Atheists who do as Christians do 11

Atheists of the Left – “Humanists” some call themselves – often reveal with unconscious irony how close Leftism is to Christianity: the same moral myopia, hubris, and sentimentality.

In order to enjoy the cheap emotional satisfaction of feeling they are “good people”, they go in for this sort of thing.

We quote from the Friendly Atheist at Patheos:

After the Daily Caller News Foundation posted a map of supposed “radical mosques” in the U.S., it wasn’t long before threats were made against them.

But in a wonderful gesture on Monday, the Humanists of the Palouse reached out to the Muslims, sending them a letter of concern and offering whatever help they could:

To our Muslim friends in the Moscow/Pullman area,

Recently, we have been made aware of threats to our community, centered on the Pullman Islamic Center and it and many other Mosques being mis-reported as “radical”. In today’s climate, these threats should not be taken lightly, and we certainly do not. We fully support your right to practice religion free from harm and harassment.

We recognize your members as valued residents of the Palouse. The Humanists of the Palouse want you to know that we will always defend religious freedom and cultural diversity, and threats against these are threats against our very way of life. We stand with you, and offer our support.

If you feel threatened, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to accompany anyone who feels that their safety is at risk (e.g. grocery shopping, on a walk around town, or just for someone to talk to). If we can advocate for you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and know that you have friends and allies amongst The Humanists of the Palouse.

The Center’s Board of Trustees soon issued this heartfelt response:

The entire Board of Trustees of the Pullman Islamic Association joins me in thanking you and the Humanists of the Palouse generally for this powerful statement affirming civil rights in this country. We are especially moved that a humanist group so completely supports the local Muslim group, since Islam is the most disrespected group in this country. We have noticed that the correct way to define and appreciate humanist groups in general and yours in particular is as lovers and defenders of civil rights, individual and group democratic dignities and freedom of thought, not as haters of religion. Your group’s neighborly defense of freedom of religion in the Palouse demonstrates your focus on freedom and social justice. We are impressed by and thankful for your firm support and offer of assistance and solidarity.

One of our Board of Trustees members is meeting with an FBI agent today, which demonstrates that the federal police are taking this threat seriously. Given this sobering reality of threatened arson and violence your support will always be appreciated by the leaders and membership of the Pullman Islamic Association. We hope we will not need to ask for your offered assistance, but if we do need or want such support, we will indeed reach out to Humanists of the Palouse.

That’s how you do it, friends.

You can disagree on theological issues, but I’d hope local atheist groups around the country would be willing to reach out to Muslims who are actually being persecuted by overzealous conservatives eager to shut them down.

If they lose their religious freedoms, we all do.

Can they possibly not know that sharia law – inseparable from the ideology of Islam – condemns apostasy, which is what atheism is deemed to be? And prescribes death as the punishment for atheists? (Atheist men; women not always.) In some Islamic lands they are imprisoned rather than executed. But all risk their lives, and such freedom as anyone has in a Muslim majority country.

These are reports of atheists, apostates, free thinkers who have been sentenced to prison, and/or flogging, and/or death in Islamic countries recently – the crime of atheism often being euphemized into something else in court. And some who have been killed by their Muslim compatriots.

1. From the Economist, on Alexander Aan in Indonesia:

A MOB attacked Alexander Aan even before an Indonesian court in June jailed him for two and a half years for “inciting religious hatred”.

His crime was to write “God does not exist” on a Facebook group he had founded for atheists in Minang, a province of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Like most non-believers in Islamic regions, he was brought up as a Muslim. And like many who profess godlessness openly, he has been punished. …

Sharia law, which covers only Muslims unless incorporated into national law, assumes people are born into their parents’ religion. Thus ex-Muslim atheists are guilty of apostasy—a hudud crime against God, like adultery and drinking alcohol. Potential sanctions can be severe: eight states, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Sudan have the death penalty on their statute books for such offences. …

Most atheists are prosecuted for blasphemy or for inciting hatred. (Atheists born to non-Muslim families are not considered apostates, but they can still be prosecuted for other crimes against religion.) Even in places where laws are lenient, religious authorities and social attitudes can be harsh, with vigilantes inflicting beatings or beheadings.

Many, like Kacem el-Ghazzali, a Moroccan, reckon the only solution is to escape abroad. The 23-year-old was granted asylum in Switzerland after people found out he was the author of an anonymous blog, Atheistica.com. …

Nahla Mahmoud, a 25-year-old Sudanese atheist … fled to Britain in 2010. …

Ibn Warraq, the pseudonymous Indian-born author of “Leaving Islam”, a collection of essays by ex-believers, … lives in exile and has received death threats for campaigning on the behalf of apostates. … Arguments for the death penalty [he says] are usually based on a Hadith, one of the sayings which, along with the Koran, form the basis of Islamic law: “The Prophet said: whoever discards his religion, kill him.” …

Ibn Warraq says that the nub of the problem is that sharia makes atheism the number one sin, ahead of murder.  …

2. From the Guardian, on Ashraf Fayadh in Saudi Arabia:

A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam.

A Saudi court on Tuesday ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling.

Fayadh, 35, a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia, was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court in Abha, a city in the south-west of the ultraconservative kingdom, in May 2014. But after his appeal was dismissed he was retried earlier this month and a new panel of judges ruled that his repentance did not prevent his execution.

3. From Patheos, the Friendly Atheist itself, on Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia:

December 26, 2013 by Paul Fidalgo [who is admirably scathing in his disgust – ed).

Saudi blogger and religious dissident Raif Badawi has been cruelly punished and toyed with by the Saudi legal system for about a year now, and things have taken a darker turn. According to Badawi’s wife, now living in Lebanon, the high court will try Badawi on the charge of apostasy. If convicted, Badawi could be executed.

This comes after a court opted not to charge him with apostasy in January, but did put him up on charges of “insulting Islam and showing disobedience”. How did they come to this decision? Badawi is the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, which is bad enough, but imagine the horror that washed over Saudi society with this kind of action:

The evidence against him included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.

As a result of this heinous behavior, in July, Badawi was sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years in prison.

Which was horrifying enough. But now it looks like Badawi is being brought up on apostasy charges in earnest. Badawi’s case is one of many being watched by the Office of Public Policy at the Center for Inquiry, where I work, and our Campaign for Free Expression. Browse the cases we have listed there, and you’ll see that, sadly, Badawi’s case is hardly unique.

Cases like this need more international attention, and those who position themselves as “allies” of Saudi Arabia, such as the United States, need to discover their consciences. How can the civilized world refer to itself as such when an ally practices such barbarism, it looks the other way?

The judge in Badawi’s subsequent appeal stiffened the original 2013 sentence – seven years in prison and 600 lashes – to 1000 lashes, ten years in prison and a fine of $266,000. See our post, The punishment of reason, January 12, 2015, where there is an eyewitness description of the first of the series of lashings Badawi is being subjected to.

Badawi had written, “My commitment is… to reject any repression in the name of religion… a goal that we will reach in a peaceful, law-abiding way.”

This was interpreted by the judge as “insulting Islam”.

Badawi’s health is now frail. He is unlikely to survive the lashings.

4. From Poetry Foundation, on Hashem Shaabani in Iran:

We were saddened and horrified today to learn of the death of Hashem Shaabani, who was executed on January 27th by the order of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

From Radio Free Europe:

An Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal reportedly had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, last July on charges that included “waging war on God”. 

Press reports said Shaabani was hanged after his sentence was approved by President Hassan Rohani.

In a statement on February 5, Freedom House said Shaabani was subjected to severe torture and interrogation during his three years in prison.

Human Rights Voices also reports on the execution, writing:

To those who knew him, was a man of peace and understanding struggling to extend spaces of individual freedom within the despotic Khomeinist system … In one of his letters from prison, made available to use through his family, Shaabani says  … I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.” 

5. From the Guardian on Avijit Roy and Rafida Bonya Ahmed in Pakistan:

No one could have predicted that the Bangladeshi writer Rafida Bonya Ahmed would make it to London last week. …  In February, Islamist fanatics hacked her husband, Avijit Roy, to death with meat cleavers as the couple left a book fair in Dhaka. They nearly killed Ahmed too: slicing off her thumb and covering her body with wounds. …

Together, Ahmed and Roy ran a secular blog that promoted the writings of young liberal Bangladeshis They wrote on evolution and humanism; they condemned extremism fearlessly, as the title of Roy’s 2014 book The Virus of Faith makes clear. Seeing and fearing a courageous opponent, the enemies of free thought killed him for his ideas. …

6. From a Reuters report on Ananta Bijoy Das and others in Bangladesh:

Third Atheist blogger killed in Bangladesh.

A blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh on Tuesday (May 12), the third killing of a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation in less than three months.

Ananta Bijoy Das, a blogger who advocated secularism, was attacked by four masked assailants in the northeastern district of Sylhet on Tuesday morning, senior police official Mohammad Rahamatullah told Reuters.

Rahamatullah said Das was a 33-year-old banker.

He was also editor of science magazine “Jukti,” which means “logic,” and on the advisory board of “Mukto Mona” (Free Mind), a website propagating rationalism and opposing fundamentalism …

According to the monitoring service SITE Intelligence Group, Islamist militant group Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh said al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) had claimed responsibility for the attack. …

Imran Sarker, the head of a network of activists and bloggers in Bangladesh, said Das was “a progressive free thinker and a good human being”. …

Militants have targeted secularist writers in Bangladesh in recent years …

On March 30, Washiqur Rahman, another secular blogger who aired his outrage over [Avijit] Roy’s death on social media, was killed in similar fashion on a busy street in the capital, Dhaka.

Their deaths followed the killing in 2013 of Ahmed Rajib Haider, who backed calls to impose the death penalty on Islamist leaders accused of atrocities in Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.

Why do our fellow atheists – of the leftist “Humanist” persuasion – not burn with anger against the ideology that persecutes atheism, secularism, rationalism, and shun the company of its devotees?

If they think they are earning the goodwill and tolerance of the Muslims towards whom they’re making this gesture, they’re pathetically deluded. Their nice little letter is not going to change sharia law, or the minds of those who want to impose it on us all.

They seem simply not to believe that the Muslims they contacted might be members of “radicalizing” mosques – which is to say, mosques with imams who urge them to support terrorist groups or join ISIS. There’s no hint that they explored the possibility. In their minds, the accusation must be wholly unjustified.

And one more thing. When those poor persecuted Muslims “in the Moscow/Pullman area” whimpered that “Islam is the most disrespected group in this country”, they are lying. The president of the United States is the son of a Muslim and an Islam lover who has brought Muslim Brotherhood advisers into his administration – and has clearly formed policies on their advice..

At the time of this writing there have been 27,322 deadly attacks carried out by Muslims since 9/11. (See the tally in our margin, taken from The Religion of Peace.) Muslim terrorists do all they can to terrify non-Muslims, and then cynically accuse them of an irrational fear of Islam, calling it “Islamophobia”.

Muslims are the target of few “hate crimes” in the US. But they perpetrate more than any others do.

We quote from an article by David J. Rusin at Islamist Watch. His staistics come from a December 2014 report of 2013 figures. (We await the 2014 report this coming December):

New FBI Hate Crime Stats: Another Blow to Islamist Fictions

There were 1,031 incidents inspired by religion last year, 625 (60.6 percent) of which were anti-Jewish. Anti-Islamic ones constituted just 13.1 percent.

On April 15, 2013, Muslim terrorists murdered three and injured hundreds at the Boston Marathon, prompting familiar warnings about an imminent anti-Muslim backlash. The FBI’s findings are proof that such collective punishment did not materialize — as it almost never does.

How have Islamist groups greeted the FBI data? With silence. It is the sound of disappointment on the part of radicals who need Muslim victims, preferably real ones, to serve as human shields for the Islamist agenda. Bad news for Islamists is once again good news for the rest of us.

Saudi Arabia calls for religious tolerance 3

Saudi Arabia? Yes. Religious tolerance? Yes.

But the Saudis don’t really mean it, do they?  Of course not, but a little thing like that won’t stop them.

The Independent reports:

Saudi Arabia has hosted an international conference on human rights, attended by the president of the UN Human Rights Council, and resolved to combat intolerance and violence based on religious belief.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – which has its headquarters in Jeddah – convened the fifth annual meeting of the Istanbul Process as the kingdom’s Supreme Court prepared to rule on the case of blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through religious channels”. It later upheld the sentence.

The UN HRC recently faced criticism over Saudi plans to head up the council from 2016, in what critics said would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the international body.

And the Geneva-based human rights campaign group UN Watch accused HRC president Joachim Rücker of giving “false international legitimacy” to the two-day conference on religious freedoms held in Jeddah on 3 and 4 June.

According to a report in the Saudi Gazette, the participants in the conference “began with an agreement to put [HRC] resolution 16/18 into effect” – a pledge by all member states to combat “intolerance and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief”.

“In addition, participants agreed on the importance on providing human rights education and encouraging religious and cultural diversity in communities.”

Invited to make the opening statement at the conference, Mr Rücker told the summit: “Religious intolerance and violence committed in the name of religion rank among the most significant human rights challenges of our times.”

But Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said: “It’s bad enough that the oppressive and fundamentalist Saudi monarchy was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

“But for top UN human rights officials to now visit Jeddah and smile while human rights activist Raif Badawi languishes in prison for the crime of religious dissent, still under threat of further flogging, is to pour salt in the wounds. It’s astonishing.”

Astonishing? Astonishing hypocrisy, yes. But what can be expected of the Saudis’ contemptible regime? It’s very existence is a mockery not only of tolerance, but also of  truth, decency, honesty, humanity.

It should inspire not astonishment but outrage and fury – if anyone in the flabby West is still capable of righteous anger.

*

Saudi Arabia is probably the most monocultural and intolerant country in the world. (Comparable only to Communist regimes.)

From Wikipedia:

Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and its law requires that all citizens be Muslims. Neither Saudi citizens nor guest workers have the right of freedom of religion.The official and dominant form of Islam in the kingdom – Wahhabism – arose in the central region of Najd in the eighteenth century. Proponents call the movement “Salafism”, and believe that its teachings purify the practice of Islam of innovations or practices that deviate from the seventh-century teachings of Muhammad and his companions.

Saudi Arabia has “religious police” (known as Haia or Mutaween), who patrol the streets enforcing dress codes, strict separation of men and women, attendance at prayer (salat) five times each day, the ban on alcohol, and other aspects of Sharia (Islamic law). (In the privacy of the home behavior can be far looser, and reports indicate that the ruling Saudi Royal family applies a different moral code to itself, indulging in parties, drugs and sex.) [Including, to our certain knowledge, homosexual sex (often with under-15-year-old boys), which is punishable by death under sharia – TAC.]

Daily life is dominated by Islamic observance. Businesses are closed three or four times a day for 30 to 45 minutes during business hours while employees and customers are sent off to pray. The weekend is Friday-Saturday, not Saturday-Sunday, because Friday is the holiest day for Muslims. As of 2004 approximately half of the broadcast airtime of Saudi state television was devoted to religious issues. 90% of books published in the kingdom were on religious subjects, and most of the doctorates awarded by its universities were in Islamic studies. In the state school system, about half of the material taught is religious. In contrast, assigned readings over twelve years of primary and secondary schooling devoted to covering the history, literature, and cultures of the non-Muslim world comes to a total of about 40 pages.

Public support for the traditional political/religious structure of the kingdom is so strong that one researcher interviewing Saudis found virtually no support for reforms to secularize the state.

Because of religious restrictions, Saudi culture lacks any diversity of religious expression, buildings, annual festivals and public events. Celebration of other (non-Wahhabi) Islamic holidays, such as the Muhammad’s birthday and the Day of Ashura, (an important holiday for the 10-25% of the population that is Shīʿa Muslim), are tolerated only when celebrated locally and on a small scale. Shia also face systematic discrimination in employment, education, the justice system. Non-Muslim festivals like Christmas and Easter are not tolerated at all, although there are nearly a million Christians as well as Hindus and Buddhists among the foreign workers. No churches, temples or other non-Muslim houses of worship are permitted in the country. Proselytizing by non-Muslims and conversion by Muslims to another religion is illegal and punishable by death. And as of 2014 the distribution of “publications that have prejudice to any other religious belief other than Islam” (such as Bibles), was reportedly punishable by death. 

Atheists are legally designated as terrorists. 

Saudis or foreign residents who “call into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based” may be subject to as much as 20 years in prison. And at least one religious minority, the Ahmadiyya Muslims, had all its adherents deported, and they are legally banned from entering the country.

Next the UN will consider Saudi Arabia the ideal venue for an international conference on “diversity”. And after that, why not one on women’s rights?

Posted under Arab States, Commentary, Diplomacy, Islam, jihad, middle east, Muslims, Saudi Arabia, United Nations by Jillian Becker on Saturday, June 13, 2015

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The innocence of Swedes 4

It is particularly in the sphere of foreign relations that states need to be conservative. That is to say, they need to be cautious, thoroughly well-informed, and unswervingly realistic. There is no place there for romanticism. Policies must be formed to serve the interests of your State, your own State only, and nothing but its interests. Raison d’État rules supreme. Or should do.

But Sweden is romantic in its politics. Sweden has not been cautious or realistic in its dealings with the Arab and Islamic powers. Most of its politicians seem to have avoided knowing anything about Islam. Sweden welcomes huge numbers of Muslim immigrants – and has a severe rape problem as a direct result. It sells arms to Arab states. It thinks that Israel is being really rotten to those nice peaceful Palestinians who so desperately need a state of their own without any Jews in it. So they told Hamas and Fatah that as far as they, the Swedes, were concerned, there was just such a pretty state already in existence.

Or at least that’s the way it used to think and behave. It might have changed its national mind to some extent now. For the first time one of its bien pensant politicians came up in actuality, and rather surprising circumstances, against Real Arabs of Arabia, and the shock has been severe.

But maybe it has also been salutary.

This is from Gatestone, by Ingrid Carlqvist and Lars Hedegaard:

Sweden’s latest attempt to flex its muscles as a humanitarian and feminist superpower ended in a diplomatic disaster last week.

On March 9, the country’s Social Democratic Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, was to address the foreign ministers of the Arab League assembled in Cairo.

Wallström had been invited by Arab League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby as a guest of honor. …The unusual offer to listen to a European foreign minister was made in the light of Sweden’s recent decision to recognize [a state of] Palestine.

Wallström never got a chance to speak. According to her own explanation, she was blocked from addressing the meeting after protests by Saudi Arabia. “They have reacted strongly to what we have said about democracy and human rights,” she told Swedish public radio. …

For it seems that Margot Wallström, unusually if not uniquely among Sweden’s leaders, had informed herself to some extent about the nature of Arab regimes:

It is unknown if the text of Wallström’s address was distributed to the Arab foreign ministers before the meeting. They cannot, however, have been unaware that she had previously spoken out against the flogging of the Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi, who was convicted of “insulting Islam”, and that she had criticized the status of women’s rights in the Gulf kingdom.

Back in Sweden, Wallström and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven had faced criticism for their decision to continue Sweden’s controversial weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.

On March 10, the Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist announced that Sweden would not extend its agreement to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. The Swedish government claimed that the decision had been made several days before FM Wallström’s unfortunate experience in Egypt.

On Wednesday, March 11, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Stockholm.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström wanted to lecture The Arab League on human rights. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was not amused. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

A copy of what Margot Wallström intended to say to the Arab League has been published on a Swedish government website. In it, she made no specific reference to human rights violations in any particular Arab country. She referred to the predicament of women in particular and human rights in general …

The Foreign Minister appears to have been unaware that “human” and “women’s” rights are anathema in a great number of Arab States including Saudi Arabia. She also seems innocent of the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, according to which any human right must be compatible with Islamic sharia law — meaning that there are no “human rights” as thought of in the West, but only human obligations as imposed by Allah and his prophet. Whatever is inside sharia law is a human right. Whatever is outside sharia law is not a human right. 

After the diplomatic debacle in Cairo, Arab foreign ministers denounced Wallström in a statement: “Arab countries totally reject Wallström’s statement as irresponsible and unacceptable. … Saudi Arabia’s Constitution is based on the Sharia that protects the right of people and safeguards their blood, wealth and honor.” …

The Swedish government, parliament and mainstream media, as demonstrated throughout decades, seem to have no inkling of what sharia law implies. In their hearts, they evidently believe that we all think the same. As Sweden champions democracy, liberty and equal rights, the Swedish establishment apparently cannot imagine that others would think otherwise.

This belief has been the basis of Sweden’s foreign and immigration policies for many years. The Swedish “humanitarian superpower,” however, has now reached the limits of a policy based on love and understanding. …

Through its recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state, and following years of anti-Israeli propaganda, Sweden has made itself terra non grata in Israel – and now Saudi Arabia does not like it either.

An EU member state that sees itself as the universal purveyor of peace and love, without understanding what is actually going on the world, will of course lose credibility and influence …

One wonders where the Swedish government will go next to find takers for its uninformed, idealistic world policy.

Or maybe it has woken up. Time will tell.

Pat Condell thinks it is already much too late:

 

(Hat-tip to Frank for video)

The punishment of reason 3

If it sears the mind of a decent person merely to imagine the suffering of Raif Badawi as he is subjected to his punishment of 1000 lashes, administered 50 at a time once a week for 20 weeks, knowing what the punishment is being inflicted for could make his blood boil.

badawi

Raif Badawi

First, here’s a short description of the first day of Raif’s lashings from a site we’ve never visited before named 360NoBS:

A Saudi blogger declared guilty of insulting Islam was brought after Friday prayers to a public square in the port city of Jeddah and flogged 50 times before hundreds of spectators.

Reports further stated that he would receive 50 lashes once a week for 20 weeks. …

Despite international pleas for his release, Badawi, a father of three, was brought from prison by bus to the public square on Friday and flogged on the back in front of a crowd that had just finished midday prayers at a nearby mosque.

His face was visible and, throughout the flogging, he clenched his eyes and remained silent, said the witness.

The witness, who also has close knowledge of the case, said the lashing lasted about 15 minutes.

Badawi has been held since mid-2012 after he founded the Free Saudi Liberals blog. … He used it to criticise the kingdom’s influential clerics …

He was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, but after an appeal the judge stiffened the punishment.

Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada.

Rights groups argue that the case against Badawi is part of a wider crackdown on freedom of speech and dissent in Saudi Arabia since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Criticism of clerics is seen as a red line because of their prestige in the kingdom, as well as their influential role in supporting government policies.

flog-man-360nobs.gif,qresize=191,P2C143.pagespeed.ce.cXQQgHrh8yJAup1RtEFU

The man shackled to a whipping post in this picture from 360NoBS may or may not be Raif Badawi,

but in any case it serves to illustrate Islam’s infliction of agony, humiliation, misery, and despair .

Denis MacEoin writes at Gatestone:

[Raif Badaw’s] first 50 lashes were administered Friday. After the noon prayers, outside the mosque, Saudi writer and blogger Raif Badawi, 30, received a sentence perhaps worse than death. Accused of “insulting Islam,” he is to receive 1000 lashes: 50 per week for 20 weeks — nearly half a year. “The lashing order says Raif should ‘be lashed very severely,'” a twitter notice read. “If they lash him again next week we do not know if he is going to survive. He has no medical assistance,” another notice said.

After that, he is to spend ten years in prison and pay a fine of $266,000. If he ever leaves prison, his life will have been destroyed…

His wife and three children have been given asylum in Canada. Her family has filed for divorce on the grounds of his supposed apostasy. …

Badawi had written, “My commitment is… to reject any repression in the name of religion… a goal that we will reach in a peaceful, law-abiding way.”

He is alleged to have criticized the Wahhabi clergy who run his country hand in hand with the royal family. Muslims seem not to be able to handle questions, reasoned criticism or satire. …

Nadeem Malik, the UK Director of the Bahu Trust, a Sufi Muslim charity that “espouses the virtues of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and equality” said: “Our Prophet would have been absolutely crystal clear and unequivocal in condemning any such action. That’s not in the name of Islam at all, and Muslims are sick of having their faith hijacked in this manner.”

I do not doubt Mr. Malik’s sincerity, and I respect the Islamic tradition (Barelwi) from which he comes as one more in keeping with a non-violent interpretation.

We are sick of hearing that this or that group of violent Muslims have “hijacked” the religion of Islam. Islam enjoins violence.

It is a myth that Sufis are against violence. The Muslim murderers of some 385 people, including 186 small children, at a school in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004, were Sufis.

But his statement sharply points out why there is a problem. He was – quite innocently, I am sure – completely wrong.

The writer shouldn’t be sure. We unhesitatingly doubt his innocence. Either he knows he is lying, or he is unable to understand the words of the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith, and knows nothing of Islam’s own tales of Muhammad.

There is an inspiration for attacks like those on writers, cartoonists, and film-makers: France’s Charlie Hebdo journalists; Amsterdam’s Theo van Gogh; Denmark’s Kurt Westergaard, Carsten Juste, and Flemming Rose, and Sweden’s Lars Vilks – as well as the assassination attempt on the Nobel Prize winning Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz and the fatwa for the murder of the British writer Salman Rushdie. The inspiration for this behavior is not that the Prophet Muhammad was lampooned or criticized or mocked. The inspiration for this behavior is that Muhammad himself would have ordered or approved such attacks as revenge for assaults on his honour.

Shortly after his move from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, for instance, when he became the effective ruler of the town, opponents emerged in the Jewish and wider communities. Poets wrote lampoons and disrespectful verses. Muhammad had them killed. Not just poets, but almost anyone who disagreed with him and his “revelations.”

In 624, for example, a Jewish poet named Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf wrote verses condemning the killing of notables from Mecca. He later became a one-man Charlie Hebdo, writing obscene and erotic verses about the Muslim women. Muhammad took offense and instructed one of his companions, Muhammad ibn Maslama, to assassinate Ka’b. When Ibn Maslama expressed doubts about having to lie to Ka’b in order to trick him into going with him, Muhammad told him lying was permissible for such purposes. Ibn Maslama and some other Muslims went out with Ka’b under false pretenses and murdered him.

Ka’b ibn al-Ahraf was not Muhammad’s only victim. …  There is a list in WikiIslam of 43 people – as well as all the men from the Jewish tribe of the Banu Qurayza – who were killed on Muhammad’s orders or whose murders were sanctioned by him.

Today the lashes of Raif Badawi stand with the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo as further symbols of the determination of many extremists to reject the norms of reason, tolerance, pluralism, equality, the Universal Declaration human rights and the value that begins every chapter but one of the Qur’an: mercy.

This cannot be said often or emphatically enough: It is not a case of  Islamic “extremists”  rejecting reason, but of Islam itself being an ideology totally in opposition to reason.

All “faiths” reject reason by definition. Islam punishes it.

Lashings of Allah 8

Horrible news from Gatestone by Valentina Colombo:

Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger, has been sentenced to 1000 lashes, ten years in jail and a fine of $270,000 for a blog regarded by Saudi Arabia’s regime as insulting Islam.

The lashing was due to be carried out today, so we are assuming that it was, at least in part. So many lashes have been ordered, the torturer will probably need several sessions to complete his assignment. After which, of course, Reason itself will have learnt its lesson and never dare utter a word in Saudi Arabia again.

Badawi was condemned, according to Amnesty International, for having co-founded a website, “Saudi Arabian Liberals,” and for having written and published on it … as well as on Facebook and Twitter …

He criticized and made fun of Saudi institutions such as the Commission for the Promotion of Goodness and the Prohibition of Vice (also known as “the religious police”), the Saudi Grand Mufti, other Saudi ulema [religious scholars].

The long sentence of the Criminal Court of the district of Jeddah stated that he had undermined the “public order”.

In an interview published in August 2007 by the liberal website Afaaq, Badawi stated that “liberals in Saudi Arabia live between the anvil of State and the hammer of the religious police”.

He also said this:

My commitment is to the advancement of civil society in my country, to reject any repression in the name of religion, to promote liberal* enlightened Saudis whose primary objective is being active in civil society, a goal that we will reach in a peaceful and law-abiding way.


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Saudi blogger Raif Badawi (left) and his lawyer Walid Abu al-Khayr

We can only hope that this intelligent and brave young man, a secularist and probably an atheist, survives his appalling ordeal, and his ten years in a notoriously hellish Arab prison.

It would be going too far to hope that his fate will persuade the political leaders of the Western world that Islam is a primitive savage cruel ideology rather than the “beautiful religion” they insistently tell us it is.

* We think and hope he means “liberal” in the true sense of the word: favoring freedom. Not in the contemporary American sense: not favoring freedom.

Death sentences 1

To think for yourself and express your thoughts is a capital offense in Iran and Saudi Arabia, because Islam will not tolerate it.

This is from Poetry Foundation:

We were saddened and horrified today to learn of the death of Hashem Shaabani, who was executed on January 27th by the order of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

From Radio Free Europe:

An Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal reportedly had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, last July on charges that included “waging war on God.”

Press reports said Shaabani was hanged after his sentence was approved by President Hassan Rohani.

In a statement on February 5, Freedom House said Shaabani was subjected to severe torture and interrogation during his three years in prison.

Human Rights Voices also reports on the execution, writing:

To those who knew him, Hashem Shaabani was a man of peace and understanding struggling to extend spaces of individual freedom within the despotic Khomeinist system…In one of his letters from prison, made available to use through his family, Shaabani says he could not have remained silent against ‘hideous crimes against Ahvazis* perpetrated by the Iranian authorities, particularly arbitrary and unjust executions’.  He adds, ‘I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.’

And this is from the Friendly Atheist section of Patheos Press:

Saudi blogger and religious dissident Raif Badawi has been cruelly punished and toyed with by the Saudi legal system for about a year now, and things have taken a darker turn. According to Badawi’s wife, now living in Lebanon, the high court will try Badawi on the charge of apostasy. If convicted, Badawi could be executed.

This comes after a court opted not to charge him with apostasy in January, but did put him up on charges of “insulting Islam and showing disobedience.” How did they come to this decision? Badawi is the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, which is bad enough, but imagine the horror that washed over Saudi society with this kind of action:

The evidence against him included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.

As a result of this heinous behavior, in July, Badawi was sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years in prison.

Which was horrifying enough. But now it looks like Badawi is being brought up on apostasy charges in earnest. Badawi’s case is one of many being watched by the Office of Public Policy at the Center for Inquiry, where I work, and our Campaign for Free Expression. …

Those who position themselves as “allies” of Saudi Arabia, such as the United States, need to discover their consciences. How can the civilized world refer to itself as such when an ally practices such barbarism, it looks the other way?

Hangings in Iran

* Ahvazis – people of the city of Ahvaz or Al-Ahwaz, capital of  Khuzestan Province, Iran. Many of them are Arabs. Sympathetic as we are to Hashem Shaabani and his principles, we hope he was not defending the four Ahvazis who had been executed for a terrorist bombing in their city in 2007. (Terrorists should be executed. But the Iranian regime has no principled approach to terrorism. It is itself a terrorist regime. And just think of the thousands who have been killed, and continue to be killed by Iran-sponsored terrorists, chief among them the criminal organization Hezbollah.)