Showing posts with label censorship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label censorship. Show all posts

Monday, 9 November 2015

Iranian Actresses Forced to Flee Country After Posting Photos of Themselves Without Hijabs

One of the immoral pictures from Sadaf Taherian's Instagram (left) vs an pre-controversy photo (right).
You may have listened to the last episode of My Secret Atheist Podcast, where Aki Muthali gave her very strong opinion on the hijab. This story does really drive home the fact that, regardless of the situation in western secular democracies like Canada, in Muslim theocracies like Iran, women have no choice. They must wear this head covering.

Actress Sadaf Taherian learned this the hard way a couple of weeks ago. She decided to post some pictures of herself not wearing a hijab onto her Facebook and Instagram accounts. In several photos she is wearing workout clothes or midriff showing shirts - but this wasn't what ticked off the Iranian government.
Iran’s regime has joined the campaign against a leading actress who released photographs of herself without a veil, questioning the woman's mental balance and calling her an "offender".

Sadaf Taherian was forced to flee to the United Arab Emirates last week after being criticised for publishing pictures on social media showing her without the traditional Muslim head covering, or hijab.
This prompted another Iranian actress, Chakame Chamanmah, to post this veiless picture in support of Sadaf (among others). Now it is believed that Chakame has also fled Iran.

Chakame Chamanmah
The Iranian government has this to say:
The ministry of culture and lslamic guidance in Tehran announced that neither woman would be allowed to act and both should repent. “As far as this ministry is concerned, these two individuals are no longer considered to be artists any more and do not have any right to act,” said Hossein Noushabadi, a spokesman.

“Both of them have to apologise to the Iranian people and publicly announce that the reason behind publishing their photos on social media is that they suffer from lack of esteem and have psychological and personal complexes.”
Islamic guidance indeed. This is what happens when you live in a theocracy.  The article goes on to say that both women would certainly be prosecuted legally in some fashion should they return to Iran.

In a recent interview with IranWire, Sadaf expressed her dismay with Iranian law and suppression of human rights.
I wish they had more respect for a woman’s choice. Where in the world do you get famous by taking off your headscarf? If you are talking about our own country Iran, then you know that the current system trembles when it sees a few strands of a woman’s hair — and prevents you from working in cinema and achieving fame. Besides, if taking off your headscarf gets you noticed, then why does it not happen to other women who publish similar pictures on their pages?
Posting photographs is one the simplest things you can do online and I give nobody the right to react this way and then expect me to remain silent. Besides me, there are many women, including actresses, who post such pictures. Unfortunately, Iranian law does not permit them to live the way they want to live. I did this in another country, where I have freedom and the right to choose. I pity people who play the role of the Morality Patrol for the Ministry of Guidance. Each person is responsible for her own life. Those who frighten me about Judgment Day better think about themselves and ask God’s forgiveness for the accusations and the libelous comments they make.
Each person has a different way of thinking. You cannot compare them with each other. I want to live in the way I like. As a human being, I want to have my basic rights, such as freedom of expression and the freedom to wear what I want. I want to be free to decide for myself.
The interview is well worth the read.

(Image source)

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Russian Orthodox Activists Call Finnish Circus' "Grotesque Acrobatics" a Threat to National Security

According to the Moscow Times, officials in the northern Russian city of Syktyvkar have called on an emergency meeting to discuss a Finnish circus performance (or play, whatever) Globally Wanted!
The republic's Public Chamber called an emergency meeting after the letter was received, but failed to decide whether the play should be canceled or not, KomiNews reported.
This was after Russian Orthodox activists demanded the play be canceled because it will for sure pervert the youth and turn them all into circus performers with naughty predilections: you know... they would yearn to lick each other's faces, pole dance, become those kind of girls who spread their legs at overly moustached bald men, do lesbian type kisses and perform crazy wheelchair tricks.

Not my cup of tea. Not offensive... just sort of boring. To each their own, I guess. Anyway, the protesters aren't bored by it at all. Maybe they like it too much? It's hard to say.
The play by Finnish troupe Circus Uusi Maailma is called “Globally Wanted” and is described on the theater's website as a “grotesque” acrobatic and dance performance that includes spanking, hanging and kissing.
The play itself has apparently won a bunch of awards in perverse countries like Sweden, Germany, the UK and, of course, Finland - source of all that is corrupt.
Keeping the play from being staged in the regional capital Syktyvkar is a question of national security, according to a letter sent by the St. Stephen of Perm Republican Orthodox Pedagogical Society to the republic's Public Chamber.
Or just offend religious sensibilities. As I'm pretty sure that this play will do little more than tantalise a few people. A similar thing happened in Russia recently concerning a production of a Wagner opera in Moscow. An Orthodox cleric who didn't even watch it complained and things happened resulting in the opera house manager getting himself fired. God works in mysterious ways.

Montreal would make these activists' heads implode.

(Image source)

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Saudi Arabia Demands That Completely Different Country Censor 'Satanic Verses'

Illegal Iranian copy of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.
It's been awhile since the announcement that Saudi Arabia will be (be)heading the UN Human Rights Panel, as well as the Saudi Foreign Minister casually informing the UN that his country will reserve the right to disregard any laws giving equal rights to LGBT people - because religion. What else does the Kingdom of Saud have to contribute to the world?

Well, it turns out they're now protesting the printing of books they don't like in other countries - because, naturally, religion.
Saudi Arabia summoned the Czech ambassador to protest against a new translation of Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses", Saudi state media said on Friday, 27 years after the novel triggered mass demonstrations and a death threat against the author.

The kingdom told the ambassador the book insulted both Islam and Muslims and asked him to try and halt its publication, the SPA agency added, citing a source in the Saudi foreign ministry.
Look, the Saudi government would like other countries to get their priorities straight. All these other countries do - along with pesky groups like PEN or Amnesty International - is nag nag nag them about how they jailed bloggers like Raif Badawi and torture him and flog him. Then these other countries whine and moan about how the Kingdom is beheading people at breakneck pace for really important things like being atheist, or being a witch, or saying the wrong thing... or whatever.

So tired of being bothered for trivialities like jailing and torturing people for saying the wrong thing that the Saudis even wrote a letter back to the Quebec government.
While the Kingdom regrets these media outlets' attack against the Kingdom and its Judiciary, it emphasizes that it does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs, and rejects the encroachment on its sovereign right...
For the Saudi government, though, jailing a guy for having a liberal blog, flogging him and keeping him locked up for it appears to be a minor thing. However, internal affairs of the Czech republic be damned if they're going to publish something that upsets their religious sensibilities.

Surprisingly, (given how much money Saudi Arabia seems to throw around),  the Czech foreign minister apparently came up with some silly excuse about freedom of the press and expression.
But Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek told his country's CTK news agency: "We have no reason to interfere in any way because we have freedom of the press and expression." The first Czech translation of the novel appeared in 1994. Prague's Paseka publishing house issued the latest version.
Well, that's likely to go right over the heads of the Saudi officials.

I wonder which sovereign independent country they will protest for next? Do you think they'll begin requesting that foreign authors be jailed and flogged on their own soil according to Sharia Law?

(Image source)

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Catholic 'Secular' Group Calls For Ban of 'Agnes of God' Play In Mumbai

India is apparently the world's largest secular democracy - so I've heard. So putting on a play with religious themes shouldn't be a problem at all!

Presumably working under this assumption, Mahabanoo Kotwal, owner of Poor Box Production, thought he'd produce a by now classic play, Agnes of God, in Mumbai - which is a pretty big metropolitan city within the world's largest secular democracy. He booked the venue, people bought tickets, things were tickety boo.
The play is an adaptation of an original play by John Pielmeier, in which the protagonist nun, Sister Agnes, gives birth to a child and claims she is a virgin. The delivery leads to a series of investigations in which psychiatrist Maratha Livingston discovers, contrary to the nun’s claims, that the latter slept with a man. The case is dragged to the court where the psychiatrist reasons that Agnes is not of sound mind. The play, a pun derived from Latin Agnus Dei (lamb of God), has also been adapted into a movie in 1985.
Then the owner of the theatre informed him that the play needed to be canceled. It turns out that a Catholic group thinks India just isn't ready for such a play. (The movie version came out in 1985, and starred Jane Fonda so it is a little modern perhaps for India.)
“We need to protest not because Catholic nuns or the Christian clergy is targeted, rather because the secular fabric of India is being threatened. India is not yet culturally or socially ready for such freedoms that West or Americas have,” said Joseph Diaz, general secretary of CSF, adding that the play “will open a pandora’s box” and cause mistrust in the religion.
It's become very clear to me that secularism must mean something completely different in India than it does in the West or Americas. It would seem that Indians are not yet culturally ready to watch material which could challenge their childhood religious indoctrination. Maybe in another 3,000 years, right?

If this isn't weird enough, let me divulge to you what the acronym CSF is. The group which is trying to ban the play is called the Catholic Secular Forum! Now don't get me wrong, Catholics can be secular, but the fact a Catholic secular group is attempting to ban a play because it hurts their religious feelings is making my head spin.
“We respect freedom of speech. But from my preliminary reading of the plot, it could give ruse to scandal or speculation. We would urge them (producer) to not release the play.” said Father Nigel, spokesperson of Bombay Archdiocese, adding the play has “no spiritual learning for the community”. 
... but, if we find it offensive, then it needs to be banner post haste.

So this Catholic secular group went to the police chief and demanded the play not be allowed to go forward at the original venue or any other venue in town. It looks like that worked. Secular nation? I guess it all depends on what you mean by secular. In India it seems to mean that religious sensibilities trump all else.

(Image source)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Valiant Saudi Officials Save Children From Evil "Gay Rainbow" Painted on Outside of School

Our good friends and allies, the Saudis, don't only protect their citizens from bloggers, Valentines cards, Twitter witchcraft, and women drivers! You under estimate them! They also protect little children from rainbows - Satan's evil portal to total gayification!

Listen up, here's what I mean. There's this school, Talee al-Noor International School. It had gay-inducing rainbows all over it. So it was fined $25,000 and forced to paint over the rainbow which once decorated the building gayly. Take that, Satan!

Remember, Arabic is written right-to-left, so right is before and left is after.
You can check out the original tweets over at Buzzfeed, but I'll just quote their English translations here.
“They sent the school administrator responsible for the emblem to jail in preparation to refer the case to the Bureau of Investigation and the general prosecutor.”
“This is a Saudi school painted normally. They said it is marketing for homosexuality, and then formed a committee and erased the colors. My question is: did the colors come first or did homosexuality?”
Great question. Some believe the first rainbow didn't show up until after God had murdered everyone with a big flood - including gay people. So hey, maybe gay people have been around longer, right?

Take a look at this Sports Day picture from the school's website!

Saudi officials should take note of the gay rainbow at the back and the super uber gay - as far as Jerry Falwell was concerned - Teletubbies right near the rainbow!

Gay Tinky WinkyBetter buy more paint! Think of the children!

(Top image source)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Russia Blocks Atheist Web Site Which 'Insulted Believers'

VKontakte has been described as the Russian version of Facebook. Just yesterday, there was some controversy because the social network blocked an atheist group who were saying things which might made religious people sad.
The group called "There is no God" on the VKontakte networking site - which had over 26,000 followers - went offline for users across the whole country.

A moderator's message on the blocked webpage said that the move was due to a ruling by a court in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus region of Chechnya in May 2015.
The region also has strictly enforced modest dress codes based on religion. The consequences of not wearing the right thing can lead to violent attack.

The reasoning behind this ruling is the same we've been hearing for awhile now, starting with the anti-blasphemy law passed in the wake of the Pussy Riot protest. It is now a crime in Russia to do anything which might insult religion.
A scan of the court decision published by Russian media accused the page of publishing materials that can "insult the feelings of Orthodox Christians", based on an inspection of the page by prosecutors on April 6.
The page apparently contained the usual photo memes and cartoons making fun of religion - Orthodox Russian in particular.
One is a cartoon drawing of Jesus telling a surgeon during an operation: "I created this cancer, how dare you remove it?," with the surgeon replying "Shut up Jesus."
Some versions of this story claim the page was temporarily blocked, implying it's back now. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

(Image source: Flickr)

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Egyptian Belly Dancer Sentenced to One Year of Jail and Hard Labor for Making a Music Video

Still from the probably NSFW Hands Off. (source)
Egyptian belly dancer, Reda el-Fouly, made this breast-ful and probably NSFW music video with her boyfriend, Wael Elsedeki. It's pretty awful...
An Egyptian belly dancer has been jailed for a year for posting a raunchy music video in which she sings about enjoying being groped on the bus.
... but does it warrant a jail sentence and hard labor?

The Egyptian government sure thinks so.
Ahmed Bakly of the Giza prosecution said in a statement that the clip “disrupted morality.” He also ordered the arrest of Wael Elsedeki, whom he described as el-Fouly’s boyfriend who had left the country for Tunisia after some social media users called the video scandalous, as well as a third person involved in the video.

Egypt is one of several Islamic countries that enforce modest-dress laws in the Middle East. Last year, Qatar’s state-run Islamic Culture Center launched the “Reflect your Respect” campaign to encourage tourists to adhere to the country’s dress codes and to dress modestly.
In fact, Egyptian clerics have already declared belly dancing to be dangerous - just like homosexuality and atheism! So this is no surprise.

I've already covered the rampant censorship in Egypt when it comes to movies with sex, nudity and atheism.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Angels In UFOs, BoobQuake-2015, J-Lo Sued For Excessive Booty Swag

Okay, so there's too much crazy going on in the world right now for me to properly keep up with it all. So, here's a few short things to strain through your brain machine.

Lia Aminuddin started out as a damn good dried flower arranger, but she moved on to be the leader of a largish cult in Indonesia. So I'd say she's done pretty good for herself. Recently, she made a prophesy that a big earthquake would strike Indonesia before the end of May. I think she must have made the rookie mistake of specifying the year in her prediction because everyone's calling that a big fat fail.

So now she's very nicely asking the Indonesian government to give permission to her UFO alien friends to touch down on the National Monument. Archangel Gabriel himself will be at the wheel -- or whatever UFOs have.
The leader of a religious cult based in Jakarta has asked Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and Jakarta’s Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama for their permission to allow a UFO, piloted by the archangel Gabriel, to land at the country’s National Monument so that he can pick up her followers.
No word as to whether these are the same aliens the Raëlians tried to get the Canadian government -- and any other government anywhere -- to build a spaceport for. If not, do you think they get along? Are they, perhaps, at war? What's happened to aliens these days? Why aren't they assertive like in War of the Worlds, V, or Independence Day? What's up with always asking permission?

Joseph Pairin Kitingan is a Malaysian politician who knows what caused a recent earthquake in his country. Bare bottoms and exposed women's breasts, that's what.
The earthquake that has so far claimed 11 lives here was caused by the sacrilegious act of a group of Europeans who stripped naked on the peak of Mount Kinabalu, according to Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
You might doubt, this but Kitingan backs up his proposition with solid evidence from an experience he had earlier that day.
Pairin said he had a premonition that something bad was going to happen earlier this week when he saw a flight of swallows circling outside his house during breakfast.

“At first I didn’t think anything of it, but after it went on for more than half an hour I knew something was not well. I brought it up with my wife and we bought agreed that something bad was going to happen.

“The next day, I was on the way to the airport when the earthquake occurred. To me, when something like this happens, it is a clear connection of the incident to the earthquake that has brought about so much damage and loss of lives,” he said.
He saw some birds and then the earthquake happened while he was on the way to an airport -- where big aluminum birds are -- see? Proof! Now a special ritual has to be performed to appease the mountain gods or the earthquakes just will not stop.

Two of the flashers were Canadians and they're now being held along with the 8 others inside Malaysia for this offense. This is sad and they were pretty dumb for what they did but I hope they don't get jail time for this silliness.

Abdelilah Benkirane is the Prime Minister of Morocco and he's pretty pissed that Jennifer Lopez performed in his country.
The singer's performance at the Mawazine festival in Rabat on 29 May was aired on the 2M public TV network.

Mr Benkirane said the airing was "serious delinquency", adding it contained "disgraceful scenes". 
He added the "sexually suggestive" broadcast was in violation of the country's audiovisual law.
The country's minister of communication is getting pressured to resign after allowing the show to go forward and some educational group is trying to sue Lopez for demeaning women in general with her provocative dancing and posing.

I'm guessing Nicki Minaj had better not perform her Anaconda song in Morocco. Heads would implode.

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, 2 June 2015

The Duggars, Web 'Porn Filtering' Software, And This Blog's Filtered Too!

A couple of years ago, I did a post on Covenant Eyes which is an online content filtering company popular with some Christians. They collect all your browsing history, including all the naughty sites and send a report off to the client's accountability partner -- usually this means a history of hubby's porn watching is sent off to his wife's email for inspection.
Covenant Eyes is perfect for the college/highschool student. Web filtering software poses difficult problems when you need to do research, because many of your searches get blocked. I have used covenant eyes for over a year and LOVE it because I can do my research for school, and there are no restrictions. Instead, covenant eyes simply sends a detailed report of every website I look at to my wife's email each week. She can see where I've been and what I've been doing. It adds a huge level of accountablility to my life in a non-restrictive way. I highly recomend covenant eyes.
Recently, the company sent out a survey to its newsletter subscribers -- I'm totally on it! -- asking for feedback on an upcoming e-book geared at helping singles stay away from online porn.
Good news—our brand new guide for singles is almost done! Written by a self-described perpetual single, this e-book will cover everything we can think of, from why even singles need to quit porn to how to deal with loneliness and bitterness, and ultimately lead a happy, fulfilled life.

Before we wrap it up, though, we want to make sure we’re not missing anything big. So do us a favor, and let us know: What’s the one question this new book needs to answer to be worthwhile?
My mom taught me that if you don't have anything nice or productive to say, you had better just not say anything. I seldom listen to this advice, but in this case I did. It all seemed pretty tragic.

Tragic? Maybe ironic like these two interviews with the Duggar family on their website about how they protect their kids from the dangers of explicit material on the Internet -- presumably using tools like Covenant Eyes! How'd that work out for them? I know, I know, Josh probably predates this software, but not their approach.

Why not give them a listen?

Interview 1Raising Kids in a Sexualized Culture: Interview with the Duggars

Interview 2Teaching Kids to Walk in Wisdom: Interview with the Duggars (Part 2)

Therein you'll learn that the Duggars never watch television, but they'll occasionally plug in a video projector to watch an episode of the Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) -- Game of Thrones or House of Cards is right out. Still, even that show from the 1960s has some pretty sketch material.

Jim Bob explains:
Even with the Andy Griffith Show. It's a very wholesome show, but the problem is, they create situations where there are.. you know... situations that happen that some crisis comes up and they leave God out of the equation. They don't pray to God asking his help. Usually they solve the problem with deceit or manipulation and so it's really teaching how to live your life without God.
I guess Homer's Iliad is also pretty bad. Well, good thing sketchy situations don't happen in the Bible, right?

There are other nuggets too. I'm listening to them now and might share later!

This is all interesting, but why do I bring this up now? It's because due to a strange coincidence, I happened to notice a referring link coming into my blog from, which is Covenant Eyes and the URL contained the words blocked and allowed. I clicked on the link and it brought me to this!

The message:
You will be forwarded to the page you have overridden shortly. Thank you for your patience.
My site is on their filtered list! Although it's possible someone over there manually put me into their black list, it's also very possible that a heuristic algorithm just picked it up due to certain keywords in the pages.

Still, because this person clicked on the override, my site has appeared on someone's accountability list! It's an honor!

Incidentally, they were trying to get to this page on anti-abortion groups distributing vile graphic imagery of mangled fetuses door to door in Ontario.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Militant Islamic Group Promises Not to Kill Non-Muslims if Sharia Law is Imposed!

Militant group is totally down with freedom of expression unless it challenges their religion. (source)
What a relief! Militant Islamic group Ansar al-Islam -- which considers itself a brother with Al Qaeda -- made a press release in the wake of those Bangladesh coldblooded broad daylight barbaric slaughterings of atheist bloggers, just to remind us that atheists are A-Okay, with some caveats.

They're totally cool with atheists and bloggers. Hey! You can blog all you like! However, blogging and atheism at the same time is probably not so cool. Just don't question Islam or Allah, you know - shut the fuck up or die, okay?
"We have no problem with the atheists bloggers, atheism or with other religions or belief but we will not tolerate anyone insulting our Prophet Muhammad. We are targeting those who are insulting our Prophet Muhammad in the name of atheism, the Ansar says.
I'll be looking forward to reading a whole new generation of Bangladeshi atheist blogs where people don't critique religion, God or anything, just to see how they'll get around having no content whatsoever.

Take comfort though, atheists. Because even if you are a Muslim, if you present Islam in a wrong manner through your writings or preach Islam the wrong way, you're also probably going to get hacked to death.
Those who present Islam in a wrong manner through his or her writings will be targeted. We will also target those who try and preach Islam the wrong way. You may be a well known writer or a poet. You have the right to think what you want, but you have no right to preach against Islam, the warning states. 
I know my favourite kind of poetry is self-censored religious fundamentalist terrorist group approved poetry. Yes, that's so inspiring.

This might sound like double speak bordering on the ridiculous. Or like some sort of completely psychotic threat...
The Ansar says that the targets are not the non-Muslims. Every non-Muslim has a right to live and think the way he or she wants. Being a non-Muslim does not make you our target, the Ansar says.

However if anyone is trying to advocate against Islam or trying to change the mind of the people, they will be targeted for sure, the Ansar has further warned.
Hey, you can go right ahead and say whatever you like. Just be aware that if you express your beliefs in public, we'll have to kill you.

Well, that makes me feel much better. Thanks for the reassuring message!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Egyptian Cleric Is Okay With Atheists Getting Human Rights - Just Not In Egypt

This Khaled Al-Gindi looks like a pretty okay guy. He just says some awful things sometimes. I mean, he basically called Shakira a whore a few years back, but we can't be fun all the time, right?
Last year Egypt cleric Khaled al-Gindi decried a performance by hip-shaking sensation Shakira and likened her profession to prostitution but stressed he was sure she was a "nice person."
Now he's getting more flak because he went on television and said some stuff... energetically... well, sort of like someone targeting a specific a-religious minority. You know, it sort of sounded a little bit like a direct call to suppression of and/or violence towards a minority. I guess you might actually call it hate speech, if you're into that sort of thing.

Al-Gindi is totally cool with atheists living and thinking and believing things! He's chill and completely down with that! He just doesn't want them to talk about them or express them in any way in public in their own country. Just for the sake of argument, let's call that freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

I'm sure Al-Gindi doesn't mean to impose his religious views on society or anything. He just wants atheists to shut the fuck up, that's all. If atheists cannot stop themselves from exercising their human rights, he helpfully suggests their exile as a possible cure to his own discomfort with their theological position.

He doesn't think he should leave the country -- it's just better if they get the fuck out.
It was unfortunate that (atheists) were allowed to appear in the media. They say: "God does not exist. The Prophet is like ISIS" and other baseless, nauseating things, that we, unfortunately, heard. What we need are not polite sheiks, but someone to knock some sense into them.

Polite sheiks are the ones who brought this calamity upon us. That's not what we need. These people need a guy who would be tough with them.

If you want to say that the Prophet is like ISIS and that God does not exist, say it when you are abroad, far away from us.

We are a people of believers, whether Christian or Muslim. We have an age-old belief in God. We are the most ancient believing people in history. It's in our DNA.

If you (atheists) don't like the fact we are believers, go find yourself another nation. Stay away from us. Such blatant atheism constitutes an attack on the fundamentals of society. It is an afront to the beliefs of society and to its symbols. The eagle on the Egyptian flag is a symbol. If you harm this eagle, you might go to prison, but if you harm the god of all eagles, you won't?!? If you harm the eagle, a piece of cloth, you might go to prison, but if you affront our god and the Prophet Muhammed, you won't?!? You are punished if you attack the symbols of this country, but not if you affront our God and Prophet Muhammed?!?

We must not allow any affront to religion. It is absolutely forbidden to declare such things out loud. Islam says: "There should be no compulsion in religion" and "Whoever will, let him believe, and whoever will, let him disbelieve." This means you are free in your beliefs.  But don't go beating a drum in Tahrir Square, proclaiming: "I am an apostate!" What are you trying to achieve? They created a (Facebook) page and a political party for apostates. This is a provocation.
He finds all this atheist talk pretty nauseating and he's 100% certain that his god is also totally disgusted and offended by atheists flapping their mouths and sharing their opinions on the media and banging on drums all over the place all the time. Don't even think for a moment he's defending the sensibilities of a mere nonexistent projection of himself -- an extension of his own persona into the idea of a divinity. That's totally wrong!

I mean, who's going to go to court and lay defamation charges against all those non patriots on behalf of the eagle on the flag -- which he's pretty sure is absolutely crushed by hypothetical people theoretically injuring it! Poor eagle. That's nothing compared to God, who gets really down when people don't have faith in him or call him bad things. Who's going to be tough on the atheists when they poo poo Him?

From what I've seen, atheists aren't exactly beating their drums. They already seem concerned about being thrown into jail. I wonder if Al-Gindi has that problem? No, I guess he doesn't! I wonder if his god has that problem? Nope! I suppose that's not an issue for Him either.

Remember that calamity, the Egyptian singer and actress, Donia Massoud? She got the beautiful atheist tattoo proclaiming that her heart's at feud with God. I wonder what Al-Gindi's solution to this problem would be? At any rate, a recent tweet of her's answers some of the the controversy the tattoo stirred up.
There really seems to be something going on in Egypt. Atheists are starting to speak their minds and feathers are being ruffled.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ultra-Orthodox News Site Censorship Goof Leaves Woman's Legs Exposed For All to See!

'Mona Lisa!'
There's a funny and sad story over at Haaretz about Ultra-Orthodox Jewish news site B’Hadrei Haredim blurring out all the women ministers of Bibi Netanyahu's new government in Israel.

The website took this picture of Israel's 34th government:

And they turned it into this:

Then Allison K Sommer at Haaretz noticed that:
There was one interesting oversight, however. While the women weren’t shown -  presumably to protect their modesty and to assist male readers from restraining unwanted animal urges, the editors of the web site seem to have neglected at least one of the minister’s other body parts. While Minister Miri Regev’s face has been completely distorted, her completely bare - and not unattractive legs appear unmarred, and in direct proximity to the hand of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 
For shame!

It's not over yet though. I went back to the original story and her legs are now blurred!

Now she's just a blurry mess of nothing. I hope the sensitive young readers -- I'm sure many teen boys must read this site, fer sure! -- got a chance to check out her legs before they got scrambled.

It reminds me of the scrambled cable channels of my youth. If you waited long enough you might just catch the occasional moan or flickering inverted human face for a second before it broke up again into video distortion. I guess it's a little like this here too. Maybe next month they'll goof up and we'll get to see a little Angela Merkel leg!

Sommer also points out the irony that Miri Regev is the Minister for Senior Citizens, Equality, and Gender Equality!

The story also includes some funny pictures their art department came up with of famous women in paintings and posters... well... censored, of course. Go check out the pictures.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Another Atheist Blogger Hacked to Death by Religious Fanatics in Bangladesh

Ananta Bijoy Das
It's happened again. Another atheist blogger has been brutally murdered in the street, in broad daylight in Bangladesh: Ananta Bijoy Das.
Witnesses said four attackers killed Mr Das in broad daylight near his home as he headed to work at a local bank.

Local police officer Mohammad Rahamatullah told Reuters that Mr Das "came out of his house and what we came to know from the local people who are witnesses, was that four miscreants chased him and killed him near his house".

The attackers fled. Mr Das was taken to hospital but declared dead on arrival.
Here's what needs to happen. Every country that believes in freedom of speech needs to open their borders and offer refuge for bloggers like Das and Avijit Roy who was cut down the same way in February. Any country that does not make this reasonable offer -- given the plain to see evidence of imminent threat against secular bloggers in Bangladesh -- has blood on its hands.
Sweden has confirmed it turned down a visa request from Mr Das in April.

He had been invited to attend a press freedom event by the Swedish Pen writers organisation but officials in the country's embassy in Dhaka refused the request, citing a risk he might not return home.

Swedish Pen told the BBC they were in the process of submitting an appeal when they heard of Mr Das's murder. The group has demanded an explanation from their government, the BBC's John McManus reports.
No fucking wonder they believed he might not return home -- because even they knew of the immense danger he was in, all in the name of a so-called Swedish value... freedom of speech. Shame on Sweden, now he's dead.

Every country needs people like Das to speak out and call out injustices and false thinking everywhere -- especially a place like Bangladesh. In order to be effective, these people must not be dead. If countries like Canada believe in human rights, they need to help bloggers get out of danger so they may continue publishing from safe refuges.

With this third killing, my sadness and shock have turned into anger and frustration. As a fellow blogger, I am stunned at the bravery of these people but feel a sense of deep hopelessness for their future in a place where atheists are seen as sub human by many -- likely also the authorities.

From an IHEU article about another slain blogger, Washiqur Rahman.
Arifur Rahman, another fellow Bangladeshi atheist blogger, saw Washiqur recently at a social meetup. Washiqur was “a soft spoken personality,” says Arifur, and “his writing was very good. He was… careful, but that did not save him… The culture of impunity that has spread over the last few years clearly has very damning results. It is now the consensus inside Bangladesh, be it silent or spoken, that ‘if you drop an atheist in the open street, nothing will happen to you, you will be treated as a hero.’ The word ‘Nastik’ (atheist) has been vilified in Bangladesh (and the rest of the Muslim world); they are seen as sub-human, it is OK to kill them.”
I'm shocked and sad for Mr. Das' friends, family and country this morning. If you are an atheist blogger in Bangladesh, you must escape. You have to get out.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Telegraph Mistakenly(?) Republishes Story About 'Boobquake' Cleric's 2010 Remarks

Woman in northern Iran, 1971. (source)
It probably doesn't bode well for Iran that I keep writing about them day after day, it seems. Just yesterday, we learned about the government's crackdown on Satanic haircuts and bikini waxing. Well, now we hear from our old friend Kazem Seddiqi who inspired Boobquake back in 2010.

A story appeared on the Telegraph new site -- and only this site -- yesterday about the good cleric apparently once again having problems with women over exposing themselves.
In about the most extreme example of slut shaming yet, a prayer leader in Tehran has blamed earthquakes on women who dress provocatively and tempt people into promiscuity.

"When promiscuity spreads, earthquakes increase," Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi said during prayers on Friday, a video of which was later posted on YouTube.

"There is no way other than taking refuge in religion and adapting ourselves to Islamic behavior," he added.
Except, wait! This story seems to be just a reprint (freezepage) of the precise same quote from 2010, just before Jennifer McCreight invented the protest. The date on the page is yesterday though, so I saw it pop up on my Facebook feed yesterday.

Oh well! I guess this is a nice reminder to us all of a golden classic from five years ago. I wonder if someone at the Telegraph mistakenly chose the wrong year with scheduling the story all those five years ago? Wouldn't that be an interesting sort of time capsule into past ridiculousness? The caption on the story's picture is 'Okay guy.' which also seems a little... wrong.

The picture above this post is fairly typical beach attire for Iranian women in pre-Revolution Iran. In fact, regular bikinis were en mode. Off the beach, many people dressed much like they would these days:

Students at Tehran University, 1971 (source)
Given the post-Revolution dress code, which has been in effect for the past 36 years, it seems they're still getting rather a lot of quakes. I wonder what else women should be covering up?


Sunday, 3 May 2015

New Apps to Keep 'Sexually Frustrated' Muslim Youth From Abandoning Islam for Extremist Groups & Atheism

I've been so busy with work and home life lately that I've felt a little muzzled. Not muzzled like Saudi Arabia atheist muzzled, but silenced by lack of time. So please bear with me as I post a bunch of older stuff.

I don't often post about the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I do know that things aren't quite as bad there as in their neighbour, Saudi Arabia, when it comes to womens rights -- not that that is much to aspire to. This is where Saudi women driving activist Loujain Hathloul got her license before she drove over the border and promptly got arrested by Saudi police.

Still, interesting things are afoot in the UAE. Recently, they had a Haqqathon which is a gathering of app developers and part of a much broader initiative by The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. This appears to be a large conference with the goal of promoting peace in Muslim societies.
The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, in partnership with the US-based startup incubator Affinis Labs, held the first-ever Haqqathon ("haqq" means "truth" in Arabic), a 3-day hackathon from April 27-29 that brought together experts in technology, youth culture, entertainment, Islamic scholarship, and other disciplines to create cutting-edge solutions for promoting peace.

Participants at the Haqqathon worked on new social media and digital initiatives that will help Islamic scholars connect with Muslim youth. Teams competed in a fast-paced race against the clock and pitched their ideas in front of judges, a live audience, and a global online audience that watched a live streaming broadcast. The winning teams received prizes and support for incubation at Affinis Labs.
I'm all for conferences promoting peace, but I found the initiative to get Islamic scholars to connect with youth, kind of humorous for some reason. Perhaps it's my secular Quebec outlook. Or maybe it was the primary problem they were trying to address.
Mohsin Khan, an English teacher from Britain whose group was creating a website dedicated to answering Muslims’ questions on sex, sexuality and relationships, said: “If scholars want to be relevant they need to meet the youth where they are, and they’re on digital platforms.

“If you look at one of the major searches online for Muslim youth, sex and sexuality tops searches on praying, fasting and the basic tenets of Islam.”

Mr Khan said seven of the top 10 countries for online pornography searches had majority-Muslim populations, so it was clearly a relevant topic.
Wonder why that could be. Hopefully, the advice given by these scholars isn't anything like the sex tips from these clerics in Malaysia or this one in Iran.
Mr Khan said sexual frustration was undeniably one of the reasons for disenfranchised youth being susceptible to the messages coming from extremist groups.
Extremist and ... atheists! 
“We need platforms which not only offer bite-sized clips but also interaction so the user can remained engaged,” he said.

Such apps would not only help to battle the misleading messages of violent groups such as ISIL, but also counter a rise in atheism within Muslim communities, Mr Mahmoud said.
Call it my cynical Quebecois Canadian side talking again, but I just don't think 60 second sound bites from Muslim scholars will compete against what's out there in the Internet -- unless you live in a country which heavily censors it.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Blue Monkeys Dressed Up Like Russian Orthodox Clerics: Atheist Artist in Latvia Makes it Big!

I'm being swamped with work and life right now, so expect short stupid posts -- or shorter stupider posts -- while I deal with the outside world.

So, to cheer you all up, I present this charming story about Latvian artist, Sergei Dyomin, who's taken to painting monkeys in Russian Orthodox cleric garb. Some of them are blue monkeys.
Dyomin, an artist living in the Latvian capital, Riga, won international attention in 2010 when his icon-style painting Boris And Gleb -- featuring two monkeys in the guise of the 11th-century Orthodox saints -- was a finalist in an online competition created by the prestigious Saatchi Gallery.

Another simian image won him a second-finalist spot in 2014 -- Blue Monkey, featuring a solemn, blue-faced baboon in Orthodox clerical garb. The painting was so popular it was purchased before it could be featured in the annual winners' exhibition in London.
I love these paintings and the art world does too. He's now selling his holy monkeys for upwards of $10,000 per canvas. Some are seeing it all as downright offensive -- non fun people, of course.

Dyomin, himself an atheist, simply loves the way the art looks and rightly says that if people are truly religious, they ought not to have any problem with these pictures.
"I'm an atheist, but I'm not opposed to people being religious," the artist says. "If their convictions are really deep, then they should be impervious to offense. They have their path and they travel along it, ignoring outside irritants."
Damn straight. I don't know if the Orthodox church in Latvia wields the same sort of power as the one in Russia -- where they effectively ban operas they don't like -- so I sure hope that higher ups in monkey suits don't shut him down.

Go check out a couple of other paintings at the story.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

UK Cinema Stops Showing 'Blasphemous' Film After Sikh Groups Protest

Sikh group protesting Nanak Shah Fakir in front of Empire Cinema in Slough, UK.
The movie Nanak Shah Fakir was released this year and is about the life and teachings of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev. It is my understanding - limited as it is - that there is a prohibition against visual depictions of the guru in Sikhism, like in Islam.
The movie is facing criticism after release of trailers for depicting Guru Nanak which is against the Sikh philosophy.
Protests occurred outside the Indian parliament where the following explanation was given.
Talking to media persons the protesters said that Narendra Modi led government should ban screening of Nanak Shah Fakir film throughout India.

“Government should refrain from hurting Sikh sentiments by allowing screening of blasphemous movie Nanak Shah Fakir, which violates Sikh tenets by making visual representation of Guru Nanak Ji” said Gurcharan Singh Babbar.
So there have been protests against it in India and at least a couple of cities in the UK.
Local sources told Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) that Sikhs from Slough and adjoining areas will be joining in for a peaceful protest against screening of the controversial movie, which violates basic tenets of the Sikh nation.
Quick reminder: This nation they are protesting in is supposedly a secular democracy.

Hundreds of moviegoers were evacuated from a cinema on Sunday in Bentley Bridge, Wednesfield, UK after around 50 protesters loudly broke into the theater and laid down in the isles in protest screaming and shouting.
Police had to be called and the cinema cleared and closed after the protestors surged through the main entrance and headed for the screen showing Bollywood blockbuster, Nanak Shah Fakir.

Once inside, the Sikh campaigners sat down on the floor and began to shout, refusing to move until cinema bosses met their demands and stopped the screening.
It's so considerate of these people for not minding their own business and merely giving a movie which offends them a miss. Rather, they have made an effort to get out and prevent anyone from seeing it. They could be sitting at home boycotting the film in protest -- as I'm sure all good Sikhs would do anyway -- but instead, they are out preventing other people from ever seeing it. Many may not be offended by the film or they who would like to actually see the film before deciding whether or not to be offended.

A special thanks to them for telling the hundreds of people in the theater that they cannot watch the movie, in a so-called secular democracy, because it offends their own religious sensibilities!
It has been banned in many parts of India and attracted mass protests, while some UK cinemas have refused to show it through fear of offending religious sentiments.
One moviegoer, who chose to watch the film himself - compelled by no one, exercising his rights as a citizen of a liberal democracy - pretty much nailed it:
He said: "It was extremely intimidating. For a group of people to be able to get a film stopped and then banned is just ridiculous.

"It's an attack on freedom of speech. The atmosphere was quite aggressive in there and it's not what you expect to face when you go and watch a film."
No worries, though. Just today, the film has been pulled out of all markets. The UK was the only European market to screen it, by the way. Other markets were no doubt too afraid of upsetting the faithful.

If you're curious, here's the preview for the film, which you'll never get to see because some people find it too offensive for you to see.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Russia Cracks Down On Internet Memes & Operatic "Distortions"

It's a bird! It's a weasel! It's a Putin riding a weasel riding a bird!
It had been awhile since I checked in on Russia, land of Pussy Riots and shirtless Vladimir Putins.  So, I checked up on the country and it looks like human rights and freedom of expression are becoming real scarcities there these days. Time to rattle on about Russia.

First off, Putin's government seems to be really sick and tired of Internet memes like this one:

It was originally reported that the government banned all Internet memes. That's not true, though. They only made it possible for public figures to sue sites with memes if the memes themselves do not accurately reflect the personality/character of the depicted ... or something like that. It's really along the same lines as the don't offend anyone's religious sensibilities law they have already. It's like a blasphemy law protecting people who could very likely believe themselves to be gods. As far as I can see, it's another nail the coffin of satire in Russia.

Speaking of such people, here are some more good Vladimir Putin memes for your browsing pleasure.

Alina Kabaeva
The rumour mill's been really churning out news about Putin fathering a new baby with his gymnast lover, Alina Kabaeva. He divorced his wife just a year ago. This is of course, all speculation.

He recently met with Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church and praised him for his great work on keeping the youth moral and patriotic and family ties strong. Putin and the church have been working together to make LGBT people's lives a living hell in the country.
Putin credited Kirill for guiding the flock, especially in ensuring the revival of traditional moral values, and the enlightenment of the younger generation.

The Russian president, who some accuse of using the Church for his own purposes, also commended the Orthodox Church for steering the faithful in terms of protecting the family, consolidating society, and harmonising religious beliefs.
I guess this is all legit enough. Still, it all makes me wonder how much of a role model Putin is.

Speaking of roles, if you're going to sing or act in a Russian opera or play, you had better ensure it doesn't distort the classical versions.

I've been covering the effective shutdown of Timofey Kulyabin's modern rendition of Wagner's Tannhauser. The courts ruled that this director's play shouldn't be censored just because some Russian Orthodox cleric who's never watched it complained. Well, that won't do! So the government had the theatre boss fired!

Now the government is going all retro-Soviet style and demanding that all new opera productions be pre-approved.
In the past few weeks, Russian Orthodox Church leaders in Novosibirsk organized protests over the portrayal of religious symbols in an opera that led to the theater director being fired by the Russian Culture Ministry. Orthodox activists in Moscow delivered a severed pig’s head to a famous director to protest religious symbols he used in a play in one of the city’s preeminent theaters. A Russian arts council began examining ways to prevent and punish “distortions” of classic plays, and Kremlin officials proposed introducing a preliminary review process for theatrical productions — effectively, a Soviet-style censoring board.
This is all to make sure that sensitive religious people -- who deliver severed pigs' heads -- do not have their delicate religious sensibilities disturbed.
Officials defend their actions as steps to urge Russian theater directors to exercise greater “taste, common sense and responsibility,” as Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky told Russian news outlet Moskovsky Komsomolets this month, and to “show respect for the audience, the public, to the city.” That includes censoring one’s output from within, Medinsky stressed — and not “neglect[ing] the feelings of believers.”
When you challenge, question or mock the beliefs of this pious lot, they'll saw off the head of a pig and send it to you in the mail.

A Russian Orthodox cleric explains:
“All the actors who appeared naked, simulating sexual relations, even touching Christ, who is sacred for us — this is something we cannot tolerate, because it is against our conscience,” said Vakhtang Kipshidze, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. The opera directors should have discussed the staging with the church first, Kipshidze said, to avoid this situation.
In Russia, tolerance means non-believers tolerating the beliefs and morality of the church being imposed into every nook and cranny of society. The church, on the other hand, need not tolerate anything it cannot because of its conscience. That's when the pig heads start getting sent about.

People outside of the church also need to tolerate having all of their expression first approved by Orthodox clerics. That's right, if you want to express yourself in Russia, you had better get approval from one of Kirill's people or Putin will shut you down.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Kremlin Could Step In With 'Government Opera Approval Process' To Avoid Offending Religious Sensibilities

Scene from 2008 Barcelona production of Wagner's opera Tannhäuser where Venus is kicking some bloody ass. (source)
I'll admit that I'm no huge fan of opera, but what's going on in Russia with Wagner's Tannhauser, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin is a whole drama unto itself.

In a nutshell, Russian opera director Timofey Kulyabin produced an opera that had Jesus in it. This offended a Russian Orthodox cleric (who never actually watched the show). The cleric brought the Kulyabin to court but the court threw out the case. Then, the Minister of Culture went and fired the opera house boss Boris Mezdrich

CORRECTION: In my last story, I had confused Mezdrich with Kulyabin. The government stepped in and fired the boss of the entire opera house in order to deal with this single opera -- which won in court. 

Now, according to SlippedDisc, the Kremlin is stepping in to control the opera repertoire, with a government approval process, so as to not offend anyone's religious sensibilities!
‘Today I spoke with the Ministry of Culture. Probably, it will be necessary at some stage to approve the repertoire, especially at state theatres … They should no be allowed to hurt the feelings of believers. We have no right to produce works that outrage part of the population and cause feelings of insult. This should not be allowed.’
What the hell is wrong with believers and their feelings? The sanitizing of artistic expression is, truly, a horrendous sign that Russia is descending further into a sort of puritanical theocracy. This does appear to be fascism.

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