Posts Tagged ‘Islam’
Leading international cultural figures have joined human rights campaigners in calling for the release of Ashraf Fayadh, the Palestinian poet and artist facing execution in Saudi Arabia.
Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, historian Simon Schama, playwright David Hare, and Egyptian novelist and commentator Ahdaf Soueif are among the those calling for the death sentence imposed on Fayadh by a Saudi court last week to be overturned.
More than a dozen organisations for artists, writers, musicians and freedom of expression from the UK, North America and Africa – including Index on Censorship, literary association PEN International and the International Association of Art Critics – have also signed a joint statement condemning Fayadh’s conviction for renouncing Islam, a charge which he denies.
The statement, which will be delivered to the Saudi embassy in London by English PEN on Friday, says: “We believe that all charges against him should have been dropped entirely, and are appalled that Fayadh has instead been sentenced to death for apostasy, simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief.”
Amnesty International. Poet faces death for apostasy in Saudi Arabia: Ashraf Fayadh.
The trial documents, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, indicate that members of Saudi Arabia’s Committee on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, arrested Fayadh at a café in Abha, in southern Saudi Arabia, in August 2013. The religious police went to the café after a man reported that Fayadh had made obscene comments about God, the Prophet Muhammad, and the Saudi state. The man also alleged that Fayadh passed around a book he wrote that allegedly promoted atheism and unbelief.
After Fayadh was arrested, the court documents indicate, the religious police discovered on his phone photos of Fayadh with several women, whom Fayadh said he met at an art gallery.
The religious police held him for a day, then released him, but authorities re-arrested him on January 1, 2014. Prosecutors charged him with a host of blasphemy-related charges, including: blaspheming “the divine self” and the Prophet Muhammad; spreading atheism and promoting it among the youth in public places; mocking the verses of God and the prophets; refuting the Quran; denying the day of resurrection; objecting to fate and divine decree; and having an illicit relationship with women and storing their pictures in his phone.
During the trial, which consisted of six hearings between February and May 2014, Fayadh denied the charges, and called three witnesses contesting the testimony of the man who reported him to the religious police. The defense witnesses said that the man reported Fayadh following a personal dispute, and that they had never heard blasphemous statements from Fayadh. Fayadh also said that his book, Instructions Within, published a decade before, consists of love poems and was not written with the intention of insulting religion.
During the last session, Fayadh expressed repentance for anything in the book that religious authorities may have deemed insulting, stating, according to trial documents, “I am repentant to God most high and I am innocent of what appeared in my book mentioned in this case.”
On May 26, 2014, the General Court of Abha convicted Fayadh and sentenced him to four years in prison and 800 lashes. The court rejected a prosecution request for a death sentence for apostasy due to trial testimony indicating “hostility” between Fayadh and the man who reported him, as well as Fayadh’s repentance.
The prosecutor appealed the ruling. Human Rights Watch was not able obtain a copy of the appeals ruling on the initial verdict, but the case was eventually sent back to the lower court. On November 17, 2015, a new judge with the General Court of Abha reversed the previous sentence and sentenced Fayadh to death for apostasy.
According to the judge’s ruling, he dismissed the testimony of the defense witnesses in the initial trial and ruled that Fayadh’s repentance was not enough to avoid the death sentence.
“Repentance is a work of the heart relevant to matter of the judiciary of the hereafter; it is not the focus of the earthly judiciary,” the ruling said.
The case moves next to the appeals court. The sentence must be approved by the appeals court and the Supreme Court.
Saudi Arabia has executed 152 people in 2015, which according to Amnesty International is the highest recordednumber since 1995. Most executions are carried out by beheading, sometimes in public. The vast majority are for murder and drug crimes, but Saudi courts occasionally hand down death sentences for other “crimes” such as apostasy and sorcery.
In February 2015, a Saudi court sentenced a Saudi man to death for apostasy for allegedly posting a video to YouTube showing him tearing pages of the Quran. A local activist associated with the case told Human Rights Watch that the man suffered from a mental disorder.
Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all countries and under all circumstances. Capital punishment is unique in its cruelty and finality, and it is inevitably and universally plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.
Saudi authorities regularly pursue charges against individuals based solely on their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, in violation of international human rights obligations. The Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Saudi Arabia has ratified, guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression under article 32.
“This death sentence against Fayadh is yet another indictment of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record,” Whitson said. “The Saudi authorities should immediately vacate this sentence and order Fayadh’s release.”
Apostasy in Islam (Wikipedia)
More than 20 Muslim nations have laws that declare apostasy by Muslims to be a crime, many imposing the death penalty for apostates. In addition, some Islamic countries without laws specifically addressing apostasy have prosecuted individuals or minorities for apostasy using broadly-defined blasphemy laws. In many nations, the Hisbah doctrine of Islam has traditionally allowed any Muslim to accuse another Muslim or ex-Muslim for beliefs that may harm Islamic society. This principle has been used in countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and others to bring blasphemy charges against apostates.
Saudi Arabia has no penal code, and defaults its law entirely to Sharia and its implementation to religious courts. The case law in Saudi Arabia, and consensus of its jurists is that Islamic law imposes the death penalty on apostates.
Apostasy law is actively enforced in Saudi Arabia. For example, Saudi authorities charged Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi writer, in 2012 with apostasy based on comments he made on Twitter. He fled to Malaysia, where he was arrested and then extradited on request by Saudi Arabia to face charges. Kashgari repented, upon which the courts ordered that he be placed in protective custody. Similarly, two Saudi Sunni Muslim citizens were arrested and charged with apostasy for adopting the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam. As of May 2014, the two accused of apostasy had served two years in prison awaiting trial.
Saudi Arabia school textbooks include chapters with justification for the social exclusion and killing of apostates.
“An Apostate will be suppressed three days in prison in order that he may repent ….. otherwise, he should be killed, because he has changed his true religion, therefore, there is no use from his living, regardless of being a man or a woman, as Mohammed said: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him”, narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.”
Slavoj Žižek: No “deeper understanding of ISIS terrorists” as SWP says “Bound to be a Response” to Imperialist Wars.
Žižek: Defends “European emancipatory legacy .”
“There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”); they should be characterized as what they are: the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s bring class struggle back—and the only way to do it is to insist on global solidarity of the exploited.”
Bang in cue the Socialist Workers Party announces,
There is no excuse, but there is a context for what has happened. Two and a half centuries of colonialism and imperialism have left a bitter legacy of hatred across much of the world against the West. More than 15 years of the “war on terror” have killed over a million people and driven millions more from their homes. There is bound to be a response.
They further state,
Ultimately those who died in Paris are themselves further victims of Western-backed wars and the reaction against them.
It takes some couilles to say that there is “no excuse” for murder, and then….find an excuse.
It also takes a while to wash the bad taste of this abject statement out of the mouth.
Slavoj Žižek by contrast gives a genuine humanist, warm and democratic Marxist response to the Paris atrocity.
This stands out:
The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should really condemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono (for whose benefit?) question.
He asks some hard questions:
Taking control of the refugee crisis will mean breaking leftist taboos.
For instance, the right to “free movement” should be limited, if for no other reason than the fact that it doesn’t exist among the refugees, whose freedom of movement is already dependent on their class. Thus, the criteria of acceptance and settlement have to be formulated in a clear and explicit way—whom and how many to accept, where to relocate them, etc. The art here is to find the middle road between following the desires of the refugees (taking into account their wish to move to countries where they already have relatives, etc.) and the capacities of different countries.
Another taboo we must address concerns norms and rules. It is a fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights. Tolerance as a solution (mutual respect of each other’s sensitivities) obviously doesn’t work: fundamentalist Muslims find it impossible to bear our blasphemous images and reckless humor, which we consider a part of our freedoms. Western liberals, likewise, find it impossible to bear many practices of Muslim culture.
In short, things explode when members of a religious community consider the very way of life of another community as blasphemous or injurious, whether or not it constitutes a direct attack on their religion. This is the case when Muslim extremists attack gays and lesbians in the Netherlands and Germany, and it is the case when traditional French citizens view a woman covered by a burka as an attack on their French identity, which is exactly why they find it impossible to remain silent when they encounter a covered woman in their midst.
There can be no compromise on universal human rights: the very reason we support the refugees.
Žižek suggests, reasonably in our view, this:
To curb this propensity, one has to do two things. First, formulate a minimum set of norms obligatory for everyone that includes religious freedom, protection of individual freedom against group pressure, the rights of women, etc.—without fear that such norms will appear “Eurocentric.” Second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life. And if norms and communication don’t work, then the force of law should be applied in all its forms.
This is better known as secularism, or Laïcité. That is a common public framework, for the shared areas of politics and the state, that is beyond the interference of religious and sectional ideologies. With this structure, as we argued yesterday, we should have absolute tolerance of diversity.
I will not comment further but note that comrade Žižek has the same mass line as ourselves on the following issue,
Another taboo that must be overcome involves the equation of any reference to the European emancipatory legacy to cultural imperialism and racism. In spite of the (partial) responsibility of Europe for the situation from which refugees are fleeing, the time has come to drop leftist mantras critiquing Eurocentrism.
The old postmodernist views, associated with terms such as Orientalism, have been dying for some time. What sense could they possible have when its Bangladeshi, Iranian, Kurdish, Maghrebian, South and East Asian, Arab and Africans who are in the front line of new development in universal emancipatory thought? Who has not read the writings of our comrades from these countries and been struck by their advance.
That is, despite all the defeats, the barbarisms, Imperialism, Fascism, Stalinism, and now this….
It is as Kant said of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution,
For a phenomenon of this kind which has taken place in human history can never be forgotten, since it has revealed in human nature an aptitude and power for improvement of a kind which no politician could have thought up by examining the course of events in the past…
The next taboo worth leaving behind is that any critique of the Islamic right is an example of “Islamophobia.” Enough of this pathological fear of many Western liberal leftists who worry about being deemed guilty of Islamophobia. For example, Salman Rushdie was denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and thus (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death. The result of such a stance is what one can expect in such cases: The more Western liberal leftists wallow in their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam.
Tendance Coatesy has never given a toss about this worthless accusation, hurled at critics of reactionary Islamism, whether they be European or from Muslim countries. It is the secular left in the latter countries which is fighting Islamism. The only guilt the left should feel is that it is not going enough to support these beloved comrades.
This is a long article and there is a lot more to say and, sometimes disagree with – about a global evolution and the EU, not to mention a great dollop of the idiosyncratic theory of the author in the article , to start with. (1)
But we say this for now: chapeau comrade Žižek !
(1) Which is to say that despite finding a new best friend we remain a rationalist, an admirer of Louis Althusser, sans Jacques Lacan, and no mate of Hegel, and even less of Alain Badiou, somebody we consider, in contrast to Cde Žižek, a Sombre oryctérope. (as Capitaine Haddock would say).
But not the Full Shilling.
More reasons to loathe and despise Germain Greer as the past comes back, “She said that women should have the right to undergo genital mutilation as a form of “self-decoration” and posed the question: “If an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?” (Thanks: R.Mc)
MPs attack Greer on female circumcision BBC 1999.
This argument is part of a wider claim, which is related to a dense passage in her book The Whole Woman (1999) which deals with,amongst other subjects, episiotomy.
The statement on female genital mutilation has to be put further into this context,
Greer opposed the practice and said that feminists fighting to eliminate FGM in their own countries “must be supported,” but she explored the complexities of the issue, and the double standards of the West, and warned against using the issue to “reinforce our notions of cultural superiority.” She wrote that the term female genital mutilation was itself simplistic, arguing that it was used to describe practices that, she said, varied from “nicking the prepuce of the clitoris to provoke ritual bleeding,” to the extreme mutilation of infibulation. She questioned the view that FGM is imposed by men on women, rather than by women on women, or even freely chosen, adducing some anecdotal evidence to the contrary, and discussed the issue in relation to genital and other bodily mutilations carried out in the West on men and women. She wrote that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends surgery on baby girls with clitorises regarded as too long, and that five such procedures were carried out every day in the United States, without being included in FGM statistics.In particular, she compared FGM to male circumcision.
Any suggestion that male genital mutilation should be outlawed would be understood to be a frontal attack on the cultural identity of Jews and Muslims. The same issues are raised by female genital mutilation. As a practical note for activists: As UN workers in East Uganda found, women would not abandon female circumcision until some similarly significant procedure could take its place.
Margaret Talbot summarsied Greer’s cluster of opinionated assertions in which these claims further embedded,
She professed to see more hope in the rigid gender segregation of certain Middle Eastern cultures than in anything in Western society. She took the feminist critique of the medical establishment to absurd extremes, denouncing pap smears, fertility doctors, pre-natal screenings, and C-sections with equal vehemence, while perversely defending female genital mutilation as a cultural practice that Westerners had no right to speak of.
Greer was also (and who knows, is, though her views spin with the speed of a weather vane) a fellow-traveller of all those apologists for Islamism and the ‘Caliphate’ who assert that the ‘West’ has no right to lecture Moslems for Sharia law punishments as “cultural practices”.
It comes as no surprise to learn that the old fool has expressed this judgement,
…when you bring up freedom for women under Sharia law, she’s quite honest about the fact that she doesn’t have the answers. “You have to ask women who take the veil. There are English women converting to Islam. It’s interesting that they say they feel free behind the veil because they are not being looked at, “she said. “Nowadays in England, little girls can’t grow up to be women because they can’t put on enough flesh to become a woman. They’re terrified because they must have no body and a huge pair of breasts. If that commoditisation of women revolts you, you might think the strict rigour of Islam has to be better. It allows women some dignity providing they keep their modesty. You know, women are modest and diffident by nature unless societal pressures force them to be otherwise. “
Germaine Greer on why English Women are Converting to Islam. Shalini Umachandran. 2011.
Greer is clearly a reactionary cultural relativist.
Her unpleasant views on on transsexuals stand apart, and barely need further discussion after the last days’ controversy.
None of this means that Greer should be ‘no-platformed’.
Though it would be preferable that she is left alone, to moulder in the last circle of Hell: Great Chesterford, Essex.
Mannan Family Joins the Islamic State, a “land that is free from the corruption and oppression of man made law.”
Fatima Az Zahra: Here we are killing the non-believers in order to expand the Islamic State.
Fatima Az Zahra: Italy’s ‘Lady Jihad’ who joined Isis in Syria and then persuaded her family to follow on Skype.
Today, the BBC has just reported
A UK family of 12 who went missing have joined so-called Islamic State and are “safer than ever”, according to a statement said to be on their behalf.
The statement, purportedly sent by a member of IS, said it was “outrageous” to suggest the family had been kidnapped and forced to join the group.
It called on all Muslims to join them and “hasten to the obedience of Allah”.
The family from Luton has not been seen since 17 May and includes three children aged between one and 11.
Police have previously said they may have travelled to Syria.
The BBC has not been able to independently verify if the statement, which includes two photos purportedly of family member Muhammed Abdul Mannan, is genuine.
In the name of Allah the Merciful and especially Merciful
We release this statement to confirm that, indeed we are in the Islamic State. A land that is free from the corruption and oppression of man made law and is governed by the shariah, the perfect and just laws of Allah subhanAllah wa Ta’la.
Yes, all 12 of us and why should this number be shocking, when there are thousands and thousands of Muslims from all corners of the world that are crossing over land and sea everyday to come to the Islamic State? That are willingly leaving the so called freedom and democracy that was forced down our throat in the attempt to brainwash Muslims to forget about their powerful and glorious past and now present.
Or is it shocking that those attempts have clearly failed? That regardless of being born and bred in the west, the epitome of democracy, our Islam was not washed away? And despite the totalitarian rules that are in place, Muslims are still awaking to their obligations?
Don’t be shocked when we say that none of us were forced against our will. In fact it is outrageous to think that an entire family could be kidnapped and made to migrate like this. It wasn’t by the command of a single person in the family but by the command of the Khalifah of the Muslims. Who has called all Muslims, whether young or old, single or in families, to make hijrah to the state of Islam. A land that has established the Shariah, in which a Muslim doesn’t feel oppression when practising their religion. In which a parent doesn’t feel the worry of losing their child to the immorality of society. In which the sick and elderly do not wait in agony, tolerating the partiality of race or social class.
Alhamdulillah for the establishment of the Khilafah.
We say to those that are concerned for our safety to put your hearts at rest for we feel safer than we have ever felt before. We call all Muslims, to rush to the command of your khalif. Race to your state. Race to what will give you honour in this life and the hereafter. Hasten to the obedience of Allah. Do not fear losing the life you built for yourselves by making hijrah but fear losing your Imaan and Islam whilst residing in darul kufr and not making hijrah.
‘Verily! As for those whom the Angels have taken (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory to them), they (angels) asked them, “In what condition were you?”. They replied, “We were weak and oppressed on earth”. The Angels asked, “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to migrate therein?” Such men will find their abode in Hell – what an evil destination!” [Chapter Nisa:97]
We pray Allah saves from such a fate and guides us all to be obedient to His commands. Ameen.
The Mannan Family in the Islamic State.
There is no reference whatsoever to Western foreign policy or interventions.
Instead there are complaints about the “totalitarian rules” of “so-called freedom and democracy” and its “immorality”, “tolerating the partiality of race or social class”.
The answer to this “feeling” of “oppression” “when practising their religion?”
Emigration to “A land that is free from the corruption and oppression of man made law and is governed by the shariah, the perfect and just laws of Allah subhanAllah wa Ta’la.”
Where, as Fatima Az Zahra says, they are busy “killing the non-believers in order to expand the Islamic State
More on Harry’s Place.
Tunisian Slaughter will Stop When Tunisia Stops Invading Middle East and Backing War on Terror: Stop the War Coalition.
Tunisians Demonstrate Against Terrorist Murders.
Latest news on the Tunisian atrocity:
The number of Britons killed in Friday’s beach massacre in Tunisia is now expected to pass 30, it has emerged, as hundreds of British police were deployed in one of the biggest counter-terror operations since the London bombings on 7 July 2005.
Informed sources said the eventual death toll could be even higher. So far only 15 Britons have been confirmed among the 38 dead in a process overseen by a British coroner whose job has been complicated because of the nature and location of the attack, and the numbers involved.
The assault is already the biggest loss of British life to terrorism since the 2005 London bombings in which a total of 56 people including the attackers were killed.
This is how the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has reacted:
After terrorist atrocity in Tunisia it’s time to face facts: ISIS is a child of US-UK wars.
HERE IS a sense of shock and horror at the series of terror attacks which took place yesterday.
One can only condemn attacks which lead to the deaths of innocent people, whether praying in a mosque or lying on a beach.
The claiming of these actions by ISIS speaks of a strategy which is not just about fighting in the Middle East but about bringing the war into Europe.
ISIS explicitly stated with the Tunisia attacks that they were in response to members of the coalition at present bombing in Iraq and Syria.
While we can all condemn the attacks we need to also try to understand he reasons why they happen.
ISIS is the child of war, the creation of more than a decade of invasion, occupation and bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.
It’s brutality was forged those wars, funded by Saudi princes, facilitated by the Turkish government which allowed it to cross its borders, tacitly supported by Middle East despots.
Isis and other terrorist groups have grown as a result of the civil war in Syria, the bombing of Libya and the sectarian tensions fostered by the US in Iraq.
Support for it has also grown in western countries because of the way in which Muslims are treated here. The growth of Islamophobia means that Muslims are repeatedly under attack by government, police, media and the establishment.
The Prevent strategy in Britain is an attempt to criminalise, to spy on and to censor the Muslim community.
The vast majority of Muslims reject terrorism, but they are now being told that even if they are non violent extremists, this leads to violent extremism. The only Muslim acceptable to them are those who raise no criticism of government policy.
Racism and attacks on civil liberties will only serve to marginalise young Muslims.
All these policies are symptomatic of government failure in its various policies.
The war on terror has created more terrorism. The prevent strategy has not prevented anything but has bred resentment among Muslims.
These are the problems which need to be addressed if we are to stop the tragedies like those on Friday, and the daily tragedies which afflict so many people in the Middle East.
Source: Stop the War Coalition.
This bundle of mendacious confusion shows why no progressive should back the ‘Stop the War Coalition’.
Some “problems which need to be addressed” by the StWC.
- Whatever the ultimate causes of the growth of the Islamic State/Caliphate/Daesh, what are the StWC proposing to do to fight it?
- Is support for the Daesh in “western countries” a result of European ‘Islamophobia’? What kind of reaction to this feeling is joining a genocidal organisation that murders, rapes, and enslaves? What causal link is being made her? What kind of counterfactual conditions are explored? How many other victims of racism and Western ill-treatment turn to mass murder?
- Is Tunisia in the Middle East or in Europe? Is Tunisia bombing Iraq and Syria? As it is not, the wish to overthrow a democratic secular government looks a more probable reason for this attack than the fantasy offered by the StWC.
- The StWC shows not the slightest concern about the victims of these genociders, the martyrs slaughtered in Syria and Iraq, and women abused and treated as chattel, the people living under their totalitarian oppression.
- The War on Terror may be fundamentally flawed, but when will the StWC support the very real war carried on by the Kurdish people against Daesh?
The fact is that Tunisia and the Maghreb more widely faces a violent Islamist threat that predates the rise of Daesh.
Born in the Middle East at present, Daesh has a dynamic of its own: its ideology, backed by substantial finance and resources, has become a material force.
Whether or not this is “real” Quranic Islam or not is irrelevant.
Daesh is part of actually existing Islamism.
It has created a totalitarian prison, its own ‘ruling class’, grounded on religious tyranny, sexual apartheid, exploitation, and genocide.
As in this:
Its Western recruits and sympathisers are the modern equivalent of those complicit in the acts of the Second World War Einsatzgruppen.
There should be not the slightest tolerance shown to these criminals.
The immediate objective of progressives should be to back the democratic forces fighting them: in the first instance the Kurdish Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, the PYD and its armed wing.
The Kurdish International Brigades Fight Against Islamic State and Foreign Jihadis.
I was going to post about the sick feeling in my stomach I get every time I hear people try to explain away the reasons why people from the UK go to join the genociders of the Islamic State.
I was going to begin by looking at some making excuses for Actually Existing Islamism on the Left. That is by citing Alisdair Crook’s writings, such as Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution (2009) and his writings in Red Pepper, (Red Shi’ism, Iran and the Islamist revolution) which influenced leftists like Caliphate John.
But the delusions of these people, who see in Islamism something potentially progressive beyond Western secular imperialist ‘rationalism’, have crumbled. Even they balk at Isis.
I was going to have a go at the psychological template, “Teenagers and young people who flee Britain to fight jihad are just depressed and lonely and should be allowed to return to the UK without being criminalised, a leading professor has said. Kamaldeep Bhui, Professor of Cultural Psychiatry and Epidemiology, at Queen Mary University of London, said that radicalisation should be treated as a health issue in the same way as drugs or alcohol abuse. ” (Telegraph October 2014.) I don’t care about why they murder, I care that they torture, rape and slaughter.
I was going to have a go at people who talk about a crisis of values, Islamic or Western – as if acts are not the most important thing in this.
I was going to cite the following, “A London woman who travelled to Syria to marry an Islamist militant has said she wants to be the first female jihadist to kill a British or American captive.Glorying in the beheading of James Foley on Twitter, Khadijah Dare asked for links to footage of the brutal murder. Writing under the name of Muhajirah fi Sham, which means “immigrant in Syria”, she said: “Any links 4 da execution of da journalist plz. Allahu Akbar. UK must b shaking up ha ha. I wna b da 1st UK woman 2 kill a UK or US terorrist!(sic)”. Independent August 2014.
It has now become a bitterly regular scenario: news of the disappearance of one or more British citizens, apparently to join Islamic State, or the announcement of the deaths of those who already did so. Distraught families in Bradford raised the alarm this week when three sisters and their nine children – aged between three and 15 – failed to return from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. On 9 June they are thought to have boarded a flight to Istanbul in Turkey – often used as the route into Syria – and nothing has been heard from them since. The brother of the women is already thought to be fighting with Isis.
The observations frequently made following such news, from the media and devastated families alike, are that those involved have been “duped”, “fooled”, “groomed”, and “brainwashed” by radicals. The recruits are frequently described, no doubt accurately, in a domestic context, as pleasant and thoughtful family members and friends. It is natural that the British families of Isis recruits should wish to believe that their relatives have somehow been ideologically deceived into joining. Yet if we go along unquestioningly with that perception, we are also deceiving ourselves. Whatever other charges could be laid at the door of Isis, concealing its true nature is not one of them.
Isis doesn’t bother greatly with hypocrisy, however: that would imply a residual acknowledgement of liberal values in the first place. It openly defends the enslavement, sale and systematic rape of Yazidi women by Isis fighters. It posts pictures of Isis zealots throwing allegedly gay men off high buildings to their deaths. It shoots, decapitates, or immolates prisoners of war, and publicises its mass beheading of captured Coptic Christians because of their faith. It compels women to wear the full veil in public or be flogged. It glorifies violent death as martyrdom, despises other religions and cultures, and is happily intent upon erasing their most ancient history. Name a single liberal value, and Isis is in open opposition to it.
Our Comrade Faces 12 Years in an Iranian Gaol for Drawing this
Iranian artist-activist Atena Farghadani has been handed a 12 year prison sentence by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for posting a cartoon in protest at legislation to restrict birth-control and make divorce more difficult in her country. The illustration, in which Iran’s parliamentarians were depicted with animal heads, was posted on Farghadani’s Facebook page.
After spending nine months in prison awaiting trial, during which time she reportedly suffered a heart attack while on a hunger strike, Farghadani has been found guilty of “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Iranian supreme leader.”
The 28-year-old painter had also been charged with “gathering and colluding with anti-revolutionary individuals and deviant sects” for contact she had with families of political prisoners and followers of the Baha’i faith during a painting exhibition. The exhibition — Parandegan-e Khak (Birds of Earth) — focused attention on protesters killed by government forces in the wake of Iran’s contested 2009 election.
Originally signaled by Ex-Muslims Forum.
Amnesty International adds (today).
Atena Farghadani is a prisoner of conscience, sentenced to over 12 years in prison for her peaceful activism.
28-year-old Atena was tried on 19 May on charges including ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ and ‘insulting members of parliament through paintings’. She was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison.
Ahead of her trial, more than 33,000 of you signed our petition to the Iranian authorities calling for Atena’s release. We continue to call on Iran’s Supreme Leader and Head of the Judiciary to release Atenda immediately – she has committed no crime. The fight for her freedom continues.
Last August, 12 members of the Revolutionary Guards came to Atena’s house. They confiscated her personal belongings, blindfolded her and took her to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. She was to be punished for her peaceful acts of political defiance, including meeting the families of political prisoners and for posting on Facebook a cartoon she’d drawn that was critical of members of the Iranian parliament.
Iran is currently creating a law that will roll back women’s rights in the country by restricting access to contraception and criminalising voluntary sterilisation. Atena’s cartoon, which depicted politicians in favour of this Bill, is now being held against her – one of the charges she has been convicted of is ‘insulting members of parliament through paintings’.
While in prison last year, Atena flattened paper cups to use them as a surface to paint on. When the prison guards realised what she had been doing, they confiscated her paintings and stopped giving her paper cups. When Atena found some cups in the bathroom, she smuggled them into her cell. Soon after, she was beaten by prison guards, when she refused to strip naked for a full body search. Atena says that they knew about her taking the cups because they had installed cameras in the toilet and bathroom facilities – cameras detainees had been told were not operating.
Atena was released in November last year, but rearrested just six weeks later. In the time that she was released, she gave media interviews and posted a video on youtube describing how the prison guards had interrogated her for nine hours every day for six weeks. She said that female prison guards had beaten her and subjected her to degrading body searches.
Just weeks after posting her youtube video, Atena was once again arrested – possibly as reprisal for speaking out.
She was sentenced to 12 yeas and nine months on charges including
- Gathering and colluding against national security
- Spreading propaganda against the system
- Insulting members of parliament through paintings
- Insulting her interrogators
Atena is a prisoner of conscience – she has committed no real crime. She is being unfairly punished simply for exercising her right to free speech, association and assembly.
Atena was kept in solitary confinement for over two weeks when she was detained last year in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. During that time she was denied access to her lawyer or family. After her release from detention, she said that she’d been beaten by prison guards.
Three weeks after she was rearrested in January this year, Atena went on hunger strike to protest that she was being held in extremely poor prison conditions, in a jail that does not have a section for political prisoners. Atena’s health suffered considerably as a result; her lawyer told us that the 28-year-old had suffered a heart attack and briefly lost consciousness in late February as a result of her hunger strike.
Atena has since been moved to another detention centre and stopped her hunger strike, but we remain worried about her health.