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31st October   

Update: Opting Out of ISP Level Website Blocking...

Church of England threatens to pull their investment from ISPs unless they 'take action against porn'
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

C of E logoThe Church of England is threatening to use its financial power to inflict internet censorship on Britain. It is considering withdrawing the millions it has invested in ISPs unless they take action.

The Church of England, which wields significant financial clout on the markets, is reviewing investments worth tens of millions. It refuses to invest in firms which fuel the very problems Christians are trying to tackle and has already leaned heavily on supermarkets to be more responsible in the way they sell alcohol.

A Church spokesman said members of its ethical investment advisory group are considering new guidelines on pornography which take into account how easy it is to access with modern media.

The Church of England's stance on porn was welcomed by the Reverend Nutter Richard Moy, who works with young people in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He spouted without a grain of justification:

It is not surprising that people go from soft porn to progressively more hard-core porn to the point where they are so depraved that they do things that they would never imagine doing.

I think that if people start using mild porn to gratify a need rather than looking at why they need that gratification then they will eventually move on to more disturbing things.

[On the other hand, if people don't gratify their needs, eg priests trying to be celibate, then they may eventually move on to even more disturbing things].

 

31st October   

Good Books...

German catholic church owns erotic book publisher
Link Here  full story: Religious Erotica...German publisher of erotica owned by church

Ich will dich noch mehr Weltbild , Germany's largest media company, sells books, DVDs, music and more. It also happens to belong 100% to the Catholic Church. Few people knew about this connection until this month when Buchreport, a German industry newsletter, reported that the Catholic company also sells erotica.

A Church spokesman responded to the report by claiming: Weltbild tries to prevent the distribution of possibly pornographic content. Presumably erotic novels aren't seen as pornographic.

For more than 10 years, a group of Catholics has been trying to point out what is going on to Church authorities, and they are 'outraged' at the hypocrisy of the spokesman's statement. In 2008, the group sent a 70-page document to all the bishops whose dioceses have shared ownership of Weltbild for 30 years, detailing evidence of the sale of erotic books.

Weltbild employs 6,400 people, has an annual turnover of 1.7 billion euros, and an online business in Germany second only to Amazon. Weltbild is also Germany's leading book seller. The 2,500 erotic books in their online catalogue, including those from Blue Panther Books, an erotic book publisher owned by Weltbild, are one example. Their titles include: Anwaltshure (Lawyer's Whore), Vo gelbar ( Fuckable ) and Schlampen-Internat (Sluts' Boarding School).

The Church also owns a 50% share in publishing company Droemer Knaur which also produces pornographic books

 

31st October   

Axed...

South Africa's advert censor whinges at Axe (Lynx) advert suggesting that even angels will succumb to the allure
Link Here

even angels will fall video South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has instructed a TV advert depicting angels falling from heaven because they are attracted to a man's deodorant, to be withdrawn, as it could offend Christians.

A viewer who complained to the ASA about the advert said the suggestion that angels - God's messengers - would literally fall for a man wearing this deodorant was incompatible with his belief as a Christian, according to the rulin.

The advert for Axe deodorant depicts winged, attractive women crashing to earth in what appears to be an Italian town, and then being drawn towards and sniffing a young man who has used the deodorant. The text at the end of the ad reads: Even angels will fall .

The directorate was concerned that the angels were depicted falling and, secondly, being attracted to a mortal man.

As such, the problem is not so much that angels are used in the commercial, but rather that the angels are seen to forfeit, or perhaps forego their heavenly status for mortal desires. This is something that would likely offend Christians in the same manner as it offended the complainant.

 

31st October   

Updated: Hands Off Village Voice...

Sex workers campaign in favour of classified ads for adult services
Link Here  full story: Trafficking Hype...Trafficking figures hopelessly over exaggerated

village voice investigationListings magazine Village Voice is under attack for running Backpage.com the on-line adult classified ads service. Advertising allows many sex workers to work in the relative safety of premises. The same people who witch-hunted Craigslist with a big bucks campaign, have now targeted the Village Voice. They blame adult ads for promoting trafficking and the exploitation of women and children, and use false statistics to exaggerate the numbers of victims trafficked into the sex industry. Politicians, celebrities, religious and feminist groups have all jumped on the band wagon.

One sex worker commented:

People -- not just prostitutes -- have sex for many reasons. Sometimes, for some of us, one reason is money. Craigslist provided a simple, familiar forum through which I could do my business with complete anonymity, from the safety and convenience of my own home. I kept every penny I earned, all without the interference of an agency or other ubiquitous middle man.

In all the media hype, real victims of trafficking and others who are criminalized by poverty and immigration laws, are forced further underground and made even more vulnerable. Millions of dollars have gone to anti-trafficking groups while a Bill to fund shelters with beds, clothing, counseling, case work and legal services for underage prostitutes has stalled. [1] Trafficking laws have primarily been used to target immigrant sex workers for raids and deportation, particularly women of color. (SeeTrafficking -- A Justification for Increased Deportations and A Moralistic Crusade against Prostitution.)

Village Voice's investigative series The Truth Behind Sex Trafficking questioned the research methods and the accuracy of the statistics. They showed that figures claiming a massive increase in online child trafficking had been gathered by researchers guessing the age of young women from their online photos. Figures of 100,000 to 300,000 US child sex slaves were found to have no scientific basis -- researchers admitted that it was a calculation of children at risk of sexual exploitation including runaways, transgender youth and female members of gangs. Despite this admission, the figures have been relentlessly promoted by celebrities such as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

...Read the full article

Update: Pots and Kettles

31st October 2011. See article from business.avn.com

36 clergy have weighed into the campaign against the Village Voice adult services section. It goes with the territory that those who believe in religious nonsense, will also be a bit gullible about the propaganda hype surrounding sex trafficking. Anyway the clerics of the newly formed multifaith coalition of mainline Christians, Catholics, Jews, evangelical Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Humanists and other moral and religious leaders, wrote:

An open letter to Village Voice Media

We agree with 51 Attorneys General. Girls and boys should not be sold for sex on Village Voice Media’s Backpage.com.

It is a basic fact of the moral universe that girls and boys should not be sold for sex. So we were surprised and stunned to realize your company, Village Voice Media, continues to publish an Adult section on its classifieds Web siteBackpage.com that has been used as a platform for the trafficking of minors.

Arrests of adults selling minors for sex via Backpage.com have been reported by the media in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. And these are just some of the cases that have been documented.

As moral and religious leaders of many creeds and backgrounds, we are united in calling on your publication to shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com.

We appreciate your efforts to put in place new measures attempting to screen for ads featuring minors. However, we do not believe that these measures are doing enough to adequately solve the problem, and we share the opinion of the nation’s 51 Attorneys General that the best way to eradicate your company’s connection with the sex trafficking of minors is to shut down the Adult section of your Web site, as Craigslist did.

...

Please shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com immediately so that no minor is exploited through advertisements on your Web site.

Village Voice Media replied by outlining the steps they are taking in response to the issues raised

Here are just some of the things we are doing:

  •  The review of all ads and images in the personals and adult sections of the site.

  • The implementation of key word searches to quickly identify banned advertisements and inappropriate discussions.

  • The significant increase in staff to quickly identify illegal ads.

  • The implementation of roadblocks to prevent minors from accessing mature content.

  • The implementation of dedicated tools on the site to educate users regarding online safety and security.

  • The empowerment of users to report abuse and an expeditious process to handle user complaints.

It must have been tempting to have replied instead:

Please shut down your religions immediately so that no minor is exploited through the actions and deeds of your adherents.

One can't help but think this would result in several orders of magnitude of more minors saved from exploitation.

 

31st October   

No Prayers for Peace...

Threats of violence on a ban of prayer rooms in Kazakhstan state buildings
Link Here

Kazakhstan flagA previously unknown Islamist group has threatened Kazakhstan with violence unless it abolishes a new law that bans prayer rooms in state buildings.

US-based intelligence monitoring group SITE said a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate) made the threat in an Arabic-subtitled video.

In the video, four masked fighters with submachine guns and a grenade launcher are seen standing behind a fighter reading a speech in which he calls on the Kazakh government to abolish the law.

President Nursultan Nazarbaev who signed the law this month claims the new legislation will strengthen religious tolerance. But the law has been criticized by Kazakhstan's Supreme Mufti, Absattar Derbisali, who said it could anger pious Muslims and spur extremism.

Rights groups in the West and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have voiced concerns that it could restrict religious freedom.

 

30th October   

Women Given the Boot...

Women noticeably absent from Jerusalem billboards and adverts
Link Here  full story: Invisible Women in israel...Women removed from the media lest men get offended

 haredim no women allowed signIt appears that graphic artists and public relations professionals in Jerusalem have recently developed a fetish for shoes. A glance at billboards and posters pasted around the city shows that Jerusalem is draped in shoes.

In Jerusalem, a shoe is not just a shoe, says Uri Ayalon, a Conservative rabbi who promotes religious pluralism, and who recently established an uncensored Facebook group that protests against the elimination of women from public spaces. Shoe images, he says, are used to obscure the fact that in Jerusalem women are rarely pictured on public posters and billboards.

It takes time to grasp that something is missing in public spaces in Israel's capital. But once you notice it, it's hard to fathom how you didn't pay attention to this fact earlier. It appears that in recent years, and in an escalated fashion in the past several months, women have disappeared from advertisements in Jerusalem.

This fact does not refer to scantily clad models, who were purged from signs and posters in the city several years ago as a result of campaigns waged by the ultra-Orthodox - struggles that sometimes included the burning and destruction of billboards and bus stops. The purging of women from publicly displayed pictures in Jerusalem applies to images of females in regular dress and daily situations. Pictures of women in family settings and advertisements of women using face cream or being connected to food or fashion products are hard to come by in this city.

Jerusalem municipality officials adamantly deny that there has been a change in the city's advertising policy, and they refer to several advertising campaigns that featured images of women. However, figures in the city's public relations industry admit that women have been entirely removed from public billboards and pictorial advertisements.

It seems that this trend is being led by private advertisers who prefer to conceal women rather than deal with ultra-Orthodox anger. For instance, a hamburger company that promoted its product around the country with a picture of happy family members choose in Jerusalem to show only images of its burgers. In Jerusalem, a campaign for regional radio stations dropped the image of radio presenter Ofira Asayag, which was featured everywhere else in the country.

This becomes a process of self-censorship, explains Rabbi Ayalon. You decide in advance not to use a photograph of a female dancer, so that nobody sprays it. You decide not to confront anything, and that's the position adopted by the advertisement agencies.

 

30th October   

No Go Areas of Finchley...

MP threatened in constituency surgery at North Finchley Mosque
Link Here

mike freerAn MP has described how he waited for police behind a locked door during a constituency surgery after he was threatened by a group of muslim men.

Mike Freer said it happened at North Finchley mosque in north London as he met constituents. Freer said about 12 people forced their way inside, with one of them calling him a Jewish homosexual pig .

The trouble began after messages on the Muslims Against Crusades website urged supporters to target him, he said.

Freer said a message posted ahead of the incident on the group's website made reference to Labour MP Stephen Timms, who was stabbed while holding a surgery in east London last year. It warned the attack on Timms should serve as a piercing reminder to politicians that their presence is no longer welcome in any Muslim area .

The Finchley and Golders Green MP, a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said there was a vocal demonstration outside the mosque as he began his surgery, but then a second group of people arrived and forced their way inside.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: Officers attended North Finchley Mosque at 4.10pm on Friday after a disturbance by protesters inside the building. There were no arrests.

 

29th October   

Ofcom Don't Believe...

Ofcom to consider sanctions for religious channel claiming pastor can heal HIV and cancer
Link Here

Believe TV logoBelieve TV
25 June 2011, 11:00 to 12:00

Believe TV is a service which broadcasts Christian programming and is located in the religious section of the Sky electronic programme guide. The channel broadcasts programmes which include testimony where members of the churches featured, including the VPA, proclaim how health problems, financial issues or other personal matters have been alleviated through healing from a pastor or other religious leader and their faith in God.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to two alleged claims of serious illnesses being cured. These were broadcast on Believe TV on 25 June 2011. The claims were included in a programme which lasted around 20 minutes promoting the work of the church known as the Victorious Pentecostal Assembly ( VPA ). The claims appeared as onscreen text while images of the pastor of VPA, Alex Omokodu, were shown giving healing to followers at the church. The onscreen text claims referred to by the complainant were shown on the bottom third of the screen in white lettering on a black background: HIV IS HEALED and CANCER IS HEALED .

Ofcom considered rules:

Rule 2.1: Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.

Rule 4.6: Religious programmes must not improperly exploit any susceptibilities of the audience.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 2.1 and 4.6

In assessing whether there was a breach of Rule 2.1, Ofcom therefore had to consider whether the claims broadcast could have encouraged viewers to believe that the serious illnesses featured, in particular cancer and HIV, could be cured through the work of the VPA (without orthodox medication). If this were the case, there was a potential for harm because some viewers with serious illnesses – who may therefore be more vulnerable – might have understood on the basis of what they saw on Believe TV that they could be cured by the work of the VPA, and as result either not sought medical advice or stopped following a course of recommended medical treatment. This clearly could be very harmful.

The claims were made in a programme promoting the VPA, and its founder and pastor Alex Omokodu. Around two minutes into the programme it showed images of attendees at the church receiving healing from Pastor Omokudo as a voiceover stated:

Victorious Pentecostal Assembly is a church regularly in communion with the power of the Holy Spirit and has been witness to scores of miraculous testimonies, breakthroughs, healing and what can only be described as divine intervention – a second nature at this mountain of God. This centre of excellence is committed to building up a people of purpose, power and praise, nursing the afflicted to deliverance, the downtrodden are restored to a royal priesthood, from many other afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivered them from them all. And He will do the same for you.

Ofcom noted that as these images were broadcast various graphics were laid over a black segment filling the bottom third of the screen. Each separate graphic was on screen for around 10 seconds. Four of the graphics stated consecutively: THE LAME WALK AGAIN ; CANCER IS HEALED ; WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD BUT RESTORED AT V.P.A ; and HIV IS HEALED .

Taking into account :

  • the juxtaposition of the images of healing and the claims contained in the graphics; and
  • the voiceover stating that VPA had been witness to scores of miraculous testimonies and healing,

Ofcom considered that viewers would have reasonably understood from the onscreen claims that the healing and testimony at the church could include the curing of HIV and cancer through attendance at the VPA alone.

However before the start of the promotional style programme the following three onscreen graphics were broadcast while the text was read in voiceover:

We advise you to always seek your medical practitioner advise [sic] before making any decision based on this programme.

This statement provided some protection to viewers, by warning them to seek medical advice. But Ofcom noted that:

  • these statements were broadcast before the promotional style programme began;
  • they were separated from the claims of healing by about two and a half minutes; and
  • no warning or information was broadcast immediately before, during or after the four claims for healing highlighted above.

These factors limited the protection afforded to viewers by the statement

Ofcom concluded that, taking all these factors into account, viewers were not provided with adequate protection from harm. Some members of the audience – especially those with serious illnesses – could have been left with the impression that the healing of HIV and cancer could, and would, take place if the viewer attended the church. This was a breach of Rule 2.1.

Ofcom concluded that the broadcaster did not appropriately recognise and mitigate the risk to vulnerable viewers, and that the susceptibilities of members of the audience (some of whom might be experiencing a life threatening illness) were improperly exploited by the claims of healing of cancer and HIV broadcast on Believe TV. This was a breach of Rule 4.6.

Considering Sanctions

Ofcom has recently recorded breaches of Rules 2.1 and 4.6 against the Licensee in relation to the promotion of products as cures for serious illnesses and other medical claims made in various broadcasts between 21 December 2010 and 1 February 20111 . Ofcom regarded these contraventions of the Code as so serious and also repeated that we put the Licensee on notice that it was being considered for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

 

29th October   

Enough Christianophobia...

French police arrest christian protestors disrupting theatre performance
Link Here

regarding the son of god advertParis police arrested around 20 Christian fundamentalists who burst into a theatre and threw stink bombs shouting: Enough Christianophobia!. They were protesting against a play featuring the face of Christ drizzled with fake excrement.

Police made the arrests at the Theatre de la Ville, during a performance of On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God, directed by Italian Romeo Castellucci.

The play is the story of an incontinent man being looked after by his son. A copy of a huge portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina hangs at the back of the stage and appears to be covered in excrement towards the end of the performance.

France's ministry of culture blamed the demonstration on members of the Institut Civitas. Civitas head Alain Escada said: Our mission is to spread the word about this performance and to organise a response. Civitas has called for a mass demonstration in Christ's honour . It's insulting at the end of a scatological play to sully the portrait of Christ by making people believe that it's faecal matter that has dirtied it, wounding so many believers.

Update: Further Protests

2nd November 2011. Based on article from minivannews.com

For the past week, throngs of Catholic fundamentalists have been brandishing crosses, chanting in Latin, and dropping to their knees in prayer outside a popular Parisian theatre to protest against a play featuring the face of Christ allegedly covered with fake excrement.

Outraged by what they consider blasphemy and Christianophobia , over a thousand protesters (and up to 5,000, according to protest organisers) gathered on Saturday in front of the theatre, hurling eggs and oil at the building and theatre-goers entering it. Two days earlier, police arrested 20 people for breaking into a performance of the play and planting stink bombs.

 

28th October   

Dangerous Words...

Parliamentary task force examines hate speech on the internet
Link Here

inter-parliamentary coalition for combating antisemitism logoA UK Government Task Force is meeting to discuss ways of combating the growing supposed problem of people publishing bigoted statements on websites.

The Internet Hate Speech Task Force hearing follows a meeting attended by MPs and ISPs.  At that discussion, Israel's Minister of Public Affairs and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein claimed: The issue of hate on the internet needs greater attention given its scope and potential for harm.!

The task force is hosted by John Mann MP and was set up by the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA). It will look at the nature and scope of internet hate. This will include racism, religious hate speech, misogyny and homophobia.

The types of hate speech that are appearing on the internet will be examined as will the various online media through which it appears. The hearing will also highlight the impact that internet hate can have, including its role in fostering hate crimes, and it will include testimonies from experts and witnesses.

Further hearings will be scheduled by the Task Force and a report containing recommendations is due in late 2012

 

28th October   

Bible Burning...

Pope sets a good example and doesn't get worked up into a rage of bloodlust about a holy book in flames
Link Here

VaticanThe Pope named three new saints for the Catholic Church during Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square that was disrupted by a man who climbed out onto the upper colonnade and burned a bible.

Vatican gendarmes, a bishop and the pope's own bodyguard talked the man back from the edge of the colonnade after he shouted, Pope, where is Christ? in English and threw the burned bible to the crowd below.

Benedict and the thousands in the square appeared unfazed by the incident and carried on with the Mass.

 

28th October   

Update: From Bad to Worse...

Sudan's president declares that his country is set to adopt sharia law
Link Here  full story: Sharia in Sudan...Beating and floging women over dress restrictions

Sudan flagSudan is officially declaring sharia to be the law of the land. The government is introducing an entirely Islamic constitution, which means a very strict form of sharia. President Omar Al-Bashir is quoted as saying the new constitution will reflect the fact that 98% of the people are Muslim. The official religion will be Islam and Islamic law the main source, he stated on October 12. Saying that, Al-Bashir had voiced similar warnings before.

Jonathan Racho of International Christian Concern tells OneNewsNow that the Republic of South Sudan, which is mostly Christian and animist, will not be affected by the move because it seceded this summer. But Christians still live in the north, he cautions:

People who are not Muslims who live in an Islamic state are not considered as full citizens and they are deprived of their freedom to worship. That includes freedom to assemble together and worship the Lord and freedom to speak about their faith to others.

The constitution would impact the Nuba Mountains, which is predominately Christian and a region that wanted to secede with the South but was not permitted to do so. Sudan has been bombing the region and destroying villages and churches.

 

27th October   

Update: Outrageous but not Hateful...

French appeals court confirms the acquittal of a man charged with inciting racial hatred over a Koran burning video
Link Here  full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

France flagA French appeals court has confirmed the acquittal of a man accused of inciting racial hatred after posting an Internet video of himself burning a Koran and then urinating on it.

Ernesto Rojas Abbate was arrested in October 2010 after posting footage of himself wearing a devil mask and tearing pages from the Islamic holy book before setting it on fire and later urinating on it to extinguish the flames.

Prosecutors, who had been seeking a three-month suspended sentence and 1,000 euro ($1,400) fine, appealed after a court acquitted him in May on charges of inciting racial hatred.

The appeals court ruled that, while the video was wilfully outrageous and deliberately provocative , there was no evidence Rojas Abbate had intended to arouse feelings of hostility... aimed at provoking discrimination, hate, or violence towards Muslims.

His lawyer, Renaud Bettcher, hailed the ruling, saying: In a secular and republican society, it is incomprehensible that my client was prosecuted. Blasphemy does not exist in France.

 

27th October   

So What Would Ofcom Have Made of This?...

Government hate speech censor considers religious call to murder on Swedish Radio
Link Here

swedish chancellor of justice logoSweden's government hate speech censor has been adjudicating on religious nastiness.

The case was about the Swedish public service broadcaster Sveriges Radio featuring a programme in which a Somali imam called for all converts from Islam to be killed.

The Swedish Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern) cleared the programme of hate speech after the presenter mildly reminded the imam that they were in Sweden. To which the imam had replied that the same rules apply here.

The decision said that the programme features opinions that could be taken as a threat against those who have converted from Islam . However, due to the responses from the presenter, the Chancellor has decided not to investigate the matter further.

The programme in question was a panel discussion and was broadcast live by SR International's Somali service.

The initial police report was filed by Erik Johansson, at the Swedish Evangelical Mission about words underlining every Muslim's responsibility to kill anyone who leaves Islam. Johansson also contacted Sveriges Radio complaining that the item was left available on their website for more than two weeks. Soon after his telephone call the programme was removed from the website.

 

27th October   

Paradise Only for the Intolerant...

Maldives teacher deported after bible found at his house
Link Here

Maldives flagPolice in the island nation of Maldives held a teacher from India for about 15 days before deporting him on Oct. 14 for having a Bible in his house, a source said.

Shijo Kokkattu, a Catholic and teacher at the Raafainu School, had been arrested in late September after police found a Bible and a rosary in his house during a raid.

Charging that Kokkattu was preaching his Christian faith in the Muslim nation, which recently tightened restrictions on preaching and practice of non-Islamic faiths, police took him to another island for interrogation and kept him in custody for more than two weeks.

Police raided his home after Kokkattu's colleagues found Christian materials on a school computer he had used and reported it to authorities.

Kokkattu, a parishioner from Tellicherry Archdiocese in the south Indian state of Kerala, had been teaching at the school for two years. He was a very good teacher, we've not had any complaints of him in the past, the principal reportedly said.

The Maldives claims that all of its more than 300,000 citizens are Sunni Muslims. The country's 2008 Constitution states that a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives. Expatriates following other religions can practice their faith only individually and within their respective homes.

Last month, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs published new regulations under the Protection of Religious Unity Act of 1994 in the government gazette, signaling a renewed commitment to control unlicensed preaching of Islam and propagation of non-Islamic religions in the country. The Act outlaws promotion of anything that represents a religion other than Islam or any opinion that disagrees with Islamic scholars. It also prohibits use of any website, blog, newspaper, or magazine that contradicts Islam. Any violation under the Act is punishable by an imprisonment of between two and five years, banishment or house arrest. Foreigners who are found proselytizing are to be deported, it says.

 

26th October   

Holy Terror...

The latest Frank Miller graphic novel rattles a few cages
Link Here

Holy Terror Frank Miller There is nothing subtle about Frank Miller's newest graphic novel, Holy Terror . The book opens with the quote: If you meet the infidel, kill the infidel , which Miller attributes to the islamic prophet Mohammed.

Miller is no stranger to controversy. His stories, which include the film inspiring 300 and Sin City , regularly explore the darker corners of society amid shades of moral grey.

His latest work was originally envisioned as a Batman tale after September 11 attacks on the US, the comic features heroes The Fixer, and thief-come-love interest, Natalie, as they join forces to stop an Al Qaeda plot on Empire City, a thinly veiled New York City.

For some, this underlines a worrying shift in American entertainment. We are witnessing a growing industry of information and fear-mongering, and this work fits in the centre said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He described the work as shameful .

In a post on his website dated September 23, Miller unapologetically defended Holy Terror as a piece of naked propaganda , but propaganda in a virtuous sense. Holy Terror is his contribution to the fight against terrorism.

Despite wary reviews, Holy Terror was the best-selling graphic novel in September, according to Diamond Comic Distributors.

 

25th October   

Reprehensibly Politically Correct...

Trafford Housing Trust demote manager for private, own time, comments about gay marriage on Facebook
Link Here

trafford housing trust logoAdrian Smith, a Christian, posted in his own time a response to a news story on the Government's plans to allow gay weddings in church. The posting, which was only available to his friends, questioned whether the plans were an equality too far .

He was then found guilty of supposed gross misconduct by the Trafford Housing Trust, a publicly funded housing association, and has been demoted from his £ 35,000 a year managerial post to a more junior £ 21,000 position.

The Trust said the comments, posted on a page which identified the user as a housing association employee, were against equal opportunities policy.

Smith is threatening to take the housing association to court claiming damages equivalent to his lost pay.

Update: Peter Tatchell correctly defends Adrian Smith

1st November 2011. Based on article from minivannews.com

A leading gay rights campaigner has backed a Christian housing worker demoted for posting comments on Facebook about gay marriage. Political campaigner Peter Tatchell described the Trafford Housing Trust (THT) response as excessive and disproportionate .

Human rights organisation the Peter Tatchell Foundation issued a statement saying it was not a particularly homophobic viewpoint :

Adrian Smith's opposition to churches being compelled to hold gay marriages is shared by much of the population, including many equality and human rights organisations. In a democratic society, he has a right to express his point of view, even if it is misguided and wrong.

Freedom of speech should only be limited or penalised in extreme circumstances, such as when a person incites violence against others. Mr Smith's words did not cross this threshold.

Instead of taking disciplinary action, the Trust should have simply warned Smith about making remarks in forums where he is identified as their employee, added Tatchell: I urge Trafford Housing Trust to revoke his demotion and salary cut.

Update: Token Damages

27th November 2012. See article from standard.co.uk

A Christian who was demoted for posting his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook has won a High Court case against his employer for breach of contract.

Adrian Smith lost his managerial job, his pay was cut by 40 per cent and he got a final written warning from Trafford Housing Trust after posting that gay weddings in church were an equality too far .

The comments were not visible to the general public and were posted outside work time, but the trust claimed he broke its code of conduct by expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers.

However, Mr Justice Briggs found the postings did not amount to misconduct, and that viewed objectively, they were not judgmental, disrespectful or liable to cause upset or offence, and were expressed in moderate language. The judge said:

Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct. The breach of contract was serious and repudiatory.

However the damages were limited to a very small amount due to the actual financial loss turning out to be small for the period covered by the case.

 

25th October   

Dangerous Words...

Egyptian Facebook user sentenced to 3 years in jail for insulting islam
Link Here

Egypt flagEgypt's state media says a Cairo court has sentenced a man to three years in prison for postings on Facebook claimed to be in contempt of Islam.

The MENA state news agency said a court found Ayman Mansour had intentionally mocked Islam and used outrageous and scurrilous language in describing the religion's holy book, the Quran, and its prophet and believers.

The court said freedom of belief doesn't excuse contempt that may offend believers.

 

25th October   

Running One Thousand Years Behind Time...

New York public bus routinely operates with passengers segregated by sex
Link Here

New York State sealThe B110 New York bus, which runs between Williamsburg and Borough Park, has been run by Private Transportation Corporation since 1973, under a franchise with the city. And to many in the area, the bus's segregation of men and women comes with little surprise or indignation.

But this week, the bus's practices gained widespread publicity after The New York World, a Columbia Journalism School publication, reported that a female rider was told by other riders that she had to leave the front. The story was quickly picked up by bloggers and even came to the attention of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The mayor said that segregating men and women was obviously not permitted on public buses.

Even though a private operator runs the bus, it was awarded the route through a public and competitive bidding process. Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, said the bus was supposed to be available for public use and could not discriminate.

Anne Koenig, head of the department's franchise division, has now sent a letter to Jacob Marmurstein, the bus company's president, asking him to provide any complaints filed about its practices and to show what the company was doing to prevent discriminatory practices.

Rules, posted in the front and the back of the bus, said that when boarding a crowded bus with standing passengers in the front, women should board the back door after paying the driver in the front and that when the bus is crowded, passengers should stand in their designated areas.

Update: Denial

1st November 2011. See article from thejc.com

A bus service that required male and female passengers to sit separately for religious reasons will no longer operate under that arrangement.

The New York City Department of Transportation wrote to the bus operators, the Private Transportation Corporation, warning that the policy was a direct violation of the franchise agreement and could lead to the agreement being cancelled.

In a letter to the transport department, the Private Transportation Corporation denied allowing a policy of gender-segregation.

They said they did not support, promote or condone any conduct involving the segregation of...passengers to various areas of the bus based upon gender and added that they would take steps to stop drivers from allowing it.

 

24th October   

Incendiary Times...

Egypt considers anti-apostasy law
Link Here

Egypt flagAn Egyptian cabinet panel is studying a draft law that would restrict religious conversion, according to independent daily Al-Tahrir.

The cabinet's National Justice Committee proposed the law as several sectarian clashes have resulted from proselytizing, the committee's head, Amir Ramzy, told the newspaper.

Claims of religious conversion in Egypt sparks controversy in times of sectarian violence.

According to the newspaper, the archbishop of Helwan, Anba Bassanty, voiced his support for the bill, saying it would grant citizens freedom to change their faith based on their personal will.

Abdel Rahman al-Berr, a member at the Muslim Brotherhood's Gudiance Bureau, told the newspaper he rejects the bill, arguing that it would ignite tensions between Muslims and Copts and thus threaten social stability.

Secular thinker Kamal Zakher said religions should not be consulted when legislation is being drawn up, adding that the state's legal reference should be from a civilian perspective. He said that proposing the law will be a test for supporters of civilian and religious states.

 

23rd October   

Nut Sundae...

Jerusalem ice cream parlour trashed by religious vandals
Link Here

sexy icecreamAn ultra-orthodox Jewish group trashed a Jerusalem ice cream parlour because they were disgusted by people licking cones in public claiming it promotes promiscuity.

The owners of the Zisalek parlour had put up posters asking people not to consume ice creams in public and installed separate entrances for men and women.

But religious zealots from the ultra strict Sikrikim sect did not believe the measures went far enough and broke in during the night to vandalise the premises.

Owner Guy Ammar said: They had a real ball with us. But we were not deterred. Residents here told us not to give up and business is going well now.

The Sikrikim wear masks to hide their identity and strike mainly at night.

 

22nd October   

Update: Pope Praises Netherlands Moves Against Prostitution...

So who has harmed most kids, sex workers or priests?
Link Here

Pope BenedictPope Benedict praised the Dutch government for tackling drug abuse and prostitution while warning against too liberal an approach which could see individuals harm society.

He somehow omitted to mention the enormous amount of harm caused by his own 'no sex' approach, both to his own priests, and to the young victims abused by the priests who get screwed up the 'no sex' approach.

Addressing the new Netherlands ambassador to the Vatican, Benedict said he was

encouraged by the steps that the Dutch government has taken to discourage drug abuse and prostitution. While your nation has long championed the freedom of individuals to make their own choices, those choices by which people inflict harm on themselves or others must be discouraged, for the good of individuals or society as a whole.

However he did admit to there being a problem with the priesthood but somehow sees the problems as priests not being able to live up to the rules, rather than the rules themselves being the problem.

The pope said the Roman Catholic Church recognises with humility that her own members do not always live up to the high moral standards that she proposes but urged all people to act in accordance with justice and right reason .

The pope then warned that religious freedom is threatened not only by legal constraints in some parts of the world, but by an anti-religious mentality within many societies , and called on the government to be vigilant .

Well if he is going to praise those who remove people's freedom and enjoyment of life, then he should expect the deserved 'anti-religious mentality' to continue unabated.

 

22nd October   

Learning about Corporal Punishment...

Community pressure stifles complaints about physical abuse in UK madrassas
Link Here

Billy Bunter Greyfriars School Richards Britain's madrassas have faced more than 400 allegations of physical abuse in the past three years, a BBC investigation has discovered. But only a tiny number have led to successful prosecutions. Leading Muslim figures said families often faced pressure not to go to court or even to make a formal complaint.

BBC Radio 4's File on 4 asked more than 200 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales how many allegations of physical and sexual abuse had come to light in the past three years. 191 of them agreed to provide information, disclosing a total of 421 cases of physical abuse. But only 10 of those cases went to court, and the BBC was only able to identify two that led to convictions.

Some local authorities said community pressure had led families to withdraw complaints. In one physical abuse case in Lambeth, two members of staff at a mosque allegedly attacked children with pencils and a phone cable - but the victims later refused to take the case further.

Mohammad Shahid Raza, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, set up by Muslim organisations to improve standards in mosques, said he would now treat the issue as a matter of urgency: These figures are very, very alarming and shocking. There is no justification for such punishments within our mosque schools . I'm not sure how wide this unacceptable practice is, but our responsibility is to make those who run the mosques realise we live in a civilised society and this is not acceptable at any cost.

 

21st October   

Updated: Easily Shaken Beliefs...

Malaysian muslims sent for counselling after dinner with christians
Link Here  full story: Freedom of Religion in Malaysia...No freedom of Religion in Malaysia
Religious Police

  Religious counselling?

A group of Muslims who attended a multi-ethnic dinner at a Methodist Church hall in Malaysia are to receive counselling because Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, the constitutional ruler of Malaysia's central Selangor state, believes they may have been contaminated by their encounter with the infidels.

Islamic officials who raided a dinner at a Methodist church hall in early August Supposedly found evidence that there were attempts to subvert the faith and belief of Muslims, but the evidence was said to be insufficient for further legal actions to be taken.

Shah said:

We command that (Islamic officials) provide counseling to Muslims who were involved in the said dinner, to restore their belief and faith in the religion of Islam.

Church officials had repeatedly denied any proselytisation occurred at the dinner, which they described as a multi-ethnic gathering to celebrate the work of a community organisation that worked with women, children and HIV patients. Christian leaders had also criticised Islamic state enforcement officials for what they called an unauthorised raid.

Update: Rally to demand additional anti-apostasy laws

21st October 2011. Based on article from thejakartaglobe.com

Malaysian police have issued a permit for a mass gathering of Muslims this Saturday to defend Islam against Christian proselytization , an event politicians and others fear will stoke religious tension.

The Himpunan Sejuta Umat, or gathering of one million Muslim faithful, is organized by 25 organizations, including the Malay supremacy group Perkasa. It is calling for a new law to punish those who try to convert Muslims.

The rally comes after a controversial raid in August by the Selangor Islamic authorities on a church dinner attended by Muslims. The Sultan of Selangor later said the authorities did find evidence of attempts to convert Muslims but it was insufficient for legal action.

Update: 5000 Rally

23rd October 2011. See article from monstersandcritics.com

An estimated 5,000 Malaysian Muslims held a rally Saturday in central Selangor state to protest what they alleged were conversion attempts by Christians.

The protests come amid rising religious tensions in the country. Participants held banners that said: Don't Threaten The Position of Islam and A United Malay, A Sovereign Islam.

Yusri Mohamad, a rally organizer, told the crowd, We are gathered here today to save the faith of Muslims. The biggest threat to our faith is apostasy.

 

21st October   

Updated: Getting Nasty...

At least 25 deaths as coptic christians clash with Egyptian security forces
Link Here  full story: Copts in Egypt...Egyptian christian copts denied religious freedom
copt protestA march by Coptic Christians in Cairo to demand protection and an end to discrimination ended in clashes with Egypt's security forces, and unidentified persons in plainclothes, that left at least 25 people dead.

Our Information from Egypt is that at least 40 copts have been killed and the number is rising.

There are conflicting accounts of the bloodletting, which is now being described as a massacre by Coptic Christians.

State television, initially only reporting two soldiers' deaths, claimed that the military came under fire from Copts. Witnesses on the ground, however, said the march was attacked by thugs in plain clothes, who later mingled with the military. Others described how the army used lethal force against the Copts were attacked.

The clashes come just over a week after an arson attack on two churches in the south of the country. Since then, Copts have marched twice to demand greater protection.

Ahram Online, reported on Sunday 9 Oct 2011 Egyptian military attacked Alhurra TV office in Cairo tonight preventing its daily night program Alyoum from going on air to prevent broadcast of the army's violent attacks on protesters. Allso the office of TV 25, which broadcasts from the Maspero area, was attacked by the Military Police. Both channels were transmitting live coverage of the clashes in Maspero between protesters, mainly Coptic, and the army.

Offsite: Egypt's Bloody Sunday

21st October 2011.  See article from indexoncensorship.org by Yasmine El-Rashidi
See also Egypt's Bloody Sunday from merip.org

I watched as Muslims butchered Copts. I watched mobs chanting for an Islamic state, vowing to kill any Christian they could lay their hands on, assaulting Copts as if they were cattle. Coptic blood, one young man boasted as he emerged from a crowd in whose midst two young, until then perhaps hopeful, Copts lay. They were a couple, newly engaged. And I watched the soft-faced Vivian Magdy hold the hand of Michael Mosad, her fiance', gripping it, refusing to let go. I won't leave him, she sobbed, as she sat beside his body in the morgue. He had been dragged beneath an army APC, his legs almost severed, his organs ruptured. As he lay on the sidewalk, gasping for breath, he was then brutally beaten; by a Muslim who screamed at a sobbing Vivian who was crying for help, calling her an infidel. They too were newly engaged --- two months. Michael was twenty-three.

...Read the full article

Rowaqn WilliamsUpdate: Rowan Williams

21st October 2011. See article from bbc.co.uk

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has attacked Egypt forces over Christian deaths in clashes in Cairo this month.

Archbishop Williams told peers part of the underlying problem was a prolonged failure by the security forces to guarantee the safety of Christian personnel and property .

He called on ministers to press the Egyptian government to make sure the inquiry into the deaths was characterised by objectivity and proper distance of that inquiry from the military establishment .

Foreign Office minister Lord Howell agreed to put pressure on the Egyptian Government to get to the truth.

Update: Suing the Government

24th October 2011. Based on article from anhri.net

anhri logoThe Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has filed a lawsuit against the Military Council, Prime Minister, and Minister of Information for the misinformation and incitement against the protesters by the state TV during the events at Maspero.

A group of Egyptians organized a peaceful March on 9 October that started from some areas in Cairo, heading to the area of Maspero. Once they had arrived there, violence erupted and no body knows who instigated it. On the other hand, the Egyptian TV deployed all its vast potentials to outrage and incite the public opinion against the peaceful protesters, aiming at dredging up sectarianism amongst the Egyptian people. Intending to spread chaos and violence incitement, some state TV presenters even asked the Egyptians to take to the streets and protect the army whose soldiers were being killed and shot by the Coptic protesters as unprofessionally described by the TV, in such an inciting and sectarian manner that ignores the fact that other sects of the Egyptian people were in the demonstration.

Strife and chaos instigators at this crucial stage experienced by Egypt must be rapidly penalized. All the corrupt leaders of the Radio and TV Union have to be brought to trials. A new plan for the media has to be applied for the next phase so that it becomes a constructive tool, not a demolition one added ANHRI.

 

20th October   

Easy Offence on a Hair Trigger...

Susan Sarandon's throw away joke about the pope proves a major windup
Link Here

Dead Man Walking Susan Sarandon Catholic and Jewish groups have called on actress Susan Sarandon to apologise after being easily offended by a statement at Hampton's Film Festival.

Raised in New York as a Roman Catholic, she said at the festival that she had sent a copy of the book on which one of her movies, Dead Man Walking , was based to the pope. She then clarified which pope: The last one. Not this Nazi one we have now.

Formerly Joseph Ratzinger, German born Pope Benedict XVI was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth in the early 1920s when membership was compulsory, according to the Vatican. Also he deserted the military during the Second World War.

According to Newsday, interviewer Bob Balaban gently chided Sarandon for the remark and repeated what she had said.

The New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for Sarandon to apologise to the Catholic community after branding her statement obscene , saying that her ignorance is wilful .

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which fights against anti-Semitism, also called on Sarandon to apologise to the Catholic community. A spokesman for ADL said in a statement: Ms Sarandon may have her differences with the Catholic Church, but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies. Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust.

 

20th October   

Extremist Book Censors...

Russian prosecutor seeks to ban Hare Krishna holy book on the grounds that it is extremist for belittling people of other faiths
Link Here  full story: Religious Book Censorship in Russia...Russia prosecutes holy books over supposed extremism

Bhagavad gita As It Is ebook Prosecutors in Tomsk are seeking through the courts to have the Russian translation of the most important work for Hare Krishna devotees, the Bhagavad-Gita As it Is , declared "extremist" and placed on the Federal List of Extremist Materials.

An 'expert' analysis completed in October 2010 by three academics at Tomsk State University, Sergei Avanesov, Valeri Svistunov and Valeri Naumov, found that the book contains signs of incitement of religious hatred and humiliation of an individual based on gender, race, ethnicity, language, origin or attitude to religion .

The analysis claimed the book humiliated those who did not believe in or even know about Krishna or follow Krishna's teachings. It claimed that the author propagated the exclusivity and superiority of his faith and was hostile, insulting and humiliating about other faiths [Just like any other supposedly holy book then] . It also claimed that the author called for hostile or violent acts against women and non-Hare Krishna devotees.

This case is more than important for us - it is vital, Hare Krishna lawyer Mikhail Frolov told Forum 18: This is the most important development in the whole history of our movement in Russia. They are trying not just to declare our book extremist, but our religious teaching also. If they succeed, our community throughout Russia could be declared extremist.

Meanwhile, an appeal court in Dagestan, while upholding a three-year suspended prison term on Ziyavdin Dapayev, has ruled that works by the late Muslim theologian Said Nursi should be handed to the Dagestan Muslim Board for a decision on the question of the destruction of the banned books and pamphlets.

 

19th October   

Update: Broken Logic...

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue argues that the summer riots were down to abortion and contraception
Link Here

Bishop Patrick O’DonoghueBishop Patrick O'Donoghue, emeritus bishop of Lancaster has somehow dreamt up a convenient theory that all his pet moral whinges have added up to cause the summer riots.

He explained his leaps of logic like this:

For 41 years, Britain has lived with a state-sponsored culture of death that has killed 5 million children. We're now surprised that some of the surviving children have turned out violent with no regard for the sanctity of life?

I am convinced that there must be profoundly damaging consequences for the family in a country were contraception and abortion are so widespread. No wonder so many children are suffering depression and mental illness in a country that is such a hostile environment for human life.

Yes, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and assisted suicide destroy life, and they also destroy the sanctity of home. This is why there are so many broken homes in our country.

The shocking outbreak of rioting that occurred in England during the summer was a symptom of the broken homes that so many of these children and young people are growing up in.

 

19th October   

Update: Spell of Banishment...

1,700 people in Ghana are banished to 'witches' camps'
Link Here  full story: Witch Hunts...Witches still hunted even in modern times

Ghana flagGhana's government is looking at ways to support people accused of witchcraft, mainly women and children banished by their communities to witches' camps in the north.

Currently around 1,000 women and 700 children are living in six camps in northern Ghana, where they have found refuge from threats and violence from people in their home communities after being labelled witches and blamed for causing misfortune to others.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in Africa but in sub-Saharan Africa accusations against children are a recent and growing phenomena, according to a UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) report released last year.

The government has said it was working with the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) to improve conditions in the camps by providing food and other support to the inmates, then in the long-term the government would look at repatriating the residents to their home villages and shutting down the camps. This will include educating communities back home so they understand the banished women are not actually witches.

 

17th October   

Updated: Dangerous Cartoon...

Violent protests in Tunisia against the broadcasting of the film, Persepolis
Link Here
Persepolis DVD Catherine Deneuve Police in Tunis used tear gas to try to disperse hundreds of muslim extremists who were attacking them with stones, knives and batons.

The Islamists were protesting a decision to broadcast animated film Persepolis which they said denigrated Islam. They were also protesting against a ban on women who wear the niqab, or full-face veil, enrolling in university.

This was the biggest clashes over religion in the Tunisian capital for several years.

Update: TV Channel Chief Firebombed

15th October 2011. See article from telegraph.co.uk

Tunisian extremists have firebombed the home of a TV station chief. About a hundred men, some of whom threw Molotov cocktails, lay siege to the home of Nabil Karoui, the head of the private television station Nessma late on Friday, the station reported in its evening news bulletin.

Sofiane Ben Hmida, one of Nessma's star reporters, told AFP the station chief was not at home when the attack on his house took place. But his wife and children were. About 20 of the protesters had managed to get inside. The family managed to get out the back and are safe. The attackers wrecked the house and set it on fire.

Interior ministry spokesman Hichem Meddeb told AFP around a hundred people had turned up outside the house, forced their way inside, broken the windows and torn out two gas pipes. Five people had been arrested, he added.

This was the most serious incident yet in an escalating series of protests against the station's broadcast of Persepolis on October 7. The globally acclaimed animated film on Iran's 1979 revolution 'offended' many Muslims because it depicts an image of God as an old, bearded man.

Earlier on Friday, police fired tear gas at demonstrators as some of the protests against the station degenerated. The main demonstration began peacefully at a central Tunis mosque after Friday prayers, with men and women chanting slogans against Nessma. Thousands of people, many of them Salafist Muslims, were present.

Karoui has already  apologised for having broadcast the film.

Update:  3000 Protest in defence of freedom of expression

17th October 2011. See article from monstersandcritics.com

Tunisia flagAround 3,000 people peacefully demonstrated in the capital of Tunisia Sunday in defence of freedom of expression, two days after a violent protest against the broadcast of an animated and supposedly blasphemous film Persepolis .

The demonstration was meant as a riposte after the violent protests that followed the broadcast last week by Nessma TV, a private channel, of the film about the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The film by French-Iranian director Marjane Satrapi, based on the autobiographical graphic novels of the same name, show the author as a young girl chafing under the clampdown on civil liberties and discussing her frustrations with God.

We're demonstrating against extremism, for freedom of expression, including artistic freedom, Semia Mahfoudh, a high school teacher, who attended Sunday's demonstration, told dpa. She said she feared that if Ennahda came to power, Tunisia's tradition of secularism and commitment to gender equality would be jeopardized.

 

17th October   

Offsite: When People Believe in Bollox...

Ugandan witchdoctors sacrifice children (for a vast fee) and claim that this brings health and wealth
Link Here

 Uganda flagThe villages and farming communities that surround Uganda's capital, Kampala, are gripped by fear.

Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.

The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country's economy.

The mutilated bodies of children have been discovered at roadsides, the victims of an apparently growing belief in the power of human sacrifice.

Many believe that members of the country's new elite are paying witch doctors vast sums of money for the sacrifices in a bid to increase their wealth.

...Read the full article

 

17th October   

Update: Avoiding a Thrashing...

Columbian footballer gets in trouble with Saudi religious police over Christ tattoo
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

juan pablo pinoColombian footballer Juan Pablo Pino, who plays for the Saudi Al-Nasr club, apparently 'offended/ some shoppers when he appeared bare-armed in a Riyadh mall. They caught sight of his heavily-tattooed arms, and were particularly incensed that the face of Jesus could be seen on his right bicep.

The religious police of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were called to the scene, and the footballer and his pregnant wife, was promptly collared. Pino and his wife were handed to the Al-Nasr officials after a brief detention.

Following the incident, Pino's wife is living in a state of anxiety and is demanding that she and her husband leave Saudi Arabia...Al Nasr club has asked its Argentine coach Gustavo Costas and his wife to try and persuade Pino's wife to change her mind but their attempts have been futile.

Saudi Arabia's religious police have now told foreign players with tattoos on their arms to cover up while on the field, claiming they could be the ruination of young Saudis.

Immediately afterwards the football club released a statement, attributed to the player, in which Pino expressed his deep sadness over the incident and asserted that it was not his intention to violate the laws of the country.

 

16th October   

Update: Game Over...

Austrian politician cleared of incitement over anti-mosque game
Link Here  full story: Bye Bye Mosque...Right wing politician prosecuted for anti-mosque flash game

morchee babaA right-wing Austrian politician has been cleared of incitement after he created a simple anti-mosque flash game as part of an election campaign.

Freedom Party deputy Gerhard Kurzmann used the game in his failed bid to become governor of the south-eastern province of Styria last year.

Players of Moschee Ba Ba (Bye-bye, Mosque) had to shoot at Muslims and mosques as they emerged from a rural scene.

The game sparked inevitable criticism from other parties and religious groups. Judicial authorities forced the Freedom Party to take down the game and Kurzmann was later charged with inciting religious hatred and defaming a religion.

But on Friday a court in Graz cleared Kurzmann. It did not reach the threshold of incitement and I would also say this was not the intention, Judge Christoph Lichtenberg said, in remarks carried by the national APA news agency.

The prosecution said it would lodge an appeal.

 

16th October   

Update: Continuing Nastiness...

Egyptian copts pelted by stones at the funeral of those killed in the October 9 Military Massacre
Link Here  full story: Copts in Egypt...Egyptian christian copts denied religious freedom
st mark funeralsThe Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt issued a statement on October 10, expressing horror at the events in Maspero, where 24 Copts were killed and over 200 and wounded. The church stressed that the Christian faith rejects violence. The church blasted the government for failing to find solutions to problems that occur repeatedly and go unpunished. The Church demanded from all Copts to fast continuously for three days starting tomorrow in order to have peace in Egypt.

Some interpreted this demand, which the church has made only three times in its long history, as a way to implore God's help for the Copts, commented Coptic activist and writer Nader Shoukry.

In Cairo, thousands of Copts marched to attend the funeral of the victims of what they termed the October 9 Military Massacre. They congregated in front of the Coptic hospital where most of the dead and injured were transported, and which was attacked the night before by Muslims, who hurled bricks and Molotov Cocktails at the victims' families.

A funeral service presided by Pope Shenouda III was held for the Copts killed in Maspero, at St. Mark's Cathedral in Abbasiya, Cairo, and was attended by over 10,000 Copts. The funeral was for five Copts only, as the rest of the victims are awaiting for autopsies, on the advice of Coptic lawyers. This is to safeguard the rights of the dead, said attorney Dr. Ehab Ramzy, otherwise the families could lose their case. We need proof.

According to priests and Coptic lawyers who were present at the Coptic Hospital, where the victims were brought, the death certificates issued by the authorities were misleading and did not reflect the true cause of death, which might let the assailants get away with the crime. Certificates showed the cause of death as being stab wounds and cardiac arrest caused by fear.

The families insisted on having the autopsies done, which were carried out on 17 bodies lying in the Coptic hospital. Independent doctors observed those who came from the Public Morgue to carry out the autopsies.

Dr. Maged Lewis, a director at the Forensic Medicine Institute, commented that he had never seen corpses in this deplorable state before. Bodies were mashed and bones were crushed; many had fractures and laceration of the intestines; while in others, death was caused by gun shots.

Eyewitnesses reported the army disposed of nine bodies by throwing them in the Nile. Two bodies remain unidentified, making the number of killed uncertain.

Later, friends and relatives of the dead, carried the 17 caskets from the Coptic hospital to St. Mark's Cathedral for the second funeral service. Near Ghamra bridge, bricks were hurled at the cortege, but the procession carried on to the Cathedral.

On their way back after the burial ,the mourners were attacked by armed thugs who blocked the way and hurled Molotov cocktails at them; gun shots were heard. They sought shelter and called the army emergency phone line for help, they waited until the morning but no one came.

 

16th October   

Diary: Passion for Freedom Art Exhibition...

Showcasing international artists on the theme of religion
Link Here

passion for freedom 2011 advert Passion for Freedom art exhibition
UNIT 24 Gallery, 24 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0FD
29 October -- 5 November 2011
8.00 – 18.00 (8.00 – 18.30 on Thu & Fri)

One Law for All presents its 2011 Passion for Freedom Art Festival showcasing a shortlist of international artists discussing religion, Sharia law, equality and one secular law for all through painting, drawing, sculpture, film and installation.

Exhibited artists are Sandra Ackermann, Karin Roy Andersson, Eskild Beck, Milena Buljan, Victoria Burgher, Edna Cantoral Acosta, Magdalena Czubak Vlasak, Fiona Dent, ARINA, Heather MCDonald, Roland Okon, Despina Papadopoulou, Polina Pakhomova, Mario Raoli, Steve Rosenthal, Flora Robertson, Axelle Russo, Govinda Sah, Karine Schneider, Fianne Stanford, Paula Stevens-Hoare, Zoe Sua Kay, Valeriya Vygodnaya, Ewa Zasada, and Artur Zarczynski.

Competition judges include:

  • Polly Toynbee (Writer and Columnist)
  • Francisco Laranjo (Artist and Head of School of Arts at Porto University)
  • Deeyah (Singer and Composer).

 

14th October   

Inciteful Books?...

Book publisher on trial for extremist material
Link Here

maktabah logoAhmed Faraz  distributed extremist books and DVDs with the aim of priming people for terrorism , a court has heard.

He is charged with 10 counts of disseminating terrorist publications, nine counts of having terrorist publications in his possession, with a view to distributing them, and a further 11 counts relating to the possession of information that is likely to be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

He was not connected to any specific terrorist plot, a jury at Kingston Crown Court, south west London, was told.

Max Hill QC, prosecuting, said:

This case is about the distribution of books and DVDs and other material which we say represent steps along the road to radicalisation of Muslims to engage in violent terrorist attacks around the world, including the UK. This case is also about the ways and means by which to solidify that radicalisation and provide practical assistance for those who have been radicalised.

Several of the publications distributed by this defendant did end up in the hands of individuals, many of them now notorious - or infamous - terrorists who have stood trial in English courtrooms such as this in the last five years and are now serving long prison sentences, having been found guilty of plotting to terrorise the British public.

Faraz denies all charges. The trial is scheduled to finish in January 2012.

 

14th October   

Get Out of the Way!...

New York signs tell jewish women pedestrians to give way to men
Link Here

move out of the waySigns telling Jewish females to steer clear of oncoming Orthodox Jewish men have, created a bit of a kerfuffle in Williamsburg, New York.

The signs, first noted in the Jewish watchdog blog failedmessiah.typepad.com , are roughly translated as:

Precious Jewish daughters, please move over to the side when you see a man come across.

Bike shop owner Baruch Herzfeld is quoted as saying:

There are some hard-core Hasidim in Williamsburg who think they still live in 19th-century Ukraine and they consider interaction between the sexes, in even the most casual, accidental manner to be licentious. They are enormous pains in the tuchis (arse) and most people try to avoid conflict, so they often get their way.

In fact during the week, women on Bedford and Lee Avenue could be seen allowing men to pass on several occasions.

Parks maintenance workers removed 16 of the signs in the area because they were nailed to trees, a violation of city law.

 

14th October   

Mindless and Godless...

Rowan Williams bravely attacks Zimbabwe for police assaults on churches
Link Here

Zimbabwe flagThe Archbishop of Canterbury has launched a fierce attack on the mindless and Godless assaults on them by a renegade bishop backed by Robert Mugabe. He was speaking at a church service in Harare

Dr Rowan Williams called on the 87-year-old dictator to end the suffering of Anglicans, who have been locked out of their churches and attacked by police wielding tear gas and batons. He lamented the injustice and the arrogance of false brethren who had seized church property.

 

13th October   

Update: Sacking as Censorship...

NHS worker sacked for giving colleague a religious book about abortion
Link Here  full story: Religion on the NHS...Medical practictioners talk religion with patients

vloxfkhfl. sl500 aa300 There is a seriously disturbing article on the blog of a theologically and liturgically conservative Roman Catholic priest that impinges on issues of free speech.

Margaret Forrester has effectively been sacked for handing to a colleague a booklet expressing views about abortion which are held, like it or not, by huge numbers of Christians, Jews and Muslims, at least. (I don't know enough about the doctrines of, say, Hinduism or Sikhism to comment on their views.)

Seeking peacefully to persuade others to share your belief (or disbelief) is surely a pretty basic aspect of freedom of religion - or am I missing something?

See article from marymagdalen.blogspot.com :

On 15th November the Central London Employment Tribunal will begin to hear the case of Margaret Forrester v Central London NHS Trust. The case is an important one not just for Catholics and other Christians but for everyone who believes in Freedom of Speech.

Margaret Forrester was employed by the NHS as a Mental Health worker and in the course of a conversation with an NHS colleague who worked as a receptionist organising Abortion appointments she gave her colleague a booklet called Forsaken in which 5 women who have had Abortions talk about their experience of Abortion and how it affected them.

A few days after the booklet was given to the receptionist Margaret was suspended and subsequently disciplined for Gross Misconduct the wording of the Disciplinary Charge was

You distributed material which individuals may find offensive which is described in the Statement of Case presented to the Tribunal as a charge which is so vague as to be meaningless Margaret was given a final written warning and told she would be moved to another department. She subsequently objected to the move and was then sacked. It is very important to note that

The Booklet was NOT given to any NHS patient and it was never suggested by Margaret that it should be given to any patient

The conversation between Margaret and her colleague was cordial and the colleague did not object to receiving the booklet and has never suggested that it was forced on her. Indeed the NHS are not even calling her as a witness in the Employment case.

The Booklet simply consists of Five women talking about their own experiences of Abortion and how they felt about it then and afterwards. It does NOT say that Abortion is a sin though some of the women say that is how they now regard it

The Booklet does NOT contain any graphic images or descriptions of Abortion

Margaret had NOT given this or any similar booklet to any colleagues in the NHS before and had never been told that she was not allowed to do so.

In their defence given to the Tribunal the NHS states that their reason for disciplining Margaret is because the Forsaken booklet offered a religious view on Abortion ie they admit they objected to it because it is religious. They objected to it because one of the women who has had an Abortion said that she now regards what she did as a sin.

 

13th October   

Offsite: Shappi Khorsandi on Stoning...

Supporting an Amnesty International campaign to end this barbaric killing
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

stoning amnesty tv video Shappi Khorsandi shows us the legal way to get stoned in Iran.

To find out more and help put an end to stoning in Iran visit www.amnesty.org.uk/stopstoning

From the comments:

I can't believe that in 2011 this barbaric method is still in use.

I love this new style of video. It hides the horror of what's being explained just long enough to get the message across, where many would just turn away and refuse to watch if we were immediately shown a real stoning. It's very clever and I hope it gets more people to get involved in these important issues.

 

12th October   

Updated: Topically Correct...

Condom bus shelter advert causes easy offence over its proximity to an Australian catholic school
Link Here

zero or nothing condoms advertProximity to schools has become a fashionable 'justification' for easy offence. Not just in Britain, but in Australia too.

A bus shelter ad showing a kissing couple next to a packet of condoms is causing nutter controversy in Brisbane, supposedly due to its proximity to a Catholic primary school. Some reports said that couple in the ad appeared to be naked, with clothes painted on.

Australian Christian Lobby's Wendy Francis claimed the new poster was sexually offensive and contained no positive message about safe sex, deeming its placement across the street from the school as inappropriate.

The ACL Queensland branch director said members of the school community were 'distressed' by the poster, and that AdShel had promised to remove the poster within an hour of receiving her complaint. Francis said:

she was totally opposed to this pathetic advertising.

I cannot see why you would place this ad outside a Catholic primary school, where school children catch their bus from, she said.

I object to the highly sexual imagery in the ad, and the poster's message, 'zero or nothing', it's pathetic, it doesn't even have safe-sex message, and all it does is show that money matters more than our children.

 

12th October   

Updated: Ganesh vs the Third Reich...

Melbourne festival play causes predictable 'outrage'
Link Here

 nesh hero651x380 full 3,1,c1 Hindus in Australia, America and India have been 'outraged' by an Australian play that depicts the Hindu god Ganesh taking on Adolf Hitler in a swashbuckling fight over the use of the swastika symbol.

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is yet to open at the Melbourne Festival, but news of its storyline has caused consternation among the Indian community.

In the play, which has been described by its producers as rambunctious fable brimming with humour, the elephant-headed Hindu god rampages through Germany on a quest to reclaim the ancient Hindu symbol of goodwill from the Nazis.

Promotional material for the play reads

The Nazis stole the swastika, an ancient icon of Hindu culture. Ganesh wants it back. Gods, like elephants, don't forget.

Only Geelong's bold Back to Back Theatre (Food Court, Small Metal Objects) could conjure an epic journey of an elephant-headed Hindu god who seeks to go one-on-one with Hitler. As our hero Ganesh cuts a swathe through Germany we embark on a wildly inventive ride through history, where sacred icons and rituals become weapons of theatrical production.

Yadu Singh, president of the Council of Indian Australians, said that using Ganesh, the revered god of wisdom, learning and good luck, as a cheap form of entertainment was unacceptable:

Lord Ganesh is one of the most important gods or deities for the Hindu religion and they are making fun of him, making money out of him.

Update: Producers vs the Religious Reich

12th October 2011. See article from theage.com.au

Nevada's self-proclaimed Hindu statesman , and perennial whinger, Rajan Zed, issued a statement declaring that the Lord Ganesh was meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be made a laughing stock on theatre stages.

Zed's statement snowballed into a flurry of protest, mainly from the US, but also from within Australia, again by people who had neither seen the play, nor read the script. Before long, Back to Back Theatre was receiving a virulent stream of emails, with some messages so abusive it became clear that the company had to take the matter seriously.

A meeting was called at the Office of Multicultural Affairs, attended by representatives of Victoria's Hindu community, Back to Back Theatre, and relevant government agencies. A person in attendance told me that many of the Hindu community's older members were moderate in their approach and felt that it was wrong to protest before having seen the play. Some younger Hindus, though, wanted the play banned, or, at the very least, the script vetted.

Back to Back refused to cancel the play or allow the script to be vetted. However, the company did resolve to remove inappropriate references from its website and promotional material and to display warnings alerting theatre patrons to the play's content. It also invited Hindu community representatives to attend the play's opening night - the invitation was accepted.

But it remains disconcerting that some religious people feel it is their right to sabotage creativity and censor thought. They demand respect for their beliefs, but seem to show little for those of others. Their over-reactions play directly into the themes of this show - which explores abuses of power, and asks who has the right to tell certain stories.

 

12th October   

Updated: Lost Belief in Justice...

International condemnation of Iran seems to be keeping apostate pastor alive for now
Link Here  full story: Apostasy in Iran...Apostasy, heresy and witchcraft capital offences

Iran flagIt appears that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will avoid the hangman in Iran for the time being.

Nadarkhani, once the leader of a 400-person congregation in Rasht, was previously convicted of apostasy.

But Iran now claims that the death penalty reports that circulated around the world last week were unsubstantiated. Gilan Province Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati said, according to Iran state news agency Press TV: There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case .

Since news of Nadarkhani's looming execution spread worldwide, Iran has suddenly started claiming that the pastor was a convicted rapist and extortionist, and the Fars News Agency said over the weekend that Nadarkhani was to be executed for Zionism and threats to national security.

But Nadarkhani was first arrested in 2009 and until Monday, the government had only mentioned the apostasy charge for years, at least according to the court documents that have been released.

The disappearance of the death penalty may be an indication that Iran, wary of more poor press, bowed to international pressure. Last week, a number of world leaders condemned the execution -- The White House, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, the Bishop of Canterbury and the European Union all issued harsh statements to Iran.

Update: Retrial

12th October 2011. See article from foxnews.com

Iran's Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for a pastor sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his Christian beliefs. State media reported that the high court sent the case back to lower court because of concerns about the initial investigation.

Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 and later sentenced to death for converting to Christianity.

The case reportedly had been referred to Iran's supreme leader, a move some say shows the Islamic republic is feeling pressure in the face of growing international support.

Nadarkhani's attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, told AFP that an Iranian court has decided to seek the opinion of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader and highest authority.

 

11th October   

Update: You know You Come from Nothing...

Terry Jones comments that Life of Brian could never be filmed today
Link Here

Monty Pythons Life Brian Immaculate Monty Python star Terry Jones has revealed he would shy away from making the film Life of Brian today, because of a resurgence in religious belief. He said:

At the time, religion seemed to be on the back burner and it felt like kicking a dead donkey. It's come back with a vengeance and we'd think twice about making it now.

Jones directed and acted in the 1979 film, which sparked accusations of blasphemy. Opponents of the now-celebrated comedy claimed it made fun of Jesus.

Comment: A resurgence in religious belief?

There's hardly much evidence 'of a resurgence in religious belief'. The opposite is clearly the case. However the sharp decline in belief must be making the christians feel a little insecure. Perhaps in the days of Life of Brian, the christians generally were confident enough that such a minor jibe could hardly shake their religion. Now they are a little beleaguered, and must feel that they have to be more willing to fight for the survival of their cause.

Then of course there's the tension with other religions. And there its the authorities who feel that they must calm any tensions by trying to censor anything that could add to that tension.

Either way, it would appear that Terry Jones is right, and Life of Brian could never be filmed today.

 

11th October   

Updated: Samsonite Amish...

Wrong flavour of religious nonsense
Link Here

samson haircutA group of religious castouts has been attacking fellow Amish, cutting off their hair and beards in an apparent feud over spiritual differences in the deeply traditional community, a sheriff said Thursday.

Members of a group of families disavowed by mainstream Amish have cut the beards off men and the hair off a half-dozen or more men and women, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said. He said the cutting apparently was meant to be degrading.

A woman blamed her sons and a son-in-law for an attack on her husband and said they were involved in a cult. She pointed at her husband's short, ragged, short beard, then took off a bandanna and showed bare patches on her scalp. They did this to me, she told deputies.

Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College and an expert on Amish life, said in an email to The Associated Press that Amish-on-Amish violence is extremely rare.

The investigation has been hampered by the traditional reluctance of Amish to turn to law enforcement. Sheriff Fred Abdalla said it was frustrating and said the motive may be related to unspecified religious differences involving 18 Amish families.

 

10th October   

Offsite: The 99 Censors...

TV adaption of burkha clad superhero comic book seemingly put on hold on fears of controversy
Link Here

the 99Naif Al-Mutawa anticipated a struggle when he launched an Islam-inspired comic book series that he hoped would become a symbol of toleration.

He worried about the comics being banned in Saudi Arabia - which wound up happening, briefly -- and he expected to be challenged by conservatives in Islam, since Al-Mutawa wanted to buck the trend of Islamic culture being directly tied to the Koran.

But it wasn't an Islamic cleric that stalled the series, called The 99, after the 99 attributes of Allah, which the superheroes are supposed to embody.

It is the American market, and the voices of Islam's Western critics, that have caused the most problems for The 99, says Al-Mutawa, who is the focus of a PBS documentary airing next week.

...Read the full article

 

9th October   

Update: I Must be Missing Something...

Why do so many religious people want to chop little bits off babies?
Link Here  full story: Religion for the Chop...Campaigning against the religious circumcision of boys

California state sealJews, Muslims and others cheered as California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill prohibiting all local bans on chopping bits off baby boys, making it illegal for local authorities to restrict the medical or religious practice of male circumcision.

Anti-circumcision activists had gathered enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot in San Francisco. Voters would have been asked to decide if infant circumcision should be banned as an unnecessary genital mutilation, a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

A coalition of religious, medical and civil liberties groups sued to stop the proposal; a judge blocked the initiative in July, noting that only the state can regulate a widespread medical procedure. The new statewide law prevents further efforts to ban circumcision by cities or counties.

 

9th October   

Update: A Difficult Pill for Religious Doctors to Swallow...

Official guidance drawn up so that doctors do not bother uninterested patients with religious nonsense
Link Here  full story: Religion on the NHS...Medical practictioners talk religion with patients

GMC logoThe UK's doctor police of the General Medical Council (GMC) have proposed a new draft of their guidance to be taken to consultation later this month. The proposal adds a duty for GPs to consider patients' religious, spiritual and cultural history when assessing patients.

Its previous guidance had stated: You must not unfairly discriminate by allowing your personal views to affect adversely your professional relationship with patients. Its new version removes the word adversely , requiring GPs to challenge their colleagues' behaviour if there is any effect to the professional relationship.

 

8th October   

Updated: Dangerous Sentence...

Murderer of Pakistan's minister for minorities sentenced to death
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas

mumtaz qadriMumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed assassin of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was sentenced to death on two counts for murder and terrorism.

Judge Syed Pervaiz Ali Shah, of the anti-terrorism court, announced the verdict after an in camera trial in Adiyala jail. He also imposed a fine of Rs 200,000 on the convict, who would have to undergo one-year imprisonment in case of failure to submit the fine.

The judge overruled a plea by Mumtaz Qadri that he had assassinated the governor because of his blasphemous statements. The judge said the accused had already confessed to his crime and the law did not entertain his defence arguments for killing the governor.

Police were deployed at the jail gate to prevent any break-in. After Qadri was sentenced, the judge wisely left through the back door. The verdict came in spite of a relentless campaign by hardline religious groups which invoked Islam to glorify the murder.

The conviction enraged supporters of Mumtaz Qadri. They burnt tyres on important roads in Rawalpindi and Lahore, smashed window panes of public and private vehicles, tore up portraits of government figures and vandalised the monument of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto at Pindi's Liaquat Bagh. Police and law enforcement personnel did not try to control the enraged protesters.

Update: Judge Targetted

5th October 2011. See article from google.com
See also Pakistan debates use and abuse of its Islamic blasphemy law from speroforum.com

The judge who sentenced to death the killer of liberal Pakistani politician Salman Taseer widely elected not to show up at work after his courtroom was ransacked, lawyers said.

Dozens of furious muslim lawyers ransacked Shah's courtroom, smashing windows to protest against the judgement.

After yesterday's protest and the attack on his office, the judge is not attending his office, Malik Khalid Jawad, president of the district bar association in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, told AFP. He also said: The bar has also requested his transfer because it can create a law and order situation.

Update: Religious parties to press for assassin's release

6th October 2011. See article from thenews.com.pk

All major religious parties of the country affiliated with all schools of thought have rejected the death sentence awarded by Anti-Terrorism Court to Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the police guard who gunned down former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, and also announced the launch of a countrywide movement for his release.

Addressing an all parties conference hosted by JUP under the banner of Tehrik Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Risalat (TNR), the top religious leaders hailing from 40 parties termed the court verdict violative of the Quran and Sunnah and the result of a prejudicial trial in which anti-terrorism law was applied to a murder committed out of rage.

Terming the verdict a direct attack on the Ideology of Pakistan, the participants in the conference vowed to protect the honour of Mohammed with every drop of their blood by foiling all the West-funded conspiracies to neutralize the blasphemy laws, besides struggling for the release of Mumtaz Qadri.

Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Syed Munawar Hasan announced a strong protest across the country on this coming Friday.

Update: Protests against the death sentence for the murder of Salman Taseer

8th October 2011. See article from kansascity.com

After the weekly prayers Friday, demonstrations were held in several cities, including Rawalpindi, where Pakistan's military is headquartered, and Lahore, against the death sentence handed down by a court last weekend to Mumtaz Qadri, a police commando who in January shot dead Salman Taseer, who was governor of Punjab province.

Taseer had spoken out against the country's blasphemy law, which has been used to prosecute Christians and members of other religions for alleged insults to Islam.

An angry mob of several hundred congregated in Rawalpindi, Qadri's hometown, next to Islamabad, throwing rocks and blocking a major road. In Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab, about 2,000 people chanting slogans gathered in the center of the city.

Update: Protests not well attended

10th October 2011. From Minority Concern

On the call of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC, a coalition of Islamic parties), many Islamic political parties held countrywide rallies on Oct. 7 for the release of a Muslim assassin, Mumtaz Ahmed Qadri. Along with those small demonstrations, a partial strike was also observed in many cities of Pakistan.

Generally, people did not reply to the call of SIC and in Karachi (the biggest city of the country with 18 million people) only 1,000 demonstrators gathered to protest against the court's judgment against Qadri. For those parties, Qadri is a hero who killed a blasphemer. For many observers, Friday's rallies and the call of a countrywide strike got a very poor response.

Update: Appeal Granted

12th October 2011. See article from google.com

A Pakistani court has suspended a policeman's death sentence pending his appeal against conviction for killing a provincial governor who wanted to reform controversial blasphemy laws.

The Islamabad High Court held a preliminary hearing to admit the appeal filed last week. The high court suspended the implementation of the death sentence awarded by the anti-terrorism court until the appeal hearing concludes, said defence lawyer Shuja-ur-Rehman.

The court's two-judge panel will now fix a date for the next hearing.

Update: Judge Flees

31st October 2011. See article from bbc.co.uk

A Pakistani judge who convicted a Muslim extremist of murder has fled to Saudi Arabia after getting death threats, his colleagues say. Pervez Ali Shah gave the death sentence to Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri for killing Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.

The Lahore High Court later denied Judge Shah had fled. A court spokesman said that he had taken temporary leave in order to go on a pilgrimage.

 

8th October   

Tolerance Beats Intolerance...

Israeli jew wins court case to register himself as 'without religion'
Link Here

Israel flagAn Israeli writer has won a historic court victory granting his request to be officially registered as without religion rather than Jewish, Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported.

Yoram Kaniuk turned to the courts in May after the interior ministry refused to alter his official religious status from Jewish to without religion, Haaretz said.

And last week, a Tel Aviv court sided with his demand, ruling that Israeli law allows citizens to be officially registered as having no religion. The court said:

Freedom from religion is a freedom derived from the right to human dignity, which is protected by the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, Haaretz quoted the ruling as saying.

Speaking to Haaretz, Kaniuk called the court's decision a ruling of historic proportions:

The court granted legitimacy to every person to live by their conscience in this land, in ruling that human dignity and freedom means a person can determine their own identity and definition. In this way I can be without religion but Jewish by nationality. I am so thrilled.

 

8th October   

Discriminatory Vision...

US Supreme Court OKs discriminatory employment policies
Link Here

US Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court has elected not to take up a controversial case revolving around allegations of religious discrimination. The case involves World Vision, a nutter organization which asserts that it has the right to hire or dismiss employees based on their religious affiliation.

Last August, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with World Vision. By electing not to take up the case, the Supreme Court leaves the lower court decision untouched.

Federal Way-based World Vision Inc. is one of the largest Christian organizations in the world, employing a work force of 40,000 employees and screens job applicants to ensure they are practicing Christians.

 

8th October   

Offsite: Violent Moral Policing and the Persecution of Minorities...

Why Is Islamic Extremism Growing in Indonesia?
Link Here

Indonesia flagThe suicide bombing of a church in Central Java on Sept. 25 pointed not only to a new level of attacks on religious minorities in the world's largest Muslim-majority country but to a political bent that accommodates Islamist extremism.

Dealing with terrorists alone, however, may not help much. Extremism that breeds terrorism needs to be checked, hinted the Wahid Institute's Rumadi, who uses a single name. The Wahid Institute works towards a just and peaceful world by espousing a moderate and tolerant view of Islam and working towards welfare for all.

There are extremist groups in Indonesia that are not known to have exploded bombs, but they practice violent moral policing and persecute minorities, sometimes beating members of minority communities to death. According to a human rights group in Jakarta, the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, there were at least 75 incidents, including violent attacks, violating religious freedom of the Christian community in 2010.

...Read the full article

 

7th October   

Offsite: Hidden Dangers...

A campaign of beach mines quickly cleared bikinis from Russian beach
Link Here

Dagestan flagOn a clear morning last July, at around 6 a.m., schoolteacher Yelena Abduzhalimova met her colleagues on the central city beach for a round of volleyball. As the ladies changed into their swimsuits, a group of young boys began to warm up for wrestling exercises before their morning classes, right by the volleyball court. Other than the children, the beach was still fairly empty at that hour. Abduzhalimova walked onto the court with her friends and she stepped forward to serve the ball. Instantly, a powerful explosion threw her into the air, flying 10 feet above the ground. She had stepped on a mine hidden in the sand. It was the third explosion on the public beach that season, and one that cost Abduzhalimova her leg above the knee. The bomb was meant as punishment for women wearing swimsuits, she says.

...Read the full article

 

4th October   

He Bangs...

Honduras nutters seek to ban Ricky Martin
Link Here

Greatest Hits Ricky Martin Ricky Martin's tour to Honduras has angered Catholic and evangelical nutters who have asked the government to bar his entry because he's a gay dad.

Honduras Minister of Interior, Africo Madrid, told local newspaper El Heraldo that the religious leaders have solicited that he deny a visa to Martin in order to protect the moral and ethical principles of our society .

Madrid claims that the religious leaders particularly object to Martin's non-traditional family: His nuclear family is not the type of family that Honduran society, and laws, approve of.

 

3rd October   

Morality Bullies...

Miserable Christian Legal Centre weighs in against lap dancing in Bedford
Link Here

bedford council logoBedford Council has rejected an application made on behalf of the Saints and Sinners nightclub to allow lap dancing to take place on the second floor of its venue.

The Council cited the usual moral bollox of an 'inappropriate' location for the rejection even though the club is located in the city centre.

Local nutters, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, argued that such a venue was not suitable in an area where there were schools, churches, shops and homes. More than 1000 letters of objection were received by the Council in advance of the hearing.

Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre crowed:

This is a fantastic result for the people of Bedford and we are very encouraged by the Council's decision. Yesterday's finding demonstrates that it is possible to successfully challenge lap dancing/sex establishment licences and that Councils are aware of the real risks and detriments of allowing a sex club to operate in city centres.

We would encourage anyone who wants to object to sex licence applications to contact us. We are here to support you all the way, because we recognise the blight that sex clubs have on town centres and communities, and the effect their presence has on women. Following today's result, we are confident that more successes are possible.

 

3rd October   

Update: Flagging Tolerance...

Campaign against the religious white cross on Switzerland's flag
Link Here  full story: Burkha Bollox...Burkhas threaten to undermine world peace

swiss flag 2011A mulsim group based in Bern has called for the emblematic white cross to be removed from the Swiss national flag because as a Christian symbol it no longer corresponds to today's multicultural Switzerland.

Ivica Petrusic, the vice president of Second@s Plus, a lobbying group that represents mostly Muslim second-generation foreigners in Switzerland (who colloquially are known as secondos) says the group will launch a nationwide campaign in October to ask Swiss citizens to consider adopting a flag that is less offensive to Muslim immigrants.

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Aargauer Zeitung, Petrusic said the cross has a Christian background and while the Christian roots of Switzerland should be respected:

it is necessary to separate church and state because Switzerland today has a great religious and cultural diversity. One has to ask if the State wants to continue building up a symbol in which many people no longer believe.

In the interview, Petrusic said Switzerland needs new symbols with which everyone, including non-Christians, can identify. As an alternative to the current Swiss flag, Petrusic proposed the former flag of the Helvetic Republic which was officially introduced in 1799 and consisted of green, red and yellow colors.

The proposal to change the Swiss flag has been met with inevitable 'outrage' across the political spectrum and is sure to fuel anti-immigrant sentiments in Switzerland.

Retaliation perhaps?

See article from islamineurope.blogspot.com

The lower house of Switzerland's parliament has just taken a first step towards banning full-face veils, voting in favour of a measure brought by the political party that spearheaded the 2009 campaign against building new minarets. The motion Down with the masks , proposed by SVP representative Oskar Freysinger, comes at a time of rising anti-muslim sentiment in Switzerland.

It was approved by 101 parliamentarians to 77 with nine abstentions and now has to pass Swiss parliament's upper chamber.

If both houses approve the proposal, full-face veils, including Muslim burqas, could eventually be banned from government buildings or public transport.

 

3rd October   

Veiled Intolerance...

Egyptian schoolgirl banned from attending school for not wearing a hijab
Link Here

hijabAn Egyptian Christian girl was prevented for over a week from entering her school in Beni Mazar, Minya province, because she refused to wear a veil. The school management described her as 'flaunt' for not covering her hair, said Coptic activist Nader Shoukry, who uncovered the story.

Coptic students were forced to obey for fear of the school management's threats, said Mr. Wagdy Halfa, the attorney for the girl, except for 14-year-old Ferial Sorial Habib, whose family refused this decision because it is inconsistent with religious freedom and a blatant Islamization of education.

Ferial was prevented from entering her school by the social worker, Ms. Ola Abdel Fattah, for eight consecutive days.

Her father went to school on September 17 to protest this decision, but the school filed a police complaint against him on charges of libel and defamation.

Wagdy Halfa, the student's attorney, said the school administration of Shaikh Fadl Secondary School, a public school in Bani Mazar, had sent a warning to Christian students compelling them to wear a head dress, similar to the Hijab, and not to reveal their hair, otherwise they would be refused entry to school.

Ferial's father filed a formal complaint with the state attorney and another with the Department of Education of Bani Mazar, stating the school has turned into a hotbed of militants and has acted out of its legal scope by forcing on students what is not specified by law or in the educational guidelines. He asked the authorities to investigate this incident.

According to attorney Halfa schools are only allowed to choose the color of the uniform. He warned of the seriousness of the incident as it confirms the Islamist program to take control of the education system and impose the veil on Christian women.

Appearing on Coptic TV Channel on September 25, Halfa said the school is ready to allow the student to go back to school but only on an 'amicable' basis and not through 'administrative prosecution,' but her father and I objected.

Said Abdalmaseeh, director of the Egyptian Center for Development and Human Rights, presented a complaint to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Education, calling on them to legally respond to the school's actions, to allow the Coptic student to attend school, and issue instructions to all schools that wearing the veil is optional and not mandatory.

The Zurich-based European Union for Coptic Human Rights Organizations has sent a formal request to the Egyptian Minister of Education, demanding an investigation of the Bani Mazar school incident.

 

2nd October   

Update: Common Complaint...

BBC responds to complaints about use of the calendar terms CE and BCE
Link Here  full story: Politically Correct Common Era...Calender terms AD and PC become CE and BCE

BBC logoThe BBC have responded to complaints about the use of the calendar terms CE/BCE to replace AD/BC:

Complaint

We received complaints from people concerned about press reports claiming that the BBC has replaced the reference terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).

BBC Response

It is incorrect to say that the BBC has replaced date systems BC and AD with Before Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE). Whilst the BBC uses BC and AD like most people as standard terminology, it is possible to use different terminology, particularly as it is now commonly used in historical research. The BBC has issued no editorial guidance on date systems, and the decision rests with the individual editorial and production teams. It should also be noted that for every BCE or CE reference, there are still a great many BC and AD references used across the BBC.

 

2nd October   

Update: Cleansing Foretold...

100,000 Christians Have Left Egypt Since March
Link Here  full story: Muslims attacking Copts...Minority christian Copts uder continuous attack

Egypt flagThe Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations (EUHRO) has published a report on emigration of Christians from Egypt, saying that nearly 100,000 Christians have emigrated since March 2011.

The report, which was sent to the Egyptian cabinet and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), warned that this emigration has been prompted by the escalating intimidation and attacks on Christians by Islamists.

Copts are not emigrating abroad voluntarily, said Naguib Gabriell, the director EUHRO: they are coerced into that by threats and intimidation of hard line Salafists, and the lack of protection they are getting from the Egyptian regime.

According to the report, the majority of Copts have emigrated for the US, with some 16,000 settling in California, 10,000 in New Jersey, 8000 in New York, and 8000 in other American states. Nearly 14,000 have gone to Australia, 17,000 to Canada, and 20,000 to the Netherlands, Italy, England, Austria, Germany and France.

EUHRO warned that emigration of Christians out of Egypt will threaten its demographic makeup and national economy. Copts constitute a strong pillar in the economy. said Gabriel: Copts who are leaving their homeland are not prompted by their need for work, as they are from the professional and business class, but from fear of the hard line Salafists.

Attacks on Copts and their religious institutions have spread fear, according to Gabriel. Recent attacks included the killing of Coptic youths in Moqattam and Embaba, cutting-off the ear of a Copt, attacks on churches, as well as preventing the governor of Qena from occupying his post because he is Christian.

 

2nd October   

Update: Kill or Cure...

Exorcism nonsense goes tragically wrong in Japan
Link Here  full story: Exorcism...Kill or Cure: Possessed by Nonsense

the ringA 13-year-old girl suffocated after she was strapped down and drenched with water by her father and a monk who were trying to expel an evil spirit , Japanese police said.

Monk Kazuaki Kinoshita and the girl's father, Atsushi Maishigi, were accused of what police described as waterfall service : strapping the victim Tomomi Maishigi to a chair and dousing her face with water. News reports said the two men poured water over her as an exorcism with the father holding the girl down while the monk chanted sutras. Miss Maishigi's mother called an ambulance after her daughter fell unconscious, but it was too late. She was confirmed dead early the next morning.

Reports said the the girl's parents had turned to the monk after the youngster had suffered several years of mental and physical ill health that doctors had not been able to resolve. The monk, who belongs to a religious group deriving from a Buddhist sect, claimed that the girl was possessed by an evil spirit.

 

1st October   

No Pride in Serbia...

Gay pride parade banned in Belgrade
Link Here

Serbia flagSerbian authorities have banned a gay pride parade planned for Sunday in the capital Belgrade claiming they fear it will end in violence. A number of counter-demonstrations have also been banned.

Last year, several people were injured in clashes between police and far-right groups trying to stop the parade.

Organisers have criticised the ban, saying Serbian authorities have capitulated to extremists. Officials insist it is to protect public safety.

Correspondents say homophobia is widespread in Serbia. Irinej, the head of the influential Serbian Orthodox Church, labelled the planned event a pestilence and a parade of shame .

 

1st October   

House Churches Banned...

California takes inspiration from religious repression in China
Link Here

China flagA Californian couple have been fined twice in the last few months for holding weekly Bible study meetings in their home supposedly in the name of enforcing 'zoning codes'.

Chuck and Stephanie Fromm have 4,700-square-foot home is situated on more than an acre of land with one side of the street not having any houses and ample parking.

The couple hosts two Bible studies per week, one with about a dozen people and the other with approximately 50, Fromm said.

The San Juan Capistrano city 'manager' denies that the citations were issued because the meetings were Bible studies, and told CP that the citations were issued because the couple was having regular gatherings of 50 or more people.

The citations, posted on the Fromm's website, do not include any references to an illegal amount of house guests. The Fromms are appealing the citations at a hearing before the Orange County Superior Court in a trial yet to be scheduled. They are also continuing to hold the Bible studies.