Showing posts with label freedom from religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label freedom from religion. Show all posts

Monday, 2 November 2015

Wife of Hacked Bangladeshi Blogger is Canadian & Needs Your Help

Tareq Rahim and Monika Mistry
On May 30th, Bangladeshi secular blogger Tareq Rahim married Canadian citizen Monika Mistry. Because of the long history of brutal attacks on secular bloggers and their associates in this secular democracy, Monika feared for Tareq's life. On Saturday, her worst fears were confirmed. Tareq was slashed and left to bleed to death in a locked office by a pack of raving religious extremists.

CFI Canada has released a statement about Tareq and Monika - neither actual atheists, but rather secularists - imploring us to contact our government, to help Tareq somehow survive a country where even the police seem to drag their feet to protect anyone on the terrorists' hit list.
Monika Mistry is a Canadian citizen who was in contact with CFIC on the day of her spouse’s brutal victimization by people who can only be considered faith-based terrorists.  During a heart-wrenching conversation full of desperate concern and worry, Monika Mistry told us about the couple’s May 30th, 2015 marriage in Bangladesh.  Mistry and Rahim are a mixed-faith marriage – one of the couple being Muslim and the other Hindu. Although here in Canada such mixes are honoured and respected for their ability to spread diversity and tolerance, it is a situation that is often looked down-upon by the community and families in Bangladesh.

With their marriage so recent, Mistry was reluctant to see Rahim remain in unstable and dangerous Bangladesh, but their plan was to make-do until they could complete Immigration Canada’s paperwork that would enable the couple to reunite in Canada. Unfortunately the terrorists found Rahim first.

Mistry has told CFIC, “I am so frightened for Tareq. I am most afraid that when he is released from hospital that there are people waiting in the street to attack him again.”  In the hospital, Tareq Rahim has a modicum of security. On the streets and even in his home, protection is not available.  We know from the murder of Avijit Roy and the brutal assault on Rafida Bonya Ahmed that police and thousands of people will stand by as machete-wielding fanatics kill a target.  We also know from the murder of Niloy Neel that attackers will enter a person’s home to carry out their threats.
The most recent reports I can find, from sources I'm rather uncertain of, say that Rahim is still in critical condition and may lose an arm.

Through all of this, I am stunned at the relative media silence I've come across here in Canada - either in French or English. Meanwhile, we're seeing a protest in London by the Bangladesh Community Blog Alliance.

Publishers in Bangladesh are burning books in protest urging an apparently lethargic government and police force to take real action to prosecute and protect.
Rallies were also held in other cities and towns to demand more protection for publishers, bloggers and writers, some of whom have fled the country or gone into hiding.

“The people who have so far fallen victim to the attacks are thinking people, those who believe in freedom of expression, and those who believe in secular values. A series of killings have taken place but now the focus is on publishers ... I feel absolutely traumatised,” said Mohiuddin Ahmed, a publisher in Dhaka.
What can we do as Canadians? We can write our government and prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau. Remember that it's always better to use your own words, but a letter is always better than no letter, so CFI Canada has provided the following sample letter:
To the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

It has come to my attention that one of the victims of the October 31, 2015 attacks by faith-based terrorists in Dhaka, Bangladesh is the spouse of a Canadian citizen.  Mr. Tareq Rahim, an intellectual and blogger, was attacked for exercising what Canadians enjoy every day – the right to freedom of expression in an open, tolerant and secular society.

Tareq Rahim is married to Canadian citizen and resident, Monika Mistry; they have a mixed-faith marriage and had plans to enjoy their tolerant and diversity-inspired marriage here in Canada once they were able to complete Immigration Canada’s paperwork.  Unfortunately terrorists found Rahim first with an attempt to take his life.  I urge the Canadian government to assist Tareq Rahim and Monika Mistry to expedite this process and bring Tareq to Canada and his family to recover from this brutal attack.

I further ask you to answer the question put to CFI Canada by one of our Bangladeshi friends, “Is it really so hard for a country to provide protection for 40-50 people” targeted by known faith-based terrorists?  Is it really so hard to extend protection to intellectuals, secularists, humanists, atheists who have been strategically targeted to separate a country’s population from its secular foundations?

Prime Minister, let the first days of your new government include an act of compassion and concern for Canadians such as Monika Mistry whose greatest ambition is to enjoy Canada’s diversity, freedom and welcoming community.  Help us to reunite Tareq Rahim with his wife while he recovers from this brutal assault of faith-based terrorism.

Yours Truly,
You'll want to address it:
Justin Trudeau
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
His constituency information is also on that page. It's also likely you could leave him a message or fax it.
Telephone: 613-995-8872
Fax: 613-995-9926
Remember that Justin is plugged in to the Internet, unlike older politicians. So you can also probably send him the letter at or tweet him at

You can also send a letter to your MP. Just check here.

The blog where many of the victims of these brutal attacks posted, Mukto-Mona, has even reprinted the CFI statement. Their eyes are on Canada and as Canadians, we should take the lead and fight for freedom of expression in Bangladesh. We need to make a counter example - that our country believes in the principles of human rights and is willing to stand up against murderous religiously motivated terrorists.

(Image source)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Bangladeshi Islamist Terrorists Hack Atheist Bloggers & Publishers

Slain publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan
Details are still a bit confusing, but it appears as if barbarous religiously motivated murderers have attacked two secular bloggers and two publishers in Bangladesh. All of this happened earlier today, virtually at the same time - which suggests a well orchestrated attack.

Here's what I've been able to figure out so far.

Faisal Arefin Dipan

Faisal was the publisher of Avijit Roy,  who was hacked to death by lunatics in February.  Faisal was cut down today by assailants who have obvious contempt for freedom of speech in his office.
Faisal Arefin Dipan, who ran 'Jagriti Prokashony', was hacked to death in his office on the second floor of Aziz Supermarket at Shahbagh on Saturday, blogger and online activist Mahmudul Haque Munshi told
He died at the hospital of his wounds.
'Jagriti Prokashony' manager Md Alauddin told " When I entered the office around 5:30pm , Dipan was lying in a pool of blood. There were deep cuts on his neck and upper shoulder."

Ahmedur Rashid Tutul 

Just hours before Dipan was murdered, another publisher, and friend of Avijit Roy, was killed. Two bloggers were with him at the time. All three were locked in the office from the outside and police had to break the lock to recover them.
Witnesses told that the assailants hacked Tutul before locking up him and a few others in the office from outside.

Ahmedur Rashid Tutul (File Photo) Ahmedur Rashid Tutul (File Photo) Police rushed to spot and rescued three people from the spot and took them to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Mohammadpur police OC Jamal Uddin Mir told’s Liton Haider reported from the spot that bloodstains were found in room. Residents of the building told him they had also heard sounds of firing.

Tutul had filed a complaint with police after being threatened with death on the Facebook following the attack on Roy and his wife earlier this year.
Word on the street is that the Bangladesh police and suspiciously ineffective in protecting these bloggers and publishers, who are clearly at risk.
Some secular groups also blamed the government for failing to provide protection.

Ganajagaran Mancha spokesperson Imran H Sarker said these attacks prove the "law enforcing agencies have totally failed".

"It is also not possible to carry out these attacks without connivance of some in the government," Sarker told reporters at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Last word I've found is that Tutul's condition is critical.

Ranadipam Basu

Blogger Ranadipam Basu was with Rashid Tutul in the office at the time of the attack. He was also badly hacked and posted a grim status update on his Facebook while he, Dipan and another writer were locked in the office, bleeding to death.

“Kubaise ami Tutul bhai ar Tareq” [They hacked us – Tutul, Tareq and me].
Last word I've found on Basu is he's undergoing treatment in the hospital for serious injuries.

Tareque Rahim

Rahim was the second blogger in the office with Tuhul. He was also seriously injured and was brought to hospital. Last word I have on him is he's still in hospital and his condition, like the now deceased Tuhul - is grave.
They all were hacked on the head, said Sentu Das, an assistant sub-inspector of the hospital’s police camp. Among them, the condition of Tutul and Tareque was said to be grave.
It's urgent that these bloggers and their publishers be saved from Bangladesh and brought to safer lands (note: I say safer not safe).

I don't have any more words for this yet, other than that freedom of speech, expression and religion (or lack thereof) in Bangladesh is now being hacked to death by religious zealots and the government there seems completely unable or completely disinterested in saving it.

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)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

UK Professor Suggests No Microwaving Bacon in Communal Workplace Kitchens

At my office, there are unwritten rules about what can go into the microwaves in our shared kitchen. No microwave popcorn, a minimal amount of bacon and absolutely no smelly fish. These aren't codified anywhere, they're just there so people do not get unnecessarily distracted by the smell.

Well, Professor Adam Dinham of Goldsmith’s University in London runs the Religious Literacy Leadership program and involved with CoExist House. He released some helpful guidelines about how business communal kitchens ought to work so as to not offend religious sensibilities.
Professor Adam Dinham suggests not microwaving sausage rolls in a shared kitchen space. He also advises that you should not keep bacon, or bacon rolls, in the fridge if it is shared with people whose beliefs prohibit them from eating pork.

The guidelines go on to suggest that employers should serve certified Halal and kosher food at corporate events, and consider whether or not alcohol should be served.
It's cuz we've all become really blind by secularism.
Professor Dinham said: ‘We have lost the ability to talk about religious belief because of a century of secular assumptions, and most religious belief is either highly visible and we don’t recognise it, or it’s invisible and we miss it entirely.’
It's interesting that pork is being singled out, isn't it? I'm wondering why there are no suggestions to not allow warming up your beef cottage pie in the microwave so as to not disturb Hindus. Is Dinham suggesting they become less agitated than Jews or Muslims?

What about the Jain in your office? I would expect no meat all all to be allowed so as to not offend them.

This would make the environment tolerable for vegetarians, for sure. What about vegans though? Ought we also suggest there by no dairy products or eggs at the office? Well, I suppose veganism is not a religion and is therefore not at the same level of importance to Mr. Dinham.

Nevermind that there is considerable controversy around Halal and Kosher slaughtering techniques even among meat eaters. What about their sensibilities? Not religious, I guess.

What about gluten in the office? Celiac disease is not a religious sensibility, this is an actual physical reaction to consumption of gluten, found in many foods. Shouldn't this be right up there on top if we're going to be discussing etiquette?

So what about a pork, beef, meat, eggs, dairy, bread, dairy free kitchen?

Understandably, there was a negative reaction to this on the Internet yesterday. People thought it amounted to a ban - which it wasn't. However, I found this VICE Munchies article by Alex Swerdloff that seems to have utterly missed how the original guidelines are troublesome - a point I made above but would have thought to be obvious to anyone.
It was just a few suggestions: Don’t keep bacon in the office fridge if your colleagues don’t eat bacon. Microwaving a sausage roll might be offensive to your Muslim coworker. That kind of thing.
I think he meant to say this one and only thing apparently for these two specific groups.

Commenter hayleyscomet sums things up over at the Independent.
If you are going to go down that route, the only way to avoid offending anyone is to have offices segregated by religion and dietary preference.  
We've seen this sort of thing before on a much larger scale in India - a so-called secular state. Although guidelines are not laws or bans, the line between them in an office environment can be thin.

How about this for a novel approach at inter-faith (or no faith) co-existence at the office? I'll let you cook and eat what you like so long as you do not attempt to control my own diet by appealing to your wounded religious sensibilities?

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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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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Guest Post from Veronica Abbass: We Will Fight!

The following is a short guest post from fellow blogger Veronica Abbass, who writes over at Canadian Atheist.

I write this in a safe place: my own house, in my city and in my country. Other bloggers are not so fortunate:
In the past two years, about 10 secular bloggers and their supporters have been killed by religious extremists in Bangladesh because of their writings criticizing religious extremism.

In response to the threats and violence, some have moved abroad.
However, despite the "hitlist of secular bloggers, writers and activists around the world" issued by the Ansarullah Bangla Team, an Islamic militant group in Bangladesh, the secular bloggers are determined to fight against the threat to their lives. Ajanta Deb Roy, a London-based activist with Bangladesh’s Gonojagoron Mancho or National Awakening Platform, has promised,
'We will fight'
“They want us to move away from the path of activism. None of our fellow activists, many of whom are bloggers, will come out from our way of activism. Until our last breath, we will fight for the sake of secularism, freethinking, human rights and religious tolerance."
In a July 1 post on this website, Sean McGuire reflected, how lucky I am to live in a country where it's (still) possible to safely blog about atheism,  the dangers of religion and state-church separation issues. If we were not so lucky, would we be so brave as Bangladeshi blogger Ananya Azad, now living in Germany?
“They want me to stop writing. But I am dead sure that in no situation I can stop writing. With my secular and rationalist belief I shall keep on writing as long as I am alive."

I honestly don't know.

Veronica Abbass is a self-described atheist activist who blogs at Canadian Atheist.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Sign This Petition to Get Saudi Arabia Off UN Human Rights Council

My post yesterday about Saudi Arabia being appointed a key role within the UN Human Rights Council was mainly a vent. It didn't have anything you could actually do about this situation.

Well, I still don't have much, but I do have this petition to remove Saudi Arabia from the panel altogether.

It was started just two days ago and has already amassed over 11,000 signatures.

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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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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Huge IHEU Join Open Letter to Bangladeshi PM & President

I'm proud to have had the opportunity to add my name to an excellent open letter addressed to the Prime Minister and President of Bangladesh from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).

This is in the wake of months of apparent Bangladeshi police bungling and apathy when it comes to properly investigating the brutal murder of five atheist bloggers in the past two years. In fact, just days after atheist blogger Niloy Neel had his head and hands hacked off by religious lunatics, the country's highest level policeman - in an action worthy of an asshole of the year prize - advised living atheist bloggers to stop writing against religion, or else face trouble with the law. This behaviour is disgusting and has prompted a petition demanding the police chief's resignation.

The letter itself covers this:
Following the murder of Niladri Chatterjee on 7 August, the Inspector General of Police engaged in victim-blaming, called for self-censorship, and threatened bloggers — the very people who are being murdered — with legal action under the current quasi-blasphemy law. Meanwhile, despite some counter-terrorism operations, the police have comprehensively failed to disrupt the networks that are ordering or carrying out these cowardly attacks. Even with two of the killers caught at the scene (after the murder of Washiqur Rahman) and claims of responsibility made openly on social media and via news outlets, still the attacks go on, and the extremists behind the killings remain at large. Instead of calling for vigilance and evidence against the murderers from the general public, police have instead encouraged the public to report alleged atheistic writings.
Indeed, how can bloggers expect their human rights and safety to be protected if their own government apparently holds them in contempt?
Furthermore, your Cabinet Committee for Law and Order, headed by Minister of Industries Amir Hossain Amu, on their 9 August 2015 meeting decided “to declare Atheist authors as criminals”, thereby making them subject to prosecution, and intelligence agencies have been asked to monitor blogs to find those atheist writers. Even under the current law, such a mass arrest of people who profess non-religious views in their online communications would represent a grave violation of the international human rights obligations to which Bangladesh is committed. The Home Minister in a separate speech was seen repeating the same warning message.
The letter goes on to implore that the president
  • ensure the safety and security of those individuals whose lives are threatened by Islamist extremists, including the witnesses and family members
  • instruct the police to find the killers, not to harass or blame the victims
  • disassociate yourself publicly from those who call for death penalties against non-religious Bangladeshis, and ensure using your executive authority that individuals within your party membership maintain the same standard of respect for freedom of conscience and expression
  • work decisively for legal reform to repeal Section 295A of the Penal Code and section 57 of the ICT Act of 2006, in order to bring the legal system of Bangladesh in line with the  spirit and values of freedom of expression and ‘of conscience’ as enshrined in the Constitution of Bangladesh, and as per obligations under the international human rights instruments to which Bangladesh is party.

Fellow blogger Veronica Abbass is also on the list of supporters. She points out the Canadian contribution on a recent post over at Canadian Atheist and I'm proud to be on that list.

The full list of supporters is at the bottom of the Bangla version of the letter.

Veronica also points out that things aren't exactly perfect here in Canada either. She points out a post I recently made about the proposed Bill 59 here in Quebec which could threaten our ability as atheist bloggers to question, criticize and otherwise despise religion. More on that in future posts.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Quebec's Proposed Anti-Hate Speech Bill Is Cause For Concern

I run an atheist, perhaps even anti-theist blog, which would certainly be shut down in a country like Saudi Arabia or Turkey. In Saudi Arabia, they equate atheists with terrorists, while in Egypt atheism is considered a kind of extremism against Islam by authorities.

The Quebec government has tabled Bill 59An Act to enact the Act to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence and to amend various legislative provisions to better protect individuals. This sounds okay, but it's worrisome, because what can constitute hate speech is rather vague.
The Act provides for the prohibition of hate speech and speech inciting violence that are engaged in or disseminated publicly and that target a group of people sharing a common characteristic identified as prohibited grounds for discrimination under section 10 of the Charter of human rights and freedoms. Acting in such a manner as to cause such types of speech to be engaged in or disseminated is also prohibited. The Act introduces a procedure for reporting such speech to the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse which includes measures for protecting people who report it, and grants the Commission new powers, including powers of investigation. The Commission is allowed to apply for a court order requiring such speech to cease. New responsibilities are therefore assigned to the Human Rights Tribunal, including the responsibility for determining whether a person has engaged in or disseminated such speech or acted in such a manner as to cause such acts to be committed and, if applicable, to determine the amount of the monetary penalties applicable. If the Tribunal concludes that a person has contravened those prohibitions, the person’s name is entered, for the time determined by the Tribunal, on a list kept by the Commission and available on the Internet. In addition, the Charter of human rights and freedoms is amended to introduce the prohibition against engaging in or disseminating such speech targeting an individual, thus rendering the reporting procedure under the Charter applicable.
In a previous post, I defined hate speech like this:
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.
Notice I tend to lean more on the side of inciting violence. I find it worrisome that the bill mentions both separately. I also find it worrisome that similar sorts of prohibition seem to be used in countries like Bangladesh to silence atheist bloggers - because their words apparently incite hate and violence.

There is already a law against hate speech here in Canada. Bill 59 adds extra teeth to this law. I would be able to make a clear decision about whether or not I'm for this law if someone could properly define hate speech for me. I've been looking around the stories concerning Bill 59 and I haven't really seen anything that lays out what hate speech is. It seems to be left to the discretion of the Quebec human rights commission.
But Bill 59 — “to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence” — would introduce a procedure for reporting hate speech to the Quebec human rights commission and would grant the commission new powers, including the power to investigate.
Essentially, the commission can act on a private complaint and themselves determine whether or not something constitutes hate speech.
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.

Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Voltaire could all be found to have incited violence and hatred, said Grey. Should they have been censored?

He and Latour argued that the Bill was dangerous and invasive. It allowed for anonymous complainants and a public list of those found guilty — forever available online.
In fact, the National Post makes an even more disturbing point:
Bill 59, on which consultations are to start next week, is far more worrisome. Bill 59 assigns new powers to the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to combat hate speech, as well as a variety of other provisions meant to protect against extremism, by censoring speech that promotes “fear of the other.” Ominously, the bill would allow the QHRC to pursue websites that in its estimation describe and denounce Islamism.

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.”
This is very much not a good thing and it's very much like the situation in some countries I do not wish to live in.
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.
I don't know how much of this concern is immediately legitimate, because I've actually agreed with Jacques Fremont when he came down hard on child welfare concerning the Lev Tahor case not long ago. Still, this illustrates an important point. Do we want to leave such an important definition to a commission? This is plenty of power to silence freedom of speech, in the interest of social harmony (like in Singapore) given to a small group.

Lots of minority groups realize that if such a commission is to have such power to determine what's hate and what's not, they had better get on the group or at least help define the parameters.
Some groups are upset that they were not invited to speak at the National Assembly during the hearings. Samer Majzoub, the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said he was alarmed because the current list fails to illustrate the diversity of Quebec.

“It is missing all of the groups,” Majzoub said. “They are Quebecers at the end of the day, but we don’t hear from them at all.”

Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, says his organization has launched a special request to be heard. He is concerned that the hearings fail to include minorities who are often the targets of hate speech.
I hope groups like CFI Canada and Atheist Freethinkers also manage to get into this discussion, since I worry that their own websites might someday be shut down by an over-zealous commission.

I'm very worried indeed.

In the end, I want to make it clear that I do not condone violence or discrimination against any minority group - whether they be religious or atheist or any other protected class. It's a good idea on paper, but how can we properly implement such a thing without interfering with people's right to expression? In a civil society, everyone needs the right to criticize the ideas and beliefs of everyone else - this is how a democracy works.

(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, 7 August 2015

Another Atheist Blogger Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

Niloy Neel
It sickens me to write that yet another - the fourth this year - atheist blogger was hacked to death - decapitated by a bunch of insane and inhuman religious nuts.
Niloy Chowdhury Neel, an online activist and secularist protester, has been found dead in his home, according to early reports. He was decapitated and his hands had been cut off. The four or five assailants had apparently gained access to his building by posing as a tenant, shortly after Juma prayers this afternoon.
It's really that easy for people to get away with murder in Bangladesh - when the victim is an atheist, at least. This is the fourth since the year has begun and there are over 80 bloggers on a list of blasphemers which was presented to the government previously.
All four men killed were on a list of 84 "atheist bloggers" drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and widely circulated.

It was originally submitted to the government with the aim of having the bloggers arrested and tried for blasphemy. The groups which wanted bloggers arrested told us they have no knowledge of who is behind the killings.
The BBC article quoted above points out that not all of the 84 are actually atheist. Some are religious secularists. However, it's this branding as an atheist that apparently makes it okay to be butchered to death in the street or your home.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Canada needs to work to get these people OUT of Bangladesh or they will all be murdered.

It's only a matter of time, and Bangladeshi society is apparently already trivializing this brutal act in the media. Bob Churchill, Director of Communications at IHEU:
Already some Bangla media is downplaying this killing, in some cases not linking it to the spate of gruesome machete murders of atheist bloggers, writers, and secularist activists that has killed three men already this year.
We need our Office of Religious Freedom and Department of Foreign Affairs to not only strongly condemn this barbarism but also offer amnesty for all of these bloggers. Then, we all need to work with organizations interested in human rights to get these people out of Bangladesh.

This is a horrendous tragedy and my heart goes out to Neel's family and friends.

I hope other bloggers can get out in time.

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.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Bangladeshi Politician Jailed For Hurting Religious Sentiment, Branded 'Atheist' & Life Threatened

Abdul Latif Siddiqui
Atheist bloggers aren't the only ones in Bangladesh who need to be very careful about what they say. Politicians also risk being murdered for expressing any opinion which could inflame the rage of Islamic terrorists.
“He will be killed wherever he is found. No atheist has been spared since the independence of Bangladesh,” the Dhaka Tribune quoted Maulana Junayed Al Habib as saying at an Iftar gathering at Jamia Madania Madrassa in Dhaka.
Apparently, Al Habib is a representative of an organization which represents some 70,000 religious schools - Islamic madrassas. The fact that he has the gall to speak this threat in public and that he's not immediately hauled off to jail for it, says a lot about the current state of human rights in Bangladesh.

In fact, Bangladesh is an excellent study case of what happens to a so-called secular nation in which religion has assumed such primacy that it has now effectively become a terrifying theocracy.
Slandering religion and “hurting religious sentiment” are illegal in Bangladesh. Vigilantes have also taken the law into their own hands. This year alone, suspected fundamentalists have killed three secular bloggers in separate machete attacks.
Murdering politicians who happened to say something impious is perfectly okay, though.

Siddiqui was fired by the Prime Minister while he was abroad in New York. He made the fatal mistake of pointing out that perhaps the Muslim Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, the Hajj, might be a bit of a waste of money.
“It is sheer waste of manpower. Some 20 lakh [two million] people have gone to Saudi Arabia. They have no work to do. It is deduction, rather than production. They are spending and consuming. They are taking the country’s money to Saudi Arabia,” he said in alleged footage of the event posted on YouTube. 
They are taking the money of a rather poor country and transferring it en masse to Saudi Arabia - a mind-numbingly rich human rights abuser.

For this comment, he got seven months in prison. He is now on bail. Apparently, he lives in a secular country. His lawyer had this to say.
“Atheism is not illegal in our country and we do not have Sharia Law to demand [the] death sentence [for] atheists. The government should take stern action against all irrespective of their political or other identities in such cases,” Barua told the Dhaka Tribune. 
Keep repeating this and perhaps someone might believe you. It's been clearly demonstrated that atheism will get you murdered in Bangladesh by mouth frothing, machete wielding religious lunatics. The government appears to be taking stern action by apparently being scared shitless of the terrorists and making mealy mouthed excuses.
They say “it is a sensitive matter” and that they plan to persuade the groups not to stage confrontations during the holy month.

“The government is monitoring the situation carefully and nobody would be allowed to create any law and order situation during Ramadan,” a minister told BenarNews, requesting anonymity.
Sounds like they're handling this situation like a boss! Laying down the law in Bangladesh!

Meanwhile, protesters appear to still be in need of some delicate persuasion not to slice this politician - who is not even necessarily an atheist - to ribbons.
Members of Islami Oikyo Jote – also a part of Hefazat – marched in Dhaka’s Lalbagh area on Tuesday to protest his release.

“The atrocious atheists and murtads (infidel) are being patronized by granting Latif Siddiqui bail. They will not be allowed to live in this country,” Mufti Faizullah, secretary general of the Jote, said, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
Why are the authorities not throwing this man into jail? I guess jail time might further offend his delicate religious sensitivities. 

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.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

More Information on CFI Canada's Membership in ORF External Advisory Committee

Last Monday, we learned that the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) just got a new external advisory committee composed of some 23 religious leaders - none of which were named at the time. Then, a day later, we learned that it's actually a committee of 23 religious leaders and a single agnostic. Furthermore, that agnostic is actually Eric Adriaans, the national director of CFI Canada.

Eric posted a short report on the inaugural meeting of the new committee over at the CFI blog.
Eric Adriaans says of the appointment, “My inclusion on this committee is a significant demonstration of the Office of Religious Freedom’s recognition of the diversity of perspective to be found in Canada on matters of religious freedom.  Canada’s free-thinking, non-believing community should be encouraged to see evidence that the ORF has taken steps to include and welcome a representative from the growing non-believing community.  It is an honour to have been appointed and an honour to represent the perspectives of the significant and growing community of individuals who may variously self-identify with such terms as humanist, secularist, secular humanist, atheist, agnostic, free-thinker or skeptic.
That last highlighted part ties very nicely into a question I had for Eric. Namely, why did Fr. Raymond J. de Souza call him an agnostic in his revelatory article and why does Adriaans' bio on the official committee webpage lack the word atheist, agnostic or non-religious, settling only for secular humanism? I couldn't help but think perhaps he was watering down certain important facets of the organization to make it more palatable to committee members perhaps.

I asked Eric directly concerning this via email and here's the relevant response:

Was there any hesitation to use the word "atheist" in the bio or article to de Souza. Asking because by saying "agnostic" vs secular or humanist or atheist it may be interpreted by some readers as whitewashing.
If your question is whether I'm afraid to be identified as atheist, the answer is no.  I chose "agnostic" for strategic reasons:

1) it is unexpected
2) it forces the kinds of questions you are asking
3) it doesn't sit comfortably and contentedly
4) as these things go, it is a contrarian term

I also don't want anybody thinking they know my (or CFICs) agenda before I have a chance to speak.  I want people to listen - both on the committee and in the broad community.... not just shut down due to an arbitrary and partial label.

I embrace both atheist and agnostic.  In fact, like you've done, I think the two should be paired more frequently.  I wish I had thought of that when I was speaking with DeSouza.

On any given day you could accurately say I'm a pragmatic atheist-agnostic with an assertively anti-authoritarian streak who is trying to accomplish progressive humanist-humanitarian changes; I admit that my skeptical approach is tainted by a slightly cynical attitude but I'm stoic enough not to worry myself over it. 
Adriaans is referring to a previous email where I identified myself as an agnostic atheist, which I believe is truly the honest position. In a very real sense, we're all agnostic... even the other 23 committee members. I'm also a big cynic too!

It's a shame there isn't an umbrella term which could be used -- perhaps an acronym comparable to LGBT. As it stands though, Eric did remind me that this was from a single article, by someone else, completely in passing, in an article about a completely different topic. So I don't think we should make much of this right now.

All this said, the most important thing is what can be achieved for atheists being oppressed by religious groups, governments and majorities across the globe. 
“Working for change in Canada and around the world requires CFI Canada to earn trust and respect across a variety of communities -  within the diverse secularist community and with those who continue in a religious or spiritual community,”  said Adriaans, ” We must take the opportunity to engage on equal footing and with full commitment to processes such as the ORF’s External Advisory Committee if we wish to see positive change on religious freedoms – and freedom from religion.”

The Office of Religious Freedom recently announced the launch of an International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief with Canada as a Chair.  Meanwhile, CFI Canada was a driving force behind the formation of the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws earlier in 2015.  It is clear that Canadians have much to offer to the world when it comes to bringing diverse voices together – and that CFI Canada is unique in Canadian history as an advocate for secularism, free-thinking and non-belief in all of (its) diversity.
I'm all for working with religious leaders to improve the situation of those being oppressed in the name of religion. I'm looking forward to see what can be achieved over the committee's first one year mandate!

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!

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