Friday, 30 January 2015

Saudis Need to Release Badawi Now. Otherwise, It Will Only Get Worse For Them.

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.
According to the BBC, Raif Badawi was not to have received his 50 lashes today. This is good news indeed, but there is also something very ominous about this. No official reason was given, but it's now very clear to everyone that another lashing could very well kill him.

Meanwhile, Ensaf Haidar, Raif's wife, is urgently calling on Ottawa to do more on behalf of her husband. She was in Ottawa, yesterday.
At 4 a.m. on Fridays, when the streets outside Ensaf Haidar’s apartment in Sherbrooke are dark and silent, she sits alone agonizing about what may be taking place in a public square nearly 10,000 kilometres away.

At that moment, her husband, Raif Badawi, could be standing shackled outside a mosque in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. An officer of the Saudi government may be raising a cane and, for the first of 50 times in a five-minute span, bringing it down forcefully across the back and legs of his slightly built prisoner.
What articles often neglect to report is that Raif is diabetic and there is no news I have found saying the Saudis are treating this. Wounds often take long to head and infection is a real problem with diabetics. It doesn't look good for Raif.

World leaders, for the most part, are useless -- bought and paid for by oil or they seem convinced that Saudi Arabia must be placated for their stabilizing influence on the Gulf Region. If Raif is ever to get out of prison, it will be the people across the world protesting.

You can follow a lot of this on Ensaf's Facebook page.

DW reports today on the encouraging groundswell of social media support for Raif. This isn't just people sitting on their butts clicking to sign petitions (or blogging) -- people are getting out and protesting in front of Saudi embassies.
I know this sounds morbid, but I think this is the truth: The Saudi authorities are likely becoming aware that they may be holding an activist who could attain martyr level in the name of secularism and against their brutal regime. As the days go by, I don't think it's unreasonable to begin comparing him to other brave prisoners of conscience whose unjust persecution galvanized enough international outrage and fury to spark entire movements. Raif may or may not wish this, but he's now on this road and there is no deviation now.

People do seem to be waking up. Western leaders can only do so much PR damage control for the Kingdom for so long.

The Saudis would be best advised to let Raif go now. It will only get worse for them down the road.

Screw the Law! Dominant Christian Majority Has 'Tradition!'

One of the women who brought forward the petition is Susanne Guenther, a member of the Salvation Army.
It's the stuff of an inspirational movie -- about the persecuted and downtrodden minorities in our society, who band together and stand up against the System, against The Man. Thus, with clenched fists raised and arms joined in solidarity -- defending their god who is apparently tied up with something else at the moment -- they scream out: You cannot keep us down! You can take away our lives but you cannaugh' take away our freedom!

Except that it isn't this really. It's two women and a crowd of 100 or so like-minded defenders of tradition. These are warriors for the way it's been for the past 100 years -- imported European Christian tradition -- what the majority still wants, soldiers fighting for the oppressed status quo.

They got together after getting upset. The privileged position of their completely dominant religion, Christianity, was finally ever so slightly but still not at all put in check at Brampton City council meetings for legal reasons. The newly elected mayor, after consultation with her council members and their lawyer, decided to drop one very specific magical incantation -- Lord's Prayer -- and replace it with a non-denominational spell.

Now to introductions.  First we have high school teacher Greta Archer.  She got mad and, among other things, said this directly to the new mayor at city council:
Because, I believe it should be maintained as a part of our Canadian Christian heritage and everything addresses... we think it's separate but really it's not...  state and religion... history tells us they are connected, whether we like it or not. Seeking direction is very very vitally important.. and maintaining what Canada, why I came to Canada: freedom, yes, but for the Christian heritage that I can pass on to my children and they to their children.
Freedom? Yeah sure, but for the Christian heritage. You know, 'tradition.' Anyone else better stand aside, because Canada is a Christian country, get into the slow lane and stay there, please.

At some point, Greta met Susanne Guenther, whom I've written about before as well. Susanne is a member of the definitely not LGBT-friendly Salvation Army. She started a petition just a month before Greta made her television appearance with the mayor.
To begin Council meetings with the Lord's Prayer is to acknowledge there is a higher power, and to petition a blessing for all the people of Brampton.  There are no exclusive terms within the prayer. It asks for provision and protection for all people. There can be no wording more inclusive than those already spoken. Canada is a Nation that has grown and prospered because of it's (sic) foundation of Biblical Principals (sic) that are for every people in this world. To remove a foundation is detrimental to a firm structure. 
Don't they both resemble each other? More Christian Dominionism, I say. As an exercise, replace Biblical principles with the laws of another religion and then think about both statements as really forming the basis of a country's legal and political system. I'll let you use your imagination. See what springs to mind.

Wednesday, Greta joined Susanne to present petitions garnering some 5,000 signatures at City Hall. These people are demanding that the City of Brampton shove their state-endorsement of Christianity down the throats of religious and non-religious minorities. Christians have been persecuted for too long here! -- a few months.
“We have come today to tell you that we find your abrupt, undemocratic removal of the Lord’s Prayer from council meetings disappointing and shocking,” said Brampton resident Greta Archer, speaking on behalf of dozens of residents who crammed into council chambers to petition against the move.

They want council to reinstate the tradition and presented a box full of petitions with about 5,000 signatures.
What Greta and the article seemed to be missing is that her 5,000 signatures, less than 1% of the city's population, doesn't count a single lick. The courts have settled this and the city's legal counsel knows it. This is a question of human rights -- the right of any Muslims, Jews, Jains, Raëlians, Wiccans or atheists in the room not to be completely alienated and intimidated by the state's obvious endorsement of a single religion.
“You have ripped a 130-year-old tradition right out from under us. “There is nothing in this prayer that should offend anyone.”
I hate these statements because they seem so disingenuous to me. If this prayer is so utterly meaningless and watered down, then let's chuck it. Obviously it holds very great meaning to a certain privileged majority religious group within Brampton who might feel threatened by moves to more inclusion and diversity. Privilege is often unfelt and hidden until it is exposed and removed. This is more than just a tradition this is an expression of dominance and one religion's stamp of ownership on a city, a country. Let's be real, both sides know this.

There is nothing in a Secular Humanist or even Pagan invocation that should offend anyone -- let's bring those out and have them before the council meetings. In fact, I suggest we start a petition to have Jedi and Flying Spaghetti Monster invocations complete with light sabers and spaghetti strainer hats. Can someone in Brampton start a petition for this? I'm reasonably certain that if word got out, more than 5,000 people would sign up.

'I' personally don't see anything that ought to offend Greta about this and 'I' question 'her' right to be offended. Why should she decide what offends her, right? If heads are to bow to His Noodliness, I expect Greta to honour the proper decorum and solemn tradition lest they cause blasphemous offence.

Anyway, the city has voted to send this question back to committee for discussion. This almost certainly means they'll cave if people don't start come out in favour of secularism or else threaten legal action somehow.

The Toronto Sun 'boils' the situation down to 10 comments, most of which are favourable to secularism and separation of church and state.
God has no place in politics anyways. They removed the Lord’s Prayer from public schools a long time ago, so why would it still be in government buildings? Perhaps the councillors should be reminded they are there to represent the public, and just worry about doing their job. – brob
Oh, but I'm certain there are plenty of people who would love to see the Lord's Prayer in every school, government building, courthouse. This is a sliding scale, of course with a sort of theocratic state on one end.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

First Iran, Now Indonesia: Rocked by 'SelfieGate'!

SINFUL selfie taken with a message to the cleric reading something like (Google Translate):  'So I take another selfie on a matorcyle. I go to Hell now?(source)
In an apparent attempt at one-upmanship with Iranian authorities being ticked off with their football team appearing in selfies with pretty young Australian Iranian expat fans, Indonesian author and cleric Felix Siauw went and called selfies a sin.
A young Indonesian young cleric is taking a stand against selfies. In a 17- point manifesto posted on Twitter last week, popular Indonesian author and speaker Felix Siauw argued that taking a selfie often means succumbing to pride, arrogance, and ostentation—all of which make them a sin under Islam, according to Siauw.
Although utterly absurd, this is insightful on some level. I mean, my selfies are brilliant yet other people's selfies are always lame and over indulgent. Isn't it odd how that works?

Felix, who has over 2.7 million followers on his Twitter page, his own webpage, his own Youtube channel and several books published to his name, must -- sadly -- live in the limelight. However, women don't have this problem and he's taking a stand to preserve their purity from nasty bad bad bad pride in themselves. Pride IN THEMSELVES! What is this world coming to?

Here's are some highlights from his tweetise as per Coconuts Jakarta.
If we take a selfie, sift through and choose our best pose, and then we’re awed and impressed by our selves – worryingly, that’s called PRIDE

If we take a selfie and upload it on social media, desperately hoping for view, likes, comments or whatever – we’ve fallen into the OSTENTATIOUS trap

If we take a selfie and we feel cooler and better than others – we’ve fallen into the worst sin of all, ARROGANCE

These days many Muslim women take selfies without shame. There are usually nine frames in one photo with facial poses that are just – My Goodness – where’s the purity in women?
What's with all these shameful women feeling good about themselves and posting pictures online without shame?

Well, his comments have sparked a huge backlash within Indonesia, land of the selfies, and people are breaking out their selfie sticks and sending him glorious selfies in retaliation.
Go check these out here, here and here.

Look, these people are having FUN and they're HAPPY! What's the deal with these clerics always trying to outlaw happy, anyway? It's like they want a monopoly on it for their imaginary god.

Some Region of Peel Residents Totally OFFENDED By Totally Inoffensive Thing!

I was in the midst of writing a story about Brampton when this story came across my radar and I had to STOP the presses! It seems like a pamphlet sporting the UNHOLY ATHEIST-LIBERAL trio of offensive things was distributed to the decent God-fearing folk of the Region of Peel! I'm talking about Yucky Naked Man Parts Environmentalism, Monkeys Wielding Bones! Bones! Monkeys Taking out the Garbage! EVILultion!

Take a look at this picture on the pamphlet and you'll see what I mean!

One resident voiced her concern!


Anyway, the Ward 9 City Councillor agreed, but later had to clarify that it had nothing to do with evolution, but rather the naked man!
Naked men sort of like THIS?



1972 Pioneer 10 plaque (source)
No wait, THOSE PERVERTS at the Vatican and in that state gallery in Florence, Italy are actually showing the man-bits while that recycling drawing is not!

And those atheist, evolutionist, environmentalist scientists with their nudie space plaque trying to corrupt space alien children with perverse thoughts! That godless Carl Sagan!
“Even though I have observed some monkeys in our neighbourhood, naked, delivering their waste to the curb, it is certainly not the normal accepted attire. The ad shows a man evolving from a monkey while walking to the curb. To me this is a moral outrage,” said Brampton resident Marriet Grootenboer in a letter to the editor.
One person pointed out that there would be an uproar if the person were a naked woman. I actually think the opposite is true. I think female nudity is so normalized in our culture that it's the naked man that's freaking people out.
“I understand what they are trying to say, but I can’t imagine the uproar this would have caused had this been a naked lady. I find this quite amusing as I’m sure you do as well.”
What about Biology Textbooks, for goodness sake? What about EVIL NAKED WOMAN SPACE PLAQUE!?!

Okay, I've been in Quebec too long. Is this, like, an English culture thing, or what? I mean this prudishness. Where are they? Deep South? Florida? Iran?

No really, what's wrong down there?

Ottawa Protest In Support of Raif Badawi Tomorrow!

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. (source)
Reader Theo Bromine just informed me that there will be a protest in support of Raif Badawi tomorrow on Capitol Hill in Ottawa.
So let's see if we can keep our eyes on Raif Badawi until he is released. Amnesty has got the world watching. In Ottawa, there's a protest tomorrow (Thursday) on Parliament Hill followed by a march to the Saudi Embassy. The last 2 protests at the Saudi Embassy had about 30 people. Come on, Ottawa, we can do better! (Especially since tomorrow's high will be a balmy -5C!) - see or
Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar will be there!

Join us on as we continue to protest the flogging of Raif Badawi!
We will be joined by activists from Montreal and Sherbrooke. Our guest speakers will include Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi, Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, and Beatrice Vaugrante, Directrice Générale, Amnistie Internationale Canada.

We will start at 2pm with speeches on Parliament Hill. At 2:30pm we will march to the Saudi Arabian Embassy on Sussex Drive for a demonstration across the street from the embassy at 3pm. The event will wrap up by 3:30pm.

Although recent floggings have been postponed, Raif still remains at risk and we must continue to speak out until he is free!

If you can't join us please sign the petition and invite others! 
It would be amazing if 40 or 50 people showed up! If you cannot make today, it would probably make sense to subscribe to the above MeetUp or Facebook page so you can make it to a future event!

Here's a map of where the Saudi Embassy is in Ottawa.