In the News: Launch of Atheist Magazine in Poland

Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation, Press Release 2017-08-10

Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation to Launch Przeglad Ateistyczny FKL (KLF Atheist Review)

Warsaw, Poland, August 10th, 2017 – The Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation announced today that the premier issue of the first ever atheist magazine in Poland has just been released and will be available under subscription.

The magazine will focus on philosophical, political and cultural topics related to atheism and freedom of conscience in Poland. Given the current climate of national-Catholic ideology imposed by the ruling right-wing party, there is a growing need for an atheistic point of view. The magazine will be released on a quarterly basis.

More information about the upcoming magazine can be found on the Foundation’s website: www.Lyszczynski.com.pl

Email: biuro@lyszczynski.com.pl

Telephone: +48 501518757

In the News: Interview with David Rand, Conatus News

Conatus News Interview with David Rand, President of Atheist Freethinkers, Scott Jacobsen, 2017-08-03

Some excerpts from the above interview:

Undoubtedly the greatest threat for atheists is politicised religion, when religion obtains political power. This is most obvious when that power is exercised by Islamists, who promote a medieval theocratic totalitarianism. However political Christianity remains very dangerous, for example in sub-Saharan Africa, the United States and Poland. The current pope is a silver-tongued obscurantist. […]

I must also point out that one of the greatest threats to secularism (and hence indirectly threatening atheists) in the current political climate is the so-called “regressive left” (I am not satisfied with that term, but have yet to find a better one) which is ferociously anti-secular – so much so that regressive “leftists” tend to demonise secularism by falsely associating it with racism and xenophobia. […]

On the educational front, I would say that our greatest strength is our criticism of communitarianism (a.k.a. multiculturalism) and its extremely deleterious effect on any movement towards secularisation. Being based in Montreal, we are acutely aware of this dynamic. The infamous “two solitudes” must be taken into account in order to understand the fight for secularism in Canada. […]

[…] we must organise and unite on issues we share with other atheists: that is, an uncompromising criticism of religion, recognising that supernatural religious beliefs are utter nonsense, unworthy of our respect. Just as believers have a right to practice their religion, we non-believers have every right to live without having others’ beliefs shoved down our throats. But we must also ally with others who may not identify as atheists in order to promote secularism, which means that believers too would be protected from the religious excesses of their co-religionists and of those who follow other religions.

[…] we must continue (and here is some good news) what atheists have already undertaken with enthusiasm: the analysis, criticism and deconstruction of religious beliefs, dogmas and practices in order to become stronger in our resistance to the ever-present and sometimes overwhelming religious propaganda that floods our society. But that criticism must not stop with Christianity. We must be just as critical of other religions such as Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, etc., which are minority religions in Canada.

The immediate future looks bleak. […] But in the longer term I am more optimistic. I think the current outbreak of religious fanaticism is part of the death throes of religion. The treachery of religious institutions and the utter vacuity of the extravagant nonsense they promote are becoming increasingly obvious to more and more people. […]

In the News: Ex-Muslims Meet in London

Largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, CEMB (Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain), 2017-07-25.

The International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression, the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, was held during 22-24 July 2017 in London. Over 70 notable speakers from 30 countries or the Diaspora gathered in what was dubbed “The Glastonbury of Freethinkers” and “a Conference of Heroes” to honour dissenters and defend apostasy, blasphemy, and secularism.

[…]

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

Some topics and highlights of the Conference:

  • Screening of Deeyah Khan’s film, “Islam’s Non Believers.”
  • So-called “Islamophobia” and its use by Islamists to impose de facto blasphemy laws.
  • Communalism’s threat to universal rights.
  • Resolution against the no-platforming of Richard Dawkins by KPFA radio station because of Dawkins’ alleged “hurtful” comments about Islam:
    • “Given that most of the speakers and delegates at our conference are Islam’s apostates, many from countries where the legal penalty for apostasy is death, we find it necessary to remind KPFA that criticism of Islam is no different from criticism of Christianity or Judaism. Also, criticism of Islamism is no different from criticism of the Christian-Right, Jewish-Right or Hindu-Right. Criticism of religious ideas as well as violent religious political movements isn’t bigotry but integral to free conscience and expression and vital for human progress.”
  • Resolution condemning Egyptian government for preventing Ismail Mohamed from speaking at the Conference.
  • Resolution calling on organizers of London LGBT Pride whether they side with Islamists who use accusations of “Islamophobia” to attempt to censor criticism and who support judicial murder of ex-Muslims and gay men, or with those who oppose Islamic homophobia and all laws criminalising homosexuality, apostasy and blasphemy.
  • Declaration of Freethinkers for freedom of conscience and secularism, against racism, xenophobia and far-right extremism (such as Islamism).

Finally, the International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression calls for:

  1. End the killing of apostates and blasphemers
  2. Release those on death row or in prison simply because they are atheists, freethinkers, apostates or blasphemers
  3. Repeal apostasy and blasphemy laws
  4. Clarify that freedom of conscience and freedom of belief guarantee the right to freedom of and from religion; and that religion is not an excuse for silencing dissent or threatening other rights and freedoms
  5. Protect the right of freedom of expression to ‘offend’, without which no human progress is possible
  6. A declaration of principles showing that the human right to freedom of conscience is explicitly embedded in human rights documents and is not limited by any right to religious belief.

See also:

In the News: Canada’s Blasphemy Law May Soon be History

Bill would reform Criminal Code provisions on rape shield, 3rd-party records, Cristin Schmitz, The Lawyer’s Daily, 2017-06-06

Excellent news: with Draft Bill C-51, Canada’s blasphemy law may soon be gone!

The proposed legislation would repeal several offences enacted decades ago, deemed obsolete and/or redundant, including:

  • Challenging someone to a duel (s. 71);
  • Advertising a reward for the return of stolen property with “no questions asked” (s. 143);
  • Possessing, printing, distributing or publishing crime comics (para. 163(1)(b));
  • Publishing blasphemous libel (s. 296);
  • Fraudulently pretending to practise witchcraft (s. 365); and,
  • Issuing trading stamps (s. 427).

Now we need is to repeal:

  1. Motion M-103, et
  2. the religious exception in the hate propaganda law.

See also:

In the News: A Month in Prison for Breaking Ramadan Fast in Tunisia

Un mois de prison après avoir mangé en public pendant le ramadan (A month of prison for eating in public during ramadan), AFP, Huffington Post Tunisie, 2017-06-01

Four Tunisians have been sentenced to a month in prison for eating in a public park during ramadan when, according to strict Muslim practice, they should be fasting. Although there is no Tunisian law which enforces the ramadan fast and the constitution is supposed to protect freedom of belief and freedom of conscience, nevertheless the Tunisian constitution also declares that the state is “guardian of religion.”

To impose ramadan is a violation of freedom of conscience.

In the News: Denmark Repeals Blasphemy Law

Blasphemy law in Denmark is no more!, IHEU, 2017-06-02

Today, the Danish parliament — the Folketing — has voted to abolish another European blasphemy law!

Following a controversial prosecution, a serious public and political debate, and now a decisive vote in parliament, Denmark becomes the fifth country in Europe to abolish “blasphemy” laws since 2015. Norway and Iceland abolished their laws in 2015, followed by Malta and France’s Alsace-Moselle region in 2016.

Finally! With the repeal of this Danish law, there is one less excuse for religious fanatics—such as those who govern Saudi Arabia and similar countries—to stifle and persecute the necessary criticism of religion.

Next step: Repeal the Canadian blasphemy law, article 296 of the Criminal Code!

See also:

In the News: Call for the defense of artistic freedom in Poland

In solidarity with our Polish friends, we reproduce here their urgent appeal.

Call for the defense of the Theatre “Powszechny” and of artistic freedom

We urge you to come to defend the Theatre “Powszechny” in Warsaw on Saturday, May 27, at 17:00. We have received information that the authorities encourage the use of violence by the members of the Radical-Nationalist Camp in order to disrupt the peaceful protest and to overcome the citizens’ resistance to the attacks on artistic freedom and on freedom of conscience.

Authors of a long campaign of hatred in the Catholic right-wing media and the perpetrators of the scandalous use of physical violence against the spectators of the performance of the play “Curse” in April have not been held accountable. Now, encouraged by their impunity, the nationalists plan a brutal attack on the artists and the siege of the theater.

It is our duty as citizens to defend fundamental democratic values.

No to the muzzling of artists artists!

No to the Catholic-National terror!

No to the killing of democracy!

We urge our fellow citizens to resist the growing wave of the Catholic-national oppression.

Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation, Poland

See also:

In the News: The Kazimierz Łyszczyński Foundation denounces the Polish Catholic Church and its Thugs

Declaration of the KLF in Defense of Freedom of Artistic Creation, Kazimierz Łyszczyński Foundation, 2017-04-26

The Kazimierz Łyszczyński Foundation protests the recent attack on freedom of speech, artistic expression and art in Poland for religious reasons.

After a long campaign of hatred unleashed in the Catholic right-wing media, the representatives of the “All-Polish Youth” (a nationalist organization) used physical violence against spectators of the play “Curse” by Oliver Frljic at the Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw. They tried to block by force the entrance to the theater and prevent the public from attending the performance. After “Golgotha Picnic” and “Death and the Maiden”, this is another example of the use of street violence in order to limit freedom of speech, expression and conscience. These unacceptable attacks on basic democratic values took place with the incitement and approval of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland and the consent of state authorities.

A model of national identity based on the collusion of Catholic fanaticism with exclusionary nationalism, imposed on Poles by the Church, destroys not only Polish democracy, but also threatens the aspirations of the Polish people to live in a free and modern country, a full member of the family of European nations.

Accusations of blasphemy directed publicly by the Polish episcopate at the creators and performers of the play “Curse” express the growing arrogance of Polish bishops. We remind them that “blasphemy” does not exist in the Polish legal system. It belongs to the infamous Canon law, under which the – most unholy – Inquisition cruelly tortured to death tens of thousands of people in Europe. This law is no longer valid or applied in democratic countries. Attempts to revive it and to bring back the stake in Poland must evoke the darkest chapter in the history of both humanity and the Church. By trying to restore the blasphemy law, the bishops and their political allies stand in solidarity with the Islamists and their barbaric treatment of “blasphemers” in the countries which they rule.

We strongly oppose this ideological terror in Poland and express our solidarity with its victims. We support the protest in defense of freedom of thought and expression, organized by Citizens Together in Action, which will be held at the entrance to the Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw, 20 Jan Zamoyski Street, on Sunday, April 30th, 2017 at 16:30 hrs.

We urge our fellow citizens to resist the growing wave of Catholic-national oppression.

In the News: A Universalist Secular Movement in Morocco

Un mouvement universaliste et laïque au Maroc (A universalist, secular movement in Morocco), Rose St-Pierre, L’AUT’JOURNAL, 2017-04-18

MALI poster about abortion
Click to view full size

A courageous young atheist woman Ibtissame Lachgar, is co-founder (along with Zineb El Rhazoui formerly of Charlie Hebdo) of MALI, a secular, universalist, feminist movement in Morocco. Recall that Morocco is a monarchy with a state religion, Islam. The king Mohamed VI is a religious commander, similar to a pope. Thus the country is constitutionally a theocracy and absolute monarchy based on the divine right of kings. Article 222 of the penal code makes it a crime, punishable by up to 6 months in prison, for any person known to be Muslim to break the Ramadan fast publicly.

MALI opposes religious privileges, religion-based laws, theocracy, misogyny, homophobia and all measures which threaten fundamental human rights.

Ibtissame Lachgar rejects cultural relativism and the notion of intersectionality. The rights of women are universal, with no regard for borders, religion or race. Cultural relativism leads to social and legal conformism. There is no such thing as Muslim human rights or Islamic feminism! To “halalize” the rights of women is to go against those rights. To subjugate human rights to religion also excludes the rights of sexual minorities.

See also:

(Correction, 2017-04-26: Article 222 is in the Moroccan penal code, not the constitution as the above summary originally indicated.)

In the News: Laval University Pushes Religious Propaganda

Contre le prosélytisme religieux à l’Université Laval (Against Religious Proselytism at Laval University), Claude Simard, Le Devoir, 2017-04-22

Laval University

The Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences of Laval University in Quebec City has announced the establishment of a new professorship in the teaching of protestant evangelical “missiology” (missionary activity), using a donation of $420,000 from Evangelical doners in Canada and the United-States. Claude Simard, a retired Laval U. education professor, denounces this religious interference in the operations of a public institution of learning whose proper mission is to promote objective non-partisan education. Instead, this new post will promote ways to be a more effective propagandist for Evangelical Christianity.

Recall that Protestant Evangelical Christianity is a religious denomination which is currently growing and increasing in influence in the world. It is second only to Islam in that regard. By establishing this position, Laval University is abandoning the values of the Enlightenment and returning to the Middle Ages when universities put as much effort into promoting belief as they did knowledge.

Given that “interfaith dialogue” and “diversity” are so fashionable these days, how long will it be before a similar professorate in Islamic “missiology” is established? There is certainly no lack of funds to do so: Saudi Arabia would surely be very happy to provide generous financing, as it does to many mosques throughout the world, as long as the version of Islam taught there is sufficiently Wahhabist.

This is an unacceptable exploitation of an institution of higher learning for the purposes of religious proselytism. It is further evidence, if any were needed, that faculties of canonical theology are anachronisms and have no place in public universities. Theology is a pseudo-science, an empty shell, the study of nothing based on nothing.

See also:

In the News: EU Court: Employers May Ban Religious Symbols

Top EU court rules employers have right to ban religious symbols, France24, 2017-03-14

Private employers may bar staff from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions, the European Union’s top court ruled on Tuesday.

In its first ruling on what has become a major political issue across Europe, the Court of Justice (ECJ) found that a Belgian firm which had a rule barring employees who dealt with customers from wearing visible religious and political symbols in order to project a public image of neutrality may not be guilty of discrimination, if it met certain other conditions. […]

[…] the rule could […] be justified if it was “genuinely pursued in a consistent and systematic manner” with a “legitimate aim”, such as projecting an “image of neutrality” as part of the company’s freedom to conduct business. […]

A reasoned and nuanced decision.

See also:

In the News: Play “Djihad” Censored in Quebec City

Lever la censure sur la pièce «Djihad» (Lift the censorship of the play “Djihad”), Djemila Benhabib, Le Devoir, 2017-03-13

The Belgian play “Djihad” by Ismaël Saïdi, which deals with the issue of Islamist radicalization among youth in Brussels, has been censored in Quebec City. It was to be presented in schools this fall, but the city has nixed that because the play concentrates on radicalization among Muslims. As Djemila Benhabib comments, must the play also deal with radicalization among Buddhists and whale-lovers in order to be fair?

This is another case of censorship similar to the cancellation of an event at the Maison de la littérature in the same city. (See Blog 081: The Repression Mounts, point (4), concerning this issue.)

In the News: Montreal Police Investigating Imams

Montreal police investigating imams for controversial comments, Shuyee Lee, iHeart Radio, 2017-03-10

Montreal police are investigating controversial comments made by Montreal imams at a mosque in St. Laurent captured in YouTube videos.

The 2014 videos were posted by a member of the Al-Andalous Islamic Center which was made aware of them only recently and they have since been taken down.

In one, an imam calls on Allah “to destroy the accursed Jews”, “to kill them one by one” and “to make their children orphans and their women widows.”

The centre has since put out a statement calilng it a “clumsy and unacceptable” phrasing used by a substitute imam, Sayyed Al-Ghitaoui.[…]

But the centre has not addressed another video by its regular imam, Wael Al-Ghitaoui saying Jews were punished by Allah for the Middle East conflict.

[…]

See also:

In the News: Georges Bensoussan Acquitted

French Jewish Historian Cleared Of Anti-Muslim Hate Speech, Cnaan Liphshiz, Forward, 2017-03-08.

A French court acquitted the Jewish historian Georges Bensoussan of hate speech charges over his assertion that Arabs receive anti-Semitism with their “mother’s milk.” […]

Bensoussan, a scholar on the Holocaust and one of the world’s leading historians on Jewish communities in Arab territories, was put on trial in December after a Muslim lobby group and a French human rights organization that was founded by Jews in the 1920s initiated a criminal lawsuit against him for the statement he made during an interview for a radio station in 2012.

The reference to mother’s milk was in a paraphrased quote that Bensoussan attributed to Smain Laacher, a non-Jewish French filmmaker whose family originates from North Africa. In reality, Laacher had said in an interview that for many Arab families, anti-Semitism is in “the air that one breathes.” […]

A victory for freedom of expression and a defeat for Islamists who attempt to censor their critics with specious accusations of “Islamophobia.” Unfortunately, the decision is subject to appeal.

In the News: Quebec City Hospital Restores Crucifix

After outcry, Quebec hospital restores crucifix taken down in interest of ‘religious neutrality’, Graeme Hamilton, National Post, 2017-03-01

After a patient complained last month about the presence of a large crucifix on the wall of the publicly funded Saint-Sacrament Hospital in Quebec City, management determined that in the interest of the “religious neutrality of the state,” it should come down.

[…]

After being confronted with a violent threat, a scolding from government ministers and a petition signed by more than 13,000 people, the hospital announced Wednesday that it was restoring the crucifix to its place inside the main entrance.

[…]

An online petition said taking down the crucifix showed a lack of respect to the nuns who helped build Quebec. […]
Bernard Drainville […] urged listeners of his Quebec City radio show to sign the petition.

This decision is anti-secular and a victory for fundamentalists. Worst of all is the fact that Bernard Drainville supported the return of the crucifix to its place in the hospital. In 2013-2014, Drainville piloted the Charter of Secularism proposed by the PQ government of which he was a cabinet minister. In January of 2015, as a candidate for the leadership of that party, he proposed a new Charter which was a very diluted version of the original. And now, he has apparently abandoned secularism completely.

Secularism means removing symbols of ALL religions from public institutions, including the religion of the Catholic majority, not just symbols of minority religions.

Did you know? Halal is the Offspring of Neoliberalism and Fundamentalism

Did you know that, according to anthropologist Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, the halal market is a recent invention, born as an industry, offspring of neoliberalism and fundamentalism?

Reference: Florence Bergeaud-Blackler : « Le halal est né industriel, fruit du néolibéralisme et du fondamentalisme » (Halal was born Industrial, a Product of Neoliberalism and Fundamentalism), by Sonya Faure & Maryam El Hamouchi, 2017-01-05.

Halal means “permitted” in Arabic. As a theological term it signifies that which a Muslim is allowed to do. But the market has transformed it so that it is now a prescription, that which must be done to be a “good” Muslim.

According to Bergeaud-Blackler, the halal market did not exist as a custom in Muslim countries until industrialists exported it there. The halal market was born in the 1970s and 1980s, as two ideologies triumphed on the international stage: fundamentalist Islam (for example, the declaration of the Islamic Republic or Iran in 1979) and the neoliberalism of Thatcher and Reagan.

Previously, Muslim food habits were limited mainly to the taboo on eating pork. Ritual slaughter was practiced mainly at ceremonies. Islamic butcher shops are a recent phenomenon, a product of the Islamization wave in the 1980s. Halal becomes a strategy of fundamentalists to isolate Muslims in closed communities.

As for the kosher market, Bergeaud-Blackler considers it very different from the halal market. The former has existed for centuries, long before industrialization, and the merchant and religious aspects are more separate than is the case with halal.


Did you know? Billions of Dollars of Canadian Public Funds Go to Religious Organizations?

Did you know that, according to research by Luc Grenon of the Faculty of Law of the Université de Sherbrooke, religious organizations enjoy considerable unjustified fiscal privileges which are not justified by tangible benefits to society?

Some of Professor Grenon’s findings:

  • Of the four categories of charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency, religious organizations receive the greatest benefit, according to data collected between 1997 and 2010.
  • In 2010, religious organizations received about 40% of charitable donations, resulting in a loss of revenu by the federal state of about 1.08 billion dollars. This does not take into account other tax breaks, such as income and property tax exemptions and partial refund of sales taxes.
  • About half (521 out of 1039) of religious organizations state that they invest 100% of their time and resources in religious activities.
  • Non-religious activities, i.e. those which may be of tangible benefit to society, count for only about 15%.

Reference: Des milliards en fonds publics aux organisations religieuses : charité bien ordonnée? (Billions in Public Funds to Religious Organizations: Is This Money Well Spent?), Robin RENAUD, 2013-10-21.

Significant tax benefits are granted to religious organizations, regardless of confession. Since these benefits are borne by all taxpayers, the social impact of this state funding must be considered, especially when state neutrality in religious matters seems to be a consensus in Canada. Through an analysis of the information returns filed by religious organizations, the writer discusses whether the public funds received can be justified or explained by the services and tangible benefits they provide to society. The writer concludes that the answer should be no.

Analyse des bénéfices publics tangibles offerts par les organisations religieuses (Analysis of Tangible Public Benefits Offered by Religious Organizations), Luc GRENON


In the News: US Law Protects Nonbelievers

H.R.1150 – Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, Congress of the USA, 2016-12-16

(Sec. 2) This bill amends the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) to state in the congressional findings that the freedom of thought and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion.

The law was passed by the House of Representatives of the US Congress on December 15th and signed by President Obama on December 16th.

In the News: Victory for Djemila!

The Quebec Superior Court rejects the suit against Djemila Benhabib.

École musulmane de Montréal c. Benhabib, Carole HALLÉE, J.C.S., Decision of the Quebec Superior Court, 2016-12-13

Judge Carole Hallée concluded that EMM failed to show that prejudice or damage had occurred, or to establish any causal link.

Djemila’s victory is also our victory, a victory for all who oppose obscurantism.

See also:

In the News: The Quebec Council on the Status of Women Proposes Revision of the ERC Program

L’école participe à l’inégalité des sexes, selon le Conseil du statut de la femme (Schools Contribute to Gender Inequality, says the Council on the Status of Women), Patricia Cloutier, Le Soleil, 2016-12-07

The Quebec Council on the Status of Women recommends a complete revision of the Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) program which started in 2008 and replaced the previous religious program. According to the CSW, the ERC program presents sexist religious ideas as valid ethical positions, on an equal footing with other modes of thought. The CSW recommends removing the religious culture part of the program and putting it into history courses.

This suggestion is in line with a recent petition signed by more than 5000 persons and presented Tuesday to the National Assembly in Quebec City by the PQ leader Jean-François Lisée, asking that the religious culture part be withdrawn from ERC because it promotes religion and is incompatible with secular schools.

See also:

In the News: The Netherlands Bans the Full Veil

France, Belgique, Bulgarie et maintenant Pays-Bas… ces pays d’Europe qui ont interdit le voile intégral, ceux qui s’y refusent (France, Belgium, Bulgaria and now the Netherlands… European countries which have banned the full veil, and those that have not), Simon HENRY, LCI.fr, 2016-11-30

VEIL – On Tuesday, members of the Netherlands parliament adopted draft legislation banning the full Islamic veil in public places. After France, Belgium and Bulgaria, this is the fourth European country to take such a measure. Other countries are considering such a ban, while some reject the idea.

In the News: Researchers Critize SHERPA Study

Le rôle de la religion dans la radicalisation menant à la violence (The Role of Religion in Radicalization Leading to Violence),
Marie Lamensch et al., Huffington Post Québec, 2016-11-23

The authors of the above article (Marie Lamensch of the The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies or MIGS at Concordia University, in collaboration with several colleagues) criticize the SHERPA study published in late October. The study’s purpose was to determine the profile of young Quebeckers who hold ideas associated with radicalization leading to violence. The study has, in the authors’ opinion, a major flaw in that it minimizes the role played by religion in the radicalization process. For example, the study tries to establish a link between young people with no religious affiliation and support for radicalization leading to violence, thus giving the impression that atheists and/or agnostics are more enclined to adopt radical ideas than believers. It is erroneous to claim that religious conviction protect an individual from radicalization. Such a generalization does not correspond to reality.

The SHERPA group did no interviews with radicalized individuals and that is its principal failing. […]

Given that studies of this sort are often reported by the media, the conclusions which it draws may shape public opinion regarding the causes of radicalization leading to violence. Given the current state of research on violent extremism, the conclusions put forward by this study appear to us to be at best erroneous.

The current reality is, on a planetary scale, an increase in radicalization and violent extremism. To claim that religion has absolutely nothing to do with this phenomenon is frankly dishonest.

See also:

In the News: The Trial of Djemila Benhabib opens Monday September 26th 2016 in Montreal

In an interview published in a Belgian magazine, on the eve of the opening of her court case for defamation, the writer and secular activist warns us of the dangers posed by political Islam.

Djemila Benhabib : « Nous faisons face au projet envahissant de l’islam politique » (“We face the invasive plans of political Islam”), Serge Vandaele, lecho.be, 2016-09-17

Djemila Benhabib […] grew up in Algeria which she was forced to flee in 1994 when her family was condemned to death by the Front islamique du djihad armé (FIDA or Islamic Front for Armed Jihad)

The Trial

“[…] I am being sued for defamation by an Islamist school with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Burkini

“[…] When I see burkinis on the beaches of Nice, that bereaved and wounded city, I see a complete lack of decency. […] I deplore such insensitivity to the current situation, not to mention all the retrograde ideas which the burkini implies about women. I viscerally reject that outfit because is an insult to me and to all women.”

Islamic Terrorism

“Islamic terrorism did not start in Europe. It was born in North Africa and the Middle East. The Islamic Revolution began first of all in Iran. It took on new dimensions in Europe by exploiting the issue of immigration. It tries to paint the French, Belgians as guilty … even Quebeckers who have no colonial history are singled out as being racist. Always the same arguments are trotted out, regardless of the historical past of the particular country! What is going on here? We are being targeted by the same strategy, the same rhetoric which can be summed up by two infernal points: present Muslims as victims and blame the host country, no matter which one. We must break out of this pattern because if there is one thing we share, it is our responsibility to do so.”

Left-wing Parties and Communautarianism

“[…] The cozy relationship between part of the left and political Islam has its origins in the Iranian revolution which would not have achieved the success it did without the participation of the Iranian left first of all, but also and especially the help of the French left […] the first one to mention the concept ‘political spirituality’ was Michel Foucault. He and others, such as Sartre, gave their stamp of approval to that revolution. This was the beginning of our problems. […] To criticize Islam means running the risk of being accused of Islamophobia… This is complete intellectual chaos. In my opinion there is a principle, an achievement of the Enlightenment, which is that religions can be criticized and that principle applies to all religions. […] What Islamists are trying to do today is precisely this: to cut us off from that humanity, to imprison us behind the double barrier of ethnicity and religion […] We must re-learn to defend our values without shame; but Westerners are having a great deal of difficulty doing that. Just as our adversaries are unabashed, we are hesitant, […]”

States which Support Political Islam

“[…] Without the alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United States since 1945, an exchange of petroleum for security, the configuration of our world would be much different. Because international relations have been built on the basis of that fundamental contradiction, that is, the fact that one of the world’s most powerful democracies is allied with a divine-right theocracy. The situation is absurd, but that is reality. […]”

Translation: D.R.

See also:

In the News: RCMP Approves Uniform with Hijab

RCMP Approves Hijab As Part Of Mounties’ Uniform, Mohamed Omar, Huffington Post Canada, 2016-08-24

Sixteen years after the RCMP let Sikh officers wear a turban, it’s now allowing Muslim Mounties to wear a hijab as part of their uniform. Global News reports RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson “recently approved” adding the religious headscarf to the uniform.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, told AFP the move is aimed at encouraging more Muslim women to join the RCMP’s ranks, as well as to “better reflect” the diversity in Canadian communities.

[…]

Two other police forces in Canada have also approved the hijab as part of uniform attire. Edmonton OK’d the covering for its officers in 2013, while Toronto approved it in 2011.

Very sad news for Canada, another stop towards normalizing religious fundamentalism in public spaces. The RCMP claims that approving a uniform with hijab will help to integrate Muslim women. No, on the contrary, it will simply increase the presence and influence of fundamentalists who refuse to adapt to modernity.

In the News: In Morocco, Burkini Ban at the Pool, No Problem

Piscine et burkini au Maroc (Swimming pool and burkini in Morocco), Marc First, Dernières Nouvelles Alsace, 2016-08-27

Entrance to swimming pool in Morocco
Click to view full size
Entrance to swimming pool in Morocco

The ban which causes such contention in France seems to be accepted in Morocco without a problem. Nevertheless, we are dealing here with a swimming pool, whereas in France the controversial bans apply to beaches.