Islamists confusingly protest against ‘Insults’ and for ‘Global Civility’ – With signs that allege Google founder ‘Larry Page supports Terrorism’

Pretty much everything about this protest was of course wrong but I was particularly struck by the incongruity of  the “Campaign for Global Civility” featuring so many placards distinguishing the “Freedom to Insult” from the “Freedom of Speech”, complaining about Google’s lack of manners and of course claiming “Muslims campaign for Global Civility” whilst other placards proclaimed “Larry Page Supports Terrorism” and “Google Supports Terrorism”

The attempt by one of the speakers to justify such signs is simply nauseating:

Sheikh Faiz Al-Aqtab Siddiqui, told The Daily Telegraph: “Terrorism is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well. The makers of this film have terrorised 1.6 billion people.

“Organisations like Google are key players and have to take responsibility for civility. You can’t just say it doesn’t matter that it’s freedom of speech. It’s anarchy.”

And is on a level with Lord Carey’s equation of Equal Marriage campaigners to Nazis with it’s cynical attempt to use crimes against humanity to make petty political points.


A medieval entry for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day #3 Sunday 20th May 2012

This Medieval Persian illustration apparently shows Mohammed leading Abraham, Moses and Jesus in prayer, kind of like a medieval Super Best Friends. It’s kind of impressive how a single devotional Shia image can manage to simultaneously offend the sensibilities of Jews, Christians and Sunnis. Apparently though it’s fine for Shiites to produce ‘offensive’ images such as this, if an atheists draws a stick man Mohammed on the other hand…

An early entry for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day #3 Sunday 20th May 2012

An early entry for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day #3 May 20 2012.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day #3 Sunday 20th May 2012

This coming Sunday will be the 3rd annual Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, it doesn’t seem to have caught on so much this year so please get involved as the fight to defend freedom of expression from Islamist intimidation is far from won.

In early 2006 the carefully whipped up controversy around cartoons of Mohammed published in Jyllands-Posten a Danish newspaper dominated the headlines for months, the media in Britain, Canada and the USA extensively covered the events yet failed to show any of the images, deliberately leaving viewers and readers in ignorance of what all the fuss was supposed to be about.

I don’t think the cartoons are any good, in fact as with most editorial cartoons I think they’re rubbish. But approval or otherwise of the cartoons is not the point. The sad fact is that the demands, backed by both the implicit and explicit threat of Islamist violence. From (a portion of Sunni) Muslims that everyone else ‘respect’, which in this case seems to mean obey, their belief that Mohammed should no be artistically represented. Have had such a chilling effect effect that coverage of the biggest news story in the world at the time was singularly lacking in some not insignificant details. Anyone who like me wanted to know what all the fuss was about was forced to search the internet.

Not only did the British media not show the public the cartoons but sections of it actually gave voice to those condemning the cartoons:

Prejudiced Danes provoke fanaticism

Publishing Kurt Westergaard’s cartoon was an aggressive act born of Denmark’s reluctance to respect religious belief

This is the same guardian that habitually publishes cartoons like the one on the right, note that both the Pope and Jesus are featured. This is the Guardian that gave Jerry Springer the Opera a 4 star review. Now I agree that the Pope & Jesus are fit subjects for cartoons and that Jerry Springer the Opera was really rather good, even though I know both those things upset some Christians. I just don’t see why the same standard shouldn’t apply to Islam. The BBC showed Jerry Springer the Opera but didn’t show the cartoons.

Sadly this chilling effect isn’t restricted to the mass media, in 2009 Yale University Press published The Cartoons that Shook the World, by Professor Jytte Klausen. Yale University Press officials removed images of the cartoons and historical pictures of Mohammed from the book. Self censorship is just threatening freedom of press but that other pillar of liberal democracy, academic freedom as well.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day wasn’t actually directly inspired by the Danish cartoons but by the controversy surrounding South Park episode 201 which was in a large part about the controversy of depicting Mohammed. That episode provoked the seemingly inevitable death threats despite being censored and never actually showing that particular prophet, though numerous other religious figures & supposed deities were shown.

Islamists may be able to intimidate a few media outlets but they can’t possibly target 1000s of private citizens, so I urge you to like Everybody Draw Mohammed Day 3 may 20 2012 and post your drawing next Sunday. I’d also like to urge some restraint in what you draw, the point is merely to break the taboo on depicting this particular prophet, a stick man with a label would serve that purpose admirably without undermining the point the day is trying to make.

This is my favourite image from the original EDMD

Below is a drawing drawing of Mohammed that I’m responsible for. The drawing itself is obviously of the kind a disappointed parent would dutifully stick to their fridge if their 3 year old gave it them. However it’s unlikely that any such parent, disappointed as they may be, would actually find the drawing objectionable or ‘offensive’. Yet supposedly the addition of a mere label stating that the smiling stick man in question is Mohammed means that the image is so ‘offensive’, so ‘blasphemous’ that death is a fit punishment for having drawn it.

The Daily Mail’s Self-Defeating War on Sexualisation – An Analysis

I don’t make a habit of reading the Daily Mail, in fact I only do so when a justifiably outraged friend has sent me a link to some unusually extreme and unpleasant bigotry, most recently the “Homosexuality IS a departure from the norm: We must beware of our civilisation being battered by the PC brigade” opinion piece which charmingly referred to homosexuality as “an aberration” and compared it to kleptomania and a propensity to violence. The article has since been pulled but can still be read here.

Whenever (against my better judgement) I do click on a link to the Mail, when I’m finished being annoyed by the proudly chauvinistic writing in question, I’m always struck by the profusion of wholly gratuitous images of women in states of undress down the right hand side of the screen. Whilst I’ve got nothing against photos of attractive women, the sheer abundance of them in the Mail seems rather incongruous given that when I encounter prominent Mail writers such as Melanie Philips, Richard Littlejohn and Peter Hitchens on the TV or Radio, they often as not seem to be railing against ‘the permissive society’ the ‘sexual revolution’, ‘sleaze’ and most recently ‘sexualisation’.

This incongruity is heightened by the way that ‘liberal media’ outlets such as the Guardian and the Independent that the Mail so likes to blame for everything just don’t have anything like as much female skin on display. Sure, rarely does a heat wave pass without the Guardian and the Independent printing a shot of a photogenic woman enjoying the sun in a bikini and so forth, but despite their rampantly ‘permissive’ ways when it comes to “outrageous” “raunchy” images of “starlets”, the liberal media can’t hold a candle to the Mail.

Vexed by this apparent hypocrisy I searched the Mail’s site for ‘sexualisation’ and got 619 hits. The ones I checked were almost without exception both consumed with anger at sexualisation and liberally illustrated with ‘sexualised’ images of attractive young women with little on in ‘provocative poses,’ to an extent that I really don’t think can be justified by the off chance that the readers have never seen an image of Rihanna, Beyonce, Britney Spears or some other female celebrity trying to look sexy. Of the articles I looked through the worst offender was:

Is this what they mean by the ‘sexualisation of teenagers’? Taylor Momsen whips her young fans into a frenzy with lewd act 

The ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ was simply outraged at “a raunchy show” performed by Taylor Momsen (who I must confess I’ve never heard of) in Barcelona the previous night. This expression of outrage was even more lavishly illustrated than usual with a scant 444 word article and 6 large images. I don’t mean to boast but I think I’d got a pretty good idea of what this concert was like and of Ms Momsen’s general appearance after a single photo, I’d certainly got the idea by the 2nd, so the following 4 really didn’t seem necessary.

I decided to do a little analysis of this article so screen capped the article and combined the images. Imported at 96dpi the entire body of the article ran to 133cm. Of this, 110cm (a not inconsiderable 82% of the body of the article) consisted of photos of Ms Momsen “herself only 17… gyrating on the lap of one of her fans as a group of half-dressed, similar aged girls were whipped into a frenzy behind her”.

As if that wasn’t enough, 60% of the huge number of articles (430cm worth) advertised with large thumbnails down the right side of the page, far beyond the end of the article, appeared to be sexual in nature. 88% of these seemed little more than flimsy excuses to show gratuitous photos of A to Z list celebrity women, the subject of the article often as not seemingly how sexually attractive the ‘starlet’ in question was or involving sex in some manner:

Carol Vorderman has worn the same dress more than once! If that isn’t an excuse for lots of leering photos what is?

6% of the articles seemed feeble excuses to show photos of attractive male celebrities.

Another 6% were about sex in some way but the thumbnails at least didn’t heavily feature ‘sexualised’ images.

Below is a shrunken image of the entire page. I’ve highlighted the ‘sexualised’ images of Taylor Momsen & other women in red, men in blue and articles about sex but without ‘sexualised’ images are highlighted in black, to give you some idea of just how much of this fine upstanding paper is given over to the very thing it campaigns against.

Another article;Sexualisation of our children is a crime that is endemic in our celebrity commercial culturecontained the photo on the right with the following caption:

“Endemic: A Gucci Fashion advert, showing a half naked man, run in magazines, many of which are aimed at or accessible by children”

It’s a good job that Mail readers always lock their papers safely away from their kids and that you have to prove you’re over the age of 18 before you can browse the Mail’s website otherwise that complaint would seem somewhat lacking in self-awareness.

Given the Mail’s habit of not only wrapping itself in the flag but increasingly bearing a cross (with all its whining about the supposed “war on Christianity”) you’d have hoped that the thought might have occurred to someone on the Mail’s staff that they were getting perilously close to one of those mote in the eye situations warned of in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

But of course, as with all that is said in the bible about economic justice – rich men, heaven, camels, the eyes of needles and so forth – such passages are of no interest to the modern day champions of Christianity. No, apparently to them preventing civil marriage for homosexuals, about whom Jesus never so much as speaks a word in the bible, is what really matters.

The death of innocence: How the crude sexualisation of pop music, TV and fashion is destroying childhood” warns:

“As children we quickly picked up that, for a woman, being thin and beautiful equals sexy and successful. In our lifetimes, we’ve seen the explosion of reality stars, WAGs and manufactured girl bands who have sent out the message that you can be rich and famous without an iota of talent.

As these celebrities have racked up continuous attention and impressive wealth — which reality TV has made seem within the grasp of everybody — have we also signed up to the idea that our daughters need to look a certain way to get on in life? …

From the moment our girls recognise their reflections in a mirror, we need to start teaching them beauty is a small part of what they are, not who they are. If we don’t, the price is high for our girls. We will be letting them fall into the traps today’s society has laid for them.

Eating disorders, self-harm, depression, casual meaningless sex, teen pregnancy and under-age drinking are just some of the side effects when girls judge themselves only by their appearance and sexual experience.”

All that said with images of “reality stars, WAGs and manufactured girl bands” and older stars being judged upon their fading looks down the side of the screen.

It’s like being given a lecture on the evils of deficit spending by Gordon Brown. The anguished author of that piece goes on to warn:

“As the first gatekeepers who most influence our children’s values, attitudes and aspirations, we also have to look to ourselves to work out how it reached this state of affairs.”

If you’re truly worried about this stuff and you read the Mail then perhaps you might like to consider if that’s a factor.

The pro-Islamist left on Zionism and Islam – a study in double standards.

I recently gave a talk to the local Student Atheist society on the subject ‘Is it racist to criticise Islam’.  A title inspired by the seemingly inevitable accusations of racism a consistent atheist can expect to receive if they stray from Christianity and critique Islam. This brought forth a far from unexpected storm of accusations of racism and inciting violence from Muslims and the pro-Islamist left. Such as:

Assorted meetings critiquing; Christianity, Catholicism, Religion in general, Scientology… elicited barely a murmur of complaint yet when the Atheist Society dared have a meeting on Islam the floodgates opened.

The reasoning would seem to be: Muslims are a minority in the west, a minority which experiences some discrimination is subjected to crude abuse by the far right and even violent attacks. Therefore any and all criticism of Islam is racist and contributes to violence against Muslims.

As it happens this is by no means the first time that people have falsely accused me of bigotry and inciting violence in an attempt to try and cow me into silence. Back when I was at Uni I was chair of the Palestine Society and we were regularly accused of being ‘anti-semitic’ and ‘contributing to anti-semitic violence’ simply for arguing that Palestinians are people who should have their basic human rights respected.

The reasoning behind these attacks followed a similar pattern: Jews are a minority in the west, a minority which experiences some discrimination is subjected to crude abuse by the far right and even violent attacks. Therefore any and all criticism of Zionism is anti-semitic and contributes to violence against Jewish people.

Back then no Muslims or members of the far left seemed to find this logic convincing. They would nod when I pointed out that it’s perfectly possible to critique the ideas contained within the ideology of Zionism the ethnic cleansing and other abuses of human rights being carried out by true believing Zionists without being motivated by anti-semitism or contributing to anti-semitism.

Muslims and members of the left  in the audience also tended to agree when I pointed out that by no means are all Jews Zionists and that in fact most Zionists aren’t Jewish at all but American Christians (who’re ironically often rather anti-semitic) who want all the Jews in the world to return to Israel to kick start the 2nd coming.

Members of the left and Muslims would concur when I argued that the undoubted existence of crude anti-semitic attacks upon Jews in general and the state of Israel didn’t automatically render any and all criticism of Zionism as anti-semitic. They would further agree when I argued that cynically using the term ‘anti-semite’ as a weapon to try and frighten people into silence was eroding the power of the term ‘anti-semite’ that could backfire in the future.

Overall there seemed to be a general acceptance from Muslims and members of the left at meetings I spoke at that criticism of an ideology, in this case Zionism, isn’t the same thing as inciting hatred against people who subscribe to that ideology.

Yet strangely for some Muslims and members of the far left this ability to differentiate between an ideology and people seems completely absent when it comes to Islam and Muslims.

That double standard aside the way in which unequivocal condemnations of the EDL were interpreted as support for the EDL was rather perplexing, as was the odd accusation that:

 “your stupid meeting is a racist fest. You are racist, pretending to be humanists. You have no idea what atheism means”

As if the society members had been organising meetings upon Atheism, Christianity, Catholicism, the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal, Scientology. Creationism… for all this time as a rather convoluted cover to one day launch a racist attack upon Muslims under the cover of atheism.

Another thing I found a little confusing was the way in which the Student Broad Left & Socialist Action members kept on making specific attacks on the meeting in blissful ignorance of the actual contents of the talk:

“the argument is that the Atheist society presents Islam (not even certain Muslim clerics…) as almost the sole source of oppression against the LGBT community. I’d say it has the least influence.”

“This meeting assumes there is no debate and disagreement amongst Muslims about the many interpretations of Islam.”

Now I tend not to make detailed attacks upon a talk, article, book, film… until I’ve gone to the trouble of hearing/reading/watching it. Sure it takes a little more effort than condemning what you imagine what the content might be but even so I think that effort is worth it. It would seem Socialist Action/Student Broad Left have no time for such niceties.

If SA/SBL members actually cared about evidence they’d have spent a little time researching the society they were attacking and learnt that  the Atheist Society has long standing critiques of the homophobia of many faiths & particularly the Christian Churches campaigning against gay marriage and that the talk included passages such as this:

“When critiquing minority faiths we have a particular responsibility to be clear of the range of beliefs encompassed within that faith. Most Brits know atleast a few Christians and so they know that the “God Hates Fags” crowd for example are not typical Christians. Whereas they may well not know any Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims… to provide a counterexample. This doesn’t mean that we can’t critique religions other than Christianity, it just means we have to take additional care when doing so.”

Given that such intemperate attacks were a major motivation to hold the meeting in the first place the abuse we received for daring to hold such a meeting is sadly only to be expected. This doesn’t make the way in which some muslims and members of the pro-Islamist left are so determined to cry wolf and throw around accusations of racism to try and bully people into silence in such a cavalier manner any less depressing though.

A pro-censorship Muslim inadvertently makes the case for Free Speech

Reading the BBC article on the trouble at UCL caused by objections to a student society posting the excellent Jesus & Mo cartoons on their Facebook page I was struck by the way in which the spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association when speaking out in opposition to free speech managed to neatly summarise exactly why it’s so important:

“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association is continuing with its protest against the image, saying it has wider implications.

Adam Walker, the association’s national spokesperson, said the two student groups had worked well together in the past and said the offence was unnecessary.

“The principle is more important than who is being attacked – this time it is Muslims and Christians but in the future it could be atheists themselves.

“There is no need to print these things other than to cause offence and history has told us that these things cause offence.”

He added: “I wouldn’t say we’re specifically pursuing UCL atheist society, it’s more about the broader principle.””

Mr Walker manages the impressive feat of being simultaneously completely wrong and wholly correct; the offence is entirely unnecessary and the principle is much more important than who is being “attacked”.

Clearly if Christians, Muslims, Atheists & everyone else is able to prohibit speech they merely find “offensive” then all speech will be banned as there’s nothing which doesn’t upset someone.

You’d hope that the Ahmadiyya Association at least would have some appreciation of this as Ahmadis  are regarded as a heretical sect by many Muslims and subject to persecution in many Muslims majority nations. It’s sad that despite this the Ahmadiyya Association seems to be opposing the secular liberal values which give them the freedom to practice their faith as they choose in the UK.

Jesus, Mo & the barmaid discuss freedom of expression