Morocco: the new Constitution is not as good as it may seem

The new constitution “supports the human rights in all aspects, including a fair trial, no torture, no detention, no disappearance, and we need to guarantee the freedom of expression,” he said. The new constitution will also guarantee “freedom of religious worship.”

Foreign residents currently enjoy freedom of worship. Moroccan Christians, while not denied freedom of worship, “reportedly do not meet regularly due to fear of government surveillance and social persecution,” according to a US State Department report.

Yes, it guarantees freedom of religious worship, but not freedom of conscience: that is, if you are a Muslim, you won’t be able to change your religion.

But there is more: speaking about this constitution, the leader of the main opposition party (Islamist Justice and Development Party), said that:

“Morocco is a Muslim country whose state religion is Islam, and do not touch these fundamental principles. In Morocco, the freedom of worship is now guaranteed to Christians, Jews …, but not the freedom of conscience. A Muslim can not change his religion or even leave his practice in public, as happened last year when a handful of young men wanted to break the fast in a park in Mohammedia.

He also spoke about gays:

“We risk [with the new Constitution] to see people who publicly declare they are a sexual deviant,” was outraged. “The PJD reject this situation. Those who Fall in these sows should be hidden,” he said.

Venezuela: Chávez Seeks to Censor Internet

Hugo Chávez is tired of your pokes, tweets and comments. If he has his way, a bill making its way through Parliament that includes restrictions on social media giants, will become law.

…The wording of the bill that would censor social networks calls for protecting citizens “moral and ethical honor”. As such, it would also control adult programming. It proposes applying limits on content in “electronic media” according to the time of day and would call on internet service providers to establish mechanisms to restrict nefarious adult content.

The bill comes at a time of turmoil for Venezuelan legislators as Chávez is once again seeking decree powers that would grant him special powers to enact laws as he sees fit.

via No More Pokes? Chávez Seeks to Censor Facebook, Twitter – Fox News Latino.

Some Venezuelans have protested outside the National Assembly.

Chávez has said the powers could extend up to 18 months. “The text of the law allows him to issue decrees across a wide range of areas including housing, land, finances and security“.

Background.

Nobel Awards: Liu Xiaobo’s day

Liu Xiaobo with his wife.

This year, the lovers of freedom have enjoyed the selection made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The image of the kind China they tried to paint during the Beijing Olympics is now far away. Today the real China is portrayed to the world for not releasing Liu and for preventively arrestng the relatives, friends and associates of the awarded dissident. The economic fate of China has changed thanks to free market forces. But that doesn’t mean at all that the  Chinese leadership will allow a real political reform. At this time of global financial crisis, we can not forget that many governments have ignored their own volition and the deplorable human rights situation in the last Communist empire, thinking more than anything that China buys their debt and that that money can pay for their own domestic financial excesses. But in a fit of human decency, the Free World will celebrate Liu’s Award.

A Chinese proverb says: “One generation plants the trees, but another is enjoying the shade.” People like Liu Xiaobo are planting the trees. It may take more or less time, but future generations will definitely enjoy the shade.

El día de Liu Xiaobo | The Americano.

Venezuela: Chávez buys 20% of Globovisión and announces an Internet regulation

Hugo Chávez

The Venezuelan State has just “bought” 20% of Globovisión, although that would not change (for now) its political positioning, as the majority stakeholder will continue to be Guillermo Zuloaga. Globovisión is the only independent TV station, after the Government shut down RCTV.

The Venezuelan Government is also going to impose its “revolution” on Internet. As Venezuelan blogger Martha Colmenares writes, the Government wants to impose its hegemony in the media, and that includes Internet. So they have sent to the National Assembly a draft of amendment to the Law on Social Responsbility in Radio and RV to regulate “the Internet and reform aspects of the Law concerning the media in general“. It will be presented next week in the plenary sessions.

The amendment refers to all digital media, including websites and blogs, and the use of social networks such as Twitter or Facebook. As a result, all the messages that don’t support Hugo Chávez, that are against Hugo Chávez even occasionally or that show Venezuelan reality, will be affected by the new law. “This is just pure censorship“. And of course, the dissidents won’t go unpunished.

Spain: "Extremist" imams’ ideology blamed on "disorganized Islam", according to El País

We can say I worked as shepherd,” he smiles. “I was in charge of a herd of goats in northern Morocco.” Until he crossed the Straits and settled in the province of Tarragona. Unemployed, handicapped by the lack of training and a chronic disease for many years improvised direction of prayers in several mosques in the vicinity of Valls and Torredembarra. Rachid H. worked as an imam. “Not really, but I know Islam better than others“, said after admitting that no studies that Muslim countries call for the task.

What kind of prayers were performed by this improvised imam? “I talked about everything: the relationship between men and women, life’s problems,” he says. Witnesses say those prayers castigated women and young Muslims who were related to people outside this belief. Rachid denies without elaborating. But at home, he stores magazines, recordings and videos that shed some clue to his speeches. The material supports that an adulterous wife should be punished with death and supports other repressive behaviors on the role of women relative to men, according to the report of the register details of the property conducted by the Autonomous Police in 2009. Rachid, who asked not to reveal his name for his legal situation, only occasionally leads prayers, due to his poor state of health and also because he is on probation after being charged with promoting violence linked to radical Salafism, Islam’s ultra-conservative current.

I don’t care about his health. If he is Moroccan, he should have been expelled after learning about his sermons.

Rachid’s sexist diatribes and repressive tone are common elements between the improvised imams. They are people without religious training that have emerged as leaders of the prayers of their communities, generally in the most precarious and isolated from major urban centers and without the means to hire a minimally trained imam.

Abu Omar Hussein

As Abu Omar Hussein, the president of the Muslim community in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) (he said that “forbidding the hijab is a crime“, last April), who, in an interview with this newspaper goes on to say that killing by stoning an adulteress is fair and in line with Islam and that the ultimate goal is to defend children, stigmatized if they are born out of wedlock. He reflects on this: “God wants you to be clean. Stoning has an objective: that no adulterer has sons. He (will give birth to) a child without a father, with hatred, (as) he has no rights (sic). Islam does not want many children of adulterers in the world.

For that reason, Omar Hussein, referring to the Iranian Sakineh Ashtiani, sentenced to death, should be stoned: “That woman and her lover killed her husband. They should kill that woman one by one, man for man (…) Islam respects human rights and women. Islam does not attack a very clean woman. “

The imam of Alcalá believes that in Europe sexual promiscuity is promoted: “Changing partners is offered. Is this is civilization? Six people make love in the same bed, without shame. It allows two women or two men marry . The nude beaches … If Jesus son of Mary, arrived today would be ashamed. “

Another one who is in the same situation: he is Egyptian, so if he doesn’t like Spain, he can go back there or be expelled, because he clearly isn’t integrated in Spanish society.

What he considers as “sexual promiscuity”, means only that people are free to take decisions about their life. No one is obliged to marry another human being of their own sex, no one is obliged to go around naked on beaches and also no one is obliged to change partners. But if someone wants to do it, he can. That’s not “promoting sexual promiscuity“, that’s just freedom to choose. And there are also people who are not the least “promiscuous“, because that’s their choice, and not because some barbaric imam tells them that they should be stoned if they are. But this guy doesn’t know about this other people, because they aren’t on TV 24/7 and they give no scandals.

Illegitimate” childs don’t exist, either. They have the same rights as the children from married couples. So no hatred and no tales to support stoning.

These are examples of the improvisation with which Islam has been installed in Spain: there are no rules, standards or criteria in relation to ministers of religion to Islam. They are not properly Islamic radicals (sic): mixed religion with repressive traditions imported from their country of origin and spread as sacred mandates. This enables that cases such as the Cunit’s imam, who is awaiting trial and sentence for coercing and threatening a Muslim because she lived a Western lifestyle, that generate social alarm against Islam and demonize the figure of the imams inside Spanish society. In Cunit, the imam is actually a worker who lost his job after suffering a leg injury and went on to lead the prayer of his group even though he only knows the Koran by heart, by his own account.

You see: for El País, someone who is supporting stoning in the name of religion is not “properly an Islamic radical“.

However, experts warn that it’s greater the risk of social exclusion that a hypothetical terrorist threat. What messages are disseminated by imams without proper training and considered radical? “If a Muslim is mixed with a Western, if only to shake hands, is contaminated by their sins.” “Women can not leave home except to attend the funeral of the husband.” “Children should learn the Koran and you must not associate with other children are not Muslims.” “The West is against Islam, would pervert and threatens us because we are noble.” These are excerpts from the prayers that magnets on Fridays, according to some followers of the mosques in the area of Reus and Tarragona. After being consulted on these statements, the imams who led the prayers have categorically denied.

Riad Tatary

The possibility that any imam can lead prayers is a problem but controversial cases are exceptional,” defends Riad Tatary (born in Syria although now he’s a Spanish national), secretary general of the representative body of Islam with the Government since 1992, the Islamic Commission of Spain (CIE). “But the media generalize these cases and have created a very dangerous Islamophobia” he notes. Controversial cases are, in effect, a minority among the thousand imams is estimated that lead prayers in Spain. “But they can’t be considered as exceptions from the rule because no one has set this standard. The Islamic Commission should impose criteria to control who can and who can not exercise as imam. For their own good: untrained imams are the ones who spread the most radical and dangerous messages, “argues Jordi Moreres, sociologist expert in Islam. But they aren’t so exceptional, according to other experts. After 15 years living in Spain, I have not seen in the whole country, a single valid imam,” says Hesham El Sadr, founder of the Islamic Cultural Association Attawwhid.

The indefinite figure of the imam is the main obstacle to the normalization of Islam in Spain: 1.3 million people follow this belief in the country and it is not immigrants only but a growing majority has or is in the process of achieving Spanish nationality.

Abdelwahab Houzi

Nevertheless, anyone able to convince their fellow Muslims, can be constructed into an imam, whether he is liberal-leaning, conservative or just a visionary. It is a reality that has taken root among the Muslim communities in impoverished areas, with virtually illiterate immigrants who barely know the language, laws or Spanish customs. This cocktail caused cases of imams that encourage isolation and rejection of Western people or situations such as Lleida’s imam, Abdelwahab Houzi, monitored by the National Intelligence Center as one of the most dangerous because of his radicalism and that according to several faithful advocates polygamy in his prayers, a tradition alien to Islam (sic). Others promote criticism and attacks on Western values that lead to suspicion of terrorism.

Polygamy is a tradition alien to Islam? In what world?

And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.

Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding, and practise self-restraint, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Verses 3 and 129 from Sura An-Nissa, Women).

Those two verses state that:
1. Polygamy is allowed.
2. It’s limited to four wifes.

The article ends:

It’s possible that extremist imams living in Spain are spreading this type of message, as an attempt to assert the traditions of their country of origin. We need time and quiet to contact them and make them understand,” claims Tatary. ICE, on paper, is the referee that should regulate and account for the activity of the imams, and it’s engaged in a reform to settle the current crisis of representation that encourages lawlessness. There are a thousand of Muslim communities in Spain, about 800 of them registered. More than 400 are not represented in this body.

It’s possible…“. It seems Mr. Tatari doesn’t believe that these cases really exist. And no, these extremist imams are not waiting for Tatari and friends to reform anything, they are spreading this message now.

Source.

Denmark: FM denies apologizing for Mohammed cartoons

Denmark denies apologizing for Mohammad cartoons | Top News | Reuters:

Denmark’s foreign minister denied Thursday that she had apologized on a Middle East trip for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, initially published by a Danish newspaper in 2005, that angered many Muslims.

Middle East media, including the English-language Egyptian Gazette and Arabic television network Al-Arabiya, said Lene Espersen had apologized for the cartoons during her visit to Cairo Wednesday.

But Espersen said on Danish TV 2 News Thursday she had not issued any apology for the drawings.

I can clearly deny that I have given an apology,” Espersen said. “But I can confirm that I have said that freedom of expression is not so extensive that it would not have any limits.”

…The Egyptian Gazette cited Egypt’s Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb as saying that Espersen “renewed her country’s apology for the publication of these cartoons and pointed out Denmark’s efforts to issue a law criminalizing contempt of religions.”

Espersen said that she told the Sheikh that the Danish government found it regrettable that many people were offended by the drawings and that the government condemns demonizing of groups of people based on their religion or ethnic background.

But Espersen, who faces a general election before the end of November next year, also said that citizens had a right to express themselves within the limits of the law without interference from the government, TV 2 News said on its website.

Photo.

Netherlands: Prosecutors seek acquittal of Wilders on all counts

Dutch prosecutors are asking judges to acquit anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders of all charges of inciting hate and discrimination against Muslims.

The move by prosecutors signals their belief the case against Wilders is weak, but judges could still disagree and convict him. The trial continues next week.

Prosecutor Paul Velleman told the court Friday that most of Wilders’ remarks — which include comparing Islam with Naziism — appear to target Islam as an ideology, not single out Muslims for abuse.

Prosecutors initially declined to press charges, but were ordered to do so by an appeals court that ruled there was significant evidence against the influential politician. 

Source (Found).

Background:
New Dutch Government agrees to ban burqa, cut deficit.
Geert Wilders on trial.
Prosecutors call for partial acquittal.

Iran: Jailed Filmmaker Challenges Khamenei

Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Challenges Supreme Leader – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty � 2010:

“Iranian filmmaker and journalist Mohammad Nourizad has written an open letter (Persian) to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei arguing that the United States does more to protect religious freedom and moral values than Iran, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports.

Nourizad — who has been in Tehran’s Evin prison since August — wrote in his letter on October 10 that since Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, violations of people’s privacy has become more common.

He said religious mobs have attacked the home of Ayatollah Yusef Sanei, a critic of Khamenei. In the United States, by contrast, he said personal privacy is strictly protected by law.

Nourizad previously wrote for the conservative newspaper “Keyhan” and said he fully supported Khamenei until last year’s controversial presidential election caused him to speak out against the government.

He was arrested late last year after publishing several open letters on his blog deemed as disrespectful to Khamenei and other senior officials. He was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. He also was sentenced to 50 lashes on charges that remain unclear.

He was released on June 24 but summoned back to prison in August after writing a blog post that was critical of Khamenei.

Referring in his letter to religious freedom in the United States, Nourizad wrote: “The American judicial authority defends Muslims’ rights and allows them to build mosques just a short distance from the Twin Towers. But in Islamic Iran, Sunni Muslims are not allowed their own mosque to worship without fear in Tehran.”

Comparing morality in Iran and the United States, Nourizad wrote: “Americans have been brought up in such a way that they seldom lie, while lying is clearly evident among the people and authorities in our country.””

"Blasphemy UN Resolution": US NGO "Open Doors" campain on Freedom of Believe

You can read about it here. And you can sign it here.

The basics:

Who is Behind the Resolution?

The countries supporting this resolution are, ironically, the very Islamic-majority countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) that persecute Christians and other minority faiths. Members of minority faiths such as Christians or Jews who make truth claims or even evangelize can be accused of “defamation” and can be punished under national blasphemy laws.

History of the Resolution

While Defamation of Religions Resolutions have been introduced and passed previously, it is up again this year for a vote. The resolution lost support in the UN General Assembly vote during the last couple of years and we think this year may be the tipping point.

Your voice makes a difference

We need to encourage key countries to change their vote on this resolution. These countries are not easily influenced by American citizens. But they are more receptive to pressure from our federal legislators. So ask your legislator to pressure key countries to change their vote on the Defamation of Religions Resolution today!

If there is any other NGO from other place, maintaining or opening a campaign to fight against this Resolution, please leave a message. I will post it too.

Norway: biography about Mohammed will no longer be published

Self-censorship happens again: PJM:

Norwegian historian Halvor Tjønn has written a biography of Muhammad the founder of Islam and Oslo publisher Kagge had agreed to publish the book and even listed it in last year’s fall catalog.

However the publisher has suddenly pulled out of the project and now refuses to give any explanations of why it will no longer publish the book.

According to the author there should be nothing in the book that would upset Muslims. There are no illustrations of Muhammad and all of the key references used in the work are from the 8th and 9th centuries.

Found here.

Libya: Two South Koreans, accused of Christian proselitism, released

Religión en Libertad (Translation T&P):

Libya released on Saturday two South Koreans who were arrested this summer for violating the religious law of the African country, South Korean FM said today.

The release comes two days after Lee Sang Deuk, Grand National Party MP and brother of South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, met with the head of state of Libya, Muammar Al Gaddafi.

The prisoners were handed over to their families in the presence of South Korean ambassador in Libya, explained the minister, as recorded by The Korean Times newspaper.

Koo and Jeon, as identified by their relatives, were arrested in June and July, respectively, accused of having carried out religious activities in the country. In August, both were taken to prison after being interrogated by the authorities.

Saudi Arabia: the mistreatment of foreign maids

“In Saudi Arabia, many Asian and/or African maids work in terrible conditions. Their most fundamental rights are violated: they are held against their will, humiliated, sometimes even tortured. A young Kenyan woman, who has fled her Saudi employers and is now in hiding, told us her story.
The account of a Sri Lankan maid who was tortured by her Saudi employers is far from being an isolated case. Some 1.5 million foreigners work as housemaids in Saudi Arabia. According to the Damman police spokesman, 20,000 of them fled the homes where they were employed after being mistreated.”
(She says)… I slept in a tiny, cramped room with a thin, hard mattress on the floor. I had to ask for permission to eat. I worked like crazy, doing all of the housework, from ten in the morning to five or six the next morning non-stop…
I wasn’t allowed to call home for two months. When I finally did, I learned that my father was very ill and had been hospitalised. I asked my employer – to whom I’m not supposed to be allowed to talk to – if he could pay me my salary so that I could return home to see my father. I hadn’t been paid anything so far – my monthly salary was supposed to be of 800 rials [around 160 euros], which is next to nothing here, you can barely afford even the lowest of rents. But he and his wife refused, going so far as to tell me that, even if my father did pass away, it wouldn’t be too serious!
As they have removed her passport the minute she entered the country, she can’t leave Saudi Arabia and lives in fear of being found by tthe authorities. She has escaped from her captors, anyway, and 27-year-old Mohammed, a foreign languages’ teacher, has protected her since then. He says:
I know at least 25 women that are in the same situation as she is: with no money, no papers, with no way of ever going home. Some end up turning towards prostitution, others manage to find a new job after running away from their first employers. I think it’s disgraceful that the Kenyan embassy isn’t doing anything to stop this from happening.
He has created a Facebook page to raise awareness about this problem.

Egypt: "We refuse to be Muslim by force"

AINA:

On March 30 an administrative judicial court in Egypt dismissed a lawsuit filed by Mrs. Camilia Lutfi, mother of the Coptic Christian twins boys Mario and Andrew (right), against the Interior Minister, and the director of the Civil Status Department for refusing to re-instate the Christian religion on their birth certificates, and invalidate those which were forcefully changed to “Islam” in 2005 by their father Medhat Ramsis Labib, who had converted to Islam.

After his conversion, Andrew and Mario became Muslims in what is called “Islamization by dependence,” by which children follow the religion of a converted parent (to Islam only) until they reach the age of puberty (fifteen), because Islam is “the best among all religions,” according to Egyptian Court rulings.

The purpose of Lutfi’s litigation was to restore back to her twins their identity as Christians, before reaching the age of 16 in June, when they will have their national ID cards issued. Camilia said that because of the developments in their case, her worst nightmares would materialize, in which they would have Islam as religious affiliation on their ID cards. “If they change to Christianity after that, they will be considered apostates,” she told Freecopts advocacy. She expressed her surprise at the intransigence of the judiciary in dealing with the issue of her sons, especially after they have already reached the legal age of 15-years, when they can choose their own religion. “The boys have lived this tragedy for the last ten years, through no fault of their own.”

ElYoum 7 Newspaper reported that 15-years-old Mario and Andrew were extremely disappointed with the court verdict, saying “faith is not by force, we want to remain Christians and we do not wish to become Muslims.” Both boys are practicing Christians and were consecrated last year as deacons in their regular church in Alexandria.

The court explained in its verdict, which was issued on April 14, that Camilia Lutfi has not presented a verdict from a relevant court (it did not say which court) proving the change of her sons’ religion from Islam to Christianity. “How come that when their father changed their religion from Christianity to Islam, he required no court verdict, and now that they want to revert back to Christianity, the court requires a verdict?” she told Freecopts.

Although the mother’s lawyers presented to the court a portfolio containing 15 different certificates proving they are Christians, contradicting what was written on their birth certificates, the court said in its reasoning that it does not recognize the validity of a certificate issued by the Church as a document of change of religion from Islam to Christianity, as “churches by law are not competent to issue such certificates.” The courts only accept certificates of religion change from Al-Azhar (the Muslim theology school in Cairo). Moreover the Court said that there is no law to force the Interior minister and the Civil Status Department chief to change the religion of the boys on their documents without a court ruling to this effect.

Hmm, what marvellous freedom of religion there is in Egypt, hein? And this is happening NOW, not 500 years ago. Just as we speak. Of course, CNN, BBC or El País will not run a piece on these two teenagers. But their case exist (as it exists in other cases, some of them known, some of others unknown), nonetheless.

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China: 10,000 forced esterilizations on Puning county

An SVG map of China with Guangdong province hi...Location of Guangdon province. Image via Wikipedia

Doctors in southern China are working around the clock to fulfil a government goal to sterilise — by force if necessary — almost 10,000 men and women who have violated birth control policies. Family planning authorities are so determined to stop couples from producing more children than the regulations allow that they are detaining the relatives of those who resist.

About 1,300 people are being held in cramped conditions in towns across Puning county, in Guangdong Province, as officials try to put pressure on couples who have illegal children to come forward for sterilisation.

The 20-day campaign, which was launched on April 7, aims to complete 9,559 sterilisations in Puning, which, with a population of 2.24 million, is the most populous county in the province.

…In Puning county couples with illegal children and their relatives who apply for permits to build a house are rejected. Illegal children are refused residency registration, a penalty that denies them access to healthcare and education.

Authorities have discovered, however, that those methods have less success than rounding up relatives.

One official said that an investigation would be launched to establish whether authorities in Puning had exceeded their remit.

…The county is under criticism from Guangdong authorities, who want to slow a population growth that is reflecting badly on the entire province. One reason for Puning’s large population is that families in the mainly rural region often have up to three or four children.

Many of those with extra children have left to find factory jobs along the more developed coast, taking advantage of being away from local government surveillance to give birth outside the quotas.

Rules in Puning, as throughout rural China, allow farmers to have a second child if the first is a daughter. After that couples must stop. By the morning of April 12 Puning officials said that they had achieved, in a mere five days, about half of their sterilisation goal after their “education” persuaded people to comply.

Via.

Absolutely terrible.

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South Park 0, RevolutionMuslim.com 1?

South Park title image depicting most of the c...Image via Wikipedia

Background here.

According to CNN, there is apparently a debate going on inside the Muslim community after the threats warnings the Islamist webpage, RevolutionMuslim.com, issued against South Park’s creators.

Blogger Bilal el-Houri is agnostic but he grew up in a Muslim family in the mostly Muslim region of the Middle East. He said, “My first thoughts on the episode were “haha!”, but then I realized how deep and complicated this issue is.

El-Houri said he was quickly reminded of tragedies that ensued from other infamous depictions of Prophet Mohammed. In particular he recalls the Muslim outrage in 2005 following publications of Cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. He said he witnessed in Beirut, Lebanon, crowds take to the streets and burn the building housing the Danish embassy.

“I remember seeing people crashing and burning police cars and ambulances that had nothing to do with Denmark or their cause.” He also recalled how “al Qaeda issued a call to murder Dutch politician Geert Wilders” for his film “Fitna” which was critical of Islam.

El-Houri observed that the “South Park” episode highlighted the fear from “barbaric Muslim retaliation” when a Muslim symbol is featured in the media. He said Muslims should focus on convincing others not to show iconic figure out of “respect to Islam” instead.

El-Houri’s advice to Muslims is to “appreciate free speech” and use its tools to debunk the misconceptions that exist around the world about Islam and showcase the peaceful side of their religion instead of reacting to what others publish or broadcast. “The media makes fun of Jesus, The Pope, politicians and so on, all the time, but you don’t see Catholics burning tires outside Comedy Central’s studios.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali agrees. The “South Park” episode “was not just funny, it wasn’t just witty” she said, but it also addressed what she called the essential issue that “one group of people, one religion, that is claiming to be above criticism, and I hope that in the aftermath of this, that we discuss that.”

The New York Post has a point:

Stone told web site Boing Boing that they couldn’t live with themselves if they gave up their freedom of expression by curtailing their humor, but he also admits that the current reality is awful. In a “South Park” episode from 2001, an image of Mohammad passed without incident but that, Stone explained, was before the Danish cartoon controversy, “so it somehow is fine.” Stone added, “Then, after that, now that’s the new normal. We lost. Something that was okay is now not okay.

Perhaps Stone and Parker can console themselves that President Obama has declared that we aren’t at war with “Islamic radicalism” anymore so hopefully no Islamic radicals will feel the need to stab them to death like film-maker Van Gogh.

The BBC has more on the Boing Boing interview:

Speaking in an interview with the Boing Boing website before the 200th show aired, the South Park team defended the scenes. “We’d be so hypocritical against our own message, our own thoughts, if we said, ‘okay, well let’s not make fun of them because they won’t hurt us,'” said Parker.  “It matters to me when we talk about Muhammad that I can say we did this… and I can stand behind that,” Stone added. 

“I don’t think it’s going to change the world, but this is how it’s got to be for our show.” 

In 2006, Comedy Central banned Stone and Parker from showing an image of Muhammad in an episode that was intended to be part of a comment on the controversy caused by the publication of caricatures of the prophet by a Danish newspaper. 

An earlier episode, Super-Best Friends (2001), contained an image of Muhammad but passed without comment.  “It was before the Danish cartoon controversy, so it somehow is fine,” Stone told Boing Boing.

In the end, they have caved in (or was just a joke to confuse “censors”? It doesn’t really has very much to do with Stone’s words, does it?):

Satirical animated TV show “South Park” beeped out the words Prophet Muhammad and plastered its Wednesday episode with the word “CENSORED” after being issued a grim warning by a U.S. Muslim group.

The irreverent comedy show on Comedy Central also substituted a controversial image seen last week of the Prophet Muhammad in a bear outfit with one of Santa Claus in the same costume.

Via.

Here is how they responded to the threat:

We apologize that South Park Studios cannot stream episode 201 at this time.

After we delivered the show, and prior to broadcast, Comedy Central placed numerous additional audio bleeps throughout the episode. We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show.

We will bring you a version of 201 as soon as we can.

Via.

So, is there really a debate on the Muslim community? Remember than both Hirsi Ali and el-Houri are NOT Muslims now…

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US: Revolutionmuslim.com attacks South Park’s creators

The radical Islamic Web site Revolutionmuslim.com is going after the creators of the TV cartoon series “South Park” after an episode last week included an image of the Prophet Mohammed in disguise.

Revolutionmuslim.com, based in New York, was the subject of a CNN investigation last year for its radical rhetoric supporting “jihad” against the West and praising al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Its organizers insist they act within the law and seek to protect Islam.

On Sunday, Revolutionmuslim.com posted an entry that included a warning to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that they risk violent retribution – after the 200th episode last week included a satirical discussion about whether an image of the prophet could be shown. In the end, he is portrayed disguised in a bear suit.

The posting on Revolutionmuslim.com says: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.” (Sounds like Al Capone to me…).

Theo van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by an Islamic extremist in 2004 after making a short documentary on violence against women in some Islamic societies. The posting on Revolutionmuslim.com features a graphic photograph of Van Gogh with his throat cut and a dagger in his chest.

Supporting freedom of speech for them (calling for murder of other persons is OK) but not for the others (laughing about their beliefs is not).

revolutionmuslimshot.jpg

More commentary here.

The Jawa Report has investigated the owner of RadicalMuslim.org, named Zack Chesser aka Abu Talhah al-Amrike and thinks that he is violating the terms of service of wordpress.com, which expressly say:

the Content is not pornographic, libelous or defamatory (more info on what that means), does not contain threats or incite violence towards individuals or entities, and does not violate the privacy or publicity rights of any third party;

Of course, they are incinting violence.

Their abuse policy states:

  • Personal threats
  • Calls to violence
  • Impersonation of a private person

You can write protesting the existence of “The Mujahid Blog” (anonymoused) to this mail adress: abuse-report at wordpress dot com.

Why that doesn’t surprises me?

Now they say that they were not asking for violence but just for protests. But one of the founders of the website, says that the “Q’uran commands Muslims to terrorise disbelievers”. Religion of Peace, hein? At least, not for this guy…

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed_edition&videoId=showbiz/2010/04/21/ac.griffin.south.park.threat.cnn

More here.

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Indonesia: Court upholds blasphemy law

Indonesia’s constitutional court upheld a controversial blasphemy law Monday that critics say limits religious freedom in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, ruling that the law is vital to religious harmony.

The 1965 law was challenged by a coalition of rights groups and civil society organizations who consider it discriminatory. But it is supported by religious conservatives, including the radical Islamic Defenders Front, which had gathered at the court and threatened to protest if the judges didn’t uphold it.

Although the law recognizes six official religions in the country – the standard forms of Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism – rights activists say it discriminates against minority religions, including Muslims whose beliefs differ from the mainstream.

The vast majority of Indonesia’s 235 million people are moderate Sunni Muslims.

Opponents say the law, which carries penalties of up to 5 years in jail and allows the government to ban groups that "distort" the official religions, should be struck down because it limits religious freedom – which is constitutionally protected in this secular country.

This has nothing to do with protecting other religions. Even the Govt defended the blasphemy law because:

The consequences [if the law is annulled] are that people, figures, could establish new religions, declare new prophets, new angels.

Oh, what a problem…

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VOM persecution alerts

A well-known Chinese Christian activist from Shanghai has been abducted by government officials for the second time in recent weeks.

Shen Peilan, a seasoned campaigner against government corruption, has not been seen since she was seized on March 24, the same day officials from the Bureau of Letters and Petitions raided her home twice. On their first attempt, they were deterred by police who were summoned by Shen’s family. However, officials succeeded in abducting her in a later raid after the police had gone.
Shen was still recovering from an earlier abduction on March 7, when she was held without a warrant and interrogated by officers from the same bureau for nine days. When church friends reported her missing, lawyers and activists managed to track her down at a hotel in Songjiang and police intervened to free her. Shen had been travelling to Beijing to protest against her house being demolished by local officials earlier this year. Chinese local government officials do not have the power to make arrests unless sanctioned by a higher authority. (Sources: ChinaAid, Release International).

A 19-year-old Pakistani Christian woman, Sonia Mohan, was reportedly abducted on April 1 by a Muslim man and his friends in Nishtar Colony, Lahore.

Sonia’s family fears the Muslim man, Ali Raza, will force her to convert to Islam and marry him. Sonia’s brother, Johnson Parvaiz, stated, “Ali Raza came to our home and told Sonia that I had asked for her, and she went out of the house with him. They had parked a vehicle outside and left, and afterwards we never heard from her.” After two days, Johnson was able to reach his sister on her cell phone but she told him not to call her, that she was very happy and that they should not try to find her. “It was obvious from her voice that she had been forced to say that,” Johnson said. Police have delayed registering a case on behalf of Sonia’s family because, in what appears to be an attempt to delay police action, Ali’s family has filed a complaint that he was abducted by the same accomplices who allegedly helped him kidnap Sonia. (Source: Compass Direct)

On March 16, The People’s High Court of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region rejected an appeal from Alimujiang Yimiti (37), a Uyghur house church leader.

Alimujiang was sentenced in October 2009 to 15 years’ imprisonment for “providing state secrets to overseas organizations” (click here for more information).
One of his lawyers, Li Dunyong, believes Alimujiang’s Muslim background is a large issue in the case. Another of his lawyers, Li Baiguang, reported, “We are fairly sure that there are a lot of factors which are totally outside the law that have influenced the investigation of this case. This is very clear from the procedures that were followed within the courts and from the final decision.” (Source: Radio Free Asia) Here is an interview with his wife among others about his situation.

A court hearing for Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh — Iranian Christians who were arrested by security forces in March 2009 — was held on April 13.

In November 2009, the two were conditionally released from the notorious Evin Prison (click here for more information). Although they have been receiving medical treatment for the past five months, they remain weak and suffer from various illnesses. Yet, despite their frailties, they were determined to be faithful to the Lord and speak the truth in court whatever the consequence or personal cost. At last report, the outcome of their hearing was unknown. (Source: Elam Ministries).

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Social networks: Atheists or Arab reformers terrorised by Islamists on Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Read at Poste de Veille:

In recent weeks, several people have told me that their Facebook page was closed or deleted from the platform. First, it was a friend of Morocco. Then, a Moroccan friend living in Boston Then, an Indian woman in England. And others have followed. 

After investigating a bit and talked to each of them, I realized that these people all had something in common: they all criticized Islam (some are atheists, other former Muslims or Reform ) and frequently published articles and humorous about religion.
Someone then informed me that a group had been created on Facebook (in Arabic) with one goal to report to moderators – and thus to close – the profiles of Arab atheists. The group, which itself seems to have disappeared, was named “Pesticide Facebook” and its purpose was “to identify the atheists, agnostics, anti-religious in the Arab world and especially in Tunisia” Members of this group are trying to make Facebook delete the accounts of users after they have been identified for having a bad image of Islam.

Of course, it is problematic that a group of people trying to destroy the digital identities of a specific group of users, but this is not the problem I’ll discuss here. What I will talk to the strategy of Facebook to deal with such situations, and why it is so problematic. [...] [...]

Apparently, this group has been deactivated but they have created “5 more each one worse than the other“, according to one of the users.

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