Channel 4′s decision to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer during the month of Ramadan as a “deliberate act of “provocation” aimed at viewers who associate Islam with terrorism and extremism” has met with a spectrum of reactions.
The decision to broadcast anything based on the need to “provoke” is risible and the motivations of Channel4 verge on sociopathic. But Terry Sanderson at the National Secular Society has a very bright piece which applauds Channel4 which is well worth reading. The NSS position clarifies the misconception that secularism is anti-religion and in fact religious freedoms will always flourish in a secular state and never in a theocratic state.
The hostility that is swirling round this decision to include Islam is understandable, given the events of the past few years. But there are millions of Muslims living quietly and productively in this country, who simply want to observe their religion in peace. They deserve to see their lives reflected on TV, just like everyone else’s.
This video is extremely distressing. If you bother to watch it you will see a Bangladeshi cab driver in Saudi Arabia being racially harassed and abused by a Saudi passenger.
“Saudi Arabia Is Your Owner You Dog!”
What would be the outcome of this kind of attack had it been perpetrated by a white non-Muslim Briton? It would be “Islamophobic” and rightly condemned. But when we see it perpetrated by Arabs on South Asian Muslims, it will be dismissed at best – or the victim will be considered to have “asked for it”.
Some good news from Bangladesh on the plight of the “Atheist Bloggers” who were associated with Shahbag movement and were subsequently detained without trial for allegedly “defaming Islam”.
Dhaka Senior Special Judge Mohammad Zahurul Haque granted bail to Shuvo and Rasel after taking into cognisance the charges against the three bloggers arrested.
The court’s Additional Public Prosecutor Tapash Paul told bdnews24.com that the other blogger – Mashiur Rahman Biplab – had submitted no bail petition. “That is why the court granted bail to the two.”
These bloggers were accused of ‘inciting religious passions’ through their postings on the Internet. These bloggers were arrested from Dhaka on Apr 1 following persistent demands by Hifazat-e Islam to punish ‘atheists’.
Shuvo, Biplab and Pervez were sent on remand under article 54 as suspects.
Those who call the EDL racist are dangerously missing the point
Confronted with something completely new, people translate it back into language they understand. Hence the sign Smash the racist EDL! Good sentiment but claptap. Racist movements do not, as a rule, have signs saying Black and White Unite! or insist on multi-racial recruitment, or pick fights with real racists and physically toss them out, all of which the EDL has done.
That doesn’t make it nice. ”They said I deserved to be raped in the head because of my last name”, said a young lady on the fringes of the protest. I believe her; Alexander Melagrou-Hitchens and Nick Cohen, two sources I trust, have reported similar things. Being non-racist or anti-racist doesn’t make the EDL innocuous but it can make it more dangerous. What we might be seeing in real time is the birth of a truly British form of fascism.
‘Islam or Atheism – Which is More Rational?’ was the title of a recent debate that took place at University College of London. It may as well have been titled ’7th century Arabian goat herder myths or a rational scientific approach – which makes more sense? In any case, the debate pitted well-known US atheist Prof. Lawrence Krauss against a little known UK-based Muslim called Hamza Tzortszis and was organised by a group calling itself IERA.
Upon digging a little deeper, I found that IERA, far from being moderate or even traditional Muslims, are actually a group of Islamist extremists with strong Wahabi influences that routinely intimidate and attack moderate Muslims whilst towing the Saudi-Wahabi line. Their speakers promote sexism, anti-semitism, wife-beating, apostate-killing and a whole range of other unsavoury things. It therefore, came as no surprise that the event was segregated, the so-called moderator was a member of IERA and the hand picked audience was 90% Muslim. The security guards were also IERA affiliated and did their level best to intimidate atheist guests.
In recent debates between Muslim preachers and atheist activists, the issue of absolute morality or moral absolutism has been frequently and enthusiastically raised. This seems to be the believers new trump card since no-one is buying the scientific miracles in the Qur’an humbug any more.
The argument goes along these lines. If one does not follow religion, how can one know right from wrong? What guides one’s morality or prevents one from killing, stealing or having sex with their mother? Surely morality without the divine, being subject to human whims, interests and desires, will fluctuate over time depending on social norms and trends? Thus, it is not really morality at all.
In contrast the morality provided to believers from God, as expressed in scripture, is absolute and eternal since it comes from the creator.
AS I GO TO SUPPORT BANGLADESHI ACTIVISTS WHO ARE DEMANDING THAT HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS STAND WITH THE VICTIMS OF 1971. MY LETTER TO A FORMER COLLEAGUE AT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
I write this with a heavy heart as I know that you are one of the few at Amnesty International, fully conscious of the dangers of fundamentalism and no friend of the pro-jihadi faction. I know you have done much to raise awareness of the human rights issues which are raised whenever fundamentalists press their agenda. You have fought against declaring Ahmaddiyas as ‘non-Muslim’ and explained to colleagues the importance of moving fast to prevent bad legislation being put in place. Complaining atrocities have happened is simply not good enough. They should be prevented in the first place.
The novelist Philip Hensher, writing in the Independent, frames the history of the birth of Bangladesh against the pain and fury of the hundreds of thousands of protesters of Shahbag Square, now demanding justice for the war criminals of Jamaat-e-Islam. Along the way he remarks on the genocide denial of Pakistan and the efforts a certain “historian” now based in Oxford. This is as comprehensive as it gets.
Since 5 February, Bangladesh has been transfixed by this ongoing, immense protest. Hundreds of thousands have occupied Shahbagh Square in protest at a verdict passed by the International Crimes Tribunal on war crimes committed during the genocide which preceded the founding of the country in 1971. One of those found guilty, Abdul Kalam Azad, was sentenced to death. Another, however, Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant secretary general of a Muslim party which collaborated with the genocidaires, the Jamaat–e-Islami, was given life imprisonment. The protests which followed, and are still continuing, are led by intelligent and liberal people; they are, however, calling with great urgency for the death penalty to be passed on Mollah and other convicted war criminals.