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

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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,, 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.

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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,, 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.

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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.

In the News: Defend Salman Rushdie Against Iranian Fatwa and Bounty

In Defence of Salman Rushdie, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), 2016-02-25

We […] are outraged to learn that forty state-run media outlets in Iran have raised $600,000 (£420,000) to add as bounty to Ayatollah Khomeini’s death fatwa on the writer Salman Rushdie, because of his novel The Satanic Verses.

We condemn the Iranian regime, its fatwa and the added bounty. We stand with Salman Rushdie and the many Iranian freethinkers and writers languishing in prison, or facing the death penalty, for exercising their right to free expression and thought.

The Iranian regime must face global condemnation for its incitement to murder.

Moreover, democratic and secular governments should unequivocally condemn the regime’s fatwa and bounty, demand their immediate cancellation, prioritise human rights and free expression and side with freethinkers rather than appeasing a theocratic regime.

To sign the petition:

In the News: U.S. House Resolution 569 Condemns Anti-Muslim Bigotry

A resolution recently introduced into the United States House of Representatives condemns “violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims.”

H.Res.569 – Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States., 114th Congress, 1st Session, 2015-12-17


Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States.

Whereas the victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes and rhetoric have faced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse because they were Muslim or believed to be Muslim;


Whereas hateful and intolerant acts against Muslims are contrary to the United States values of acceptance, welcoming, and fellowship with those of all faiths, beliefs, and cultures;

Whereas these acts affect not only the individual victims but also their families, communities, and the entire group whose faith or beliefs were the motivation for the act;

Whereas Muslim women who wear hijabs, headscarves, or other religious articles of clothing have been disproportionately targeted because of their religious clothing, articles, or observances; and

Whereas the rise of hateful and anti-Muslim speech, violence, and cultural ignorance plays into the false narrative spread by terrorist groups of Western hatred of Islam, and can encourage certain individuals to react in extreme and violent ways: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—


(3) denounces in the strongest terms the increase of hate speech, intimidation, violence, vandalism, arson, and other hate crimes targeted against mosques, Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim;


Although acts of violence against anyone, including Muslims, must be condemned, what we see here is a disturbing trend—a sort of creeping multiculturalism—where Muslims are singled out and identified more with their religious community than with their role as citizens. Although this resolutions fortunately does not mention the buzz-word “Islamophobia” and speaks more correctly of anti-Muslim prejudice, it nevertheless bears a disturbing resemblance to Quebec’s Draft Bill 59 which the Couillard government plans to adopt, a bill which pleases only Islamist fundamentalists and is opposed by all others as a threat to freedom of expression and the right to criticize religion in general and Islam in particular.

The representatives responsible for this resolution need to answer a few obvious questions:

  • Why should Muslims be singled out for special protection? What about discrimination against other religious believers? What about the very real prejudice against atheists, especially in the United States?
  • Why does the resolution condemn violence against Muslims or those perceived as Muslims, but fail to denounce violence against non-Muslims perpetrated by Islamist jihadists? Not only is the latter just as serious as the former, but indeed it is the main cause of anti-Muslim prejudice!
  • Why does the resolution endorse “religious articles of clothing” such as hijabs and headscarves, when these articles are indeed potent symbols of the very Islamism which is the root cause of the problem? Would it not make more sense to discourage or prohibit such symbols in the country’s public services in order to indicate to the population that the authorities take the problem seriously?

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In the News: End of Blasphemy Ban in Alsace-Moselle

The French Ministry of Justice has just ruled that the ban on blasphemy in the eastern region of Alsace-Moselle—which includes the three departements of Moselle, Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin—is no longer in effect. Although the blasphemy ban was repealed in France in 1881, it persisted in this region which was still part of Germany at the time. The ban was codified in paragraph 166 of the German penal code and was integrated into local legislation in 1919 when Alsace-Moselle became part of France after World War I. The Justice Ministry has now ruled that the ban must be considered implicitly repealed because it is incompatible with fundamental principles of French justice.

With this ruling, henceforth the crime of blasphemy exists nowhere in France.


In the News: Charlie Hebdo Marks Anniversary of Attack

Charlie Hebdo anniversary edition cover released: ‘the assassin is still out there’, The Guardian, 2016-01-04

French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo will mark a year since an attack on its offices with a cover featuring a bearded man representing God with a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, accompanied by the text: “One year on: the assassin is still out there.”


It will mark a year since brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi burst into Charlie Hebdo’s offices in eastern Paris and killed 12 people, including eight of the magazine’s staff.


Cartoonist Laurent Sourisseau, who took over the management of the weekly after the attack, also wrote an angry editorial in defence of secularism. It denounces “fanatics brutalised by the Koran” as well as those from other religions who hoped for the death of the magazine for “daring to laugh at the religious”. Sourisseau, known by the nickname Riss, narrowly escaped death and was seriously wounded in the attack a year ago.

Charlie Hebdo, cover of #1224
Click to view full size

To mark the first anniversary of the January 7th 2015 attack—during which two Islamist commandos killed twelve, including eight of the magazine’s staff—Charlie Hebdo publishes a special edition this January 6th 2016 with the cover on the left.

The cover’s image may offend some, but it is very relevant. Indeed, it is the belief in the “God” of monotheism—a god who orders the faithful to commit acts of murderous violence in his name—which is the essential cause of the folly that is jihadism.

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In the News: Anti-Radicalization Centre Dismisses Researcher

The Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence (Centre de prévention de la radicalisation menant à la violence or CPRMV) has dismissed one of its researchers because of the tendentious nature of an article he coauthored in a Toronto newspaper. The CPRMV was set up by the city of Montreal. The article Quebec needs to confront its Islamophobia problem in the Toronto Star was coauthored by Hicham Tiflati. Mr. Tiflati was dismissed from the CPRMV because the article was considered to be an exaggeration, falsely implying that racism is more prevalent in Quebec than elsewhere.

The dismissal of Tiflati is good news because he apparently has Islamist sympathies. He works for a school which has links to the Muslim Brotherhood and is financed in part by an Islamist government. Furthermore, his dubious comments about the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January 2015 imply a certain sympathy for the perpetrators of that terrorist attack.

Furthermore, the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (Alliance for Secularism) had written a letter to Montreal mayor Denis Coderre only weeks before, expressing concerns about the fact that individuals with Islamist tendencies were working in a centre whose mandate is to prevent radicalization.

See also: Texte controversé sur le Québec: un centre antiradicalisation se distancie d’un chercheur (Controversial article about Quebec: an anti-radicalization centre dismisses a researcher), Gabrielle Duchaine et Vincent Larouche, La Presse, 2015-12-19

In the News: New Zealand Approves Pastafarian Marriage

New Zealand: Pastafarian marriage ceremonies approved, BBC News, 2015-12-16

Members of the church call themselves Pastafarians and believe that the world was created by an airborne spaghetti and meatballs-based being, although its own website notes that some followers consider it to be a satirical organisation.

The official notice was published online in New Zealand’s government gazette. Registrar-general Jeff Montgomery says his decision was based purely on whether the organisation upholds or promotes religious beliefs, or philosophical or humanitarian convictions. “No judgement is made on the validity of those beliefs or convictions,” he tells website.


While the church has an international following, which it says is in the “millions, if not thousands”, its members have faced legal hurdles in the past. In 2011, an Austrian man was given permission to use a driving licence photo showing him wearing a colander as “religious headgear”, but a similar application in Germany – this time involving a pirate bandana, failed last month.

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