bible and preached at the gay pride marchers.

The two groups exchanged taunts during the confrontation but the police were on hand to avoid any physical confrontation.

The annual event, London Parade aims to highlight the discrimination of the LGBT community and is the largest outdoor event in the UK. Last year over 1 million people attended..

 

3rd July   

Marginalised Christians...

Radio station granted appeal against ban of 'politically motivated' advert
Link Here  full story: Chrstian Adverts...Adverts banned on grounds of political ends
RACC logoA Christian radio station has been allowed to go to court to challenge a ban on an advert which asked Christians to report experiences of workplace marginalisation.

The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) banned the ad from being aired, ruling that it was politically motivated.

The banned ad said:

Surveys have shown that 60% of active Christians are being increasingly marginalised in the work place. We are concerned to get the most accurate data to inform the public debate. We will then use this data to help make a fairer society.

The station was initially denied leave to challenge the ban in court, but that decision has now been overturned.

Peter Kerridge, chief executive of Premier Christian Radio, said:

This is a victory for Christians across the UK who have time and again had their values and beliefs quashed by a liberal secularist agenda. In addition the English legal system has not protected the basic, fundamental human right of freedom of expression of religion and belief.

Update: Judicial Review

18th December 2011. See article from christiantoday.com

The High Court has granted a judicial review into the ban on an advertisement that asked Christians to report their experiences of marginalisation in the workplace.

The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) refused to allow the advertisement, made by Premier Christian Radio and intended for broadcast in the run-up to the General Election last year.

The advert quoted surveys showing that 60% of active Christians are being increasingly marginalised in the work place. We are concerned to get the most accurate data to inform the public debate. We will then use this data to help make a fairer society, it said.

However the RACC refused to let the advert air, claiming that it had a political objective.

Premier was granted a judicial review in June but it was challenged by the RACC. Today's ruling means the station's legal challenge can go ahead. The judge indicated that he would like the case expedited as this is an issue of great importance that involves the freedom of expression.

 

3rd July   

Move It Out Back...

Stone sculpture censored after it 'offends' Aboriginal communities in Australia
Link Here

wanjina watchersThe New South Wales Land and Environment Court has ordered the removal of a Katoomba sculpture deemed 'offensive' by Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and the Blue Mountains.

But ModroGorje Wellness and Art Centre owner Vesna Tenodi said the decision to have the Wanjina Watchers in the Whispering Stone sculpture removed from the front lawn of her gallery's grounds was akin to censorship.

The court upheld Blue Mountains City Council's decision that the work had caused 'offence' to Aboriginal cultural beliefs and could not be tolerated in its highly visible street location.

The sculpture's depiction of sacred Wanjina images has supposedly distressed the Ngarinyin, Worrorra and Wanumbal language groups in the north west Kimberley region.

Ngarinyin and Willinggin Aboriginal Corporations director Gordon Smith said nothing short of the sculpture's destruction would be satisfactory despite a summary of the court's ruling suggesting moving the work to a less visible location could mitigate the social impact.

 

3rd July   

Preaching Rules...

Christians publish advice on preaching to an unappreciative world
Link Here
christian witnessChristian missionaries should renounce all deception and coercive means of winning converts, according to an agreement released this week by a broad coalition of evangelicals, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican, said a Religion News Service report in the National Catholic Reporter.

The document, Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct represents the latest attempt to assuage sometimes violent tensions over proselytising in non-Christian societies.

The WCC, the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) together represent over 90 percent of the world's total Christian population, according to a WEA statement, which hailed the accord as the first document of its kind in the history of the church.

The document calls on individual Christian churches to develop guidelines for proselytising among those of different religions and among those who do not profess any particular religion.

Christian missionaries are to acknowledge and appreciate what is true and good in other religions, and make any criticisms in a spirit of mutual respect.

While the document recommends sensitivity in missionary work, it also affirms religious freedom as a fundamental human right, including the right to publicly profess, practice, propagate and change one's religion.

 

2nd July   

Update: The Ghost of Cinema Past...

Indonesian cinema goers set to get their Hollywood movies back
Link Here  full story: Hollywood Film Ban in Indonesia...Hollyood films taxed off Indonesian screens

hantu puncak datang bulanThe Indonesian government has succeeded in decimating the local cinema industry by implementing protectionist tax measures against imported films. This resulted in a Hollywood boycott of Indonesia and a devastating halving of cinema takings.

The government has now said that it had asked the Motion Picture Association of America to resume sending films to Indonesia.

I met with US government representatives three days ago to discuss the import of films from MPAA, Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo said: We have clarified that Indonesia has nothing against the American government, exporters or producers.

The MPAA's international counterpart, the MPA, had said the decision to include royalties in its import-tax calculation had a detrimental impact on the cost of bringing a film into Indonesia.

Last month, the Finance Ministry announced a new scheme that would see importers pay only a specific tax on movies, rather than an ad valorem tax, which was based on each film's ticket sales. The measure was meant to resolve the dispute and head off the drastic slump in ticket sales since the Hollywood film boycott started.

 

2nd July   

Nonsense vs Nonsense...

Witchcraft shop runs out of counterspells against christian mumbo jumbo
Link Here

whitetrinitywitch logoThe owner of a witchcraft shop in Devon has said she has been targeted by religious literature. Nikki Kitchen, who practises witchcraft and runs White Trinity Witch in Plymouth, said Pro-Christian leaflets and anonymous handwritten notes had been pushed through the door about five times since it opened in October 2010.

Ms Kitchen said:

Churchgoers think we're the spawn of Satan. It's been quite harsh and heavy but you've got to laugh it off. They expect us to accept their religion but they don't look at Paganism as being one of the oldest religions going. I think people are just uneducated, it's not about devil worship at all. It's about love light and using the earth to heal the people around us.

Dr Theodore Danson-Smith who runs a company which distributes leaflets like Ms Kitchen received, told BBC Radio Devon:

We don't sell any hate mail whatsoever.

It's not hate mail...[BUT]... it's telling the way of salvation.

Any witchcraft shop is working for Satan not for God.

He said he did not know which Christian group had posted the leaflets:

I don't know who they are but God bless them, they're wanting to save her from going to a lost eternity.

 

2nd July   

Security Above Religion...

Employment Appeal Tribunal upholds fair dismissal of security guard who wanted to leave his site to go to prayers
Link Here

Tribunals Service logoThe Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld a tribunal's decision that an employer's refusal to allow a security guard to leave a client's site on Friday lunchtimes to attend mosque did not amount to indirect religious discrimination.

The company G4S was required to have a specified number of security guards on site for the full duration of operating hours, i.e. to remain on site throughout their shifts, including their lunch breaks, for which they were paid.

A muslim guard raised a grievance about not being allowed to attend lunchtime prayers on Fridays. The Company proposed amending his contract so that he worked from Monday to Thursday, with an option to work Saturday or Sunday, but this was rejected.

The EAT found that tribunal had properly carried out the balancing act required. The potential negative cost to the business far outweighed any discriminatory effect since there would be not only financial penalties for the company if the contract was broken, but a danger of it losing the contract altogether.

 

1st July   

Homophobic Thuggery...

Morality police patrol Brussels and Antwerp
Link Here

Belgium flagOn June 12th, a gay guy was attacked by North African youth in Brussels. The youth beat him and tried to choke him. According to Bruno De Lille (Greens), Secretary of State for equal opportunities in the Brussels Region, most homophobic attackers come from the Muslim community. He said there are also East-European homophobic attackers.

According to Carim Bouzian, a gay immigrant from Antwerp, gays are reprimanded by the Islamic morality police, a group of older men and radical youth who feel they must 'warn' gays about their erroneous behavior.

It starts off with various curses and Don't you know what the Koran says? You're going to hell!, and if you don't answer right, you risk being punched.

Bouzian says that there's no place in the city which is safe from this morality police. Gay couples who live in immigrant neighborhoods regularly get in their mail an envelope bearing verses from the Koran and containing a dead rat. But they also patrol the more upscale neighborhoods. A friend of his was attacked in broad daylight in the hip neighborhood of Antwerp South.

Gays are not their only targets. Fons Bastiaenssens of the Antwerp police says that young immigrant girls with a short skirt are also cursed, mostly by older, radical Muslim men.

 

1st July   

Dakar Riot...

Senegalese imam condones violent attack on a Jehovah's Witness temple
Link Here

Senegal flagHundreds of Muslim protesters descended on a Jehovah's Witness temple and a bar in a conservative Muslim neighborhood of the Senegalese capital, setting the buildings on fire in a show of religious extremism in the predominantly Muslim nation.

Thierno Mbeugne, spokesman for the local imam association, said the head imam in the conservative Yoff district of Dakar had asked the youths to march against what they considered acts of aggression against their faith. They were targeting the temple because they claim its members were proselytizing, and the bar because it was selling alcohol.

He said the Islamic religious leaders did not endorse the violence...BUT...they do think that the youths were right to destroy the church and the bar.

A doctor said his clinic had treated 37 people, including several wounded police officers. One had a stab wound. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.