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31st October   

Update: Easily Offended and Easily Vandalised...

Threats and vandalism greet art exhibition featuring muslim imagery
Link Here  full story: Sarah Maple Art...Sarah Maple and her provocative art

Sarah Maple poster A gallery showing images of veiled Muslims, including a bare-breasted woman partially clad in a burqa, is under police surveillance after being attacked earlier this week.

Windows and doors at the SaLon Gallery in west London were smashed after a series of abusive, anonymous phone calls and angry protests about the images from Muslims. The gallery has complained to police.

The solo exhibition of paintings by Sarah Maple includes a veiled woman holding a pig, which is interpreted by the easily offended as a flagrant disregard of the Islamic ban on eating pork. The show – entitled This Artist Blows – also includes two self-portraits: one of Maple wearing a headscarf has an image of Kate Moss's naked breast attached to it; another shows Maple in a T-shirt bearing the slogan I love jihad . In another, a veiled Muslim woman wears a badge that says I love orgasms.

Last night, Maple, a 23-year-old of Kenyan and British parentage, defended her work, saying she had not meant to cause offence but to explore her Britishness and her Muslim faith. She voiced concern about her safety and said she hoped the exhibition of 39 pictures, which opened this month, would not be taken down before its official closing date of 23 November.

A spokeswoman for SaLon said the gallery in Bayswater, a part of London with a large Muslim population, was receiving about 12 abusive phone calls a day and emails condemning the show. Staff had to call police last week after an angry woman came in to complain. She was in a full burqa and was irate and upset. Her behaviour was quite threatening, added the spokeswoman.

Mokhtar Badri, the vice-president of the Muslim Association of Britain, said that while he thought the exhibition provocative, he defended freedom of expression and condemned any violence inspired by the display: I urged the gallery and the artist to respect the community in the area, but if Muslims see the work and dislike it, it is completely wrong to use any violent expression of that.

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, agreed: People may well have strong views on the use of Islamic imagery in Sarah Maple's exhibition. However, there can be no justification whatsoever for hooliganism of this sort or issuing threats.

This Artist Blows

SaLon Gallery presents Sarah Maple's first solo show. Exhibition until 17th November 2008. SaLon Gallery 82 Westbourne Grove London W2 5RT

 

31st October   

Update: Hop Off...

Museum director sacked over pope offending frog
Link Here  full story: Crucified Frog...Pope wound up by crucified frog art

Frog by Martin KippenbergerThe director of an Italian museum that defied the Pope by refusing to remove a modern art sculpture portraying a crucified green frog has been dismissed from her post.

Corinne Diserens, the Swiss head of the Museion museum of contemporary art at Bolzano in the Italian Alps, was released from her duties with immediate effect by the new provincial government in Alto Adige after local elections.

The decision was a result of the difficult financial situation caused in part by unauthorised spending”, officials said.

Supporters of Ms Diserens, including Hans Heiss, the head of the local Green Party, said that the real reason was the row over the frog.

The wooden sculpture by the late German artist Martin Kippenberger depicts a 4ft frog wearing a green loin cloth. It is nailed to a brown cross with a beer mug in one outstretched hand and an egg in the other. Its tongue hangs out of its mouth.

Pope Benedict XVl took offence while on summer holiday in the mountains near Bolzano, describing the work as blasphemous. The Vatican sent a letter in the Pope's name to Franz Pahl, the president of the Trentino-Alto Adige regional council (who also opposed the sculpture), saying that it wounds the religious sentiments of so many people who see in the Cross the symbol of God's love.

 

31st October   

Flogging a Dead Justice System...

Doctor sentenced to 1500 lashes for treatment that went wrong
Link Here

floggingEgypt's doctors' union have slammed as worse than death a punishment of 1,500 lashes handed down by a Saudi court to an Egyptian doctor for allegedly turning a Saudi princess into a drug addict. Doctor Rauf Amin is being whipped at the rate of 10-15 lashes a week during a 15-year jail term, said Hamdi al-Sayyad, director of the Doctors Syndiate. He was charged with giving the woman morphine to ease her pain following a riding accident, which allegedly turned her into an addict.

Sayyed described Amin's trial as unfair and his sentence — doubled on appeal from 750 lashes and seven years prison — as torture. We condemn this verdict in the strongest terms and we are making contact with officials in Cairo and Saudi Arabia, as well as (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak for them to intervene, Sayyed told AFP.

He did not have a fair trial; there was not even any adequate medical expert opinion ... This judgement is more about torture than justice and does not correspond with any kind of law, human rights or even sharia (Islamic law). It would have been better to have sentenced him to death than to torture him this way. One thousand five hundred lashings and 15 years in prison is too harsh even for a murderer. I think he has already had 15 lashes and he will continue being whipped every week for 15 years.

 

30th October   

Ofcom Revelation...

No free speech even when near to commonly perceived reality
Link Here  full story: Revelation TV...Religious views winds up TV censors

Revelation TV logoVision for Israel
Revelation TV, 18 April 2008, 15:00

Revelation TV is a religious channel that often features discussion and personal view programmes which from time to time engage viewers with challenging debates on topical issues.

Ofcom received one complaint from a viewer who alleged that an edition of the programme Vision for Israel presented by theologian, teacher and author Dan Juster, made abusive and inappropriate comments regarding Islam. Ofcom noted that, during this hour-long programme which compared the Christian and Muslim faiths, Dan Juster stated [it was his belief that]: Islam cannot be defined as a peaceful, loving religion…Islam enforces its own viewpoint through the power of the sword through death… and Islam believes that violence is a legitimate means to establish and extend Islam.

Ofcom considered Rule 4.1 of the Code (Broadcasters must exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes).

Ofcom Decision

In forming its decision, Ofcom bore in mind the fact that broadcasters have a right to freedom of expression which includes the broadcaster's right to transmit and the audience's right to receive creative material, information and ideas without interference ...BUT... subject to restrictions proscribed by law and necessary in a democratic society. This right is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. Broadcasters should therefore always take care to ensure that material it transmits is in accordance with both the general law and the Code.

The comments made in this programme described above were said in the context of a specialised religious programme made for a particularly niche and predominantly Christian audience. Ofcom has always considered that it is possible for the follower of one religion to reject or critique other religions in the course of sermonising or proselytising and remain within the requirements for Rule 4.1. However, this Code Rule requires broadcasters to exercise the proper degree of responsibility when, for example, using hyperbole which may include more extreme views which could be deemed offensive to people in the audience who hold different views and beliefs.

In Ofcom's view it was a serious compliance error that Revelation TV did not review the content of this programme prior to transmission. As a consequence of this, the broadcaster was not able to put the potentially offensive comments into context. The broadcaster therefore did not exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of this religious programme as required by Rule 4.1.

The programme was in breach of Rule 4.1 of the Code.

Breach of Rule 4.1

 

30th October   

Murdered Over Alcohol Row...

Tolerating fighting and murder but not alcohol
Link Here

No alcohol signA Somali teenager was beaten to death by a gang of men because of a row over Muslims drinking alcohol, a Liverpool court heard.

Ahmed Ibrahim, 17, was beaten across the head with a samurai sword, baseball bat, machete and metal pole.

The court heard that the previous night, several of the Somali men and boys attended a lecture on keeping out of trouble when a disturbance began. The 16-year-old Ahmed Mahamoud Ahmed was accused of breaking Muslim rules by drinking alcohol and held him down while a friend hit his head with a bat.

The next day Ahmed Mahamoud Ahmed was lured to a fight, where the accused gang of 5 lay in wait, it was claimed.

In the attack, part-time student Ibrahim, of Toxteth, Liverpool, was killed and another cousin, Abdullah Ahmed, 17, was battered and lost a finger.

The trial continues.

 

29th October   

Offsite: Border Defences...

Why thugs must not be allowed to prevail
Link Here  full story: Jewel of Medina...Publishers run scared over book

Jewel of Medina book Last week at Borders, the UK and Irish bookstore chain owned by Risk Capital Partners, we received several threats from an extremist Islamic group saying we would suffer if we sold the controversial novel The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones in our shops.

This follows the fire-bombing of the publisher's offices in London last month. So, assuming the work is made available here, should we be scared and refuse to stock the book? Or should we take a stand in the name of freedom of expression and sell it regardless?

...

Yet modern corporations are described as having many stakeholders - some of whom may feel that getting into conflicts over theoretical concepts such as liberty is not worth the effort. They could ask: is it right to expose shareholders, advisers or employees to hazards such as terrorism? After all, a business is not a political or philosophical undertaking - it is an enterprise organised to profit its owners.

But if corporate cowardice spreads, boardrooms will become the weak underbelly of the west, inspiring every lunatic sect simply to aim at the executive suite because they know the directors there have no appetite for a fight.

So responsible corporate leaders probably have no choice. Capitalism is successful in democratic nations where there is respect for the rule of law and free speech. Wherever there are illegal overtures made towards business, there is a moral obligation to resist their demands, and if possible seek the help of the authorities in protecting those in the front line who are at risk.

...Read leader

 

28th October   

Update: Pits of Humanity...

A Somalia stoning
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Stoning scene from movieThousands of people gathered Monday to witness 50 Somali men stone a woman to death after an Islamic court in the southern port of Kismayo found her guilty of adultery.

Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow, who had been found guilty of extra-marital intercourse was buried in the ground up to her neck while the men pelted her head with rocks.

The execution was carried in one of the city's main squares.

This afternoon we are telling the people of Kismayo that we are practising a punishment that is rare in this region and was carried out in Kismayo for the first time, Sheikh Hayakallah said.

Cameras were banned from the public stoning but print and radio journalists were allowed to attend.

 

28th October   

Having Problems Relating to 'Love Your Neighbour'...

Christian counsellor whinges at being sacked for refusing to work with gays
Link Here  full story: Religious Incompetents...Unable to do the job for religious reasons

Relate logoA Christian relationship counsellor claims he was fired after expressing concern about giving sex advice to same sex couples.

Gary McFarlane said the national counselling service Relate, would not accommodate his religious beliefs. He accused the Bristol branch of bigotry.

Now McFarlane is taking his case to an employment tribunal, alleging unfair dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination.

McFarlane, a solicitor, specialised in resolving legal disputes through mediation, and even sits on a committee advising the Law Society. He is also a part-time tutor on relationships at Trinity Theological College in Bristol.

He said his problems began last year after he started to train as a psychosexual therapist, treating people's intimate sexual problems. He said that while he believed in 'each to their own' [ ...BUT... ] he felt uncomfortable doing anything that would directly encourage gay sex, and raised the matter with his supervisor.

Fellow counsellors complained about McFarlane's views, alleging he was homophobic, and he was suspended last December by his manager. After three weeks, he was reinstated and had to promise to abide by Relate's equal opportunities policy, with the proviso, he claims, that he could raise issues in the future.

Following further complaints, however, he was told that he would face a disciplinary hearing because managers at Relate Avon no longer believed he intended to uphold the policy. He was dismissed and his appeal was rejected.

 

28th October   

Update: Mob Rape...

Indian police accused of shielding hindu mob rapists
Link Here  full story: Hindus vs Christians...Tragic rivalry between hindus and christians

India flagA nun who was allegedly raped by more than 40 men during an outbreak of anti-Christian violence in India has accused local police of shielding her attackers.

The nun said she was sexually assaulted by a rioting mob at the end of August, days after the murder of a Hindu priest sparked attacks by Hindu extremists on the Christian community in the East coast Orissa state.

Nun Mina Barwa said she was dragged to a burned-out Christian home and was beaten with sticks and paraded semi-naked in the streets as mobs threatened to gang rape her.

More than half-a-dozen people have been arrested over the incident, but Barwa has called for a federal investigation as she had little faith in local Orissa police.

State police failed to stop the crimes, failed to protect me from the attackers, they were friendly with the attackers, and they tried their best to make sure that I did not make complaints against police. I was raped and now I don't want to be victimised by the Orissa police.

India's Supreme Court this week rejected a plea by a Catholic bishop for a federal investigation into the alleged rape, saying the matter should be probed by the Orissa police.

 

28th October   

Lipstick Killer...

Man murders 11 year old relative over lipstick
Link Here  full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Stop Honour Killings An 11-year-old girl has been set on fire by a relative in India's northern city of Jaipur for wearing lipstick and being inappropriately dressed.

Police say the girl suffered burns over 90% of her body and her chances of survival are bleak.

They've arrested her great uncle who allegedly poured kerosene on the girl and set her alight.

Investigators say the 55-year-old man, a conservative Muslim, told the police he was enraged at the girl wearing lipstick and being scantily dressed.

But relatives have accused the man of trying to molest the girl and setting her on fire when she objected.

 

25th October   

A Hotbed of Illicit Imagery...

Bahrain councillors get all het up over underwear
Link Here

Bahrain flagAdvertising across a large area of Bahrain could soon be torn down for being too sexy.

The Central Municipal Council is drafting a law that would allow them to ban advertising that is too provocative, claiming it was equivalent to pornography.

It is also seeking a clampdown on lingerie shops that display immoral skimpy underwear in their windows, which councillors have claimed flouts religious values.

Street advertisements are getting outrageous, said councillor Sadiq Rabea'a, who co-sponsored the proposal: Some are crossing the line with women wearing tight-fitting dresses, dancing around and legalising sexual scenes for our children to witness.

Councillor Abdulrazzaq Al Hattab also sponsored the initiative, saying his constituency in Riffa was a hotbed of illicit imagery: Showcasing lingerie for everyone to see is against our Islamic culture and is considered immoral.

The issue has now been referred to the council's technical and financial committee, which will study the proposal and present a report at the council's next meeting.

 

25th October   

Catty Clerics...

Tom boys banned in Malaysia
Link Here

Malaysia flagClerics have issued an edict banning tomboys in Malaysia, saying that girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam.

Under the fatwa , girls are forbidden to have short hair and dress like boys.

Harussani Idris Zakaria, who attended the meeting of the National Fatwa Council, said an increasing number of Malaysian girls behave like tomboys, and some of them engage in homosexuality.

He said the council's ruling was not legally binding because it has not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned because they are sinful: It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong. God created them as girls, they must act like girls.

Malaysian media have reported on recent incidents of school bullying among girls, which have been caught on film and circulated on the internet. In one film, some girls are seen beating up another girl in a bathroom.

A well-known Malaysian Muslim actress caused an uproar last year when she shaved her head bald for a film. Harussani and other muftis urged Muslims not to watch the movie, arguing that the actress had violated Islam by making herself look like a man.

 

25th October   

Law Lords Condemn Sharia...

There is no place in sharia for equal rights for women
Link Here

Old BaileyBritain's highest court has criticised Islamic law for discriminating against women after a case in which a mother was forced to flee the Middle East for Britain to protect her son from his abusive father.

In a 5-0 ruling, the law lords said that there was no place in sharia for the equal treatment of the sexes. It would be a flagrant breach of the European Convention on Human Rights for the Government to remove a woman to Lebanon, where she would lose custody of her son because of sharia-inspired family law.

Lord Hope of Craighead said that the right to non-discrimination was a core principle in the protection of human rights: Sharia law as it is applied in Lebanon was created by and for men in a male-dominated society... There is no place in it for equal rights .

Sharia was the product of a much-observed religious and cultural tradition, but by our standards the system is arbitrary because the law permits of no exceptions to its application... It is discriminatory too because it denies women custody of their children after they have reached the age of custodial transfer simply because they are women.

The human rights groups Liberty and Justice intervened in the case. Liberty's legal director, James Welch, said: How can the Government speak of equal treatment in one breath and seek to deport mother and child to face separation... in another? The law lords have rightly upheld basic protections which must be available to us all.

But Sharia Given a Place in the UK

See article from dailymail.co.uk

Islamic courts have been cleared to deal with family and divorce disputes.

Sharia tribunals will be able to decide how a Muslim couple divide their money and property and who gets the children.

The sole proviso from Jack Straw's Justice Ministry is that a formal law court must rubber-stamp the ruling.

This would be in the form of a two-page form sent to a judge sitting in a family court. The divorcing couple would not need to attend.

The endorsement of sharia was announced to MPs by Bridget Prentice, a junior justice minister.

She said the councils would still have no jurisdiction in England and that rulings by religious authorities had no legal force.

But Miss Prentice added: If, in a family dispute dealing with money or children, the parties to a judgment in a sharia council wish to have this recognised by English authorities, they are at liberty to draft a consent order embodying the terms of the agreement and submit it to an English court. This allows English judges to scrutinise it to ensure that it complies with English legal tenets.

A consent order allows couples to have a 'clean break' divorce in which there are no long-term maintenance payments.

The orders can be approved only where a couple have negotiated and agreed all aspects of their break-up such as money, debts, property and children. The family court judge must decide whether the agreement is reasonable and ensure no side has been disadvantaged.

The great majority of consent orders are approved.

Barrister Neil Addison said yesterday: If the system works, the judge will not allow an agreement where there has been pressure on one party. He allows a consent order only if the agreement seems reasonable.

 

24th October   

Update: Cartoon Like Intransigence...

Denmark again dismisses muslim legal bid against Jyllands-Posten
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Denmark Justice MinistryDenmark's justice ministry have rejected another bid by seven Muslim lobby groups to take the Jyllands-Posten to the Supreme Court for publishing controversial cartoons of Muhammed.

The judicial commission, which decides if cases can be heard by the Supreme Court, rejected the groups' claim without giving reasons. It was the third attempt by the group to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The case had already been defeated in Denmark's Court of Appeal in June this year, which upheld a lower court ruling from October 2006. In its ruling, the Court of Appeal said the caricatures did not aim to insult followers of Islam, as the claimants alleged.

The court emphasized that terrorist acts have been committed in the name of Islam, and it is not illegal for these acts to be made the object of satirical representation.

The seven groups say they will continue their legal action by pursuing the case at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

 

24th October   

Halloween Nonsense...

Church killjoys creep out of their nutter underworld
Link Here

Halloween displayScottish nutters have hit out at the Halloween displays at two Banff shops, calling them disrespectful to Christians.

Banff Churches Together from the five Banff churches, last week wrote to the owners of the Castlegate Newsagents to express concern at what they called morbid and distasteful Halloween displays.

However, the owner of Castlegate Newsagents William Gatt has hit back, saying that he will not give in to pressure to remove the contentious window dressing.

The church group said that the nature of the displays in both premises could be perceived as promoting an unhealthy interest in the occult and was disrespectful to Christian beliefs.

Secretary Fiona Stewart said: We were alarmed by the nature of the Castlegate window display. The displays relate to cemeteries and, as Christians, we take the view that they are disrespectful to our faithful departed. We have no problem with children dressing up and having fun at Halloween ...BUT... we are concerned that these displays are particularly morbid.

She added: The word Halloween derives from the term All Hallow's Eve and is the date before the Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls, when Christians respectfully remember all the saints and martyrs and people who have died throughout the centuries.

We do not think the manner of these displays is in keeping with the respectful remembrance of the faithful departed.


Part of the Castlegate window display shows an eerie cemetery scene with skulls, skeleton and a corpse. Greeting customers inside the entrance to the Eastside Shopping Centre is a giant demonic figure with glowing red eyes standing between gravestones, beneath a sign for the cemetery, and beside a real bubbling cauldron.

 

23rd October   

Honourable Intentions...

Police document details policies to combat honour crimes
Link Here  full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Forced marriage help posterPolice forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being urged to review their witness protection schemes to help combat honour crimes.

A new Association of Chief Police Officers' document aims to help forces identity potential victims and ensure all steps are taken to protect them.

It says it is also essential religious and community leaders are encouraged to speak out against such crimes.

Every year police investigate about a dozen suspected honour killings.

Police also investigate an average of 500 reports a year from people who fear being forced into marriage or people who are in a forced marriage and have been threatened or abused.

Some 65% of the forced marriage cases dealt with by a specialist government team involve Pakistani families.

The strategy document, which contains 19 recommendations, says that under no circumstances should honour-crime victims be turned away and told that honour-based violence is not the police's problem.

Next month sees the introduction of new powers to use court orders to protect people from forced marriages. The special sanctions, ordered by a judge, will allow police to seize passports or take other steps, including arrest, to prevent someone forcing a man or a woman into a marriage they do not want. Anyone who breaks an order will face jail.

Crucially, the law has been drawn up to allow third parties to intervene where the victim is too scared to act or contact the authorities.

 

22nd October   

Update: Afghan Court Insults Islam...

20 Years of injustice for distributing article about women's rights
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

Free Pervez! An Afghan appeal court yesterday overturned a death sentence for a journalism student accused of blasphemy and instead sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

A three-judge panel jailed 24-year-old Parwez Kambakhsh after a day of arguments between the student's defence lawyer and state witnesses.

Kambakhsh was studying journalism at Balkh University in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and writing for a local newspaper when he was arrested in October 2007.

Prosecutors alleged that Kambakhsh disrupted classes by asking questions about women's rights under Islam. They also said he illegally distributed an article he printed off the internet that asks why Islam does not modernise to give women equal rights. He also allegedly scribbled his own comments on the paper.

A lower court sentenced him to death in a trial critics have called flawed in part because Kambakhsh had no lawyer representing him.

The head of Tuesday's panel, Abdul Salaam Qazizada, struck down the lower court's death penalty but said the decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court.

 

22nd October   

Preaching Inhumanity...

Aid worker murdered by Taliban for preaching christianity
Link Here

Taliban flagThe Taliban have shot dead a British aid worker in Afghanistan because she was preaching Christianity.

Gayle Williams, who had been in the troubled country for three years, was killed by two gunmen on a motorcycle as she walked to work in the capital of Kabul. She recently moved from Kandahar back to Kabul because it was seen as safer.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, insisted his militia had carried out the killing: We killed her because she was working for an organisation which was preaching Christianity .

 

21st October   

Offsite: Religious Butchery in Orissa...

Convert or we will kill you, Hindu lynch mobs tell fleeing Christians
Link Here  full story: Hindus vs Christians...Tragic rivalry between hindus and christians

India flagHundreds of Christians in the Indian state of Orissa have been forced to renounce their religion and become Hindus after lynch mobs issued them with a stark ultimatum: convert or die.

The wave of forced conversions marks a dramatic escalation in a two-month orgy of sectarian violence which has left at least 59 people dead, 50,000 homeless and thousands of houses and churches burnt to the ground. As neighbour has turned on neighbour, thousands more Christians have sought sanctuary in refugee camps, unable to return to the wreckage of their homes unless they, too, agree to abandon their faith.

Last week, in the worst-affected Kandhamal district, The Observer encountered compelling evidence of the scale of the violence employed in a conversion programme apparently sanctioned by members of one of the most powerful Hindu groups in India, the 6.8-million member Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) - the World Hindu Council.

Standing in the ashes of her neighbour's house in the village of Sarangagada, Jaspina Naik, 32, spoke nervously, glancing towards a group of Hindu men watching her suspiciously. My neighbours said, "If you go on being Christians, we will burn your houses and your children in front of you, so make up your minds quickly", she said. I was scared. Christians have no place in this area now.

...Read full article

 

18th October   

Little Minds...

LittleBIGPlanet game delayed due to Qur'anic expressions
Link Here

LittleBigPlanet game Sony has confirmed a worldwide delay to their new children's game LiitleBIGPlanet.

The game has been delayed one week in the US. It will now released during the week of October 27.

Sony said: During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur'an. We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologise for any offence that this may have caused.

We will confirm the new launch date shortly.

Update: UK Release

21st October

The release date of LittleBigPlanet has now been rescheduled for 5th November 2008

 

18th October   

Offensive Policing...

Police make up their own blasphemy law
Link Here

Madonna on CrossAn offensive photograph of Madonna in a window of a Norwich gallery has prompted a formal request for its removal following further complaints to the police.

The image of the singer posing on a crucifix and wearing a crown of thorns has adorned the St Giles Street Gallery for more than a week as part of a retrospective of celebrity photography.

The gallery owner David Koppel moved the picture into the window on Saturday and less than 24 hours later had received a telephone call from an officer following up a single complaint that it had caused offence.

He refused a request to remove it from public view and was then visited by two officers. I'm obviously such a threat to society that they thought it necessary to send two police officers, said Mr Koppel: They formally asked me to take the picture down or turn it round, which is rather pointless, and I have refused. I've no doubt they will be back. They said they had had complaints, plural, but I find that absolutely unbelievable.

 

18th October   

Wrong Robes...

Large fines over satirical magazine article about an Egyptian cleric
Link Here

El Fegr logoThe Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an Egyptian court's decision to levy steep fines against an editor and reporter for an independent weekly that published a satirical piece about a prominent cleric.

A criminal court ordered El-Fegr editor Adel Hammouda and writer Mohamed al-Baz to pay fines of 80,000 Egyptian pounds ($14,341) apiece on charges that they had defamed Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed al-Tantawi.

The court also ordered al-Baz to pay 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($897) directly to al-Tantawi. Al-Tantawi is the sheikh of Cairo's Al-Azhar University, one of the most prominent educational institutions in the Arab world.

Defense lawyer Nashaat Agha described the size of the fine as unprecedented in press cases. This is a negative message to newspapers, Agha said, noting that he would appeal.

This verdict sends a chilling message to Egyptian journalists that criticism of religious institutions is off-limits,
said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. Satirical journalism is a vital component of a healthy democracy. We urge the courts to overturn this conviction on appeal.

The case dates to March 2007 when the newspaper published a satirical piece claiming the sheikh was planning to visit the Vatican. The piece was accompanied by a picture depicting al-Tantawi in papal garb, according to news reports.

 

17th October   

Update: Nonsense Censorship...

Turkey blocks major newspaper website after complaints from creationist nutter
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Vatan The website of Turkey's third largest-selling newspaper has been blocked after a complaint by an Islamic creationist.

Turkish internet users are now denied access to the Vatan newspaper's website, gazetevatan.com , after a court decided it had insulted Adnan Oktar, a prolific nutter writer who disputes the theory of evolution. It is believed to be the first major newspaper site to be blocked. About 850 sites are already blocked.

Oktar, who last month successfully had the website of the British evolutionist Richard Dawkins blocked in Turkey, complained that he had been defamed in readers' comments to stories on the online edition of Vatan, a liberal publication.

His spokeswoman, Seda Aral, claimed the comments included obscenities and said the newspaper had ignored requests to remove them. We are trying to protect ourselves, she said: Vatan is always propagating against Mr Oktar and constantly publishes allegations about him. When people read these they are provoked into using these insults against him.

Critics say Turkey's penal code makes it too easy to obtain blocking orders, although in practice prohibitions are often easily overcome through proxy servers.

 

17th October   

Comment: Do You Want to Live Forever?...

Yes, BBC make less islam jokes than other religions
Link Here

Jerry Springer The Opera BBC boss Mark Thompson nonsensically claimed that because Muslims are a religious minority in Britain and also often from ethnic minorities, their faith should be given different coverage to that of more established groups.

His comments come after the comedian Ben Elton accused the BBC of being scared of making jokes about Islam, while Hindus have claimed it favours Muslims over other religions.

But Thompson, speaking at the annual public theology lecture of the religion think-tank Theos, insisted the state broadcaster would show programmes that criticised Islam if they were of sufficient quality.

The director general, whose corporation faced accusations of blasphemy from Christians after it allowed the transmission of the musical Jerry Springer -The Opera , also said his Christian beliefs guided his judgments and disclosed that he had never watched the Monty Python film Life of Brian which satirises the story of Jesus.

In his speech last night, Thompson claimed there are now more programmes about religion on BBC television and radio than there have been in recent decades, whereas coverage has declined on ITV.

But asked whether it was correct that the BBC let vicar gags pass but not imam gags , as Elton claimed, he admitted it did take a different approach to Islam, which has 1.6million followers in Britain, compared to its approach to the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church.

Thompson said: My view is that there is a difference between the position of Christianity, which I believe should be central to the BBC's religion coverage and widely respected and followed. What Christian identity feels like it is about to the broad population is a little bit different to people for whom their religion is also associated with an ethnic identity which has not been fully integrated. There's no reason why any religion should be immune from discussion, but I don't want to say that all religions are the same. To be a minority I think puts a slightly different outlook on it.

Earlier this year Thompson had warned of a growing nervousness about discussion about Islam and said no debate about religion should be censored.

Thompson said the broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera , which features Jesus as a talk show guest who admits to being a bit gay , had been the most controversial programme he had dealt with during his time at the corporation.

No political issue has so far come near Jerry Springer in terms of anger and emotion. It wasn't politics that put a security guard outside my house, it was a debate about how the BBC handles religion.

However despite the storm over the programme, Thompson, a practising Catholic, said his beliefs do play a part in the editorial judgments he makes and disclosed that he dislikes watching shows about the Bible.

He also dismissed the idea that television is a wellspring or accelerant of immorality in society, and also that the BBC gives too much weight to the secular ideals of science or employs moral relativism when covering contentious issues such as medical ethics.

Thompson defended programmes that have been accused of promoting selfishness or nastiness, such as The Apprentice and The Weakest Link , claiming that viewers know they are only entertainment and do not ape the behaviour shown on them.

Comment: Not a Fully Integrated Theory

17th October 2008. Thanks to Alan

Mark Thompson justifies greater sensitivity to Muslim sensibilities on the ground that:
What Christian identity feels like it is about to the broad population is a little bit different to people for whom their religion is also associated with an ethnic identity which has not been fully integrated.

There's an element of truth in this, but the same has historically been true of Polish and Irish Roman Catholics in the UK. I suspect that the decline in Mass attendance can in part be ascribed to sociological/demographic change as people are now less likely to see being a practising Roman Catholic as part of their identity as a Pole or Irishman/woman.

 

17th October   

Looks Like Trouble...

Mohammed look alike contest cancelled in Frankfurt
Link Here

Titanic magazineGermany has scrapped a controversial contesting of alleged look-alikes of Prophet Muhammad that was to be held during Frankfurt international book fair.

We are pleased because there would surely have been problems without this cancellation, Frankfurt prosecutor Doris Joeller-Scheu was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.

Monthly satirical magazine Titanic has planned to hold the controversial contest on the sidelines of the Frankfurt book fair, the world's biggest, which opened Tuesday.

The contest would have shown participants reading from the Qur'an and imitating how Prophet Muhammad walked, talked and moved.

But Frankfurt city officials cancelled the event to avoid offending Muslims.

We are relieved, because there will be no protests this way, said police spokesman Juergen Linker.

 

16th October   

Offsite: Less Free in Malaysia Today...

Jailing Malaysia's Risk-Takers
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia Today logo The jailing of Raja Petra Kamarudin, a self-described risk-taker who has led Malaysia's lively blogging culture, has come to symbolize the government's new assault on Internet expression. On September 12, police raided Raja Petra's residence, seized documents, and arrested the popular blogger under the draconian Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.

Two weeks later, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar ordered the detention extended for two years on charges that Raja Petra published seditious and anti-Islamic articles on his blog, Malaysia Today. The government, signaling a wider crackdown on dissent, detained a newspaper journalist and an opposition politician the same day.

...Read full article

 

16th October   

Four Jihadists of the Apocalypse...

A new film from satirist Chris Morris
Link Here  full story: Four Lions...Chris Morris satire re religious extremists

Brasseye DVD Satirist Chris Morris, well known for TV programmes like Brasseye, has scripted a new film about British jihadists.

The project is known as Four Lions and is described in publicity material:

In three years of research, Chris Morris has spoken to terrorism experts, imams, police, secret services and hundreds of Muslims. Even those who have trained and fought jihad report the frequency of farce. At training camps young jihadis argue about honey, cry for their mums, shoot each other's feet off, chase snakes and get thrown out for smoking. A minute into his martyrdom video, a would-be bomber looks puzzled and says what was the question again? On millennium eve, five jihadis set out to ram a US warship. They slipped their boat into the water and carefully stacked it with explosives. It sank.

Terrorist cells have the same group dynamics as stag parties and five a side football teams. There is conflict, friendship, misunderstanding and rivalry. Terrorism is about ideology, but it's also about berks.

Four Lions is a funny, thrilling fictional story that illuminates modern British jihad with an insight beyond anything else in our culture. It plunges us beyond seeing these young men as unfathomably alien. It undermines the folly of just wishing them away or alienating
the entire culture from which they emerge. It understands how terrorism relates to testosterone. It understands jihadis as human beings. And it understands human beings as innately ridiculous. As Spinal Tap understood heavy metal and Dr Strangelove the Cold War, Four Lions understands modern British jihadis.

Chris Morris is hoping to have the film funded by donations. People interested are asked to send an email to fundingmentalism@warpfilms.com. They'll then they put you on the mailing list.

 

14th October   

Prostitution = Trafficking...

European baptists believe in any old nonsense
Link Here

EBF logoThe European Baptist Federation's anti-trafficking group is working on a handbook that will give congregations across Europe ideas on how best to eradicate prostitution.

European Baptists at September's EBF Council session in Portugal reaffirmed their commitment to reducing demand for prostitutes among men supposedly in a bid to tackle the number of men, women and children being trafficked and sold into the illegal sex trade.

Sven-Gunnar Liden, Swedish Baptist pastor and chairman of the EBF anti-trafficking working group, said that human trafficking destroys women, children and men through ruthless exploitation and is a major topic for Europe's churches.

He welcomed new legislation in Sweden that makes it illegal to solicit services from prostitutes and called on Baptist churches in Europe and in the Middle East to mark Oct. 18 as a day of prayer for the Gospel of Jesus Christ might release its healing and liberating powers against human trafficking.

The National Council of Churches in Sweden has announced plans to intensify its efforts against human trafficking when the country takes over the EU presidency in 2009.

 

14th October   

Nutters and Low Standards...

Rock bottom community standards in Australia due to sexy adverts
Link Here

Australia flagCatholoc nutters are stepping up the fight to ban "sexualised" advertisements from billboards.

Matthew Restall and Bridget Spinks have 4000 signatures, including that of Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell, and are hoping to collect as many as 100,000 by January, when they will be submitted to the NSW and Victorian parliaments to be tabled.

Restall said he took the action after seeing an advertisement on the side of a vehicle advertising a car wash, showing a scantily clad woman lying in a suggestive position. It was offensive. The aim of the campaign is to remove all forms of sexualised advertisements from billboards and sides of vehicles.

The campaign has been backed by The Catholic Weekly.

Spinks said: Who knows what our children are having to deal with. By 2040, if no one does something now, the level of our community standards is going to drop.

 

14th October   

Religious Bloodshed...

Christians flee islamic murderers in Mosul
Link Here

Iraq flagThe Iraqi government rushed 1,000 police to Mosul to try to stop a murderous campaign against Christians which has forced thousands to flee the northern city.

Officials say about 4,000 people have taken flight in the past week to escape the killings being carried out by Islamic extremists intent on wiping out one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.

Since 28 September, at least 11 Christians have been killed in the mostly Sunni Muslim city that lies on the river Tigris some 200 miles north of Baghdad. Most of the refugees fleeing the violence are moving to Christian villages, schools and monasteries elsewhere in the Nineveh province.

The Christian community in Mosul claims to have been founded by St Thomas. Many belong to the Chaldean or Assyrian churches but, even before the present wave of killings, the number of Christians in the city had dropped from 20,000 to 10,000. In March, the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Paul Faraj Ranho, was kidnapped and his body was later found in a shallow grave.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said he will do everything to guarantee the safety of Christians whose community in Iraq, which numbered 800,000 five years ago, is now down to 250,000. Two national police brigades were sent to Christian areas in Mosul and churches were surrounded and put under tight security, said an Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdul-Karim Khalaf.

 

13th October   

Beyer Recommends...

Apparitions
Link Here
John Beyer

Beyer Recommends
Apparitions

A new BBC series depicts a man possessed by the devil and being skinned alive in a gay sauna. Another episode shows a father threatening to sexually assault his daughter while in another, Mother Teresa is seen on her death bed.

The series, called Apparitions , was the idea of the actor Martin Shaw, who also stars in it as a Roman Catholic priest.

He said he realised the programme would be controversial but added: I'm not going to pretend this is the most positive show on Earth. We're talking about the end of all things but the message is that love conquers all. It doesn't show a wholly positive message, otherwise it would be Songs Of Praise and people would switch off. It is going out at nine, an acknowledged watershed.

Catholic bishops advised the scriptwriters and production company to help them portray the exorcism accurately, but a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference said: I will not watch the drama myself, it is not tasteful I haven't seen it but people might well be shocked. I have to stress, it is a work of fiction. The Catholic Church would not have chosen the drama form to explain the issue of exorcism.

John Beyer, the director of the nutter group Mediawatch-UK, said the programme was bound to cause controversy: This series is likely to be a clear breach of the Broadcasting Code. I'm surprised the BBC consented to a show like this as a way of depicting the battle between good and evil. There must be better ways of doing that. They've got people sitting on crucifixes. It will cause very serious offence. This will create the same type of furore the BBC caused when it screened Jerry Springer The Opera.

A BBC spokeswoman said: Apparitions is a post-watershed drama and the scenes are a vital part. Representatives of the Catholic Church were invited to ensure accurate depiction of all religious rituals. They read all the scripts.

 

13th October   

Update: Nothing in it for Women...

So why should Britain enforce sharia court judgements
Link Here  full story: Sharia Law in the UK...Shariah tribunals operating in Britain
Ann Robinson

Ms MuslimExWife...
You are the weakest link
GOODBYE!

The new minister for race relations has attacked sharia courts, insisting that the Muslim community in Britain is not advanced enough to have its own legal system.

Sadiq Khan, whose comments will have added impact because he is a Muslim himself, has also warned that the growing number of tribunals based on Islamic codes could entrench discrimination against women.

Khan, who became minister for community cohesion in the government reshuffle this month, said: The burden is on those who want to open up these courts to persuade us why they should do it.

In a wide-ranging interview on race and immigration, Khan the Labour MP for Tooting, south London, also: Warned that an economic downturn could fuel ethnic tensions. Demanded an increase in benefits for immigrants with larger families. Admitted that government anti-terror laws had caused problems in race relations. Called on public bodies to cut translation services to encourage immigrants to learn English.

I have seen good examples of Jewish courts, Khan said. I would be very concerned about sharia courts applying in the UK. I don't think there is that level of sophistication that there is in Jewish law.

Jewish law has a long history. There are not the same areas of concern that there are with sharia law. At some stage in the future I do not rule out the possibility that the Muslim diaspora in this country may be advanced enough. But now is not the right time.


Khan said he believed the tribunals would only exacerbate the unfair treatment of Muslim women: There is unequal bargaining power between men and women in this country . Women can be abused and persuaded to do things that they shouldn't have to do.

 

13th October   

Update: Converted to Intolerance...

Egypt has never heard of the phrase religious tolerance
Link Here  full story: Religious Intolerance in Egypt...Court challenge over imposing islam on ID cards

Egypt flagAn Egyptian Coptic Christian woman has been sentenced to three years in prison for failing to uphold her Islamic identity – an identity she didn't know she had for over four decades.

Sisters Shadia and Bahia Nagy El-Sisi, both in their late 40s were arrested and tried for claiming their official religious identity as Christian. Unknown to them, their religious identity officially changed 46 years ago due to their father's brief conversion to Islam. Both are illiterate.

Shadia El-Sisi was tried for stating her religion as Christian on her marriage certificate and sentenced to three years in prison on Nov. 21, 2007. She was released two months later.

On September 23 a 'judge' also sentenced Bahia El-Sisi to three years in prison for forging her marriage certificate by stating her religion as Christian.

Their father, Nagy El-Sisi, converted to Islam in 1962 during a brief marital dispute in order to divorce his wife and potentially gain custody of his daughters, the sisters' lawyer Peter Ramses told Compass.

If Bahia El-Sisi's identity as a Muslim stands, then her religious status could potentially create a domino effect that would require her husband to convert to Islam or have their marriage nullified. Her children, too, would be registered as Muslims. Both women are married to Christians.

All of their children and grandchildren would be registered as Muslims, Ramses said: [The ruling] would affect many people.

 

12th October   

Update: Breeding Rights...

Another Canadian rights tribunal clears Maclean's magazine
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in Canada...Canada's Human Rights works against free speech

America Alone book Another rights tribunal has dismissed a case against Canada's Maclean's magazine, which was accused of spreading hatred against Muslims in an article by conservative writer Mark Steyn.

The 2006 article The New Word Order may have caused some to fear Muslims as a threat to western society, but that did not mean that it promoted religious hatred, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled.

The article, with all of its inaccuracies and hyperbole, has resulted in political debate which in our view (the human rights code) was never intended to suppress, the three-member panel ruled.

Media and civil rights groups had opposed the complaint against Maclean's by the Canadian Islamic Congress, fearing that a ruling against the national newsweekly would lead to restrictions on freedom of the press.

The Canadian Islamic Congress lost similar complaints against the Maclean's article in Ontario and before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

 

11th October   

Brave or Pig Headed...

Sarah Maple and her provocative art
Link Here  full story: Sarah Maple Art...Sarah Maple and her provocative art

Sarah Maple poster She's been described as the new Tracey Emin, but even that femme terrible would probably fear to tread the territory that Sarah Maple is currently negotiating.

The artist has a new exhibition with a headline picture showing a Muslim woman cradling a pig.

Already, Mokhtar Badri, the vice-president of the Muslim Association of Britain, tells Mandrake that his organisation plans to visit the SaLon Gallery, in Notting Hill, west London, to demand that it remove Maple's painting when it exhibits it next week.

Although we condemn violence, Muslims have a right to express their disgust at this work, he tells me: An artist has the right to free speech and to express him or herself ...BUT... people also have the right to protest. She clearly wants to provoke a strong reaction from Muslims and that is what she will get.

Badri explained the upset that would be caused over the image. Muslims believe that all of God's creatures should be treated with respect, but we are taught to keep our distance from pigs because they are unclean. That is why this picture is so offensive to us

Maple, 23, who was brought up as a Muslim, has already evoked Islamic wrath. Her exhibition at Rolling Stone Wood's gallery earlier this year depicted Muslim women in provocative poses, including one suggestively sucking on a banana.

This Artist Blows

SaLon Gallery presents Sarah Maple's first solo show. Preview on 16th October 2008. Open Exhibition until 17th November 2008.

SaLon Gallery 82 Westbourne Grove London W2 5RT

 

11th October   

Update: Lost Jewel...

Jewel of Medina publication delayed in the UK
Link Here  full story: Jewel of Medina...Publishers run scared over book

Jewel of Medina book The UK launch of controversial novel The Jewel of Medina about the Prophet Mohammed has been postponed.

American writer Sherry Jones has also delayed a three-day publicity tour of the UK for her book scheduled for next week.

The Jewel of Medina was due to be released by Gibson Square Publishers this month but two weeks ago the home of Martin Rynja, who works for the publishing house, was targeted in a suspected petrol bomb attack.

A spokesman for Gibson Square Publishers said today: We respect Sherry Jones's decision. In her view the best thing to do is to postpone her visit and the publishing of the novel in Britain.

 

11th October   

Update: Taliban School Burners...

Catholic run girls school the latest of 150 that have been attacked
Link Here  full story: School Burning in Pakistan...Taliban take offence at education, particularly for girls

Pakistan flagA Catholic-run girls' school in North-West Frontier Province has been bombed by Pakistani Taliban.

The Convent Girls' School was bombed by local Taliban and the school building was destroyed, according to the Catholic Church's National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

No one was killed or hurt because the school, run by Sri Lankan Apostolic Carmelite Sisters, was closed at the time due to threats. The sisters had also vacated the convent.

In the past two years, more than 150 girls' schools have been attacked in the North-West Frontier Province by Pakistani Taliban, the NCJP claims.

 

9th October   

Blogging can Seriously Damage your Career...

Bishop doesn't see the jokes in his vicars blogs
Link Here
Peter Mullen

The Bishop of London
is in a high huff,
Because I joked about
tattooing a puff;

A Church of England vicar could face disciplinary action for saying gay men should have "sodomy" warnings tattooed on their bodies.

The Rev Peter Mullen, who is a parish priest and rector in the City of London, made the remarks on his jokey blog, which has since been removed from the web under an agreement with diocesan officials.

Mullen wrote it was time for religious believers to recommend the discouragement of homosexual practices in the style of cigarette packet warnings: Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattooed with the slogan sodomy can seriously damage your health and their chins with fellatio kills.

In a previous posting Mullen anticipated an agreeable carnage at the start of the annual Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca: They usually manage to stampede and slaughter quite a few hundred of their co-religionists. Just imagine for a moment what a field day the BBC and the leftwing press in England would have if anything even remotely as bad as that happened in Vatican Square at Christmas or Easter.

Mullen criticised the lack of jokes about Islam in the media, remarking that adherents certainly lend themselves to ridicule: sticking their arses in the air five times a day. How about a few little choruses, 'Randy Muslims when they die/Find 70 virgins in the sky'?

In a statement referring to the tattoo blog, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, bishop of London, condemned Mullen's opinions. While clergy are entitled to their own personal views, [...BUT...] we recognise that the content of this text is highly offensive and is in no way reflective of the views of the diocese of London.

Chartres was said to be taking the matter seriously, although his office stated it was not in a position to edit blogs written by an individual, however much they might disapprove of the sentiments expressed. A spokesman for the diocese said it was possible that Mullen could be disciplined on the grounds of engaging in conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of the clergy.

Despite the bishop's rebuke, Mullen played down the posts, which he described as "light-hearted jokes: I wrote some satirical things on my blog and anybody with an ounce of sense of humour or any understanding of the tradition of English satire would immediately assume that they're light-hearted jokes. I certainly have nothing against homosexuals.

Another jokey poem by Peter Mullen will do little to help him sooth his relationship with his bishop:

Gay wedding at St Bartholomew's EC1

The Bishop of London is in a high huff
Because Dr Dudley has married a puff;
And not just one puff – he's married another:
Two priests, two puffs and either to other.
“It isn't a wedding, for that's not allowed;
They've just come together and promised and vowed
To shack up and snug up, to have and to hold:
Ooh aren't we radical! Ooh aren't we bold!”
Now here's a most queer and most wonderful thing:
He's given his hand, he's offered his ring;
And each to the other forever will bend,
After their troll in the coach up West End.
Not a flash wedding, no pics in Hello!
Just a honeymoon cottage, convenient so.
Of such Dr Dudley a goldmine has found,
From shaven-head puftas the nuptial pink pound.
The new Church of England embraces diversity,
A fresh modulation on ancient perversity:
“I'm C of E and PC so don't think it odd of me
To offer a licence and blessing for sodomy.”

Update: Mullen Echoes On

15th October 2008. See Vicar uses newspaper column to apologise for his 'sodomy tattoo' jibe at gays from guardian.co.uk

The Northern Echo editor, Peter Barron, has defended his decision to go on running columns by Mullen, who he calls our most outspoken columnist . On his blog he told readers : I do not always share Peter Mullen's views. But I regard him as a high quality, thought-provoking writer.

 

8th October   

Update: If Music be the Food of Love...

Ban it!
Link Here
 
 

Lipa SchmeltzerLipa Schmeltzer looks and sounds every inch the popular ultra-orthodox Jewish singer that he is. He sings in Yiddish. He dresses in the clothes of a Haredi Jew and all of his song lyrics come from the scriptures.

Yet some say Schmeltzer's music, and that of others like him, is indecent and unfit for public consumption.

They are leading the public astray and are causing a great negative influence on the young generation, says Rabbi Efraim Luft, head of an ultra-orthodox organisation in Israel called the Committee for Jewish Music.

Supported by leading Haredi rabbis, Rabbi Luft has drawn up a black-list of musicians and bands - music that he says that is not kosher and cannot be played at ultra-orthodox weddings or public events because of its decadent nature.

What Rabbi Luft objects to so vehemently is not just contemporary, western music - rock, rap or pop - but the use of modern instruments and beats in the tunes of orthodox singers like Lipa Schmeltzer: The main part of the music should be the melody. Percussion should be secondary. They should not bend notes electronically and should not use instruments like electric guitars, bass guitars or saxophones in Jewish music .

Menahem Toker, an award-winning disc jockey, who was dismissed from a radio show under pressure from Haredi activists, warns the policy could backfire: In Jewish Orthodox culture there's no cinema, no theatre, no television. The only thing we have is music. We are the same, orthodox, people but if they don't find an alternative they'll lose the young people - they'll go to non-kosher shows and they'll have lost the next generation.

 

8th October   

An Excellent Definition of Religion?...

Arrogance, selfishness, injustice, exploitation and violence.
Link Here
 
 

PopeModern culture is so devoid of faith that some people are declaring God "dead" and entire nations are losing their identity, Pope Benedict warned.

He said that God was being pushed out of people's lives under the harmful and destructive influence of today's society.

His comments come amid growing concern about the decline in church attendance and interest in religion in many Western nations. Pope Benedict is particularly worried about a growing indifference to religion in Europe.

There are those who, after deciding that 'God is dead', declare themselves to be 'god' and the artisan of their own destiny, the absolute master of the world.

Pope Benedict said attempts to brush God aside lead to arrogance, selfishness, injustice, exploitation and violence.

 

7th October   

Update: Read Then Decide...

Jewel of Medina published in the US
Link Here  full story: Jewel of Medina...Publishers run scared over book

Jewel of Medina book The controversy surrounding Sherry Jones's The Jewel of Medina , a novel in which the youngest wife of the Muslim prophet Muhammad tells the story of their marriage from her perspective, intensified last week, after an attempt to firebomb the book's British publisher created momentary uncertainty about whether that edition would go forward (it will) and raised security concerns at the offices of Beaufort Books, the novel's American publisher.

Ultimately, Beaufort decided to move the publication date up so that it would be available in bookstores starting today. There's a lot of talk about what is and isn't in the book by people who haven't read it, Jones explained: Until people read it, the dialogue can't move on. The discussion cannot progress.

Jones Said: I was just fascinated by her tale. I was drawn to her immediately; I felt empathy and compassion for her. She began writing the novel that became The Jewel of Medina in an effort to better understand A'isha: I asked myself, how does a young girl whose life is completely controlled by men transform into the leader and warrior and scholar that she became? So I gave her obstacles and temptations in the course of imagining how she would grow.

The problem (as we see it) stems from the flagrant mischaracterization of the novel by Islamic studies professor Denise Spellberg, whom Ballantine Books had approached hoping for a blurb, as soft core pornography and anti-Muslim propaganda; Spellberg's zealous efforts to alert Muslims to the book's impending publication were particularly effective in giving the public a distorted impression of its contents.

And we do mean distorted: Now that we've read the novel for ourselves, and seen precisely two paragraphs that might be construed as sexually explicit (and that's being extremely generous to one of them), Jones deserves a public apology from Spellberg for her public misrepresentations.

 

 

7th October   

Enemy of Religion...

Jordan's grand mufti accuses poet of blasphemy
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Jordan...Poet prosecuted for blasphemy

Kuwait flagWhen Islam Samhan recited his poetry about love, loneliness and life in front of a crowd at a culture club four months ago, he was given a standing ovation.

But now, Samhan, 27, who is also a journalist, has been accused of apostasy, a crime that can carry the death sentence in the Islamic world.

Last week, Jordan's grand mufti, Noah Alqdah Samas, the kingdom's highest religious authority, called Samhan an enemy of religion for his poetry, some of which included lines comparing his loneliness to that of the prophet Yusuf in the Quran.

Now there are calls for the poet to be detained, his collection of poetry banned and the publishing house penalised.

All this comes as something of a surprise to Samhan, whose book, In a Slim Shadow , published eight months ago, is a collection of his best work over the past decade. The ministry of culture even bought 50 copies.

He dismisses claims that he defamed or insulted the prophet or religion with his poems, but acknowledges that some of his verses may sound similar to the Quran because they were in Arabic.

Defaming religion in Jordan, as in many Arab and Muslim countries, is a line that cannot be crossed. Although citing Quranic verses in poetry or literature is not forbidden, how they are used is what can cause problems.

The state-run Press and Publication Department has transferred Samhan's case to court to decide if his book violates the law.

 

7th October   

Update: Religious War in Orissa...

3 murdered and 400 christian homes burned down
Link Here  full story: Hindus vs Christians...Tragic rivalry between hindus and christians

India flagAt least two more Christians have been killed in Orissa state's Kandhamal district after Hindu extremists this week set fire to nearly 400 homes there and in Boudh district.

A third man died after succumbing to previous axe injuries.

Tribal peoples in Sindhipankha village killed Dushashan Majhi, a local influential Christian, first shooting him and them cutting him to pieces. Local Christian leaders reported that Majhi was a government servant working in the treasury.

The mob then turned on Sanyasi Majhi, also said to be Christian, who was with Dushashan Majhi. There were unconfirmed reports that a third victim was killed along with the other two.

Local news reports said that the attacks – which have continued unabated since Hindu extremists blamed Christians for the death of Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 23 even though Maoist militants admitted murdering him – involve women first ransacking the Christian homes.

The modus operandi of the tribal mob is such that women go first and attack the Christian houses. They ransack and rob the household's gold and other jewelry, TVs and all that is precious. The men then follow and burn the houses. Lately it has been reported that now they are fighting among themselves for the booty.

 

 

6th October   

No Prostitution Day...

Nuns close down Philippines bars for a day
Link Here

Philippines flagThe Association of Barangay Council had passed a resolution asking owners of girlie bars to close their establishments in observance of the International Day of No Prostitution on Sunday.

Thus, on Sunday night, the red light district of Cagayan de Oro was empty of sex workers.

Sunday's activity culminated in a torch parade led by officials of Barangay Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City.

At least even for one night there is no prostitution and all respect the International Day of No Prostitution, said Eleony Monding, chairman of Tingog Sa Kasanag (TiSaKa). Tisaka, a non-government organization (NGO) helping sex workers in the city, was in the forefront in the campaign along with the Religious of Good Shepherd (RGS) nuns.

Monding said they have no exact number as to how many sex workers are plying their trade in the city. Most of these sex workers work freelance and very hard to track down, she said.

 

6th October   

Update: Not Terrorists!...

Islamic fire bombers caught red handed terrorising book publisher
Link Here  full story: Jewel of Medina...Publishers run scared over book

Jewel of Medina book Britain's police have been accused of misusing the country's terrorism laws against Muslims after three men were charged under criminal law for firebombing a publisher in north London.

What is surprising is that they were held under anti-terror legislation for almost a week and then charged under fire arm offences, Muslim News editor Ahmed Versi said: It seems anti- terror laws are being used as fishing expedition.

Ali Beheshti, Abrar Mirza and Abbas Taj, all from London, were due to appear in court Friday after being charged with conspiring to damage the home of a man publishing an American novel about Mohammed's young wife.

The men, charged with conspiring without lawful excuse to damage the premises between September 8 and 27, could have only been held by police for a maximum of three days under criminal law.

Versi condemned the petrol bomb attack carried out last Saturday but said that the case was another evidence that the police are misusing the anti terror legislation whenever Muslims are involved in committing criminal offences.

The police told the Muslim News that the arrests were the culmination of investigation of the three trying to set fire to the property and other information received deemed to be suitable under Terrorism Act 2000 and it was intelligence led.

 

6th October   

Update: Last Rights...

Iran releases two christian converts held on apostasy charges
Link Here  full story: Apostasy in Iran...Apostasy, heresy and witchcraft capital offences

Apostasy CDIranian officials have released two Christian converts who were being held in prison on apostasy charges, one week after the Iranian Government voted overwhelmingly in favour of new legislation to introduce the death penalty for anyone who leaves the Muslim faith.

Mahmoud Mohammed Matin-Azad and Arash Ahmad-Ali Basirat were arrested in May and charged with apostasy following their conversion to Christianity from Islam.

Andy Dipper, head of Christian persecution watchdog Release International, gave a cautious welcome to news of their release: We're delighted Iran has dropped its charges against these men but existence is about to become even tougher for other Iranians seeking freedom of faith.

Their release follows a statement from the EU last week, in which it urged the Iranian Government to reconsider the debate on the draft bill on apostasy and pressed for the release of people imprisoned because of their religious affiliation.

Update: Pressure Works

2nd November 2008

It seems that a little pressure from above caused the court to overlook the ecidence of apostasy. Two lucky guys it appears.

 

5th October   

Update: Welcome to Saudi Britain...

Pat Condell video restored to YouTube
Link Here  full story: Pat Condell Censored...Pat Condell sharia comedy censored by YouTube

Welcome to Saudi Britain by Pat Condell The latest Pat Condell video, Welcome to Saudi Britain, has been restored to YouTube.

Pat Condell said:

Enormous thanks to everyone who uploaded the video and to everyone who contacted YouTube. And my thanks to YouTube for reinstating the video. I'm very much obliged.

The original petition has closed, but it rose from nowhere to the 24th most signed in just a few days once people knew it was there.

Now there's a new petition that runs until the new year, and if everyone signs this one and publicises it there's no reason why we can't get many thousands of signatures and make the British government take notice.

Sign the petition: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop Sharia Law from being binding in law under arbitration tribunals rules .

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

Update: A Kuwait View View of Human Rights and YouTube bans

Based on article from arabtimesonline.com

Kuwait flagThe misleadingly named Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) Chairman Dr Adel Al-Damkhi has asked his government to put pressure on the officials of YouTube to delete all derogatory statements about Islam and Muslims from the site.

He urges the authorities to take the necessary legal action in case the website fails to erase the statements, Al-Damkhi spouted: uttering profanities against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the worst form of human rights violation in the world. Attacks on the values and tenets of Islam are extremely dangerous and unacceptable.

Al-Damkhi pointed out the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) strongly condemns attacks on the holy prophets and religions.

He confirmed KHRS recognizes the importance of freedom of conducting scientific research, exchange of information, and significance of the latest technologies and media on human lives ... BUT ... it is against how YouTube depicts Islam. He said this is an outright violation of the human rights of millions of Muslims all over the world.

 

5th October   

Oi No!...

Comedian Harry Enfield banned from fun with religious characters
Link Here
 
 

Oi No! Harry Enfield DVDHarry Enfield has revealed that he was banned from performing as a sex-crazed Muslim hoodie and a paedophile Catholic priest in his new BBC comedy show.

Executives at production company Tiger Aspect ordered the 47-year-old comedian to scrap plans for characters Father Paddy and the unnamed Muslim because they might cause trouble, Enfield said. He added: I was told, “Don't even go there.”

 

5th October   

Update: Modesty Patrols...

Religious vigilantes terrorise Israel
Link Here

Religious PoliceIn Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behaviour they consider unchaste.

They hurl stones at women for such sins as wearing a red blouse, and attack stores selling devices that can access the Internet.

In recent weeks, self-styled modesty patrols have been accused of breaking into the apartment of a Jerusalem woman and beating her for allegedly consorting with men.

They have torched a store that sells MP4 players, fearing devout Jews would use them to download pornography.

These breaches of purity and modesty endanger our community, said Elchanan Blau, defending the bearded, black-robed zealots: If it takes fire to get them to stop, then so be it.

Many ultra-Orthodox Jews are dismayed by the violence, but the enforcers often enjoy quiet approval from rabbis eager to protect their own reputations as guardians of the faith, community members say.

There are eyes and ears all over the place, very similar to what you hear about in countries like Iran, says Israeli-American novelist Naomi Ragen, an observant Jew.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the modesty police are not an organized phenomenon, just rogue enforcers carrying out isolated attacks.

A 17-year-old who moved to Israel from New York five years ago said she was hospitalized after being attacked with pepper spray by a crowd of men outraged that she was walking down a Jerusalem street with boys.

They can burn in hell, said the girl who lives in Beit Shemesh, a town outside Jerusalem where the vigilantism has been particularly violent. Walls of the neighbourhood are plastered with signs exhorting women to dress modestly - spelled out as closed-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts. The state, catering to religious sensitivities, subsidizes gender-segregated bus routes that service religious neighbourhoods.

 

5th October   

Letterbox Ladies Too Seductive...

Saudi cleric rants in favour of full veil or one eyed niqab
Link Here

BurkhaA Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.

The niqab is more common in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, but women in much of the Muslim Middle East wear a headscarf which covers only their hair.

Sheikh Habadan, an ultra-conservative cleric who is said to have wide influence among religious Saudis, was answering questions on the Muslim satellite channel al-Majd.

 

4th October   

Censorship in the Name of Cohesion...

Councils 'working together' with local media
Link Here

The Department for Communities and Local Government is the United Kingdom government department for communities and local government since May 2006. The department originated in 2001 as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

They have produced an interesting document entitled: Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring

And its shows that councils have been working with local newspapers to censor stories that may inflame local tensions.

The document gives the following examples:

Working with the media

Middlesbrough Council

The council has close links to the editor of the Evening Gazette, the main local newspaper, who also sits on the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP). This helps to ensure that press and media related issues are considered in cohesion contingency planning.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Tameside holds regular meetings with local newspaper editors to gather information and stop sensationalist reporting which might otherwise start or add to rising tensions, e.g. in response to a Kick Racism out of Football campaign, an extremist political group wanted to picket a local football stadium. A local newspaper was going to print the story on its front page – an action that was likely to bring unwanted publicity to the picket and fuel rising community tensions. The intervention of the Community Cohesion Partnership prevented the story from being run and in the event no-one turned out for the picket.

Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council

The Berwick Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) is working with the local press/media to vet stories involving migrant workers from eastern Europe and Portugal employed in the food processing and agricultural sectors to prevent stigmatisation.

 

4th October   

Preaching to the Choir...

China censors religious music
Link Here

Handel's Messiah DVDMusicians and tour organisers have told The Daily Telegraph that a series of significant performances have been affected amid a tightening of political control over the arts and Christianity.

Among the victims are the Academy of Ancient Music, one of Britain's leading orchestral and choral groups, which was invited to sing The Messiah at the Beijing International Music Festival in October.

The performance will go ahead but has been made by invitation only to get round the ban. Ironically, among the invitees are members of the Politburo and other senior government leaders.

The Sinfonica Orchestra di Roma has dropped plans to play Mozart's Requiem in the Sichuan earthquake zone in honour of the dead and to raise money for survivors. It will play a programme of smaller, mostly non-religious works instead.

Stefano Palamidessi, the Rome orchestra's general manager, said he had been advised to drop Mozart's Requiem from an open-air performance in the main square in the city of Dujiangyan, part of a China-wide tour.

An official said: A smaller piece as part of a bigger programme might be OK, but a big work like Mozart's Requiem would definitely be out.

Attitudes in the top leadership to religion and western culture in general are thought to be divided. Some regard an explosion in evangelical Christianity across the country as having social benefits, while others regard it as an alien threat to Communist Party control.

 

3rd October   

Religious Asylum...

UK court grants Syrian christians asylum due to real danger of being killed by muslims
Link Here

Syria flagA UK immigration court of appeals has for the first time recognized the life threatening circumstances of Muslim converts to Christianity by granting asylum to a Syrian evangelical Christian couple.

In an unprecedented victory, the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) helped a young couple gain refugee status in the United Kingdom.

The court recognized that the couple would face real physical threats, including death, if they return to Syria, the country of origin of the husband. The appeal was granted on both asylum and human rights grounds.

This is a significant and groundbreaking decision that clearly puts the focus on the fact that many converts to Christianity from Islam face real danger including the ultimate penalty of death, said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ECLJ

He added, This important decision will not go unnoticed in the international arena and we're delighted that it provides protection for Christian converts who are at great risk because of their faith and their desire to share it.

The couple had converted to evangelical Christianity a few years ago – the husband in 2003 and the wife in 2005. After their conversion, which is considered apostasy under Sharia law and punishable by death, the couple began receiving death threats, including a video of a beheading.

Also, the husband's family told him if he refused to return to Islam then they would wash their shame, or put him to death.

 

2nd October   

YouCensoredTube...

Pat Condell censored from YouTube
Link Here  full story: Pat Condell Censored...Pat Condell sharia comedy censored by YouTube

Pat Condell Anthology DVD The outspoken English comedian Pat Condell has had his latest video blocked by YouTube.

The Video had over 40,000 hits in the 24 hours that it was up on YouTube and it was the top-rated video on the whole of YouTube.

The most urgent message in his video is this: If you live in Britain please sign this petition against the creeping poison of sharia law before October 4th when it closes.

Apparently YouTube, who has had some challenges with Turkey and Pakistan, have decided that it is easier to block 'problematic' content themselves than standing up for freedom and have Pakistani Internet operators wreck havoc on them.

In his latest video, Pat Condell sure manages to step on some toes in this latest video. But that is well deserved, for what happens is serious and what he has to say is important. Too important to censor, so here is a transcript of the start of the video:

Hi everyone

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that Sharia courts are now operating here in Britain, with the full backing of the law, even though they discriminate against women as a matter of cause.

And what this means is that those women who are intimidated into using these courts, as some of them will be, and everyone knows it, they will now find that they have the full weight of the British legal system lined up against them, alongside the patriarchical bigotry in their own communities.

Those women who are cheated out of their just entitlements in these places, as some already have been, will find that they have no recourse to the real law to put things right. In other words, we are now accommodating Saudi Arabian legal principles here in Britain.

 

2nd October   

Obsession with Islam...

US newspapers distribute controversial DVD about islam
Link Here
 
 

Obsession DVD More than 70 US newspapers have been helping to distribute a DVD of a documentary film, Obsession: Radical Islam's war against the West , that has been criticised as Islamophobic. The DVD is being included as an advertising insert in newspapers in "swing" states ahead of the presidential election.

As The Guardian reported last week, the use of the DVD is being seen as an attempt to secure John McCain's victory over Barack Obama, who has been falsely accused of being a Muslim. Now the row over the DVD's distribution has proved controversial for newspapers.

The film, produced in 2006 by Raphael Shore in collaboration with the pro-Israel media watch group HonestReporting, draws parallels between radical Islamists and the Nazi party during the War, specifically Hitler's relationship with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem as an inspiration for radical Islamic movements in the Middle East today.

It is being distributed through the Clarion Fund, a charity founded by Shore in order "to educate Americans about issues of national security."

Critics see it, however, as Muslim-bashing propaganda. Any neutral observer would say this is a biased, one-sided, inflammatory portrayal that seeks to portray Muslims and Islam as Nazi-like, Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council for American-Islamic Relations, told the LA Times.

...Read full article

 

1st October   

Update: Hidden Gem...

Islamic thuggery may yet win the day over Jewel of Medina
Link Here  full story: Jewel of Medina...Publishers run scared over book

Jewel of Medina book Plans for the British publication of a novel about a young wife of the Prophet Muhammad are stalled following arson at the publisher's London office, a sales representative for the company was quoted Tuesday as saying.

The report came a day after the US publisher of the book, Beaufort Books, announced that it had closed its offices as a "precautionary action" but intended to go ahead with its publication of The Jewel of Medina next month.

On Tuesday, a report on The Bookseller magazine Web site said British publication plans had been thrown into doubt after a weekend arson attack at an office of publisher Gibson Square.

The Bookseller quoted Alan Jessop of Compass, the publisher's sales representative, as saying he had discussed the situation with publisher Martin Rynja.

He is in good spirits, but has put publication in suspended animation while he reflects and takes advice on what the best foot forward is, Jessop was quoted as saying.

Waterstone's, a major British chain of booksellers, said it had not decided what it would do if the book was published.

The company said that the safety of customers and employees was paramount and that it was talking to the supplier of The Jewel of Medina regarding publication, but would not comment further until the book's status was clear.

 

1st October   

Fork Off...

Forklift truck driver sues Tesco over handling alcohol
Link Here  full story: Religious Restrictions at Work...Muslim fork lift truck driver refuses alcohol crates

 Always fine whines

A muslim who claims he did not know Tesco sold alcohol is suing the store for religious discrimination after having to carry crates of drink as part of his job as a forklift truck driver.

Mohammed Ahmed worked in a distribution depot for eight months before quitting 'in protest', an employment tribunal heard.

He claims he was forced to leave because handling beer, spirits and wine is against his strict Islamic beliefs and that he was victimised when he asked the company to give him another role.

Ahmed, who was raised in Saudi Arabia, told the tribunal he had no idea his job entailed handling alcohol when he started work last September at the depot in Lichfield, Staffordshire. When he realised it did, he asked to be found different work but alleges that one of his supervisors told him: You do the job or go home.

The tribunal heard that Tesco has now ensured its induction process makes clear that handling alcohol is part of the job. But Laura Canham, the company's solicitor, said it was still unrealistic for Ahmed to say he had no idea what his duties would be.

Ahmed claimed he had never visited a Tesco store and was not aware the company sold alcohol. He admitted, however, having shopped in Sainsbury's, Lidl and Asda, and noticing alcohol was on sale there.