Actually, ‘freedom from religion’ is a human right, IHEU tells Vatican at the UN, Elizabeth O’Casey, IHEU, 2018-03-09
Humanists at the UN have today strongly rejected claims from the Vatican delegation that ‘freedom from religion’ is not a human right.
In its first statement to the 37th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council this afternoon, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) was responding to comments made last Friday by the Vatican delegation. During a discussion (video) of the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Vatican representative, Ivan Jurkovic, had disputed that ‘freedom from religion’ is covered by international law, saying that “Of the utmost concern, the use of the term freedom from religion, which is not contemplated in the international instruments, reveals a patronising idea of religion, going beyond the mandate of the special rapporteur.”
Delivering IHEU’s response today, IHEU Director of Advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey, corrected the Vatican (known as Holy See in international fora), listing the established rights which constitute freedom from religion, and highlighted why freedom from religion is so necessary for those professing no religious beliefs around the world.
By rejecting the concept of freedom FROM religion, the Vatican shows that it has no respect whatsoever for the freedom of conscience of anyone. It is as if the Vatican were competing with governments of Muslim-majority countries which criminalize apostasy (i.e. leaving one’s religion), sometimes even punishing it with the death penalty, to see who can be the greatest destroyer of liberty. This illustrates that keeping religion out of politics—in this case, making sure that the Vatican and the Catholic Church keep their noses out of government—is so essential for human rights to be respected.
Bravo to the IHEU for reprimanding the Vatican and for asserting the importance of freedom FROM religion.
Égypte : les athées seront-ils bientôt mis en prison ? (Egypt: Will Atheists Soon be Imprisoned?), France 2 Television, 2018-02-27
A French television network reports that Egypt may soon pass legislation which would criminalize non-belief and punish it with fines or even prison.
In Egypt, everyone must declare their religion to authorities and that religion appears on each person’s compulsory identity card. The country is 90% Muslim and Islam is the state religion. Christianity and Judaism are recognized, but there is no tolerance whatsoever of atheism. To question the existence of god is considered blasphemous and atheism is considered to be a form of extremism!
This is an extreme expression of atheophobia, converging with the absolute ban on apostasy which is a core tenet of Islam. The result is the absolute negation of freedom of conscience for citizens of Egypt.
Quebec nixes rule forcing political candidates to remove head coverings, CBC News, 2018-02-21
Quebec’s chief electoral officer is changing a regulation that prevented people who wear religious head coverings from running for provincial office. For nearly 30 years, all potential candidates have been required to submit a photo that shows their hair. The photos will appear on ballots used during the upcoming provincial election, scheduled for Oct. 1. But on Tuesday, a National Assembly committee gave its approval to chief electoral officer Pierre Reid to change that regulation. […]
All parties at the National Assembly say they approve of the change. […] One restriction remains: candidates must show their faces.
No political party in Quebec’s National Assembly opposed this decision by Elections Québec. Previously, candidates were required to have both head and face uncovered. But henceforth, only the face need be exposed. This is yet another step away from secularism. It is like an extension of the recently adopted Bill 62 which allows almost all religious symbols in Quebec public services.
Abortion Debate in Argentina Gains Momentum as Macri Says He Won’t Block It in Congress, The Bubble, 2018-02-23
The Casa Rosada has indicated it will not attempt to block a debate in Congress on proposals to decriminalize and legalize abortions. […]
Abortion is currently illegal and considered a crime in Argentina except in circumstances of a health threat to a woman’s life, cases of pregnancy following rape or sexual abuse of a woman with a mental disability. Lawmakers seeking decriminalization in the coming weeks will table a bill that decriminalizes abortions during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The reintroduction of the bill, the seventh time it has been submitted to Congress, is necessary as each bill expires after two years if it is not passed into law. […]
According to Argentina’s Health Ministry, between 370,000 and 522,000 abortions are performed annually, most of them considered illegal. […]
ARGENTINA – Macri gives a green light to open the debate on abortion law reform, International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, 2018-02-23
In 2016, 46 women died from unsafe, illegal abortions in Argentina. All of them could have been avoided. Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina, is against abortion, but all around him there is a very strong movement and a new generation that are pushing for Argentina to become a leader in the region on abortion law reform, as they were with gay marriage. The abortion rights movement in Argentina seeks to go well beyond Chile and calls for a law that allows abortion on request in the first 14 weeks.
In the Congress, where resistance to change and the pressures of the Catholic church still have weight, the pressure is growing every day. Last weekend it exploded in a cheerful and organised manner in front of the Congress building and on social media with the slogan #AbortoLegalYa (Legal abortion already!) that gained the support of many famous politicians and journalists, a senior judge, a TV star and some important members of the Government.
The new law, if adopted, would grant every woman the right to decide voluntarily to terminate a pregnancy during the first 14 weeks of gestation.
Le président de l’Association des Libres penseurs tunisiens agressé, la Fédération française de la Libre Pensée adresse une lettre ouverte à l’ambassadeur de Tunisie en France (President of Tunisian Freethinkers Assaulted, French Freethought Federation Writes to the Tunisian Ambassador in France), Taieb Khouni, HuffPost Tunisie, 2018-02-26
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On February 21st in Tunis, Hatem Limam, president of the Tunisian freethought organization ALP, was assaulted openly in the street by individuals who followed him to his home and caused him multiple wounds and contusions. The French Freethought Federation (FNLP) has written an open letter to the Tunisian ambassador in France, Abdelaziz Rassâa, condemning the attack and asking the ambassador to urge the Tunisian government to take all necessary measures to protect freethinkers in that country and to see that the perpetrators are brought to justice. The ALP, which promotes atheism and secularism, was officially recognized in October 2017.
The IAFT (International Association of Free Thought), KLF (Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation, Poland), IHEU (International Humanist and Ethical Union) and other organizations have also expressed outrage at the attack and solidarity with Tunisian freethinkers.
Kazimierz Łyszczyński Foundation
Atheist of the Year Contest 2018
Call for Nominations
The nomination period is now closed.
The finalists for the Atheist of the Year Contest 2018:
- Karrar Hamza, Iraqi ex-Muslim atheist, feminist and human rights activist.
- Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, founder of Global Secular Humanist Movement, columnist for Free Inquiry.
- David Silverman, President of American Atheists, author of the book Fighting God.
We are pleased to announce that the Atheist of the Year Award is already held for the fifth time in Warsaw. The Contest aims to honor individuals, organizations or institutions for outstanding achievements in the following fields:
- promotion of the atheistic worldview and freedom from religion,
- counteraction against discrimination based on belief,
- integration of Polish and international atheist movements.
The Title is awarded by the Jury from among candidates submitted to the Organizer of the Contest. The Contest is open to any natural or legal person who accepts the Atheist of the Year Title Regulations and is enrolled as a candidate using the attached nomination form sent to:
Award Category: International
Deadline: February 28, 2018
- Sanal Edamaruku, Rationalist International, Atheist of the Year 2014
- Christian Eyschen, Council of the International Association of Free Thought (AILP/IAFT)
- Waleed El-Husseini, Ex-Muslims France, writer
- Maryam Namazie, Ex-Muslims of Great Britain, Atheist of the Year 2014 (ex-aequo)
- Michael Nugent, Atheist Ireland, Atheist of the Year 2017
- David Rand, Atheist Freethinkers Canada, spokesperson of the International Association of Free Thought (AILP/IAFT)
- Nina Sankari, Kazimierz Łyszczyński Foundation, spokesperson of the International Association of Free Thought (AILP/IAFT)
Award Ceremony: March 24, 2018 at the Atheist Gala Dinner (Atheist Days 2018,Warsaw)
Prizes: Diplomas and Statuettes. The Organizer reserves the right to award special prizes â€“ in kind or cash.
Organizer: Kazimierz Łyszczyński Foundation Board
Click to view video
An elderly Iranian woman removes
and agitates her veil in protest.
She is apparently not
one of those arrested.
Iranian police arrest 29 for involvement in hijab protests, Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, 2018-02-03.
Police in the Iranian capital, Tehran, have arrested 29 people for their involvement in protests against the country’s compulsory headscarf law. Women across Iran have been removing their headscarves in public to protest Iran’s strict Islamic dress code. Videos and photos shared on social media have shown demonstrators standing on utility boxes on street sidewalks, defiantly waving their hijabs.
Tehran police suggested that their actions were incited by foreigners, saying those arrested were “deceived” into removing their hijabs, Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim News Agency reported. The 29 protesters have been transferred to judicial authorities, the report said.
Masih Alinejad, the Iranian activist behind the “White Wednesday” social media campaign against mandatory hijabs, who is now based in the US, told CNN that the movement has not been influenced from abroad. “This is a campaign that’s been going on for years and years. The women of Iran have long been ignored. We’re just giving them a platform.” News of the arrests came just days after the release of Vida Mohaved, a woman who was detained in December after removing her headscarf at an anti-regime protest. The wave of anti-goverment demonstrations last month was sparked by concerns over rising living costs and a stagnant economy, but also provided an opening for Iranian women to push for equal rights. Women have been required to wear the hijab since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Courageous women, who deserve our full support and respect. The response of Iranian authorities is ridiculous in the extreme, accusing the protesting women of ignorance and foreign influence.
Top court deals blow to Indigenous peoples, Nathan VanderKlippe, The Globe and Mail, 2017-11-02
The Supreme Court of Canada has declined to grant special protection for religious freedom for aboriginal peoples, ruling that a private ski resort in British Columbia can be built on a site sacred to an Indigenous community. The Ktunaxa Nation had opposed a resort on Crown land near their community in southeastern British Columbia, arguing that it would affect a grizzly-bear habitat and drive away the Grizzly Bear Spirit essential to their faith.
[…] seven judges of nine […] said the Ktunaxa claim fell entirely outside of the Canadian notion of freedom of religion, as established in previous Charter cases, which protects only the right to hold and manifest beliefs. “In short, the Charter protects the freedom to worship, but does not protect the spiritual focal point of worship.”
Read more ›
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Proclamation, City of Markham, Ontario
To the long list of dupes of political Islam, we can now add the name of the mayor Frank Scarpitti of the Ontario city of Markham, who has issued a proclamation, dated 2018-01-29, in which he declares that “Islamophobia, like all other forms of racism, hate, xenophobia, and bigotry, has no place in the City of Markham.” Whatever his intentions may be, the result of the mayor’s proclamation is to validate the use of one of the favourite propaganda tools of Islamofascists—the expression “Islamophobia”—whose purpose is to stigmatize any criticism of their ideology and of the religion Islam which they exploit in order to promote that ideology. Another sad day for Canada.
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Un an après l’attentat de la mosquée de Québec, apaiser le climat social (One Year After the Quebec City Mosque Attack, Social Climate Needs Calm), Ferid Chikhi, Nadia El-Mabrouk, Ali Kaidi & Leila Lesbet of the Association québécoise des Nord-Africains pour la laïcité (AQNAL: Quebec Association of North-Africans for Secularism), Le Devoir, 2018-01-25
Since the odious attack which occurred at the Quebec City mosque a year ago, something in the social fabric has been broken. Immediately following the murders, defamatory publications showing Quebec personalities with blood-stained hands began to circulate on the internet, and thinly-veiled accusations were made, linking the attack with secularists. In forums everywhere, Quebeckers were accused of racism and Islamophobia, and a consultation on racism and discrimination was announced by the government a few months later. This festival of confusion has simply polluted the social climate, polarized the debate and increased hostility towards Islam and Muslims. […]
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Un drame et son instrumentalisation (A Tragedy and Its Exploitation), Djemila Benhabib, le Nouvelliste, 2018-01-26
We still do not know the motives of Alexandre Bissonnette, the presumed murderer, whose trial begins on March 26th 2018. Nevertheless, Islamist lobbyists, politicians at every level, the media and elites are doing everything in their power to impose upon us an enormous collective guilt, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the true frame of mind of Quebeckers who have repeatedly expressed their deep compassion for the victims of this horrible tragedy and their families, as well as their total rejection of all forms of violence. But no, this is not enough. Now we are being told that, in addition, we must work to expunge from our society a supposed pathology which has spread among us like an evil virus. It is time for redemption. Quebeckers must atone for a crime which they did not commit and beg forgiveness for a moral turpitude whose nature is a mystery to them. Why?
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Attentat à la mosquée de Québec, Il n’y a pas d’islamophobie au Québec, selon une proche d’une victime (Attack on Quebec City Mosque, There is no Islamophobia in Quebec, Says Relative of Victim), TVA Nouvelles, 2018-01-23
A year after the terrorist attack on the Quebec City Mosque, the debate about the proposal for a national day against Islamophobia continues to generate debate.
Appearing on the “Denis Lévesque” show, a relative of one of the victims of the shooting denounces the attitude of Muslims communities who demand that such a day be instituted.
Read more ›
Hijab scissor attack against 11-year-old did not occur: Police, Jenna Moon, Toronto Star, 2018-01-15
Police say the events described did not occur. […]
Toronto Police say they have concluded that an incident reported Friday in which an eleven-year-old girl’s hijab was cut as she walked to school, did not happen. Police had been investigating the alleged incident as a hate crime and now say their investigation is concluded. […]
Read more ›
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Front page of CH#1328
Il has been three years since the attack on the satiric newspaper Charlie Hebdo, on January 7th 2015. In an editorial entitled “Freedom of Expression, What Does It Cost?” and published in no. 1328, 2018-01-04, Riss considers these three years.
It had been hoped that the situation would improve. On the contrary, it has become permanent. Working conditions for the newspaper’s staff will probably never return to normal. Neither will the private lives of some of its collaborators. Charlie Hebdo must sell at least 15,000 copies each week or more than 800,000 per year, just to cover the cost of security for its offices.
“Freedom of Expression, vital and essential for our democracy, is becoming a luxury product,” concludes Riss.
Click to enlarge
The Twelve Murdered, Charlie Hebdo, 2015-01-07
Source: Facebook page of Waleed Al Husseini
Tehran Police Say Women Will No Longer Be Arrested For Violating ‘Islamic’ Dress Code, Hayley Miller, Huffington Post Canada, 2017-12-28.
Police in Iran’s capital are loosening up restrictions regarding dress code after decades of pushback from women in the country.
On Wednesday, Tehran police announced that women will no longer risk arrest for breaching the country’s conservative interpretation of Islamic dress code, which includes a ban on wearing nail polish, heavy makeup or loose headscarves. Instead, violators will be ordered to take police-instructed classes on “Islamic values,” while repeat offenders could still be subject to legal action, reported the Wall Street Journal.
“Based on a society-oriented, educational approach, the police will not arrest those who don’t respect Islamic values,” said Brig. Gen. Hossein Rahimi, according to the country’s official Islamic Republic News Agency. “It will instead educate them.”
For decades, Iranian women have been resisting a government ruling passed in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that required women to wear headscarves in public. Iranian millennials have been especially defiant of the policy through social media protests and street marches.
The title of the article above, “Women Will No Longer Be Arrested For Violating ‘Islamic’ Dress Code”, is misleading. As the body of article explains, first offenders will no longer be arrested. However, repeat offenders still risk arrest and prosecution. Even for a first offense, the woman will be subjected to re-education classes in “Islamic values.” This is hardly an important victory; rather it is a very minor softening of the government’s policy.
Egypt’s parliament takes serious actions to combat atheism, Marina Gamil, Egypt Today, 2018-01-04
CAIRO – 4 January 2018: Parliament’s Committee on Religion is about to prepare an explanatory note on the draft law to criminalize atheism in Egypt, amongst several steps Egypt takes to combat atheism, said on Thursday the head of committee, Amr Hamroush.
The law consists of four articles; the first defines atheism; the second criminalizes atheism and imposes severe sanctions on atheists; the third stipulates that the penalties would be cancelled if a person eschews his atheist beliefs and the fourth one dictates that the penalties declared in the law are severe.
Hamroush said that he will discuss with Al-Azhar scientists and experts the penalties and the necessary articles in the new legislation that are needed to combat this phenomenon that widely spread in Egypt in recent years.
Previously, a blasphemy law was added to the penal code in 1982 that stipulates prison sentences of six months to five years to “anyone who uses religion to promote, through speech, writing, or any other medium, extremist ideas with the aim of spreading discord or to belittle or disdain one of the monotheistic religions or their different sects, or to harm national unity.” It is important to note that atheism has not been mentioned directly in the constitution; hence, atheists are convicted under the blasphemy law.
Recently, atheism has become a trending topic in the media as many TV shows have hosted many debates between Christian priests and Muslim sheikhs along with atheists to discuss the main reasons behind abandoning faiths. From 2011 to 2013, Egyptian courts convicted 27 of 42 defendants for declaring atheism, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). Furthermore, a 21-year-old student, Karim Ashraf Mohamed al-Banna, was sentenced to three years in prison in November 2014 for announcing on Facebook that he was an atheist. Police then raided an atheist café and closed it down. Recently, Egyptian Security Forces arrested a 29-year-old computer science graduate, Ibrahim Khalil, on December 21 for administrating a Facebook page that promotes atheism. […]
This is an extreme manifestation of atheophobia, in a country where respect for freedom of conscience is practically non-existent. Although apostasy is not explicitly criminalized in Egypt, apostates (those who leave Islam) risk severe persecution, such as accusations of “blasphemy” or “defaming religion.” These are consequences of the fact that Islam is the state religion.
- Egyptian Parliament considers outlawing atheism, Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service, USA Today, 2018-01-04
- Egypt’s parliament in bid to ban atheism, Shahira Amin, AL-MONITOR, 2017-12-29.
- Prosecution renews detention of Ibrahim Khalil for 15 days on charges of atheism, Mada Masr, 2017-12-27.
- Egyptian parliament moves to make atheism a crime, Brian Whitaker,
- Atheophobia, An Ancient Prejudice, and Yet So Prevalent Today
Eighth Amendment committee agrees to recommend abortion law changes, Sarah Bardon, The Irish Times, 2017-12-13.
The Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment has agreed to recommend a series of changes to abortion laws, including access to terminations without restriction up to 12 weeks. After three months of evidence from experts, the committee proposed repealing Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, which gives the unborn and the mother an equal right to life.
This is a major advance for women’s rights in a country where Catholic obscurantism has always retarded such rights. The “Oireachtas” is the Irish legislature. Our friends of Atheist Ireland work for these rights as a member of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.
Official source denies allegations that the Kingdom is planning to abolish apostasy penalty, Saudi Press Agency, 2017-12-02.
An official source declared to the Saudi Press Agency that the allegations published by some sources in good intention or otherwise that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is embarked on abolishing the apostasy penalty are altogether false and incorrect. The source explained that such groundless claims are absurd according to the ruling system of governance and as per the practices of this blessed country since its institution. He confirmed that the public prosecution is embarked on taking the necessary legal measures to sue who dared to disseminate such lies which go contrary to the constitution of this country. The source stressed that such issue was already determined and un-negotiable at all in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The criminalization of apostasy (leaving one’s religion)—especially when punishable by the death penalty—constitutes a total negation of freedom of conscience. Indeed, such a law is barbaric. Despite any rumours we may have heard about reforms in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Press Agency assures us that the country’s legal system will continue to be barbaric by refusing to abolish the penalty for apostasy. Even worse, according to the above news report, it is apparently illegal even to say that such a change could envisaged!
Endoctrinement des sectes: Maltais veut une commission parlementaire (Indoctrination by Sects: Maltais Wants a Parliamentary Commission), Ian Bussières, Le Soleil, 2017-11-23
MNA Agnès Malthais has asked the Commission on Institutions of the Quebec National Assembly to investigate methods of indoctrination used by organized sects and how members are impacted by them. Eventually, she envisions a parliamentary commission dedicated to this topic. This proposal is motivated by the case of Éloïse Dupuis, a young Jehovah’s Witness who died recently, shortly after giving birth and refusing a blood transfusion. Mme Malthais is particularly concerned about sect members facing a medical emergency, especially women, and she questions to what extent the consent of a person who has been a member for years can be truly free and voluntary.
Indoctrination is a staple of religions in general, not just those which are typically referred to as “sects.” In reality, mainstream religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. are merely sects which have succeeded in establishing themselves and enduring.
Transport Canada decision to allow blades on planes incurs wrath of Quebec politicians, Angelica Montgomery, CBC News, 2017-11-22.
In a nearly unanimous vote, Quebec’s lawmakers have passed a motion asking the federal government to review Transport Canada’s decision to allow finger-length blades onto most of the country’s airplanes.
The federal Transportation Department announced that, starting next Monday, knives with blades six centimetres in length or less will be allowed on Canadian flights, with the exception of those destined for the U.S.
The new directive bans “Knives with blades of more than 6cm.” This rule is apparently recommended by the European Union. Is this a reasonable rule? Or, on the other hand, in the Canadian context, is it a religious accommodation aimed at courting the votes of religious communities in general and practising Sikhs in particular?
Atheism is ‘unconstitutional’, says Malaysian deputy minister: Report, Channel NewsAsia, 2017-11-23.
KUALA LUMPUR: Atheism is “unconstitutional” and should not be allowed in Malaysia, said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki […] atheism “contradicts” both the Malaysian Federal Constitution and the Rukunegara (Malaysia’s National Principles). He cited the first principle in the Rukunegara, which is “Belief in God” and Article 11 in the Federal Constitution. “We need to understand, that in the Malaysian context, our Federal Constitution states that freedom of religion is not freedom from religion,” he said as quoted by the Star.
“The Government can draw up any legal provisions necessary to prevent such beliefs and doctrines, which is deemed to be a threat to the sanctity of Islam,” said Dr Asyraf, who is also deputy minister in charge of religious affairs. He added that atheism “goes against the laws of public order and morality”. “For instance, anyone who tries to spread ideologies and doctrines that promote atheism and similar beliefs, which tarnish the sanctity of other religions, can be charged under the Sedition Act,” he said.
Dr Asyraf is not the first politician to speak out against atheism in Malaysia. In August, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim said the government should track down atheists, sparking fear among some Malay atheists.
The deputy minister’s nonsensical declaration is an expression of classic atheophobia. Fortunately, not all Malaysians agree:
MP: Does freedom of speech also mean you must speak?, MalayMail Online, 2017-11-26.
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 ― A deputy minister’s claim that freedom of religion did not equate to freedom from religion was “utter rubbish”, said a federal legislator when noting that the same liberty to speech did not compel a citizen to exercise the right.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua also questioned how Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki arrived at his controversial conclusion that atheism was illegal in Malaysia, which the latter made this week in Parliament.
He also challenged the deputy minister’s view that atheism was the equivalent of propagating non-Islamic beliefs to Muslims, calling it illogical to compare an absence of faith to active proselytisation.
The Charlottesville Aftermath Showed What White Supremacists and Islamist Extremists Have in Common, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim & Muna Adil, Newsweek, 2017-08-26
(The authors are associated with Quilliam International.)
This grievance and victimhood narrative is one that is strikingly similar in both strands of violent extremists: While Islamist jihadists are supposedly avenging Western intervention in their home countries, white supremacists at the Charlottesville rally were seen giving delusional statements, such as the comments from 20-year-old student Peter Cvjetanovic: “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”
The same ideological techniques now being employed by white Christians to rally the extremist elements within their community have been used for years by Islamists who have effectively radicalized the adherents of Salafi Islam, an ultraconservative brand of Islam commonly linked to extremism.
Both groups are in search of identity, desire a return to the old way of doing things, and are driven by an irrational devotion to their respective causes. Further, both of these violent offshoots share an equally skewed vision of global politics, sharing delusional beliefs that their identity, culture, and faith is under constant attack from outside sources.
Islamophobia – What Is Really Wrong With It,
Accepting the notion of ‘Islamophobia’ means the end of legitimate criticism of Islam. We cannot allow de facto blasphemy to destroy our liberal values.
Benjamin David, Conatus News, 2017-08-26
An important opinion piece discussing the origins and meanings of (and the consequences of using) the highly tendentious term “Islamophobia.”
The problems associated with using the term Islamophobia are profound.[…]:
- As many would likely discern, to label someone as ‘Islamophobic’- that is, as somehow having a phobia about Islam and for Muslims, is clearly preposterous. Of course, medically, ‘phobia’ implies an acute mental illness of a kind that affects only a small number of people. […]
- Etymological points of contention aside, to label someone ‘Islamophobic’ essentially absolves oneself of the responsibility, both intellectually and with empathy, why someone thinks and acts as they do towards Islam and Muslims, and attempt to modify their perceptions and understandings through engagement and argument. It has the rather scowling repercussion of shutting down debate and failing to address – let alone redress – an interlocutor’s views towards Muslims and/or Islam.
- ‘Islamophobia’ suggests that hostility towards Muslims is no different than other forms of hostility such as racism and xenophobia. […] Islam, however, is not a race, ethnicity, or nationality; it is a set of ideas. Critiquing those ideas – such as some of the regnant positions held by the majority of scholars concerning women, LGBT people, apostates, etc., – should never be confused nor conflated with an animus towards a people.
- The term implies little difference between an animus for Muslim people within one country and an animus for groups (e.g. ISIS) and regimes elsewhere in the world […]
Many people who identify as Muslim are attacked, harassed and persecuted simply because of their religion. Not only that, given that the majority of Muslims happen to be Middle Eastern looking, many have been subjected to unpalatable degrees of racism. We must call these two things for what they are – anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. The continued acceptance of ‘Islamophobia’ as an inclusive, voguish neologism to capture both manifestations is having grave implications concerning a particular ideology – Islam. The notion of ‘Islamophobia’ is constructed out of a desire to perpetuate a siege mentality and sense of victimhood amongst Muslims, or to put an end to legitimate criticism, or to engage in lazy abuse. The important liberal principles of free speech and open enquiry are being threatened by a wily – and let’s face it, ingenious – new form of censorship. I say ‘censorship’ but many would be inclined to call it by another name: ‘blasphemy’. There are people in Muslim majority countries who face threats from Islamists for daring to leave the religion or thumping for reform. This doesn’t just happen there, of course, because we know only too well what happened to Theo van Gogh and Charlie Hebdo here in Europe. There are many apologists of Islam who, such as the post-Modernist Left, will excuse such atrocities for the most perverse of reasons – social equality. “Muslims and Islam are under attack” they will lament. The time is now for the Left to restitute its defining, quondam principles, lest blasphemy make a bloodcurdling return.
- “Islamophobia” – the blasphemy accusation of Western liberals, Kacem El Ghazzali, 2016-12-16
- The Phobia of Being Called Islamophobic, Ali A. Rizvi, Huffington Post, 2014-06-28
- Motion M-103, a Major Step Towards the Recriminalization of Blasphemy, David Rand, AFT Blog, 2017-03-03
- Treacherous Words, David Rand, AFT Blog, 2015-11-05
- “Islamophobia”, Jackson Doughart and Faisal Saeed al-Mutar, AFT Blog.