Showing posts with label blasphemy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blasphemy. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Joint Letter to PM: Refugee Status For Bangladesh Secular Blogger & Petition You Can Sign

Awhile ago, I posted about the violent attacks on Bangladeshi secular bloggers in Dhaka on Halloween day. One of the bloggers, who's head was hacked, is Tareq Rahim. His wife, Monika Mistry is right here in Montreal. She is a Canadian citizen who is now in agony wondering if she will ever see her husband again alive.
Mistry had spoken with her husband just four hours before a friend in London, England called her in the middle of the night to let her know about the attack.

She said she feels powerless to be on the other side of the world while her husband is fighting for his life. Mistry, a Bangladeshi who came to Canada in 2006 and now lives in Montreal with her daughter from a previous marriage, said she can’t afford to go back to Bangladesh to be with Rahim.

“I can’t be there. I can’t see him, I can’t touch him, I can’t hear from him,” the 37-year-old woman said, struggling to keep her composure.
Tareq comes from a Muslim family, Monika from a Hindu one. As far as I can tell, neither were atheists - both are people who believe in secularism, like the readers of this blog. Now Tareq is asking for refugee status in Canada. He obviously requires this because who knows who's outside the hospital waiting.

The very first thing you can do is sign this petition and share it!

CFI Canada is calling on the government to take action and offer asylum to Tareq. The fact is that Tareq was in the process of obtaining legal entrance into Canada when the attack occurred  because he understood his life was at risk.
The Centre for Inquiry (CFI) Canada, a non-profit education organization, is leading calls for the newly elected Trudeau government to intervene in the case.

“CFI Canada is making an appeal to the Canadian government, and certainly Justin Trudeau, to ask for some compassionate support for someone who would have likely been coming to Canada if they hadn’t been attacked by terrorists before getting a chance to do that,” said Executive Director Eric Adriaans.
A letter has been written and signed on by 17 groups and individuals. You can find the full press release over at CFI Canada. I'm including the full text of the letter to Justin Trudeau and others in the text box below:

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

November 13, 2015

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,

Re : Joint Statement Calling on the Canadian Government to Provide Humanitarian Assistance to Secularists in Bangladesh

We, the undersigned organizations and concerned supporters, urgently call on the Canadian government to act on behalf of one of its citizens, Monika Mistry, to help her Bangladeshi husband recover in safety from a brutal attack he suffered in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

On October 31, 2015, Tareq Rahim, an intellectual, poet and blogger, was attacked with two of his colleagues by a group of suspected Islamists wielding machetes and cleavers. Just hours later a secular publisher, Faisal Arefin Dipan, was hacked to death in his Dhaka office; he is the fifth secularist to be killed in Bangladesh this year. Ansar al-Islam (Ansarullah Bangla Team), a local affiliate of al-Qaeda, has taken credit for the attacks.

Tareq and Monika have a mixed-faith relationship and had plans to enjoy their marriage here in Canada once they were able to complete Immigration Canada’s paperwork. We implore the Canadian government to assist Tareq and Monika to expedite this process on appropriate grounds and expedite the necessary processes to bring Tareq to Canada to recover from this brutal attack in safety.

Currently, Tareq remains in hospital with a bullet lodged in his abdomen that doctors have been unable to remove. Even in the hospital, Tareq has minimal security and we fear his attackers will return to repeat their attack. While there is some security in the hospital, once Tareq is discharged he will be at a very high risk of continued attempts on his life and likely faces assassination.

The attacks on October 31 are just the latest incidents of faith-based violence committed against the vulnerable religious minority, secularists, in Bangladesh this year. Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das, Niloy Neel and Faisal Arefin Dipan were all secular writers, publishers and activists who spoke out against religious extremism and had repeatedly received death threats for their writings. They were associated with a “hit-list” of 84 atheist bloggers submitted to the Bangladeshi government that was subsequently leaked in 2013 prior to their murders by members of Islamic groups in Bangladesh. Since then, two new global hit-lists have been published by Ansarullah Bangla Team, a group of Bangladeshi Islamic extremists that targets Bangladeshi secularists both in country and around the world. Currently, 20 or more secularists and humanists have been forced to flee into exile out of fear for their lives, but the global hit-list ensures that the threats against them are not restricted to Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh’s current political climate, these gruesome, faith-based crimes continue with no end in sight and impunity increases for those already committed. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina and the ruling Awami League party, which claim to be secular, have done little to speak out for justice in these crimes and have taken no steps to protect this targeted group.

Diplomatic relations between Canada and Bangladesh were built upon shared values of democracy and pluralism, placing Canada in a unique position to remind the Bangladeshi government of its duty to protect all of its citizens. We urge the Canadian government to convince Prime Minister Hasina and the Awami League party that turning a blind eye to the gruesome, hacking deaths of its own citizens for political expediency only strengthens religious extremism. The Bangladeshi government must not allow political interests to trump the rule of law.

Before these latest attacks on October 31, over 300 human rights organizations, civil society organizations and supporters, and concerned members of blogging and activist communities in Bangladesh and internationally had already protested in the strongest possible terms the institutional attack on Bangladeshi citizens who profess humanist, atheist or secularist views.

In Canada, we have already reached out individually to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; The Honorable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; The Honorable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Robert McDougall, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh; Honorable Frank Baylis, Member of Parliament Pierrefonds-Dollars; and Mr. Andrew Bennett, Ambassador for Religious Freedom. 

The undersigned Canadian and supportive international organizations and individuals are now standing in unity and adding their voices to the outcry. However, it is even more important for the Canadian government to show compassion for its citizen, Monika Mistry, by helping her injured husband and by working to end tolerance of faith-based violence in Bangladesh.

Canadians are privileged to enjoy a peaceful, tolerant and culturally diverse society and we are proud of our country’s history in accepting people of all faiths – and those without a faith – and those who are fleeing persecution. Canada must take its place as a global leader in providing protection for persecuted religious minorities around the world.

We implore the Canadian government to continue to stand up for traditional Canadian values and to make Canada a safe destination for those facing persecution for their views. Please help us to expeditiously reunite Tareq Rahim with his wife while he recovers from this brutal assault of faith-based terrorism.

Signed, Eric Adriaans, National Executive Director – Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFIC)
Kevin Smith, Board Chair – CFIC Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director – British Columbia Humanist Association
Brendan de Caires, Programs & Communications Director – PEN Canada 
Eric Thomas, President – Humanist Canada 
Michel Virard, Association humaniste du Québec
Sean McGuire, atheist Writer & Editor My Secret Atheist Blog
Veronica Abbass, Editor Canadian Atheist
Andrew Copson, President – International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
Richard Thain, Canadian secularist activist and citizen
Randy Bowes, Board Chair – West Hill United Church
Board of Directors – Humanists Atheists Agnostics of Manitoba
David Rand – Libres penseurs athées – Atheist Freethinkers
Rafida Ahmed Bonya & Administrators of the Mukto Mona Blog Site 
Center For Inquiry U.S.
Christine Shellska – President – Atheist Alliance International
Progressive Atheists Inc (Australia)
Canadian Humanist Publications

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition
The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Citizenship Immigration and Refugees
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Member of Parliament Sturgeon River – Parkland
The Honourable Thomas Mulcair, Member of Parliament Outremont
The Honourable Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament Saanich-Gulf Islands
The Honourable Frank Baylis, Member of Parliament Pierrefonds-Dollard

You'll find another simpler sample letter at a previous post I did about Tareq's situation along with ways to contact your politicians.

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Thursday, 1 October 2015

ORF & Blasphemy Laws - Bad But Probably Not Contradicting

I cannot believe that the Conservatives are in a dead heat with the Liberals less than a month out from the election. I thought Canadians had more sense, but I guess we don't and we'll get what we deserve. You can already see the NDP's lead evaporate and it will likely continue to shrink until lefties like me either fear vote Liberal (bad) or become once again disenfranchised and drop out completely (worse).

Meanwhile, there is an interesting opinion piece in the Calgary Herald by Derek James From all about what huge hypocrite the country of Canada is with still having an anti-blasphemy law - Section 296 of the Code - (Quebec is trying to put a new bad one in as well), while at the same time instituting an Office of Religious Freedom, which he believes is supposed to criticize anti-blasphemy laws in other countries.
The continued existence of this criminal blasphemy law places Canada in an awkward and hypocritical position when it criticizes other countries of religious intolerance, and more so now that Canada has an Office of Religious Freedom intended to promote religious tolerance.
More specifically, he mentions Stephen Harper's defence of freedom of expression after the Muhammed cartoons ten years back sparked mass riots and even murder.
The cartoons were republished by newspapers around the world and more than 200 people died as protests and riots erupted in response. Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded, saying he regretted that Canadian newspapers had also published the cartoons, but that Canadians had a right to freedom of expression.

Two years ago, the Canadian government opened the Office of Religious Freedom, mandating the new office to protect and advocate for religious minorities, oppose religious hatred and intolerance, and promote the Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance around the world.
He goes on to mention that Canada's blasphemy laws were originally meant to protect Christianity from any criticism, but this has been extended to protect any religion under a recent ruling of Section 296 of the Criminal code.

This is all fine and well, but I think From just needs to follow the money. You'll find some pretty deep silence from the Office of Religious Freedom regarding one of the world's most egregious human rights offenders, Saudi Arabia. You'll find a few peeps here and there - seemingly when it silence could result in a PR issue (Raif Badawi), but for the most part, it's all crickets.

The answer? Follow the money to a 15 billion dollar arms contract with Saudi Arabia.

Note that the persecution in Saudi Arabia is likely directed equality towards all religions, but it's highly likely that the majority of victims are religious and they are dying at the hands of one of the world's most pernicious theocracy whose power is rooted in a strict adherence to Wahhabi Islam.

What about atheists abroad who are being killed and jailed for the very reasons of blaspheming? Well, one need only take a look at the original intention of Canada's blasphemy laws - protect religion and the oft stated goal of the Office of Religious Freedom - protect religion to see the answer. No action need be taken when the victim is not religion/religious, as there is no religion there to protect.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Russian Religious Hooligans Will Spend A Few Days In Jail For Damaging 'Blasphemous' Art

Moscow Manege art gallery.
Remember when I got really sad about the insane radical religious lunatic group in Russia - God's Will - who got fined fourteen dollars for causing $15,000 worth of damage to art because they found it to be blasphemous?

Well I was not entirely right! It turns out that this was merely two of the activists! So finally justice has come for the group's leader Dmitry “Enteo” Tsorionov!
The leader of a radical Russian Orthodox group has been sentenced to 10 days in jail for vandalizing an art exhibition in Moscow this summer, a news report said Tuesday.

A Moscow city court on Tuesday found Dmitry “Enteo” Tsorionov, who heads the “God's Will” group, guilty of petty hooliganism for his organization's Aug. 14 attack on the Manezh exhibition center, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Petty hooliganism. Wait a minute, wasn't Pussy Riot  found guilty for the same thing? Except they just sang in a church for a bit. Except they caused no monetary damage whatsoever. Except that they ended up in jail for two years. Oh, by jail I actually mean  Siberian work camps. Then to Siberian Tuberculosis Hospitals.

Oh right this is why.
On March 3, 2012, two of the group members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested and charged with hooliganism. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was arrested on March 16. Denied bail, they were held in custody until their trial began in late July. On August 17, 2012, the three members were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred", and each was sentenced to two years imprisonment. Two other members of the group, who escaped arrest after the February protest, reportedly left Russia fearing prosecution. On October 10, following an appeal, Samutsevich was freed on probation and her sentence suspended. The sentences of the other two women were upheld. In late October 2012, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were sent to separate prisons.
In fact, this is what heralded in the Russian law against making fun of any religion. Which coincidentally, is the very same law Tsorionov and his art-smashing barbaric hooligan buddies cited loudly as they threw valuable linoleum engravings which offended their religious sensibilities onto the floor and stomped on them.
During the attack activists shouted that the works on display were offensive to people of faith and violated legislation introduced to deter protests such as that carried out by Pussy Riot in Moscow’s main cathedral in 2012.
Apparently, another member of his group got five days in a jail. That's 1/146 th the jail time Pussy Riot got for causing $15,000 more damage. Interesting how that works out.

I guess this jail time will serve to silence those who think he should not be let scott free for this public damage. It will also let these activists feel proud of themselves for going to jail for a couple of days and likely embolden many others to go about smashing works of art they find blasphemous in the years to come.

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Monday, 21 September 2015

UN Human Rights Council Shamefully Sells Out

Ensaf Haidar and UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in Sherbooke, QC.
Remember when I felt ill because the UN was totally cool with Saudi Arabia hosting that human rights summit for the UN Human Rights Council over the summer? Well, it turns out that they've given the panel over to the Saudis. I wonder how much that cost this country, with some of the most epic human rights violations in the world?
The United Nations is coming under fire for handing Saudi Arabia a key human rights role even though the Kingdom has “arguably the worst record in the world” on freedoms for women, minorities and dissidents.

Critics, including the wife of imprisoned pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi – sentenced to 1000 lashes for blogging about free speech – say that the appointment is “scandalous” and means that “oil trumps human rights”.

Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who is leading an international campaign to free her husband, said on Facebook that handing the role to Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was effectively “a green light to start flogging [him] again”.
This just literally makes me want to puke. Here's an example of how things may go with the Saudis in charge.

It really does make me lose all faith in the UN and their so-called mandate to protect human rights. It really does seem like they are weak willed and pathetic on this front.
UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said that the appointment, made in June but unreported until now, may have been a consolation prize for the Saudis after they withdrew their bid to head the 47-nation council following international condemnation of the kingdom’s human rights record.

The Saudis’ bid emerged shortly after it posted a job advertisement for eight new executioners, to cope with what Amnesty International branded a “macabre spike” in the use of capital punishment, including beheadings, this year.
We really need to get off oil. Until this happens, you can expect more farcical displays of spinelessness like this one.

The UN is no friend of human rights nor secularists like the jailed Raif Badawi, who's wife, Ensaf Haidar, posted:

The International Community Give A Saudi Green Light To Start flogging #RaifBadawi again
Posted by Raif Badawi on Sunday, 20 September 2015
It really looks like we can no longer take the UNHRC seriously. Perhaps we could hold a fundraiser and buy them back somehow?

Read more about this over at the UN Watch blog.

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Friday, 18 September 2015

CFI Canada Expresses Strong Concerns About Proposed 'Anti-Hate' Bill 59

CFI Canada has an excellent post on their blog where they break down what they find disturbing about the proposed Quebec Bill 59, which I've expressed concerned about as well as Jerry Coyne, who is rightly calling it an anti-blasphemy law.

Essentially, the Bill attempts to introduce more severe punishments for hate speech along with a permanent registry of haters that could be accessed by the public. This might not seem too bad at first glance, but the problem is that the legislation seems to be leaving the determination of what does constitute hate speech to the province's human rights commission - rather than the existing criminal code. As I've written before, the head of the commission is a political activist with an agenda to quell any criticism of religion - more specifically Islam.

Even at least three prominent Muslim groups are concerned about the legislation and how the registry could potentially destroy the lives of people - both Muslim and non-Muslim.

After breaking down the reasons for their concern, the CFI concludes:
Bill 59 is a problematic proposal which implements measures that may easily be abused or misused by groups interested to stifle criticism of religion or religious figures. It is important to investigate not only the interplay between sections of the act itself, but also their effect-on and interaction-with the other legislation.  For example, this proposed legislation is subject to precedents and definitions established in prior rulings by The Supreme Court of Canada and other relevant federal legislation.  These legal precedents would be sources on such matters as the definition and scope of hate speech.

Another example of the problematic complexity of this proposed bill is in the interplay of the separate section.  If a person or organization is accused through Sections 2 and/or 3 and has their name added to the list described in Section 17, how might that relate to Section 24′s notation that the organization or person may be “considered to exhibit behaviour that could reasonable pose a threat for the physical or emotional safety of the students.”?
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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Raif Badawi Foundation For Freedom Created Here In Montreal

Ensaf Haidar at the foundation's launch in Berlin on Friday.
Ensaf Haidar wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi launched the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom (Fondation Raif Badawi pour la liberté) in Berlin. Friday's event was simulcast to a second opening ceremony in Montreal.
The announcement was made successively in Germany and in Montreal. The President, Mrs. Ensaf Haidar, Mr. Badawi’s spouse, was in Berlin to meet with dignitaries in order to gain their support regarding her husband’s liberation, atop of taking part in the press conference. “I am truly grateful for the support that has emerged across the world for the Foundation. This justifies in my opinion, its very existence and its necessity,” declared Mrs Haidar. “Its goal happens to embody Raif’s values, who would be very happy to see that his struggle is a concern for so many people around the world,” added Mrs. Haidar. It is to be noted that Mr. Badawi will be honorary president of the Foundation.
The foundation's stated mission:
The Foundation serves as a free platform enabling international dialogue as well as a resource centre providing academic research on legal and social topics concerning the Arab World.
You can purchase Raif Badawi's book on the site as well as make donations via Paypal. The foundation has also stated that it will never accept a donation of more than 30% of its total budget so it can remain unbought.

You can follow the latest from the foundation on their Facebook page.

This is awesome and it can do nothing but step up the pressure for cases like Badawi's. I also believe it will help other secular bloggers - the way our Office of Religious Freedom and Department of Foreign Affairs has not.

If you would like to read more, check out Veronica Abbass' and Hemant Mehta's posts on this.

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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Religious Group That Caused 1M Rubles of Damage to 'Blasphemous Art' Fined $14

Hey. Remember that guy who broke into the art gallery in Moscow and started breaking stuff that offended his religious beliefs and caused over 1,000,000 rubles ($15,000) of damage?
Quoted by Interfax news agency, Enteo said the exhibition included an “indecent” depiction of Jesus Christ and was “dirty, harsh mockery of Jesus Christ and the saints.”
Well, there's been an investigation! There's been a fine! Finally, some justice!
A Moscow city court has fined two radical Orthodox activists 1,000 rubles ($14) for attacking an exhibition center and damaging art that restoration experts estimate will cost more than a million rubles to restore, news reports said.
Have no fear though! I'm pretty sure they were fined 1,000 rubles each! So this leaves just 998,000 rubles to be paid by the Russian taxpayer! See? Religious privilege is so overhyped in Russia. If you break things that offend your religious sensibilities, you had better be prepared! This fine converts to three whole McDonald's McMeals in Moscow! So I bet they won't do that again.

Well, the head of the group that wrecked these art pieces God's Will, Dmitry “Enteo” Tsorionov, is furious at this outrageous fine.
Tsorionov, the ultra-conservative group's leader, described the works as “blasphemous,” Russian media reported.

Arguing that the 1,000 ruble fine was too harsh a punishment, he said “law enforcement bodies should not charge those who prevented the committing of a crime [offending religious sentiment],” he was quoted as saying.
Right! Get out of the way, law enforcement! Time to wreck whatever the hell offends our religious sensitivities! Obviously, nobody will stop them now.

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Richard Dawkins Weighs In Against Quebec "Anti-Hate" Bill-59

Back in August, I expressed my grave concerns with a proposed piece of anti-hate legislation here in Quebec, Bill 59. The main problem was its utter failure to define what hate speech was. Instead it left it up to committee - which on its own is the ultimate evil.
But the legislation also faced a lot of criticism, notably for failing to define what “hate speech” is, and leaving it up to the human rights commission to decide how much proof it needs to sanction someone.
That's pretty scary, because these folks aren't Supreme Court judges. In fact, the head of this commission wants to stamp out anti-Islamic speech.
The bill takes its inspiration from recommendations made public by the QHRC in November 2014. Jacques Frémont, the commission’s president, explained that he planned to use the requested powers to sue those critical of certain ideas, “people who would write against … the Islamic religion … on a website or on a Facebook page.”
Yes, this is really an anti-blasphemy law. And furthermore...
Frémont is an unabashed legal activist, who sees the QHRC’s mandate as “provoking a social change” and “making the law.” (“You will make the law with difficult cases, risky cases,” he said at a March conference at the Université de Montréal.) In support of such stringent censorship he cites resolutions adopted by UN bodies. But the only UN body pressing for this measure is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an Islamist consortium that equates criticism of Islam with hate speech. The OIC’s member nations have nothing to teach any democratic society in the way of “inclusion,” “openness” and “living together,” all justifications for Bill 59 made by Premier Couillard.
We're talking about countries like Saudi Arabia, here.

So today Richard Dawkins expressed his concern as well... as only Richard can.
Okay, so like many of Dawkins' previous tweets, I do not give him points for tact. I'd also like to point out that although this Frémont seems to be taking his cue from the OIC, several Muslim groups in Quebec have expressed the very same concerns I have about the bill's lax definition of hate speech. So the only people who seem to like this are the extremists.

Still, it's nice to see Dawkins shining an international light on this situation. Hopefully this new level of scrutiny will kill this pernicious bill, which as Kyle Shideler in the somewhat dubious looking right wing Town Hall website (to which Dawkins links) reminds us:
In 2013, the Canadian parliament moved to end scrutiny of Internet speech by its Human Right Commissions when it abolished the infamous Section 13, of Canada’s Human Rights Act. The elimination of that odious and censorious clause followed a successful campaign given voice by Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant after the two were targeted for writings and publications which reportedly “offending” Muslims.

But like a zombie rising from the grave, the idea of censoring “blasphemous” speech, continues to come back, no matter how dead it may have appeared.
Indeed, this is not an anti-hate bill, it is an anti-blasphemy bill with teeth. Fines of up to 10,000$ can be levied and you can have your name put onto a permanent public registry as a hater.

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Friday, 28 August 2015

Religious Zealots Have Begun Destroying 'Satanic' Art In Russia

This past year, I reported an opera being shut down after an Orthodox priest, who never bothered to watch it, complained. Then there was the Orthodox Jewish activist Dmitry Enteo and crew, who broke into a Moscow art exhibit they found blasphemous and caused $15,000 worth of damage.

The Moscow Times has a recent piece about this mob of religious thugs.
Visitors to the exhibit attempted to protect the works from the activists. One of the visitors, Lyudmila Dyagileva, called the activists "fanatics and extremists whose actions have nothing to do with faith and Christianity" in an interview with The Moscow Times.

"If they get away with it, it will send a message that you can do anything you want. It is a signal that you can destroy everything if the authorities do nothing," she said.

Enteo was detained briefly by the police on Friday before being promptly released the same evening.
Indeed the head of the presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, drew a comparison between Enteo's group and ISIS, when it came to wholesale destruction of culture.

Well, on Wednesday, a century old St. Petersburg facade of the mythical devil Mephistopheles was dismantled in plain daylight and chucked into a garbage by a religiously motivated group posing as construction workers.
Local news outlets and social media users reported that the relief was removed from the building without explanation on Wednesday. According to one Facebook user, historian Dmitry Bratkin, the house was designed by 19th and early 20th century architect Alexander Lishnevsky.

"Naturally, the monument was under protection," Bratkin said. "Or had been. Fifteen minutes ago, Mephistopheles was knocked off the facade."

One resident of the building, Kirill Alexeyev, told independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta that "workers showed up at 10 in the morning, did not introduce themselves, and did not say who had sent them."

Instead, the workers asked the building's residents to move their cars away from the building to avoid being damaged by falling plaster, and then proceeded with the removal of Mephistopheles, Alexeyev said.
They they stuck it in the back of their truck and drove away. It was found in a dumpster not long afterward.

When asked, the workers said that the facade was dilapidated and that they would construct a new one in plaster - these were all apparently lies. No government agency nor the construction firm of a new Orthodox Russian church directly facing the facade claims to know anything about this.

What? Did I say this facade happens to face a new church?  Why yes I did. In fact, the crucifix had just been erected less than a week before the devil statue was busted up.
"A couple of days ago, a cross was placed on the roof of the church that is under construction across [the building]," Bratkin wrote on his Facebook page. "Yesterday, some sprightly people showed up and took photographs of the facade with the Mephistopheles, and today at 3 in the afternoon, a worker hung down from the roof and — whack, whack, whack."

Natalya Levina, another local woman, said her neighbors had spotted "people from the church" looking around and inquiring about the "demon," the Metro news agency reported.
Well, that's not suspicious at all.

A short while after the destruction, one Denis Gorchin, self-described former head of the St. Petersburg Cossack community - although they have disowned him - wrote a letter to a local news site explaining his religious motivations for destroying the statue.
Gorchin, the self-described former leader of the Cossacks, indicated he was motivated by religious reasons, though he insisted the Orthodox Church had no involvement in the attack, news portal reported, citing a letter it had received from them man.

However, he added in the letter: "Opposite the church there is a figure of the devil, which prevents the [Orthodox] cross from being placed, and so on," St. Petersburg's Fontanka news agency reported.

"We were outraged by the fact that this horrible legend, this outlandish story, has effectively become an attraction, a draw for tourists, has become a [matter of] pride, and we have open worship of the Satan," the letter was quoted as saying.

St. Petersburg Orthodox leader Father Konstantin "would never have dared. So we dared," the letter said. 
Yes, that's right! The statue had to go because there was a cross being erected! Note that this doesn't implicate church members, just this Gorchin guy who did the dirty work so to speak. Still, the Orthodox Russian church said they understood why such an action was done - way to not condemn the criminal act.
But a spokesman for the hugely powerful Russian Orthodox Church said the attack was an understandable reaction.

"It's possible to understand the culprit. As a believer, he finds images of a demon disgusting," Orthodox Church spokesman Roman Bagdasarov told pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia.

"Mephistopheles embodies evil in this world and this person decided to act, most likely, to kill Evil," he said.
Oddly, several media outlets have blamed this on right-wing or conservative groups, which appears to be nothing more than protecting religion.

This relief and much of the rest of the work by the architect, Lishnevsky, survived atheist Soviet Russia - only to be smashed to bits by religious fanatics.
Lishnevsky, the architect, died during World War II after being evacuated to a hospital in Yaroslavl — a historical city 250 kilometers to the northeast of Moscow. Much of his work survived the devastation of the was [sic: war] and the secular policies of the Soviet Union.
According to this story,  police have identified those responsible for the destruction. Yet, as with Dmitry Enteo, no criminal charges have been laid. It would seem that Lyudmila Dyagileva could be right after all - the message has been sent that it's open season in Russia now for any art which offends anyone's religious sensibilities.

Let the cultural cleansing begin.

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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Haredi Groups Consider Protesting New Cinema Being Open Saturdays

So, whatcha doing Saturday? Want to watch a movie or something?


Next thing you'll be asking for is a cup of coffee on Saturday! Can't have that! Keep walking, because we don't wanna hear you whine about your caffeine headache.

Or maybe you'll want to pick up a nice outfit to wear on a premarital sitting-next-to-each-other-in-a-dark-room date with a human at the movie that's NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN? Well, forget that too! No fashionable retail outlet clothing for you on Saturday. That is, if we can help it.

It's nothing personal. It's just that God told us 3,000 years ago that we can't go to the movies on Saturday. Therefore, you cannot go to the movies on Saturday. See, it makes sense, right?

Stores in Jerusalem are apparently expected to be closed on the Shabbat, while places of leisure like movie theatres have historically been allowed to remain open. This however, hasn't stopped some haredi groups from considering protests anyway.
The Rabbinical Committee, however, includes among its ranks Rabbi Yosef Rosenfeld who represents the radical Eda Haredit communal organization, which has in the past protested vehemently and violently against what the group describes as “mass desecration of the Shabbat” in Jerusalem, including the bitter fight over the Karta parking lot just outside the Old City.
Yes, people other than them watching a movie is mass destruction - total obliteration.

If the various groups do plan to protest on a Saturday, they will likely not do it at the cinema itself - because it's too far away from major haredi populations. As I mentioned in the last story about a protest, these groups do not drive on the Shabbat.
The rabbi told The Jerusalem Post that preparations are already underway to conduct such protests and said that he expected a demonstration this coming Shabbat. Rosenfeld noted, however, that any demonstrations would likely not take place outside Yes Planet itself, since it is a considerable distance from the haredi neighborhoods where Eda Haredit’s followers reside.
So, they don't even live in the community with this theatre. They're protesting the opening of a cinema in a completely different neighbourhood. It's so heartwarming to see their concern for their fellow man - victim to having the option to watch a movie on a Saturday night. Such charity is rare in this day.
Asked whether or not the holiness of Jerusalem extended to the new parts of the city without haredi or religious communities, Rosenfeld argued that Jerusalem was the “place of the sanctuary,” a reference to the two ancient Jewish temples that stood on the Temple Mount, and said that this holiness was projected and conferred upon the rest of the city.
It's like they think they own the place or something. It turns out, though, that what we have here is an out of control holiness leak that's just spreading all over Jerusalem and surrounding area completely unchecked. As soon as the holiness comes into contact with cafes or movie theatres, they must be shut on Saturdays.

Instead of just not watching the movies - most of which are utter crap, I assure you - some are considering to protest not on the Shabbat, so they can get to the actual theatre.

When challenged with the fact that theatres have been allowed to be open on the Shabbat for ages, Rabbi Yosef Rosenfeld let us know that it's all about capacity. It's the sixteen screens - it's just too many screens, okay?
Rosenfeld acknowledged that cinemas have been open on the Shabbat in Jerusalem for many years, but said that the size and scale of the 16-screen Yes Planet complex was a change to the status quo that he did not consider acceptable.
Well at least his reasoning isn't just some completely arbitrary judgement call.

It's unexpected that the protests will get them anywhere.  Perhaps it will be further entertainment to movie goers.

(Image source)

Orthodox Russian Protester Smashes up 'Blasphemous' Art

You see extremist Islamic groups like ISIS gleefully busting up ancient statues, exploding ancient mosques with boundless gusto, and bulldozing ruins from some of humanity's seminal long lost civilizations - erstwhile enduring monuments to our development as a species on this planet - and you wonder: 'Why are these guys having all the fun?'

Well, listen up! Russian Orthodox activists like Dmitry Enteo are also totally down with smashing up some art.
“Delusional people came to the exhibition who broke several works belonging to the Manege collection, by Vadim Sidur,” said a spokeswoman for the Manege exhibition centre next to the Kremlin walls, Yelena Karneyeva.

She told AFP that there were “several” attackers, and that “several sculptures are completely smashed.” The works were made of plaster and linoleum.
Delusional? Oh come on! I like to think of Dmitry as a visionary - well, maybe hallucinatary. One thing's for sure - with the outfit above and his smashing about, he definitely qualifies as performance art. I mean, at least that's something. Take a look at this show.

No wait, that sucked and this Enteo guy is a big baby. Why does he have to go around ruining art for other people? Why can't he just be a big boy and not go see the art if he doesn't like it?
“We called the police,” he claimed. “They will close the exhibition for offending believers,” he said.

He had earlier written a Tweet saying “Right in the centre of Moscow there is terrible blasphemy, we are running to liquidate it!” The message gave no more details.
Apparently, the exhibit mocked Jesus and so Enteo took it upon himself to go bust with his posse it up like a big bully in a mime shirt.

This is sort of like the Orthodox cleric who complained about the opera he never watched and managed to force the manager of the opera house to resign. To quote the poet: same shit, different pile.

Don't believe me when I say he's a performance artist?
Enteo, who heads the nationalist God’s Will group, is one of the most prominent conservative activists. He cites Orthodox values while picketing and heckling at arts events and protests, sometimes with a television camera crew in tow. This year he attempted to stop a gay pride rally in Moscow
There really is something extra yucky about that.

(Image source)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Days After Neel's Beheading, Bangladeshi Police Advise Bloggers to 'Stop Hurting Religious Feelings'

Niloy Neel
Just a few days after the fourth atheist blogger this year was murdered by religious lunatics - the blood not yet dry - Bangladeshi police have started up nice round of victim blaming.
Terming hurting one's religious sentiment as crime, Inspector General of Police (IGP) has advised the free thinkers not to hurt religious sentiment in their writings.

IGP AKM Shahidul Haque said: “According to laws if any one hurts one's feelings, he will be punished by the law.”

Advising the free thinkers, IGP said: “None should cross the limit.”
Basically, the eighty or so bloggers on the hit list - who are being killed off methodically - are screwed if they cannot get out a country where their own police force is either deliberated ineffective or completely incompetent.
 Asked about the prior list of the bloggers who might be under threat, he said they had no such list.
The terrorists who suppress freedom of speech and murder atheists need not do anything more - the police have just taken up their cause and have advised bloggers to shut up if they know what's good for themselves.
Before he was murdered on Friday, Niloy wrote in a facebook post that police didn't help him when he sought protection after he suspected that several people were following him.   
This is what the police did. They do not actually seem to help the bloggers, but rather let them get killed off. Then they do a pathetic job investigating the crimes. Now, just days after a blogger had his head chopped off, they are threatening the very ones most at risk with jail time if they speak their minds online.

Law enforcement appears to be either complicit or completely taken hostage.
According to Penal Code and ICT Act, hurting one's religious sentiment is a crime and according to the law one might be punished for 14 years for such offense, said the police chief.  
That just about settles it. Freedom from religion and free expression in Bangladesh are both apparently extinct. The bloggers need to be brought out of that country. Otherwise, we shall watch them be gruesomely murdered, one by one.

Friday, 24 July 2015

In Some Countries Blasphemy & Insults on WhatsApp Could Get You Fined

Just yesterday, the Times of India ran a short story about Vikas Maheshvary, administrator of a WhatsApp page. He's being investigated by the police for hurting religious sentiment - in 'secular' India.
"We arrived at the circle officer office with a printout of the message and gave our complaint at Kotvali police station on Wednesday night. Police has lodged an FIR against the accused but he has not been arrested yet. If the police don't arrest him by Friday, we will meet the inspector general in this regard," Asad said.

"We run an NGO, Paigam-E-Mohabbar, and keep a tab on the anti-social elements who spread messages, hurt the religious sentiment, through social networking sites and WhatsApp. We condemn all such persons who try to create differences between the communities by such messages," he added. 
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Last year, a Dubai man was charged with not only with posting indecent photos of women he spoke with on WhatsApp, but also for posting blasphemous material.
According to the ruling the defendant was found guilty of forwarding blasphemous messages to the woman’s mobile phone and in which he cursed God. The defendant is scheduled to appear before Dubai Appeal Court next month.
There's a case for making revenge porn illegal, but blasphemy is a victimless crime. There's no way this should be even considered.

Last month, the United Arab Emirates made it illegal to insult anyone on social media - including WhatsApp. Vaguely defined insults will get you a $90,000 fine! The number seems so grotesquely large to me, that I've checked a couple of times, but if someone would like to correct me, I'd be happy.
If you live in the UAE and happen to swear at your friends, colleagues or relatives using WhatsApp, you need to exercise plenty of caution now as chances are you will be fined a whopping Rs 45 lakh for this’crime.’
Furthermore, posting the middle finger will get you into trouble too.
In May, the UAE authorities had warned that sending a middle finger emoji symbol would henceforth be a punishable offence.
(Top image source)

Monday, 20 July 2015

United Arab Emirates Passes "Anti-Discrimination Law"

Good news, everyone! The United Arab Emirates just enacted a new anti-discrimination law!
The law criminalising all forms of discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin was enacted on Monday.
That sounds great, guys! Of course, you could also add sexual orientation to that list, but it's a great ... er, wait a second.
This covers speech and the written word, books, pamphlets or via online media. The law also includes provisions for punishing anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers, according to state news agency Wam.
Excuse me, what did I see? Yet, the rest of the paragraph seems okay.
The law is intended to provide a “sound foundation for the environment of tolerance, broad­ mindedness and acceptance in the UAE and aims to safeguard people regardless of their origin, beliefs or race, against acts that promote religious hate and intolerance”.
I think I understand. This law protects the freedom of religion - not freedom from religion.
The law prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, his prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards. It also has provisions to fight discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin.
Isn't it amazing how the law seems to be written with the assumption that atheists either do not exist or simply do not deserve to exist? Isn't it astounding how atheism seems implicitly tied to hate crimes and how this law is nothing more more teeth for their blasphemy laws?

It's the propagandist couching of this law as pro human rights which I find so off putting.
 “The new law does not contradict with any other existing laws meant to protect specially privileged groups in the society such as women, children and individuals with disabilities or others.”
Although there are apparently provisions to waive certain offences if you turn yourself in, the law proscribes jail terms from 6 months to 10 years and fines from

Penalties for violation of the provisions of the law include jail terms ranging from six months to more than 10 years and fines from Dh50,000 ($17,689) to Dh2 million ($707,567). All this suffering for insulting imaginary gods and the books about them.

Monday, 6 July 2015

16 Year Old Singaporean Atheist Blogger Sentenced to Four Weeks In Jail, But Is 'Free'

Amos Yee (source)
Amos Yee, 16 year old atheist and political blogger in Singapore, who uploaded a crude sexual image and wounded Christian religious feeling, is a free man today. He was found guilty and sentenced to 4 weeks in jail. However, the sentence was backdated to June 2 and he's spent over a month in mental hospitals.
The 16-year-old has spent more than 50 days in remand to date and his sentence was backdated to June 2, meaning that he can walk free from court.
Apparently, a private doctor has agreed to counsel Yee and his family. Although Yee doesn't appear to have any mental problems, nor autism (as was curiously suspected), the doctor believes some work is required lest he disrupt 'social harmony'.
Yee has been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for the past two weeks to assess his suitability for a mandatory treatment order, after a doctor said that Yee may have autism-spectrum disorder. However, a doctor at IMH said Yee did not have Autism Spectrum Disorder or any other mental disorder.

The doctor's report noted that from an early age, Yee has been "trapped in the Net" and is "unable to discern untruths in cyberspace". The doctor's report also said Yee admitted to his guilt and promised not to reoffend, as he realised his actions were against the law and could disrupt social harmony. The teen also admitted he had used his intelligence in the wrong ways. 
Sounds disturbingly like the sort of explanations the Saudi government uses to justify their brutal suppression of freedom of speech in their country - this idea that social harmony must be maintained. Yee has apparently agreed to the counseling. Given his circumstances, who could blame him?

Yee had been rushed to hospital because he stopped eating for over 70 hours. Media seems to be downplaying the blindingly obvious cause for this - he was locked up in a mental ward for two weeks.

His lawyer has vowed to appeal:
"Let's not run away with the idea that just because he's remorseful and stuff, that is in relation to the social context. Whether this was a crime or not, still remains a question we want to determine in High Court," Mr Dodwell added.
All of this because a 16 year old posted a video criticizing Christians along with a silly ling drawing of the previous Prime Minister having sex with Margaret Thatcher. This is where the bar is in secular and democratic Singapore.

Of course, Yee is only 'free' so long as he keeps his mouth shut and refrains from freely expressing his opinions online. Freedom like that is pretty worthless and is only freedom in name.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

16 Year Old Singaporean Atheist/Political Blogger In Psych Ward, Sentencing Today

In late March, 16 year old Singaporean atheist blogger, Amos Yee,  made a Youtube video criticizing the recently deceased Prime Minister -- who is disturbingly idolized in his country. He also had sharp criticisms for many Christians in the country as well. He also posted a crude drawing of Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew having sexual intercourse with Margaret Thatcher. You can see both on my previous post about Amos.

If only Canadian teens were so politically involved.

The government was not impressed and he's been charged wounding religious feeling and dishonoring the former PM. The proposed punishment for his free expression seems to be months in a reformative training centre, which sounds ghoulishly Orwellian.

Even worse than that, Yee has recently been subjected to three weeks of psychological testing and two weeks of examination to determine whether or not he's autistic.  

Even more shocking was the news release which alluded to putting him on medication - perhaps while being at a reprogramming camp.

Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Although there is no proven cure yet for autism, some medical care may help reduce their symptoms. For example, some medications are approved by US Food and Drug Administration to reduce irritability in children with autism. If the court decides that Yee must undergo MTO, it is not known what kind of ‘treatment’ the teen will receive.
What I didn't realize is that Yee has forcefully confined within the Institute of Mental Health for the past two weeks! After his lawyer was not able to obtain bail for Yee (obviously a dangerous criminal!) on Friday, Yee has apparently grown very depressed and has not eaten for the past 72 hours. This resulted in a trip to the emergency room after his blood glucose levels plummeted.
He is reported to be held at block 7 in the institution, believed to be the remand ward where mentally ill patients and the criminally insane are also held.

Mdm Mary Toh tells TOC on Sunday that her son’s blood glucose level has dropped and that he has also been feeling giddy.

Mdm Toh had earlier said her son had not been eating for several days, was also not sleeping well and was feeling depressed. She says he has lost weight too.

“Even this morning, he was asking me why he can’t be released,” Mdm Toh says.

“Amos pleaded [with me] to get him out soon,” Mdm Toh told TOC on Wednesday. “He can’t stand even another day in there. He said prison is better than IMH.”
Remember, this is all over a kid who posted a Youtube video and a racy picture. What the hell is going on in Singapore?

Yee is expected to be sentenced Monday (which is likely to happen within the next few hours, because Singapore is a day ahead of North America).

Here's Yee's last Facebook post, on July 2nd, from within the mental hospital:
Well my fellow viewers, I think until I am released from Prison, this is all I can manage to say.

In lieu of all of my news, and me being in remand, is centrally, the discourse on our rights to freedom of speech. And those rights, I still manage to uphold, as you can see, even when I am placed in jail. And the reason why is because maybe as of now, perhaps comparatively to most people, I know that my views can influence people, I know that my voice is powerful, and I should never be afraid of using it, especially when the primary aversion to my voice is formed by an unjust and corrupt Government.

But really my fellow viewers, you have a voice too, you always had a voice, and I urge everyone to never doubt the power of what a voice of just a single individual can hold, because a voice can convey ideas.

An idea is controversial, an idea is something we must stand behind, must answer for. An idea, a good idea, is more powerful that any Government or Cathedral. Will survive eras, will survive social and economic turmoil.

And if we allow the government, the police and the law, to continue to censor us, to use archaic laws to dictate our ideas and our views, to use fear to threaten us into not expressing our views, then though I am a prisoner, when freedom cannot be granted to me, you are a prisoner although freedom is granted to you. And that’s more saddening than any number of months or years in jail that I have to endure.

And if I am locked up in Prison and unable to continue posting pictures of Lee Kuan Yew buttfucking Margaret Thatcher, then I hope that there is a person out there, whoever you are, who will continue doing so. And believe me, there will be.

But don’t ever never aim to be the next Einstein, the next Gandhi or the next Amos Yee (Haha). But instead, focus on you, and become the best possible version of yourself. Because everyone, including you, are exceptionally unique, and it is the ones that embrace their uniqueness, that they become someone truly special and great.

So now alas I am done, I take my leave

Adieu my friends adieu… parting is such sweet sorrow…
It's hard to believe these are the words of a mere sixteen year old.

There have been protests within Singapore and Hong Kong for Yee's immediate release.

Petition is here.

Amnesty International demanding Yee's immediate release here.

Monday, 29 June 2015

16 Year Old Singaporean Atheist Blogger May Be Sentenced to Reeducation Camps & 'Autism Treatment'

Amos Yee (source)
Remember that Singaporean sixteen year old blogger, Amos Yee? He was found guilty of wounding religious feeling and then sentenced to reformative training -- which I can only imagine is some sort of juvenile reeducation camp.

Straight Times lets us know that:
A stint at the Reformative Training Centre lasts between 18 and 30 months, and includes structured rehabilitation programmes, foot drills, and counselling. Offenders will not have contact with adult prison inmates.
Yee is in trouble for making this video:

He also posted this picture on his blog (now taken down):

Well, his conviction has been delayed already for three weeks for a psychiatric evaluation.  Most recently, his conviction has been delayed another two weeks due to suspicions that he's autistic!
Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Although there is no proven cure yet for autism, some medical care may help reduce their symptoms. For example, some medications are approved by US Food and Drug Administration to reduce irritability in children with autism. If the court decides that Yee must undergo MTO, it is not known what kind of ‘treatment’ the teen will receive.
Does this mean they're going to put him on mind altering drugs while he's in a government reeducation camp? All this for posting a video offending Christians and fans of the prior prime minister.

No word yet as to whether or not they diagnosed him with autism. Presumably, the suspicion is due to a misunderstanding that all autistic people lack empathy for... say... religious and patriotic sensibilities.

Al Jazeera Plus released this video summing up the situation:

Singapore Teen Makes Fun of Ex-Leader and Gets Arrested
A teenage blogger made fun of Singapore's late leader and was arrested. Now, he's being held for psychiatric review.
Posted by AJ+ on Thursday, 25 June 2015

Yee is due back in court July 6th.

9 Muslims Sentenced to Death in Nigeria for Blaspheming

Back in 1966, John Lennon got into some trouble for saying the Beatles were bigger than Jesus amongst the youth, among other things.
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first—rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.
 That didn't get him killed, but it looks like doing something similar with Muhammed will get you dead real quick in northern Nigeria.
An Islamic court has sentenced nine people to death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in the northern Nigerian city of Kano.

The accused, who were all Muslims, had pleaded guilty, the head of Kano's religious police, Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, told the BBC.
 They did the same thing Lennon did.
The alleged offence was committed last month at a religious gathering in honour of Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, the Senegalese founder of the Tijaniya sect, which has a large following across West Africa.

The nine, eight man and a woman, were reported to have said that "Niasse was bigger than Prophet Muhammad", triggering unrest.
This causes hundreds of people to freak out and burn down the court house!
Hundreds of youths ran through the streets of the northern Nigerian city of Kano shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) on Friday to protest against a Muslim cleric accused of blasphemy, and set fire to a Sharia court, police said.

The young men took to the streets around 10am to demonstrate against Abdul Nyass, from the Tijani Muslim sect, who was due to appear in the Islamic court accused of comparing the leader of his group to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
So this court has sentenced these nine Muslims - 8 men and 1 woman - to death quickly before the mob goes and burns something else down. Lovely.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Prominent Russian Anti-Putin Activist In Hot Water For: 'Offending Christians'

Ksenia Sobchak (source)
Ksenia Sobchak was a childhood and family friend of Vlad Putin. She rose to become an It girl (read: socialite) in highfalutin Russian society and a reality television star. Her Twitter feed has over one million followers.
Sobchak was once dubbed the Paris Hilton of Russia because of her similarity to the American hotel heiress. She used to be just a rich society girl: thin, blonde, with a sharp tongue and a reputation for being spoilt.
Sounds ghastly, right? But then 2012 happened and somewhere along the line she became a major political voice in Russia against Putin.
The daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, mayor of St Petersburg in the 1990s when Putin was his deputy, she is close to the prime minister – Putin is said to have cried when he attended her father's funeral in 2000 – while her mother is a loyal senator. "[Putin] is not a bad person," she said recently on Russian TV. Nevertheless, on Christmas Eve she walked on stage in front of 100,000 protesters in Moscow and said: "My name is Ksenia Sobchak and I have something to lose, but nevertheless I am here."

Most of the crowd booed – the person rather than the sentiment – for Sobchak had decided to join the biggest outburst of popular protest in Russia since the early 1990s, sparked by the December parliamentary elections and numerous reports of fraud.
Eventually opposition political leaders warmed up to Sobchak. It seems like she may have been underestimated. Understandable for reality television.

Then, less than a month ago, Sobchak fled Russia for some time. The rumour is that her name appeared on the same hit list as the murdered former opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. Weeks before his death, he publicly expressed concerns that Putin was about to have him killed.
The socialite-turned-journalist, who also hosts a talk show on opposition-minded Dozhd television, had expressed fears for her safety after independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported last week that her name was featured on a supposed contract hit list, allegedly drawn up by the same people who were involved in the murder of Nemtsov on Feb. 27.
Well, now it seems as if she's being investigated in absentia for this photograph posted to her Instagram in March.

Doesn't look much more ridiculous than how your run of the mill priest dresses to me. Was this a fancy dress party? Is this any different than the thousands of people who dress up like monks, priests and (naughty) nuns here in Canada every Halloween? No, she was apparently promoting a news story she was working on.
In the photo, Sobchak is seen standing in a doorway wearing religious vestments and a fake beard. She posted the picture on her Instagram page in April, writing that she and a colleague were working on a news report for Snob magazine and asking users to “guess what it is about.”
She was obviously having a bit of fun. NO FUN ALLOWED! Especially if you make religious people cry.
But following a complaint from lawyer and activist Yaroslav Mikhailov, an investigation has been launched, with Sobchak accused of offending Christians.

"Sobchak has crossed all boundaries of what is acceptable and has insulted the feelings of believers," Mikhailov said on Facebook, and accused her of demonstrating an "obvious disrespect for society."
Don't want to offend Christians' delicate religious sensitivies in Russia with a costume or you could land in jail for a year! If she got into trouble with this, I can only imagine what might happen to anyone who dares to post themselves wearing some of the needlessly risque nun costumes I've found online.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Man Shoots Bartender For Serving Non-Kosher Drink

Caesar cocktail (source).
I'm not quite sure how to approach this story, so I'll just hit it head on. Fifty nine year old Montana man Monte Leon Hanson went to a bar and ordered a red eye, which is beer mixed with tomato juice. Anyone who's had a bloody caesar knows that this drink is not too far off the Clamato and vodka drink. In Japan, Mott's Clamato actually sells a red eye drink.

Well, Hanson, a Jew and potentially highly mentally disturbed individual, got pretty unhinged when he found out his red eye contained non kosher clam juice.
Monte Leon Hanson, 59, shot his neighbor and bartender Joe Lewis because his “red eye” — a beer and tomato juice cocktail — was made with Clamato instead of tomato juice, according to court records.

Hanson, who is also charged with animal cruelty, said drinking Clamato, which is tomato juice flavored with clam broth, is against his Jewish religion.
Wait a minute, I'm pretty sure killing people might also be against one of those commandments, perhaps?

Oh and this seems pretty pre-meditated too.
Early the next morning, on May 9, Hanson reportedly followed Lewis when he left their apartment building to take out his dog. Another neighbor then heard four to six gunshots. He found Lewis holding his dog, dead from a gunshot wound to his head. Lewis also was injured from the gunshots.
Lewis was, in effect, saved by his dog, which blocked the first bullet. He was carrying the animal because it was still in a cast after having an operation.

Obviously this isn't a problem with the religion itself, per se. It does demonstrate how unhinged people can use religion to claim they've experienced harm or hurt and use it as an excuse to retaliate. A variant of this sort of personal hurt thing forms the basis of much blasphemy related violence and human rights violations, actually.

This case is fertile for so much discussion: gun laws and availability of firearms and perhaps lack of a socialized system to deal with mental health issues would be a good start.

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