Friday, 31 October 2014

Jordan Cancels Halloween


Just a few days ago, the holy holiday of Halloween was under dire threat from Muslim clerics and government officials in Malaysia. Now it makes me sad to report that our atheist plot to make all theists in Jordan godless has apparently been thwarted.

Additionally, the Government of Jordan recently announced that public celebrations of Halloween and public appearances in Halloween costume are prohibited.  U.S. citizens should expect police reaction, including arrests, at any public Halloween-themed event.  The U.S. Embassy advises that U.S. citizens traveling from their home to a Halloween party, or vice versa, cover up their costumes while in public or in a car.
The theory is that Islamic government are trying to appease local fundamentalist conservative religionists by taking a tough stand on people dressing up for Halloween.
“This seems like a convenient easy concession, like a bone to throw the Islamists, when the government is struggling a little with its Islamic credentials,” said my friend Alex Simon, a Jordan-based Fulbright scholar who studies the regional impact of Syria’s civil war. “It falls within a broader process of Jordan trying to maintain a tricky balance between in theory being a moderate Islamic country, but still with a relatively conservative population.”
It let's the government appear to be defending their values against Western influences while being allies with the West.

Meanwhile, it's party goers who have to suffer. Oh, I mean Satanist party goers.
This isn’t the first time Halloween has been contentious in Jordan. In 2012, arsonists set fire to the entrance of a West Amman cafe that had hosted a Halloween party the night before; the local Muslim Brotherhood chapter subsequently issued a statement calling the Halloween event a gathering of “Satan worshippers.” This year, the government itself started condemning Halloween celebrations before they began. A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Ziad Zou’bi, said such parties were not in keeping with traditional Jordanian values.
So I guess us atheists are running the show in Malaysia while the Satanists are taking care of things in Jordan. Who knew?

Toronto's Very First Non-Conference, Tomorrow!

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the very first Non-Conference in Toronto! I wrote about the conference a month ago, so go give that a read if you've never heard about it. Or, check out the conference's website.

I would be going, but I just couldn't make the train schedules work in my favour from Montreal to Toronto. Hopefully next time.

So if you're in the Toronto area tomorrow, why not check it out? You can find guest speakers like Nate Phelps

For an all-day event, tickets seem very reasonably priced too!


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Rising Atheism Identified as 'a Key Challenge' facing Egypt


Egypt has had many challenges recently, like the Arab Spring or that whole military coup back in January.

For mercy sake, the country is still reeling over that televised belly dancing competition, which surely shook society to its very limit! With all these belly dancers on television, is there any hope? Does anyone have any time to consider the political situation in Egypt when pelvises continue to oscillate on national television?

Keep calm, though. Even with belly dancing not completely resolved, the Egyptian government and senior clerics have bravely identified the rise of atheists as truly the largest, most dire threat to their entire civilization.
 In a sign of unprecedented concern, Egypt’s top Islamic official recently warned against the spread of atheism in the traditionally religious country.

“Atheism is no longer a marginal issue,” Shaikh of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al Tayeb, said on Egyptian state TV. “It has become one of the many challenges facing the country. There are agencies and institutions in the country concerned about this issue.”
And because education, employment, healthcare, poverty, secularism and democracy are 'just fine thanks', the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Ministry of Youth have teamed up to ensure young people are 'thinking right' and 'believing the right.'
The ministries of Waqfs (Religious Endowments) and Youth have said they will launch a nationwide campaign to tackle atheism in the predominantly Muslim country. The planned drive will recruit the efforts of moderate clergymen, psychologists, sociologists and political specialists to address the youth, according to local media.
I guess there are two positive  points here. It's obvious that atheism is making some progress in Egypt and it appears to be at least moving the discussion towards a more moderate point. They've even taken to banning fundamentalist Islamic clerics from giving sermons, which seems rather overbearing and unconstitutional to me, frankly.

Like lots of religious people who do not understand atheists, a Christian representative thinks this whole atheism business is some sort of rebellion against tradition.
“After revolting against the political regime, attention is turned to rebellion against the family’s authority and then the religious authorities represented by clergymen. Some people believe that as long as the ruler of the country is deposed, why not depose the chief of the world too.”
Also according to him, high unemployment and materialism is also a cause. Shouldn't the government be concentrating on the unemployment situation? Maybe a little materialism might help in coming up with concrete solutions to jobless rates rather than these pie in the sky witch hunts against belly dancers and atheists.

Apparently, there is an estimated 2 million atheists in the country out of nearly 90 million which is hardly a sizable minority.

If you're caught, you get up to five years in prison as well. That should be the real story here. Maybe Egypt should also concentrate a bit on their human rights and freedom of conscious problems as well.