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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights

German Elections and the AfD.

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Police blocks demonstrators protesting against the nationalist 'Alternative for Germany', AfD, party in Berlin

Turn left: Smash Nationalism!

Der Spiegel Editorial 

Democracy at Stake: Germany’s Slide to the Right

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats lost massive support in Sunday’s parliamentary election while the right-wing populist performed better than expected. What happens now?

This year’s general election in Germany has been heralded as an epochal shift. Merkel’s “grand coalition,” pairing her conservatives with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), was voted out of office and the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) became Germany’s third-strongest party. In the search for reasons for the shift, the language of politics is a good place to start. The AfD professed to be clear and decisive, their language was explicit — and voters rewarded them for it. The chancellor, by contrast, sought to avoid discussions and to completely ignore major issues focused on by the populists: foreign migrants and German uneasiness. Merkel’s political style, which is characterized by avoiding clashes, was punished to the greatest possible degree.

And the center-left Social Democrats were unable to settle on a strategy early on — or at least they were unable to stick to the tactics they found late in the campaign. It was only after the election, at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday evening, that the disappointed SPD, no longer bound by the discipline of the campaign, finally managed to define what differentiates it from Merkel’s Christian Democrats — which was touchingly awkward. Because in democracies, after the election is too late.

 It seems clear what will now happen: a coalition matching Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party — almost certainly under the leadership of a Merkel who suddenly seems shrunk and fainthearted, and whose days as her party’s leader no longer seem infinite. The only alternative would be new elections or — in a few weeks — a reversal on the part of the SPD. The party pledged on Sunday night that it would not be part of a coalition with Merkel going forward, and an about-face would be extremely damaging.

How should we look at this from the rest of Europe?

The success of the Alternative für Deutschland, (AfD) is the most immediately striking result.

International Viewpoint summarises this.

The AfD reached 12.6% of the votes compared to 4.7% in 2013 and becomes the 3rd force in the Bundestag with 94 deputies. Moreover, the AfD becomes the 1st party in Saxony with 27% of the votes against the CDU with 26.9%, and in general 1st force in the male electorate of the new Länder of East Germany. In Bavaria, the AfD comes in second place behind the CSU in many constituencies.

The AfD was able to take more than one million votes in the CDU / CSU, almost half a million in the SPD and almost 400,000 in the party Die Linke party, and mobilize more than one million of those who were not to go to the polls in 2013, in the framework of a participation of 76.2% of the electorate compared to 71.5% in 2013. Despite the great electoral success, the conflict reigns at the summit of the AfD after these elections: Frauke Petry, who obtained a direct mandate in Saxony, co-chair of the party with a more “moderate” profile than the first candidates of the party, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, has just announced that it will not be part of the parliamentary fraction of the AfD to the new Bundestag. The words of Alexander Gauland announcing “to open the hunt against Merkel” and its fascistoid verbal provocations displeased her.

Many people will be wary of taring Germany with the far-right brush, particularly in view of the as large (UKIP) far-right vote recently in the UK, not to mention the Front National vote in the second round of the Presidential elections (Marine Le Pen, 10, 638, 475, 33,9%) this year. Not to mention a series of other countries’ far-right votes, from the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie,  in Belgium, 2014, , 1,366, o73, 20,3% to the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ, , 2013  958.29520,51 %40.

But Taz puts its finger on a major problem racism which it observes, the inherits and Afd is playing with. synthesise the ideas of the New Right and the Identity movement, the latter which has echoes across Europe.  Die Erben des Rassismus. This is something all of us have to confront, from the fall-out in the UK from Brexit, and the ambiguous response of some on the left to freedom of movement, to the problems with confronting right-wing ‘populism’ elsewhere, the AfD does concern us.

We are not going to fight racism and extreme nationalism by playing another form of ‘identity politics’ against the AfD’s identity politics but only through  movements based on universal emancipatory principles.

Bang on cue we hear this:

Germany’s new far-right party AfD says it will fight an ‘invasion of foreigners’ (Independent)

“One million people – foreigners – being brought into this country are taking away a piece of this country and we as AfD don’t want that,” Mr Gauland told the press conference.

“We say we don’t want to lose Germany to an invasion of foreigners from a different culture. Very simple.”

It is some consolation that the AfD is as rent with personality clashes and factionalism as UKIP.

Frauke Petry ‘drops bomb’ on rightwing nationalist party by announcing she will instead serve as independent MP.
The entry of the AfD into the Bundestag is already provoking protests.
 https://twitter.com/chefreporterNRW/status/912011834026336261
Yesterday:

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Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Pakistan: Christian Man Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy.

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Image result for Protests against blasphemy law Pakistan

Demonstration last Year in Pakistan. 

Pakistan Sentences Christian man to death for blasphemy.

Nadeem James was arrested in 2016 after he allegedly sent a poem ridiculing Prophet Mohammad to his friend on WhatsApp.

A Christian man has been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges by a court in eastern Pakistan after a close friend accused him of sharing anti-Islamic material, the defendant’s lawyer said.

Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and insults against the Prophet Mohammad are punishable by death. Most cases are filed against members of minority communities.

Nadeem James, 35, was arrested in July 2016, accused by a friend of sharing material ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad on the WhatsApp messaging service.

Lawyer Riaz Anjum said his client intended to appeal against the verdict, passed on Thursday by a sessions court in the town of Gujrat.

READ MORE: In Pakistan, a shrine to murder for ‘blasphemy’

There was widespread outrage across Pakistan last April when student Mashal Khan was beaten to death at his university in Mardan following a dormitory debate about religion.

Police arrested more than 20 students and some faculty members in connection with the killing.

Since then, parliament has considered adding safeguards to the blasphemy laws, a groundbreaking move given the emotive nature of the issue.

While not a single convict has ever been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, there are currently about 40 people are on death row or serving life sentences for the crime, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Right-wing vigilantes and mobs have taken the law into their own hands, killing at least 69 people over alleged blasphemy since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

In March, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the immediate removal and blocking of all online content deemed to be “blasphemous” to Islam from social media – and for those responsible to be prosecuted.

Background:  Persecution of Christians in Pakistan.

Most recent story, September the 11th.

Christian Member of the National Assembly Khalil George and others paid a call to Sharron Masih’s bereaved family. 17-year-old Christian student was callously lynched by his classmate at Government MC Model High School for Boys in Burewala city of Vehari District. MNA Khalil George offered condolences to the Ilyasab Masih and family ensuring them of an all-out support and assistance.

MNA Khalil George who also holds the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Religious Affairs met with Ilyasab Masih and told him that the perpetrators will be duly punished. On this occasion, parents of Sharoon Masih detailed the incident to Khalil George; expressing grief over the fact that their son lost his life to anti-Christian sentiments of his mates. MNA Khalil George was accompanied by Bishop Abraham Daniel, Major Michael Paul, Elder Dilber, Pastor Peter Imran and Pastor Arthur Daniel.

Parents of Sharoon Masih strongly believe that their son was lynched for drinking water from a glass which was used by all the students. They said that the assaulter did not relent until Sharoon breathed his last. Afterwards, Bishop Abraham Daniel offered prayers for the bereaved family. He prayed for peace and comfort for the friends and family of Sharoon Masih.

Previously, talking to a local media stated: “His teacher, Nazeer Mohal, sent him back home because he was not wearing the proper uniform. His mother told me later that evening that Sharoon had told her that the teacher had hit him in front of the whole class and also called him a Choohra, among other curse words. She said that he was quite upset at being humiliated in front of the whole class on the very first day of school.”

Detailing the excruciatingly agonizing moments he said: “Sharoon went to school wearing his new uniform. Hardly a few hours later, a Muslim neighbor whose son studies in the same school told us that Sharoon had been killed in school.”

“I cannot express the agony I went through when I saw my son’s dead body lying motionlessly on the hospital stretcher, his new blue shirt covered in dirt and blood,” Ilyasab said as he sketched the horrific incident. Sharoon’s family was told by his classmates that Ahmad Raza engaged Sharoon in a brawl; expressing annoyance because Sharoon had drunk water from the glass used by all students,” he told the media.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Foretaste of End of Freedom of Movement in the EU: EU Citizen Detention Letters Sent in Error.

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Dr Eva Johanna Holmberg

Eva Johanna Holmberg, one of those targeted by 100 deportation letters sent in error to EU citizens living in the UK.

This morning those of us who are pro-Freedom of Movement, and back, for example, the Labour Campaign for Freedom of Movement, received urgent E-Mails.

 

 

It turns out this was an ‘error’, but this mistake gives us a foretaste of what life under Brexit is going to be like.

EU citizen detention letters sent in error.

The BBC reports.

The Home Office sent about 100 letters “in error” to EU citizens living in the UK, telling them they were liable for “detention”.

The mistake emerged after a Finnish academic, who has the right to live in the UK, received one of the letters.

Dr Eva Johanna Holmberg, who is married to a British citizen, was told she had a month to leave.

A Home Office spokesperson said “the rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged”.

Everyone who received a letter would be contacted to “clarify that they can disregard it”, they said.

“A limited number of letters were issued in error and we have been urgently looking into why this happened,” the spokesperson added.

Dr Holmberg, who works at London’s Queen Mary University, had originally applied for a “qualified person certificate” before receiving the letter.

These registration certificates – for citizens from the European Economic Area or Swiss nationals – confirm the right to live in the UK for those who meet certain criteria.

The historian said the “absurd nonsense” had made her “even less likely” to trust politicians in the wake of Brexit.

‘Shame Britain’

James McGrory, executive director of the pro-EU group Open Britain, said: “This is shameful stuff from the same department that gave us the disgraceful ‘go home’ vans a few years ago.

“It’s little wonder that many EU citizens feel worried about their future status in the UK when they hear of people with every right to be here getting letters threatening their deportation.”

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Ed Davey said the letters “shame Britain”.

“EU nationals who have made their lives here are already facing huge uncertainty over Brexit. It is appalling that some are now being officially threatened with deportation,” he said.

He called for Home Secretary Amber Rudd to personally apologise to those affected and to ensure they are reimbursed for any legal costs incurred because of the letters.

The pro-Brexit left has many who heartily agree with ending freedom of movement in the UK, comparing regulating labour movement – that is people’ s right to residence and work – to union power exercised in closed shops.

Others claim that they enthusiastically backed Brexit because they want a revolution against EU ‘neoliberalism’, and see it as a step to ending all control on migration, and a move to join their comrades on other planets who are already enjoying the actuality of the revolution.

Well, this is a monstrous injustice and our hearts go out to those put in fear by this ‘error’.

Sanction the bastards who did this, hard!

Written by Andrew Coates

August 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Venezuela, Honesty and the Left.

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Image result for resistance and repression in Venezuela

Time for the Left to Defend Human Rights in Venezuela.

Many people will have watched yesterday’s report on Venezuela on  the BBC  Newsnight.

It was deeply disturbing.

“In Venezuela, activists say the government is using torture and imprisonment without trial against those who oppose it – a claim the government denies. So who are the people hoping to overthrow President Maduro? Vladimir Hernandez reports.”

The programme showed evidence of repression that would shock all supporters of human rights.

I am not in a mood to listen to those who will try to cast doubt on the BBC report.

There are plenty of other reliable sources of information which confirm their facts begining with, La represión de Maduro se salda con al menos 36 muertos en un mes.  El País (May.

The Guardian reports today, “It takes a lot of courage’: Venezuelan protesters tell of rising police violence.As general strike begins, more than 100 have died and hundreds more arrested in anti-government protests since April. Spanish language media takes the same angle, Una huelga general endurece el pulso contra la Constituyente de Maduro. Tres muertos, 367 detenidos, calles desiertas y barricadas en el paro organizado por la oposición a una semana para la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente. El País (Today). The mass emigration of the population is also startling, Les Vénézuéliens s’exilent en masse vers la Colombie. (le Monde)

The splits inside the Chavista side (signaled in the Newsnight film) are well known: La procureure générale du Venezuela critique la répression de l’opposition.

Here is some more of the BBC coverage:

How is the left reacting?

First of all we have the Morning Star’s ‘reports’ which say nothing of state repression.

VENEZUELA’S right-wing opposition launched a 48-hour “civic strike” yesterday, calling on workers to stay at home in its latest campaign to derail plans to convene a new constituent assembly.

President Nicolas Maduro has confirmed that Sunday’s elections will go ahead to choose the members of the assembly, despite the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition’s three-month campaign of rioting which has led to hundreds of deaths.

The CTV union federation, which supported the 2002 coup against late president Hugo Chavez, said its 333,000 members would join the strike.

On Tuesday, Mr Maduro said Venezuela would “choose between peace and war, between the future or the past and between independence or colonialism.” He has said that the new constituent assembly will promote peace and reconciliation.

Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada has demanded answers from the US over “systematic” efforts to overthrow its elected government. He said there was a “campaign of intelligence operations at the highest level to overthrow the constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro.”

The Foreign Ministry accused Washington of providing “finance and logistical support to the Venezuelan opposition as an integral part of its destabilising efforts against democracy.”

It also condemned former president Barack Obama for extending his 2015 decree designating Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to US national security” before leaving office in January.

It also attacked Mr Obama’s successor Donald Trump for additional sanctions imposed since he took office.

This is what Cuba said….

Cuban Communist Party second secretary Jose Ramon Machado denied claims Havana would mediate between the government and opposition.

He said it was up to the Venezuelan people and government to overcome their challenges “without foreign meddling in their internal affairs.

“Those who from the outside try to give lessons on democracy and human rights while encouraging coup-mongering violence and terrorism should take their hands off that nation.”

Counterpunch,

Time for the “International Left” to Take a Stand on Venezuela    July the 17th

Venezuela is heading towards an increasingly dangerous situation, in which open civil war could become a real possibility. So far over 100 people have been killed as a result of street protests, most of these deaths are the fault of the protesters themselves (to the extent that we know the cause). The possibility of civil war becomes more likely as long the international media obscure who is responsible for the violence and as long as the international left remains on the sidelines in this conflict and fails to show solidarity with the Bolivarian socialist movement in Venezuela.

 …

So, instead of silence, neutrality, or indecision from the international left in the current conflict in Venezuela, what is needed is active solidarity with the Bolivarian socialist movement. Such solidarity means vehemently opposing all efforts to overthrow the government of President Maduro during his current presidential term in office. Aside from the patent illegality that the Maduro government’s overthrow would represent, it would also be a literally deadly blow to Venezuela’s socialist movement and to the legacy of President Chávez. The international left does not even need to take a position on whether the proposed constitutional assembly or negotiations with the opposition is the best way to resolve the current crisis. That is really up to Venezuelans to decide. Opposing intervention and disseminating information on what is actually happening in Venezuela, though, are the two things where non-Venezuelans can play a constructive role.

Socialist Appeal (17th of July) continues in this vein,

Defeat reaction with revolution

The reactionary opposition represents the interests of the oligarchy (bankers, capitalists and landowners) and imperialism which stands behind them. If they were to take power they would launch a massive austerity package on the Venezuelan workers and the poor, with brutal cuts in public spending, the abolition of the Bolivarian social programs, the privatisation of social housing, the privatisation of expropriated companies, the privatisation of re-nationalised utilities, the abolition of the main rights and protections in the Labour Law, etc. At the same time, they would launch a political purge of all state institutions, ministries and state-owned companies and  an all out assault on democratic rights, unleashing a lynch mob against chavistas and their organisations.

For this reason we must oppose their reactionary campaign and stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan working people.

But,

As we have explained elsewhere, this does not mean giving support to the present policies of the Maduro government, which are ineffective in combatting reaction and by making constant concessions to the capitalist class undermine the social base of support of the Bolivarian movement. Even now, during the campaign for the Constituent Assembly elections, the so-called “patriotic businessmen” are advocating the privatisation of expropriated companies as well as the use of the Assembly to “strengthen private property rights”. This is the main plank of the campaign of Oscar Schemel, for instance, with the full backing of businessman and minister Perez Abad, which has been given ample time in all the state media. That road leads directly to disaster.

The only way to defend the conquests of the revolution is by unleashing the revolutionary self-activity and organisation of the masses of workers, peasants and the poor. An example of what is possible can be seen in the campaigns organised by groups like the Bolivar Zamora Revolutionary Current (which has organised Popular Defence Brigades) or the Alexis Vive Patriotic Force (which is calling for a new revolutionary leadership).

The offensive of the oligarchy must be defeated, but it can only be defeated by revolutionary means.

The duty of revolutionaries and consistent democrats internationally is to oppose the insurrectionary attempts of the reactionary opposition and defend the gains of the Bolivarian revolution. Taking a “neutral” position puts you objectively on the side of counter-revolution. We must wage a relentless campaign against the lies of the international media, to denounce our own imperialist governments which support reaction in Venezuela in the name of “democracy” and “human rights”. At the same time we must support and encourage those in Venezuela who are beginning to draw the correct revolutionary conclusions from this crisis: we cannot make half a revolution.

These might be fringe leftist groups but more seriously El Pais has accused Podemos of complicity with Maduro: Cómplices de Maduro (28th of July). That is, “guardan silencio, cuando no justifican a Maduro y acusan a la oposición de antidemocrática..” Podemos leaders have kept silent, when they are not justting Maduro and accusing the opposition of being antidemocratic.

Others are beginning to ask broader questions.

Being honest about Venezuela. Socialist Worker (USA, no relation these days to SW UK).

The world’s media, overwhelmingly hostile to the Bolivarian process, sneer at President Nicolás Maduro’s rhetoric while presenting the right-wing parties, which certainly launched this wave of violence, as defenders of democracy. This definition of democracy apparently allows whole populations to fall into poverty and illness, with nearly 100 people left to die in the streets.

Meanwhile, the international left has accepted the explanations government spokespersons offer, still believing that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Thus, when a helicopter attacked government buildings on June 28, some observers simply added the event to the catalog of right-wing violence.

It is, unsurprisingly, far more complicated than that.

Oscar Pérez, a retired officer of the state security services, piloted the helicopter. Pérez has close ties to ex-Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, whom Maduro dismissedin 2014. Torres, like the majority of the current cabinet and around half of Venezuela’s state governors, belongs to the military. He also leads one of a number of Chavista factions angling for power.

Behind a façade of governmental unity, another struggle is developing, but none of the groups are fighting to continue the revolutionary project or to reconstruct the mass movement that saved it after the attempted coup and the bosses’ strikes of 2002-3.

The opposition is also split into rival factions. Some advocate dialogue with the president, while others, especially the group that Leopoldo Lopez and his partner Liliana Tintori lead, almost certainly support the most violent street fighters. They aim not only to get rid of Maduro but also to destroy Chavismo itself.

Most Venezuelans know the major players on the right: they belong to the wealthiest and most powerful families, who controlled the economy until Chávez arrived. Since the first street barricades went up, Maduro has tried to work with representatives of these right-wing sectors. In 2014, for example, he called in Lorenzo Mendoza, head of the Polar multinational and one of the richest Venezuelans.

Gustavo Cisneros, another member of that exclusive clan, has remained untouched in the nearly 20 years of Chavismo. He recently claimed that Venezuela needs a Macri, referring to the militantly neoliberal Argentine president, who is currently working to dismantle that country’s public sector. Cisneros likely speaks from knowledge of the right’s strategic thinking.

As the economic and political crisis deepens, it’s become obvious that neither the government nor the opposition will offer any real solutions. While Maduro betrays the revolution by courting the bourgeoisie and sliding backwards into neoliberalism, right-wing forces have brought in violent mercenaries to try and disrupt the country even further. As these two groups struggle for power, ordinary Venezuelans are watching the gains of Chavismo slip away.

It must have been hard for the comrades of the ISO to say the above, but it needed to be said.

Nobody can accept the state version of what is happening in Venezuela, or its claim to ‘defend’ anything resembling socialism.

We have to defend human rights.

It is time for those in this country who are close to these issues to speak out.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 28, 2017 at 11:34 am

Declaration of the International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in the 21st Century.

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International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in the 21st Century

This is important and we extend our solidarity to those standing up for freedom of thought against religious bigotry.

See this email online.

The International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression, the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, was held during 22-24 July 2017 in London.

Over 70 notable speakers from 30 countries or the Diaspora gathered in what was dubbed “The Glastonbury of Freethinkers” and “a Conference of Heroes” to honour dissenters and defend apostasy, blasphemy, and secularism.

The sold-out conference highlighted the voices of those on the frontlines of resistance – many of them persecuted and exiled – and included the first London film screening of Deeyah Khan’s film, Islam’s Non Believers, a public art protest of 99 balloons representing those killed or imprisoned for blasphemy and apostasy, a body-painting action, and crucial discussions and debates on Islamophobia and its use by Islamists to impose de facto blasphemy laws, the relation between Islam and Islamism as well as communalism’s threat to universal rights, art as resistance and Laicite as a human rights. The conference hashtag, #IWant2BFree, trended on Twitter during the two days.

At the conference, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) honoured ten individuals to mark its tenth anniversary, namely Bangladeshi freethinker Bonya Ahmed, Saudi freethinkers Ensaf Haidar and Raif Badawi, Moroccan atheist Zineb El Rhazoui, Philosopher AC Grayling, Centre for Secular Space’s Gita Sahgal and Yasmin Rehman, Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas, Jordanian Atheists’ Founder Mohammad AlKhadra, Egyptian Atheist Founder of The Black Ducks Ismail Mohamed and Author and Scientist Richard Dawkins.

The conference issued resolutions against the no-platforming of Richard Dawkins by KPFA radio station, in defence of Ismail Mohamed who was prevented from leaving Egypt to speak at the conference by the Egyptian government, and on CEMB’s presence in Pride in London as well as a Declaration of Freethinkers (see below).

The event was live-streamed, which can be seen here. Professional video footage will be made available soon as well photos and more details of the event.

Report from Sedaa,  London conference sees ‘largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history’.

Sedaa founder Iram Ramzan, who was co-hosting the event, said: “The conference reminded us all that there are people in the UK and around the world who are ostracised or persecuted simply for deciding to think for themselves.

“It was also noted that one does not necessarily have to be an atheist in order to be a champion of secularism. In fact, a lot of religious people at the event recognised that secularism allows them to worship in the way they want to, just as it would protect non-religious people. A secular state would remain neutral in religious affairs.”

And this:

No apologies.  Maryam Namazie

This is my letter to you.

Not you, the Islamist, who wants me silent or dead whilst dreaming of your vile caliphate, nor you, the racist, who wants my Muslim and migrant family out whilst dreaming of your contemptible white, Christian Europe. To me, you are two sides of the same coin.

This is my letter to you who I should consider a friend, an ally, but who refuses to make a stand with me. You: the progressive, the anti-racist, the supposed defender of human rights.

How come your defence of freedom of conscience and expression never includes my right to reject and criticise Islam?

You exclude, bar, ban, blame and shame me – or at the very least – remain silent, simply because of who I am: an ex-Muslim, an atheist, a critic of Islam.

Of course, you have a right to your silence.

You are not responsible for my persecution. Only those who threaten, kill and harm freethinkers in countries and communities under Islamist control are directly responsible; justice, after all, can never be about placing collective blame.

But I do accuse.

I accuse you of blaming me and never the perpetrators.

They always seem to have some ‘legitimate’ grievance or ‘hurt’ sensibility that justifies their incitement to violence or mass murder.

I, on the other hand, am always at fault:

If only I had not offended’ Your religion offends me but I am still able to stand with you and defend your right to religion.

‘If only I had not provoked’ Islamists kill, maim, silence and I am the one provoking them by saying what I think? Is that you speaking or them?

‘If only I had respected Islam’ You don’t respect my atheism; why must I respect your religion? In any case, one is not required to respect beliefs but the right to belief.

‘If only I had kept my opinion about Islam to myself’… You do not keep your opinions to yourself. Every day, from every corner I hear how ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ and that ‘Islamists are not practising real Islam’. Religion is shoved down my throat until I suffocate; yet I must keep my opinions to myself? Do I not also have the right to speak and think as I choose? Until Islamists stop threatening me, I will shout my atheism from every rooftop.

‘I am aiding racism because I criticise Islam’ Are you promoting terrorism because you defend Islam? I do not blame you for terrorism; stop blaming me for racism – which, by the way, affects me too.

Dear ‘friend’,

Is it really so hard to grasp that freedom of conscience is not just for the believer? That it includes the right not to believe, the right to reject Islam – publicly or otherwise. That freedom of expression is not just for those who defend and promote Islam. It is also my and our freedom to criticise Islam, mock it, and even see it as the regressive ideology of the Islamist movement.

And to do so publicly without fear.

Frankly, when I hear the Quran recited, it feels like a kick to my stomach.  It reminds me of executions in Iran and the totalitarian nightmare from which I have fled and sought refuge.

Nonetheless, I can still make a distinction between beliefs and human beings. I can still defend the right to religion; I can still stand with you against fascists of all stripes.

Why can you not defend my right to reject religion?

Why can you not stand with me?

Can you not see that freedom of religion is meaningless without freedom from religion? These are corresponding freedoms. They cannot exist fully without the other.

Maybe you can afford your silence. After all, religion and its defenders have always been privileged and freethinkers have always been persecuted throughout the ages. But I and we cannot.

Because we have no choice.

Because we have a right to think and live freely – even if it offends you.

Because if we don’t speak for ourselves, who will speak for us? You certainly won’t.

Because we must speak for ourselves, our loved ones, for those who cannot speak, for those who are beaten into submission in homes in London, imprisoned in Riyadh or are facing the gallows in Tehran and Karachi.

For Raif Badawi, for Sina Dehghan, Sahar Ilyasi, Ayaz Nizami, Ahmad Al-Shamri, Taimoor Raza, Avijit Roy…

Because we are the tsunami that is coming…

Yes, I don’t blame you for my persecution, but I do often wonder how much of a role your victim blaming and silence play – even if unwittingly – in normalising the open season on Islam’s atheists and freethinkers.

I wonder. If you were not so tolerant of the culture of offence and so intolerant of my criticism, would the world not be a different place?

I accuse.

#IWant2BFree

“Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interests. It is only by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of Religion, that we shall discover Truth, Reason, and Morality. Religion diverts us from the causes of evils, and from the remedies which nature prescribes; far from curing, it only aggravates, multiplies, and perpetuates them.”  ― Paul Henri Thiry d’Holbach

Skwawkbox Caught out Scaremongering (Lying) Again – on Universal Credit Serious Threats to the Disabled.

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Image result for bob pit skwawkbox

Past Lies by Skwawkbox; Now they spread Fear amongst Disabled.

The latest scaremongering by Skwawkbox has caused great distress.

They put about the rumour that disabled people will be subject to this,

DISABLED CLAIMANTS TOLD: 2 YRS TO GET JOB OR BE SANCTIONED FOR A YEAR.”  17th of July.

The government is pressing ahead with the roll-out of its Universal Credit (UC) replacement to the benefits system in spite of huge delays and problems – and continuing problems so ingrained that foodbank use has increased sharply in every area where is has been implemented.

UC contains a draconian set of provisions, including a ‘Claimant Commitment’ (CC) – a set of imposed requirements to which the claimant has no right of appeal whatever. As the government’s guidance on CCs states:

There is no right of appeal if a claimant refuses to accept their Claimant Commitment and the requirements that have been set out in it.

A JCP adviser – who might be incompetent, inexperienced, bitter, have a personality clash with the claimant or just simply be having a bad day – is the final arbiter of whether a CC is reasonable and achievable, and even a patently bad decision cannot be appealed for a higher opinion.

The key bit is this:

A fixed time to find a job – or a one-year sanction? A sanction is the immediate and complete removal of support. Anyone who has seen Ken Loach’s superb I, Daniel Blake knows how devastating this is and what the consequences can be.

And the most hideous aspect of this hideous system is that it applies to disabled people. Two years to find work or you’re cut off from support.

It’s hard to imagine that this could be true, that anyone could be so lacking in humanity as to devise such a system, let alone enforce it. But it is true. A DWP insider told the SKWAWKBOX:

They are now furiously backtracking: IMPORTANT: WRAG/SANCTION – DON’T PANIC YET.

Earlier today the SKWAWKBOX published an article about the application of the Universal Credit (UC) ‘claimant commitment’ to disabled people. That article was based on information from a recent DWP employee and the details were confirmed before publication by a current DWP employee of 15 years experience. It indicated that disabled people not placed in the ‘Support Group’ by the DWP’s contracted medical assessors would have two years to find work and would then face sanction.

However, others have challenged whether the claimant commitment would be applied in this way, so the SKWAWKBOX has checked with other DWP veterans.

And has received mixed answers.

So the real situation may not be as bad as sources originally indicated – but it’s so unclear that the only thing everyone agreed on is that the rules are opaque and confusing.

So don’t panic yet. We’ll bring you a definitive answer as soon as one can be obtained.

There seems to be pattern about Skwawkbox’s behaviour.

  • First they spread outrageous panic inspiring lies.
  • Then they deny that they circulated them without careful consideration and qualification, not to mention ‘research’.
  • Finally, the accuse anybody who criticises their attention seeking sensationalism of being establishment touts, and take up the position of stout denial – that they are at fault in any way.

We await the latter ready and willing to do battle with those who have caused distress to people we know and love.

More see Bob Pitt: Skwawkbox — an embarrassment to the Left.

The reality, however, is that Skwawkbox functions as a sort of left-wing mirror image of the right-wing tabloid press, or of alt-right sites like Breitbart News. It employs the same unscrupulous, sensationalist journalistic methods, but for opposite political ends. Skwawkbox appears incapable of grasping that socialist aims cannot be achieved by such anti-socialist means.

And Phil:  The Alt-Left: A Critical Appreciation.

In his critique of Skwawkbox, Bob Pitt argues that blog proprietor Steve, and by extension the rest of the alt-left stable, blur the line between political analysis and conspiracy theorising – and establishes this via a forensic analysis of Steve’s piece on Grenfell and his argument the media were subject to a D Notice. As such, he suggests they have a cavalier attitude to the truth similar to the fake news we find peddled by Breitbart and co, except from the diametrically opposed perspective. Because these pieces can then easily be picked apart by fact-checking, Bob believes they flout journalistic ethics and embarrass the left as a whole.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Southall Black Sisters Stand with the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain.

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Southall Black Sisters: One of the Most Respected Campaign Groups in Britain. 

Pink News: Ex-Muslim group hit back after Pride ‘Allah is gay’ sign row: ‘They are trying to silence us’

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Great Britain (CEMB) has hit back after the controversy concerning their placards at the Pride in London paradeearlier this month.

Members of the secularist group held signs reading “Allah is gay” and “F**k Islamic Homophobia”, prompting an official complaint from the East London Mosque claiming that the group “was inciting hatred against Muslims”.

Prior to the march, the CEMB rejected claims of Islamophobia, their co-founder Maryam Namazie saying: “We need to stand up to racism and bigotry and at the same time we should be able to criticise religion and the religious right… people should be allowed to criticise without threat or intimidation.”

Following last week’s complaint from the East London Mosque, Namazie took issue with the suggestion that the signs and protest were in any way “anti-Muslim” – the group also published a full press release outlining its response in full.

“Why are signs critical of Islam (a belief) and Islamism (a far-right political movement) ‘anti-Muslim’?” she told Pink News.

“Muslims are people, with as many different opinions as anyone else. They are not a homogeneous group but individuals.

“Some will agree with us, others won’t. In fact, several Muslims visiting from Bangladesh joined us.

“The incredible support we received from minorities in the crowd cheering us on is a reflection of that. Not everyone was offended. And offence can never be a reason to censor and silence dissent.”

She added that ex-Muslims, including LGBT ex-Muslims, should have the right to speak beyond the confines of Islam and away from the control of “regressive” so-called leaders, including the East London Mosque.

“The East London mosque’s accusation that we are inciting hatred against Muslims for criticising their incitement to violence against apostates and LGBT would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic and if so many didn’t buy into it,” she said.

“The East London mosque has a history of inciting hate and violence against apostates and LGBT. It has clear links to the Islamist movement which executes apostates and gay men.

“Moreover, it has no ‘track record for challenging homophobia’. If so, where is its support for Muslim and ex-Muslim LGBT or LGBT persecuted outside of Britain in countries under Sharia?”

Namazie argued that the Mosque has refused dialogue with the LGBT community.

She noted that Peter Tatchell claimed to have asked to meet with the Mosque 11 times since 2015 but been knocked back each time.

Read more here.

It’s not often these days when we agree with ‘arry’s Place.

But on this one they are more than right to point out that if the kind of racist, violent misogynistic, anti-gay, anti-humanist views expressed at the East London Mosque were broadcast by anybody else, notably Christian fundamentalists, they’d be the target of a massive left-wing campaign.

The East London Mosque – Surrealist Politics

Here’s Maajid Nawaz’s take on the CEMB protest:

Maajid accepts that “these posters are provocative” but argues that this “is not Islamaphobia.”

He said “I wouldn’t want to hold up those banners, you may not want to hold up those banners, but it’s their right to hold up those banners. It’s like complaining about The Book of Mormon or The Life of Brian.”

The LBC host said that the East London Mosque were using the Islamaphobia as a “shield to prevent people from critiquing the religion of Islam itself.”

He went on to say the only signs that could be considered Islamophobic were those that encourgaed hatred and violence towards Islamic people and none of the signs reached that criteria. He said that a poster saying “‘Allah is gay’ that isn’t telling anyone to go and target a Muslim.”

Yes, that’s pretty much where I stand.

The East London Mosque’s record is far, far more “provocative”. And we’re helping to pay for it all – the mosque has raked in public sector grants totalling £3.2 mn over the last decade. This includes grants for “community cohesion” (£325,000 in total). No, really.

The mosque’s surreal “track record” stance will be backed by the malignant and the deluded, of course. They are sadly numerous in East London.

For those with eyes to see, though, yet more scales should fall now.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 18, 2017 at 12:10 pm