Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Free Speech

Very Short Treatise on Intolerance (Teresa May).

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Theresa May addressing the Conservative Party conference.

Teresa May Outlines Plans to Clamp down on ‘Harmful Individuals’. 

Very Short Treatise on Intolerance.

Nietzsche wrote somewhere that the greatest haters, with the longest memories and deepest grudges, are learned religious men. (1) The contrary can easily be found. But malevolent violence in the Middle East – inspired and carried out by those who see themselves as holy – is something thrust in front of us every single day.

That this affects Europe was equally brought home quickly. It is not an exaggeration to say that the world of social media and instant media reporting, has worn away the sense of distance. That thousands of European volunteers, including hundreds of British citizens, have joined the Jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq became news in weeks. For those who follow the right sites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, more information piled up every day.

From these sources the oppressions and crimes of the Islamist forces rapidly became known. In Iraq and Syria the Islamic State and Isis began to carry out ethnic and religious cleansing, tortured, raped, and committed acts of genocide.

Clamp-down on ‘harmful individuals”.

That there are those who continue to justify the Jihadists, here and now, is equally public. The British Conservative Party has announced that it intends, if elected in 2015, to legislate. It will issue “banning orders” on “extremist” groups. It will ratchet up its ‘anti-terrorism’ strategy and ‘anti-extremism’ programme. There will be ‘terrorism Asbos’ – extreme disruption orders, that will restrict the actions of named individuals, including a ban on their media appearances. (BBC)

Opponents of the proposals will state that it not possible to ban a version of a faith, which is a private matter. But the liberal argument in defence of free speech appears to hit a wall at this point. The Jihadists’ behaviour is not confined to “self-regarding acts” (John Stuart Mill). It is anything but limited to the individual: they are carrying out the Word of god, as spoken by their own authorities, to bring the world into line with their ideas.

Jihadists and Violence.

If we argue that the consequences of Jihadist ideology are violent few would disagree. The link could not be plainer and self-designated. They appear to be, and are intolerance incarnate. But if Mill’s doctrine has its faults, a much greater one is to “augment the authority of whatever sacerdotal or legislative body (that) may represent the majority”, as John Morley pointed out. (On Compromise. 1886)

Give those in government  and their functionaries that power and it is not hard to see that Teresa May’s laws would open the door to abuses. A floodgate of malicious accusations (anonymous or Tabloid inspired). As somebody who has been the target of a ‘moderate’ Islamist – soon proved false – claims, one also see the scope for factional warfare between Muslim groups and their opponents, secularists or otherwise, opening up. And that is before we consider the potential for racists and other hate groups using the legislation for their own purposes. That the idea appears to encompass “extremisms” as a whole – left, right, religious and otherwise – rings others alarm bells. As David Davis (Conservative) observed, these measures “quite incredible powers to limit democratic rights”. Or as  puts in the Tory  Telegraph, “The concept of extremism has become rather like fascism: a catch-all term for things we don’t like.”

It would be hard to find any organised religion (with the possible exception of the Society of Friends) that did not claim special powers over other people and society. If we oppose this claim then it’s not the individual who’s the problem but the institutions that would bring compulsory rules over other people’s lives. The Conservatives’ proposals come close to this, very close indeed for anybody suspected of “extremism”.

By contrast those who consider that there is no special place for religion in our common political institutions, would not consider the public body the best authority make the ultimate decision over what is and what is not an acceptable “moderate” religious belief. Secularists would leave the faithful to battle amongst themselves over whether they are hard-liners or reasonable. This would leave the rest of us free to exist as human beings, at liberty to adopt, to approve, to mock or to criticise any religious belief that tries to impinge on our lives.

There remains the problem of Islamism. Some simply deny that there is any connection between Islam and ISIS/Islamic State. We have seen the attempt by some to get the media to call the Islamic State the “un” or “so-called” Islamic State. It’s as if Trotskyists demanded that the old Soviet Union be always referred to by its “proper” name, as a “degenerated/deformed workers’ state”.

The analogy can be extended. Some commentators have compared the reaction of political Islamists, including those in government, as in Turkey, to the left’s difficult coming to terms with Stalin’s blood-drenched rule. This is not an easy process, and it has not ended yet.

One thing is certain coming to terms with the crimes of the Islamists in the Middle East will not be helped by fine-sounding phrases that instantly dismiss any connection between their ideology and Islam. This is a claim shared by Teresa May who states, ” Islam is a religion of peace.” We would wish for evidence to back this  assertion. 

It may be said that those who loudly clamoured for bans on books and publications,  which “offended” Islam, from the Satanic Verses onwards, are not in a good position to demand freedom of expression. That is indeed a rod of their own making. 

Intolerance of the Intolerant. 

None of this implies any let up on the pressure on violent Islamists. Those who follow the tradition of Voltaire’s  Traité sur la tolérance (1763) are not tolerant of fanaticism. The crimes of Isis/Islamic State, including those committed by European Jihadists, should be answerable to courts and due process. We can, already, clamp down on incitement to violence and religious hatred. The means to bring to account those actively involved in Jihad exist. The killers in the service of the Assad regime deserve the same treatment – bringing up a subject which, to examine properly, would extend this ‘short’ treatise by several pages.

What we do not need is increased “authority” to legislate on what is, and what is not, ‘extremism.”

(1) “The really great Haters in History have always been priests, but also the cleverest haters – in comparison with the cleverness of priestly revenge every other piece of cleverness is practically negligible” Genealogy of Morals. 1887.

Update: Ukip Complains Theresa May’s Anti-Extremism Pledge ‘Could Shut Party Down’.

The Home Secretary revealed the new “extremism disruption orders” would ban those who “spread hate but do not break existing laws” from the airwaves and make it easier to formally proscribe groups deemed to be linked to terrorism.

The orders will apply to those who “spread or incite hatred” of gender, race or religion as well as those who engage in “harmful activities” for the “purpose of overthrowing democracy”. That’s prompted fears the laws could be used on non-violent political groups and the political enemies of those in power.

Critics said the powers were draconian and mocked the notion of banning those who are not proven to have broken the law, while human rights Liberty said the powers were “worthy of a caliphate”.

The eurosceptic party that is jeopardising the Tories’ chance of winning the next election – and to which two MPs and other prominent politicians have already defected – also suggested it could be banned with such an order.

Suzanne Evans, deputy chair of Ukip, told a fringe event at the Tory Party conference that the power could be used to close down her party, the BBC’s Norman Smith reported.

Hope Not Hate call for contributions to debate on “To ban or not to ban?” : here.

How should society tackle extremism?

There will be various streams to this debate, so ideas and contributions on them all will be useful:

  • What is extremism?
  • Where does extremism come from?
  • How should the Government tackle extremism?
  • How should communities tackle extremism?
  • What are the limits of freedom of speech?

SWP Facing Problems with Marxism 2014.

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Statement Regarding Marxism Festival 2014 and the Socialist Workers Party

11 March 2014 at 15:04

Trigger Warning: Discussion on rape-apologism

The Marxism Festival is the annual summer school event of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). Our rejection of this year’s request to book rooms at the University of London Union for Marxism Festival 2014 is due to the fact that the Socialist Workers’ Party has, over the last year, proven itself to be a corrupt, rape apologist organisation which prides itself in creating an unsafe space for young women. As elected officers – like many others in the student movement – we see the SWP’s handling of rape allegations against a senior member as a despicable denial of sexism.

Here at ULU we have a clear policy which outlines a zero tolerance stance against sexual harassment and violence. We believe survivors of sexual harassment and aim to offer the best possible support we can. Last year we were angered that the SWP was able to hold Marxism 2013 here but we didn’t not have oversight on what type of organisations hired out ULU. ULU is first and foremost a space for student organisation and we aim to put the welfare of students first. We stated that we were going to bring in measures to ensure that democratically elected officers have powers over ULU conference bookings and we did.

At Marxism 2013, many students and mostly women activists, who attended in order to protest against the SWP, were submitted to verbal and physical abuse by members of the party. This only adds to our concerns for the safety of students at ULU when the SWP is present. Furthermore, criticism of the SWP leadership has been constantly silenced and suppressed at every turn and often met with violent behaviour as well as accusations that it is we who are sexist and sectarian.

The Socialist Workers’ Party has tried to silence any activist within the party who has tried to fight for justice for the women who have been victims of sexual violence at the the hands of the leadership. Instead of supporting those women, the SWP instead started a victim-blaming campaign and protected the perpetrator. To quote a member of the SWP “we aren’t rape apologists unless we believe all women tell the truth, and guess what some women and children lie”.

To the SWP, we say that you are beyond help and progressive debate. You are disgrace to the left and we have no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation. The bottom line is that you do not have any right to use this space, you are not welcome here or anywhere near our union and we will not be harassed by your organisation. As students and activists, we stand united against sexism.

Signed

Susuana Antubam (Women’s Officer)

Natasha Gorodnitski (Ethics & Environment Officer)

Maham Hashmi (Black Students Officer)

Thomas Ankin (Disabled Students Officer)

Andy Turton (LGBT+ Officer)

Facebook.

This is utterly, completely, wrong.

I feel strongly about this since I have been at left meetings held at ULU since the mid 1970s.

Ban one, then why not another?

This was particularly lame, they have “no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation.”

Fuck me, lets look at some really oppressive organisations and practices  in some fucking oppressive countries.

Noteworthy are the signatures of the following added on the Facebook declaration:

  • Leah Edwards, Co-President Welfare & Campaigns, SOAS
  •  Fanni Rintakumpu, SOAS Feminist Soc
     
  • Resham Akhtar, Co – Women’s Officer – SOAS

So what about this?

(Feb 2014)

As members of SOAS Christian-Muslim Dialogue Society, we oppose your vilification and targeting of university Islamic societies including SOAS Islamic Society on the issue of gender segregation in their events.

We support the right of each student to act according to his or her personal religious convictions. For some, segregated seating serves these convictions and allows participation in mixed events. We support the right of SOAS Islamic Society to accommodate both segregated and mixed seating in any event.

We oppose the notion that segregated seating is somehow indicative of extremism, and believe this to be motivated by Islamophobic sentiments.

As members of a Society including Christians, Muslims, and individuals of other faiths and none, we stand with SOAS Islamic Society in this matter.

Or this?

A London university’s student union has come under criticism for allowing a pro-female genital mutilation supporter to speak at a debate on campus.

Haitham al-Haddad spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Monday, despite having previously publicly advocated his support for FGM.

In a video posted on YouTube, he lectures on the importance of knowing female circumcision in the UK is illegal and says there is a “proper” way of carrying out FGM.

“In some countries.. they do [circumcision] a way that cause harm for the female,” he says. “There are some statistics it can cause 25% death of females.. This is called the Pharaonic circumcision.. We are not talking about that. They cut extensively. That is harmful, definitely. But it is consensus of all the scholars that female circumcision is sunnah [proper].

The event was organised by the Islamic Finance and Ethics Society and although al-Haddad spoke about why lending money with interest is forbidden in Islam, several students voiced their concerns at the preacher being given a platform.

Nadje Al-Ali, professor of gender studies at SOAS, told The Huffington Post UK: “I am saddened and angered that the SOAS Islamic FInance and Ethics society had provided a platform for someone who can only be described as a preacher of hate and ignorance.

“Aside from his extremely problematic views on FGM, which would be challenged by most serious Islamic scholars, he is on record of making anti-semitic, sexist and homophobic remarks. Freedom of speech needs to be applied within the principles of not inciting hatred.

(19.2.14)

It might be interesting to see something Resham Akhtar’s Page about that!

Update: Nothing on SWP Marxism  page, literally nothing, no list of speakers to begin with, yet.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Mejiri, in Tunisian Prison for Images of the ‘Prophet’ pardoned but remains in Prison.

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Not Yet Free.

President Moncef Marzouki has signed a pardon for Jabeur Mejri, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for posting cartoons of the prophet Mohammed online, according to his office.

Mejri’s supporters, however, have criticized the lack of details in the announcement and say he is still imprisoned.

Presidency spokesperson Chaker Bouajila confirmed to Tunisia Live that a pardon has been signed. He referred all further questions to a legal advisor, who could not be reached for comment.

Adnene Mansar, another spokesperson for the presidency, announced the decision in an interview on radio station Shems FM Wednesday.

“A few days ago, President Moncef Marzouki signed an pardon decision on Jabeur Mejri’s case, ” Adnene Mansar told Shems FM

“In October, Jabeur Mejri wrote a handwritten apology letter saying: I declare that I apologize to the Tunisian people and other Islamic people for what I released of my writings and drawings offending the Prophet Mohammed and Islam,” Mansar added.

He added that there was another case against Mejri involving “financial misconduct,” but the details of this are unclear.

Henda Chennaoui of Mejri’s support committee is not satisfied with the announcement.

“We demand more transparency on the release of prisoner of conscience Jabeur Mejri. We condemn the Presidency’s tricky statements announcing the pardon without speaking about liberation. Jabeur is still in prison,” she posted on her Facebook page.

Previously, the presidency said Mejri could be released in a deal involving asylum in Sweden. It is unclear if this option has been taken.

- See more at: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2014/02/19/presidency-announces-pardon-for-jabeur-mejri-but-supporters-say-hes-still-in-jail/#sthash.ai2XIpLq.dpuf

President Moncef Marzouki has signed a pardon for Jabeur Mejri, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for posting cartoons of the prophet Mohammed online, according to his office.

Mejri’s supporters, however, have criticized the lack of details in the announcement and say he is still imprisoned.

Presidency spokesperson Chaker Bouajila confirmed to Tunisia Live that a pardon has been signed. He referred all further questions to a legal advisor, who could not be reached for comment.

Adnene Mansar, another spokesperson for the presidency, announced the decision in an interview on radio station Shems FM Wednesday.

“A few days ago, President Moncef Marzouki signed an pardon decision on Jabeur Mejri’s case, ” Adnene Mansar told Shems FM

“In October, Jabeur Mejri wrote a handwritten apology letter saying: I declare that I apologize to the Tunisian people and other Islamic people for what I released of my writings and drawings offending the Prophet Mohammed and Islam,” Mansar added.

He added that there was another case against Mejri involving “financial misconduct,” but the details of this are unclear.

Henda Chennaoui of Mejri’s support committee is not satisfied with the announcement.

“We demand more transparency on the release of prisoner of conscience Jabeur Mejri. We condemn the Presidency’s tricky statements announcing the pardon without speaking about liberation. Jabeur is still in prison,” she posted on her Facebook page.

Previously, the presidency said Mejri could be released in a deal involving asylum in Sweden. It is unclear if this option has been taken.

- See more at: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2014/02/19/presidency-announces-pardon-for-jabeur-mejri-but-supporters-say-hes-still-in-jail/#sthash.ai2XIpLq.dpuf

Background.

Ghazi Beji  and Jabeur Mejri are Tunisian citizens sentenced on 28 March 2012 to 7.5 years’ imprisonment for “transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order” after posting naked caricatures of Mohammad to Facebook.Mejri faced trial in court, while his friend Beji was convicted in absentia, having fled to Europe to escape prosecution. Mejri’s appeal of his sentence was denied on 25 June 2012. Mejri’s lawyer objected to his client being denied medical evaluation, describing him as “mentally unstable” and unemployed for the past six year.  Wikipedia.

Today Libération reports that Jabeur Mejri has  received a Presidential pardon.

But he remains in Prison on a (critics allege, fabricated) charge of having operated a fraud as an emploeye of the Tunisian railway services.  While unemployed when arrested for “blasphemeny” he had in the past worked in the ticket office of Mahadia.

Ghazi Beji has been granted political asylum in France.

This story is also on Tunisia Live.

“President Moncef Marzouki has signed a pardon for Jabeur Mejri, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for posting cartoons of the prophet Mohammed online, according to his office.

Mejri’s supporters, however, have criticized the lack of details in the announcement and say he is still imprisoned.

Presidency spokesperson Chaker Bouajila confirmed to Tunisia Live that a pardon has been signed. He referred all further questions to a legal advisor, who could not be reached for comment.

.Adnene Mansar, another spokesperson for the presidency, announced the decision in an interview on radio station Shems FM Wednesday.

“A few days ago, President Moncef Marzouki signed an pardon decision on Jabeur Mejri’s case, ” Adnene Mansar told Shems FM

“In October, Jabeur Mejri wrote a handwritten apology letter saying: I declare that I apologize to the Tunisian people and other Islamic people for what I released of my writings and drawings offending the Prophet Mohammed and Islam,” Mansar added.

He added that there was another case against Mejri involving “financial misconduct,” but the details of this are unclear.

Henda Chennaoui of Mejri’s support committee is not satisfied with the announcement.

“We demand more transparency on the release of prisoner of conscience Jabeur Mejri. We condemn the Presidency’s tricky statements announcing the pardon without speaking about liberation. Jabeur is still in prison,” she posted on her Facebook page.

Previously, the presidency said Mejri could be released in a deal involving asylum in Sweden. It is unclear if this option has been taken.”

Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Tunisia’s New Constitution: A Great Step Forward but Some Doubts Remain.

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Tunisian Women Protesting for Fundamental Rights in New Constitution.

This week, Tunisia passed a truly historic constitution widely heralded as a progressive and monumental document.

Here’s just some of what these brave elected representatives agreed upon in the face of strong pressure from the more extreme factions of their parties:

  • Guaranteed equality between men and women
  • A constitutional mandate for environmental protection, only the third country in the world to do so
  • A declaration that health care is a human right, with preventative care and treatment for every citizen
  • democracy with civil laws that respects freedom of religion
  • An established right to due process and protection from torture

In one stroke, Tunisia’s become more democratic than many Western countries have been for years. 

This is a revolution of democracy and a great victory for human rights — and the more we recognize that, the more Tunisia can shine as an example for the Western and the Arab world!

MESSAGE FOR TUNISIAN LEGISLATORS: We , the citizens of the world, applaud your bravery in making a strong commitment to universal human values in your constitution. People deprived of democracy around the world look to you to set the example of human rights and democratic principle — hold true to the promises made in this revolutionary document!

From Watchdog.

Last Friday, largely unnoticed in the Anglophone press, invited by Tunisia’s provisional President,Mohamed Moncef Marzouki,a whole range of Heads of State, from Africa, Arab countries, and Europe ( France’s President – the sole Western leader to attend) took part in  a ceremony in Tunis to celebrate this step forward.

The French Gauche anticapitaliste (part of the Front de gauche), has called the Constitution a “Phare” (a Beacon) of democratic social  principle,  though not necessarily a model that others can follow.

Some doubts about the new Constitution  remain,

On Human Rights Watch Amna Guellali (Director of the Human Rights Watch office for Tunisia and Algeria) observes,

Article 6 attempts the impossible task of reconciling two radically different visions of society. On the one hand, it caters to a hyper-religious audience that sees the government as a watchdog and protector of all things sacred. At the same time, the article describes a society that leaves each person the freedom of religious choice, without intrusion or interference. The two irreconcilable visions are forced together in a complicated and wordy fashion.

The article, as adopted, reads:

“The State is the guardian of religion. It guarantees liberty of conscience and of belief, the free exercise of religious worship and the neutrality of the mosques and of the places of worship from all partisan instrumentalisation.

The State commits itself to the dissemination of the values of moderation and tolerance and to the protection of the sacred and the prohibition of any offense thereto. It commits itself, equally, to the prohibition of, and the fight against, appeals to Takfir [charges of apostasy] and incitement to violence and hatred.”

These paragraphs, overloaded with meaning and references, are filled with contradictions. More disturbing, however, is how vague they are. The clauses allow for the most repressive of interpretations in the name of offence against the sacred. Citing the constitution, lawyers, judges and politicians could interpret Article 6 however they see fit. This ambivalence could hold grave consequences for the country.

This problem, the ” the criminalization of actions that could be considered “offence(s) to the sacred” remains a potential mine-field.

It is unlikely to disappear.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Channel Four Censors Jesus and Mo Cartoons in Deference to Mohammed Shafiq .

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Channel Four censored a Jesus and Mo cartoon last night.

“This is not about freedom of speech – this is about the behaviour of a parliamentary candidate”: Mohammed Shafiq from the Ramadhan Foundation says Lib Dem Maajid Nawaz has offended Muslims. Channel Four News.

What is the background to this censorship?

The Huffington Post says,

The row began when Quilliam Foundation’s Nawaz, whose think-tank was credited with Tommy Robinson’s departure from the EDL, tweeted a ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon, stating he was not offended by the content.

Nawaz has since said he has received “credible” death threats over the tweet.

The cartoon was the same as the one worn on t-shirts by the LSE Atheism society, who were told by the University to remove the t-shirts or cover them up when they hosted a stall at the university Freshers’ Fair.

Nawaz was challenged over the tweet by Shafiq, along with Muslim TV commentator Mo Ansar and Bradford Respect MP George Galloway.

Apprarently the two have kissed and made up (Liberal Voice),

Maajid Nawaz, the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn and Mohammed Shafiq, member of the Liberal Democrats, have released a joint statement:

“We wish to make a statement about the recent concern expressed over issues related to conflicting views on depictions of Prophet Muhammad.

“We recognise that, when it comes to this question, some Muslims of various persuasions may take different views. However, we also recognise that there are many Muslims who have taken offence, and we assert that images of the spiritual leaders of all religions should be deemed to be respectful. We also respect the freedom of every member of the Liberal Democrats on either side of this debate who feels offended by tone or language to make representations to the Liberal Democrats as is their democratic right.

“We are both Liberals and support the principle of freedom of speech. But we also understand the importance of respect for others’ views and of moderation of language. In so far as this second principle of moderate language has been breached in the heat and passion of the current debate, we regret this and call for all those who have differing views to ensure that any debate which continues on this subject should use language and attitudes which conform to Liberal standards of respect and moderation.

“We now call on those on both sides of this argument to return to moderate debate, free of insult and threat and we do so because we believe this is in the interests of our Party, of the wider Muslim community in Britain and of the principles of peace to which Islam is committed.”

Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn.

Mohammed Shafiq, member of the Liberal Democrats.

Shafiq showed scant regard for freedom of speech on Channel Four.

He managed to say, in the allusive and imprecise way that is typical of Islamist bigots when they try to appeal to a liberal-minded audience, that nobody should be allowed to show images of the ‘prophet’ Mohamed.

On the basis of 21,000 people signing a petition calling for Mawaz to be removed a Liberal Demcorat candidate (a small number in the sum of things) he also mentioned that “Muslim leaders” were  having a special meeting with Nick Clegg today.

This, we learnt during the programme, had been changed.

It would be a talk with Paddy Ashdown (no doubt on the basis of his experience in the aftermath of the Balkans civil war).

In fact they have not been reconciled at all.

If Nick Clegg were hoping that a joint statement by the Liberal Democrats at the centre of the Prophet Mohammed cartoon row would defuse the situation, then he is going to be disappointed.

IBTimes UK has learned that Mohammed Shafiq – who led the campaign for candidate Maajid Nawaz to be deselected over a tweet about the cartoon – is to take part in a meeting with members of the Lib Dem leadership about the controversy on Wednesday.

Critics of Nawaz are expected to insist again that he should not be allowed to stand for the party in Hampstead and Fulham at the 2015 general election. The row ignited when Nawaz tweeted a link to a cartoon of the Islamic prophet Mohammed earlier this month. Shafiq and others claimed the cartoon offended Islam.

The renewed call for Nawaz to be dropped came just hours after he and Shafiq issued a joint statement designed to foster unity. Death threats against Nawaz had sparked a police investigation.

More on IBT.

We are concerned that Channel Four’s censorship is not yet worthy of the demands of Mohammed Shafiq.

A special committee of Islamic scholars should no doubt be set up to supervise the Channel’s output, and indeed all the media, to ensure that no Muslim is ever offended.

This will have to go!

home

More Jesus and Mo (while you’re permitted to look at it): here.

Meanwhile Maajiid Nawaz has made a dignified defence of his actions in the Guardian, “• Why I’m speaking up for Islam against the loudmouths who have hijacked it“.

Jimas Gets Police to Threaten Tendance Coatesy.

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I have just had an unpleasant visit from the Police.

Apparently it follows a “complaint” from Ipswich-based Islamists, Jimas.

The details of the complaint were not given.

But they apparently centre on this Blog, posts on this organisation (notably a dossier sent to me by somebody close to Harry’s Place) and, it is claimed “E-Mails.”

What they are specifically  I do not know.

It all took place, believe or not, well over a year ago, when and what, they did not see fit to elaborate much upon.

But is was claimed that I had a met a leading member of Jimas – completely untrue – to discuss matters.

It was also said that E-Mails from somebody calling themselves The Usual Suspects, were at issue.

I am not the “Usual Suspects” and it is a slander to suggest that I am.

Equally I repeat: I have never met anybody from Jimas.

As for the political attacks on Jimas (and other Islamists) on the Blog Tendance Coatesy, I wonder if it is the business of Suffolk police to act on these matters.

One could say that this is a case of political intervention way beyond their remit.

As for Jimas, well, rest assured that your attempts to ‘get’ me are not appreciated.

Particularly the claim – wholly made-up – that I ‘met’ with them.

As this Blog has an international readership I wonder what people in other countries think of this.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Critics of Religion Like Alber Saber Face Uncertain Future as Egyptian Islamist Constitution Passes.

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Saber and Other Critics Face Uncertain Future Under Islamist Constitution.

The Islamist Egyptian constitution has been voted in with what is reported over 65% of the vote, on an extremely low turnout of around 30%.

The country’s opposition says that it has no legitimacy.

Apart from accusations of fraud, there is clearly not the kind of overwhelming popular mandate needed for a framework for law and politics.

There are many reasons to oppose the Constitution, not least the record of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

One area which will attract attention is its repression of critics of religion.

The case Alber Ayad was highlighted in yesterday’s Le Monde (it has received scant attention in the liberal British press).

Introduction from Wikipedia (slightly modified)

Alber Saber Ayad  (also Albert) is an Egyptian blogger arrested on 13 September 2012 on allegations of having shared the YouTube trailer for the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims on his Facebook page.

On 12 September, Alber Saber’s home was surrounded by a crowd calling for his death for heresy and atheism. The crowd attempted to break down the door, and also threatened to burn down the house. Saber’s mother called the police for protection, and Saber was arrested by them the following day. Saber later stated that a police officer incited other prisoners to attack him in detention; he was beaten and cut on the neck with a razor.

Police confiscated Saber’s computer, but found no evidence that he had uploaded the video in question. Instead, Saber was charged with “defamation of Islam and Christianity, insulting the divine and satirizing religious rituals and sanctities and the prophets under articles 98, 160 and 161 of the Egyptian Penal Code“, with a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment.The prosecution stated that Saber had “promoted his extremist thoughts in speech and writings by creating web pages, including [the] ‘Crazy dictator’ and ‘Egyptian atheists’.

Le Monde says that Saber was originally extremely pious. He then turned to an interest in politics and the liberal opposition to the Mubarak regime. During the 2011 anti- protests he became more and more radical, attracting the attention of the security services. He created a Facebook Page. This became a forum for the handful of anarchists and atheists who shared his ideas (“d’anarchistes et d’athées se reconnaissant dans ses idées). Saber says, God is not another Dictator (Dieu n’est qu’un dictateur de plus). He spoke about Darwin and the historical inconsistencies in religious texts.

Saber says himself, interviewed by Egypt Independent,

This goes way back. In 2008, I joined the April 6 Youth Movement and participated with them in several demonstrations against government corruption at the time, in addition to joining the Youth for Freedom and Justice Movement and [Mohamed] ElBaradei Youth Movement. That is why I was arrested on 26 January 2011.

I was then among those who met with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces when we were on a hunger strike to demand the prosecution of [former President Hosni] Mubarak and the dismissal of the prosecutor general.

On 25 January 2012, state security officers stormed my house in my absence, took my computer and conducted a search. From that moment on, security officers have wanted to get rid of people like me.

With the rise of the religious right in the aftermath of the revolution, Saber says,

I quit political work and began criticizing the situation of Egypt from the inside, especially after the widespread emergence of Islamist currents after the January revolution, and with the difficulty of convincing members of these groups not to mix religion with politics. I decided to make videos discussing the differences between religions, until the issue of the film ["Innocence of Muslims"] insulting the Prophet came up.

AMAY: Did you post the film insulting the Prophet on social networking sites?

AS:  I did not do that because I believe in the freedom of opinion and belief. There is no evidence on my accounts on either Facebook or Twitter that I ever posted the film.

Saber says he has never insulted the ‘taboo’ of religion as such. Specifically, he denies ever having shared the trailer for the Innocence of Muslims.

On 12 December 2012, Saber was found guilty and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He was allowed to appeal if he first paid $167 bail. Though the bail was paid, police returned him to prison.

He was finally released on bail, pending an appeal.

Those who try to ‘understand’ Muslim anger’ at the Innocence of Muslims will now see how an Islamist dominated state deals with those incur its wrath.

Le Monde states, that in the new

Constitution, rédigé par les islamistes et soumis à référendum samedi 22 décembre, “l’insulte aux prophètes” est strictement prohibée. Et Albert risquera une peine beaucoup plus lourde .

In the new Constitution, written by the Islamists, and subject to a referendum on Saturday the 22nd of December, “insulting the prophets” is forbidden. Albert risks facing an even heavier penalty.

FaceBook Page Free Alber Saber!

Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm